Luke 3:1-20 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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John the Baptist Prepares the Way
Comments for Study 7

Luke 3:1-20
Memory Verse: 2a


I. John's Commission (1-6)

>1. What time does this passage take place? (1-2a)

* Luke 3:1 "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-- during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,"

* "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" -Two years are possible depending on when scholars believe his reign officially started. The most commonly accepted fifteenth year of his reign is 26 A.D. because Tiberius gained authority in the provinces in 11 A.D. when he became co-regent with Augustus Caesar. Tiberius became Roman Emperor on 19th August 14 A.D. when Augustus died. So some say the fifteenth year was between 27 and 29 A.D. (depending on whether one uses the Syrian or Hebrew calendar). Tiberius died in 37 A.D. He was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 B.C., making him a step-son of Octavian (Caesar Augustus). He was a dark, reclusive, and sombre ruler who never really desired to be emperor. Caesar was to be considered a god. This was considered to be the height of the Roman Empire.

Tiberius Denarius Tribute Penny

See a picture of a coin to the right. The tribute penny mentioned in the Bible is commonly believed to be a Roman denarius depicting the Emperor Tiberius.

* "Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea" -Pilate was the Roman appointed governor (procurator) of the area; probably appointed by Caesar. Many in Rome were anti-Semite including Pilate. His reign started in A.D. 26. Tablets with his name on it have been found in Palestine. Luke 13:1 records where he mingled Galilean's blood with their sacrifice. He had put up a Roman emblem in the temple and removed it only when the Jews said they will die trying to move it themselves. He committed other acts that upset the Jews and the Samaritans. His position was in jeopardy the longer he stayed in Palestine; shortly after Jesus crucifixion he was called back to Rome. Pilate was a highly successful man until shortly after he was made governor of Palestine.

Pontius Pilate Inscription

The inscription from Caesarea Maritima, Israel to the right reads:
     "This building - Tiberium
     "By Pontius Pilatus
     "Prefect of Judea
     "Has been built."
The limestone block was discovered in 1961 containing Pilate's tribute in Latin to Tiberius.

* "Judea" -Judea was part of the region assigned by Herod the Great to his son Archelaus in 4 B.C. (along with Idumea and Samaria). However, he ruled so badly that his subjects petitioned the Romans to remove him. They did so and installed their own governor, Gratus in 6 A.D.

* "tetrarch" -Tetrarch was used to describe a petty prince.

* "Herod tetrarch of Galilee" -Herod Antipas was one of the sons of Herod the Great. When his father died in 4 B.C. he and two brothers divided up Herod the Great's territory. Herod Antipas ruled Galilee (west of the Sea of Galilee) and Perea (east of the Jordan and Dead Sea) until 39 A.D.

* "his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis" -Philip ruled the area north-east of the Sea of Galilee from 4 B.C. to 33/34 A.D.

* "Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene" -Inscriptions have been found that state he ruled north of all the other territories mentioned here.

* "during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas" -Caiaphas was son-in-law to Annas. Annas started as high priest in 6 A.D. and was deposed by the Roman official Gratus (who preceded Pilate) in 15 A.D. He was followed by his son Ebeazar, his son-in-law Caiaphas in 18 A.D., and then four more sons.

* In June 2011, archaeologists from Bar-Ilan and Tell Aviv Universities announced the recovery of a stolen ossuary, plundered from a tomb in the Valley of Elah. The Israel Antiquities Authority declared it authentic, and expressed regret that it couldn't be studied in site. It is inscribed with the text: "Miriam, daughter of Yeshua, son of Caiaphas, Priest of Ma’aziah from Beth ‘Imri". Based on it, Caiaphas can be assigned to the priestly course of Ma’aziah, instituted by king David.

* The high priesthood was corrupt, not following the law of God set forth in the first five books of the Bible. There were two high priests. (John 18:19, 22, 24) This was unlawful. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. Annas was the first and true high priest. However, he had a political problem with the Romans. So the Romans removed him as high priest. His son-in-law was then made the high priest in his place. Family ties were used to get seats of authority. (John 13, 14, Acts 3)

* Acts 4:5-6 "The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family."

* John 11:49-50 "Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, 'You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.'"

* The time for the average person in the Roman Empire and Palestine was evil and dark. The people were hard worked and under appreciated. The word of God was distorted by the religious leaders for their own selfish gain. People could go high and low and not find physical or spiritual rest.

John the Baptist

* See an actor rendering John the Baptist clothes to the right.

>Who did the word of God come to and where was he?

* Luke 3:2b "the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert."

* "the word of God came to" -The phrase refers to when prophets received the word of God. John studied the word of God and God revealed it to him. John was a prophet as much as Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Joel and all the others listed in the Old Testament.

* "John son of Zechariah in the desert" -John's parents were old when he was born. (Luke 1:18) So they were dead by this time. They were priests and so John was of the priestly line.

* John 1:28 "This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising."

* Matthew 3:1 "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea"

* Some believe that John was the last prophet. However, prophets also existed after Jesus resurrection. (Acts 11:27, 13:1, 14:32, 21:10) The apostles can also be considered prophets, but they were more than prophets.

>Why might he be there and what did he do there?

* John 1:7-8 "He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light."

* "preaching" -John's teaching was part informational and part practical. He taught of the Messiah's coming and how to prepare for it. He taught people how to apply the word of God to daily living.

* John did not prepare people for the Messiah and the coming kingdom by super natural ways, spiritual mysteries, or miracles. He ministry was simple and practical. John studied the word and applied it to his life. Jesus taught, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observations, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There is is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20)

* John was not serving as priest even though both his parents were priests. Rather, he lived in the desert. We don't know why, but it is possible that he was rejected by the priests in Jerusalem. Certainly the gospels point a great hostility the political and religious leaders had for John. Desert here refers to uninhabited desolate areas, not necessarily a sandy, waterless place.

* "in the desert" -John travelled within a region that was often travelled by Jews going to and from Galilee and Jerusalem. The gospel can be preached anywhere, even the desert. God will send those he has chosen to those who preach the gospel.

* John 1:33 "I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'"

>2. What was God's word to John and what was his response? (3a)

* Luke 3:3 "He went into all the country around the Jordan preaching..."

* "He went into all the country" -John obeyed the word of God by preaching where he was told to preach. John's parents knew who he was and what his ministry would be like. They must have told him. He must have studied the Bible himself.

* "the Jordan" -The Jordan river was in the middle of the country flowing from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. It is a dirty river often deep and fast flowing. The Jordan River gives life to many plants as it flows from the Sea of Galilee to the Salt Sea.


The picture to the right is the Jordan River near the place where it empties into the Dead Sea.

>What is a baptism of repentance?

* Luke 3:3b "...preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

* Matthew 3:2 "and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

* "baptism" -In those days baptism was somewhat of an ordinary sign of repentance of the heart. (Luke 3:3) Baptism (mikvah or mikveh in Hebrew) in Jewish culture became a ritual sometime after the exile of Babylon. By Jesus time the religious leaders turned it into a elaborate ceremony, full of rules and regulations. Sometimes they baptized themselves every day or at least once a week. They had all kinds of reasons why they must baptize themselves as the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal. Baptism in Jewish and early church culture always required the person to be fully immersed in water. By Jesus' day the Jews had dug many small pits with steps in rock and filled them with water to be used only for mikveh. The rich had these baptismal pits in their homes. John the Baptist and Jesus (though it was actually his disciples) used the dirty water in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; John 1:28; John 4:1-3)

* After John (specifically after Jesus' death and resurrection) baptism became a proclamation to God and the world of a decision in the heart and faith in Jesus.

* "of repentance" -Repentance involves changing the old way and accept the new way. Repent means to turn. In detail:
     1) realize your sinfulness and inability to save yourself
     2) recognize your need for forgiveness and change
     3) ask for forgiveness
     4) stop sinning
     5) serve God by doing his will.

* Repentance is accepting you can't save yourself no matter what you are doing.

* The baptism of repentance is humbling one's self to acknowledge he is sinful before God.

* A part of repentance is stop blaming others, and accept and confess one's own sins before the holy and forgiving God.

* People with retentive hearts are willing to hear and accept Jesus' words.

>How can one's sins be forgiven through repentance?

* "for the forgiveness of sin" -Repentance is needed for forgiveness. This is saying repentance in the heart is needed for forgiveness of sins to take place. This is not saying that one needs to changed outwardly before their sins are forgiven. Rather, one needs to open their heart in order to accept Jesus into it. After sins are forgiven, then outward change comes.

* Repentance is relying on God's truth and promises. Faith is needed to believe God can forgive any and all sins.

* James 2:17-19 "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

* Water is just a symbol of God cleansing the soul through grace and mercy. 1 Peter 3:21 states, "and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ," Many have gone through the motions of water baptism without any change of heart.

Herod's mikveh

* The picture to the right is Herod's mikveh. Herod was not of Jewish descent, but of Edom. He claimed to be a Jew to appease the Jews and look good in Roman eyes.

>3. Who prophesied about John and what was the prophesy? (4-6; Isaiah 40:3-5)

* Luke 3:4-6 "As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'"

* Isaiah 40:3-5 "A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

* "Isaiah the prophet" -Isaiah's ministry was over seven hundred (700) years before John's ministry.

>How did John fulfill this prophesy?

* "A voice of one calling" -A voice is not much to see and exists rather shortly. A voice is a message. The message is more important than the messenger.

* "in the desert" -He lived in barren lands, out of the spotlight of the political and religious leaders. A person in desolate lands can seem less of a threat to those who live in cities and luxury.

* "Prepare the way for the Lord" -John's baptism was a preparation for Jesus. He preached a two part message: 1) repent, 2) introduce Jesus.

* "make straight paths for him" -John didn't engage in some massive road building project. He straightened out bent hearts.

* "Every valley shall be filled in" -Those who have a low self esteem will realize God loves them and considers them special.

* "every mountain and hill made low" -The proud will be humbled.

* "The crooked roads shall become straight" -No deviation from seeking the truth.

>How did all men see God's salvation? (Isaiah 40:5)

* "all mankind will see God's salvation." -"Salvation" is from the Septuagint (a 3th century B.C. Greek translation) not the original Hebrew. It may also be a translation of the Hebrew word for glory.

* "And the glory of the Lord will be revealed" -John pointed to Jesus.

* "and all mankind together will see it" -Many realized that John pointed to the Messiah. The message was not just for the Jew nor Israel, but for all.

* John 17:1 "After Jesus said this (Jesus had been speaking about peace in the midst of trouble), he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you."

* John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

John the Baptist Sees Jesus from Afar by James Tissot

* See a painting of John the Baptist Sees Jesus from Afar by James Tissot to the right.

II. John Preachings on a Baptism of Repentance (7-14)

>4. In general, what did John preach to the people about their lives? (7-9)

* Luke 3:7-9 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

* Matthew 3:7-10 "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptising, he said to them: 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.'"

* "You brood of vipers!" -A viper is any of several venomous Old World snakes of the familyViperidae, having a single pair of long hollow fangs and a thick heavy body. Some vipers look good and seem harmless. Calling someone a viper is saying they are malicious and treacherous. Being a brood implies they are of the same family and stick together to grow is number and strength.

* Genesis 3:14-15 "So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

* "Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?" -God's wrath is hostility toward all evil. The wrath of God is against all wickedness. Romans 1:18-20 states, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." The wrath of God to a small extent is revealed in this life. Yet the Lord is patient and kind. He wants all to repent and come to a life full of joy and peace. He even sent his Son to redeem any who will accept him. Even though God's love is revealed in this way it does not mean he will always relent from wrath. Romans 2:5-11 states, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism." God's wrath was poured out on the nations because of stubborn hearts. However, there is still a chance for you to escape God's coming wrath. Romans 5:9-11 states, "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

>What does it mean to "produce fruit in keeping with repentance"?

* "produce fruit in keeping with repentance" -Repentance has visible evidence.

* "And do not begin to say to yourselves" -We can self justify and rationalize our sins and find people who will confirm these thoughts.

* "We have Abraham as our father." -The religious leaders of John and Jesus' day took great pride in the fact that they are Abraham's descendants. To them all one needed to be was a Jew to be saved. They believed that God would ultimately be kind to them no matter what they did because he was kind to Abraham. John reminds then that we stand before God as individuals.

* "For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" -God indeed did raise up children from stones when the Jews rejected the Messiah. The stones came from the Gentiles. Jesus said he was the stone that the builders rejected. (Luke 20:17) The apostles said that we are stones in the living temple. (1 Corinthians 6:19; and 2 Corinthians 6:16; and 1 Peter 2:4-5)

* Repentance starts in the heart and leads to positive actions and rejection of negative actions.

Fruits of the Spirit

>What will happen to the trees that don't produce fruit?

* "The ax is already at the root of the trees" -God does not accept trees that do not produce fruit. When Jesus was leaving Jerusalem a few days before he was arrested, tried and died he cursed a fig tree as a sign of what John is saying here. (Matthew 21:99-21; Mark 11:13, 20-21)

* "every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down" -The outcome of our eternal destiny is up to us. God does not send anyone to hell unless they decided to go there by rejecting him and his words and ways.

* "thrown into the fire" -"Fire" here in the original Greek is the root word "pyr". Hell is often described as fire. (Matthew 5:22, 18:9; Mark 9:47-48; James 3:6)

* Jude 1:7 says, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." Eternal fire here is "aionios pyr" in Greek. Hell (Hades) is often described as an eternal fire in the Bible. Hell is not a fun place. Hell is so much more miserable than our darkest concept of it. Jesus taught that hell is a real place, an unpleasant place. Holman Bible Dictionary states, "The abode of the dead especially as a place of eternal punishment for unbelievers. Hell is an Anglo-Saxon word used to translate one Hebrew word and three Greek words in the King James Version of the Old and New Testaments. The Hebrew word that hell translated was Sheol. The word Sheol occurs sixty-five times in the Hebrew Bible. The King James Version translates thirty-one of the occurrences as hell; another thirty-one occurrences as grave; and three occurrences as “pit” (Numbers 16:30,33; Job 17:16). The Revised Standard Version never uses hell to translate Sheol. It does use grave one time as a translation of Sheol (Song of Solomon 8:6). Sixty-four times it simply transliterates the word as Sheol. NAS always uses Sheol, while NIV intentionally avoids Sheol, using grave." Jesus quoted Isaiah 66:24 when describing hell saying, "where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' Everyone will be salted with fire." (Mark 9:48)

* Hell is complete separation from God. In hell one is all alone for eternity. God cannot send anyone to hell. This is a good example of darkened thinking. God does not send anyone to hell. Rather people run to it when they run away from God. Everyone has a choice in this life, accept Jesus of Savior and Lord or reject him. Those who reject him remain apart from God. Die apart from God is running into hell. People don't exercise their freedom, but are left alone. People aren't set to hell, but they are allowed to freely walk into it despite God's continual plea that it is a terrible existence. Still, they insist that that is the only way that they will go. So God lets them go. He does not force anyone to accept a relationship with in him in paradise and bliss.

* The non-repentant will be punished eternally in hell. Jesus compared hell to burning several times. Hell is a place without God forever. It is a place of complete loneliness and torment of soul. Thus, the soul which was meant and created to be joined with God is incomplete, a being that is like the flesh burning.

>5. How did the people respond to John's words?

* Luke 3:10 "'What should we do then?' the crowd asked."

* The people wanted to repent but wanted practical advice. They did not know the words and ways of God. I remember when I was a new believer many years ago. I read Galatians 5 and realized that I needed to change my ways. The Holy Spirit convicted me. I saw and accepted that I needed to practically apply the word of God to my life.

* In order to give someone practical advice we need to know them and their lifestyle. I've seen some people give advice and direction to others when they knew nothing or little about them. General advice is OK is these cases. However, specific advice can be dangerous when all the facts are not known.

>What did John say to them?

* Luke 3:11 "John answered, 'The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.'"

* John preached compassion for fellows.

* Self sacrifice and denial is an important part of repentance. Jesus said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45)

* John here is addressing no one nor no group specifically. He is speaking generally.

>What did he say to tax collectors?

* Luke 3:12-13 "Tax collectors also came to be baptized. 'Teacher,' they asked, 'what should we do?' 'Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them."

* Tax collectors bided for the right to collect money for Rome. They said, "I will extract "X" amount of money for Rome from this area." Roman soldiers were supplied to the person who won the bid. They would be paid from any extra amount they collected from the people. They were known to use the Roman soldiers to beat extra money out of people.

* They were to be fair.

* Modern day equivalents would be the rich who got rich and maintain their wealth through unjust and illegal means.

John the Baptist Preaching in Wilderness

See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by

>What did he say to soldiers?

* Luke 3:14 "Then some soldiers asked him, 'And what should we do?' He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay.'"

* Roman soldiers enforced Roman law. Civil order, called Pax Romana was their responsibility. (See study 4 question 2 for a definition of Pax Romana.) Some only influenced the laws that helped the rulers who had the ability to increase and decrease their pay.

* Power breeds the temptation to use that power for selfish gain, even at the expense of others.

* Modern day equivalents would be those who willingly assist the "tax collectors type" of the world.

* From John's word about repentance here we can learn that repentance often involves our actions and interactions with others. Repentance is the way John prepared people to listen to and accept Jesus.

III. John Foretells the Christ's Coming (15-20)

>6. What were the people waiting for? (15a)

* Luke 3:15a "The people were waiting expectantly..."

* John 1:19-21 "Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ." They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No."

* Many at this time believed that the Messiah was coming. The Dead Sea Scrolls show their understanding that the Messiah was due to come. They understood from Scriptures like Daniel 9:25-26 that the timing was right.

>Why? (Daniel 9:25-26)

* Daniel 9:25-26 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One (Messiah), the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed."

* "From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" -"Decree" here can also be "word" referring to God's word to rebuild and restore. In other chapters of Daniel, the starting-point for a revelation is the historical setting indicated by the date or, in chapter 8, by the geographical details, which indicated a new capital city. On the face of it the same is true here. The starting-point of the interpretation is the command to rebuild the Temple, given by Cyrus in 539 B.C. unless a distinction is made between the Temple and the city; in which case the time of Nehemiah would be the starting-point. No other alternative seems possible. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, Daniel)

* "there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens." -Seven 'sevens" is forty nine (49). Sixty-two "sevens" is four hundred thirty-four (434). Added together they are four hundred eighty-three (483).

* This identification of the word is even more likely in light of the fact that Daniel is reflecting on the writing of Jeremiah, who proclaimed the prophetic oracle concerning return and restoration in his letter to the exiles (Daniel 9:2). Notice especially Jeremiah 29:10. The going forth of this word would then be dated to sometime between 597 and 594 B.C. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament)

* "until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes" -This is Jesus' first coming. The Anointed One in Hebrew is Messiah and in Greek it is Christ. Daniel is the first prophet to use the term Messiah other than perhaps Habakkuk 3:13 (Isaiah 45:1 is for Cyrus). Jesus is the Anointed One. Luke 3:21-22 and Matthew 3:16-17 records when John baptized Jesus, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."


* "It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench" -Streets refers to the city squares and plazas, the place where commerce and law took place. A trench is a dry moat that was part of the city's defences. Some have stated that its the aqueduct that the Roman's built.

The combination indicates that Jerusalem will again be a place of security and prosperity, providing all of the civic functions of a smoothly operating urban center. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament)

* "in times of trouble" -The Roman occupation as indicated in earlier visions that Daniel received shows that the Roman occupation of Israel was cruel and harsh.

The combination of Rome and Herodian political presence was crushing to the average Jew. The religious leaders only added to the misery of the time. Jesus called the people "sheep without shepherds".

* Some commentaries give different dates for Artaxerxes issuing the decree for Nehemiah's return and rebuilding Jerusalem, but all within thirteen (13) years of the date above. Thus the date of Jesus' crucifixion is stated as different years, all around 30 A.D.

* "After" -"After" implies just as the sixty-nine (7 + 62) 'sevens' end.

* "After the sixty-two 'sevens,'" -This is the time that the Messiah (the title of the Anointed One) was to die. The Jews had a hard time understanding how their Messiah would die when all they wanted was the Messiah to establish Israel as an independent nation and a world power, if not the only world power. (John 6:15) The Dead Sea Scrolls establishes the only thing they really wanted was a Messiah who was a political leader of an independent state. They wanted the gifts of the Messiah, not the person. They loved what he could bring, not who he was.

* "the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing." -Here to "be cut off" means Jesus' crucifixion. For some odd reason some place this on Onias III, the high priest who was murdered in 171 B.C. and the desecration of the temple in 167 B.C. (seven years later) by Antiochus even though this happened way before the 69 'sevens" were ended. I guess they are trying to link Daniel's previous vision of the ram and goat with this one. Antiochus was a type of antichrist, but the time line does not fit for Antiochus. The Romans did mix pig's blood with the sacrifice and set up an emblem of Rome on the temple shortly before Jesus' crucifixion. (Luke 13:1)

* Jesus' crucifixion marks the end of the sixty-two week clock.

* The final seven years starting and completion has two schools of interpretation. Some claim that the next seven years took place right after the sixty-two weeks ended (the no-gap theory). However, most believe that there is a gap after the sixty-two weeks ended before the last seven start (the gap theory). I believe the later.

>What was the people wandering? (15b)

* Luke 3:15b "...and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ."

* The average Jew and the religious leaders knew the Messiah was due to appear on history's scene. When John, from the priestly line began his ministry he was considered a candidate. The Apostle John recorded in his gospel that the religious leaders directly asked him if he was the Christ. John denied it. (John 1:19-25)

>What did John tell the people about the Christ and himself?

* Luke 3:16 John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.'"

* John 1:26-27 "'I baptize with water,' John replied, 'but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'"

* "But one more powerful than I will come" -John knew his place before the Messiah, Jesus. John had great success in his ministry, but he accepted that Jesus would be greater. (John 3:30)

* "the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie" -John was a servant of God, yet considered him even less of a servant when he realized that Jesus is the Lord.

>What is the difference between John's baptism and the Christ's baptism?

* "I baptize you with water" -Water is just a symbol of God cleansing the soul through grace and mercy. 1 Peter 3:21 states, "and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ," Many have gone through the motions of water baptism without any change of heart.

* "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." -Jesus did so after he rose from the dead. (John 20:22; Acts 1:8, 2:1-4, 33, 38) Jesus' baptism is the Holy Spirit into our very being.

* John 15:26 "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me."

>7. What will the Christ do? (17)

* Luke 3:17 "His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

* John uses the signs of a farmer harvesting his crop when describing Jesus' ministry.

>What is a winnowing fork and what does a person do with it?

* "winnowing fork" -Wind winnowing is an agricultural method developed by ancient cultures for separating grain from chaff. It is also used to remove weevils or other pests from stored grain. Threshing, the loosening of grain or seeds from the husks and straw, is the step in the chaff-removal process that comes before winnowing. "Winnowing the chaff" is a common expression. In its simplest form it involves throwing the mixture into the air so that the wind blows away the lighter chaff, while the heavier grains fall back down for recovery. Techniques included using a winnowing fan (a shaped basket shaken to raise the chaff) or using a tool (a winnowing fork or shovel) on a pile of harvested grain.

* "to clear his threshing floor" -The threshing floor was often a large flat rock.

* "to gather the wheat into his barn" -Barns were used to store grain from the winter.

* Jesus' word is a winnowing fork. It interacts with the average person. Some will blow away from him. Others will fall at his feet so that they can be collected into the kingdom of God.

* John 12:23-24 "Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.'"

Threshing floor Winnowing

* See an illustration of wind winnowing using a winnowing fork (left) and threshing floor (right) to the right. (The Encyclopaedia Biblica, 1903, public domain.)

>What will the Christ do with the wheat and the chaff?

* "but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" -Unquenchable fire is used to describe as as fire in question 4 above.

>What is the difference between wheat and chaff?

* "wheat" -Grain harvested in the late sixth and seventh month in the fall in Palestine.

* "chaff" -The dry bracts enclosing mature grains of wheat and some other cereal grasses, removed during threshing.

* The harvest is used in both the Old and New Testament to describe the end of this age. (Jeremiah 51:33; Joel 3:13; Matthew 9:37-38, 13:30, 39, 21:34, 41; Mark 4:29, 12:2; Luke 20:10; John 4:35-36; and 1 Corinthians 9:10-11; Galatians 6:9, etc.)

>8. How did John speak to the people? (18)

* Luke 3:18 "And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them."

* "And with many other words" -The four gospels record only a few of John's words and actions.

* "John exhorted the people" -John was a very forceful country preacher.

* "preached the good news to them" -Good news is gospel. The gospel includes John's words recorded in this chapter.

>What did John do to Herod? Was he afraid to preach to a king?

* Luke 3:19 "But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done,"

* "John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife" -Herod Antipas married his brother's wife according to Matthew and Mark. Herod Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea, in favour of Herodias, who had divorced his brother, Herod Philip I. Herod Philip I (Herod II) (ca. 27 B.C. – 33/34 A.D.) was the son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II, the daughter of Simon Boethus the High Priest (Mark 6:17). For a brief period he was his father's heir. Some writers call him Herod Philip I (not to be confused with Philip the Tetrarch, whom some writers call Herod Philip II).

* "all the other evil things he had done" -Evil is not a force. Evil is an action or lack of action. Evil is going outside of God's will.

>What sin did Herod add to the sins that John rebuked him for?

* Luke 3:20 "Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison."

* Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:14-29 records this in more detail. Herod locked John up to shut him up.


* The picture to the right is Herod's Machaerus where John the Baptist was put to death. Machaerus is a fortified hilltop palace located in Jordan fifteen miles (24 km) south-east of the mouth of the Jordan river on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. According to Flavius Josephus, it is the location of the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. Pottery found in the area extends from late Hellenistic to Roman periods and confirms the two main periods of occupation, namely, Hasmonean (90 BC-57 BC) and Herodian (30 BC-AD 72), with a brief reoccupation soon after AD 72 and then nothing further so complete and systematic was the destruction visited upon the site by the Romans.


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