Together in the Word (Matthew 3)

This past Sunday (February 3) we studied Matthew 3. Below is a brief outline of the chapter, a few observations we discussed, and a couple applications we made together as we endeavor to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction of John the Baptist (vv. 1-6).
  • Condemnation of the Pharisees and Sadducees (vv. 7-12).
  • Jesus’s baptism (vv. 13-17).


  • John’s ministry and message of repentance (v. 2)—turn from your own way to the way of God—anticipated the arrival of Christ.
  • There is another example of fulfilled prophecy as Matthew sites Isaiah 40:3 (v. 3).
  • John was the first prophet since Malachi. That “Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were coming out to him” (v. 5) may speak to an underlying thirst for God, something perhaps the religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees wasn’t quenching.
  • Baptism by immersion followed confession of sin (v. 6). That it does not wash away sin is clear from the fact that Jesus, who was born of Mary and did not inherit a sin nature (v. 1:16), was baptized.
  • Repentance bears fruit (v. 8).
  • John’s rebuke of the Pharisees and Sadducees, “do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,'” (v. 9) implies they were trusting their ethnicity and heritage for their acceptance before God. Entrance into the Kingdom of God is based on faith, not ethnicity. Again, we see that God is the God of all. (See also 1:1-17; 2:1.)
  • There is a clear warning of God’s judgment (vv. 11-12).
  • Supernatural signs followed Jesus’s baptism (vv. 16-17), showing God’s approval—Jesus is the Son of God.
  • In these supernatural signs we see the Trinity for the second time (vv. 16-17).


  • We can ask ourselves if we have heeded the message of repentance. Is it evident by the fruit we bear in our lives?
  • Fulfilled prophecy again shows us that God is trustworthy and that He keeps His Word.
  • We can also ask ourselves if our trust is in something other than God, such as our baptism or our genealogy.
  • Judgment awaits those that have not repented (vv. 11-12). Are we living in light of this reality?
  • Believers should follow Christ’s example of public baptism by immersion, not for salvation but for identification with our Savior and His Kingdom.