The Weekend Word

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22 Responses

  1. Babylon's Dread says:

    I quite enjoyed these notes…
    I always love the connection with historical/biblical events.

    Of course the opening foray is a shot across the bow … baptists beware.

    Taking the form of a dove… of course it says he saw the Spirit come “like a dove” … how do you reckon John saw that? Can people see those kinds of things today? Did anyone else see it? I am just interested in you take on these things. I am not picking a fight.

    The voice from heaven… as far as we know scripturally the last time there was a voice from heaven it was audible to the congregation of Israel and they refused it.

    Here the voice that gave the law is giving the son. I see all kinds of implications. Any thoughts? Did others hear it?

    And the LCMS must be indicating a rejection of other baptisms and claiming the proprietary authority over baptism… yes? That is what I read into the claim…

  2. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Babs, these are the notes to my Adult Bible class – even the header – so it is not a shot to baptists, but a reminder to distracted Lutherans who spend more time in evangelical radio & TV than they do in the confessions.

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    LCMS recognizes any Trinitarian baptism. We do not rebaptize.

  4. Jean says:

    MLD, The Spirit descending like a dove on Jesus may be a His anointing as a messianic King. There may be a parallel with David’s anointing by Samuel:

    “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.” (1 Sam 16:30)

    I’ve often wondered if the dove imagery might represent the final resting place of the 3rd dove sent out by Noah, which never returned to the ark.

  5. Josh the Baptist says:

    This might be your best yet. Delete the first line and I could print it out and tech it verbatim.

    I particularly like your first note there about the Jordan. I’d like to dig into that someday.

    BD says” The voice that gave the law is giving the son”. Man, that’s beautiful.

  6. Michael says:

    Matthew introduces John as he came to be known—as one who baptized people. He calls him a preacher or, more literally, one who speaks as a herald. John proclaimed God’s message as a prophetic spokesman in the desert of Judea, the wilderness area to the south of Jerusalem. Reminiscent perhaps of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness prior to their entry into the promised land, John too prepared the way for One who would reconstitute God’s people. Jesus himself would also have his time in the wilderness shortly (4:1–11).

    John’s message called for repentance from sin. He thus anticipated the Messiah’s mission as described in 1:21. Repentance in Greek traditionally implied a change of mind or attitude, but under Old Testament influence it took on the sense of a change of action as well. This combination means that John was asking his hearers “to change their way of life as a result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness.”

    So radical an appeal stemmed from the belief that a new epoch of world history was dawning. The verb translated “is near” (engizō) means more precisely to draw near. Much debate has centered around whether the kingdom is so near as to be actually present or simply imminent. Probably we are to see an overlapping of ages here, but the perfect tense suggests the meaning has drawn near and points to the present as the decisive moment of the kingdom’s arrival.

    Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, pp. 72–73). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

  7. Michael says:

    The “kingdom of heaven” is a circumlocution for the kingdom of God, reflecting pious Jewish avoidance of the divine name. The expression appears only in Matthew, but it occurs thirty-three times and is largely interchangeable with “kingdom of God,” as 19:23–24 makes clear.

    “Kingdom of heaven” perhaps refers also to the fact that all power and authority in heaven are given to Jesus. Older dispensationalist attempts to drive a wedge between these two expressions have now been largely and rightly abandoned.

    John’s one-sentence command here in v. 2 will be repeated verbatim by Jesus in 4:17 as a summary of his message as well.

    A vast literature discusses the concept of the kingdom in the Gospels. New Testament occurrences of basileia, under the influence of the Hebrew malkuth, most commonly refer to God’s reign or kingly rule. Specifically, “the kingdom” depicts the irruption of God’s power into history in a new and dramatic way with the advent of Messiah Jesus.

    Much Jewish thought of the day, though highly diverse, equated the arrival of the kingdom with the completion of God’s plans for his people in a physically visible, materially prosperous, and powerful geopolitical entity. The kingdom continues to be so viewed by some who deny its presence with Jesus’ first advent. Such an approach often leads to the notion that because most of the Jews rejected Jesus’ call to repentance he withdrew his offer of the kingdom and postponed its arrival until his second coming.

    Others delete all future aspects, “de-apocalypticizing” the kingdom and turning it into a form of existence in human history which illustrates new possibilities of relationships among people.

    A large consensus and a vast array of scriptural data support a two-pronged focus in which the kingdom is both present and future (both in Jesus’ day and our own)—contrast, e.g., Matt 12:28; Luke 7:22–23; 17:20–21 with Matt 6:10; Luke 13:28–29; Mark 9:47.53 The kingdom is not currently a geographical entity, but it manifests itself in space and time in the community of those who accept the message John and Jesus proclaimed and who begin to work out God’s purposes on earth—personally, socially, and institutionally. Thus to declare that the kingdom is at hand “means that the decisive establishment or manifestation of the divine sovereignty has drawn so near to men that they are now confronted with the possibility and the ineluctable necessity of repentance and conversion.” More comprehensively:

    The kingdom sums up God’s plan to create a new human life by making possible a new kind of community among people, families, and groups. [It combines] the possibility of a personal relationship to Jesus with man’s responsibility to manage wisely the whole of nature; the expectation that real change is possible here and now; a realistic assessment of the strength of opposition to God’s intentions; the creation of new human relationships and the eventual liberation by God of the whole of nature from corruption.

    Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, pp. 73–75). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

  8. Michael says:

    The God who came to his people in Jesus will one day unveil his kingdom in all its glory, bringing justice and joy to the whole world. How can we get ready for that day? Where do the roads need straightening out? What fires need to be lit, to burn away the rubbish in his path? Which dead trees will need to be cut down? And, equally important, who should be summoned, right now, to repent?

    Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (p. 19). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

  9. Michael says:

    Jesus’ reply tells us something vital about the whole gospel story that is going to unfold before our surprised gaze. Yes, he is coming to fulfil God’s plan, the promises which God made ages ago and has never forgotten. Yes, these are promises which will blow God’s wind, God’s spirit, through the world, which will bring the fire of God’s just judgment on evil wherever it occurs, and which will rescue God’s penitent people once and for all from every kind of exile to which they have been driven. But if he, Jesus, is to do all this, this is how he must do it: by humbly identifying himself with God’s people, by taking their place, sharing their penitence, living their life and ultimately dying their death.

    What good will this do? And how will it bring about the result that John—and his audience—were longing for?

    To those questions, Matthew’s full answer is: read the rest of the story. But we can already glimpse what that answer will be when Jesus comes up out of the water. Israel came through the water of the Red Sea and was given the law, confirming their status as God’s son, God’s firstborn. Jesus came up from the water of baptism and received God’s spirit, God’s wind, God’s breath, in a new way, declaring him to be God’s son, Israel-in-person. The dove, though, which for a moment embodies and symbolizes the spirit, indicates that the coming judgment will not be achieved through a warlike or vindictive spirit, but will mean the making of peace. Judgment itself is judged by this spirit, just as Jesus will at last take the judgment upon himself and make an end of it.

    Part of the challenge of this passage is to learn afresh to be surprised by Jesus. He comes to fulfil God’s plans, not ours, and even his prophets sometimes seem to misunderstand what he’s up to. He will not always play the music we expect. But if we learn to listen carefully to what he says, and watch carefully what he does, we will find that our real longings, the hunger beneath the surface excitement, will be richly met.

    At the same time, those who in repentance and faith follow Jesus through baptism and along the road he will now lead us will find, if we listen, that the same voice from heaven speaks to us as well. As we learn to put aside our own plans and submit to his, we may be granted moments of vision, glimpses of his greater reality. And at the centre of that sudden sight we will find our loving father, affirming us as his children, equipping us, too, with his spirit so that our lives may be swept clean and made ready for use.

    Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (pp. 21–22). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

  10. Michael says:

    I’m late to this party…haven’t felt well for a while.

    A couple of things I wanted to speak to last week…foremost being that there are few truths in Scripture that have been more poorly taught on then the kingdom of God and we desperately need to learn about it as it is given in Scriptures.

    Most of evangelicalism has forsaken teaching on the kingdom with rapture eschatology and we are a grossly misinformed lot as a result.

    You can’t understand this passage or the rest of this book if you don’t have a handle on the kingdom and on the present reign of Christ.

  11. Michael says:

    “Jesus has not come to confess any sin but “to fulfill all righteousness.” He has previously fulfilled specific prophecies as well as more general scriptural themes. Now he wishes to obey all the moral demands of God’s will.

    “To fulfill all righteousness” means to complete everything that forms part of a relationship of obedience to God. In so doing, Jesus identifies with and endorses John’s ministry as divinely ordained and his message as one to be heeded.

    Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 81). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

    I do not believe that water baptism is what we do to fulfill all righteousness or that righteousness is a synonym for faith..
    I believe that Jesus in submitting to baptism fulfilled all righteousness in our place and when we are given faith and believe in Christ that His active and passive obedience and perfect righteousness are credited to us.

  12. Michael says:

    Biblically, righteousness = justice, but that is a whole different can of worms…

  13. I think the kingdom of God / heaven came with Jesus at his birth. All the rest of the talk is trying to get people to understand it. When Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world” I don’t think he was talking of a future kingdom. He was saying that he is a king, and his kingdom is present — just not of this world.

    There is somewhere in Matthew (and as I said a couple of weeks ago I get confused because I am working all over in this book between where I am in my class, what future classes I have prepared, where we are here on the PP today, future classes I have prepared and delivered to Michael etc.) – but there is a place and Jesus is making one of his comments that the kingdom is here / near / in your midst or whatever, but I comment that when he is saying it, he is thumping his chest as to say “look at me – look at the kingdom.”

    How does a king go anywhere without his reign?

  14. Michael says:


    I agree with your #13.

    The rest of the book describes what citizens of that kingdom look and think like…

  15. “To fulfill all righteousness” means to complete everything that forms part of a relationship of obedience to God.”
    And Jesus does this through baptism.

  16. Michael says:

    and we do it through faith in what Jesus already did…

  17. Michael says:

    The baptism John administered was something shockingly new. Never had this been seen in Israel. The Jews knew about baptism, but it was something to be administered to outsiders, to Gentiles.

    Proselytes to Judaism underwent three elements in their initiation: the bath, circumcision and sacrifice. The baptismal bath was to wash away Gentile impurities. All members of the family went into the bath and washed themselves. They were then said to be born anew, to have had their sins cleansed, and other such phrases, which were picked up in the New Testament understanding of baptism.

    In addition, the males in the family were circumcised, and the head of the family offered sacrifice. The bath was the most significant, not only for its symbolism, uniting the recipient with the Israelites in their passage through the Red Sea which constituted Israel a nation, but also because all members of the family received it.

    Despite much learned discussion, it is plain that proselyte baptism existed in the time of John,and it is likely that John’s baptism owed something to it. There were, however, three striking differences.

    First, John’s baptism was given to Jews, and emphatically denoted that the recipients’ Jewish heritage could not save them.

    Secondly, it was not self-administered, as proselyte baptism was. If you were going to be fit for the kingdom, you could not make yourself so. You had to receive baptism at the hand of another.

    Thirdly, John’s baptism was eschatological. It looked for deliverance from the coming wrath, and it was administered in the running water of the river, not like the still bath of the proselyte or the repeated washings of the men at Qumran.

    Maybe John had in mind the famous river that sprang from the threshold of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision. In the burning aridity of the desert, wherever that river ran, life sprang into being: ‘Swarms of living creatures will live where the river flows.’

    So John insists that repentance means submitting to the judgment of God either in reality (the coming wrath) or else in symbol, by repentance and entering into the river. For the river was a picture of the judgment and mercy flowing from God’s throne, and bringing forgiveness of sins and life in the Messiah’s kingdom.

    Religious observance and religious pedigree are not enough. The Pharisees and Sadducees had that and to spare. Orthodoxy is not enough. To be Abraham’s seed is not enough. If there is no heartfelt repentance, there will be no spiritual life for you in the kingdom of the Messiah.

    Green, M. (2001). The message of Matthew: the kingdom of heaven (pp. 77–78). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

  18. Jean says:

    “To fulfill all righteousness” means to complete everything that forms part of a relationship of obedience to God. In so doing, Jesus identifies with and endorses John’s ministry as divinely ordained and his message as one to be heeded.”

    I think Blomberg is basically correct. I would clarify that it was “us” (i.e., John and Jesus) who were fulfilling all righteousness. Also, the fulfilling was not a one act fulfillment but a the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, which fulfilled all righteousness.

    His identification with humanity in baptism was part his active obedience and part of his humiliation.

  19. Michael says:


    Well said.

    Whatever the differences might be in how we parse this, the main thing is still the main thing.

    God came to us, not we to Him…and He accomplished everything for our righteousness, because we could do nothing for ourselves.

    Off to church…

  20. Xenia says:

    The Baptism of Christ is celebrated on the feast of Theophany (Epiphany in the West). “Theophany” means ” the appearance of God” and this is the emphasis. It was by Christ’s baptism in the Jordan that all three persons of the Holy Trinity were revealed for the first time. Here is the hymn for the day:

    “When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.”

    For us, it’s all about the revelation of the Trinity to mankind.

  21. Em again says:

    good comments in the thread here today – thank you for the ponders … while i’m not as clear as i’d like to be on Jesus’ baptism fitting to fulfilling all righteousness – i most definitely see that He identified with humanity in doing so…
    it puzzles me that folk who claim Christ as Savior have trouble with His kingdom, since they’re living in it with all rights and privileges available therein 🙂
    (not to discount the distracting circumstances of our temporary confinement in the devil’s world)

  22. Jean says:

    “I hope that this is a place where the misplaced and curious might find a home and a place where we can honestly and freely have a conversation that matters—a conversation that flows from the Word itself.”

    One thing I really like about the PP is that we have have such a home here.

    The topic is why we study Scripture together. It’s well said:

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