Matthew 3:13
Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Then cometh Jesus.—We are brought here face to face with the question which the legend just quoted sought to answer, and cannot altogether turn aside from it: Why did the Lord Jesus come to the baptism of John? The Sinless One had no sin to confess, no need of repentance. We cannot even ascribe to Him that consciousness of evil which weighs upon the hearts of the saints of God almost in exact proportion to their holiness; yet we must believe that His righteousness was essentially human, and therefore capable of increase, even as He increased in wisdom and stature. Holy as He was at every stage of life in proportion to its capacities, there yet rose before Him height upon height of holiness as yet unattained, and after which we may say with reverence He “hungered and thirsted.” And for that attainment the baptism, which to others was a stepping-stone out of the slough of despond, might well seem a means, if not a condition. It was meet that He should fill up the full measure of righteousness in all its forms by accepting a divine ordinance, even, perhaps, because it seemed to place Him in fellowship with sinners.

Matthew 3:13. Then cometh Jesus — Who was now about thirty years of age, from Galilee — Where he had long lived, in a retired manner, unto John, to be baptized of him — Not in testimony of his repentance, or for the remission of sins, for, being without sin, he neither needed repentance nor remission; but that he might honour John’s ministry, and acknowledge his commission to baptize, and might confirm the institution of baptism by water. He thus, also, offered himself to receive that testimony which he knew his heavenly Father would give him, and conformed himself to what he appointed for his followers; for which last reason he drank likewise of the sacramental cup. Thus the apostolical constitutions inform us that Christ was baptized, not that he needed any purgation, but to testify the truth of John’s baptism, and to be an example to us. We may consider this as a plain argument that baptism may be rightly administered to, and received by those that are incapable of many of the chief ends of it, provided they be capable of some other end for which it also was designed. For Christ, being without sin, could neither repent nor promise amendment of life; being the wisdom of the Father, he could be taught nothing; being the Christ, he could not profess he would believe on him that should come after him, that is, on himself. He, therefore, was baptized, 1st, to testify that he owned the Baptist as one commissioned by God to perform this office; 2d, that by this rite he might profess his willingness to fulfil all righteousness; and, 3d, that by this he might be initiated into his prophetical office, and consecrated to the service of God. Therefore, though infants can neither be taught, nor believe, nor give the answer of a good conscience, at baptism, yet they may be baptized; 1st, that by this ceremony they may be obliged to observe the laws of that Jesus, into whose name they are baptized, even as, under the Mosaic dispensation, the infant, by virtue of circumcision, became a debtor to observe the whole law of Moses, Acts 15:5; Galatians 5:3; Galatians 2 dly, that by this rite they may enter into covenant with God, of which they are declared capable by Moses, Deuteronomy 29:11.3:13-17 Christ's gracious condescensions are so surprising, that even the strongest believers at first can hardly believe them; so deep and mysterious, that even those who know his mind well, are apt to start objections against the will of Christ. And those who have much of the Spirit of God while here, see that they need to apply to Christ for more. Christ does not deny that John had need to be baptized of him, yet declares he will now be baptized of John. Christ is now in a state of humiliation. Our Lord Jesus looked upon it as well becoming him to fulfil all righteousness, to own every Divine institution, and to show his readiness to comply with all God's righteous precepts. In and through Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men. This descent of the Spirit upon Christ, showed that he was endued with his sacred influences without measure. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. At Christ's baptism there was a manifestation of the three Persons in the sacred Trinity. The Father confirming the Son to be Mediator; the Son solemnly entering upon the work; the Holy Spirit descending on him, to be through his mediation communicated to his people. In Him our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable, for He is the altar that sanctifies every gift, 1Pe 2:5. Out of Christ, God is a consuming fire, but in Christ, a reconciled Father. This is the sum of the gospel, which we must by faith cheerfully embrace.Then cometh Jesus - The Saviour is now introduced as about to enter on his work, or as about to be solemnly set apart to his great office of Messiah and Redeemer. The expression "cometh" implies that the act was voluntary on his part; that he went for that purpose and for no other. He left the part of Galilee - Nazareth - where he had lived for nearly 30 years, and went to the vicinity of the Jordan, where John was baptizing the people in great numbers, that he might be set apart to his work. The occasion was doubtless chosen in order that it might be as public and solemn as possible. It is to be remembered, also, that it was the main purpose of John's appointment to introduce the Messiah to the world, Matthew 3:3.

To be baptized of him - By him. Baptism was not in his case a symbol of personal reformation and repentance, for he was sinless; but it was a solemn rite by which he was set apart to his great office. It is true, also, that although he was personally holy, and that the baptism in his case had a different signification, in this respect, from that which is implied when it is administered now, yet that even in his case the great idea always implied in the ordinance of baptism had a place; for it was a symbol of holiness or purity in that great system of religion which he was about to set up in the world.

Mt 3:13-17. Baptism of Christ and Descent of the Spirit upon Him Immediately Thereafter. ( = Mr 1:9-11; Lu 3:21, 22; Joh 1:31-34).

Baptism of Christ (Mt 3:13-15).

13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him—Moses rashly anticipated the divine call to deliver his people, and for this was fain to flee the house of bondage, and wait in obscurity for forty years more (Ex 2:11, &c.). Not so this greater than Moses. All but thirty years had He now spent in privacy at Nazareth, gradually ripening for His public work, and calmly awaiting the time appointed of the Father. Now it had arrived; and this movement from Galilee to Jordan is the step, doubtless, of deepest interest to all heaven since that first one which brought Him into the world. Luke (Lu 3:21) has this important addition—"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus being baptized," &c.—implying that Jesus waited till all other applicants for baptism that day had been disposed of, ere He stepped forward, that He might not seem to be merely one of the crowd. Thus, as He rode into Jerusalem upon an ass "whereon yet never man sat" (Lu 19:30), and lay in a sepulchre "wherein was never man yet laid" (Joh 19:41), so in His baptism, too. He would be "separate from sinners."

Christ, who now was about thirty years of age, Luke 3:23, cometh from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, where Joseph lived, Luke 2:4, and whither he went with, Joseph and Mary, Luke 2:39, and again after he had disputed with the doctors at twelve years of age, Luke 2:46; cometh from thence to Jordan, the great river, where John was baptizing disciples, offering himself to be baptized of him. He showed his humility by going to him, and also made the action public. If any ask to what end Christ, who had no sin, was baptized, himself gives us an account, Matthew 3:15, to fulfil all righteousness (of which more in its place). He thus owned John’s ministry and mission to baptize, and confirmed the institution of baptism by water, and offered himself to that testimony which he knew his Father would give of him. He thus initiated himself in the Christian church, as by circumcision he had made himself of the Jewish church, and so was the Head both of the believing Jews and Gentiles. He was not (as others) baptized in testimony of his repentance, or for the remission of sins, for he was without sin. Then cometh Jesus,.... That is, when John had been some time preaching the doctrine of repentance, and administering the ordinance of baptism; for which, time must be allowed, since he went into all the country about Jordan, and preached unto them, and baptized such large numbers: very probably it might be six months from his first entrance on his ministry; since there was this difference in their age, and so might be in their baptism and preaching. Now when John had given notice of the Messiah's coming, and so had prepared his way; had declared the excellency of his person, the nature of his work, and office, and had raised in the people an expectation of him,

then cometh Jesus from Galilee; from Nazareth of Galilee, Mark 1:9 where he had lived for many years, as the Jews (q) themselves own; in great obscurity, in all obedience to God, in subjection to his parents, exercising a conscience void of offence towards God and man, and employing his time in devotion and business: from hence he came to Jordan to John, who was baptizing there; which shows the great humility of Christ, who comes to John, and does not send for him, though John was his servant, and he was his Lord and Master; and also his cheerful and voluntary subjection to the ordinance of baptism, since of himself, of his own accord, he took this long and fatiguing journey; for Nazareth, according to David de Pomis (r), was three days journey from Jerusalem, though somewhat nearer Jordan; the end and design of his coming was

to be baptized of him. It may reasonably be inquired what should be Christ's view in desiring to be baptized; it could not be to take away original or actual sin, since he had neither; nor has baptism any such efficacy to do this, in those who have either or both: but, it was to show his approbation of John's baptism, and to bear a testimony of it, that it was from heaven; and also that he himself might receive a testimony both from heaven, and from John, that he was the Son of God and true Messiah, before he entered upon his public ministry, into which he was in some measure initiated and installed hereby; and moreover, to set an example to his followers, and thereby engage their attention and subjection to this ordinance; and, in a word, as he himself says, to fulfil all righteousness.

(q) Toldos Jesu, p. 6. (r) Tzemach David, fol. 141. 2.

{7} Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

(7) Christ sanctified our baptism in himself.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 3:13. Τότε] at that time, when John thus preached the advent of the Messiah, and baptized the people, Matthew 3:1-12.

ἀπὸ τ. Γαλιλ.] See Matthew 2:23. It belongs to παραγ. The position is different in Matthew 2:1.

τοῦ βαπτισθ. ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ] Jesus wished to be baptized by John (genitive, as in Matthew 2:13), but not in the personal feeling of sinfulness (B. Bauer, Strauss, Pécaut), or as the bearer of the guilt of others (Riggenbach, Krafft); not even because He, through His connection of responsibility with the unclean people, was unclean according to the Levitical law (Lange), or because He believed that He was obliged to regard the collective guilt of the nation as His guilt (Schenkel); just as little in order to separate Himself inwardly from the sins of the nation (Baumgarten), or make it certain that His σὰρξ ἀσθενείας should not be opposed to the life of the Spirit (Hofrnann, Weissag. und Erfüll. II. p. 82), or because the meaning of the baptism is: the declaration that He is subjected to death for the human race (Ebrard); not even to bring in here the divine decision as to His Messiahship (Paulus), or to lay the foundation for the faith of others in Him, so far as baptism is a symbol of the regeneration of those who confess Him (Ammon, L. J. I. p. 268), or in order to honour the baptism of John by His example (Calvin, Kuinoel, Keim), or to bind Himself to the observance of the law (Hofmann, Krabbe, Osiander); or because He had to conduct Himself, before the descent of the Spirit, merely as an Israelite in general. The opinion also of Schleiermacher, that the baptism of Jesus was the symbolical beginning of His announcement of Himself, and, at the same time, a recognition of John’s mission, is foreign to the text. The true meaning appears from Matthew 3:15, namely, because Jesus was consciously certain that He must, agreeably to God’s will, subject Himself to the baptism of His forerunner, in order (Matthew 3:16-17) to receive the Messianic consecration; that is, the divine declaration that He was the Messiah (ἵνα ἀναδειχθῇ τῷ λαῷ, Euth. Zigabenus), and thereby to belong from that moment solely and entirely to this great vocation. The Messianic consciousness is not to be regarded as first commencing in Him at the baptism, so that He would be inwardly born, by means of baptism, to be the Messiah, and would become conscious of His divine destination, to full purification and regeneration as the new duty of His life; but the πρέπον ἐστὶν ἡμῖν, Matthew 3:15, presupposes a clear certainty regarding His vocation; and John’s relation to the same, as in general the existence of that consciousness, must have been the necessary result of His own consciousness, which had attained the maturity of human development, that He was the Son of God. But that baptism, to which He felt certain that He must submit Himself, was to be for Him the divine ordination to the Messiahship. It is clear, according to this, that His baptism was quite different from that of others, so far as in Him, as a sinless being, there could be no confession of sin; but the lustrative character of the baptism could only have the meaning, that from that moment He was taken away from all His previous relations of life which belonged to the earthly sphere, and became, altogether and exclusively, the Holy One of God, whom the Father consecrated by the Spirit. Although He was this God-sanctified One from the beginning, yet now, as He was aware that this was the will of God, He has, by the assumption of baptism, solemnly bound and devoted Himself to the full execution of His unique destiny,—a devotion which was already more than a vow (Keim), because it was the actual entrance into the Messianic path of life, which was to receive at the very threshold its divine legitimation for all future time. In so doing, He could, without any consciousness of guilt (Matthew 11:29), associate Himself, in all humility (Matthew 11:29), with the multitude of those whom the feeling of guilt impelled to baptism; because in His own consciousness there was still the negation of absolute moral goodness, to which He, long afterwards, expressly gave so decided expression (Matthew 19:17).Matthew 3:13-17. Jesus appears, His baptism and its accompaniments (Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). 13. Then cometh Jesus … to be baptized of him] Jesus who is the pattern of the New life submits to the baptism which is a symbol of the New life (Metanoia). He who has power to forgive sins seems to seek through baptism forgiveness of sins. But in truth by submitting to baptism Jesus shows the true efficacy of the rite. He who is most truly man declares what man may become through baptism—clothed and endued with the Holy Spirit, and touched by the fire of zeal and purity.

There is no hint in the gospel narrative of that beautiful companionship and intercourse in childhood between Jesus and the Baptist with which Art has familiarized us. See John 1:31, a passage which tends to an opposite conclusion.

to Jordan] Probably at “Ænon near to Salim” (John 3:23), a day’s journey from Nazareth, “close to the passage of the Jordan near Succoth and far away from that near Jericho.” Sinai and Palestine, p. 311.

13–17. Jesus comes to be baptized of John. Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34St Luke adds two particulars: that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus (1) “in a bodily shape,” and (2) “while He was praying.”

In the fourth gospel, where John Baptist’s own words are quoted, the act of baptism is not named; a touch of the Baptist’s characteristic humility.Verses 13-17. - THE BAPTISM OF JESUS. (Parallel passages: Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21, 22.) Verse 13. - Then; temporal (ver. 5, note). When John was preaching and baptizing. Cometh (ver. 1, note). From Galilee. Mark adds, "from Nazareth of Galilee" (for this is his first historical mention of our Lord), thereby implying that our Lord had lived in Nazareth since our Matthew 2:22, etc. In contrast to the representative teachers from Jerusalem, and the crowds both from there and from the Jordan valley (ver. 5), this Stranger came from Galilee. To Jordan. It is hard to see why the Revised Version inserts "the" here and leaves the Authorized Version unaltered in ver. 5. To be baptized (τοῦ βαπτισθῆναι); Matthew 2:13, note. By him; and no other. Not mere baptism, but baptism at the hands of John, was our Lord's motive for coming. He would link his own work on to that of John (vide infra) .
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