The preaching of John.

Matthew 3.7-12 = Mark 1.7-8 = Luke 3.7-18  (John 1.24-28).

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Notes and quotes.

§ I note the following agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark:

  1. At Matthew 3.7-10 = Luke 3.7-9 the first and third evangelists agree against Mark in giving the first part of the sermon of John the baptist, the principal elements of which are the generation of vipers, the children of Abraham, the ax at the root, and the casting of trees into the fire. Within the sermon proper, after the introduction, Matthew agrees with Luke in 60 out of 63 words and Luke agrees with Matthew in 60/64 words.
  2. Matthew 3.11 and Luke 3.16 each have μεν; Mark 1.7 lacks it.
  3. Matthew 3.11 and Luke 3.16 agree in the present tense βαπτιζω against the Marcan aorist εβαπτισα.
  4. Both Matthew 3.11 and Luke 3.16 have John the baptist speak of his own baptismal rite in water before speaking of the one to come; Mark 1.7-8 has him speak of the one to come before describing his own baptismal rite in water.
  5. Matthew 3.11 and Luke 3.16 have υμας βαπτισει instead of the Marcan βαπτισει υμας.
  6. Matthew 3.11b-12 and Luke 3.16b-17 both extend the second part of the sermon of John the baptist by some 28 (Matthew) or 27 (Luke) words, of which 25 are verbatim between them. The theme is the separation of the wheat from the chaff, the gathering of the former into the barn, and the burning of the latter.

The first agreement above makes my list of major agreements. The third through sixth combine for another major agreement on my list. The second seems trivial and coincidental.

§ The phrase ομοιως ποιειτω (let him do likewise) in Luke 3.11 is a formula repeated in Luke 6.31; 10.37 (and elsewhere only in John 5.19). The phrase πολλα... και ετερα (many... and other things), likewise, is repeated in Luke 22.65. The phrase γεννηματα εχιδνων (broods of vipers) in Matthew 3.7 = Luke 3.7 is both repeated and transposed in Matthew 12.34; 23.33. Matthew 3.10b = Luke 3.9b, παν ουν δενδρον... εις πυρ βαλλεται (every tree, therefore... is cast into the fire), is repeated and transposed in Matthew 7.19.

§ Acts 13.23-25, in which Paul is speaking of David:

Τουτου ο θεος απο του σπερματος κατ επαγγελιαν ηγαγεν τω Ισραηλ σωτηρα Ιησουν, προκηρυξαντος Ιωαννου προ προσωπου της εισοδου αυτου βαπτισμα μετανοιας παντι τω λαω Ισραηλ. ως δε επληρου Ιωαννης τον δρομον, ελεγεν· Τι εμε υπονοειτε ειναι; ουκ ειμι εγω, αλλ ιδου, ερχεται μετ εμε ου ουκ ειμι αξιος το υποδημα των ποδων λυσαι.

From the seed of this man God, according to promise, brought to Israel a savior, Jesus, after John had preached before the face of his entering a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And, as John fulfilled his course, he said: What do you suppose me to be? It is not I, but behold, there comes after me [one] the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loosen.

§ Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 49.3b, speaks of John the baptist...:

...οστις επι τον Ιορδανην ποταμον καθεζομενος εβοα· Εγω μεν υμας βαπτιζω εν υδατι εις μετανοιαν· ηξει δε ο ισχυροτερος μου, ου ουκ ειμι ικανος τα υποδηματα βαστασαι· αυτος υμας βαπτισει εν πνευματι αγιω και πυρι. ου το πτυον αυτου εν τη χειρι αυτου, και διακαθαριει την αλωνα αυτου και τον σιτον συναξει εις την αποθηκην, το δε αχυρον κατακαυσει πυρι ασβεστω.

...who, situated upon the Jordan river, shouted: I baptize you in water unto repentance. But the one mightier than I is coming, whose sandals I am not fit to remove. He himself will baptize in the holy spirit and fire. His own fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and lead together his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.

Again, in Dialogue with Trypho 88.7b, John the baptist shouts at those who have mistaken him for the Christ:

Ουκ ειμι ο Χριστος, αλλα φωνη βοωντος. ηξει γαρ ο ισχυροτερος μου, ου ουκ ειμι ικανος τα υποδηματα βαστασαι.

I am not the Christ, but a voice shouting. For the one mightier than I is coming, whose sandals I am not fit to remove.

§ Tertullian, Concerning Baptism 10.1-7 (English slightly modified from Ernest Evans):

Diximus quantum mediocritati nostrae licuit de universis quae baptismi religionem instruunt. nunc ad reliquum statum eius aeque ut potero progrediar de quaestiunculis quibusdam. baptismus a Ioanne denuntiatus iam tunc habuit quaestionem ab ipso quidem domino propositam ad Pharisaeos, caelestisne is baptismus esset an veto terrenus: de quo illi non valuerunt constanter respondere, utpote non intelligentes quia nec credentes. nos quidem quantula fide sumus tantulo et intellectu possumus aestimare divinum quidem eum baptismum fuisse, mandatu tamen non et potestate, quod et Ioannem a domino missum legimus in hoc munus, ceterum humanum condicione. nihil enim caeleste praestabat, sed caelestibus praeministrabat, paenitentiae scilicet praepositus quae est in hominis voluntate. denique legis doctores et Pharisaei, qui credere noluerunt, nec paententiam inire voluerunt. quodsi paenitentia humanum est et baptismus ipsius eiusdem condicionis fuerit necesse est: aut daret et spiritum sanctum et remissionem peccatorum si caelestis fuisset. sed neque peccata dimittit neque spiritum indulget nisi solus deus. etiam ipse dominus nisi ipse prius ascenderet ad patrem aliter negavit spiritum descensurum. ita quod dominos nondum conferebat servus utique praestare non posset. adeo postea in actin apostolorum invenimus [quoniam] qui Ioannis baptismum habebant spiritum accepisse sanctum, quem ne auditu quidem noverant. ergo non erat caeleste quod caelestia non exhibebat, cum ipsum quod caeleste in Ioanne fuerat, spiritus prophetiae, post totius spiritus in dominum translationem usque adeo defecerit ut quem praedicaverat, quem advenientem designaverat, postmodum an ipse esset miserit sciscitatum. agebatur itaque baptismus paenitentiae quasi candidatus remissionis et sanctificarionis in Christo subsecuturae. nam quod legimus: Praedicabat baptismum paenitentiae in remissionem peccatorum, in futuram remissionem enuntiatum est, siquidem paenitentia antecedit, remissio sequitur, et hoc est viam praeparare. qui autem praeparat non idem ipse perficit sed alii perficiendum procurat. ipse profitetur sua non esse caelestia sed Christi dicendo: Qui de terra est terrena loquitur, qui de supernis venit super omnes est: item soli se paenitentiae tinguere, venturum mox qui tingueret in spiritu et igni. scilicet quia vera et stabilis fides spiritu tinguitur in salutem, simulata autem et infirma igni tinguitur in iudicium.

So far as was clear to my small comprehension I have spoken of all those general matters which confirm the religious significance of baptism. I shall now pass on to the rest of its essential features, to treat, again as well as I can, of a number of smaller questions. The baptism which John preached already involved a question, that which our Lord himself addressed to the Pharisees, whether that baptism was from heaven, or only of the earth. Concerning this those people lacked the courage to answer with assurance; they were void of understanding, because void of faith. We, however, with all the little faith we have, and with understanding in proportion, are able to work it out that that baptism was divine, in commission, I mean, not by any power of its own, because we find it written that it was the Lord who had commissioned John for this task, though he was human by birth and upbringing. He discharged no heavenly function, but did service preparatory to heavenly things. He was set in authority over repentance, and this is in the power of a man, for in fact the doctors of the law and the Pharisees refused to believe, and likewise refused to repent. But, if repentance is a human act, then the baptism of repentance must have been of the same sort, else, if it had been heavenly, it would also have given the holy spirit and the remission of sins. But sins are not forgiven, or the spirit granted, except by God alone. Also our Lord himself said that the spirit would not come down until he himself should first ascend to the father. Thus what his Lord was not yet conferring the servant could have had no power to provide. So we find later on, in the Acts of the Apostles, that some people who had the baptism of John needed to receive the holy spirit, whom they had never known of even by hearsay. It follows that it was not heavenly which did not display heavenly characteristics, and in John himself that very thing which was heavenly, the spirit of prophecy, did after the transference of the whole spirit to our Lord to such an extent fail that after a while John sent to enquire whether that one whom he had preached, and had singled out when he came, was really he. What was intended then was a baptism of repentance, as a kind of applicant for the remission and sanctification which in Christ was soon to follow. For that which we read: He preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, was an announcement made in view of a remission which was to be. For repentance comes first, and remission follows, and this is the meaning of preparing the way. But one who prepares a thing does not himself perform it, but provides for its performance by someone else. John himself admits that the heavenly things are not his but are of Christ, when he says: He that is of the earth speaks earthly things; he that has come from above is above all men. Also he said that he was baptizing solely for repentance, and that one would soon come who would baptize in the spirit and in fire, because a true and steadfast faith is baptized with the spirit unto salvation, but a feigned and feeble faith is baptized with fire unto judgement.

§ Papyrus Merton 51 recto:

  1. [...λα]ος και οι τελω[ναι]
  2. [... εδικ]αιωσαν τον θ{εο}ν
  3. [...] αμαρτιας εαυτων
  4. [... ο]υκ εβαπτισαντο
  5. [...]λην του θ{εο}υ
  6. [... θ{εο}]υ ηθετησαν
  7. [...] αθετει·
  8. [... μ]ετ αυτο[υ]
  9. [....]
  1. [...pe]ople and the tax-[collectors]
  2. [... just]ified G{o}d
  3. [...] their sins
  4. [...] were [n]ot baptized
  5. [...] of G{o}d
  6. [... of G{o}]d they rejected
  7. [...] rejected.
  8. [... w]ith hi[m]
  9. [....]