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Luke 3: 1-22 Part II

(3:4) TIlE WORK OF A HERALD:


"the voice of aile crying in the wilderness"
John the Forerunner is a singular
voice crying in the wilderness. "The
person disappears in the glory of his
calling, receding before the contents
ofhiscry. The cry sounds like the long,
drawn-out trumpet blast of a herald."-
Delitzsch in LenskL "The whole man
was a sennon. The
message was more
than the messenger,
and hence the
messenger is
regarded as mainly
a voice." - Plumer
"the wilde-
rness," and its
scenery, symbolize
"the moral obstacles
which have to be
removed by the
repentance baptism
of John, in order to
prepare the people
for the reception of the Messiah, or (as
some prefer) ofJehovah, Isa. 35:8-10.
-- Just as Oriental monarchs, when
making a royal progress, send a courier
before them to exhort the popUlation
to prepare roads, so the Messiah sends
His herald to exhort His own people,
In. I: II, to prepare their hearts for His
coJTling. - Plummer. Again, it must be
emphasized, the wilderness and its
obstacles are found in the hearts of
the people,
(3:4b-6) TIlE NATURE AND PURPOSE
OF JOHN'S MINISTRY
TIlE ROOTS OF JOHN'S MINISTRY: .
TIlE FULFIllMENT OF ISAIAH 40:3-5
While Matthew, Mark and John
apply Isaiah 40:3 to John the Baptist,
only Luke spedfically applies !saiah
40:4,5, so as to highlight a motif in prepared is the way along which He
Luke of the universality of the gaspe\. desires to come in order to bring
In their context Isaiah 40:3-5 reveal redemption. Accordingly the
the wondrous, all-embracing change prepaling of the way refers to the fact
that the coming of the Lord incarnate that the inclination and life of the
produces in the heans and societies of people have to be changed to such an
mankind. "In Isaiah's language there extent that they will be ready to receive
is a strange mystery as the speaker is His redemption. What is crooked
kept in the background and only his must be made straight---where man
magnificent message sounds forth. has deviated fyom thewell-beaten ways
Nevertheless, it is an effective voice, as of God as revealed in His Word and
though resounding over all the country thus followed crooked ways, he has to
where God's people are. To this voice return to the straight paths. Along the
all men must give ear and hearken."- roadoflowlyhumiliation, repentance,
E.]. Young, The Book of Isaiah. Luke
identifies this "voice" for us as J olm the
Baptist, and the coming Lord, asJesus
ChlEt, who is Jehovah incarnate.
TIlE NATURE OF JOHN'S MINISTRY:
TIlE MAKING READY OF
THE WAY OF TIlE LORD
John was to make ready the way of
the Lord and to prepare the people to
receive the Lord incarnate, Le., "by
grace and power to effect a complete
change of mind and heart" in the heam
of the covenant people, so that they
will receive the coming Lord "with a
ready access into their heam and lives."
He must "make straight" what is
crooked, not in accord with God's
holy will.
'The way of the Lord that has to be
confession and
calling upon God
man will receive
His salvation."-
Geldenhuys 0
TIlE PURPOSE OF
JOHN'S
MINISTRY: TIlE
UNIVERSAL
RECEPTION OF
THE SALVATION
OF GOD
The Gospel of
Mark identifies
"the beginning of
the gospel of] esus
Christ" with the preaching of] ohn the
Baptist,Mk.I:I, because by means of
John's preaChing, and the continual
preaching of the gospel thereafter, "all
mankind shall see the salvation of God,"
Lk. 2:6; !sa. 40:5. And, notice the
certainty of the text: "Every ravine
SHALL be filled up.... Every mountain
and hill SHALL be bmught low.... the
croohed SHALL become straight.. .. All
flesh SHALL see the salvation of God."
Nothing will prevent Christ from
coming in triumph with salvation. His
people SHALL see and experience His
salvation throughout all the earth and
the entire human race. Because of
verses like these, the Confederate
Presbyterian Leighton Wilson could
speak of "The Certainty of the World's
Conversion." The comprehensive view
March, 1994 t THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon t 9
ofIsaiah is that the incarnate Lord will
manifest His saving power over the
world's nations, so that the deliverance
from sin which He accomplishes will
be global in its effect.
It is interesting to notice that Luke
takes his quotation from Isaiah 40:5
from the Septuagint and not from the
Hebrew Old Testament. The Hebrew
O.T.says, "The glory of the LORD will
be revealed, and all flesh will see it
together." The Septuagint, as quoted
by Luke, says, "All flesh shall see the
salvation of God." The Septuagint's
translation is interpretative of the
Hebrew, teaching us that
3:7. In fact "Jerusalem was going out
to him, and all Judea, and all the
district around the Jordan; and they
were being baptized by him in the
Jordan River, as they confessed their
sins," Mat. 3:5-6. As John faithfully
carried out his mission of preparing
the heans of the people fonhe Messiah
and of pointing them to the Messiah
whose coming was close at hand, God
blessed his preaching, and caused
''multitudes'' ofjewish people to repent
and submit to his baptism. By God's
grace John was being successful in
"turning back MANY of the sons of
preaching. "There is an astonishing
pertinaciry in hypocrites; and, until
they have been Oayedby violence,
they obstinately keep their skin."-
Calvin. john boldly, directly and
plainly confronted his hearers with
their sins, for he knew that to lead
them to true repentance, they had to
face themselves before GOd and be
convicted in their hearts about their
sin, expertenc!ngthe godly sorrow that
produces repentance, The phrase in
Luke 3: I, "Therefore he began saying,"
or "was saying," or "used to say,"
indicates that these verses are a
summary of what john was
thegioryofGodisrevealed
in the saving act of God.
"The glory of the WRD
consists of all his attributes
shining forth in supreme
radiance for men to see;
and the central part of this
glory is, of course, his
saving work in Christ
Jesus:- Lenski
Isaiah's purpose, (and
Luke's), in this prophecy
is "to present the
uncommon excellence of
the salvation which was to
''John boldly, directly and plainly
confronted his hearers with their
sins, for he knew that to lead them
to true repentance, they had to
face themselves before God and be
convicted in their hearts about
their sin, experiencing the godly
sorrow that produces repentance."
in the habit of preaching to
the multitudes who came
to hear him. This severe
rebuke is not simply
something John happened
to say to .them on a
particular day, what Luke
is doing is giving us the
substance of his preaching
on any day.
"You. brood of vipers, who
warned you. to flee from the
wrath to come?" John spoke
so sternly and pointedly to
be manifested, in contrast with God's
former benefits, and thus to inform
believers, that the dispensations of God
toward His Church had never been so
remarkable, nor His power so
illustriously displayed in their
deliverance." - Calvin
(3:7-14) THE PREACHING OF
REPENTANCE INjOHN'S PREACHING
THE CONFRONTATION OF SIN
IN JOHN'S PREACHING
THE MULIllUDES WHO WERE
COMING TO BE BAPIlZED BY JOHN
MattheW tells us that "many of the
Pharisees and Sadducees" were coming
to] ohn the Baptist, Mat. 3: 7; and Luke
tells us that "the multitudes" kept
coming alit to be baptized by him, Lk.
Israel to the Lord their God," and in
"turning the hearts oj the fathers back to
the children, and the disobedient to the
attitude of the righteous; so as to make
ready a people prepared for the Lord,
Lk. 1:16-17. However, by John's
response to some of those who came to
him, we see that he was fully aware
that not aU of the candidates for baptism
weresincere,Lk.3:7! Lenskiestimates
that during]ohn's pUblic ministry of a
little over a year, he baptized between
200,000 and 500,000 people. If he
immersed all these people, instead of
sprinkling them, to use Lenski's words,
"he must have lived an aquatic life. '
THE CONFRONTATION OF
EXTERNALISM AND HYPOCRISY
john went "for the jugular" in his
10 f . THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon f March, 199+
drive any away from his
baptism whowerenotwillingtorepent
of their sins. Furthermore, "it is
probable that john publicly attacked
the Pharisees, for the benefit of the
whole church of God, that they might
no longer dazzle the eyes of simple
men by empty show, or hold the body
of the people underappression by
wicked tyranny: - Calvin.
, I .
THE REASON FOR CAWNG HIS
HEARERS A "BROOD Of VIPERS"
john was stern with hypocrites and
hardened apostates, as was Jesus,
because the impenitent cannot escape
the judgment of God, 3:7-9. It was,
especially the Pharisees and the
Sadducees in the multitudes that he
called a "brood of vip.ers," Mat. 3:7.
"In these words he draws attention to
their tortuous, (i.e., winding,
convoluted and serpentine),
behavior----they live in self-satisfaction
and sin and now they desire, without
true conversion, and by a merely
external participation in the baptism,
to protect themselves against the
impending judgment. He summons
the people to whole-hearted
repentance, after which they must have
themselves baptized as an outward
sign of their aclmowledgment of their
spiritual impurity, so that the baptism
may be to them a sign and seal of the
forgiveness granted by God to the
meek. But when he notices that they
fix . their eyes only on the outward
ceremony with no inward contlition
on account of their sins and no deep
change of heart, he calls them: 'You
oJJspring oj vipers, who has warned you to
flee Jrom the wrath to come?,---like
snakes hastening to escape when the
grass which sheltered them has been
seton fire behind them."- Geldenhuys
"The situation is thus dramatic in
the highest degree. The address is like
a blow in the face. Here comes the
proud leaders of the people to capture
this movement of the people
themselves. Them and all others who
are as scheming and as superficial as
they are the Baptist addresses as
'offspring of vipers' and in one
expression exposes the great and fatal
sin that stamped their character. --
What quality the figure of the viper
intends to expressisevident, viz. deadly
hypocrisy, base treachery, and the fatal
deceptions in which they lived. -- The
conscience is struck with a directness
that almost takes one's breath." - Lenski
John uses metaphors from the
wilderness in which he preached to
describe the hearts and characters of
many of his hearers---vipers, stones,
barren trees. The sting in the phrase,
"brood or offspring of vipers, "refemng
to the Pharisees and Saducees, is that
these people took great pride and based
their hopes for exemption from
judgment on the fact that they were
the "offspring of Abraham;" when in
fact John identifies them correctly as
"the offspring of snakes or serpents."
Jesus said it even more plainly and
pointedly when he told the Phalisees--
"You are oj your Jather the devil," (In.
8:44), that old serpent.
mE APPllCATION BY JOHN CALVIN
"If John, the organ of the Holy
Spirit, employed such severity of
language in his opening address to
those who voluntarily came to be
baptized, and to make a public
profession of the gospel; how ought
we now to act towards the avowed
enemies of Christ, who not only reject
obstinately all that belongs to sound
doctrine, but whose efforts to
extinguish the name of Christ are
violently maintained by fire and sword?
Most certainly, if you compare the
Pope, and his abominable clergy, with
the Pharisees and Sadducees, the
mildest possible way of dealing with
them will be, to throw them all into
one bundle. Those, whose ears are so
delicate, that they cannot endure to
have any bitter things said against the
Pope, must argue, not with us, but
with the Spirit of God. Yet let godly
teachers beware, lest, while they are
influenced by holy zeal against the
tyrants of the Church, they mingle
with it the affections of the flesh. And
as no vehemence, which is not
regulated by the wisdom of the Spirit,
can obtain the divine approbation, let
them not only restrain their feelings,
but surrender themselves to the Holy
Spirit, and implore his guidance, that
nothing may escape them through
inadvertency."
THE MEANING OF "WHO WARNED YOU TO
FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME?"
THE IDENrrTY OF THE ONE WHO wARNED THEM
What did Jesus mean by this
stunning question? Somebodysecredy
and in an underhanded way told them
this to deceive them. "John leaves this
somebody unnamed since only the
devil prompts a man to try to flee from
God's wrath bymere outward religious
acts. Note the aorist PHUGEIN, (to
flee), by which the devil suggests that
these hypoclites can actually escape
God's wrath by adding another
act. By this tense the
Baptist' exposes the devil's trick of
making these men think that they will
really escape when by such an action
as theirs (getting John's baptism
without repentance) they will run only
the more directly into the coming
wrath. -- There are two points in
John'squestion: first, that nobody can
. escape by insincere outward use ofthe
means of grace; secondly, that the real
way of escape is still open, even for
hypoctites .... - Lenski
TIiE NATURE OF THE WRATH TO COME
The wrath or anger of God is a
terlible reality that is mentioned
hundreds of times in the O.T and the
N.T.,Rom.l:18. It is "the onslaught of
the holy God asserting and establishing
his absolute claim to dominion."-
Stahlin. God's wrath is "the holy
revulsion of God's being against that
which is the contradiction of His
holiness." - Murray. The wrath of God
is not some irrational outburst, it is
God's "burning zeal for the right
coupled with a perfect hatred for
everything that is evil." - Morris. This is
not concrary to His love, for God's love
is not empty sentimentality, it is "a
love which is so jealous for the good of
the loved ones that it blazes out in fiery
wrath against everything that is evil."-
Monis.
The wrath of God is always active.
It is not simply poured out on the
wicked at the end of the world; but it
is poured out repeatedly and
continually in judgment on God's
enemies throughout history. Its final
manifestation will come on the Day of
Judgment, when the wicked are cast
into eternal hell. The connection of
March, 1994 l' THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon l' 11
the manifestation of God's anger on
the apostate and the reprobate with
the incarnation of the Messiah is
emphasized in Joel 2:31;Zech. 1:15;
2:2; Mal. 3:2; 4:1; 15a. 13:9. The Jews
were sadly mistaken who thought that
God's wrath would fall only on
non-Jews.
"The coming wrath" refers to the
judgment of God on apostate Israel in
the destruction 0 f Jerusalem and
banishment of the Jews which took
place in A.D. 70, and which
was prophesied in the O.T.
and by Jesus in Matthew 24
and Luke 21. By this phrase,
we are also to think of the
judgment to be inflicted on
the wicked and impenitent
on the Last Day, Rom. 1:18;
2:5,8; 3:5; 5:9. "Salvation is
for all who prepare their
hearts to receive the MeSsiah;
judgment, for all who harden
their heans and reject Him." -
Plummer
THE PURPOSE IN ASKING TInS QUESTION
"In this way, he Oohn) summons
them to the inward tribunal of
consdence, that they may thoroughly
examine themselves, and, laying aside
all flattery, may institute a severe
investigation into their crimes,"
(-Calvin), and be brought to true
repentance. Lenski also points out
thatlohn spokeas sternly as he did to
drive away from baptism any who
would not repent.
THE DEMAND TO BRING FORTH
FR1JfIS IN KEEPING WITH YOUR REPENTANCE"
"Therefore," i.e. since the way Satan
has suggested bywhich one can escape
the wrath of God, (externalism and
sacerdotalism), is false and deceptive,
John presents his hearers with the one
and only way of salvation from God's
wrath on sin: "bring forth fruits in
keeping with your repentance." He is
saying to his hearers, "If you desire to
escape the wrath of God on sin, receive
Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,
repent of your sins, and act at once,
(aorist imperative) , as those who
repent. Begin now living a life day in
and day out that is consistent with
your repentance and which flows out
of your faith." Compare Luke 20:24;
Acts3:4; 7:33; 9:11; 16:9; 21:39; 22:13.
''Fruits" (plurnl) treats the series of acts as
a collective unit. See also Acts 26:20.
True repentanceshowsitselfin daily
life, thought and behavior. It bears
fruit. A desire to be baptized with
water or make a public profession of
faith or confession of sin is not
suffident. "There must be that inward
change which expresses itself
outwardly in God-glorifying conduct,
fruit-bearing IN KEEPING WITH
conversion."- Hendriksen. In Luke
3: 10-14 we see that those "fruits"
include generosity, fairness ,
thoughtfulness and contentment. In
Matthew 23:23 they include justice,
mercy and faith. On fruit-bearing see
Mat 5:20-24; 7:16-19; 12:33; 13:8,23;
16:6, 11, 12; Lk. 13:6-9; In. 15:1-16;
Gal. 5:22,23; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 1:22; 4:17;
Col. 1:6; Heb. 12:11; 13: 15;Jarn. 3:18.
THE ANTICIPATION AND REFUTATION
OF THE SIN OF PRESUMPTION
Anticipating the argument the
Pharisees and Sadducees would give
to keep from repenting of their sins,
John says to them: "Do not even begin
12 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon March, 1994
to have this thought in your minds: 'We
have Abrahamforourfather:forI say to
you that God is able from these stones to
raiseup children to Abraham" Outward
ceremonies and familyre1atlons will
not save a person from the coming
wrath of Godagainst sin. John is
telling the Pharisees that all lsrael is
not Israel , that unless one has
Abraham's faith he is not a child of
Abraham, Gal. 3:7. Unless a person is
a true "seed of Abraham," Le., one whO
belongs to Christ by faith
regardless of ethnic origin,
Gal. 3:28-29, his physical
descent from Abraham will
be of no value to him; in fact,
it will be used against him,
Dt. 28. "The reason why
these people were headed
for damnation was that for
their eternal security they
were relying on their descent
from Abraham. -- The God
who was able to create Adam
out of the dust of the ground
was also able to make true
sons of Abraham out of the desen
stones." - Hendriksen
"r say to you" confronts the
multitudes with John's full prophetic
authority. He is the mouthpiece of
Jehovah, the promised Forerunner of
the Messiah. He speaks truth
dedsively---God is able to make stones
into children of Abrahain, "to fill the
place these Jews leave vacant by being
false children of Abraham. This figure
is tremendous---to tum common,
lifeless stones such as were lying there
in the wilderness into spiritual children
of Abraham! The figure describes the
creative power of God's grace most
drastically." - Lenski
B.THE IMMINENCE OF DIVINE
JUDGMENT IN JOHN'S PREACHING
"THE AXE 15 AlREADY LAID
AT THE ROOT OF THE TREES"
To those who refuse to repent and
believe in Jesus as the Messiah,] ohn
says in the clearest of tenns: Judgment
is at hand. It has already begun. The
axe is right now striking at the root of
the trees, ready to cut down one tree
after another. Right now, therefore, is
the time to repent and believe, Psa.
95:7,8; !sa. 55:6; Ue 13:7, 9; 17:32;
In. 15:6; Rom. 13: 11; II Cor. 6:2; IJn.
2: 18; Rev. 1:3. "When repentance is
refused, nothing is left for
impenitence but wrath and
judgment."-Lenski The Axe ofDivine
Judgment is at the "root" of the tree,
signifying that the judgment will
completely destroy the tree, not even a
stump will be left.
What is this "axe," this imminent
judgment about which]ohn warns his
hearers? FIRST, because the Jewish
people continued in their apostasy and
refused to receiveJesus as the Messiah,
In. 1:11-12, God would pour out His
wrath onJerusalem to destroy her and
end theJewishstate, as He had warned
them time and again in the O.T. And
the destruction of Jerusalem, 70, A.D.
by the Roman Annies was drawing
pelilously near. (Remember John's
public career began about 27, A.DJ
SECOND, "impenitence has a tendency
of hardening a person, so that often he
is left in his present lost condition.
Without genUine repentance death and
the judgment are for him irrevocable
and 'at the door,''' - Hendriksen (Read
Rom. 1: 18!). THIRD, "he who does not
believe has been judged already, because
he has not believed in the name of the only
begotten Son of God," In. 3: 18. God is
angry with the wicked every day. His
settled indignation rests upon
rebellious and unbelieving people, and
it will eventually be poured out on
them, Rom. 1:18.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TREES THAT
DO NOT BEAR GOOD FRUIT
The plural, "trees, now becomes
the Singular, "tree"---"Every tree
therefore that does not bear good fruit is
cut down and thrown into the fire." God's
judgment is inflexibly just: it strikes
only those who do not "bear good
fruit," and it strikes everyone of those!
THE MEANING OF "GOOD FRUIT"
By God's grace through faith and
repentance a person is made a "good
tree," capableofproducing"good fruit,"
because that is the (new) nature of the
tree. This "good fruit" follows as a
matter of course. No axe will ever be
laid at the root of these trees. In the
Sennon on the Mount,] esus expanded
on John's figure, when He said: "You
will know them by their fruits. Grapes
are not gathered from thombushes, nor
figs from thistles, are they? Even so every
good tree bears good fruit; but the rotten
tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot
produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree
produce good fruit. Every tree that does
not bear good fruit is cut down, and
thrown into the fire. So then, you will
know them by their fruits," Mat. 7: 15ff.
See also Mat. 12:33; Lk 6:44; James
3: 12;1ohn 15:lff. These "good fruits"
produced by "good trees", do not refer
to other people convened through the
witness of the "good trees", but to the
righteousness and faithfulness of life
and thought which always flow from
true faith in Christ, Eph. 2:8-10; In.
15:lff; Gal. 5:22f.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF "FIRE"
The '}ire" into which the fruitless
trees are "thrown" is obviously a symbol
of the final outpouring of God's holy
anger upon the wicked in eternal hell,
"where there is weeping and wailing; and
gnashing of teeth," "where the worm never
dies, and the fire is never quenched."
The Bible frequently uses the figure of
fire to describe God's judgment, Mal.
4:1; In. 15:6; Mat. 13:40; Mk. 9:43;
Mat. 18:8,9. "The Sadducees of all
ages have tlied to quencll this fire by
maldng sport of it but thereby only
prepare themselves the more for it and
hasten its coming for themselves."-
Lenski
THE TIMELESSNESS OF
THE PRESENT TENSE VERBS
"Is already laid at the root," "that
does not bear good fruit," "is cut down,"
and "thrown" are verbs in the present
tense. "The velY timelessness of these
present tenses lends them additional
power. This is what is done. WHEN
it is done makes no difference; keep
your mind on these terrible acts and
use the day of grace NOW."- Lenski
THE APPLICATION OF JOHN CALVIN
"God has already displayed his
power for pUrifying the Church. The
grace of God is never manifested for
the salvation of the godly, till his
judgment first appears for the
destruction of the world: and for two
reasons; because God then separates
his own people from the reprobate,
and because his wrath is kindled anew
by the ingratitude of the world. So that
we have no reason to wonder, if the
preaching of the gospel and the coming
of Christ laid the axe for cutting down
barren trees, orif the same causes daily
advance the wl'ath of God against the
wicked."
C. THE PRACTICAL DEMANDS OF LOVE
IN JOHN'S PREACHING (3:10-14)
THE POINT OF THESE DEMANDS
THE NATURE OF TRUE REFENTANCE
In this section, 3: 10-14, Luke
defines the "good fruit" which flows
from true faith and repentance, in
answer to his hearer's question, "What,
then shall we do? What are the fruits
worthy of repentance?" Being Jewish,
they had li\e Old Testament, they
should have known the answer to their
own question. John's answer is so
simple. Their question reveals the
abysmal ignorance of these people
because of their long-standing
apostasy. "No new, strange laws are
laid down; nor does John require of
others the mode oflife that he led as
part of his peculiar calling. It is the
March, 1994 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon t- 13
old law and will of God that are
done with a converted heart in the
power of God's grace:" LeIl$ki. John
requires of them love, which is the
fulfilling of the law of God. Each of the
three categories of inquirers is called
upon to repent of its own particular
sins, its besetting sins, and to treat
others with neighborly love.
These questions from the crowd,
the tax"collectors and the soldiers
reveal that all of them
were oppressed with a
sense of guilt. John's
preaching was convicting
them of their sins, much
as Peter's preaching did in
Acts 2:37. Manyofjohn's
hearers were beginning to
realize that "trlie
conversion implies sorrow
. , '
for sm, repentance and
forsaking the old way of
life."" Hendriksen
Calvin's point is a wise
one: "We must particu"
larly observe, that the '
duties of charity are here
mentioned, not because
they are of higher value than the
worship of God, but because they testify
the piety of men, so as to detect the
hypocrisy of those who boast with the
mouth what is far distant from the
heart."
THE ENFORONG OF THE lAws
OF THE COMING KING
Jesus ChriSt came as Messiah and
King to declare afresh the validity of
His Law and to declare His purpose to
put that Law in effect, for Christ's
Law is
Diankind. "The faCt that the King was
coming to enforce His kingship and
His law was very blundy stated by
John the Baptist. He spoke of 'the
wrath to come,' (Lk. 3:7; Mat. 3:7),
Le., the judgment of the King. (Mat.
3:10;Lk.3:9) - The King intended to
judge and'tborougblypurge' His realm,
Mat. 3: 12. When the unbelieving
people asked John, 'What shall we do
then?' (Lk. 3:1O),John answered that
they should do two things: first, obey
the law, and second, manifest charity
towards thoseinneed,Lk. 3:11"14).""
Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law,
pg.699.
THE DEMAND ON THE MAN
WITH TWO TUNICS
A was a piece of clothing
worn close to the skin under a robe or
jacket. An average person might have
two or three "tunics." To those who
have more than they need, both in
clothing and in food, John demands
that they lovingly and unselfishly share
with those who had neither sufficient
clothing or food. John's answer is a
figure of speech called a "synecdoche,"
Le., a figure of speech in which a part
or individual case is used for a whole
or class. These two examples, tunics
and food, contain the general rule:
"each person should give out of his
abundance to supply the needs of
the poor."" Calvin. See II Cor. 8:14
Notice that John does not tell his
hearers that the state should come in
and deprive the "rich" of his property
so as to redistribute the wealth equally,
nor does he tell the man without a
tunic that he may help himself to the
property of his neighbor by whatever
14 '1' THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon ;: March, 1994
means are made available to him, nor
does he condone the refusal to work so
as to be on welfare, and receive
something for nothing. What John is
encouraging is voluntary sharing.
"Those who lay it down as a law, that
no man must have any property ofhis
own, not only make cortsciences to
tremble, but overwhelm them with
despair. With fanatiCS of this sort,
who obstinately adhere to the literal
meaning" it is not
necessary that we should
'spend much time in
refutation. If we are not
allowed to have 'two
coats: the same rule will
apply to dishes,
salt "cellars, shirts, and,
in short, to all the
furniture of a house. But
the context makes it
evident, thatnothingwas
farther from John's
intention than to
overthrow, the order of a
state. Hence we infer,
that all that he enjoined
on the tich was, that they
should bestow on the poor, according
to their own ability, whattheirnecessity
required, 'Consider to what extent the
necessities of life, which you enjoy
abundantly,are wanted by (lacking
in) yourneighbor, that your abundance
may be a supply for their want," IT Cor.
8: 14. But the more liberty that God
allows us, we ought to be the more
careful not to allow ourselves undue
liberty. Let the necessity of our
brethren affect us powerfully, and let
the bounty of God, which is in our
hands, stimulate us to acts ofkindrtess
and generosity."" Calvin
THE DEMAND ON THE TAX" COLLEctOR
"Publicarts," ortax"coUectors, were
a despised lot, because they were Jews
who,asagentsofthepagangovemment
of Caesaror Herod, collected theurtjilst
and hated taxes the tyrannical state
imposed on the Jewish people.
Moreover, they would increase the
amount required by the state, so as to
make a profit off the people at the
people's expense. "These tax-collectors
were detested everywhere, because of
their oppressiveness and fraud, and
were classed with the vilest of
mankind.... The Jews especially
abhorred them as bloodsuckers for a
heathen conqueror. For aJew to enter
such a service was the most utter
degradation. Hewasexcommunicated,
and his whole mmily was regarded as
disgraced."- Plummer
Some of these publicans, convicted
of their sins and turning to Christ
because of the preaching of John,
inquire of John, "Teacher, what shall
we do? Whatis God's will forus now?"
John's answer is definite and
uncompromising-- "Collect no more
than what you have been ordered to."
"There must be immediate, complete,
wholehearted obedience. Dillydallying
is deadly. Halfway measures work
havoc. Sin, being a destructive force,
must not be pampered. The right
action must be substituted at once for
the wrong." - Hendriksen
Jesus did not require them to give
up their jobs, but to collect taxes with
honesty and integrity. 111eywere mced
with their sin of extortion, because
conversion, (lmerepemance), ishonesty
in our callings for the glory of God.
THE DEMAND ON THE SOLDIER
AmongJohn's hearers who desired
repentance-baptism were Jewish
soldiers serving in the army of some
branch of government, (under Pilate'S,
Herod's or Caesar'sauthority), perhaps
acting as police in support of the
tax-collectors, who were accustomed
to intimidating, bullying and taking
advantage ofthe citizenry. The people
were helpless to defend themselves or
to remedy the situation. True
repentance in soldiers does not mean
leaving their position in the military.
It means repenting of asoldier's specific
sins, avoiding the temptalionscommon
to the life of the soldier, and submitting
to the authority of Christ the King, as
superior to all other authorities.
Christiansoldiersmustnotintimidate,
terrorize, bully, falsely accuse or take
advantage of their position to defraud
the people they are supposed to protect.
Furthermore, they are to be content
with their wages. Refusal to submit to
the Messiah's kingly authority in these
areas is proof of a counterfeit
conversion.
"It is especially hard in any
profession to oppose its common
(sinful) practices, which always elicits
ridicule, perhaps even persecution by
the impenitent. Hence the avoidance
of these sins is a good test of real
repentance." - Lensld
(3:15-17) THE WITNESS OF JOHN THE
FORERUNNER m JESUS THE MESSIAH
(3: 15) THE STATE OF EXPECTATION
AND CONFUSION IN JOHN'S AUDIENCE
John's powerful preaching was
causing intense excitement among his
hearers. Many of them were in a state
of anticipation of the imminent
appearance of the Messiah, His
salvation, and His judgment. At the
same time, some in the crowd
wondered and debated whether John
Hirnselfwas the "Christ"whose coming
was near, John 1:20. This is an
inexcusably false assumption because,
John did not in any way profess to be
"the Coming One;" he specifically
distinguished Himself from the
Messiah in his preaching; he had none
of "the insignia of royalty," not even
descent from King David. There is no
way he could have been the Messiah.
He knew it. And the crowds should
have known it, had they not been
confused by their long-standing
apostasy, which produced in them
apparently abysmal ignorance
concerning the Bible's gospel.
(3: 16a) THE MESSIAH AS
INFINITELY SUPERIOR TO JOHN
THE UNEQUNOCAL ANSWER OF JOHN TO
THE SPECULATION OF THE CROWDS
As soon as the question of the
possible messianic identity of John
arises, John himself expressly and
unconditionally places himself in the
background and points the crowds to
Jesus, Who is the Coming One, the
promised Savior. John makes
unmistakably clear to them that
regardless how important and
necessary his preaching and his
baptism were, they were of far lesser
importance and value than the ministry
of the coming Messiah.
THE SUPERIORITY OF JESUS CHRIST
TO JOHN THE BAPTIST
John's low view of himself and his
high view of Christ come out in his
statement: "As Jor me, I baptize you with
water; but He who is mightier than I is
coming, and I am not fit to untie the thong
oj His sandals; He Himself will baptize
you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
THE EMPHATIC CONrRAST EXPRESSED IN
"As for me, 1.. .. "
"I" is the emphatic form for "I" in
Greek, (EGO). With this emphatic "I"
John places himself over against the
MeSSiah, who, by contrast, he calls,
"One Who is Mightier than I." In other
words, he is saying to his audience, in
order to take their attention off him
and to place it on Christ, "If you think
I am great and important, the MesSiah
Whose Coming is here, is infinitely
greater and more important.
THE COMING ONE WHO IS
"MIGHTIER" THAN JOHN
TIiE MESSIAH AS "THE COMING ONE"
John calls Jesus "the Coming One,"
which in Greek emphasizes that He is
on the way, He is coming right now,
His coming is upon us. "He Who
Comes" is a Messianic title ofJesus
used often of Him in the Bible, Lk.
March, 1994 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon 'i' 15
7:19f;Mat.11:3;Lk.13:35;Mat.23:39;
Psa. 118:26; Mk. 11:9; In. US, 27;
6:14; 11:27; Act. 19:4; Heb. 10:37;
Hab.2:3.
This title of Jesus, probably
originating with John the Baptist, Mk.
1: 7; Lk. 3: 16, is tide ofDeityaccording
to Revelation 1:4, 8; 4:8. It is also
important to note that it is in the
present tense denoting continuous
action. Christ is the Coming One in
thatHecametoeanhintheincarnation,
tomes throughout histol'Y ' by
providence, His Word and His Spirit
to judge and to save, and He will come
at the end of history to finish what He
has begun. Hence,the Bible ends with
the prayer, "Even so, keep on coming
Lordjesus!"
lHE MESSIAH AS II
M1GHI1ER
"
mAN JOHN TIlE BAP'IlST
John declares that Christ is vastly
superior in power and rank than he.
"He Who is mightier" in Greek refers
to the personal possession of strength.
"Power belongs to Lord." By using
the comparative, umightier," John is
implying that he too isstrong, but only
because He who personally possesses
all power has given him strength
through the divine strength of the
Word of God. John has no false
humility, but a clear understanding of
the facts.
THE UNFITNESS OF JOHN
TO UNTIE JESUS' SANDALS
John considers hirrtself inferior to
Jesus, not only because Jesus possesses
total power, but because Jesus as our
Great Kingis ofinlinitelY greaterwonh
thanJohn, forJohn,asimpottaotashe
is in the gospel story, is not fit or wor-
thy "to untie the thong of His sandals."
John considers hirrtselfnot even wonby
to be Christ's slave, for a slave's duties
included unloosing his master's
shoe-laces and carrying his shoes to
him, Mat. 3: 11. In saying that he is
"not fit" to unlace Christ's sandals,
John is "not debasing himself in'
extravagant Oriental language; he was
speaking as God's pro phet who was
fined with the Spirit and told the literal
truth by explaining the greamess and
the exaltation of the Messiah. -- If
John is not fit to handle the sandals
which only the feet of the Messiah
have touched, how great, then,must
this Messiah be? The answer is; , HE
IS GOD'S OWN SON."- Lenski
THE INFERIORITY OF JOHN'S BAPTISM
'COMPARED TO BAPTISM
Besides John's inferiority to Jesus
in terrrts of power and in terms of
worth, he is also inferior to Jesus in
terms of baptism: , "r baptize you with
water; but He who is,mightier than r ... He
Himself will baptize, you with the Holy
Spirit and fire. "
mE POINT OF THE: CONTRASf .
Jesus Christ, the Master, is the
Originator of Spiritual baptism, while
] ohn, the unworthy slave, is the
minister of the sacrament of baptism.
The COntrast is not between
water-baptism and Spirit-baptism, as ,
if they were two entirely separate
things, and as if John's baptism was
not a real means of Spiritual grace,
The contrast is between baptism by
the Master and baptism by the
unworthy slave. The contrast is
between what is done in baptism by
men and what is done in baptism by
Christ the Lord. "to men has been
committed nothing more than the
administration of an outward and
visible sign: the reality dwelli with
Christ alone. -- Christ alone bestows
all the grace which is figuratively
represented by outward baptism,
because it is He who 'sprinkles the
consdence' with His blood. It is He
also who mortifies the old man, and
bestows the Spirit of regeneration."-
Calvin
John perfOTrrts the visible sigu by
employing water, ("with water"). '
Water in Greek, HUDATI, is a dative
of means, denoting instrumentality of
16 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon f March, 1!194
things. "God'sSon willcro,wnHis grea(
redemptive work by baptizing . 'in
connection with th!! Holy Spiritan<;!
fire.
m
_ Lenski. "With" iuthe phrase
"with the Holy Spirit" is the Greek
preposition EN, also denoting
instrumentality of persons. "A divinely
appointed man may use water in the
sacrament; only the Son of God can
pour out the Holy Spirit, and even He
only after completing His redemptive
worl< and then ascending to heaven.
"Jdhnisdescribinghisownstrength
when he says that he is engaged in
baptizing 'with water.' This was the
powerthathad been put into !tis hands
by God. -- It is unwarranted to stress
'HUDATI' (''with water") so thatJohn's
baptism becomes noth,ing but a
symbolical sprinkling with water or,
as some claim, immersion in water
(against which the darive rebels). To
claim that because Jesus baptized in
connection with the Holy Spirit,] ohn's
baptism was devoid ofthe Spirit, is,to
draw an unwarranted conclnsion.
"The distinCtion is not: before
Pentecost NO Spirit; after Pentecost
the Spirit, If this were true, no soul
could have been saved before
Pentecost. The true distinction is:
before the actually completed work
of redemption the limited
preparatory work of the Spirit; after
Pentecost the superabounding
fnllness of the Spirit
Lenski
The idea that water-baptism is a
mere and empty symbol without
conveying the Spirit to qod's people,
and that Spitit -bapti,Sin is something
unconnected with the ,sacrament, "a
second blessing" to use charismatic
terminology, "is a fanatical outgrowth
which casts aspersions upon the very
means of grace by which the Spirit
does come to us and for these means
substitutes human emotions,
imaginings, and dreams by which the
Holy Spirit never comes." - Lenski
(3: 16b) THE MESSIAH AS TJ-IE
BAPTIZER W1TJ-1 THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Christ John preached is The
Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and Fire.
WHEN DID THE BAPTISM WITH
THE HOLY SPIRIT TAKE PLACE?
The resurrected Christ gives His
own commentary on the meaning of
Jobn's prophecy about Chlist's Baptism
with the Spirit in Acts 1 :4-5, 8---"And
gathering them together, He commanded
them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait
Jorwhatthe Fatherhadpromised, 'Which,'
He said, 'you heard oj Jrom Me;for John
baptized with water, but you shall be
baptized with the Holy Spirit NOT MANY
DAYS FROM NOW: (i.e., The Day of
Pentecost, Acts 2) -- ... but you shall
receive power when the Holy Spirit has
come upon you; and you shall be My
witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all
Judea and Samaria, and even to the
remotestpartoJ the earth. TheApostle
Peter also explains how the Holy Spirit
came upon Cornelius and the Gentiles
~ u s t as He did upon us at the beginning,"
( Acts 11:15), i.e., on the Day of
Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. Then
he continues in Acts 11: 16---"And I
remembered the word oj the Lord, how
Heused to say, John baptized with water,
but you shall be baptized with the Holy
Spirit.'" "The miraculous outpouring
of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the
supreme work and thus the final great
mark of the Messiah. None but the
Son, who had gone to the Father, In.
16:7, after completing redemption,
could thus send the Comforter. This
stronger One, Who was to show His
strength by thus sending the Spirit
miraculously, was also miraculously
pointed out to John the Baptist, (Ue
3:22;Jn. 1:32-34) .... "- Lenski
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF
THE BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?
John was sent to administer the
visible sign of baptism. Christ came to
pour forth His Spirit on His Church to
bring about her inward purification
from sin and renewal to new life in
Him. Christ administers the Baptism
with the Holy Spirit, "a baptism which
gives inwardly what is outwardly
symbolized by the baptism with water.
Just as fire consumes what is
destructible and thus works in a
pUrifying and cleansing manner; so
the Messiah will through the Holy
Spitit consume sin and the sinners in
so far as they cling to sin. In this way
those who persist in sin will be
destroyed, but those who sincerely
confess their sins and flee to Him for
refuge will be purified from sin to their
own salvation, and delivered from its
penalty and power."- Geldenhuys
For more on the meaning of the
baptism with the Holy Spirit see
Appendix: "The Fire and the Wind: The
Holy Spiritin the Book oJ Acts," pgs. 4lf.
WHAT IS THE MODE OF
THE BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Luke uses the preposition "EN"
meaning in connection with, or with,
in the phrase "baptize with the Holy
Spirit," in 3:16, while in speaking of
John's baptism he simply uses the
dative of means, "with water," HUDATI
in Greek. Matthew uses EN with both
"water" and "the Holy Spirit" in his
account. "The simple fact is that in
Luke HUDATI is the dative of means,
and EN used with the Holy Spirit and
fire in Luke as well as the two EN in
Matthew has just its Oliginal meaning
'in connection with.' So Matthew says
that John baptized in connection with
water, and Luke says with water as, of
course, everybody saw; and both say
that Christ would do a baptizing 'in
connection with the Holy Spirit and
fire' as everybody would also see when
the time came. The nature of the
connections with EN lies, not in the
prepositions, but in the nouns that
follow. Luke says that in the case of
Jobn the water was only a means and
not a place."- Lenski
The point is that just as the Holy
Spirit CAME DOWN uponJesus at His
baptism in the form of a dove, and just
as the Holy Spirit was POURED OUT
on the Church from above on the Day
of Pentecost, the visible sign of baptism
which represents this spititual reality
must be coordinate with that reality;
therefore, water-baptism should be by
pouring or sprinkling, (affusion from
above), and not by immersion, for
never is the believer said to be
immersed in the Holy Spirit.
"One may admire the courage of
those who find immersion in EN
HUDATI, "with water," but not in EN
PNEUMATI HAGIO KAI PURl, "with
the Holy Spititand fire." Could Luke's
simple dative also mean immersion?
That makes EN HUDATI locative,
(denoting location), and translates
Luke's dative 'in water'; but the locative
is inept when it comes to the parallel
phrase EN with a person, the Holy
Spitit, and with fire."- Lenski
THE MEANING OF
"BAPTIZE YOU WlTH .... FlRE"
This phrase has been interpreted in
two senses: [IJ. "Fire" is an apposition
for "Spirit," hence, the baptism with
the Spiritisa baptism with fire, referting
to the illuminating, kindling, and
pUlifying power of the Holy Spirit
given by Christ through baptism. (An
apposition is a grammatical
construction in which a noun is
followed by another that explains it.)
For the biblical use of the figure of fire
as an image of purification see Zech.
13:9; Isa. 6:6,7; IPet.l:7. In Isaiah 4:4
the Holy Spirit is refened to as the
"Spirit of burning." FUlthermore, on
the Day of Pentecost, when the Baptism
with the Spilit took place tongues of
fire appeared over the disciples heads
as the visible manifestation of the
outpoUling of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2.
Therefore the hymn-writers sing:
"Come, Holy Spilit, from above with
Thy celestial fire; Come and with flames
March, 1994 t- THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon l' 17
of zeal and love our hearts and tongues
inspire." - Cotterill. "Come as the fire
and purge our hearts like sacrificial
flame." - Reede. [2]. "Fire" symbolizes
the fiery judgment which Christ will
pour out on all impenitent apostates
and reprobates. This fits in well with
the context since the very next verse
deals explicitly with the subject ' of
imminentandcompletejudgment; and
in which verse "fire" is dearly used 'to
denote the judgment of God on the
impenitent. On the Day of Pentecost
Christ baptized His church with the
Holy Spirit and in 70, A.D. Christ
baptized apostate Israel with the lire of
destructive judgment by means of the
Roman armies.
However, Leon Morris makes the
point, that while the context favors the
interpretation of fire as judgment, "it is
the same people who are baptized
with the Holy Spirit as with fire (and
the two are governedbyoneEN, ('with')
in the Greek). ItseemsbesttoseeJohn
as thinking of positive and negative
aspects of Messiah's message. Those
who accept Him will be purified as by
fire, Mal. 3: 1, and strengthened by
the Holy Spirit. Geldenhuys, as we
have seen, unites the ideas of
purification and judgment in his
interpretation of the "lire" ---'1ust as
fire consumes what is destructible and
thus works in a pUrifYing and deansing
manner, so the Messiah will through
the Holy Spirit consume sin and the
sinners in so far as they ding to sin. In
this way those who persist in sin will
be destroyed, but those who sincerely
confess their sins and flee to Him for
refuge will be purified from sin to their
own salvation ... ."
(3: 1. 7) THE MESSIAH AS
THE INESCAPABLE JUDGE
John preached Christ not only as
the Mighty Baptizer with the Holy
Spirit, but also as the Mighty and
InescapableJudge,VVhose"winnavnng
fork is in His hand to clean out His
threshing:fioor, and to gather the wheat
into His bam; but He will bum up the
chaff with unquenchable fire."
THE MEANING OF CHRIST'S
"CliANING OUT fIlS THRESHING-FLOOR"
THE POlARIZATION OF THE HUMAN RACE
BY JESUS CHRISr
The winnower would take his
winnOWing-fork and toss the
threshed-out wheat off the
threshing-tloorinto the air, separating
the valuable wheat from the useless
chaff, as the grains of wheat feU to the
floor in one heap, and as the breeze
blew away the chaff, which would be
gathered and burned. Thewheatwould
be taken to the barn and stored for
future use. In like manner, the coming
Messiah would sift and polarize
mankind, byseparatingmankind into
WHEATandCHAFF,thepenitentand
the impenitent, those who submitted
to His Kingly rule and those who
persisted in theirrebellionagainst Him,
the saved and the lost, the righteous
and the wicked, the elect and the
reprobate, those on the "inside" and.
those on the "outside: See Jesus'
explanation as to why He taught in
parables in Matthew l.3:l.l. andJohn
12:37f.
THE SUPERIOR POWER AND POSITION
OFJESUSCHRISr
John continues to impress us with
the superior might and worth ofJesus
Christ, because onlyGodHimself could
do what John says Jesus will do in
verses 1.6-17--baptize with the Spirit
and fire, clean out the threshing-tloor,
gather the wheat, and bum up the
chaff with unquenchable fire. These
statements demand that Christ be
nothing less that the Son of God, the
Lord Himself in our humanity.
THE TWO PARTS OF CHRIST'S JUDGMENT
This judgment of Christ is pictured
as in two parts: [II. the separation of
the wheat and the chaff, Mat. 25:32;
and [21. the disposal of the wheat and
18 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon March, 1994
the chaff, Mat. 25:34. Christbegins
the separation in this life by
regenerating depraved sinners, who
are "chafP'bynature,into "wheat,"te.,
true believers, and then by causing the
believers and the unbelievers to be
utterly distinct from each other, Psa.
89:6; 149:1; Psa. 26:5; Psa. 1:1;
although in this llfe the separation is
never complete nor made fully visible
as long as we live in a world in which
"it does not yet appear what we, shall be:
butwe know that, when He shall appear,
we shall be like Him;forwe shall see Him
as He Is: Un. 3:2. However, once the
separation is complete and final, the
wheat and the chaff, (or tares), will
never be mixed again, for the
threshing-floor will be cU:ansed
"thoroughly" and completely.
THE MEANS BY WInCH CHRISf
WIll. POLARIZE MANKIND
John Calvin points out that Christ
will accomplish this Sifting and
separating of the human race by means
of His Gospel, for "the preaching ofthe
Gospe!, then, is the Wintwwing1ork.
Before the Lord SIFTS us, the whole
world is involved in confusion, every
one flatters himself, and the good are
mixed with the bad: inshon,itis only
necessary that the CHAFF be blown.
BUt when Christ comes forward with
His Gospel,--'-when He reproves the
consciences and summons them to the
tribunal of God, the CHAFF is sifted
out, which formerly occupied a great
part of the THRASHING-FLOOR. Itis
true that, in the case ofindividual.s, the
Gospel effects a separation from the
CHAFF: but in this passage, John
compares the reprohate to CHAFF,
and believers to WHEAT:
THE MEANING OF CHRIST
"GATHERING THE WHEAT INTO HIS BARN"
Christ disposes of His wheat, after
separating it from the chaff, by
"gathering the wheat into His bam. The
infinitive of purpose in connection
with the wlieat, SUNAGAGEIN,
teaches us that it has always been
God's eternal purpose to gather His
valuable and highly treasured wheat
into His storehouse, and to bum up
the worthless chaff, which is just waste.
Moreover, it has always been God's
eternal purpose to accomplish these
two objectives through Jesus Christ,
Who personally" gathers" the elect inte
the Church, (the Christian
'synagogue'), and Who "burns up" the
reprobate.
"This work was begun
wicked signifying only a long age of
time; but then 'etemal' in connection
with the blessedness of the saints in
heaven, (Matthew 25:46), would also
mean a blessedness that finally ends.
'UNQUENCHABLE' blocks all such
views. It shuts out both annihilation
and final restitution, (i.e., the idea that
someday everybodywithout exception
will be saved)."
This "unquenchable fire" that burns
up the impenitent unbeliever is the
infinite azure of etemity; a spot on the
sun. Hell is ouly a comer of the
univeIse. -- (Hell) is 'bottomless' but
not boundless. -- The Bible teaches
that there will always be some sin, and
some death, in the universe. Some
angels and men will forever be the
enemies of God. But their number,
compared with that of unfallen angels
and redeemed men, is small. They are
not desclibed in the glowing language
and metaphors bywhich the immensity
of the holy and blessed is
by Christ, and is daily
going forward: but the full
accomplishment of it will
not be seen till the last
day. But let us
remember, that believers
even now enter, by hope,
into the GRANARY of God,
in which they will actually
have their everlasting
abode; while the reprobate
experience, in their
convictions of guilt, the
"The strongest support of the
doctrine of endless punishment is
the teaching of Christ, the Redeemer
of man .. , He is the Being with whom all
opponents of this theological tenet
are in conflict, Neither the Christian
Church, nor the Christian ministry are
delineated, Psa. 68: 17; Pt.
22:2; Psa. 103:21; Mat.
6: 13; I Cor. 15:25; Rev.
21:16, 24, 25."- w.G.T.
Shedd, Dogmatic Theology,
Vol. II, pg. 746f, Thomas
Nelson Publishers,
Nashville, Tenn.
IllE AUTHOR OF THE DOCTRINES
OF HELL AND ENDLESS
PUNISHMENT FOR THE
IMPENITENT
the authors of it," w.G, T. Shedd
heat of that FIRE, the actual BURNING
of which they will feel at the last day."
The ultimate fulfillment of this gracious
disposal of the wheat, precious to God,
is described in Revelation 21-22.
THE MEANING OF CHRIST'S "BURNING UP
THE CHAFF WITH UNQUENCHABlE FIRE"
The impenitent unbeliever, the
reprobate, the worthless chalf will be
"burned up' by Jesus Christ "with
unquenchable fire.' This buming up
with fire does not denote the
annihilation of the wicked at death.
John the Baptist slams the door to that
empty theOlY with the dative of means
"with UNQUENCHABLE fire." As
Lenski says, "if the wicked were to be
annihilated, the fire would bum itself
out; instead it will never be quenched,
it simply cannot be, it will bum on
eternally as an eternal punishment for
the wicked. Some have 'etemal' as it is
used in the Scriptures, (as in Matthew
25:46), as it is applied to the fate of the
eternal punishment by which the
reprobate will be tormented, physically
and spiritually, after the Final
Judgment, in Hell, "where the worm
does not die and where the fire is not
quenched: "where there will be
weeping and wailing and gnashing of
teeth." (Mark 8:44,46,48; Rev.
14:9-11). This figure of "fire" is used
to describe a reality, "a dreadful
tennent, which no man can now
comprehend and no language can
express."- Calvin
THE EXTENT AND SCOPE OF HELL
"A single remark remains to be
made respecting the extent and scope
of hell. It is only a spot in the universe
of God. Compared with heaven, hell
is narrow and limited. The kingdom
of Satan is insignificant in contrast
with the Kingdom of Christ. In the
immense range of God's dominion,
good is the rule, and evil is the
exception. Sin is a speck upon the
"The strongest support
of the doctrine of Endless Punishment
is the teaching of Chlist, the Redeemer
of man, Mat. 25:31-33, 41, 46; Mk.
9:43-48; 8:36; Lk. 9:25; Lk. 16:22,23;
Mat. 10:28; Mat. 13:41,42; 7:22,23;
Lk. 12:9, 10; Mat. 23:16, 33; Mat.
26:24; Lk. 12:46; Mk. 16: 16; Mat.
11:23; 13:49,50; In. 8:21; 5:28,29;
Mat. 3:12; 13:30, 47; 25:19-20. --
Jesus Christ is the Person who is
responsible for the doctline of Eternal
Perdition. He is the Being with whom
all opponents of this theological tenet
are in conllict. Neither the Christian
Church, northe Christian ministry are
the authors of it." - Shedd, Dogmatic
Theology, vol. Ill, pg. 675ff.
THE IMMINENCE OF CHRIST'S JUDGMENT
John has repetitively tried to
impress his hearers with the urgency
of repentance because of the
imminence of judgment. ", .. flee that
approaching wrath," vs. 7. " ... the axe
is already laid at the root of the trees,"
Marcil, 1994 ~ THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon 19
vs. 9. "His winnowing fork is in His
hand .. .. ,"vs.17.
(3:18-20) THE PERSECUTION
OF JOHN BY HEROD
(3:1B-19) THE BOLD AND POWERFUL
PREACHING OF JOHN THE FORERUNNER
TJ:IE PREACHING OF JUDGMENT AS
THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL
The preaching of the gospel
includes the preaching of judgment
Luke suddenly and briefly
concludes his history of John the
Forerunner by introducing,
immediately before the account of the
baptism of] esuS, a short paragraph on
Herod's imprisonment of John,
3:19,20. The other synoptic gospels
do not refer to this event until mucth
later in their accounts, in connection
with John's execution by Herod, Mat.
14:1-12; Mk. 6:14-29. Since Luke
mentions John's imprisonment prior
of the stupendous event represented
by the birth of Christ and His presence
in the world."- Stonehouse, pg. 63.
THE PERSECUTION AND
EXECUTION OF JOHN
LukepresentsJohn'sarrestas being
the climax of all Herod's crimes. It was
this because Herod laid hands on God's
prophet, Christ's forerunner, and
silenced his gospel preaching, an act
that was worse than his adultery with
ontheimpenitent,whichis
Herodias. - Lenski.
Notice how verse 20
an integral part of the
gospel: "Unless we can be
sure that in the end evil will
be decisively overthrown
there is no ultimate good
news." - L Morris
"Luke alone of the synoptilsts fails to reads, speaking of
tel/the story of the death of John. Herod's sin of
THE ELEMENTS OF TRUE
PREACHING
OF THE Gospel
" , imprisoning John: ... he
This silence. flke that concerning John's added this also to them all,
baptism of Jesus, provides eloquent (l.e. ,all ofHerod'swicked
tee . tlmonv that John I,s not introduced deeds), thathe lockedJohn
OJ up in prison. On top of
for his own sake. We see. therefore, all his others sins, Herod
that John the Baptist ... owes his place added the imprisonment
Three words in verses and death of John the
18 and 19 define three basic in the early chapters of Luke to the Forerunner, which was
ingredients of true light that his testimony casts upon the most revolting,
preaching of the gospel, as theslt2nificance of Jesus Christ." disgusting, loathsome
well as the three main::> wicked deed of all,
functions of John: [11. l!.===============;;;;;;:==;;;;;!J because it was a crime
PARAKALON, (with many other toJesus'baptism,itisobviousthathe against John the Forerunner, the
exhortations"), [2]. EUAGGEL- is anticipating a later incident. Luke Gospel of Christ he preached, the
IDZETO, ("he preached the gospel"), also presupposes that John lived for people who believed and needed the
[3). ELEGCHOMENOS, ("Herod the some time after the beginnings of the preaching ofjohn, and above all it was
tetrarch was reproved by him"). True lilinistryofjesus,7: lB. But Luke alone a crime against God, Who sent the
preaching involves exhorting of the synoptists fails to tell the story of Forerunner.
everybody to obey God's Word, the death of John. This silence, like John was a fearless preacher. He
preaching the good news of salvation thatconcerningjohn'sbaptismofjesus, did not even shrink back from
in Christ to penitent believers, and provideseloquerittestimonythat]ohn reproving Herod Antipas, the civil
reproving the 1m penitent unbelievers. is not introduced for his own sake. We governor of Galilee and Perea, for his
John "exhorted" the people "in regard to
see, therefore, that John the Baptist, adultery and from calling him to
many other things, much and in many than whom there was no greater born repentance. He did not jUst reprove
ways." He continued bringing the among women, 7:2B, as well as the h' h dhim dl
good news" of the gospel to the people. 1m once, e reprove repeate y
obscure Simeon, owes his place in the until Herod, who had hardened his
And He "repeatedly reproved" Herod for
"all the evil things" He had done. early chapters of Luke to the light that heart to the preaching of the gospel,
his testimony casts upon the finallythrew]ohninto prison and later
(3:20) THE PERsECUTION Significance of Jesus Christ. The had him beheaded according to his
OF JOHN BY HEROD
THE POINT LUKE IS MAKING BY
INTERJECTING THE RECORD OF nIls
EVENT AT THIS POINT IN HIS NARRATIVE
contacts of these two men with the wife, Herodias, Lk. 9:7-9. Herodias
originandearlyhistory ofjesus provide wasangrywithJohnbecausewhenever
occasions for disclosures which he reproved Herod, he was always by
interpret authoritatively the meaning implication denouncing her.
20 :; THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon :; March, 1994
CONCLUSION
God sent John to point people to
Jesus Christ, by explaining to them
their dire need of Ch11st and the
greatness of Christ to meet their need;
by exhorting them to repent of their
sin and believe in Jesus Christ. "This
preaching of repentance must always
be an inherent element in the
Gospel-preaching of the church.
Firstly, the sinfulness of sin should be
pointed out, as well as God's wrath
against it, followed by the inexorable,
(Le., adamant and inflexible), demand
for true repentance, and then there
should be a summons to have faith in
Jesus, the Savior. Without the
preaching of the need for repentance
the message of the church would
degenerate into sentiment."-
Geldenhuys
To make sure we understand the
full meaning of !epentance and faith in
Christ, I am adding this excellent
definition of repentance and saving
faith from the Wesoninster Confession
of Faith, chapters XN and XII:
"TIIEGRACE OF FAITH, whereby
the elect are enabled to believe to the
saving of their souls, is the work of the
Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is
ordinarily wrought by the ministry of
the Word.... By this faith a Christian
believes to be true whatsoever is
revealed in the Word, for the authority
of God Himself speaking therein; and
acts differently upon that which each
particular passage thereof contains;
yielding obedience to the commands,
trembling at the threatenings, and
embracing the promises of God for
this life and that which is to come. But
the principal aCts of saving faith are,
accepting, receiving, and resting upon
Christ alone for justification, (Le.,
salvation from the gUilt and
punishment of sin) ,sanctification, (Le.,
salvation from the tyranny and power
of sin), and eternallife,(Le., salvation
from the presence of sin), by vinue of
the covenant of grace."
"REPENTANCE unto life is an
evangelical grace.... By it a sinner, out
of the sight and sense, not only of the
danger, but also of the filthiness and
odiousness of his sins, as contrary to
the holy nature and righteous law of
God, and upon the apprehension of
His mercy in Christ to such as are
penitent, so glieves' for and hates his
sins, as to tum from them all unto
God, purposing and endeavoring to
walk with Him in all the ways of His
commandments ...
The following foomotes relate to
The Mlntstry ofJohn the Baptist Part I,
found on page 9 in the January/Feb-
ruaryissue of The Counsel oj Chalcedon.
IJ ohn Murray has wlitten, in his
book, ChrutianBaptism, pg. 22: "There
are so many instances of sprinkling in
the ritual of the Mosaic economy that
it is not necessary to give the citations.
In connection with the blood of the
sacrifices no action of the priest was
more prominent than the sprinkling
with blood. And the significance of
sprinkling is shown by nothing more
than by the fact that when the high
pliest went into the holiest of all once
a year on the great day of atonement he
sprinkled the blood ofthesin-offeirngs
seven times before the mercy-seat and
upon the mercy-seat, Lev. 16:14,15.
That this sprinkling had reference to
cleansing appears from Leviticus
16: 19 .... --- Ezekie136:25 indicates as
clearly as any text in the O.T. the
putificatory significance of sprinkling
and the adequacy of sprinkling as a
mode of purification .... "
'George Armsuong, in his book,
The Sacraments oj the New Testament as
Instituted by Christ, pg. 22f, has shown
convincingly that not only is there "no
evidence that personal purifications
(in the O. T.) were ever by immersion;"
but that "the SCriptures give us good
reason to believe that immersion was
never resoned to for such a purpose."
His gives three reasons for his
conclusion: (1). the words used in the
Hebrew OT. and in the Greek O.T.,
and translated in our English versions
by the words bathe and wash are words
having no reference to mode. For
instance in Lev. 15: 5 the words "wash"
and "bathe" are used, withoutreference
to how the washing and bathing was
performed. (2). The oriental manner
of washing the hands and feet was not
by putting them into water, but by
pouring water over them, II Kings
3: 11. (3). A fundamental principle in
the Mosaic law of purification, i.e., the
principle of defilement by contact;
forbids washing or bathing by
immersion, when performed for
purposes of purification, Lev.
11:33,34, 36. Armstrong writes,
"Upon the Mosaic prinCiple of
defilement by contact, had a perwn
bathed by immersion, or washed his
hands by dipping them in any ordinary
household water-vessel or bath, or even
Cistern, he would thereby have defiled
the whole body of water , and the vessel
which contained it; and these, in their
tum, unless first purified, would have
defiled any water which might
subsequently have been put in them."
Armstrong does concede that, perhaps,
the only instance in which immersion
may have been resorted to was in the
case of Leviticus 11:32; but he
immediately adds: "The quantity of
water defiled in immersing such things
would be small, and the Mosaic Law,
in its principles, might be observed
without great inconvenience."
'"The dipping denoted by TABAL
and BAPTOis not always to be equated
with inlmersion. This fact that dipping
is not eqUivalent to immersion needs
to be stressed at the outset. Far too
often in anti-baptist discussions this
fact is overlooked and a good deal of
unnecessary argumentation arises from
the oversight." -JohnMurray, Chrutian
Baptism, pg. 10-1l.Q
March, 1994 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon;' II