Matthew 3:12
Parallel Verses
New International Version
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

New Living Translation
He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire."

English Standard Version
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

New American Standard Bible
"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

King James Bible
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out."

International Standard Version
His winnowing fork is in his hand. He will clean up his threshing floor and gather his grain into the barn, but he will burn the chaff with inextinguishable fire."

NET Bible
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire."

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“For the winnowing fan is in his hand and he purges his threshing floor, and he gathers the wheat into his barns, and the chaff he will burn in fire that is not extinguished.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will clean up his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into a barn, but he will burn the husks in a fire that can never be put out."

Jubilee Bible 2000
whose fan is in his hand; and he will thoroughly purge his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the storehouse, but he will burn up the chaff with fire that shall never be quenched.

King James 2000 Bible
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

American King James Version
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

American Standard Version
whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

Darby Bible Translation
whose winnowing fan [is] in his hand, and he shall thoroughly purge his threshing-floor, and shall gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

English Revised Version
whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.

Webster's Bible Translation
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor, and gather his wheat into the granary; but he will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Weymouth New Testament
His winnowing-shovel is in His hand, and He will make a thorough clearance of His threshing-floor, gathering His wheat into the storehouse, but burning up the chaff in unquenchable fire."

World English Bible
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire."

Young's Literal Translation
whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor, and will gather his wheat to the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.'
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:7-12 To make application to the souls of the hearers, is the life of preaching; so it was of John's preaching. The Pharisees laid their chief stress on outward observances, neglecting the weightier matters of the moral law, and the spiritual meaning of their legal ceremonies. Others of them were detestable hypocrites, making their pretences to holiness a cloak for iniquity. The Sadducees ran into the opposite extreme, denying the existence of spirits, and a future state. They were the scornful infidels of that time and country. There is a wrath to come. It is the great concern of every one to flee from that wrath. God, who delights not in our ruin, has warned us; he warns by the written word, by ministers, by conscience. And those are not worthy of the name of penitents, or their privileges, who say they are sorry for their sins, yet persist in them. It becomes penitents to be humble and low in their own eyes, to be thankful for the least mercy, patient under the greatest affliction, to be watchful against all appearances of sin, to abound in every duty, and to be charitable in judging others. Here is a word of caution, not to trust in outward privileges. There is a great deal which carnal hearts are apt to say within themselves, to put aside the convincing, commanding power of the word of God. Multitudes, by resting in the honours and mere advantages of their being members of an outward church, come short of heaven. Here is a word of terror to the careless and secure. Our corrupt hearts cannot be made to produce good fruit, unless the regenerating Spirit of Christ graft the good word of God upon them. And every tree, however high in gifts and honours, however green in outward professions and performances, if it bring not forth good fruit, the fruits meet for repentance, is hewn down and cast into the fire of God's wrath, the fittest place for barren trees: what else are they good for? If not fit for fruit, they are fit for fuel. John shows the design and intention of Christ's appearing, which they were now speedily to expect. No outward forms can make us clean. No ordinances, by whomsoever administered, or after whatever mode, can supply the want of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. The purifying and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit alone can produce that purity of heart, and those holy affections, which accompany salvation. It is Christ who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. This he did in the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit sent upon the apostles, Ac 2:4. This he does in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, given to those that ask him, Lu 11:13; Joh 7:38,39; see Ac 11:16. Observe here, the outward church is Christ's floor, Isa 21:10. True believers are as wheat, substantial, useful, and valuable; hypocrites are as chaff, light and empty, useless and worthless, carried about with every wind; these are mixed, good and bad, in the same outward communion. There is a day coming when the wheat and chaff shall be separated. The last judgment will be the distinguishing day, when saints and sinners shall be parted for ever. In heaven the saints are brought together, and no longer scattered; they are safe, and no longer exposed; separated from corrupt neighbours without, and corrupt affections within, and there is no chaff among them. Hell is the unquenchable fire, which will certainly be the portion and punishment of hypocrites and unbelievers. Here life and death, good and evil, are set before us: according as we now are in the field, we shall be then in the floor.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 12. - Whose fan. The pronged winnowing-fork (see Pal. Expl. Fund Statem; Ap. 1891) which throws up the grain against the wind. The Coming One is to put an end to the present mixture of chaff and corn. He will thoroughly purge the threshing-floor of this world, gathering the good into one safe place, and destroying the evil. The figure of winnowing comes not unseldom in the Old Testament (e.g. Jeremiah 15:7; Jeremiah 51:2), but generally with the sole idea of destruction of the ungodly, not with that of separating so as to also preserve the godly (yet cf. Psalm 139:3, margin; Amos 9:9). Is in his hand. The figure is stronger than that in ver. 10, where the instrument was only lying ready to be taken up. But that was an instrument of destruction alone. And he will throughly purge; cleanse (Revised Version); permundo (Vulgate); διακαθαριεῖ, the preposition is intensive, not local. His. Observe the threefold αὐτοῦ, referring to hand, flour, corn - personal agency, sphere, ownership. In the Vatican and some other manuscripts it is found also after "garner;" but this is, perhaps, introduced from the parallel in Luke. Floor; threshing-floor (Revised Version). Not the barn that English-men think of, but an open and level space (for the figure, cf. especially Micah 4:12). Here the threshing-floor is equivalent to the scene of the Lord's operations, i.e. the world, or rather the universe (cf. Epbraem (? Tartan) in Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 295). The present mixture of good and evil shall be brought to an end. And gather together, from different parts of the threshing-floor, or from intimate association with the chaff, into one heap. All true believers shall finally be brought to perfect unity (cf. Matthew 13:30). His wheat. The term is adopted by Ignatius ('Ram.,' §4): "I am the wheat of God, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread [of Christ]." Into the garner. The final home of the saints, hidden away and safe from all marauders. Garners in the East are generally subterranean vaults or eaves (but cf. Luke 12:18). But will burn up. Utterly consuming it (contrast Exodus 3:2), as the tares (Matthew 13:30, 40) and the books of magic (Acts 19:19). The chaff. For, as Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 23:28) when comparing a mere dream with a message from the Lord," What is the chaff to the wheat?" The Targum even interprets Jeremiah's words of the wicked and the righteous. The chaff in Jeremiah includes the straw, for in the East everything except the actual grain is generally burnt, and is sometimes used for heating fireplaces (Mishna, 'Sabb.,' 3:1; 'Parah,' 4:3). With unquenchable fire. "Unquenchable" shows that John is here thinking not of the figure of chaff but of the persons figured by it. But what does the word mean? In itself it might mean that the fire cannot be overcome by the greatness or the nature of the mass that it has to consume; i.e., to drop the figure, by either the number or the character at' the wicked. But from its usage it seems rather to be equivalent to not being overcome by the lapse of time. It is used, e.g., of the perpetual fire of Vesta, of the fire of the Magi, of the fire upon the Jewish altar (vide references in Thayer). The whole expression in itself says nothing about the everlasting duration of the punishment; i.e. it does not decide for "everlasting punishment" or for "annihilation," but seems rather to exclude the possibility of amelioration under it (cf. Isaiah 1:31).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Whose fan is in his hand,.... The Jews had their hand fans, and which were like a man's hand; their names were ; which, as Maimonides says (n), were three sorts of instruments used in the floor, in form of a man's hand; with which they cleansed the wheat and barley from the straw; and their names differ according to their form: some have many teeth, and with them they cleanse the wheat at the end of the work; and there are others that have few teeth, no more than three, and with these they purge the wheat at first, from the thick straw. By the "fan", here is meant, either the Gospel which Christ was just ready to publish; by which he would effectually call his chosen people among the Jews, and so distinguish and separate them from others, as well as purify and cleanse them, or rather the awful judgment of God, which Christ was ready to execute, and in a short time would execute on the unbelieving and impenitent Jews: hence it is said to be "in his hand"; being put there by his Father, who "hath committed all judgment to the Son". That this is the meaning of the "Baptist", seems evident, since "fanning" is always, when figuratively taken, used for judgments, Isaiah 41:16. By "his floor", is meant the land of Israel, where he was born, brought up, and lived; of which the Lord says, "O my threshing, and the corn of my floor!" Isaiah 21:10. This, he says, "he will thoroughly purge" of all his refuse and chaff, that is, by fanning: so fanning and cleansing, or purging, are joined together, Jeremiah 4:11 so is used for purging by fanning, in the Misnic writings (o). By "his wheat", are meant his elect among the Jews, the chosen of God and precious; so called because of their excellency, purity, usefulness, solidity, and constancy: these he "will gather into his garner"; meaning either some place of protection, where he would direct his people to for safety from that wrath, ruin, and destruction; which should fall upon the Jewish nation; or else the kingdom of heaven, into which he would bring them, by taking them out of the world from the evil to come. By "the chaff", are meant wicked and ungodly persons, such as are destitute of the grace of God, whether professors, or profane; being empty, barren, and unfruitful; and so good for nothing but the fire, which therefore "he will burn with unquenchable fire", of divine wrath and vengeance: an allusion to a custom among the Jews, who, when they purified the increase of their unclean fields, gathered it together in an "area" or floor, in the midst of them, and then sifted it with sieves; one sort with two sieves, another with three, that they might thoroughly purge it, and burnt the chaff and stalks (p); see Isaiah 5:24.

(n) In Misn. Celim. c. 13. sect. 7. Vid. Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. & in Misn. Tibbul. Yom. c. 4. sect. 6. (o) Misn. Sabbat. c. 7. sect. 2. & Gittin, c. 5. sect. 9. (p) Misn. Oholot. c. 18. sect. 2.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

12. Whose fan—winnowing fan.

is in his hand—ready for use. This is no other than the preaching of the Gospel, even now beginning, the effect of which would be to separate the solid from the spiritually worthless, as wheat, by the winnowing fan, from the chaff. (Compare the similar representation in Mal 3:1-3).

and he will throughly purge his floor—threshing-floor; that is, the visible Church.

and gather his wheat—His true-hearted saints; so called for their solid worth (compare Am 9:9; Lu 22:31).

into the garner—"the kingdom of their Father," as this "garner" or "barn" is beautifully explained by our Lord in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Mt 13:30, 43).

but he will burn up the chaff—empty, worthless professors of religion, void of all solid religious principle and character (see Ps 1:4).

with unquenchable fire—Singular is the strength of this apparent contradiction of figures:—to be burnt up, but with a fire that is unquenchable; the one expressing the utter destruction of all that constitutes one's true life, the other the continued consciousness of existence in that awful condition.

Luke adds the following important particulars (Lu 3:18-20):

Lu 3:18:

And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people—showing that we have here but an abstract of his teaching. Besides what we read in Joh 1:29, 33, 34; 3:27-36, the incidental allusion to his having taught his disciples to pray (Lu 11:1)—of which not a word is said elsewhere—shows how varied his teaching was.

Lu 3:19:

But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done—In this last clause we have an important fact, here only mentioned, showing how thoroughgoing was the fidelity of the Baptist to his royal hearer, and how strong must have been the workings of conscience in that slave of passion when, notwithstanding such plainness, he "did many things, and heard John gladly" (Mr 6:20).

Lu 3:20:

Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison—This imprisonment of John, however, did not take place for some time after this; and it is here recorded merely because the Evangelist did not intend to recur to his history till he had occasion to relate the message which he sent to Christ from his prison at Machærus (Lu 7:18, &c.).

Matthew 3:12 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Mission of John the Baptist
11"As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Cross References
Psalm 1:4
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Isaiah 1:31
The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire."

Isaiah 27:4
I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire.

Isaiah 30:24
The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel.

Isaiah 41:16
You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 66:24
"And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Jeremiah 7:20
"'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place--on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land--and it will burn and not be quenched.

Jeremiah 15:7
I will winnow them with a winnowing fork at the city gates of the land. I will bring bereavement and destruction on my people, for they have not changed their ways.

Jeremiah 51:2
I will send foreigners to Babylon to winnow her and to devastate her land; they will oppose her on every side in the day of her disaster.

Matthew 13:30
Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

Matthew 13:41
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

Matthew 13:42
They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mark 9:43
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.

Mark 9:48
where "'the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.'

Luke 3:16
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:17
His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Treasury of Scripture

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

fan.

Isaiah 30:24 The oxen likewise and the young donkeys that ear the ground shall …

Isaiah 41:16 You shall fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind …

Jeremiah 4:11 At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem…

Jeremiah 15:7 And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave …

Jeremiah 51:2 And will send to Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty …

Luke 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, …

he will throughly.

Matthew 13:41,49,50 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather …

Malachi 3:2,3 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when …

Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the …

John 15:2 Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every …

and gather.

Matthew 13:30,43 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest …

Amos 9:9 For, see, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among …

but.

Job 21:18 They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carries away.

Psalm 1:4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Psalm 35:5 Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.

Isaiah 5:24 Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes …

Isaiah 17:13 The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall …

Hosea 13:3 Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud and as the early dew …

Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the …

Luke 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, …

with.

Isaiah 1:31 And the strong shall be as wick, and the maker of it as a spark, …

Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look on the carcasses of the men that …

Jeremiah 7:20 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, my anger and my fury shall …

Jeremiah 17:27 But if you will not listen to me to hallow the sabbath day, and not …

Ezekiel 20:47,48 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus …

Mark 9:43-48 And if your hand offend you, cut it off: it is better for you to …

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