The Preaching of John(A)
3 It was the fifteenth year of the rule of Tiberius Caesar [C the Roman emperor, ad 14–37]. ·These men were under Caesar: Pontius Pilate, [L …when Pontius Pilate was] the ·ruler [or governor; C his official title was “prefect”; Pilate governed from ad 26–36] of Judea; Herod [C Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great], the ·ruler [L tetrarch; C the title meant “ruler of a fourth,” but came to be used of any minor ruler] of Galilee; Philip [C another son of Herod the Great], the ·ruler [L tetrarch] of Iturea and Traconitis; and Lysanias, the ·ruler [L tetrarch] of Abilene. 2 Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests [C Annas was the former high priest and father-in-law of Caiaphas, the official high priest]. At this time, ·the word of [a message from] God came to John son of Zechariah in the ·desert [wilderness]. 3 He went all over the ·area [country; region] around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of ·changed hearts and lives [repentance] for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the ·book of [L book of the words/oracles of] Isaiah the prophet:
“This is a voice of one
who ·calls out [shouts; cries out] in the ·desert [wilderness]:
‘Prepare the way for the Lord.
Make ·the road straight [a clear path] for him.
5 Every ·valley [ravine; wadi] should be filled in,
and every mountain and hill should be made ·flat [level; low].
·Roads with turns [L Curved/T Crooked places] should be made straight,
and rough ·roads [paths; ways] should be made smooth.
6 And all ·people [humanity; T flesh] will ·know about [L see] the salvation of God [Is. 40:3–5]!’”
7 [L So; Therefore] To the crowds of people who came to be baptized by John, he said, “You ·are all snakes [T brood/offspring of vipers]! Who warned you to ·run [slither; L flee] away from God’s coming ·punishment [wrath; retribution]? 8 ·Do the things [L Produce the fruit] ·that show you really have changed your hearts and lives [that prove your repentance; L of repentance]. Don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father [C a claim to be God’s special people, since their ancestor Abraham was chosen and blessed by God; Gen. 12:1–3].’ [L For] I tell you that God could ·make [L raise up] children for Abraham from these rocks. 9 The ax ·is now ready to cut down [L already lies at the root of] the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire [C a metaphor for judgment against those who disobey God].”
10 The ·people [crowd] asked John, “Then what should we do?”
11 John answered, “If you have two ·shirts [tunics], share with the person who does not have one. If you have food, share that also [Is. 58:7].”
12 Even tax collectors came to John to be baptized [C tax collectors were despised because they worked for the Roman rulers and were notorious for corruption and extortion]. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 John said to them, “Don’t take more taxes from people than ·you have been ordered to take [is prescribed/authorized].”
14 The soldiers asked John, “What about us? What should we do?”
John said to them, “Don’t ·force people to give you [extort] money, and don’t ·lie about them [make false accusations]. Be satisfied with the pay you get.”
15 Since the people were ·hoping [waiting expectantly] for the ·Christ [Messiah] to come, they [L all] wondered if John might be the ·one [L Christ; Messiah].
16 John answered everyone, “I baptize you with water, but there is one coming who is ·greater [more powerful; mightier] than I am. I am not ·good enough [fit; qualified] to untie [L the thong/strap of] his sandals [C a task of a servant or slave]. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 ·He will come ready [L The winnowing fork is in his hand] to ·clean the grain, separating the good grain from the chaff [L clear his threshing floor]. He will put ·the good part of the grain [L the grain/wheat] into his ·barn [storehouse], but he will burn the chaff with ·a fire that cannot be put out [never-ending/unquenchable fire; C a metaphor for judgment, when Jesus will separate the righteous from the wicked].” 18 And John continued to preach the ·Good News [Gospel], saying many other things to ·encourage [exhort] the people.
19 But John ·spoke against [criticized; rebuked] Herod [C Antipas], the ·governor [L tetrarch; 3:1], ·because of his sin with [L concerning] Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother [C Herod had divorced his wife and illicitly married the wife of his brother Philip; Lev. 18:16], and because of the many other evil things Herod did. 20 So Herod ·did something even worse [L added this to all his sins]: He ·put [locked; shut up] John in prison.Read full chapter