Luke 3:16-20

Luke 3:16 (KJB)
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Mightier - Powerful, able, strong

Here John begins to state the difference between his ministry and that of the Lord Jesus Christ. Johnís ministry was a limited one which was a baptism in water unto only repentance as the people came to him and made verbal professions of their sins and their repentance from those sins. Then John begins to speak about the Lord Jesus Christ. He now begins his ministry of introduction and states that He which will come after him is mightier than him. John was born about six months before Jesus for the purpose of the ministry of introducing the Messiah. Jesus was mightier because He was God in the flesh and John is not necessarily speaking about physical strength but strength which is not found on this earth. Strength to raise the dead, strength to be meek, strength to face His adversaries, strength to pay for the sins of all the Elect, etc. John was speaking about the divine strength of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He then states that he is not worthy to bear His sandals. When someone carried anotherís sandals, it was a sign of subordination and humiliation but here John says that in comparison to who Jesus is, he is not even worthy to carry his sandals. John knows that Jesus is the Son of God who came to dwell among them. Then he goes on to reveal a little about the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus will save someone they will be baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire. When a person becomes saved, they are baptized into the body of Christ, that is, they become one with all the other believers. (1 Cor 12:13 KJV) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. The baptism is a uniting together by the witness of the indwelling Holy Ghost. Below are two verses which speak of the believers being baptized, that is, immersed in the Holy Ghost.

(Acts 1:5 KJV) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

(Acts 11:16 KJV) Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.


Then John states that the believer will be baptized by fire. Fire in the Bible always has to do with judgment. First, it would be through the Lord Jesus Christ where every true believer would be judged and that judgment was taken on Calvary and because of Calvary, all the believers would be found not guilty and would be saved eternally. (Rev 1:15 KJV) And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. Secondly, all true believers would face persecution in one way or another. (Rom 6:3 KJV) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? As Jesus died to self, so must we. We will face the opposition of the unsaved world as we bring the Gospel and many will suffer just like Jesus did, giving their lives for the Gospel. Thirdly, the believerís works will also be judged by fire and if they are wood, hay, or stubble, they will be burned up but the believer will be saved by fire, that is, the wrath of God the Lord Jesus Christ took on Calvary on behalf of all those who will inherit eternal life. (1 Cor 3:15 KJV) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (Mat 19:29 KJV) And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

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Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

Here is an example from agriculture. Grain was placed in the open air and normally in a big circle. It was then trodden down by big animals such as oxen or even donkeys. Once the initial threshing was done, then the workers would move with their fans. The fan was used to take the grain and throw it up into the air. While the grain was in the air, the wind would blow away the chaff and only the good grain would fall back into the circle and be gathered and placed in the garner which was a building used for the storage of grains. The principle in this verse is that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to die for His people. The ones He died for will be the saved and they will be brought to Heaven which is symbolized by the garner. The unsaved, which is symbolized by the chaff, will be judged on the last day and cast into eternal hell for their sins. The fan represents a separation of the saved and the unsaved. The fan being the Gospel, which will go forth to the end of the earth, separating the wheat from the chaff.

Luke 3:18 (KJB)
And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

Luke did not record Johnís message word for word, instead he used examples from the message. His exhortation no doubt included many other things but probably always landed upon the need for true repentance in no matter what vocation a person had. Just as the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was not recorded verbatim, neither was Johnís. (John 21:25 KJV) And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. Luke, like the other gospel writers showed us that the ministry of John was one of preaching true biblical repentance.

Luke 3:19 (KJB)
But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,

As usual, Johnís call to repentance had now caused trouble for the ruling authority, namely Herod the tetrarch. John had reproved him for marrying Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip while he was still living. (Mark 10:11-12 KJV) And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. {12} And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. Then as king, Herod probably had committed many evils against people as ancient kings normally did. Herod was to keep the peace for Rome just as the other Rome appointed rulers in various places did and they normally used intimidation tactics to keep the people in subjection.

Luke 3:20 (KJB)
Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.

Then Luke states that Herod had added to his list of evils by putting John into prison. (Mat 14:3 KJV) For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. Luke does not record the beheading of John as Matthew and Mark do. Once John had defined true repentance, prophesied about Jesus, and predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit, Luke considers the ministry of John completed.

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