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Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:7-9 – Vipers, Repent!

Luke 3:7-9 – Vipers, Repent!

LK3:7 So John told the crowds that came out to be baptized by him: “You offspring of vipers,[1] who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?[2] LK3:8 You had better produce fruitage worthy of repentance.[3] Do not start to convince yourselves: ‘Abraham is our father!’[4] For I tell you that The God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these rocks![5] LK3:9 Even now the ax is about to chop the root of the trees.[6] And so every tree not producing good fruit[7] will be chopped down and hurled into the fire.”[8]


[1] You offspring of vipers: Or, generation of vipers, brood of snakes. John does not speak well of the Jews of his period. [Isaiah 59:5] Jesus does the same. [Matthew 23:33]

[2] The coming wrath: Likely including the period of Great Oppression between 66-70 AD.

[3] Fruitage worthy of repentance: True repentance – a feeling of regret for past thoughts, words, and conduct – must be accompanied by visible evidence of such repentance. [Matthew 3:8]

[4] Abraham is our father: Compare John 8:33. A claim relied on by some Jews to this day.

[5] Raise up children to Abraham from these rocks: Merely relying on a genealogical connection with Abraham is of no value.

[6] The ax is about to chop the root of the trees: The claim of Abrahamic roots is worthless now if one is lacking the faith of Abraham. [Matthew 3:10]

[7] Every tree not producing good fruit: Compare Matthew 7:19 where Jesus teaches the same.

[8] Hurled into the fire: The analogy is to the brush fire resulting from burning up pruned limbs. Compare Luke 3:17.

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John the Baptist preaching repentance - polych...

John the Baptist preaching repentance – polychrome, Amiens cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preceding articles:

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:3-6 – John Preaches Baptism of Repentance

Connecting articles:

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

Next: Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:7-9 – Vipers, Repent!

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Find also to read:

  1. God’s promises
  2. With God All Things Are Possible
  3. Exceeding Great and Precious Promise
  4. God’s promises to us in our suffering
  5. Apple of Gods eye
  6. A “seed” for the blessing of all mankind would come through the family of Abraham
  7. Creator and Blogger God 9 A Blog of a Book 3 Blog about Prophecy
  8. Story of Jesus’ birth begins long before the New Testament
  9. Jesus begotten Son of God #6 Anointed Son of God, Adam and Abraham
  10. Jesus begotten Son of God #20 Before and After
  11. Another way looking at a language #3 Abraham
  12. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #4 Mozaic and Noachide laws
  13. Men of faith
  14. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  15. Jeruzalem Gods city
  16. True riches
  17. Seeing the world through the lens of his own experience
  18. God receives us on the basis of our faith
  19. Aim High: Examples of Godly Characters to follow
  20. Invitation to all who believe

In Dutch:

  1. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen. #1 Abraham de aartsvader
    where is written that early in the 2nd millennium before the Common Era, the first Hebrew patriarch was born.
    In the history of humankind we can see that the Almighty God, Jehovah used his power to overcome any obstacle that the fulfillment of his promise, to Abraham, might prevent to come in fulfilment. The father of Isaac was to be the patriarch for God’s People. In time, Abraham was indeed the father of the Israelites and had not only to be seen as the father or patriarch of the Jews, but also of the Christians as well as Muslims. They all should believe in the promise of a great posterity which would come when a great empire would be inherited by the People of God. We should all look forward to the time when the world would come to see the promised land.  From the trunk of the patriarch of the people of Israel a large earthly king would come (David) from which the Messiah (Jeshua/Jesus Christ) would be born, which would be a greater king because he should rule over the Kingdom of God.
  2. Het begin van Jezus #7 Een Nieuwe Adam, zoon van Abraham
  3. Het begin van Jezus #8 Beloofde Gezalfde zoon van God

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  • Preparing the Way (graceofourlord.com)
    In verse 7, John the Baptist is speaking to the crowds that came out to be baptized. In Matthew chapter 3, we are told that Pharisees and Saduccees were among those who had come. The impression that is most natural to take away from John’s harsh-sounding words here are that they are meant for those two groups. But just as likely, they are aimed at any of those who had come without true repentance on their minds. That is what John had been preaching – a baptism of repentance.
  • December 8 (stmarkssa.wordpress.com)
    To the people of the Old Testament period, the word would mean to turn, to return. Their experience of being in exile in Babylon and returning to Jerusalem was a powerful cultural memory to them. When “repent” was translated from the Greek, another meaning emerged: “to go beyond the mind that we have.” So repentance is all about change, to go beyond where we are and open ourselves to transformation. This requires time apart from my cultural context and examination of my motives and areas of my life needing change. To live in or return to the kingdom of God, requires growth and transformation by God’s love, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Getting ready for Advent 2 (revdavidyonker.wordpress.com)
    They were coming to confess their sins and be baptized.   This is all well and good, but as David Lose and Karoline Lewis point out here, this isn’t the usual Advent and Christmas theme.  Repentance and  baptism for the forgiveness of sins is a topic we talk about in Lent as we prepare for Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, not as we celebrate his birth.
  • Second Sunday of Advent: Dec. 8 (prayerscapes.wordpress.com)
    John came to prepare the people for the coming of another. Coming events have occurred often in the life of the Judeo-Christian faith: from Egypt, from the desert, from Babylon, the Christ child, John and the second coming of Jesus.
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    We as believers are called to come to and embrace the kingdom of heaven, which is nearby. How have we prepared the way for our coming to this kingdom? Have we applied for citizenship in this new kingdom? In these days as I contemplate John preparing the way for the people, I shall also contemplate my preparation for citizenship and entry into the nearby kingdom of heaven. How about you?
  • Sadducees & Pharisees: The Holistic Healing Arts like Yoga are unChristian (arpaget.typepad.com)
    According to some of our Rams and Shepherds, apparently our very spiritual lives are in great jeopardy. All due to those unChristian activities, we like to refer to as the Holistic Healing Arts like Yoga.

    So we, the lowly Sheep, approach this topic with considerable timidity, humility and meekness. Such August Leaders of the Church – are like the great Sadducees and Pharisees of the Temple:

  • In those days: some notes (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    the biblical idea of repentance involves a willingness to turn one’s life around in the sense of a complete re-orientation. the kingdom of heaven is at hand: “heaven” (literally, “the heavens”) is a substitute for the name “God” that was avoided by devout Jews of the time out of reverence. The expression “the kingdom of heaven” occurs only in the gospel of Matthew. It means the effective rule of God over his people. In its fullness it includes not only human obedience to God’s word, but the triumph of God over physical evils, supremely over death. In the expectation found in Jewish apocalyptic, the kingdom was to be ushered in by a judgment in which sinners would be condemned and perish, an expectation shared by the Baptist. This was modified in Christian understanding where the kingdom was seen as being established in stages, culminating with the parousia of Jesus.
  • In those days: the kingdom at hand (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    Luke introduces the ministry of John the Baptist with a careful historical introduction listing the year, the emperor, the rulers of the surrounding territories, and the high priest who was in office. Matthew introduces John’s ministry with a very general, “in those days.” The point is not that Matthew was unaware of the interval of about thirty years that he is passing over. Rather, his purpose was to show that the birth of Christ and the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry are part of the same flow of God’s activity in salvation history. There are two major sections within this passage. Verses 1-6 introduce the ministry of John the Baptist while verses 7-12 summarize the message of John.
  • Second Sunday of Advent 8.12.13 Matthew 3.1-12 (preachersfriend.wordpress.com)
    To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.
  • Because It’s the Religious Thing To Do – Matthew 3:7-10 (stevesbiblemeditations.com)
    To be right with God, it wasn’t good enough just to be children of Abraham. God wanted them to repent of their self-righteousness and replace it with His righteousness. And without God’s righteousness, there’s no redemption!But God’s righteousness can’t be acquired by birthright or by being religious; it can only be imputed by God. And God can only impute His righteousness when there is a penitent heart to receive it, when you acknowledge that you are wrong and God is right.
  • Refurbisment or Rebuild (venabling.wordpress.com)
    The experience of becoming a Christian is often presented in the guise of being a refurbishment job.
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    The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a “refurbishment” message. Rather it is “demolition and renewal” message. John the Baptist was the man who preached in a demolish and rebuild fashion.
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Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

|| Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:7-11, 15-18

MT3:7 When John saw many Pharisees[1] and Sadducees[2] coming to the baptism he said to them: “Generation of vipers, who showed you how to flee from the coming wrath? MT3:8 Therefore, produce fruitage[3] worthy of repentance. MT3:9 Do not be presumptuous[4] and tell yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father!’ I tell you that the God[5] is able to raise up Abrahamic children from these stones! MT3:10 The ax is already lying at the root of the trees. So every tree not producing good fruit[6] will be cut down and thrown in a fire. MT3:11 True, I baptize you people in water because of your repentance, but there is One who comes after me[7] – I am not worthy to remove his sandals – he will baptize in holy Pneuma[8] [Isaiah 44:3] as well as with fire.[9] MT3:12 That One’s winnowing shovel is in his hand and he will completely clean up his threshing floor[10] and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up in an inextinguishable fire.”[11]


[1] Pharisees: The name means “Separated Ones” and occurs 87 times: Matthew, 29, Mark, 12, Luke, 20, John, 20, Acts, 6. A prominent Jewish sect described by Josephus: “And so great is their influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest, they immediately gain credence.” [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 288 (x, 5)] “They believe that souls have power to survive death and that there are rewards and punishments under the earth for those who have led lives of virtue or vice: eternal imprisonment is the lot of evil souls, while the good souls receive an easy passage to a new life.” (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 14 [i, 3]) “Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment.… [They] attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate co-operates.” [The Jewish War, II, 162, 163 (viii, 14)] Nicodemas was a Pharisee (John 3:1, 2; 7:47-52; 19:39). Paul was a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5).

[2] Sadducees: The name occurs 16 times (Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 293 [x, 6]; XIII, 172, 173 [v, 9]) They did not believe in angels or the resurrection. They appealed to the wealthy. Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 298 (x, 6); XVIII, 16, 17 (i, 4); The Jewish War, II, 162-166 (viii, 14).

[3] Fruitage: True repentance (a change of mind; a sorrow because of sin) must be accompanied with some evidence of such. Paul lists some identifying fruitage (2 Corinthians 7:10, 11).

[4] Presumptuous: See Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

[5] The God: The Greek is HO THEOS.

[6] Fruit: Compare John 15:2, 6. Twice John has exhorted these Jews to produce fruitage consistent with true repentance.

[7] One who comes after me: That is, the Messiah

[8] Baptize in holy Pneuma: Possibly an allusion to Isaiah 44:3.

[9] Fire: The Jews have two choices, that is two baptisms: spirit or the fire of destruction. See the next verse regarding this fire.

[10] Threshing floor: Possibly an illusion to Isaiah 41:15, 16.

[11] Inextinguishable fire: Or, KJV: unquenchable; WMS: fire that can never be put out. A metaphor for everlasting destruction as in the case of the Second Death (Revelation 20:13, 14).

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Connecting articles:

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:41-50 – Twelve Year Old Jesus in the Temple + Luke 2:51-52 – Jesus continued to be in subjection to his parents

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

James Tissot's John and the Pharisees

James Tissot’s John and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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  1. On the Nature of Christ
  2. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  3. Jesus begotten Son of God #11 Existence and Genesis Raising up
  4. Repentance and conversion are not milestones which we pass on the way of life and never see again
  5. Looking for True Spirituality 5 Fruitage of the Spirit
  6. Why do we need a ransom?
  7. Leaving behind the lives we have touched.
  8. Dying or not
  9. What happens when we die?
  10. Decomposition, decay – vergaan, afsterven, ontbinding
  11. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  12. Knowing where to go
  13. Two states of existence before God
  14. The one who makes us well and gives life
  15. The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ
  16. We will all be changed
  17. Rebirth and belonging to a church
  18. Baptism
  19. Were Apostles baptised
  20. True Hope
  21. Epitome of the one faith
  22. Our relationship with God, Jesus and eachother

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  • John the Baptist and the Pharisees (travismikhailblog.wordpress.com)
    John’s baptism differed from sacramental Baptism, which confers forgiveness and the regenerating grace of justifying faith (Acts 2:38). His was a visible token of repentance and preparation for the Messiah (cf. Is 1:16; Heb9:10; CCC 718).

    with water: John administered a baptism by water alone as a sign of purification. But as was shown in Noah’s day, water alone cannot cleanse the soul; the sinfulness of man’s heart remained unchanged even after the flood (Gen 6:5; 8:21). Only the Sacrament of Baptism infuses the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5) and marks one’s adoption into God’s family (28:19) (CCC 1265).
    with fire: A symbol of God and his purifying judgment (Deut 4:24; Sir 2:5; Is 4:3-5; Acts 2:3-4; CCC 696).
  • Letting the Light In – 4th Sunday of Advent (thewannabesaint.com)
    John’s ministry is in contrast to Jesus’, although their central message, “Repent for the kingdom is near,” appears identical. John remains in the wilderness, calling men and women to come out to him. Jesus seems to seek out crowded cities and synagogues. John sternly requires his followers to repent and to be baptized, to lead an acetic life. Jesus says; “follow me” or do as you see me do.
  • The yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (asicansee.wordpress.com)
    Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
  • In those days: some notes (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    Matthew 3:7 many of the Pharisees and Sadducees: the former were marked by devotion to the law, written and oral, and the scribes, experts in the law, belonged predominantly to this group. The Sadducees were the priestly aristocratic party, centered in Jerusalem. They accepted as scripture only the first five books of the Old Testament, followed only the letter of the law, rejected the oral legal traditions, and were opposed to teachings not found in the Pentateuch, such as the resurrection of the dead. Matthew links both of these groups together as enemies of Jesus (Matthew 16:1, 6, 11, 12; cf Mark 8:11-13, 15). The threatening words that follow are addressed to them rather than to “the crowds” as in Luke 3:7. coming to his baptism: the phrase is ambiguous. It can also be translated as “coming against baptism.” Some older translations read “coming to watch his baptism;” however, there is no verb indicating a “watching” activity. vipers: a genus of snakes prevalent in wilderness areas. The term is used metaphorically for evil or evil people (cf.  Mt 12:34; 23:3). The accusatory description of the Pharisees and Sadducees as an evil “brood of vipers” is twice echoed by Jesus (12:34; 23:33, cf. Gen 3:1; Ps 58:4).   the coming wrath: the judgment that will bring about the destruction of unrepentant sinners.
  • In those days: John the Baptist (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    A new section of Matthew begins at Mt 3:1. From Jesus’ infancy we jump several decades in time.  Without warning or preparation, John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching not (as in Mark 1:4) a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” but rather repentance, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). This is also different than Luke’s gospel in which we follow the story of Zechariah, Elizabeth and their son John (Lk 1); we are not told of the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth – hence there is no announced family relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus.
  • He is Always Coming to Us – A Sermon on Matthew 3:13-17 (interruptingthesilence.com)
    Jesus’ baptism sets before us a choice. We can either prevent or consent, closing or opening ourselves, to the baptism of Jesus. The issue is not Jesus’ coming to us. The issue is our preventing or consenting to his coming. Our work then is to always move from preventing to consenting. That is our repentance just as it was for John.
  • December 8 (stmarkssa.wordpress.com)
    repentance is all about change, to go beyond where we are and open ourselves to transformation. This requires time apart from my cultural context and examination of my motives and areas of my life needing change. To live in or return to the kingdom of God, requires growth and transformation by God’s love, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Second Sunday of Advent 8.12.13 Matthew 3.1-12 (preachersfriend.wordpress.com)
    Hand Questions

    1. What could active, positive repentance mean in your life?
    2. What’s to prevent you from changing any habits of life that distance you from God or neighbour?
    3. Are you ready for the baptism of Holy Spirit and fire?
  • Getting ready for Advent 2 (revdavidyonker.wordpress.com)
    The first thing that John the Baptist says is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  People were coming to him from Jerusalem and Judea, all around the region of the Jordan (both urban and rural places).  They were coming to confess their sins and be baptized.

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