Baptism in The Bible - Putting Baptism into Context through Matthew Chapter 3

By: M Joseeph Anderson

This present scripture is the earliest direct reference to baptism within the entire Word of God. By using the expression “In those days”, the Aposple Matthew is placing his writings into it’s historical perspective. He is additionally informing the reader about time that had since passed, and was most probably giving his account to his readers a prolonged stretch after the events that he notes. In order to figure out those days Matthew is informing the reader about, we really need to consider the preceding chapters.

In the introduction of his gospel, the Aposple Matthew calls it “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1v1). At this juncture Matthew states his ambition - to display Jesus as a true person who lived at a particular stage, was born to particular parents, and had the office and standing of “Christ”, the anointed Messiah or Saviour. The rest of the first chapter tells us about the forebears of Jesus, and moreover a succinct explanation of how Mary got pregnant: “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1v18)

It is within chapter two that we start to catch sight of the precise events that Matthew uses to position his account into a historical timeframe. The historical events shown include:
· Jesus was born in Bethlehem (King David’s historical home) “in the days of Herod the king” (Matthew 2v1)
· Wise men came from the east toward Jerusalem, wanting to know “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2v1-2)
· The wise men journeyed since, in their words, “we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2v2)
· Herod asked the wise men at what moment the heavenly body had appeared (Matthew 2v7) and found that it was nearly 2 years prior (Matthew 2v16). It is feasible nonetheless that he overestimated in an effort to be sure that the baby Jesus was killed, thinking that the heavenly body had in fact appeared on His conception about nine months earlier.
· King Herod sent out the directive with the intention of every single one of the babies beneath the age of 2 in Bethlehem in addition to the whole of it's adjoining realm should be slaughtered. This was his attempt to make sure that solely a single newborn, the baby Jesus, was additionally killed. (Matthew 2v16)
· Following the visit of the wise men, Joseph escorted Mary along with the baby Jesus in the direction of Egypt in a hurry, because he had been warned regarding Herod the king's plans through an angel. (Matthew 2v13-14)
· Whilst they had been in Egypt, Herod the king died and Joseph was instructed to come back to Israel together with “the young child”. (Matthew 2v19-20)
· When Herod died, his son Archelaus ruled Judaea as the new king. (Matthew 2v22)

Noticeably, the aposple Matthew locates the events in the years of the Lord Jesus Christ within the background of who was ruling Judaea, as well as several of their historical actions. This would almost certainly put the birth of Jesus to within a handful of days or weeks of the instruction that king Herod had given in order to have him and all other children in and around Bethlehem murdered. It is likely that several of Matthew’s audience had lost a newborn, brother or sister throughout this time and could connect the writings of Matthew directly to dealings in their individual family unit. It was into these times in their recent past that John the Baptist had arrived, preaching and baptising.

John the Baptist was not preaching within the temple or other places of worship, but in the wilderness. Perhaps he was not wanted in the temple for specific crimes - the most likely grounds was the message that he gave. To see further evidence of this, see moreover v7 3.

Let us have a look at the message that he taught, as established in a small number of verses which follow the current one:

· Repentance was commanded to everyone (v2)
· The “kingdom of heaven” was at hand - just about to be revealed (v2)
· John the Baptist saw his personal ministry as laying the foundations for the ministry of the Lord, sowing the ground, getting everything geared up, and making His route a small amount simpler. (v3)

Without a doubt, precisely from the outset of the scriptural writings of baptism, repentance from sinful behavior was entwined in the significance of baptism. This teaching of repentance and baptism was laying the groundwork for every person who heard the preaching for the coming ministry of the Lord Jesus.

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MJ Anderson All quotations from the Good News Bible unless otherwise indicated. MJ Anderson writes on Baptism, and has also written a book studying each of the 91 verses of scripture about baptism. The book is called "Baptism's 91 Witnesses", and further information can be found at MJ Anderson also produces custom Bumper Stickers, Sticky Labels and Food and Drink stickers through his website at Natural Thyroid Treatments and articles at and

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