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The Preaching of John the Baptist

Years later, John the Baptist started preaching in the desert of Judea. He said, “Turn back to God! The kingdom of heaven[a] will soon be here.”[b]

John was the one the prophet Isaiah was talking about, when he said,

“In the desert someone
    is shouting,
‘Get the road ready
    for the Lord!
Make a straight path
    for him.’”

John wore clothes made of camel’s hair. He had a leather strap around his waist and ate grasshoppers and wild honey.

From Jerusalem and all Judea and from the Jordan River Valley crowds of people went to John. They told how sorry they were for their sins, and he baptized them in the river.

Many Pharisees and Sadducees also came to be baptized. But John said to them:

You bunch of snakes! Who warned you to run from the coming judgment? Do something to show that you have really given up your sins. And don’t start telling yourselves that you belong to Abraham’s family. I tell you that God can turn these stones into children for Abraham. 10 An ax is ready to cut the trees down at their roots. Any tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into a fire.

11 I baptize you with water so that you will give up your sins.[c] But someone more powerful is going to come, and I am not good enough even to carry his sandals.[d] He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His threshing fork is in his hand, and he is ready to separate the wheat from the husks.[e] He will store the wheat in a barn and burn the husks in a fire that never goes out.

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Footnotes

  1. 3.2 kingdom of heaven: In the Gospel of Matthew “kingdom of heaven” is used with the same meaning as “God’s kingdom” in Mark and Luke.
  2. 3.2 will soon be here: Or “is already here.”
  3. 3.11 so that you will give up your sins: Or “because you have given up your sins.”
  4. 3.11 carry his sandals: This was one of the duties of a slave.
  5. 3.12 His threshing fork is in his hand, and he is ready to separate the wheat from the husks: After Jewish farmers had trampled out the grain, they used a large fork to pitch the grain and the husks into the air. Wind would blow away the light husks, and the grain would fall back to the ground, where it could be gathered up.