JW Reading - Daily portion


This week's reading is LUKE 2-3.

Today's portion goes from 3:3 to 3:20.


3  So he went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins, just as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of Jehovah! Make his roads straight. 4  5 Every valley must be filled up, and every mountain and hill leveled; the crooked ways must become straight, and the rough ways smooth; 6 and all flesh will see the salvation of God. ’” 7  So he began to say to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him: “You offspring of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore, produce fruits that befit repentance. Do not start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father. ’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. 9 Indeed, the ax is already lying at the root of the trees. Every tree, then, that does not produce fine fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. ” 10 And the crowds were asking him: “What, then, should we do? ” In reply he said to them: “Let the man who has two garments11  share with the man who has none, and let the one who has something to eat do the same. ” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him: “Teacher, what should we do? ” 13 He said to them: “Do not demand anything more than the tax rate. ” Also, those in military service were asking him: “What should we do? ” And he said to them: “Do not harass14  anybody or accuse anybody falsely, but be satisfied with your provisions. ” Now the people were in expectation and all of them were reasoning in their hearts about John, “May he perhaps be the Christ? ”15  16 John gave the answer, saying to all: “I, for my part, baptize you with water, but the one stronger than I am is coming, the lace of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with holy spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clean up his threshing floor completely and to gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with fire that cannot be put out. ” He also gave many other exhortations and continued declaring good news to the people. 18 But Herod the district ruler, because of being reproved by John concerning He·roʹdi·as the wife of his brother and concerning all the wicked deeds that Herod had done, 19 added this also to all those deeds: He locked John up in prison. 20  Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus too was baptized.

/////////// Publications researches ///////////


3:3

baptism in symbol of repentance: See study note on Mr 1:4 :

John the Baptizer was in the wilderness, preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins.


3:4

Jehovah: At Isa 40:3 :
YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. (See
App. C :
prepare the way of Jehovah in that he would be the forerunner of Jesus, who would represent his Father and come in his Father’s name. (
Joh 5:43 :
8:29 :


3:5
ad 774; w66 4 :

“According to His Custom

“According to his custom on the sabbath day, he entered into the synagogue, and he stood up to read. ”—Luke 4:16.

1. What message did John the Baptist have for the people in the first century of our Common Era?

IN THE fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar at Rome God’s declaration came to John, the son of Zechariah the priest. He came into the country around the Jordan River, “preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins. ” (Luke 3:3) John the Baptist was telling his hearers what was written in the book of Isaiah (40:3), and he said: “Listen! Someone is crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of Jehovah, you people, make his roads straight. ’” (Luke 3:4) It was because something marvelous was to happen! John was saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near. ” (Matt. 3:2) What news that was for the Jewish people! They were to prepare for the coming of their king. Hence, symbolically speaking, “every gully must be filled up, and every mountain and hill leveled down, and the curves must become straight ways and the rough places smooth ways; and all flesh will see the saving means of God. ”—Luke 3:4-6.

2. (a) What did many who heard John’s preaching do, and who did they think he might be? (b) How did John reply to the question, “May he perhaps be the Christ? ”

2 Throngs of people came out into the wilderness from “Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country around the Jordan” to see this prophet with “clothing of camel’s hair and a leather girdle around his loins. ” Moreover, his food “was insect locusts and wild honey. ” But what a message John was speaking! On hearing it many of his hearers took immediate action. “People were baptized by him in the Jordan River, openly confessing their sins. ” (Matt. 3:4-6) The crowds were excited and in real expectation. As they heard John speak and observed his sincerity they wondered about John himself. They thought, “May he perhaps be the Christ? ” (Luke 3:15) John gave the answer: “I, for my part, baptize you with water; but the one stronger than I am is coming, the lace of whose sandals I am not fit to untie. He will baptize you people with holy spirit and fire. ” (Luke 3:16) John referred to Jesus the Son of God, who was shortly to come to him for baptism in water.

3. What miraculous event occurred when Jesus was baptized by John?

3 When John the Baptist made this prophecy of the Jews’ being baptized with holy spirit and fire, the Messiah or Christ had not yet appeared. But in due time he did appear. “When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized and, as he was praying, the heaven was opened up and the holy spirit in bodily shape like a dove came down upon him, and a voice came out of heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you. ’” (Luke 3:21, 22) Jesus was now about thirty years of age. The people who were acquainted with Jesus were of the opinion that he was the son of Joseph. However, Jesus was the Son of God! It was just as the voice out of heaven said. Thirty-one years previously an angel had said to his virgin mother: “Holy spirit will come upon


w65 696 :

up the way of Jehovah and making the highway of their God straight. (Isa. 52:12) Jehovah did not go visibly before them. Rather, it was Zerubbabel, Jehovah’s representative, who led them out of Babylon in 537 B. C. E.

John did, in a religious way, clear up the way for Jehovah and straighten out the highway through the desert plain for God. Not, of course, for Jehovah to travel over literally, but paving the way for the coming of Jehovah’s Messiah or Christ by preparing a people to recognize and accept his leadership to freedom. In fact, John the Baptist under inspiration applied the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 to himself when questioned by the Jews, as we read at John 1:19-24: “Now this is the witness of John when the Jews sent forth priests and Levites from Jerusalem to him to ask him: ‘Who are you? ’ And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed: ‘I am not the Christ. ’ And they asked him: ‘What, then? Are you Elijah? ’ And he said: ‘I am not. ’ ‘Are you The Prophet? ’ And he answered: ‘No! ’ Therefore they said to him: ‘Who are you? that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? ’ He said: ‘I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, “Make the way of Jehovah straight, ” just as Isaiah the prophet said. ’ Now those sent forth were from the Pharisees. ” This understanding of the application of the prophecy is supported also by the apostle Matthew as well as the Bible writers Mark and Luke. Matthew tells us: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near. ’ This, in fact, is the one spoken of through Isaiah the prophet in these words: ‘Listen! Someone is crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of Jehovah, you people! Make his roads straight. ”’” (Matt. 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:1-6) When John baptized Jesus he had proof that Jesus was the Son of God, not Jehovah himself that he was baptizing. He had the powerful testimony of God’s own voice to that fact. —Matt. 3:13-17.

As prophesied, John had the spirit and power of Elijah, that is, the drive and the powerful message that brought about a reformation or turning around of many honest Jews. He pointed them to the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. ” He introduced Jesus’ first disciples to him. He was like “the friend of the bridegroom” that is happy to present the bride to her beloved. —John 3:28-30; compare 2 Corinthians 11:2.

WAY OF FREEDOM OPEN NOW

From all of this we can see that to be in bondage one does not have to be inside a prison wall or be a captive of war in another nation, as the Jews were when they were taken to Babylon. No, all mankind are captive to sin and death and there is added to this a religious captivity in which the great majority of mankind are being held today by Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Religions of both pagandom and Christendom teach Babylonish doctrines and practices and blind their adherents to the discernment of what will actually bring them real freedom. Nevertheless, the way of freedom is being set before mankind and many are availing themselves of it. How?

Well, during the forty years prior to 1914 C. E. , many important truths were cleared up, such as Jesus’ coming to earth as a man to give his human life as a ransom, that he was resurrected as a spirit, in a spiritual body, to appear before his Father Jehovah in heaven to repurchase the human race and then to return invisibly in Kingdom power. (1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Cor. 15:44) Especially since 1919 the presence of Jehovah’s appointed Liberator in Kingdom


3:6
w66 4 :

“According to His Custom

“According to his custom on the sabbath day, he entered into the synagogue, and he stood up to read. ”—Luke 4:16.

1. What message did John the Baptist have for the people in the first century of our Common Era?

IN THE fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar at Rome God’s declaration came to John, the son of Zechariah the priest. He came into the country around the Jordan River, “preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins. ” (Luke 3:3) John the Baptist was telling his hearers what was written in the book of Isaiah (40:3), and he said: “Listen! Someone is crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of Jehovah, you people, make his roads straight. ’” (Luke 3:4) It was because something marvelous was to happen! John was saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near. ” (Matt. 3:2) What news that was for the Jewish people! They were to prepare for the coming of their king. Hence, symbolically speaking, “every gully must be filled up, and every mountain and hill leveled down, and the curves must become straight ways and the rough places smooth ways; and all flesh will see the saving means of God. ”—Luke 3:4-6.

2. (a) What did many who heard John’s preaching do, and who did they think he might be? (b) How did John reply to the question, “May he perhaps be the Christ? ”

2 Throngs of people came out into the wilderness from “Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country around the Jordan” to see this prophet with “clothing of camel’s hair and a leather girdle around his loins. ” Moreover, his food “was insect locusts and wild honey. ” But what a message John was speaking! On hearing it many of his hearers took immediate action. “People were baptized by him in the Jordan River, openly confessing their sins. ” (Matt. 3:4-6) The crowds were excited and in real expectation. As they heard John speak and observed his sincerity they wondered about John himself. They thought, “May he perhaps be the Christ? ” (Luke 3:15) John gave the answer: “I, for my part, baptize you with water; but the one stronger than I am is coming, the lace of whose sandals I am not fit to untie. He will baptize you people with holy spirit and fire. ” (Luke 3:16) John referred to Jesus the Son of God, who was shortly to come to him for baptism in water.

3. What miraculous event occurred when Jesus was baptized by John?

3 When John the Baptist made this prophecy of the Jews’ being baptized with holy spirit and fire, the Messiah or Christ had not yet appeared. But in due time he did appear. “When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized and, as he was praying, the heaven was opened up and the holy spirit in bodily shape like a dove came down upon him, and a voice came out of heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you. ’” (Luke 3:21, 22) Jesus was now about thirty years of age. The people who were acquainted with Jesus were of the opinion that he was the son of Joseph. However, Jesus was the Son of God! It was just as the voice out of heaven said. Thirty-one years previously an angel had said to his virgin mother: “Holy spirit will come upon


w65 696 :

up the way of Jehovah and making the highway of their God straight. (Isa. 52:12) Jehovah did not go visibly before them. Rather, it was Zerubbabel, Jehovah’s representative, who led them out of Babylon in 537 B. C. E.

John did, in a religious way, clear up the way for Jehovah and straighten out the highway through the desert plain for God. Not, of course, for Jehovah to travel over literally, but paving the way for the coming of Jehovah’s Messiah or Christ by preparing a people to recognize and accept his leadership to freedom. In fact, John the Baptist under inspiration applied the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 to himself when questioned by the Jews, as we read at John 1:19-24: “Now this is the witness of John when the Jews sent forth priests and Levites from Jerusalem to him to ask him: ‘Who are you? ’ And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed: ‘I am not the Christ. ’ And they asked him: ‘What, then? Are you Elijah? ’ And he said: ‘I am not. ’ ‘Are you The Prophet? ’ And he answered: ‘No! ’ Therefore they said to him: ‘Who are you? that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? ’ He said: ‘I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, “Make the way of Jehovah straight, ” just as Isaiah the prophet said. ’ Now those sent forth were from the Pharisees. ” This understanding of the application of the prophecy is supported also by the apostle Matthew as well as the Bible writers Mark and Luke. Matthew tells us: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near. ’ This, in fact, is the one spoken of through Isaiah the prophet in these words: ‘Listen! Someone is crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of Jehovah, you people! Make his roads straight. ”’” (Matt. 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:1-6) When John baptized Jesus he had proof that Jesus was the Son of God, not Jehovah himself that he was baptizing. He had the powerful testimony of God’s own voice to that fact. —Matt. 3:13-17.

As prophesied, John had the spirit and power of Elijah, that is, the drive and the powerful message that brought about a reformation or turning around of many honest Jews. He pointed them to the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. ” He introduced Jesus’ first disciples to him. He was like “the friend of the bridegroom” that is happy to present the bride to her beloved. —John 3:28-30; compare 2 Corinthians 11:2.

WAY OF FREEDOM OPEN NOW

From all of this we can see that to be in bondage one does not have to be inside a prison wall or be a captive of war in another nation, as the Jews were when they were taken to Babylon. No, all mankind are captive to sin and death and there is added to this a religious captivity in which the great majority of mankind are being held today by Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Religions of both pagandom and Christendom teach Babylonish doctrines and practices and blind their adherents to the discernment of what will actually bring them real freedom. Nevertheless, the way of freedom is being set before mankind and many are availing themselves of it. How?

Well, during the forty years prior to 1914 C. E. , many important truths were cleared up, such as Jesus’ coming to earth as a man to give his human life as a ransom, that he was resurrected as a spirit, in a spiritual body, to appear before his Father Jehovah in heaven to repurchase the human race and then to return invisibly in Kingdom power. (1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Cor. 15:44) Especially since 1919 the presence of Jehovah’s appointed Liberator in Kingdom


w61 697 :

did he draw? He himself tells that he “traced all things from the start with accuracy. ” It is quite likely that he was familiar with Matthew’s Gospel, it having been written years before Luke wrote his. Through the apostle Paul he also may have had the benefit of Mark’s notes, who, in turn, had received much firsthand information from the apostle Peter. It is also quite likely that Luke obtained information personally from Mary, the mother of Jesus, as well as from notes made by John’s brother, James—a hypothesis not without weight in view of the contents of his Gospel. And in view of how his book of Acts concludes it is reasonable to date his Gospel between A. D. 56 and 58. —Luke 1:1-3.

Luke, while less inclined to label characters with their proper names than were some of the other Gospel writers, was, nevertheless, scrupulously accurate. Keeping in mind the ones for whom he was writing, he made it a point to tie in events with secular history. Thus he tells us that when John began his ministry it was “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was district ruler of Galilee, but Philip his brother was district ruler of the country of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was district ruler of Abilene. ” What could be more explicit? —Luke 3:1, 2; 1:5; 2:1.

For whom did Luke write? Not primarily for the Jews, as did Matthew, nor primarily for the Romans, as did Mark, but for the “men of good will” of all nations. Fittingly he traces his genealogy of Jesus back to “Adam, the son of God. ” He shows Christ to be the means of “removing the veil from the nations, ” and tells that “all flesh will see the saving means of God. ”—Luke 2:14; 3:38; 2:29-32; 3:6.

“GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR”

In penning his Gospel Luke devoted one third of it to narrative and two thirds to the spoken word. He records eleven parables or illustrations and six miracles that are not mentioned by the other three. In all, 59 percent of his Gospel, or some 540 verses, is unique with him.

Luke appears to set the theme of his book by telling of Jesus’ coming to his home town of Nazareth on a sabbath, entering the synagogue and reading and applying to himself the prophecy: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, ” and so forth. —Luke 4:17-21.

Luke appears to have singled out the poor, the oppressed, the crushed, the victims of prejudice. His being a physician would in particular call for his giving womankind and children their due. Thus we find that only Luke tells of Elizabeth’s barrenness, her conception and giving birth to John, and of the angel Gabriel’s appearing to Mary, her reply of not having had any relations with a man and her song of praise. Only a physician would think of recording that the babe of Elizabeth leaped in her womb as Mary spoke to her. Luke alone tells of Jesus’ being circumcised, presented at the temple and of the aged prophetess Anna witnessing to Jesus’ being the hope of Israel. What we know about the childhood of both John the Baptist and Jesus we owe to Luke. —Chapters 1 and 2.

Page after page we see evidences of the physician’s sympathy for and understanding


3:7

baptized: Or “immersed; dipped. ”—See study note on Mt 3:11 :

11 I, for my part, baptize you with water because of your repentance, but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not worthy to take off. That one will baptize you with holy spirit and with fire.


3:8

fruits that befit repentance: Refers to evidence and actions that would indicate a change of mind or attitude on the part of those listening to John. —Mt 3:8 :
Ac 26:20 :
study notes on Mt 3:2 :

saying: “Repent, for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near. ”


11 :

11 I, for my part, baptize you with water because of your repentance, but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not worthy to take off. That one will baptize you with holy spirit and with fire.


Repentance :

Repentance

In Biblical usage, a change of mind accompanied by heartfelt regret over a former way of life, wrong actions, or what one has failed to do. Genuine repentance produces fruitage, a changed course of action. ​—Mt 3:8; Ac 3:19; 2Pe 3:9.


3:12

tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46 :

46 For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing?


3:13
g74 2/22 28 :

Jesus made clear that taxes are “things” belonging to “Caesar. ” And there is no Biblical hint that Christians bear any responsibility for what “Caesar” does with his “things. ” John the Baptist’s advice to a tax collector who wanted to do what is right was, not to stop collecting taxes, but “not [to] demand anything more than the tax rate. ”​—Luke 3:13; see also Luke 19:2-9.


3:14

those in military service: These were evidently native Jewish soldiers who may have been engaged in a type of police inspection, collecting customs or other taxes. Jewish soldiers were in a covenant relationship with Jehovah God. If they desired to be baptized in symbol of repentance of sins, they were obliged to change their conduct and no longer be guilty of extortion and other crimes for which soldiers were notorious. —Mt 3:8 :

accuse anybody falsely: The Greek term translated “accuse .  .  . falsely” (sy·ko·phan·teʹo) used here is rendered “extorted” or “extorted by false accusation” at Lu 19:8 :
study note on Lu 19:8 :

But Zac·chaeʹus stood up and said to the Lord: “Look! The half of my belongings, Lord, I am giving to the poor, and whatever I extorted from anyone, I am restoring four times over. ”


provisions: Or “wages; pay. ” The expression is used here as a military technical term, referring to a soldier’s pay, ration money, or allowance. Originally, food and other provisions may have been included as part of a soldier’s allowance. The Jewish soldiers who came to John were possibly engaged in a type of police inspection, especially in connection with customs, or the collection of taxes. John may have given this counsel because the pay given to most soldiers was low, and there evidently was a tendency for soldiers to abuse their power in order to supplement their income. The term is also used in the expression “at his own expense” at 1Co 9:7 :


3:15

were in expectation: Or “were waiting expectantly. ” Such anticipation may have resulted from the angels’ announcement of Jesus’ birth and the shepherds’ subsequent proclamation of that message. (Lu 2:8-11 :
17, 18 :
Lu 2:36-38 :
Mt 2:1-4 :


3:16

baptize you: See study note on Mt 3:11 :

11 I, for my part, baptize you with water because of your repentance, but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not worthy to take off. That one will baptize you with holy spirit and with fire.


3:17
hs 83 :

John gave the answer, saying to all: ‘I, for my part, baptize you with water; but the one stronger than I am is coming, the lace of whose sandals I am not fit to untie. He will baptize you people with holy spirit and fire. His winnowing shovel is in his hand to clean up his threshing floor completely and to gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with fire that cannot be put out. ’”

7. Why would one’s being baptized with fire be less desirable than one’s being baptized with spirit?

John’s words made it plain that the Messiah would not only be baptized or anointed with God’s spirit but also be able to baptize others with holy spirit. Far better would it be for a person to be baptized with holy spirit than to be baptized with fire that would destroy a person just like worthless chaff that is destroyed in a fire that is not put out until the chaff is all consumed. ​—Matthew 3:7-12.


3:19

district ruler: See study note on Mt 14:1 :

14 At that time Herod, the district ruler, heard the report about Jesus





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JW Reading - 2018