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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on The Gospel According to Matthew

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3.1–12 : The work of the Baptist

(Mk. 1.1–8; Lk. 3.1–18; Jn. 1.6, 15, 19–28 ).

1 :

Wilderness: the arid Judean territory southeast of Jerusalem, including the lower Jordan valley (v. 6 ).

2 :

Repent: to change one's mind (Gk.), to return, to turn around (Heb.). Kingdom: see Mk. 1.15 n. In Jewish piety, Heaven was an ordinary manner of referring to God.

3 :

Isa. 40.3 .

4 :

Second Kings 1.8 attributes similar clothing to Elijah.

7 :

Baptism, dipping in water, was an important ritual in the Dead Sea community and was also administered to Gentile converts to Judaism. The Pharisees were a predominantly lay Jewish movement marked by an elastic interpretation of the Law, though in terms of a special, inherited tradition; they accepted as authoritative not only the “books of Moses,” but also other literature including the Prophets and other writings; they believed in such “new” doctrines as the resurrection; after the fall of Jerusalem (70 C.E.), they were the dominant force in Judaism. The Sadducees, who interpreted Scripture literally, were a priestly-oriented party who enjoyed considerable civil power in Roman times and were theologically conservative (e.g. they did not believe in the resurrection). There were other distinctive Jewish groups, including the Essenes (of whose literature and practices the Dead Sea Scrolls provide rich information); about these, the NT is silent.

9 :

Abraham for our father: see Lk. 3.8 n.

11 :

Holy Spirit and fire: see Lk. 3.16 n.

3.13–17 : The baptism of Jesus

(Mk. 1.9–11 n.; Lk. 3.21–22; Jn. 1.32–34 ).

14–15 :

Jesus' baptism by John presented several problems to the early church. These verses show, first, that John was subordinate to Jesus (v. 14 ) and second, that Jesus' submission to baptism was not evidence of his sinfulness (vv. 6, 15 ).

16 :

The origin of the Spirit-dove imagery is unknown; the Spirit's “hovering” over the deep in Gen. 1.2 is a frequently conjectured source. The descent of the Spirit appears to have marked Jesus' installation as Son in the primitive tradition.

17 :

On Son, Beloved, see Mk. 1.11 n.

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