Luke 3:1
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene--

New Living Translation
It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene.

English Standard Version
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

Berean Study Bible
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

Berean Literal Bible
And in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip being tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and of Trachonitis, and Lysanias being tetrarch of Abilene,

New American Standard Bible
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,

King James Bible
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

Holman Christian Standard Bible
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

International Standard Version
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Caesar Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

NET Bible
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,

New Heart English Bible
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But in the 15th year of the Kingdom of Tiberius Caesar in the government of Pontius Pilate in Judea, when Herodus was the Tetrarch in Galilee and Philippus his brother was Tetrarch in Ituria and in the region of Trakona, and Lusania was Tetrarch of Abilina,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
It was the fifteenth year in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Herod ruled Galilee, and his brother Philip ruled Iturea and Trachonitis. Lysanias was the ruler of Abilene.

New American Standard 1977
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,

Jubilee Bible 2000
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

King James 2000 Bible
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

American King James Version
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

American Standard Version
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

Douay-Rheims Bible
NOW in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea, and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina;

Darby Bible Translation
Now in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Ituraea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

English Revised Version
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

Webster's Bible Translation
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanius the tetrarch of Abilene,

Weymouth New Testament
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being Governor of Judaea, Herod Tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip Tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias Tetrarch of Abilene,

World English Bible
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

Young's Literal Translation
And in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar -- Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother, tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene --
Study Bible
The Mission of John the Baptist
1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.…
Cross References
Matthew 14:1
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus

Matthew 14:3
Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife,

Matthew 14:6
On Herod's birthday, however, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod

Matthew 22:17
So tell us what You think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"

Matthew 27:2
They bound Him, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate the governor.

Mark 6:21
On Herod's birthday, her opportunity arose. Herod held a banquet for his nobles and military commanders, as well as the leading men of Galilee.

Luke 2:1
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

Luke 3:19
But when he rebuked Herod the tetrarch regarding his brother's wife Herodias and all the evils he had done,

Luke 9:7
When Herod the Tetrarch heard about all that was happening, he was perplexed. For some were saying that John had risen from the dead,

Luke 13:31
At that very hour, some Pharisees came to Jesus and told Him, "Leave this place and get away, because Herod wants to kill You."
Treasury of Scripture

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

A.M.

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from …

Pontius Pilate.

Luke 23:1-4,24 And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him to Pilate…

Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between …

Acts 4:27 For of a truth against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, …

Acts 23:26 Claudius Lysias to the most excellent governor Felix sends greeting.

Acts 24:27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, …

Acts 26:30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, …

Herod.

Luke 3:19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother …

Luke 9:7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he …

Luke 23:6-11 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean…

his.

Matthew 14:3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison …

Mark 6:17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold on John, and bound …

Ituraea. Ituraea was a province of Syria east of Jordan, now called Djedour, according to Burckhardt, and comprising all the flat country south of Djebel Kessoue as far as Nowa, east of Djebel el Sheikh, or mount Hermon, and west of the Hadj road. Trachonitis, according to Strabo and Ptolemy, comprehended all the uneven country on the east of Auranitis, now Haouran, from near Damascus to Bozra, now called El Ledja and Djebel Haouran. Abilene was a district in the valley of Lebanon, so called from Abila its chief town, eighteen miles N. of Damascus, according to Antoninus.

III.

(1) Now in the fifteenth year . . .--The opening of the main narrative is characteristic of St. Luke's desire to follow in the footsteps of regular historians, and to name the rulers of any regions that were affected, directly or indirectly, by the events which he narrates.

Tiberius Csar.--He had succeeded Augustus A.D. 14, so that we get the date A.D. 29 for the commencement of the Baptist's ministry. The history of his rule lies outside the scope of this Commentary; but the rise of the city Tiberias, and the new name--the sea of Tiberias--given to the lake of Galilee, may be noted as evidence of the desire of the Tetrarch Antipas to court his favour.

Pontius Pilate.--See Note on Matthew 27:2. He had entered on his office of Procurator in A.D. 26.

Herod being tetrarch of Galilee.--The Tetrarch was commonly known as Antipas (a shortened form of Antipater) to distinguish him from his brothers. He had succeeded his father on his death, B.C. 4 or 3. The date of his birth is uncertain, but he must have been over fifty at this time. He was deposed A.D. 39.

Philip tetrarch of Itura.--Not the Philip whose wife Antipas had married (see Note on Matthew 14:3), and who was the son of Mariamne, but his half-brother, the son of a Cleopatra of Jerusalem. On the division of Herod's kingdom he received Batana, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and a district near Jamnia, and governed with equity and moderation. The city of Csarea Philippi, on the site of Paneas, was built by him (see Note on Matthew 16:13), and he raised the eastern Bethsaida to the rank of a city under the name of Julias. Our Lord's ministry brought Him into the region under Philip's rule just before the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1).

Itura offers a link between the Old Testament and the New. It. was named after Jetur (pronounced Yetur) a son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:15). Aristobulus conquered it about B.C. 55, and offered its inhabitants the choice of exile or Judaism. Some submitted, others found a refuge in the slopes of Hermon. When conquered by Augustus, B.C. 20, it was given to Herod the Great, and was bequeathed by him to Philip. The region lay between Hermon, Trachonitis, Gaulanitis, and the plain of Damascus, and consisted generally of basaltic rock. The old name appears in the modern Jedur.

Trachonitis.--This, like Itura, is mentioned here, and here only, in the Bible. It corresponds with the Argob of Deuteronomy 3:14, and with the modern El Lejah. Both the Hebrew and the Greek names point to the rocky character of the region with its caves and cliffs. It was conquered, like Itura, by Augustus, and by him given to Herod. It lay somewhat to the south of that province and to the north of the Hauran.

Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene.--The district so named (probably from Abel, the Hebrew for a "grassy meadow") lay on the eastern slope of the range of the Anti-Libanus, and was watered by the Barada. The name of Lysanias appears as its ruler from the time of Antony and Cleopatra to that of Claudius, and passed probably, therefore, through two or three generations. An inscription, with his name as tetrarch, was found by Pococke in the seventeenth century. There is no reason for thinking that our Lord's journeyings ever extended thus far, but St. Luke's may very probably have done so, and this may account for his mentioning the district and its ruler.

(1) In St. Matthew, Joseph appears as the son of Matthan, the grandson of Jacob; here as the son of Heli, and grandson of Matthat.

(1) The difficulty presented here admits of at least three explanations, (a) Joseph may have been the son of Jacob by birth, and of Heli by adoption, or conversely. (b) Jacob and Heli may have been half brothers--sons of the same mother--by different fathers, Matthan and Matthat, or these two may be different forms of the name of the same person, and one of the two brothers may have died without issue, and the other married his widow to raise up seed unto his brother. On either of these assumptions, both the genealogies give Joseph's descent. This would be sufficient, as St. Matthew's record shows, to place the son of Mary in the position of the heir of the house of David. We have, however, on this theory, to account for the fact that two different genealogies were treasured up in the family of Joseph; and the explanation commonly offered is natural enough. St. Matthew, it is said, gives the line of kingly succession, the names of those who were, one after another, the heirs of the royal house; St. Luke that of Joseph's natural parentage, descending from David as the parent stock, but through the line of Nathan, and taking by adoption its place in the royal line when that had failed. The fact that from David to Salathiel St. Matthew gives us the line of kings, and St. Luke that of those who were outside the line, is so far in favour of this hypothesis. (c) A third and, as it seems to the present writer, more probable view is, that we have here the genealogy, not of Joseph, but of Mary, the words "being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph" being a parenthesis, and the first link being Jesus (the heir, and in that sense, son, of Heli). On this hypothesis, the Virgin, as well as Joseph, was of the house and lineage of David; and our Lord was literally, as well as by adoption, "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3), on the mother's side through the line of Nathan, on the reputed father's through that of Solomon. This view has at least the merit of giving a sufficient reason for the appearance of the two different genealogies. Everything too, as we have seen in the Introduction, points to the conclusion that the materials for the first three chapters of St. Luke's Gospel came to him through the company of devout women who gathered round the mother of Jesus; and if so, what more natural than that they should have preserved and passed on to him the document on which she rested her claim to be of David's lineage?

Verses 1-22. - THE BAPTISM OF JOHN. Verse 1. - Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. St. Luke's Gospel is framed after the model of approved histories. He commenced with an elaborate rhetorical preface, most carefully worded, stating, in a few well-chosen sentences, the reasons which had induced him to undertake the work. He then (Luke 1:5-2:52) skillfully wove into the text of his narrative one or more original documents; these he translated, preserving, with great art, as closely as possible, the spirit, and oftentimes the very words, of his original authority. Now, in this chapter he comes to a period more generally known. Here he has a vast number of sources for his story, written and oral; these he shapes into a regular history, beginning, as was the ordinary custom with works of this description, with the names of the chief rulers of the countries in which the events, which he proposed to relate, took place. He first speaks generally of the great Roman Empire under whose shadow the Holy Land at that time cowered. Then he proceeds to describe more fully the political divisions of Palestine; and, lastly, he writes of the great Jewish ecclesiastical governors of the day. Tiberius was the stepson of the Emperor Augustus, whom he succeeded. It was about this time that this monarch retired to the island of Capreae, where his life was disfigured with the grossest crimes. The government of his ministers, who ruled absolutely in his name, has become a byword for evil and tyrannical government. The influence of the Roman emperors at this time in Palestine appears from the attempts at adulation on the part of the local rulers, who, among many other localities, renamed the Lake of Galilee, where so many of the scenes narrated in our story took place, "the Sea of Tiberius." The city of Tiberius, on the shores of this inland sea, was named after the emperor. Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea. His proper title was ἐπίτροπος, procurator. In Judaea this civil functionary was also military commander. This double office gave the procurator of Judaea a higher rank and title; his official superior was the Roman Governor of Syria. Pilate became procurator in A.D. , and held the appointment for ten years. Herod being tetrarch of Galilee. This Herod is usually known as "Antipas" (properly, Antipater). He was a son of Herod the Great, and reigned for more than forty years; he was eventually deposed by the Roman authorities and' banished to Gaul. Galilee at this period was the most flourishing and densely populated portion of the land of promise. Roughly speaking, it occupied all the center of Palestine, the rich plain of Esdraelon (Jezreel) and the surrounding districts. His brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis. Herod Philip, another of the great Herod's sons, is well spoken of as a fair and judicious ruler. Caesarea Philippi was built by him. His tetrarchate included the ancient Bashan and the Hauran, and the country lying round the base of Hermon. Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene. This district lay to the east of the mountain range of Anti-Libanus, the river Barada flowing through it. Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,.... Emperor of Rome, and the third of the Caesars; Julius was the first, and Augustus the second, in whose time Christ was born, and this Tiberius the third; he was the son of Livia, the wife of Augustus, but not by him; but was adopted by him, into the empire: his name was Claudius Tiberius Nero, and for his intemperance was called, Caldius Biberius Mero; the whole of his reign was upwards of twenty two years, for he died in the twenty third year of his reign (g); and in the fifteenth of it, John began to preach, Christ was baptized, and began to preach also; so that this year may be truly called, "the acceptable year of the Lord".

Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea; under the Emperor Tiberius, in whose reign the Jewish chronologer (h) places him, and the historian (i) also, and make mention of him as sent by him to Jerusalem: he was not the first governor of Judea for the Romans; there were before him Coponius, Marcus Ambivius, Annins Rufus, and Valerius Gratus:

and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee; this was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the great, and brother of Archelaus; the above chronologer (k) calls him also a tetrarch, and places him under Tiberius Caesar: he is sometimes called a king, and so he is by the Ethiopic version here called "king of Galilee"; and in the Arabic version, "prince over the fourth part of Galilee"; besides Galilee, he had also Peraea, or the country beyond Jordan, as Josephus (l) says, and which seems here to be included in Galilee; See Gill on Matthew 14:1.

And his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea, and of the region of Trachonitis: Pliny (m) makes mention of the nation of the Itureans, as belonging to Coele Syria; perhaps Iturea is the same with Batanea, or Auranitis, or both; since these with Trachon, the same with Trachonitis here, are allotted to Philip by Josephus (n): it seems to take its name from Jetur, one of the sons of Ishmael, Genesis 25:15 Trachonitis is mentioned by Pliny (o), as near to Decapolis, and as a region and tetrarchy, as here: Ptolemy (p) speaks of the Trachonite Arabians, on the east of Batanea, or Bashan: the region of Trachona, or Trachonitis, with the Targumists (q), answers to the country of Argob. This Philip, who as before by Josephus, so by Egesippus (r), is said, in agreement with Luke, to be tetrarch of Trachonitis, was brother to Herod Antipas, by the father's, but not by the mother's side. Philip was born of Cleopatra, of Jerusalem, and Herod of Malthace, a Samaritan (s): he died in the twentieth year of Tiberius (t), five years after this:

and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene: mention is made of Abila by Pliny (u), as in Coele Syria, from whence this tetrarchy might have its name; and by Ptolemy (w), it is called Abila of Lysanius, from this, or some other governor of it, of that name; and the phrase, "from Abilene to Jerusalem", is to be met with in the Talmud (x), which doubtless designs this same place: who this Lysanias was, is not certain; he was not the son of Herod the great, as Eusebius suggests (y), nor that Lysanias, the son of Ptolemy Minnaeus, whom Josephus (z) speaks of, though very probably he might be a descendant of his: however, when Tiberius Caesar reigned at Rome, and Pontius Pilate governed in Judea, and Herod Antipas in Galilee, and Philip his brother in Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias in Abilene, John the Baptist began to preach and baptize; to fix the area of whose ministry and baptism, all this is said.

(g) Suetou. Octav. Aug. c. 62, 63. & Tiberius Nero, c. 21, 49, 73. (h) R. David Ganz par. 2. fol. 15. 1.((i) Joseph. de Bello, Jud. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 2, 3.((k) Par. 1. fol. 25. 2.((l) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 6. sect. 5. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 23. (n) Ib. ut supra. (de Bello, Jud. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 2, 3.) (o) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 12. (p) Lib. 5. c. 15. (q) Targum Jon. in Deuteronomy 3.4. 14. 1 Kings 13. & T. Hiefos. in Deuteronomy 3.14. & Numbers 34.15. (r) De Excid. l. 1. c. 46. & 3. 26. (s) Joseph de Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 28. (t) Ib. Antiqu. l. 18. c. 6. (u) Lib. 5. c. 18. (w) Lib. 5. c. 15. (x) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 59. 2.((y) Hist. Eccl l. 1. c. 9. 10. (z) De Belle Jud. l. 1. c. 13. sect. 1.CHAPTER 3

Lu 3:1-20. Preaching, Baptism, and Imprisonment of John.

(See on [1543]Mt 3:1-12; [1544]Mr 6:17, etc.).

1, 2. Here the curtain of the New Testament is, as it were, drawn up, and the greatest of all epochs of the Church commences. Even our Lord's own age (Lu 3:23) is determined by it [Bengel]. No such elaborate chronological precision is to be found elsewhere in the New Testament, and it comes fitly from him who claims it as the peculiar recommendation of his Gospel, that he had "accurately traced down all things from the first" (Lu 1:3). Here, evidently, commences his proper narrative. Also see on [1545]Mt 3:1.

the fifteenth year of Tiberius—reckoning from the period when he was admitted, three years before Augustus' death, to a share of the empire [Webster and Wilkinson], about the end of the year of Rome 779, or about four years before the usual reckoning.

Pilate … governor of Judea—His proper title was Procurator, but with more than the usual powers of that office. After holding it about ten years he was ordered to Rome, to answer to charges brought against him, but ere he arrived Tiberius died (A.D. 35), and soon after Pilate committed suicide.

Herod—(See on [1546]Mr 6:14).

Philip—a different and very superior Philip to the one whose wife Herodias went to live with Herod Antipas. (See Mr 6:17).

Iturea—to the northeast of Palestine; so called from Ishmael's son Itur or Jetur (1Ch 1:31), and anciently belonging to the half tribe of Manasseh.

Trachonitis—farther to the northeast, between Iturea and Damascus; a rocky district, infested by robbers, and committed by Augustus to Herod the Great to keep in order.

Abilene—still more to the northeast, so called from Abila, eighteen miles from Damascus [Robinson].3:1-14 The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring the people from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching, not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony was washing with water. By the words here used John preached the necessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, and that the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inward cleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effects of true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is the fulfilling of the Scriptures, Isa 40:3, in the ministry of John. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by taking down high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ, by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in the way of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcome the salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortations which John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is become a generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another. There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by repentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mind must be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our destruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts of persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must show it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, to engage us to do all the good we can, and to be just to all men. And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain, leads to restore that which is gained by wrong. John tells the soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the temptations of their employments. These answers declared the present duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test of their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvation without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this repentance are here marked out.
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