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A Harmony of the Gospels



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From the NKJV
Matthew 3:1-12   Mark 1:1-8   Luke 3:1-19  

(1) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, (2) and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

(1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

(1)  Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, (2) while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. (3) And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,

(3)  For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  'Prepare the way of the LORD;  Make His paths straight.'"

(2) As it is written in the Prophets:
"Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You."
 (3) 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.'"
(4)  John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (5) Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

(4) as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:' Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight. (5) Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth;6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

(4) Now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

(6)  Now John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.


(5)  Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him (6) and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.



(7) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, (9) and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (10) And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.


(7)  Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (9)  And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
(10)  So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"
(11)  He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
(12)  Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
(13)  And he said to them," Collect no more than what is appointed for you."
(14)  Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?"
So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."
(15)  Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,

(11)  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (12)  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

(7) And he preached, saying, "There comes one after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. (8)  I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

(16)  John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (17)  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."
(18)  And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.

During the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus there were several political and religious divisions which affected greatly the Jewish nation and the formation of the Christian church.

Political - Roman

Emperor Roman Empire Tiberius Caesar
Tetrarch Galilee and Perea Herod Antipas
Procurator Samaria and Judea Pontius Pilate

Political, Religious - Jew

High Priest Joseph Caiaphas
High Priest Annas
Sanhedrin The Jewish tribunal, or court of  justice

Religious - Jew


Diaspora - Jew

The Dispersion (Deuteronomy 4:27;  28:64-68)
These were Greek speaking (and other languages) Jews who had come to Jerusalem to await the advent of the Messiah, since Old Testament prophecy pointed to this as the time of His coming.
These Jews had been scattered among the nations by:
Alexander the Great

Basic source material for these groups comes from the New Testament, Josephus, Philo, the Talmud, Pliny, and Hippolytus.

Tiberius Caesar

Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus succeeded to the principate on the death of Augustus in A.D. 14,  becoming the second Roman Emperor.  He was born in 42 B.C.,  the son of the Empress Livia,  wife of Augustus,  by her first husband,  Tiberius Claudius Nero.

He had a distinguished military career in the East and in Germany,  and,  in the absence of direct heirs to Augustus,  was the logical successor.  Augustus,  however,  did not like Tiberius,  and Tiberius,  over many years,  was the passive witness of several attempts to bypass his claims and his abilities.

The experience of disapproval and rejection no doubt contributed to the dourness,  secretiveness,  ambiguity,  and suspicious preoccupation that marred the years of Tiberius’ power.  A morbid fear of disloyalty led to the heavy incidence of treason trials that were a feature of  Rome under its worst incumbents.

Josephus, in his Antiquities 18, 6, 5, speaking of  Euticus,  Agrippa’s freed-man, says:

“But Tiberius,  according to his usual custom,  kept him still in bonds,  being a delayer of affairs,  if ever there was any other king or tyrant that was so;  for he did not admit ambassadors quickly,  and no successors were dispatched away as governors or procurators of the provinces that had been formerly sent,  unless they were dead;  whence it was that he was so negligent in hearing the causes of prisoners.

And as a further attestation to what I say of the dilatory nature of Tiberius,  I appeal to this his practice itself;  for although he was emperor 22 years,  he sent in all but two procurators to govern the nation of the Jews – Gratus,  and his successor in the government, Pilate.

Nor was he in one way of acting with respect to the Jews,  and in another with respect to the rest of his subjects.  He further informed them,  that even in the hearing of the causes of prisoners,  he made such delays because immediate death to those that must be condemned to die,  would be an alleviation of their present miseries,  while those wicked wretches have not deserved any favour;  ‘but I do it that,  by being harassed with the present calamity,  they may undergo greater misery.’”

 This was the 15th year of his Principality and the 13th year of his Monarchy:  for he was 2 years joint Emperor,  previously to the death of Augustus.

He began his reign August 19, A.D. 14;  reigned 23 years.
During the latter part of his reign especially,  he did all the mischief he possibly could;  and that his tyranny might not end with his life,  he chose Caius Caligula for his successor,  merely on account of his bad qualities.

Pontius Pilate

The 5th Procurator,  or governmental representative,  of imperial Rome in Palestine at the time of Christ,  holding this office A.D. 26-36.

His name Pontius was his family name,  showing that he was descended from the Roman family of  “gens”  or “pontii.”  

Pilate,  no doubt comes from the Latin  “Pilatus”  meaning  “one armed with a “pilum” or Javelin.”

It is probable that,  like the sons of many prominent Romans,  he was trained for governmental service and either because of his political astuteness or as a political plum the Emperor Tiberius gave him the hard task of governing the troublesome Jews.

Generally the governor over a province was in charge of tax and financial matters,  were appointed by the Senate,  and answered to the Senate.  But the more difficult provinces,  like Palestine,  were appointed Procurators by the Emperor himself,  and were directly responsible to the Emperor.  The Procurator also had supreme judicial authority such as Pilate used regarding Christ.

Most Procurators disliked being stationed in a distant,  difficult,  dry outpost such as Judea.  Pilate,  however,  seemed to enjoy tormenting the Jews,  although,  as it turned out,  he was seldom a match for them.  He never really understood them,  as his frequent rash and capricious acts reveal. 

The Jewish historian  Josephus tells us that he immediately offended the Jews by

bringing the  “outrageous”  Roman standards into the Holy city.
At another time he hung golden shields inscribed with the names and images of Roman deities in the temple itself.
Once he even appropriated some of the temple tax to build an aqueduct.
To this must be added the incident mentioned in Luke 13:1 about  “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.”
These fearful events seem to disagree with the role Pilate played in the trial of Jesus were he was as clay in the hands of the Jews.

The answers to these examples lie in the social and political climate of their day:

The discovery of a great traitor who was very close to the throne
A change in Emperors which could mean an immediate change in Roman policy
And as the Emperor was influenced by those opposing forces (of which there were many) that constantly swirled around him these and many more circumstances (among which we must remember that the Jews were an especially difficult and rebellious people) were capable of keeping even the most gifted and cunning governors in a state of total confusion over how to rule the people fairly while keeping Rome happy.

Herod the Tetrarch

A son of Herod the Great by his Samaritan wife called Malthace.
He was,  therefore,  half Idumaean and half Samaritan,  perhaps without a single drop of Jewish blood in his veins.  He was the full brother of Archelaus,  and was younger than Archelaus.
He was educated with his brother,  and with his half-brother Philip at Rome.
On his father’s death he competed with his brother for the kingdom,  but received only the tetrarchy of Galilee and Perea  (a tetrarchy was ¼ of the original kingdom,  in this case,  approximately ¼ of the kingdom of Herod the Great).
He was a great builder as was his father.  He built:

A  wall around Sepphoris and made it his metropolis;
Betharamphtha in Perea he walled, and built a palace there – it was named Livias and Julias, after the wife of Augustus;
And he built the city of Tiberias.

He married a daughter of Aretas,  king of the Nabataean Arabs,  whose capital was Petra;  but afterward,  while lodging at Rome with Herod Philip,  his half-brother,  he indulged a guilty passion for his host’s wife,  Herodias,  and arranged to divorce his lawful consort and take Herodias instead.  This immoral transaction was carried into effect.  Aretas resented the injury inflicted upon his daughter,  and commenced a war against Herod successfully.  Antipas was forced to appeal to Rome for help,  and the task was assigned to Vitellius,  governor of Syria.  The affair dragged on until A.D. 37,  when Tiberius died,  and Vitellius stayed his hand.

Two years later Herod was banished to Lyons in Gaul by the new Emperor, Caius Caligula.

Philip the Tetrarch

He is not the same as the first husband of Herodias.
This Philip seems to have been the best of Herod’s three surviving sons.
His remote province insulated him from some of the problems of Jewry,  but he seems in his own person to have been a man of generous mold and notable justice.
He married Salome,  the daughter of Herodias.


He was the Roman-appointed governor of the territory around the city Abila,  located between Damascus and Heliopolis in Syria.  Not much is known about him.

Annas - High Priest

In his 37th year,  about A.D. 6,  Annas was appointed high priest by Quirinius,  governor of Syria,  and was deposed about A.D. 15 by Valerius Gratus,  governor of Judea.
His five sons became high priests (none for very long).
He was a rich,  unscrupulous Sadducee who continued to exert power through his son-in-law Caiaphas,  who replaced him as High Priest.

Caiaphas - High Priest

From 66 B.C. the Roman rulers appointed not only the civil officers but also the high priests as well with the result that the office declined spiritually.
Joseph Caiaphas held the office from A.D. 18-36,  a testimony to his pro-Roman activities.

NOTE: Annas is here called the high priest,  and placed before Caiaphas,  who was also the high priest.  The reason seems to be that though Caiaphas was high priest de facto,  being intruded into the office by the civil power of Rome,  yet Annas was high priest de Jure,  and was regarded as such ecclesiastically.

John the Baptist ... spoken of by Isaiah the prophet

Isaiah 40:3-5* Matthew 3:3 Mark 1:2,3 Luke 3:4-6
(Malachi 3:1 – Behold, I
will send my messenger,
and he shall  prepare the way before me)
  Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;  
A voice of one crying in The wilderness The voice of one crying in the wilderness, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, The voice of one crying in the Wilderness.
Prepare the way of the
Lord; make straight the Roads for our God.
Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make his paths Straight. Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make His paths Straight. Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths
Let every valley be Filled up, and every Mountain and hill be Leveled: and let the Crooked be made a Straight road, and the Rough way, smooth Plains:
And the glory of the Lord will appear: and All flesh shall see the
Salvation of God.
    Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways smooth;
 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
* In this and many other Old Testament quotations, we will be quoting from the LXX (Septuagint),  considering this was the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament current in that day,  and used almost exclusively by Jesus.

Clothed with camel's hair

This was a coarse,  rough outer garment.  It is made of the thin coarse hair of the camel.  Some think,  because Elijah is called  “a hairy man” in 11 Kings 1:8,  that he wore a garment of this sort.  A rough garment seems to have been characteristic of a prophet  (Zech. 13:4).

A girdle of skin - A leather belt

The girdle was one of the most useful articles of  Eastern costume,  and frequently the most ornamental of them all.  With the long loose dress it became a necessity,  since it would be difficult to walk or run unless the dress were tightened.  It was also thought to give strength to the body while engaged in severe bodily labor or exercise,  and hence the word is sometimes used figuratively to denote strength.
Girdles were of various sizes,  and were made of different materials.

The rich use silk or linen,  and sometimes decorated their girdles with gold,  silver,  and precious stones.
The poor have them of coarser materials,  leather being very commonly used.
Elijah’s was of leather,  and so was that of John the Baptist.

Graham thus describes the mode of putting on the girdle:

“The girdle is put on thus:  your slave having folded it the right breadth,  holds it at one end,  while you take the other and lay it upon your side,  and roll yourself round and round,  as tight as possible,  till you arrive at the slave,  who remains immovable.  If you have no slaves,  a hook or the branch of a tree will answer the same purpose.”
When running,  the ends of the outer garment are tucked into the girdle.

Locusts  and wild honey

With many of the Bedouin on the frontiers locusts are still an article of food,  though none but the poorest eat them.  They are considered a very inferior sort of food.  They are salted and dried,  and eaten with butter or wild honey.  The fact that John ate this kind of food illustrates the extreme poverty of the forerunner of Christ,  and shows the destitution he suffered by living in the wilderness far away from the haunts of men.

Shall be filled - brought low

An allusion to the practice of Eastern monarchs.
On occasions of their progress,  heralds were sent out to call on the people to clear and improve the old roads or to make new ones. 

Thomson says:
 “When Ibrahim Pasha proposed to visit certain places in Lebanon, the emirs and sheiks sent forth a general proclamation, somewhat in the style of Isaiah’s exhortation, to all the inhabitants to assemble along the proposed route and prepare the way before him.  The same was done in 1845, on a grand scale, when the Sultan visited Brusa.  The stones were gathered out, the crooked places straightened, and rough one made level and smooth. I have the benefit of these labors a few days after his majesty’s visit.  The exhortation  ‘to gather out the stones’ (Isaiah 62:10)  is peculiarly appropriate.  The farmers gather up the stones from their fields and cast them into the highway; and its is this barbarous custom that, in many places, renders the paths uncomfortable and even dangerous.”

Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear

To carry the master’s sandals was considered the most menial duty that could be performed.
On entering a house the sandals are taken off by a servant, who takes care of them, and brings them again when needed.  In India it was customary for a servant to accompany his master when he walked out.  If the master desired to walk barefoot on the soft grass of the smooth ground the servant removed the sandals and carried them in his hand. 

John felt himself unworthy to do for Christ even the meanest work of a servant.

This was not so much to point out his own unworthiness,
as to point to the greatness and majesty of the One that was to come.


Pharisaios  (far-is-ah'-yos) a separatist, i.e. exclusively religious
From Strong's NT:5330
(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Of the three prominent societies of Judaism at the time of Christ – Pharisees,  Sadducees and Essenes –  the Pharisees were by far the most influential.

The origin of this most strict sect of the Jews is shrouded in some obscurity, but it is believed the organization came out of the Maccabean Revolt (165 B.C.).  There was,  however,  a group of Jews resembling the Pharisees as far back as the Babylonian Captivity.

The Name  “Pharisee,”  which in its Semitic form means  “the separated ones, separatists,”  first appears during the reign of  John Hyrcanus (135 B.C.).

They were found everywhere in Palestine,  not only in Jerusalem,  and even wore a distinguishing garb so as to be easily recognized.
According to Josephus,  their number at their zenith of popularity was more than 6,000.

Because of the significant role they played in the life of the Lord and the Apostles,  knowledge of the character and teachings of this group is of great importance for the understanding of the New Testament.  They are mentioned dozens of times,  especially in the Gospels,  and often form the foil and fabric of  the works and words of Jesus.

Three facets or characteristics of the Jewish nation contributed to the development of the Pharisees,  or paradoxically,  it may be said that the Pharisees made these contributions to Judaism,  so that ultimately Pharisaism and Judaism became almost synonymous.

Jewish Legalism Began in earnest after the Babylonian Captivity.
The Temple worship and the sacrifices had ceased and Judaism began to center its activities on the Jewish Law and the synagogue.
The highest qualification for membership was strict adherence to the Law, oral or written.
They were a body of Jews who professed to be more religious than the rest, and to explain the laws more precisely.
Jewish Nationalism Continued persecution and isolation crystallized this narrow spirit.
The fierce persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.) only drew the Jewish people closer together.
The Pharisees took the occasion to cultivate a national and religious consciousness that has hardly been equaled.
Jewish Religion Formulation and adaptation of Mosaic law by Scribe and Rabbi, 
increased tradition,  and a more rabid separatism from almost everything resulted in almost a new religion much the opposite from that handed down in the Covenant by the prophets.
Pharisaism epitomized this spirit.

They made life difficult for themselves and bitter for others.
They despised those whom they did not consider their equals and were haughty and arrogant because they believed they were the only interpreters of God and His Word.
It is only natural that ultimately such a religion became only a matter of externals and not of the heart,  and that God’s grace was thought to come only from doing the Law.

Their doctrines included

The immortality of the soul, and
The resurrection.


Saddoukaios  (sad-doo-kah'-yos) probably from  Sadducaean (i.e. Tsadokian),
or follower of a certain Israelite:
From Strong's NT:4523

The origin of this group is uncertain.
But it is to be sought in the period in Jewish history between the restoration of the Jews to their own land  (536 B.C.)  and the Christian era.  No evidence of Sadduceeism is to be found in Israel before the captivity.

The origin of the name of the sect is obscure.
The root of the word means  “to be righteous,”  and the word has sometimes been taken to be an adjective,  “the righteous ones,”  but since the Sadducees were not particularly distinguished for their righteousness,  it is unlikely that they got their name from this word.
The probability is that the name is derived from some person named Zadok:

1. The best-known Zadok was the Davidic high priest (11 Samuel 8:17),  from whom the succeeding high priests claimed to descend.  He himself was descended from Aaron through the line of Eleazar (1 Chron. 24:3).  The prophet Ezekiel,  in his description of the restored temple,  says that because the sons of Zadok remained loyal to Jehovah when the Israelites went astray,  they would be ministers in the new sanctuary.  Some scholars hold that the Sadducees trace their origin to this Zadok.
2. Others think that the name comes from another Zadok,  a disciple of Antigonus of Socho (250 B.C.),  who taught that obedience to God should be absolutely disinterested,  without expectation of future reward.  This view goes back to an apocryphal legend in the Abot-de-Rabbi Nathan  (1,000 A.D.).
3. There is also the possibility that the name may be derived from some Zadok unknown to us.

The chief authorities for our knowledge of this sect are Josephus,  the New Testament,  and the Talmud.

Josephus says:
“They only gain the well-to-do; they have not the people on their side.”

They were the political party of the Jewish aristocratic priesthood from the time of the Maccabees.
They were priests,  but not all priests were Sadducees.
The likelihood is that the priestly party only gradually crystallized into the sect of the Sadducees.
The priestly aristocracy became leaders in the Hellenizing movement that began with Alexander the Great.
The high priesthood and the throne were united in a single person when Simon was recognized as both high priest and ruler of the Jews (143 B.C.).
Under the Romans,  they became the party favorable to the government.
As aristocrats, they were naturally very conservative,  and were more interested in maintaining the political status quo than in the religious purity of the nation.
Since they were not popular with the people,  they sometimes found it necessary to adopt the Pharisaic policy in order to win the popular support.

Annas and Caiaphas were both Sadducees.

The Sadducees contrasted strongly with the Pharisees in a number of their beliefs:

They held only to the written Law,  and rejected the traditions of the Pharisees.
They denied the resurrection of the body,  personal immortality,  and retribution in a future life.
They denied the existence of angels and spirits.
They differed with the Pharisees on divine predestination and the freedom of the human will.


While the Pharisees were a religious party,  the Scribes held an office.
The double designation  “Scribes and Pharisees”  distinguishes them from the Pharisees,  but the majority of the scribes belonged to the Pharisee party that recognized the legal interpretations of the scribes.

The powerful position of the scribes in the New Testament was the result of a long development.
In pre-exilic days they were public writers,  governmental secretaries,  and copiers of the law and other documents.
The distinctive nature of the office first comes into view with Ezra,  who set himself to the task of teaching the law to the returning exiles.  By New Testament times they held undisputed sway as the recognized exponents of the law and the revered representatives of Judaism.

Proudly they claimed the positions of first rank,  sought the public acclaim of the masses,  and dressed in long robes like the nobility.  They demanded from their disciple’s utmost reverence,  claiming an honor surpassing that due to parents.

Because of their legal knowledge the scribes were often called upon to serve as judges in Jewish courts.


The nature of John the Baptist was full of impetuosity and fire. The long struggle which had given him so powerful a mastery over himself which had:
1. Made him content with self-obliteration before the presence of his Lord.
2. Inspired him with fearlessness in the face of danger, and humility in the midst of applause. Had left its traces in the stern character, and aspect, and teaching of the man.

If he had won peace in the long prayer and penitence of his life in the wilderness,  it was not the spontaneous peace of a placid and holy soul.  The victory he had won was still encumbered with traces of the battle;  the calm he had attained still echoed with the distant mutter of the storm.  His very teaching reflected the imagery of the wilderness:

the Rock the Serpent

the Barren Tree

While he was musing the fire burned, and at the last he spake with his tongue. Almost from boyhood he had been a voluntary eremite. In solitude he had learned things unspeakable; there the unseen world had become to him a reality; there his spirit had caught  “a touch of phantasy and flame.”  Communing with his own great lonely heart – communing with the high thoughts of that long line of prophets,  his predecessors to a rebellious people – communing with the utterances that came to him from the voices of the mountain and the sea – he had learned a deeper lore than he could have ever learned at Hillel’s or Shammai’s feet.  He had learned a language;  he had received a revelation, not vouchsafed to ordinary men – attained, not in the schools of the Rabbis, but in the school of solitude, in the school of God.

There was enough and to spare of those respectable, conventional teachers, who spake smooth things and prophesied deceits. The ordinary Scribe or Pharisee, sleek with good living and supercilious with general respect, might get up in the synagogue, with his broad phylacteries and luxurious robes, and might, perhaps, minister to some sleepy edification with his Midrash or hair-splitting puerilities and threadbare precedents; but the very aspect of John the Baptist would have shown that there was another style of teacher here.

Even before the first vibrating tone of a voice that rang with scorn and indignation, the bronzed countenance, the unshorn locks, the close-pressed lips, the leathern girdle, the mantle of camel’s hair, would at once betoken that here at last was a man who was a man indeed in all his natural grandeur and dauntless force, who, like the rough Bedaway prophet (Elijah) who was his antitype, would stand equaling before purple Ahabs and adulterous Jezebels.

No wonder that such a man at once made himself felt as a power in the midst of his people. It became widely rumored that, in the wilderness of Judaea, lived one whose burning words it was worth while to hear; one who recalled Isaiah by his expressions, and Elijah by his life.

1. A Tiberius was polluting by his infamies the throne of the Empire;
2. A Pontius Pilate with his insolences, cruelties, extortions, massacres, was maddening a fanatic people;
3. A Herod Antipas was exhibiting to facile learners the example of calculated apostasy and reckless lust
4. A Caiaphas and an Annas were dividing the functions of a priesthood which they disgraced.

Yet the talk of the new Prophet was not of political circumstances such as these; the lessons he had to teach were deeper and more universal in their moral and social significance. Whatever might be the class who flocked to his stern solitude, his teaching was intensely practical, painfully heart-searching, fearlessly downright. And so Pharisee and Sadducee, Scribe and soldier, priest and publican, all thronged to listen to his words.

The place where he preached was the wild range of uncultivated and untenanted wilderness, which stretches southward from Jericho and the fords of Jordan to the shores of the Dead Sea. The cliffs that overhung the narrow defile which led from Jerusalem to Jericho were the haunt of dangerous robbers; the wild beasts and the crocodiles were not yet extinct in the reed-beds that marked the swellings of Jordan; yet from every quarter of the country – from priestly Hebron, from holy Jerusalem, from smiling Galilee – they came streaming forth, to catch the accents of this strange voice.

Without a shadow of euphemism, without an accent of subservience, without a tremor of hesitation, he rebuked the tax-gatherers for their extortionate ness; the soldiers for their violence, unfairness and discontent; the wealthy Sadducees and stately Pharisees, for a formalism and falsity which made them vipers of a viperous brood. The whole people he warned that their cherished privileges were worse than valueless if, without repentance, they regarded them as a protection against the wrath to come.

But he had anther and stranger message – a message sterner, yet more hopeful – to deliver; for himself he would claim no authority save as the forerunner of another; for his own baptism no value, save as an initiation into the kingdom that was at hand. When the deputation from the Sanhedrin asked him who he was he never for a moment hesitated to say that he was not the Christ, no Elias, neither that prophet; but after him was coming One who was preferred before him, for He was before him – One whose shoe’s latchet he was unworthy to unloose – One who would baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Ghost, and with fire – One whose fan was in His hand, and who should thoroughly purge His floor – who should gather His wheat into the garner, but burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. The hour for the sudden coming of their long-promised, long-expected Messiah was at hand.  His awful presence was near them, was among them, but they knew Him not.

(Life of Christ by Dr. Frederic W. Farrar Copyright: 1949)


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From the NKJV
Matthew 3:13-17   Mark 1:9-11 Luke 3:21-23

  (13) Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  (14)  And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?"
    (15)  But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him.

(9)  It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

(21)  When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized;

    (16)  When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 

(10)  And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 

and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.  (22)  And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him,

(17)  And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying,  "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

(11)  Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."
(23)  Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age..




Then Jesus came

In the 30th year of His life,  Jesus came from Galilee.
John was his kinsman by birth,  but the circumstances of their life had entirely separated them:

1. John as a child in the house of the his father the priest,  had lived at Juttah,  in the far south of the tribe of Judah and not far from Hebron
2. Jesus had lived in the deep seclusion of the carpenter’s shop in the valley of Galilee

John tried to prevent him

Though Jesus was not yet revealed as the Messiah,  there was something in His look,  something in the sinless beauty of His ways,  something in the solemn majesty of His aspect,  which at once overawed and captivated the soul of John.

The battle-brunt that legionaries could not daunt – The lofty manhood before which hierarchs trembled and princes grew pale – resigns itself,  submits,  adores before a moral force that is weak in every external attribute and armed only in an invisible mail.

John bowed to the simple stainless manhood before he had been inspired to recognize the Divine commission.  He earnestly tried to forbid the purpose of Jesus.  He who had received the confessions of all others,  now reverently and humbly makes his own:

 "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?"

Suffer it now

The answer contains the second recorded utterance of Jesus,  and the first word of His public ministry  –

"Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

“I will sprinkle clean water upon you,  and ye shall be clean” – such seems to be the burden of John’s message to the sinners who had become sincerely penitent.

The Question But if so,  why did Jesus receive baptism at His servant’s hands?
The Answer His own words tell us;
It was to fulfill every requirement to which God’s will might seem to point  (Psalms 60:7,8)
He did not accept it as subsequent to a confession,  for He was sinless;  and in this respect,  even before he recognized Him as the Christ,  John clearly implied that the rite would be in His case exceptional.
He received this baptism as the humble inauguration of a ministry that came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill.
He does not say:   “I must,”
or:   “I have to be baptized,”
or:   “Thou hast no need to be baptized of me,”
but:   “Permit it to be so now,”
and:   “Thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

Here we have the Great Example:

1. Jesus did not submit because He needed to for Himself.
2. Jesus submitted because it was necessary to redeem us.
3. The desires of His own personal flesh was not number one with Him.

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From the NKJV
Matthew 4:1-11 Mark 1:12-13 Luke 4:1-13

(1) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  (2)  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 

(12)  Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.  (13)  And He was there in the wilderness forty days,

(1) Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 

(3)  Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."

tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts;

(2)  being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.(3)  And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."

(4)  But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"


(4)  But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'"

(5)  Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, (6)  and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and,
'In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
(7)  Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"
(8)  Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  (9)  And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
(10)  Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"


(5)  Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  (6)  And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  (7)  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."
(8)  And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
(9)  Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.  (10)  For it is written:
'He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,'
(11)  and,  'In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
(12)  And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

(11)  Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

and the angels ministered to Him.

(13)  Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness

1. The place is unknown.
The tradition fixes it near Jericho, in the neighborhood of the Quarantania, the precipitous face of which is pierced with ancient cells and chapels, and a ruined church is on its topmost peak.
2. The first act of the ministry of Jesus Christ was a combat with Satan.
As Genesis 3:17 states:  “I will put ENMITY between the woman’s seed and thy seed…”
3. The Revised translates properly:
Matthew led into eis the wilderness
Luke led in en the wilderness

He was not only impelled INTO the wilderness,  or led into it by an OUTWARD force,  but the Spirit with which He was filled guided him  IN  the wilderness.



     …And He was with The wild  
1. The region surrounding the Quarantania mentioned above abounds in boars,  jackals,  wolves,  foxes,  leopards,  hyena, etc.
2. This seems to intimate that He was in the most remote, unfrequented, and savage part of the desert;  which,  together with the diabolic influence,  tended to render the whole scene the more horrid.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward hungered. And the tempter came And he was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan …in the wilderness during forty days, being tempted of the devil. And He did eat nothing in those Days

We have here,  in Matthew,  Mark and Luke  a three-fold description of Lucifer in his fallen state:

Matthew TEMPTER peirazo to try, make trial of, put to the test – in the bad sense, to bring out something against one who is being tried – also, of enticement to sin.
Mark SATAN Satanas literally, the Adversary or one who opposes.
Luke DEVIL diabolos literally, Slanderer. It is from this Greek word that we derive our word “diabolic” meaning very cruel or wicked.
He is the father of the lie.

There were 3 great fasts:

1. Moses the great Lawgiver
2. Elijah chief of the Prophets
3. Jesus the Fulfiller of the Law and Prophets, issuing in the New Covenant

Hunger always leaves after a few days of a fast and returns after about 40 days or when all toxic poisons have been expelled from the body.  The breath at this time becomes as sweet as a baby’s.  Any normal healthy person can fast this long without any harm.  Starvation only begins after hunger returns.  One must use water in long fasts and break the fast gradually.

Originally one of the greatest and most beautiful of all God’s created beings who was “the anointed cherub that covereth,”  Lucifer, who Isaiah 14:12 describes as  “son of the morning,”  and whose very name means  “morning-star,”  became,  through the sin of pride and self-exaltation,  the arch-enemy of God Himself. 
Not willing to endure his punishment alone with those angels who followed him in his first insurrection,  he is consumed with the desire to destroy God’s most precious possession and crowning achievement of creation: mankind.
Having been successful with the perfect man,  Adam,  he now tries relentlessly to bring that perfect Jesus,  Son of God,  yet Son of Man,  down to his own heinous level,  and with Him damn all mankind forever.


Now when the tempter came to Him, he said,  "If You are the Son of God,  command that these stones become bread."
But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth
of God.'"
And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."
But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'"

IF thou be”  is so typical of the sly approach of the master tempter,  even as he did with Eve when he said, “HATH God said…”

The IF automatically raises the response:

1. SINCE  you are ...
2. You MAY ...
3. You CAN ...
4. Then WHY NOT?

Jesus did not argue the question of whether or not He was the Son of God  (even as Eve should not have argued the question of whether God had said,  and what He meant by it).  There was no need to argue the settled fact.>

In His answer,  Jesus as much as said to Satan:
“Supposing you are right,  and I am not the Son of God at all
– my response is the same –
I draw for my defense and for my sustenance the Word of God,
and that which proceeds from the mouth of God.

Jesus was hungry,  and  “these stones”  were perhaps those siliceous accretions,  sometimes known under the name of  “lapides judaici,”  which assume that exact shape of little loaves of bread,  and which were represented in legend as the petrified fruits of the Cities of the Plain.

The pangs of hunger work all the more powerfully when they are stimulated by the added tortures of a quick imagination;  and if the conjecture were correct,  then the very shape and traditional origin of these stones would give to the temptation added force.

It was a temptation to the senses
– an appeal to the appetites
It was just such a temptation that caused Esau to loose his birthright as the eldest son of Isaac
It was the same basic temptation that caused King David to bring reproach to Israel and loose four of his sons
And it is just such a temptation to which every man, save Jesus, has fallen victim

     Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
'He shall give His angels charge over you,'
'In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
     Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
     Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

     Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."
     And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.10 For it is written:
'He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,'
'In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

The order of the temptations is given differently by Matthew and Luke.

1. Some say that both orders cannot be right,  and possibly Luke arranged his in order of importance,  with the thought that a temptation to spiritual pride and the arbitrary exercise of miraculous power was a subtler and less transparent,  and therefore more powerful one,  than the temptation to fall down and recognize the power of evil.
2. Others say that this represents two entirely separate series of temptations,  both of which the Lord overcame.
Consider the possibility of a  continued series of temptations,  which is entirely true to the tenacious character of the Master Tempter.  Take,  for instance,  the word AGAIN at the beginning of the final temptation recorded in Matthew:

It is from the Greek word, “palin” which is used in these ways:
1. Back – go back, return.
2. In expressions that denote a falling back into a previous state or a return to a previous activity.
3. Again, once more, anew – when something is repeated.
4. Furthermore – connecting things that are similar.


Our English word  “pinnacle
is a derivative of the Latin  “pinnaculum” 
which is a diminutive of  “pinna”  or “penna” (a wing).
The Latin word
is a literal translation of the Greek  “pterugion,”  which is used here,
and also means “a little wing” or “winglet.”
It may be used in the familiar English sense of the wing of a building.

Herod’s temple had two wings,

the northern
and southern

The southern was the higher and grander;  that being the direction in which the chief enlargement of the temple area made by Herod was practicable.  Building up walls of solid masonry from the valley below effected that enlargement,  according to Josephus.

At the extremity of a magnificent colonnade,  consisting of a nave and two aisles,  running across the entire space from the eastern to the western wall.  Josephus further says,  that  “while the valley of itself was very deep,  and its bottom could scarcely be seen when one looked down from above,  the additional vastly high elevation of the portico was placed on that height,  insomuch that,  if any one looked down from the summit of the roof,  combining the two altitudes in one stretch of vision,  he could be giddy,  while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth.”
The roof of this portico,  at the southeastern angle,  where it joined Solomon’s Porch,  and from which the view into the Kedron valley beneath was to the depth of  four hundred and fifty feet.


Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. ... and the angels ministered to Him. Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

The final temptation savoring of nothing but diabolical impudence,  Jesus did not treat as the others;  but,  with Divine authority,  commanded the tempter to return to his own place.

Ended every temptation

The verb  “suntelesas,”  meaning  “to bring to one end together,”  or to  “complete,”  actually gives the idea that Satan literally exhausted himself trying to tempt Jesus, to cause Him to bend to his own diabolical will.


1 JOHN 2:15-16
It was good for food LUST OF THE FLESH Turn these stones to Bread
It was pleasant to the eyes LUST OF THE EYES Turn these stones to Bread
Desired to make one wise PRIDE OF LIFE All these things I will give Thee
Man failed   Jesus overcame

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John 1:19-34
(19)  Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
(20)  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
(21)  And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?"
He said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
And he answered, "No."
(22)  Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?"
(23)  He said:  "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  'Make straight the way of the LORD,"'  as the prophet Isaiah said."
(24)  Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.  (25)  And they asked him, saying,  "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 
(26)  John answered them, saying,  "I baptize with water, but there stands one among you whom you do not know.  (27)  It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose."
(28)  These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
     (29)  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  (30)  This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'  (31)  I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water." 
(32)  And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.  (33)  I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me,  'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'  (34)  And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

The Jews     verse 19

This is used more than 50 times in the Gospel of John,  while it occurs in only  4  passages in the other three Gospels.  In John’s Gospel they are distinguished from the multitude:

O ochlos the multitude
Oi ioudaioi the Jews

The Multitude - By the former  “o ochlos”  is meant the aggregate of the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine:

1. They were the mass of people, chiefly Galileans.
2. They were unsettled in conviction, inquisitive.
3. They were despised by the Pharisees, because they were inclined to listen to Jesus and to believe.
4. They were moved to make Him a king, and escorted Him triumphantly into Jerusalem.

The Leaders - By the latter  “oi ioudaioi”  is meant more particularly the leaders of Judaism in opposition to Jesus:

1. They were tenacious of the expectation of a national Messiah.
2. They represent the narrow, sectarian aspect of Judaism.
3. They are the instigators and leaders of the opposition, and to them is the crucifixion attributed.
4. Wrapped up in this word is the upper crust of the
scribes and
5. The idea underlying the word is habitually that of separation from the character and privileges of a true Israelite because of their rejection of Jesus.

Elijah  (Elias)     verse 21

Elias is the Greek rendering of Elijah.
The scribes had taught that Elijah would return physically.
This they supported by a literal translation of  Malachi 4:5.

The Prophet     verse 21

This was the prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 & 18

Deut 18:15
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.
Deut 18:18
I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him
This text they had also misunderstood:  for the Prophet or Teacher promised by Moses was no other than the Messiah Himself (Acts 3:22).
Acts 3:22
For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.
But the Jews had a tradition that Jeremiah was to return to life,  and restore the pot of manna,  the ark of the covenant, etc.,  which he had hidden that the Babylonians might not get them.  Besides this they had a general expectation that all the prophets should come to life in the days of the Messiah.

Why then do you baptize?     verse 24

Baptism was a very common ceremony among the Jews,  who never received a proselyte into the full enjoyment of a Jew’s privileges,   till he had been both baptized and circumcised.

1. Such baptisms were never performed except by an ordinance of the Sanhedrin,
or in the presence of three Magistrates.
2. They never baptized any Jew or Jewess,  nor even the children of Proselytes.
These were considered as born in the covenant,
so they were considered not to be in need of this introductory rite.
3. John had,  in this respect,  altered the common custom by admitting Jews to his baptism.
The Sanhedrin took it for granted that no man had authority to make such changes,
unless especially commissioned from on high.

Behold! The Lamb of God      verse 29

There can be no doubt that the image is derived from Isaiah 53.
But the idea of vicarious suffering endured with perfect gentleness and meekness,  which is conveyed by the prophetic language  (comp. Jeremiah 11:19),  does not exhaust the meaning of the image:

1. The lamb was the victim offered continually at the morning and evening sacrifice (Exodus 29:38),
thus pointing out the CONTINUAL efficacy of the blood of atonement.
2. The Passover was not far off  (John 2:12,13),
and the Lord was definitely identified with the Pascal Lamb  (John 19:36; 1 Peter 1:19).
3. The deliverance from Egypt was the most conspicuous symbol of the Messianic deliverance  (Rev. 15:3;   Heb. 3:3;  Ezek. 20:33),  and  “the lamb”  called up all its memories and promises.
4. The thought was probably brought home by the sight of the passing flocks of lambs on their way to Jerusalem as offerings at the coming Feast.
5. John was as much as telling the people,  that after all of the hundreds of years of sacrifices brought by man to roll forward for a little longer the sins of disobedience and rebellion,  God was providing that Perfect Sacrifice that would not just roll them forward,  but would blot them out entirely.
Lev. 17:11
Life of flesh is in the blood.
The blood maketh atonement of the soul.

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John 1:35-51
     (35) Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.  (36)  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
(37)  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  (38)  Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?"
They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?"
(39)   He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).
(40)  One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  (41)  He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ).  (42)  And he brought him to Jesus.
Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone).
(43)  The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me."  (44)  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  (45)  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
(46)  And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
(47)  Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"
(48)  Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?"
Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
(49)  Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"
(50)  Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."  (51)  And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Jesus lays the foundation of the New Covenant

The Disciple Followed Jesus Because First thing they did after they met Jesus
John and Andrew Witness of John the Baptist Andrew Witnessed to his brother (Simon Peter)
and brought him to Jesus
Peter Witness of his brother Andrew Received a new name from Jesus
Philip Jesus went and found him Witnessed to his friend (Nathanael)
and brought him to Jesus
Nathanael Witness of his friend Philip Acknowledged Jesus as Savior and King
The First   Disciple
To follow Jesus because of  the witness of a minister John and Andrew
To bring his brother to Jesus   Andrew
To follow Jesus because of  the witness of his brother Simon
To be changed by Jesus   Simon Peter
To follow Jesus because Jesus found him Philip
To whom Jesus said "Follow Me"   Philip
The only disciple with a Greek name   Philip
To bring his friend to Jesus   Philip
To follow Jesus because of the witness of a friend Nathanael
To acknowledge Jesus as Savior and King   Nathanael

Two of his (John the Baptist) disciples

One of those two youths who came earliest to Christ was Andrew.
The other suppressed his own name because he was the narrator,  the beloved disciple, John.
No wonder that the smallest details,  down even to the very hour of the day,  were treasured in his memory,  never to be forgotten,  even in extreme old age.

You are - You shall be

Simon the son of John   (John is from the Hebrew, Jonas, or “dove”).

Cephas Kephas Aramaic “stone”
Peter Petros Greek “stone”

“You are Simon,  the son of the  “dove”.  You shall be as the rock in which the dove hides.
The dove represents the Holy Spirit.
It was, indeed, a play upon the word, but one that was memorably symbolic and profound.  Especially when you consider that it was in the form of a dove that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus.


Alone of the apostles Philip had a Greek name,  derived,  perhaps,  from the Tetrarch Philip,  since the custom of naming children after reigning princes has always been a common one.  If so,  he must at this time have been under thirty.  Possibly his Greek name indicated his familiarity with some of the Greek-speaking population who lived mingled with the Galileans on the shores of Gennesareth;  and this may account for the fact, that he,  rather than any of the other Apostles,  was appealed to by the Greeks who wished to see Jesus.


In the list of apostles,  he is generally,  and almost undoubtedly,  identified with Bartholomew;  for Bartholomew is less a name than a designation  – “Bar-Tolmai,”  “Son of Tolmai” –  and while Nathanael is only in one other place mentioned under this name (John 21:2),  Bartholomew is never mentioned in the same list with Nathanael,  and he is always associated with Philip.

As his home was at Cana of Galilee,  the son of Tolmai might easily have become acquainted with the young fishermen of Gennesareth.

Can any good thing come out of Nazareth

Nathanael expressed surprise that Jesus should have come from Nazareth,  a poor village,  even the name of which does not occur in the Old Testament.  Contrary to the popular view,  there is no evidence that Nazareth was any worse than other places.  It was a proverb,  that no prophet was to come from Galilee  (John 7:52).


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John 2:1-11
     (1)  In the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  (2)  Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.  (3)  And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."
     (4)  Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."
     (5)  His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."
     (6)  Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.  (7)  Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim.  (8)  And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it.  (9)  When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.  (10)  And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"
     (11)  This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
     (12)  After this He went down to Capernaum,  He,  His mother,  His brothers,  and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.

A Marriage feast

The custom was to celebrate for several days, usually seven.

So called each time when mentioned in the Gospel, to distinguish it from Cana in Coelo-Syria. Cana of Galilee is identified with “Kefr Kenna,” about 4-½ miles northwest of Nazareth.

The mother of Jesus

In the Gospel of John alone,  the name of  “the mother of Jesus”  is not mentioned,  even when Joseph is named.
It shows the respect John had for Mary,  as he would his own mother.


In the New Testament Greek there is not the least tinge of reproof or severity in the term.
The address is that of courteous respect,  even of tenderness.  It could be similar to our “Madam.”

My hour has not yet come

The ministry of Jesus was to officially begin at the Passover Feast when He would cleanse the temple.
This is not the last time that Jesus allowed faith to alter His schedule.  (See Matt. 15:21-28).

The depth,  obscurity,  and naturalness of this conversation reveal a very real truth:

1. IMPLIED REQUEST “They have no wine”
2. APPARENT DENIAL “My hour has not yet come”
3. PERSISTENCE OF TRUST “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
4. ACTIVE FAITH "And they filled them up to the brim"
5. TRIUMPH OF FAITH "You have kept the good wine until now!"

Twenty or thirty gallons apiece

The  “metretes,”  or  “firkin,”  was the principal Greek liquid measure,  and contained a little more than eight gallons.  Three firkins would be somewhere between 24 and 30 gallons.

The governor of the feast

Among the Greeks,  at all formal feasts,  there was a  “symposiarch,”  which was one of the guests,  and was selected to take charge of the feast.  It was his duty to

preserve order,
maintain liveliness among the guests,
assign each one his proper place,
decide what proportions of water should be mingled with the wine,  and
how much each of the company was to drink.
He also tasted the wine before it was offered to the guests.

Among the Romans was a corresponding officer who was called  “rex convivii”  or  “arbiter bibendi.”
Also there was a custom of hiring a special servant to overlook the other servants,  and to fulfill this office of governor of the feast.John 2:6-12

Moses' first miracle was a plague turning water into blood (Ex 7:19 ff) which speaks of judgment
Our Lord's first miracle turning water into wine which speaks of grace

From The Bible Exposition Commentary
Dispensational Lessons

Israel was ignorant of its own Messiah.

"There stands One among you whom you do not know,"  said John the Baptist in 1:26.
This wedding feast is a picture of the nation:
the wine had run out, 
the people's supply was emptied, 
yet their Messiah stood there to help them.
The six waterpots were used for ceremonial cleansing (see Mark 7:3 ff),
but the Jewish ceremonies could not help the spiritually bankrupt nation.
 It was without joy (wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible - see Ps 104:15 and Judg 9:13)
and without hope.

The people had external ceremonies, but they had nothing to satisfy them within.

Christ will one day bring joy again to Israel, when it receives Him as its King.
Israel will be wedded again to its God (see Isaiah 54 and Hosea 2),
and the wine of its joy will run freely and Christ's glory will be revealed (John 2:11).
Until that day comes,  Christ must say to Israel,  "What have I to do with thee?" (John 2:4)

The nation has rejected Him, and it will not receive Him until that day when He returns in glory and power.

The Doctrinal Lessons
A thirsty crowd

Isn't this a picture of the lost world today?
They are tasting the world's pleasures but finding no personal satisfaction,
and what fulfillment they have eventually runs out.
The Bible invites thirsty sinners to come to Christ for salvation and satisfaction
(John 4:13-14; 7:37; Isaiah 55:1;  Rev 22:17).

Empty waterpots

Representing the human heart, which is hard and empty.
The Word of God compares the human being to a vessel (2 Cor 4:7; 2 Tim 2:20-21).
The sinner's life may look lovely on the outside,
but God sees it is empty and useless unless He is able to work a divine miracle.

Filled with water

Water for washing is,  in the Bible,  an image of the Word of God. (See Eph 5:26;  John 15:3.)
All that the servants had to do was fill the empty waterpots with water,
which is like the servant of God filling the heart of the unbeliever with the Word.
It is not our job to save souls,
but it is our job to give people the Word and let Christ perform the miracle of salvation.

Water to wine

When the sinner's heart has been filled with the Word, then Christ can perform the miracle and bring joy.
In Acts 8:26-40, Philip filled the Ethiopian with the Word, and when the man believed, the miracle of salvation took place.
The Ethiopian went his way rejoicing. Note John 1:17-"The law came through Moses";
in the Old Testament water was changed to blood (Ex 7:19), which indicates judgment.
But Christ turned water into wine, which speaks of grace and joy.
Wine symbolizes the Holy Spirit  (Eph 5:18).

The third day

This foreshadows the Resurrection, since Christ arose from the dead on the third day.
Perhaps John had Genesis 1 in mind when he wrote of this first week of  "a new creation" (2 Cor 5:17).
This would be the third day of the wedding feast.

The beginning of miracles

Salvation is the beginning of miracles, for after a person is saved,
God performs one miracle after another for him;
and the miracles we experience bring glory to Christ.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright (c) 1992 by SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.)


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John 2:13-25
     (13) Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (14)  And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. (15)  When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. (16)  And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"  (17)  Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up."
(18)  So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?"
     (19)  Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
     (20)  Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"
     (21)  But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  (22)  Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
     (23)  Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.  (24)  But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men,  (25)  and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

It is impossible not to feel the change that at this point comes over the narrative.
There is a change of:

1. Place
2. Occasion
3. Manner of action
Marriage Feast Passover Feast
Sympathizing Guest Stern Reformer
Ennobling of Common Life Purifying of Divine Worship
Revelation of the Son of Man Revelation of the Son of God

This was the first Passover after Christ's baptism.
The second is mentioned, Luke 6:1.
The third, John 6:4.
And the fourth, which was that at which he was crucified, John 11:55.

Excerpts from Farrar concerning Jesus at the First Passover

Then,  as now,  an immense multitude,  composed of pilgrims from every land,  and proselytes of every nation,  flocked to the Holy City,  bringing with them many needs.  The traveler who now visits Jerusalem at the Passover (Easter) will make his was to the gates of the Church of the Sepulchre through a crowd of vendors of relics,  souvenirs,  and all kinds of objects,  who,  squatting on the ground,  fill all the vacant space before the church and overflow into the adjoining street.

Far more numerous and far more noisome must have been the buyers and sellers who choked the avenues leading to the Temple,  in the Passover to which Jesus now went among the other pilgrims;  for what they had to sell were not only trinkets and knick-knacks,  such as now are sold to Eastern pilgrims,  but oxen,  sheep,  and doves.  On both sides of the eastern gate  –  the gate Shusan  –  as far as Solomon’s porch,  there had long been established the shops of merchants and the banks of moneychangers.

The moneychangers were almost a necessity;  for,  twenty days before the Passover,  the priests began to collect the old sacred tribute of half a shekel paid yearly by every Israelite,  whether rich or poor,  as atonement money for his soul,  and applied to the expenses of the Tabernacle service.

Now it would not be lawful to pay this in the coinage brought from all kinds of governments,  sometimes represented by wretched counters of brass and copper,  and always defiled with heathen symbols and heathen inscriptions.  It was lawful to send this money to the priests from a distance,  but every Jews who presented himself in the Temple preferred to pay it in person.   He was therefore obliged to procure the little silver coin in return for his own currency,  and the moneychangers charged him 5%.

Had this trafficking been confined to the streets immediately adjacent to the holy building,  it would have been excusable,  though not altogether seemly.  But the mischief had not stopped here.  The vicinity of the Court of the Gentiles,  with its broad spaces and long arcades,  had been too tempting to Jewish greed.

We learn from the Talmud that a certain Babha Ben Buta had been the first to introduce  “3,000 sheep of the flocks of  Kedar into the Mountain of the House”  –  or,  the Court of the Gentiles.  The profane example was eagerly followed.  The  “chanujoth”  of the shopkeepers,  the exchange booths of the usurers,  gradually crept into the sacred enclosure.

There,  steaming with heat in the burning April day,  and filling the Temple with stench and filth,  were penned whole flocks of sheep and oxen,  while the drovers and pilgrims stood bartering and bargaining around them.  There were the men with their great wicker cages filled with doves,  and under the shadow of the arcades,  formed by quadruple rows of Corinthian columns,  sat the money-changers with their tables covered with piles of various small coins while they reckoned and wrangled in the most dishonest of trades.

(Life of Christ by Dr. Frederic W. Farrar Copyright: 1949)

My Father's House

The Jews considered the Gentiles as defiled;  therefore the Court of the Gentiles was not holy to them.
Jesus,  however,  considered,  it just as holy and precious as any other part of the temple.
It was all part of His Father’s house.
He came to redeem people of all nations,  and not just a chosen few.

How close is the resemblance of these remarkable words to those in Luke 2:49, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business!".

Then He was simply "a Son IN His own house"
Now He was "a Son OVER His own house"  (Heb 3:6)

Mal 3:1
"Behold,  I send My messenger (John the Baptist),
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,"
Says the LORD of hosts.

What sign do You show

When Moses came to deliver Israel,  he gave signs,  or miracles,  that he acted under a Divine commission.
His answer was similar to the one He gave His disciples later on  (Matt. 12:38-40).
His resurrection was the Sign of Signs.

v 18 The Jews ask for a sign v 22 His disciples believe the Scriptures
v 20 The Jews see only the natural temple v 21 Jesus is speaking of  His death and resurrection
The true Sacrifice

Luke 11:29
"This is an evil generation.  It seeks a sign,  and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

This is the First time Jesus refers to His death and resurrection.


(End of Lesson Three)



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