People were baptized (Mk 1:5-1:5)

“People from the whole

Judea countryside,

And all the people

Of Jerusalem

Were going out

To John.

They were baptized

By him

In the Jordan River,

Confessing their sins.”

 

καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες, καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, are very similar here, almost word for word.  Luke and John do not have these statements about the people that John baptized.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region (πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα), as well as all the people of Jerusalem (καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμεῖται πάντες) were going out to see John (καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν).  Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  They were being baptized by John (καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ) in the Jordan River (ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ), confessing their sins (ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν).  Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John holds a central role in the Gospel of Mark since he started his story about Jesus with John here.

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