But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)John forbad him.—Better, sought to hinder Him. Here again we have a question which we cannot fully answer. Did John thus forbid Him, as knowing Him to be the Christ? If so, how did that knowledge come? Had they known each other before, in youth or manhood? Or did a special inspiration reveal the character of Him who now drew near? The narrative of St. Matthew seems to imply such knowledge. On the other hand, the words of the Baptist in John 1:33 not only imply, but assert that he did not know Him till after the wonders of the Baptism. Probably, therefore, the sequence of facts was this: The Lord Jesus came to be baptised, as others did, though not, it would seem, with others. He confessed no sins. Look and tone, and words and silence alike spoke of a sinless and stainless life, such as even in approximate instances impresses us with something like awe in presence of the majesty of holiness. Recognising that holiness the Baptist spake as he did, “I have need to be baptised of Thee, to sit at Thy feet, learning lessons of purity and change of heart from Thee.”Matthew 3:14. But John forbade him — Out of modesty he would have declined the service, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee — To receive a larger measure of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit from thee, and comest thou to me — on such an occasion as this? It has been questioned, how John knew him to be the Christ, before the Spirit descended on him? But this question will be easily resolved, if it be considered that John was a prophet filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. No doubt he knew by a secret intimation from that Spirit, that he, who then came to him, was the person on whom the Holy Ghost should descend, and on whom he should abide in so large a measure, or, rather, without measure, that he might impart him to others, such matters being frequently imparted to prophets by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Thus Simeon, having been told that he should not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, had an intimation given him in the temple that the child Jesus was that Christ, Luke 2:26-32; as had, also, Anna the prophetess. And Samuel, being told by God that on the morrow a man should come to him to be captain over his people Israel, 1 Samuel 9:15, when Saul appeared, he had another intimation given him respecting the person, the Lord saying, Matthew 3:17, Behold the man of whom I spake to thee. Just so the Baptist, being to testify, when he baptized with water, that another should baptize them with the Holy Ghost, God tells him that of this he should see an evidence by the visible descent of the Holy Ghost upon Him who, from his fulness, was to impart this Spirit to all true believers; and when our Saviour came to be baptized, God tells him again, this was that very person.
I have need - It is more suitable that I should be baptized with thy baptism, the Holy Spirit, than that thou shouldest be baptized in water by me. I am a sinner, and unworthy to administer this to the Messiah.
saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?—(How John came to recognize Him, when he says he knew Him not, see on John 1. 31-34.) The emphasis of this most remarkable speech lies all in the pronouns: "What! Shall the Master come for baptism to the servant—the sinless Saviour to a sinner?" That thus much is in the Baptist's words will be clearly seen if it be observed that he evidently regarded Jesus as Himself needing no purification but rather qualified to impart it to those who did. And do not all his other testimonies to Christ fully bear out this sense of the words? But it were a pity if, in the glory of this testimony to Christ, we should miss the beautiful spirit in which it was borne—"Lord, must I baptize Thee? Can I bring myself to do such a thing?"—reminding us of Peter's exclamation at the supper table, "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" while it has nothing of the false humility and presumption which dictated Peter's next speech. "Thou shalt never wash my feet" (Joh 13:6, 8).John 3:34. John 1:33 wherefore that was not a signal, whereby he should first know him but whereby his knowledge of him should be confirmed; which knowledge of him he had, not through his kindred to him, or by any conversation he had with him before, but by immediate, divine revelation: upon which account he "forbad him"; refused to administer the ordinance to him; earnestly entreated that he would not insist upon it; desired to be excused being concerned herein: and this he did, partly lest the people should think Christ was not so great a person as he had represented him to be; yea, that he was one of the penitent sinners John had admitted to his baptism; and chiefly because of the majesty and dignity of Christ's person, who he knew stood in no need of such an outward ordinance; and because of his own unworthiness to administer it to him, as is evident from what follows,
I have need to be baptized of thee; not with water baptism, which Christ never administered, but with the baptism of the Spirit, which was his peculiar office. Hence we learn, that though John was so holy a man, was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb, had such large measures of grace, and lived such an exemplary life and conversation; yet was far from thinking, that he was perfect and righteous in himself, but stood in need of Christ, and of more grace from him. He seems surprised that Christ should come to him, and make such a motion to him; when it was his duty and privilege to come to him daily for fresh supplies of grace, and always to trust in him for life and salvation;
and comest thou to me? who am of the earth, earthly, when thou art the Lord from heaven; "to me", a poor sinful creature, when thou art the Holy One of God; "to me", who am thy servant, when thou art Lord of all; "to me", who always stand in need of thy grace, when thou art God all sufficient.But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 3:14. According to John 1:33, it was revealed to the Baptist that He upon whom he should see the Spirit descending was the Messiah. It was accordingly not until this moment that the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah entered his mind; and therefore, in the Gospel of John, he says of the time which preceded this moment: κἀγὼ οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν. The passage before us is not in contradiction with this, for the recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus does not yet lie at its foundation, but the prophetic anticipation of the same, which on the approach of Jesus, as that solemn decision was about to begin through the revelation of the σημεῖον, seized the soul of the Baptist involuntarily and miraculously, and yet psychologically, in keeping with the spiritual rapport prepared by revelation. Comp. Luther: “he scents the Spirit.” Accordingly, we are not to assume in our passage either a recognition only of higher excellence (Hess, Paulus, Hofmann), or a contradiction with John (Strauss, de Wette, Keim), or, after Lücke, Holtzmann, and Scholten, that the oldest and shortest tradition of Matthew contained merely Matthew 3:16-17, while Matthew 3:14-15 were a later addition of the complete Matthew, which Hilgenfeld seeks to support from the silence of Justin regarding the refusal of the Baptist, whilst Keim gives, indeed, the preference to the statement of Matthew over that of John, but still allows it to be very problematical.
διεκώλυεν] Stronger than the simple verb. The word (which does not occur elsewhere in the N. T. nor in the LXX., yet in Jdt 4:7; Jdt 12:7, and frequently in the classical writers) is selected, in keeping with the serious opposition of the astonished John. The imperfect is descriptive, and, indeed, so much so, that “vere incipit actus, sed ob impedimenta caret eventu,” Schaefer, ad Eur. Phoen. 81. Kühner, II. 1, p. 123. John actually repelled Jesus, and did not baptize Him at once, but only when the latter had made representations to the contrary effect.
ἐγὼ χρείαν, κ.τ.λ.] Grotius: Si alter nostrum omnino baptizandus sit, ego potius abs te, ut dignissimo, baptismum petere debui. Thus spoke John in the truest feeling of his own lowliness and sinfulness, in the presence of the long-longed for One, the first recognition of whom suddenly thrilled him.
καὶ σὺ ἔρχῃ πρός με;] A question indicative of the astonishment with which the Baptist, although he had received the divine declaration, John 1:33, was yet seized, through the impression made on him by the presence of the Lord. Moreover, this discourse necessarily excludes the idea that he too connected the baptism of Jesus with the profession of a confession of His sins. Yet the apocryphal Praedicatio Pauli, according to Cyprian, Opp. p. 142, Rigalt (Credner, Beitr. I. p. 360 ff.), had already made Jesus deliver a confession of sin; in the Evangelium sec. Hebraeos, on the other hand, quoted by Jerome, c. Pel. iii. 1, Jesus answers the request of His mother and His brethren to let Himself be baptized along with them: “Quid peccavi, ut vadam et baptizer ab eo? nisi forte hoc ipsum quod dixi ignorantia est.”
 According to Epiphanius, Haer. xxx. 13, the Gospel according to the Hebrews contained the conversation, although with embellishments, but placed it after the baptism. The want of originality of this narrative in itself (in answer to Schneckenburger, Hilgenfeld) already shows its apocryphal and extravagant character. The correctness of its position has found favour, indeed, with Bleek (p. 179 f., and in the Stud. u. Krit. 1833, p. 436), Usteri (in the same, 1829, p. 446), and Lücke, and Keim also, at the expense of our Gospel; but, after what has been said above, without any reason, as the want of agreement between Matthew and John is only apparent, and is not to be removed by changing the meaning of the simple and definite οὐκ ᾔδειν αὐτόν. See on John 1:31. The Wolfenbüttel Fragmentist (vom Zwecke Jesu, p. 133 ff.) has notoriously misused John 1:31 to assert that Jesus and John had long been acquainted with each other, and had come to an understanding to work to each other’s hands, but to conceal this from the people.Matthew 3:14-15. John refuses. It is instructive to compare the three synoptical evangelists in their respective narratives of the baptism of Jesus. Mark (Mark 1:9) simply states the fact. Matthew reports perplexities created in the mind of John by the desire of Jesus to be baptised, and presumably in the minds of Christians for whom he wrote. Luke (Luke 3:21) passes lightly over the event in a participial clause, as if consoious that he was on delicate ground. The three narratives exhibit successive phases of opinion on the subject, a fact not without bearing on the dates and relations of the three Gospels. Matthew represents the intermediate phase. His account is intrinsically credible.14. forbad him] Rather, was preventing, or, endeavoured to prevent.Matthew 3:14. Διεκώλυεν, forbade) John had not yet known that this was the Messiah. He had known, however, that the Messiah was close at hand, and that He would come to his baptism, and be indicated by a clear sign; see John 1:33. In the meanwhile, as soon as he sees Jesus, from that sympathy by which he had been moved in the womb, and from His most gracious aspect, he judges that this candidate for baptism must be the Messiah, and skilfully declares his conviction by a previous protest. See Luther’s Kirchen Postille, on this passage, Fest. Epiph., Part II., ed. Spen., ff. 95, 96.—ἐγὼ, I) It is probable that John himself had not been baptized: see Luke 1:15, fin.—χρεὶαν, need) For it is elsewhere the part of the greater to baptize, of the less to be baptized, and to come on that account to one who baptizes.—ὑπὸ Σοῦ βαπτισθῆναι, to be baptized by Thee) sc. with Thy baptism of the Spirit and of fire. If either of us is to be baptized by the other, I am he.—Σὺ ἔρκῃ; comest Thou?) sc. seeking to be baptized.
 By this protest, precaution was becomingly taken, on the part of Providence, that the humiliation wherewith Christ condescended to undergo baptism, should not prove at all derogatory to His dignity.—Vers. Germ. Subsequently, by reason of the sign which, in accordance with the promise of God, was added after the baptism, John was so much the more confirmed and fitted for bearing testimony of Jesus being the Son of GOD.—Harm., p. 146.Verse 14. - Vers. 14 and 15 are peculiar to St. Matthew. But John. In John 1:31, 33 the Baptist says that he knew him not till the descent of the Holy Spirit; i.e. knew him not in his full Messianic character. Here, either by an involuntary and miraculous impression, psychologically due to the previous revelation he had received (cf. Meyer); or, as is on the whole more probable, from his previous knowledge, direct or indirect, of Jesus, he recognizes his superior sanctity. John's inmost thoughts must therefore have been somewhat as follows. "I have come to announce the advent of Messiah; here is One who is much holier than I; it may be that he is Messiah, but I have no certainty till the sign promised has been vouchsafed." Forbade; would have hindered (Revised Version), for διεκώλυεν, does not in itself imply speech. (For a similar imperfect of that which was not fully carried out, cf. Luke 1:59.) It is noticeable, though doubtless merely as a coincidence, that the strong compound word διακωλύω and βαπτίζομαι also occur together in Judith 12:7. I have need to be baptized of thee. Many see here a reference to the baptism of the Spirit and fire, mentioned in ver. 11. But the following clause, "and dost thou come to me?" implies that the baptisms are identical, viz. baptism by water. The sentence is equivalent to "I John, who myself administer the baptism of repentance, need to profess repentance myself, and ought rather, therefore, to receive such a baptism at thy hands, who art so far holier than I" (cf. further Weiss, 'Life,' 1:320).
The A. V., following Wyc. and Tynd., misses the meaning of the verb. As in so many instances, it overlooks the force of the imperfect tense, which expresses past action, either in progress or in process of conception, in the agent's mind. John did not forbid Jesus, but had it in mind to prevent him: was for hindering him. Hence Rev., properly, would have hindered him. Again, the preposition (διά) intensifies the verb, and represents strong feeling on John's part. He was moved to strenuous protest against Jesus' baptism by him.
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