The gospel preaching of John (Lk 3:18-3:18)

“Thus,

With many other exhortations,

John proclaimed

The good news gospel

To the people.”

 

Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν·

 

Only Luke has this explanation that John the Baptist with many other exhortations (Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν), other than those recounted here, proclaimed the good news to the people (εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν).  Was this the same good news or gospel (εὐηγγελίζετο) that Jesus would later preach?  Luke was the only one among the other gospel writers who linked John and Jesus as relatives in chapter 1:36.  John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, were relatives of some sort, thus making their children relatives or cousins also.  They could be compared in some ways to Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One was superior to the other, but the other played an indispensable role.  John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE.  He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement.  Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist.  This John certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic.  They may have originally been co-workers.  However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route.  However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles.  Some believe that Jesus may have been an early follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as clearly subservient to Jesus.  Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, such as the apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon, in John, chapter 1:40, and in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6.  There may have been also some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while.  Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

Advertisements

John baptizes with water (Lk 3:16-3:16)

“John answered

All of them.

‘I baptize you

With water.

But one who is

More powerful

Than I

Is coming.

I am not worthy

To untie

The thong

Of his sandals.’”

 

ἀπεκρίνατο λέγων πᾶσιν ὁ Ἰωάνης Ἐγὼ μὲν ὕδατι βαπτίζω ὑμᾶς· ἔρχεται δὲ ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ·

 

This citation of John seems to be a response to an unasked question, although it is similar to Matthew, chapter 3:11, Mark, chapter 1:7, and John, chapter 1:26, where there was an explicit question.  Luke seemed closer to Mark, as he indicated that John answered all of the people (ἀπεκρίνατο λέγων πᾶσιν ὁ Ἰωάνης).  He said that he baptized them with water (Ἐγὼ μὲν ὕδατι βαπτίζω ὑμᾶς).  However, one more powerful than him was coming (ἔρχεται δὲ ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου).  John was not worthy (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς) to untie the thong or the strap of his sandals (λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ).  John the Baptist said that he was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself.  He clearly baptized in water.  However, after him there would be a messianic one more powerful than him.  Matthew had John unfit to carry the sandal of Jesus rather than untie the sandal.  Mark, John, and Luke here had John speak about being unfit to untie the tong or strap of his sandals.  John the Baptist saw himself as subservient or unworthy as compared to the Messiah to come.

The preaching of John the Baptist (Mk 1:7-1:7)

“John proclaimed.

‘The one who is

More powerful

Than I,

Is coming after me.

I am not worthy

To stoop down

And untie

The tong

Of his sandals.’”

 

καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:11, are similar in their exposition of the preaching of John the Baptist.  However, there was no mention of a baptism of repentance here as in Matthew.  Also, Matthew had John unfit to carry the sandal rather than untie the sandal.  Luke, chapter 3:16-17, had John the Baptist not preaching, but responding to questions about whether he was the Messiah.  Luke, as well as John, chapter 1:27, also had John speak about being unfit to untie the tong or strap of his sandals.  John the Baptist was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself.  He was the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, so that sometimes he was also identified with the prophet Elijah.  Mark said that John proclaimed (καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων) with a messianic tone that one more powerful than him was coming after him (Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου).  He was not worthy or fit to stoop down (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας) and untie the tong or the strap of his sandals (λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ).  John saw himself as subservient to the Messiah to come.

The basket of bad figs (Jer 24:8-24:10)

“But thus says Yahweh.

‘Like the bad figs

That are so bad

That they cannot be eaten,

So will I treat King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

His officials,

The remnant of Jerusalem

Who remain in this land,

As well as those

Who live in the land of Egypt.

I will make them a horror.

I will make them an evil thing

To all the kingdoms of the earth.

They will be

A disgrace,

A byword,

A taunt,

A curse

In all the places

Where I shall drive them.

I will send the sword,

Famine,

Pestilence

Upon them.

They shall be utterly destroyed

From the land

That I gave to them

As well as to their ancestors.’”

Next Yahweh gave Jeremiah the explanation about the uneatable bad figs. In particular, he cited King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) who became the titular king subservient to Babylon after the first exile in 598 BCE. Yahweh compared these bad figs to the officials and people who stayed in Jerusalem and Judah, instead of going into exile. Like King Zedekiah, they were traitors or betrayers. Yahweh also mentioned those who had gone to Egypt as evil horrible ones also. They would be known to all the various countries as a disgrace, a byword. They would be taunted and cursed, no matter where they went. They would suffer from the sword, famine, and pestilence until they were completely wiped out. They would never inherit the land that they and their ancestors had. It seems that non-exiles had a worse fate than those who went into exile.

The words of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:13-10:14)

“The king says.

‘By the strength of my hand

I have done it.

By my wisdom,

I have understanding.

I have removed

The boundaries of peoples.

I have plundered

Their treasures.

Like a bull,

I have brought down

Those who sat on thrones.

My hand has found,

Like a nest,

The wealth of the peoples.

As one gather eggs

That have been forsaken,

So I have gathered all the earth.

There was none

That moved a wing,

Or opened its mouth,

Or chirped.’”

Isaiah says that King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) then proclaimed that he had removed the boundaries between the various countries. They were all subservient to him. He had plundered their treasures like a bull and removed their leaders from their thrones. He did this with the strength of his arm and his understanding of wisdom. He found a wealthy nest wherever he went. Thus he picked up the lost eggs, as he gathered people from all over the earth. Nobody objected. No one moved a wing or opened their mouths. There was no chirping about what he was doing.