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

By: Mja Anderson

This current scripture is the first direct mention of baptism within the whole Scriptures. By using the turn of phrase “In those days”, the author Matthew is locating his text into it’s historical background. He is also telling his contemporaries about time that had since passed, and was most probably giving his account to his audience a long spell following the actions that he records. In order to understand those days Matthew is writing to us about, we really need to look at the previous chapters.

In the opening of his gospel, Matthew brands it “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1v1). At this juncture Matthew states his purpose - to reveal The Lord Jesus Christ as a real person who lived at a precise period, was born to specific mother and father, and had the office and eminence of “Christ”, the anointed Messiah or Saviour. The remainder of the first chapter tells us about the descent of Jesus, and moreover a concise portrayal of how Mary became pregnant: “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1v18)

It is within chapter two that we begin to witness the detailed events that Matthew makes use of to place his writings into it's chronological 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 out of the east to Jerusalem, asking “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2v1-2)
· The wise men came since, in their words, “we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2v2)
· King Herod enquired of the wise men at what instant the star had appeared (Matthew 2v7) and found that it was approximately 2 years beforehand (Matthew 2v16). It is probable nonetheless that he overestimated in an attempt to make sure that the newborn child was slaughtered, thinking that the star had in fact appeared at His conception around 9 months earlier.
· Herod the king sent out an command with the purpose of every one of the babies beneath the age of two in Bethlehem along with all of it's surrounding countryside should be killed. This was his attempt to make certain that only one infant, the baby Jesus, was additionally killed. (Matthew 2v16)
· Following the visit of the wise men, Joseph escorted Mary along with the baby Jesus toward Egypt in a rush, seeing that he had been warned regarding King Herod's strategy through an angel. (Matthew 2v13-14)
· Whilst Joseph, Mary and Jesus were in Egypt, Herod the king died so Joseph was instructed to go back to Israel together with “the young child”. (Matthew 2v19-20)
· When King Herod was dead, his son Archelaus ruled Judaea in his place. (Matthew 2v22)

Clearly, the aposple Matthew places the events in the life of Jesus inside the perspective of who was ruling Judaea, and some of their actions. This would most likely place the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ within just a few days or weeks from the instruction that king Herod had given in order to have him in addition to any further children in and in the neighborhood Bethlehem killed. It is probable that a number of Matthew’s readers had lost a baby, brother or sister at some stage in this moment in time and possibly will correlate the writings of Matthew quickly to situations from their particular family unit. It was into these time in their past that John the Baptist had come, preaching and baptising.

John the Baptist was not preaching inside the temple or other places of worship, but in the wilderness. Conceivably he was not welcome in the temple for some reason - the most probable cause was the teaching that he introduced. For other confirmation of this, notice moreover v7 3.

Shall we have a look at the message that he preached, which is established within the few scriptures that follow on from the current one:

· Repentance was commanded to everyone (v2)
· The “kingdom of heaven” was at hand - almost to be revealed (v2)
· John the Baptist saw his individual ministry in the role of laying the groundwork meant for the ministry of the Lord, sowing the soil, getting the whole thing geared up, and making His route a small amount quicker. (v3)

Undoubtedly, well from the outset of the scriptural writings of baptism, repentance from sinful conduct was caught up inside the significance of baptism. This idea of repentance and baptism was laying the groundwork for every individual which received the teaching 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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