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The Preaching of John the Baptist. (A)As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:[a](B)

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
    he will prepare your way.
(C)A voice of one crying out in the desert:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight his paths.’”

John [the] Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.[b] He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. [c](D)I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”

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Footnotes

  1. 1:2–3 Although Mark attributes the prophecy to Isaiah, the text is a combination of Mal 3:1; Is 40:3; Ex 23:20; cf. Mt 11:10; Lk 7:27. John’s ministry is seen as God’s prelude to the saving mission of his Son. The way of the Lord: this prophecy of Deutero-Isaiah concerning the end of the Babylonian exile is here applied to the coming of Jesus; John the Baptist is to prepare the way for him.
  2. 1:6 Clothed in camel’s hair…waist: the Baptist’s garb recalls that of Elijah in 2 Kgs 1:8. Jesus speaks of the Baptist as Elijah who has already come (Mk 9:11–13; Mt 17:10–12; cf. Mal 3:23–24; Lk 1:17).
  3. 1:8–9 Through the life-giving baptism with the holy Spirit (Mk 1:8), Jesus will create a new people of God. But first he identifies himself with the people of Israel in submitting to John’s baptism of repentance and in bearing on their behalf the burden of God’s decisive judgment (Mk 1:9; cf. Mk 1:4). As in the desert of Sinai, so here in the wilderness of Judea, Israel’s sonship with God is to be renewed.

during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,[a] the word of God came to John(A) the son of Zechariah in the desert. [b]He went throughout [the] whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,(B) [c]as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:(C)

“A voice of one crying out in the desert:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,(D)
    make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
    and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”(E)

He said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?(F) Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.(G) Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”(H)

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”(I) 13 He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”

15 (J)Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 [d]John answered them all, saying,(K) “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan[e] is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”(L)

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Footnotes

  1. 3:2 During the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas: after situating the call of John the Baptist in terms of the civil rulers of the period, Luke now mentions the religious leadership of Palestine (see note on Lk 1:5). Annas had been high priest A.D. 6–15. After being deposed by the Romans in A.D. 15 he was succeeded by various members of his family and eventually by his son-in-law, Caiaphas, who was high priest A.D. 18–36. Luke refers to Annas as high priest at this time (but see Jn 18:13, 19), possibly because of the continuing influence of Annas or because the title continued to be used for the ex-high priest. The word of God came to John: Luke is alone among the New Testament writers in associating the preaching of John with a call from God. Luke is thereby identifying John with the prophets whose ministries began with similar calls. In Lk 7:26 John will be described as “more than a prophet”; he is also the precursor of Jesus (Lk 7:27), a transitional figure inaugurating the period of the fulfillment of prophecy and promise.
  2. 3:3 See note on Mt 3:2.
  3. 3:4 The Essenes from Qumran used the same passage to explain why their community was in the desert studying and observing the law and the prophets (1QS 8:12–15).
  4. 3:16 He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire: in contrast to John’s baptism with water, Jesus is said to baptize with the holy Spirit and with fire. From the point of view of the early Christian community, the Spirit and fire must have been understood in the light of the fire symbolism of the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4); but as part of John’s preaching, the Spirit and fire should be related to their purifying and refining characteristics (Ez 36:25–27; Mal 3:2–3). See note on Mt 3:11.
  5. 3:17 Winnowing fan: see note on Mt 3:12.

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