The coming wrath (Lk 3:7-3:7)

“John said

To the crowds

That came out

To be baptized

By him.

‘You brood of vipers!

Who warned you

To flee

From the wrath

To come?’”

 

Ἔλεγεν οὖν τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ὄχλοις βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς;

 

Luke then presented the teachings of John that can be found in all 4 gospel stories.  Notice how this teaching lines up with what Jesus would say.  Matthew, chapter 3:8, has something similar but it was directed at the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were coming to be baptized by John.  Mark and John do not have anything about this “brood of vipers.”  Luke indicated that John spoke to all the crowds who were coming out to be baptized by him (Ἔλεγεν οὖν τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ὄχλοις βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ), not just a select few people.  John told them that they were like a group of vipers (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν) who would kill young people.  Vipers were poisonous snakes or reptiles.  Who warned them to flee from the wrath to come (τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς)?  This might be a saying from the so-called Q source, since both Matthew and Luke have the exact same wording.  It might also be an allusion to the prophet Amos, chapter 5:18-20.  Amos saw the day of Yahweh as an angry day of judgment.

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The serpents (Mt 23:33-23:33)

“You snakes!

You brood of vipers!

How can you

Escape

Being sentenced

To Gehenna?”

 

ὄφεις, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς φύγητε ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης;

 

This attack on the Pharisees and Scribes is somewhat similar to the attack that John the Baptist had against the Pharisees and Sadducees earlier in Matthew, chapter 3:7.  When they came to be baptized by John, he was critical of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  He told them that they were like a group of vipers or poisonous snakes (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν), who would kill young people.  Here there is no mention of the Sadducees.  But the Pharisees and Scribes are called snakes (ὄφεις) and a brood of vipers or a group of poisonous snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν).  Jesus wanted to know how they could escape (πῶς φύγητε) being sentenced to Gehenna or hell (ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης).  The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.

The fate of the wicked (Job 20:12-20:19)

“Though wickedness is sweet in their mouth,

Though they hide it under their tongues,

Though they are loath to let it go,

Though they hold it in their mouth,

Yet their food is turned in their stomachs.

It is the venom of asps within them.

They swallow down riches.

They vomit them up again.

God casts them out of their bellies.

They will suck the poison of asps.

The tongue of a viper will kill them.

They will not look on the rivers,

The streams flowing with honey and curds.

They will give back the fruit of their toil.

They will not swallow it down.

From the profit of their trading

They will get no enjoyment.

They have crushed and abandoned the poor.

They have seized a house

That they did not build.”

There is a further explanation of the wicked ones. They try to hide their wickedness. However it turns in their stomachs. Poisonous snakes or asps are within them. They swallow wealth and then vomit it out. What a metaphor! They will die from the poison of the snakes that they suck on. They will not see the rivers with honey and curds. They will give back the fruit of the land and not eat it. They will not enjoy their trading profits. They have crushed the poor and seized houses that they did not build. This is a vivid description of greedy people who do not care about others, the wicked ones.