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Wednesday Bible Study
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
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The Preaching of John the Baptist

Luke 3:15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, :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.”

John’s self-effacement was remarkable. For a time, at least, he could have posed as the Messiah and attracted a great following. But instead he compared himself most unfavorably with Christ. He explained that his baptism was outward and physical, whereas Christ’s would be inward and spiritual. He stated that he was not worthy to untie the Messiah’s sandal strap.

Christ’s baptism would be with the Holy Spirit and fire. His would be a two-fold ministry. First of all, He would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit—a promise of what would take place on the Day of Pentecost when believers were baptized into the body of Christ.

But secondly, He would baptize with fire. It seems clear that the baptism of fire is a baptism of judgment. There the Lord is pictured as a winnower of grain. As He shovels the grain into the air, the chaff is blown to the sides of the threshing floor. Then it is swept up and burned.

When John was speaking to a mixed multitude—believers and unbelievers—he mentioned both the baptism of the Spirit and the baptism of fire (Matt. 3:11 and here).

When, however, he was speaking to believers only (Mark 1:5), he omitted the baptism of fire (Mark 1:8). No true believer will ever experience the baptism of fire.

Luke 3:18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. :19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, :20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.

Luke is now ready to turn the spotlight from John to Jesus. Therefore, in these verses, he summarizes the remainder of John’s ministry and carries us forward to the time of his imprisonment by Herod.

The imprisonment of John actually took place about eighteen months later. He had rebuked Herod for living in an adulterous relationship with his sister-in-law. Herod then crowned all his other evil deeds by shutting John up in prison.

The Baptism of Jesus

Luke 3:21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. :22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

As John recedes from our attention, the Lord Jesus moves out into the position of prominence. He opens His public ministry, at about the age of thirty, by being baptized in the Jordan River.

There are several points of interest in this account of His baptism: 1. All three Persons of the Trinity are found here: Jesus (v. 21); the Holy Spirit (v. 22a); the Father (v. 22b).

2. Luke alone records the fact that Jesus prayed at His baptism (v. 21). This is in keeping with Luke’s aim to present Christ as the Son of Man, ever dependent on God the Father.

The prayer life of our Lord is a dominant theme in this Gospel. He prayed here, at the outset of His public ministry. He prayed when He was becoming well known and crowds were following Him (5:16). He spent a whole night in prayer before choosing the twelve disciples (6:12). He prayed prior to the incident at Caesarea Philippi, the high-water mark of His teaching ministry (9:18). He prayed on the Mount of Transfiguration (9:28). He prayed in the presence of His disciples, and this called forth a discourse on prayer (11:1). He prayed for backsliding Peter (22:32). He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (22:41, 44).

3. The baptism of Jesus is one of three times when God spoke from heaven in connection with the ministry of His own dear Son. 

For thirty years the eye of God had examined that flawless Life in Nazareth; here His verdict was, “I am well pleased.” The other two times when the Father publicly spoke from heaven were: When Peter suggested building three tabernacles on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:35), and when the Greeks came to Philip, desiring to see Jesus (John 12:20–28).

The Ancestors of Jesus

Luke 3:23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, At the time Jesus began His public ministry He was thirty years old, as were the Levitical priests when they began their service (Num 4:47). Being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph. Luke is careful to explain Christ’s unique parentage in light of His virgin birth. Jesus had no earthly father. Luke 3:24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, :25 the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, :26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, :27 the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, :28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, :29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, :30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, :31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David, :32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, :33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, :34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, :35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, :36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, :37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan, :38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Scholars widely believe that this is the Lord’s genealogy through Mary for the following reasons: The most obvious is that Joseph’s family line is traced in Matthew’s Gospel (1:2–16).

2. In the early chapters of Luke’s Gospel, Mary is more prominent than Joseph, whereas it is the reverse in Matthew.

3. Women’s names were not commonly used among the Jews as genealogical links. This would account for the omission of Mary’s name.

4. In Matthew 1:16, it distinctly states that Jacob begot Joseph. Here in Luke, it does not say that Heli begot Joseph; it says Joseph was the son of Heli. Son may mean son-in-law.

5. In the original language, the definite article (tou) in the genitive form (of the) appears before every name in the genealogy except one. That one name is Joseph. This singular exception strongly suggests that Joseph was included only because of his marriage to Mary.

Although it is not necessary to examine the genealogy in detail, it is helpful to note several important points: 1. This list shows that Mary was descended from David through his son Nathan (v. 31). In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus inherited the legal right to the throne of David through Solomon.

As legal Son of Joseph, the Lord fulfilled that part of God’s covenant with David which promised him that his throne would continue forever. But Jesus could not have been the real son of Joseph without coming under God’s curse on Jechoniah, which decreed that no descendant of that wicked king would prosper (Jer. 22:30).

As the real Son of Mary, Jesus fulfilled that part of the covenant of God with David which promised him that his seed would sit upon his throne forever. And by being descended from David through Nathan, He did not come under the curse which was pronounced on Jechoniah.

2. Adam is described as the son of God (v. 38). This means simply that he was created by God.


Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 121). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr., MacDonald, Farstad, Believers Bible; Hinson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2195). Nashville: Thomas Nelson