Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Luke 3:3-14

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Luke 3:3

preaching. Though known for calling sinners to be baptized, Luke put the emphasis on John's preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins from God's word (vv. 2, 4-6, 18). baptism. Baptism was a symbol of spiritual cleansing. In Israel, it was reserved for pagan Gentiles who converted to Judaism. Surprisingly, John called for those who were already God's people to undergo baptism. While other ritual washings were self-administered, John called people out to be baptized by him. Perhaps this pointed to the distinct message John preached (vv. 4-9). John preached by the Jordan River because it provided access to water for baptism. repentance. Means to turn from sin toward God. It involves conviction of one's sin (2 Cor. 7:10), which leads to confession before God (see Ps 32:1-5; Prov. 28:13; 1 John 1:8-10). The sincerity of one's repentance is then seen in a changed life (v. 10-14). forgiveness of sins. The result of repentance and faith (see Exod. 34:6-7; Isa. 31:6-7; Acts 2:37-41). This is the inward spiritual change is symbolized in the act of baptism (1 Pet. 3:21).

Luke 3:4-6

John's preaching fulfilled the vision of Isa. 40:3-5, which Luke quoted in these verses. The imagery comes from the ancient world's custom of preparing for the arrival of powerful leaders. The city's citizens would go out, expanding and smoothing out the roughness of the roads. This allowed for the visit to begin with greater ceremony and dignity. But the Lord's vision to Isaiah was far grander. Here was a super-highway being greater than has ever been seen before. This was fitting for the Lord's arrival and the spiritual upheaval it would bring as salvation came to the nations (2:26, 30). John called for the hearts of the people to be changed in preparation for his coming (1:17).

Luke 3:4

wilderness. Luke picked up the narrative thread from 1:80. Make ready. The essence of John's role as the Messiah's forerunner (1:17, 76; Acts 13:24).

Luke 3:5

Poetic expressions that point to the total removal of any obstacle to God's salvation for his people. The physical barriers also point to spiritual barriers. The humble and needy will be saved while the proud and idolatrous will be judged (see Isa. 2:6-22; 42:14-17; 57:14-17; 63:11-14).

Luke 3:6

Luke showed the inclusion of the Gentiles in salvation (see 2:30-32; Matt. 28:18; Acts 10:34-43).

Luke 3:7-8

vipers. A non-specific word that includes a variety of poisonous snakes. The implication of John's statement is that some in ethnic Israel were living faithlessly as the Serpent's seed (see Gen. 3:15; Isa. 59:5; John 8:44). warned. Like snakes fleeing a burning pile of brush, these were coming for baptism to escape wrath (see Isa. 13:9; 30:27). But they were not sincere. They lacked faith and the fruits of true repentance. children of Abraham. Many of those who went to John had pride in their Jewish heritage and trusted in it to make them right before God (see John 8:39-40, 53). John's harsh message was meant to awaken people to their sin and need to trust God.

Luke 3:9

ax . . . root of the trees. Israel is often pictured as a tree in the Old Testament (see Isa. 10:33-34; Jer. 11:16-17; Joel 2:21-25). John said the tree was so rotted that the divine axe of judgment was lined up and ready to strike at the root (see 13:6-9; Isa. 10:34).

Luke 3:11-14

Genuine repentance is seen in changed behavior (see note on 3:3, 8). John gave specific instructions on what the fruit of repentance looked like.

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