Vol. 18, No. 17 – April 28, 2019
In Chapter 3, we are currently noting:
G. The Baptism of the Son of Man, Luke 3:1-22.
2. The prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled in John, vs. 3-6.
Salvation Glory that Results in Resurrection Glory!
In our study of Luke’s Gospel, we are currently noting what I call the “Preamble” to John the Baptist’s ministry in Luke 3:4-6, which is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isa 40:3-5. In comparing the two, we have noticed a slight variation in the last phrase.
In Luke’s gospel, it reads: “And all flesh will see the salvation of God.”
While Isaiah’s prophecy reads: “Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together.”
In comparing the two, we note that the “salvation of God” is equivalent to the “glory of the Lord,” that “all flesh will see.” And in fact, the Septuagint translation of Isa 40:5 already combines them and reads: “And they will see the glory of the Lord, and all flesh will see the salvation of God.” The translators of the Septuagint assumed that the subject of “all flesh will see together” was referring to “salvation,” as noted in Isa 52:10.
Isa 52:10, “The LORD has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.”
The nameless subject in Isa 40:5b, which is noted by an “it” in italics, is defined by the Septuagint translators as “salvation.” In addition, through the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, Luke only used the last half of the Septuagint translation and utilized its translation to define the nameless subject as “salvation.” Therefore, we understand from Isaiah, that glory and salvation go hand-in-hand. As such, the revelation of God’s plan of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, as preached by John, is a revelation of God’s great glory.
This “Salvation Glory” is seen throughout the Scriptures, as we have noted above. But nowhere is it seen more prevalent than in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, which resurrection He has promised to those that believe. Read Luke 23:26-24:26.
Here, we see that in order for Jesus to enter into glory, the glory of His resurrection, He first had to suffer, (i.e. die) for our sins. Once Jesus paid for our sins upon the Cross, He then could enter into His glory of resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God the Father. Once Jesus completed the work of salvation and entered into His resurrection glory, all who would believe upon Him would also be saved and entered into resurrection glory.
John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies’.”
Rom 6:4, “Therefore, we have been buried with Him (Jesus Christ) through baptism into death (baptism of the Spirit) in order that, as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
1 Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Phil 3:10-11, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Phil 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
As such, the resurrection body is described in terms of glory, 1 Cor 15:43.
1 Cor 15:42-44, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
Our resurrection body is “raised in glory,” because we are in the status quo of His victory upon the Cross that results in an everlasting union and life with Jesus Christ. Our resurrection will be part of the “First Resurrection,” of all believers throughout human history. The first resurrection is pictured in Scripture as a battalion pass-in-review, and is divided into four echelons, 1 Cor 15:20‑24.
1 Cor 15:20-24, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.”
The four companies in order of resurrection include: (See chart on our website)
1. Alpha Company: The resurrection of Christ, for He is “the first fruits of those that slept,” Mat 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20‑21; Acts 2:31‑34.
2. Bravo Company: The resurrection of the Royal Family of God at the end of the Church Age, John 14:1‑3; Phil 3:20‑21; 1 Cor 15:51‑57; 1 Thes 4:13‑18; 1 John 3:1‑2.
3. Charlie Company: The resurrection of the OT believers and Tribulational martyrs at the end of the Tribulation and at the Second Advent of Christ, Dan 12:13; Isa 26:19‑20; Mat 24:31; Rev 20:4.
4. Delta Company: The resurrection of the Millennial saints at the end of the Millennium, Rev 20:5.
Therefore, we will live forever in a state of glory. In 2 Thes 2:14, “The attainment of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,” refers to having a resurrection body exactly like His.
2 Tim 4:18, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
3. John’s fiery preaching, vs. 7-14.
Luke 3:7, “So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
Here we see a difference between Luke’s gospel and Matthew’s, Mark does not include this narrative. Luke states generally that John spoke to the “crowds,” OCHLOS, while Matthew says he addressed only the Pharisees and Sadducees, Mat 3:7, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
“Brood of Vipers,” uses the Greek Noun GENNEMA γέννημα that means, “that which is produced or born, offspring, progeny, or generation.” It comes from the noun from GENNAO, “to give birth to, beget, or involving generation,” that is from GINOMAI that means, “to become.” Interestingly, GENNEMA is only used for “offspring,” in railings against the Pharisees, Mat 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7, as the “offspring of vipers,” translated “brood of vipers.”
The variant GENEMA is used for “fruit” or the “generation of the vine” meaning “grape juice or wine,” in Mat 26:29; Mark 14:25; and Luke 22:18, that our Lord would not drink again of until His Second Advent, and in 2 Cor 9:10, translated “harvest” but meaning Divine Good Production.
Therefore, we have a stark contrast in the application of this word from those who lead others astray from faith in the Lord, to the completed work of the Lord upon the Cross or His Divine Good Production, as well as ours.
GENNEMA used regarding the Pharisees and Sadducees is linked with “vipers, ECHIDNA, ἔχιδνα that means, “a poisonous snake,” named as the viper or adder in Mat 3:7; 12:34; 23:23: Luke 3:7. ECHIDNA focuses on the evil, dangerous character of the creature in contrast to the more common word for snake, OPHIS. John might have borrowed this phrase from Isaiah.
Isa 59:5, “They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, and from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth.”
The only other time this word is used, is for the literal snake that bit Paul in Acts 28:3. Therefore, “brood of vipers,” figuratively means the offspring of pervious snakes, and therefore, the offspring of the false teachers of false doctrines that led the Israelites astray from knowing their Messiah.
The serpent is an emblem of the devil, Gen 3:1; Rev 12:9, 14-15, and Jesus not only repeated John’s words, Mat 12:35; 23:23, 33, but He interpreted the words, and told them plainly that they were “the children of the devil,” John 8:44. The Jewish rulers well deserved this name, for they poisoned the religious principles of the nation, and accomplished the crucifixion of the Son of God
“Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come,” gives us the imagery of snakes desperately fleeing from a wildfire. Here, it means who told you the truth about salvation to avoid God’s judgment to come including the judgment of condemnation to the eternal Lake of Fire. It gives us the principle that impending judgment is the alternative to repentance. John’s baptism, like that of Moses at the Red Sea, 1 Cor 10:2, was a way of escape from destruction, if rightly used.
The “wrath to come,” ORGE MELLO, is Hades and the eternal Lake of Fire for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ. Prophecy foretold that Messiah’s times would be accompanied with wrath, Isa 63:3-6; Dan 7:10-26. ORGE is also used figuratively in Rev 14:10; 16:19, regarding God’s future wrath or judgment upon the unbeliever in the image of drinking wine in a simile to “brood of vipers.”
Rev 14:9-11, “Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name’.”
Revelation 16:19, “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.”
As Luke is writing for Gentile ears, and Matthew Jewish, Luke wants to warn all people, both Jew and Gentile, as all who do not believe will endure the “wrath to come.” But, Matthew is addressing the head of the snake, the religious leaders who are rejecting God’s Messiah and keeping the people from seeing / knowing Him too.
Luke 3:8-9 and Matthew 3:7-10 are virtually identical, although Matthew is broken down into 3 verses while Luke just 2.
Luke 3:8-9, “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9“Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Mat 3:8-10, “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
These verses now change from the view point of the unbeliever to the believer, as it discusses “fruit in keeping with repentance,” that means Divine good production post salvation.
We begin with “therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” Here, Luke and Matthew use the analogy of “fruit bearing,” that is Divine Good Production, (DGP), or the Fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, to play off of the “offspring / fruit generation” of vipers in vs. 7. Here, the DGP is that “in keeping with repentance.” The Greek reads AXIOS HO METANOIA that means, “worthy of, deserving, fit, good enough, or suitable” for “repentance,” METANOIA. We noted METANOIA in vs. 3, and it carries the same meaning here of a change of heart, that is the change of thinking in the context of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. So, Luke is saying, if you have changed your way of thinking regarding the Messiah for salvation, now you should live in the new life that He brings, and live worthy of this new life you have. In other words, since your sins have been forgiven by Christ, you should no longer live a sinful life style, but instead live in the righteousness you have been made in Christ. We should live our lives worthy of the holiness and righteous of God, cf. Eph 4:1; 2 Thes 1:11.
2 Thes 1:11, “To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.”
As such, true repentance is evidenced by a change of character, (not mere good works in an effort to earn salvation). “Fruits of repentance” are evidences that one has turned from the ways of death to receive the life-giving salvation of God. God forgives; therefore, we repent in gratitude. Yet, this change in character can only come about by God’s transforming Spirit and your post-salvation renewing of the mind through Bible Doctrine being resident within your soul.
Then Luke states, “and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’.” This begins with Semiticism for “do not even begin to think.” “Say to themselves,” reminds us that many times people deceive themselves to quiet their consciousness from the condemning thoughts of judgment they deserve. It tells us that the Israelites should not “rest on their laurels.” In other words, just because they are Israelites, in the lineage of Abraham, does not guarantee them salvation and eternal life. It does not guarantee that they are “children of God,” and have a free pass to heaven and God’s Kingdom. Israelites, as do Gentiles, must accept God’s plan of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, in order to receive eternal glory, by being “born again,” John 3:3.
John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’.”
That is why he goes on to say, “for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” In Aramaic, the words stones and children produce a pun. Yet, the fact is God does not need the Israelite people to populate His kingdom. He can find children anywhere, because He is God. Yet, He has given the Israelites a unique opportunity as a chosen race. But that opportunity only comes to fruition when they accept God’s plan for their salvation glory. That is the change of thinking that is necessary for the Jew. They have to change their thinking regarding their unique opportunity as physical children of Abraham, to accept Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah to become spiritual children of Abraham, just as the Gentile believer also becomes. That is what Paul was saying in Rom 9:5ff., “not all Israel is Israel.”
Rom 9:6-8, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” 8That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”
Unfortunately, the Jews believed, and still believe today, that they had a favored position with God and took pride in being Abraham’s children. John denounced the concept of nationalistic or racial privilege and proclaimed that God would base His judgment on a person’s volition, not his lineage. Therefore, everyone who repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior becomes a child of God and is spiritually Abraham’s child, Gen 17:5; John 1:12; 8:39; Rom 4:12-16; 8:14; Gal 3:6-9, 26; 6:15.
Gen 17:5, “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”
John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
Heb 2:10, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.”
Rom 4:16, “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”
Rom 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
John repeated this message, and Jesus reiterated it, Mat 8:11-12, “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Next, in vs. 9, we have a warning of Divine Discipline coming against the people because of their lack of repentance demonstrated by Divine good production. In John’s day, trees that did not produce were useless. They were cut down and used for firewood. Here we have a dual warning, one of personal Divine discipline for reversionistic believers who do not produce Divine Good, and one of national discipline for the nation that does not produce Divine good. Here, John is compared to a farmer who chops down useless trees and who winnows the grain to separate the wheat from the chaff, vs. 17.
“Indeed the axe (AXINE only used here and Mat 3:10) is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
“Root” is the Noun RHIZA, ῥίζα that means, “root, source, shoot, or offspring,” so the analogy of “brood or offspring” of vipers continues. That is, those without Divine Good Production.
“Trees,” is the noun DENDRON where we get our word rhododendron from, and is used figuratively, first in the plural, then in the singular for reversionistic and unrepentant believers, as well as reversionistic and unrepentant nations.
The imagery here is clearly one of judgment, cf. Isa 10:33–34; Ezek 31:12; Dan 4:14, both present and continual judgment, and does not refer to the final judgment but rather to the discipline of God occurring due to the arrival of God’s kingdom and the lack of repentance thereof.
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit,” speaks of no DGP in their life. These will be “cut down and thrown into the fire,” i.e., used as fuel or a motivating factor for others to repent with good works, which is similar to what our Lord said in John 15:2a, 6.
John 15:2a, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away…”
John 15:6, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
This “burning” is not Hades or the Lake of Fire, but God’s discipline towards those who do not produce the Fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, which is spoken about in John 15, where the positive believer can produce fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.
Therefore, these analogies are first speaking of God’s Divine discipline on the reversionistic believer. They do not lose their salvation, but they are disciplined and can be taken out under the 3rd stage of Divine discipline, 1 Cor 11:30, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”
Interestingly, as the positive believer can produce three tiers of Divine good production, (fruit, more fruit, and much fruit), the reversionistic believer can suffer three tiers of Divine discipline, (weak, sick, and a number sleep). In addition, below John is questioned three times and gives three answers on how the people can produce Divine good.
John the Baptist gives this same warning as our Lord did in John 15, to the believer(s) who does not produce DGP after believing in Jesus Christ as the promised Savior-Messiah. That is why he goes on to answer the questions of various people as to “what they should do,” in vs. 10-14, now that they are saved.
This also has the backdrop of God’s judgment on the nation of Israel that rejected His Son as their Savior. As you know, the unbeliever can never produce Divine good. And, as a nation of predominate unbelievers or reversionistic believers, God will take out the nation of Israel under the 5th Cycle of National Divine Judgment, as noted in Lev 26:14‑38, which He did to Israel in 70 A.D., and replaced with a fruit baring tree, i.e., the Gentile nations, cf. Luke 6:43-45; 13:6-9.
The nation of Israel had not been productive and judgment was going to be their portion. John was telling the people of Israel that if they did not bring forth fruit, the axe would come down on the root of their tree.
Jesus said in Mat 21:43, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is saying the same thing to the church today in the United States of America.
“Already now the messianic banquet has begun (Luke 14:15–24), and the judgment is taking place. The invited guests are being excluded, and the outcasts are now invited in their place. Indeed the last are becoming first, and the first are becoming last (13:30). The barren fig tree is now experiencing its final hour (13:6–9). Unless there is repentance, it will be cut down (13:9). Compare Rom 11:17f., for a Pauline parallel.” (New American Commentary)
Therefore, failure to repent invites catastrophe: “Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” The privilege of Jewish heritage was plainly not enough. John, or better God, demanded a strong sense of Divine good production to avert the possibility of a terrible judgment that would “sever” their roots. John’s message was drastic and clearly offensive to many Jewish traditionalists who thought they were good enough; just as many churchgoers do today!
Nevertheless, when John saw the people were repentant, he baptized them and expected them to give some evidence of their sincerity. The application of vs. 7-9, is seen in vs. 10-14, which is unique to all the gospels.
“And the crowds were questioning him, saying, ‘Then what shall we do?’”
“Then what shall we do,” is in the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive Mood of the common verb POIEO, “to do, produce, accomplish, etc.” It was a deliberate real question the people were asking John. In this construction, they were not asking questions of fact, but of possibility or means. They were not asking “what or who,” but “how and where.” They were grappling within their thoughts, “how do we produce this fruit?”
Understandably, John’s words were upsetting to the crowds. That is why they were continually “asking” him (Imperfect of EPEROTAO, “ask for, inquire, etc.), to correct their mistaken view on salvation, (i.e., salvation is being born a Jew), and to define their post salvation repentance further.
John answers some of their questions in vs. 11-14 in a practical sense. Luke uses three examples of John’s recommendations for Divine good production.
Principle: Truly repentant / believing people want to know what they should do in their new spiritual life.
“And he would answer and say to them, ‘The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise’.”
The “tunic,” CHITON, χιτών was not the outer garment, cape / coat like apparel. It was the inner garment or shirt, maybe even a “long johns” type of apparel. It is used in Mat 5:40; 10:10; Mark 6:9; 14:63; Luke 3:11; 6:29; 9:3; John 19:23 twice; Acts 9:39; Jude 1:23.
In John 19:23 we see the difference, as the soldiers divide, Jesus’ outer garment into four pieces, but cast lots for His tunic because it was seamless.
So, we see that people might have had multiple shirts in their possession, and if they come across someone who does not even have one, to share their surplus with them.
“To share with him” is the Aorist, Active, Imperative, for a command, of the verb METADIDOMI, μεταδίδωμι that means, “give over, impart, share, or bestow.” It comes from the root verb DIDOMI that means, “give, give out, hand over, etc.,” with the prefix of the preposition META that means, “with.”
John taught the importance of sharing one’s substance with those less fortunate. He specifically mentioned clothing and food (BROMA), but he no doubt had other needs in mind as well. The message is those who have are to share with those who have not. The Bible is full of commands to care for the less fortunate. Therefore, we see that unselfishness and generosity are “fruits worthy of repentance.” Cf. 2 Cor 8:13-15; James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:17.
“And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, ‘Teacher, (DIDASKALOS) what shall we do?’ (same construction as in vs. 11), 13And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than what you have been ordered to’.”
Now going from the general population and sharing with others, Luke notes that John got specific in his responses, in this case regarding tax collectors, (TELONES), who were Jews that were most hated by the Jews because of their allegiance to the Romans, and thought to be sinful because some were unscrupulous in collecting tax money and charging high taxes; more than the government mandated. For other references to tax collectors see Luke 5:27, 29–30; 7:29, 34; 15:1; 18:10–13; 19:2. Notice that Jesus chose Levi, a.k.a. Matthew, as one of His disciples / Apostles.
Therefore, the repentant tax collectors, no doubt, came with their question because of the guilt they felt. They knew they were defrauding the people, and their consciences, along with their feeling of ostracism condemned them. So they asked, how can we produce fruit that is worthy of our salvation.
The simple answer was, “be honest in all your transactions and accountings.” John considered fair and honest business practices and generosity with their wealth as the major fruits of repentance.
It is interesting that he does not tell them, or the soldiers below, to do something, but rather to stop doing something that was sinful. Many times when we say no to sin, especially when it would affect someone else negatively, we are actually producing Divine good towards them. It really is the concept of “loving your neighbor.”
Remember, repentance is a way of life, not a one-time event. It is not the fruits of repentance as efforts to earn salvation, but rather as concrete, practical evidences that a life had been touched and moved by the mercy and grace of God. The fruits of repentance were not the fruits of legalism, but of a relationship between God and you, the forgiven one.
An example of the right application of this is seen in the encounter Jesus had with the Tax Collector Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-16.
“Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, ‘And what about us, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages’.”
“Soldiers,” is actually a verb here. The Present, Middle, Participle in the Nominative case that acts like a noun of STRATEUOMAI, στρατεύομαι that means, “serve as a soldier or serve in the army.”
Some think this refers to Roman soldiers who would be Gentiles and absolutely not Jews, others think they were Jewish soldiers in the employment of the Sanhedrin or King Herod Antipas, perhaps to assist with the tax collections. Assuming Roman soldiers, we see John’s baptism drawing from Jews and Gentiles alike, cf. Luke 7:1-9, with a message for both Jews and Gentiles.
John’s response to them was similar to those for the tax collectors since they also had opportunity to defraud and torment the people. His response was threefold:
1. “Do not take money from anyone by force,” which is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of the Verb DIASEIO διασείω that means, “extort by force, blackmail, take money by terrifying someone,” or literally “to shake thoroughly.” It is only used here in Scripture. Our English slang expression “shake down” possesses the same connotation. It means to not extort or blackmail by applying your authority over someone.
2. “Nor accuse anyone falsely,” which is also in the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive but this time of the Verb SUKOPHANTEŌO συκοφαντέω that means, “accuse falsely, defraud, slander, blackmail, or extort.” It is only used here and in Luke 19:8. It was used in the Greek in the form of “blackmail” by public officials, but it could refer to any effort by a person who seeks to oppress or extort someone with false charges or threats. False accusation was also a favorite approach by many soldiers who acted as troublesome informers on frivolous or false grounds. So, John condemns the custom of blackmailing those with money by acting as informers and false accusers against them.
This and the others mentioned above are part of the seven abominable sins the Lord hates, Prov 6:16-19, “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
3. “And be content with your wages,” that uses the Present, Passive, Imperative of the Verb ARKEO, ἀρκέω that means, “be enough, sufficient, and be satisfied or content with.” It is linked with “wages,” OPSONION meaning their “pay, compensation, or salary.” The soldiers in that day were paid very little. They were not to add to their wages by pillage or extortion. Instead, they were to be content with what the Lord had provided them.
ARKEO, “content,” is used 8 times in the NT with the underlying theme of being “satisfied,” due to having trust in God your Heavenly Father who provides for and protects you, cf. Mat 6:25f.; 2 Cor 12:9; 1 Tim 6:8; Heb 13:5.
Mat 6:25, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
2 Cor 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
1 Tim 6:8, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”
Heb 13:5, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’.”
OPSONION ὀψώνιον for “wages,” is used only 4 times in the NT, here and in Rom 6:23, to show what the “wages of sin” are, (i.e., death), and in 1 Cor 9:7; 2 Cor 11:8, in regard to how the “soldier,” that is the Pastor/Teacher or missionary, should earn their wages; from the church.
1 Cor 9:7a, “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? …”
But the message John is giving these soldiers is to be content with the salary that they earn and not be greedy and use their power to take money unjustly from others. Do not extort. Do not bully. Do not cheat others using the authority of the state. Do not use weapons to take from people; rather, be content with your wages.
Notice that in the case of the tax collectors and soldiers, John does NOT tell them to vacate their profession, only to act and operate honestly with integrity. They could remain in their vocations and serve God. In addition, positions of authority and wealth are neither to be exploited nor to be used as instruments of oppression. Power is to be used to help, not oppress. Money is to be used as a means of imitating God’s generosity and of demonstrating true thankfulness to God. As our Lord said in Mat 7:20, “So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith says, “Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.” Therefore, repentance causes us to examine our own lives with specificity. We must think about how we use our callings, our positions, and our privileges to either help or hurt, to sin or pursue righteousness.
In summary, “The genuinely repentant one who has turned from his sin to God acts like the God who has changed him. Because God has been generous in His mercy to those who repent, they are merciful in return by being generous in meeting the needs of others. God expects this reciprocal action from those who have received His mercy. (See the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Matthew 18:23-35.)” (Complete Biblical Library)
Chuck Swindoll notes, “Luke 3:7-14 insists that we understand repentance, for if we do not understand repentance then we do not accurately understand the Christian life. As Martin Luther put it in his ninety-five theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” In the Christian life we enter into a life of repentance, a life of ever turning toward that celestial city. Repentance is a wonderful Christian discipline.” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
Therefore, John was identifying the crooked things that had to be made straight, if a highway was to be prepared for the Lord’s coming, cf. vs. 4-5. As James noted in James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-042 & 19-043 & 19-044
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!