Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say to you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Matthew 3. See Poole on "Luke 3:4" Matthew 3:9. the sense is the same. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, leave out the phrase, "within yourselves": what they are forbid to say follows,
we have Abraham to our father, for I say unto you, God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham; which need not be thought strange, when the creation of Adam out of the earth, and the production of such a numerous offspring, as the Israelites were, from Abraham and Sarah, when past all hope of children, and are signified by the rock and pit in Isaiah 51:1 are considered; See Gill on Matthew 3:9.Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 3:8. καρποὺς: instead of καρπὸν, perhaps to answer to the various types of reform specified in the sequel.—ἄρξησθε instead of δόξητε (vide on Mt.), on which Bengel’s comment is: “omnem excusationis etiam conatum praecidit”. While the words they are forbidden to say are the same in both accounts, perhaps the raising up children to Abraham has a wider range of meaning for the Pauline Lk. than for Mt.: sons from even the Pagan world.8. Bring forth] The verb implies instant effort. “Produce at once.”
begin not to say] He cuts off even all attempt at self-excuse.
We have Abraham to our father] Rather, as our father. The Jews had so exalted a conception of this privilege (John 8:39) that they could scarcely believe it possible that any son of Abraham should ever be lost. This is seen in many passages of the Talmud, which maintain that a “single Israelite is of more worth in God’s sight than all the nations of the world.” “Thou madest the world for our sakes. As for the other people … Thou hast said … that they are nothing but be like unto spittle, and hast likened the abundance of them unto a drop that falleth from a vessel.… But we Thy people (whom Thou hast called Thy firstborn, Thy only begotten, and Thy fervent lover), &c.” 2Es 6:56-58. The Prophets had long ago warned them that privileges without duties were no protection (Jeremiah 7:3-4; Micah 3:11; Isaiah 48:2, &c.). Christ taught them that Abraham’s seed had no exclusive offer of salvation (Matthew 8:11-12), and it was a special part of the mission of St Paul to bring home to them that “they are not all Israel which are of Israel” Romans 9:6-7; Galatians 3:29; Galatians 6:15.
of these stones] He pointed to the rocky boulders, or the flints on the strand of Jordan, around him. He who had made Adam from the clay could make sons of Abraham from those stones (Bengel). St John’s imagery is that of the wilderness,—the rock, the serpent, the barren tree.Luke 3:8. Μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν, do not begin to say) He cuts off by anticipation every even attempt at self-excuse.Verse 8. - Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance. In other words, "Since you profess to have taken flight from the wrath to come, show at once, by your change of life, that your repentance is worth something, has some meaning in it." Begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father. These words show that John had the splendid courage to strike boldly at the very root of Jewish pride. Gradually Jewish belief in the especial favor of God, which they were to enjoy through all eternity, had grown up till it resulted in such extravagant expressions as these: "Abraham would sit at the gates of hell, and would not permit any circumcised Israelite of decent moral character to enter it;" "A single Israelite is worth more in God's sight than all the nations of the world;" "The world was made for their (Israel's) sake." This incredible arrogancy grew as their earthly fortunes became darker and darker. Only an eternity of bliss, of which they alone were to be partakers, could make up for the woes they were made to suffer here, while an eternity of anguish for the Gentile world outside Israel was a necessary vengeance for the indignities this Gentile world had inflicted upon the chosen people. Long ago the great Hebrew prophets had warned the deluded race that their election would profit them nothing if they failed in their duties to their God and their neighbor. For I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham; pointing, no doubt, to the rough shingle lying on the river Jordan's banks. John's thought was the same which Paul afterwards expressed to the Galatians in his own nervous language, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham;" "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:7, 29).
Matthew has the singular number, καρπὸν, fruit.
Repentance (τῆς μετανοίας)
Note the article: the repentance which you profess in coming to my baptism. Rev., in margin, "your repentance." See on Matthew 3:2.
With the first accusing of your conscience. "He anticipates even attempt at excuse" (Bengel). Matthew has think not, indicating a delusive fancy.
The word stands first in the sentence, "We have Abraham to our father," and is therefore emphatic, and with reason; for it was on their descent that the answer of these Jews to John's rebuke turned: "Our father is Abraham."
See on Matthew 3:9.
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