Matthew 3:10
The axe lies ready at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
The Axe Lying At the RootJ. Alexander., B. Beddome.Matthew 3:10
The ForerunnerMarcus Dods Matthew 3:1-12
The Appearance of John the BaptistP.C. Barker Matthew 3:1-15
Religious RevivalJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 3:5-12
The Axe At the RootW.F. Adeney Matthew 3:9, 10

Here we have an insight into the method of John the Baptist. We see how he led his hearers to repentance. He found them too often soothing their consciences in a false security, and quite blind to the danger that threatened them. So he set to work first to destroy the false security and then to reveal the imminent danger.


1. Its excuse. The Jews prided themselves in their pedigree. They were Abraham's children, and they expected to be favoured on account of their great ancestor. Glorious promises had been made to Abraham and his seed; the Jews were the seed of Abraham; therefore they concluded that the promises were for them, and that no final harm could come near them. The same delusion is found in those people who comfort themselves with the thought that they belong to a Christian Church, that they are members of a Christian family, that in some way they are included in a Christian covenant, although there is nothing Christian in their character and conduct.

2. Its mistake. There is no such thing as hereditary salvation. The children of a saint will suffer the doom of sinners if they are sinners, quite as much as the children of a sinner; nay, even a worse doom, because their advantages are greater. It is true that great promises are laid up for the children of Abraham; but only they are his true children who have their ancestor's faith. The Jews could not but admit that the Arabs were children of Abraham, yet they did not extend to them the hope of Abraham's blessings. It might have been urged that the Israelites cannot perish because, if they were lost, God would not have a people on whom he could fulfil his rear promises to Abraham. This would be to limit the power of God, to forget his resources. If he wanted other children he could raise them from the very stones of the wilderness. He did raise them from the Gentile peoples. We are none of us necessary to God.

II. A NEAR DANGER. (Ver. 10.) This question of Abraham's family is not a subject for quiet speculation only. Soon the futility of the theory of the Jews with which they quiet their fears will be apparent. The axe is already lying by the root of the tree. The Roman power that is destined to cut down the Jewish state is close at hand.

1. Its unsuspected presence.

(1) The tree is still standing - a great tree, with massive trunk and spreading branches. An imposing presence suggests strength and security.

(2) The tree is vigorous. Its stem is not rotten. But it is bearing no good fruit, and it is cumbering the ground; in these facts is its danger.

(3) The axe is unseen. It lies at the root - perhaps hidden among the grasses. Yet the place where it lies suggests utter destruction. We do not see dangers lurking at our feet.

2. Its fatal power. That cold gleam of steel at the root of the tree - how frightfully suggestive it is I It is a small thing by the side of the giant of the forest. Nevertheless how soon cart it bring the proud tree crashing to the ground! No one can escape from the keen blows of the axe of God's judgment.

3. Its merciful warning. Why is the axe laid at the root of the tree? why is it not used at once? Here is mercy in the midst of judgment. The Baptist points to the axe that he may drive his hearers to repentance. Our attention is drawn to it that we may escape - though at the eleventh hour. - W.F.A.

Axe is laid.

II. THE MEANS WHICH GOD EMPLOYS TO RENDER US PRODUCTIVE of this kind of fruit, and which show how reasonable it is that He should expect it from us.

1. God has endowed you with a capacity to produce this kind of fruit.

2. In order to enable you to bring forth good fruit, God has supplied you with the gospel of His Son, which contains the means, motives, and influences of fruitfulness.

3. God has visited you with various dispensations of providence, and with various convictions of conscience.


1. Some of these unfruitful persons are sensual and profane.

2. Some are intellectual, moral, and amiable.

3. Some are professors of the gospel.


1. The axe which is lying at your root reminds you of the patience and long-suffering of God.

2. It reminds you of the critical circumstances in which you are placed.

3. It has sometimes admonished you of its being there.


1. The nature of this condition is indescribably terrible: "He is hewn down." The certainty that this condition will be incurred: "He is hewn," etc.

(J. Alexander.)


1. It may denote temporal judgments.

2. It may denote church discipline.

3. It may denote eternal wrath and vengeance. The axe laid to the root of the tree seems to imply its utter destruction.


1. Ministerially, by preachers of the Word.

2. By the inflicting of temporal judgments.

3. By God Himself. Whether it be an act of mercy or of judgment, He directs, strengthens for, and assists in it.


1. God's judgments are certain and inevitable.

2. They are near at hand when least expected, least prepared for.

3. These judgments already begin to operate.

(B. Beddome.)

Esaias, Isaiah, Jesus, John
Galilee, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Judea
Already, Applied, Ax, Axe, Bear, Bearing, Bring, Bringeth, Cast, Cut, Doesn't, Fire, Forth, Fruit, Hewn, Laid, Lies, Lieth, Lying, Produce, Producing, Quickly, Root, Thrown, Tree, Trees
1. John preaches: his office, life, and baptism.
7. He reprimands the Pharisees,
13. and baptizes Jesus in Jordan.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 3:10

     4450   fruit
     4504   roots
     4528   trees
     5583   tools
     6026   sin, judgment on

Matthew 3:1-12

     8168   way, the

Matthew 3:1-15

     5098   John the Baptist

Matthew 3:3-15

     5098   John the Baptist

Matthew 3:7-10

     7555   Sadducees
     9513   hell, as incentive to action

Matthew 3:7-11

     4925   delay, divine

Matthew 3:8-10

     8845   unfruitfulness

Matthew 3:9-10

     5078   Abraham, significance

February 14. "He Shall Baptize You with Fire" (Matt. Iii. 11).
"He shall baptize you with fire" (Matt. iii. 11). Fire is strangely intense and intrinsic. It goes into the very substance of things. It somehow blends with every particle of the thing it touches. There are the severe trials that come to minds more sensitive, to the minds that have more points of contact with what hurts; so that the higher the nature the higher the joy, and the greater the avenues of pain that come. And then there are deeper trials that come as we pass into the hands of God, as we
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Baptism in Fire
'He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.'--MATT. iii. 11 There is no more pathetic figure in Scripture than that of the forerunner of our Lord. Lonely and ascetic, charged to light against all the social order of which he was a part, seeing many of his disciples leave him for another master; then changing the free wilderness for a prison cell, and tortured by morbid doubts; finally murdered as the victim of a profligate woman's hate and a profligate man's perverse sense of honour:
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Dove of God
'He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him.' MATT. iii. 16. This Gospel of Matthew is emphatically the gospel of the Kingdom. It sets forth Jesus as the long-promised Messiah, the Son of David. And this conception of Him and of His work, whilst it runs through the whole of the Gospel, is more obviously influential in shaping the selection of incidents and colouring the cast of the language, in the early portion. Hence the genealogy with which the Gospel begins dwells
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Herald of the King
'In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2. And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3. For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. 4. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Baptism of Jesus
'Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? 15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered Him. 16. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: 17.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at band.--MATT. iii. 2. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.--MATT. iv. 17. "Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Qentiles, that they should repent and torn to God, and do works meet for repentance."--ACTS xxvi. 19,20. In the mouths of three
Catherine Booth—Godliness

John the Baptist's Person and Preaching.
(in the Wilderness of Judæa, and on the Banks of the Jordan, Occupying Several Months, Probably a.d. 25 or 26.) ^A Matt. III. 1-12; ^B Mark I. 1-8; ^C Luke III. 1-18. ^b 1 The beginning of the gospel [John begins his Gospel from eternity, where the Word is found coexistent with God. Matthew begins with Jesus, the humanly generated son of Abraham and David, born in the days of Herod the king. Luke begins with the birth of John the Baptist, the Messiah's herald; and Mark begins with the ministry
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Baptized by John in the Jordan.
(Jordan East of Jericho, Spring of a.d. 27.) ^A Matt. III. 13-17; ^B Mark I. 9-11; ^C Luke III. 21-23. ^b 9 And { ^a 13 Then} ^b it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came { ^a cometh} ^b from Nazareth of Galilee, ^a to the Jordan [Tradition fixes upon a ford of Jordan east of Jericho as the place where Jesus was baptized. It is the same section of the river which opened for the passage of Israel under Joshua, and later for Elijah and Elisha. This ford is seventy or eighty miles from Nazareth]
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

In the Fifteenth Year of Tiberius Cæsar and under the Pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas - a Voice in the Wilderness
THERE is something grand, even awful, in the almost absolute silence which lies upon the thirty years between the Birth and the first Messianic Manifestation of Jesus. In a narrative like that of the Gospels, this must have been designed; and, if so, affords presumptive evidence of the authenticity of what follows, and is intended to teach, that what had preceded concerned only the inner History of Jesus, and the preparation of the Christ. At last that solemn silence was broken by an appearance,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Baptism of Jesus: Its Higher Meaning.
The more we think of it, the better do we seem to understand how that Voice crying in the wilderness: Repent! for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,' awakened echoes throughout the land, and brought from city, village, and hamlet strangest hearers. For once, every distinction was levelled. Pharisee and Sadducee, outcast publican and semi-heathen soldier, met here as on common ground. Their bond of union was the common hope of Israel' - the only hope that remained: that of the Kingdom.' The long winter
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
One of the most deeply significant phrases used in connection with the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures is "baptized with the Holy Ghost." John the Baptist was the first to use this phrase. In speaking of himself and the coming One he said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matt. iii. 11). The second "with" in this passage is in italics. It is
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

Conversion --Human Agency In
What part and responsibility pertain to the human will in this matter? Before we leave the subject of conversion, it is important that we consider and understand this question also. For on this point also grievous and dangerous views and practices prevail. Human nature tends to extremes. Here too, there is a tendency to go too far, either in the one direction or the other. There are those, on the one hand, who virtually and practically make this change of heart and of nature a human work. They
G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church

The Present, a Dispensation of Means.
We have seen that the carnal, sinful nature of the child unfits it for the kingdom of heaven; that, therefore, there must be a change in that nature, even the birth of a new life, and the life of a new creature, before there can be either part or lot in the kingdom of God. We have also expressed our firm conviction that it is the good and gracious will of God in Christ to bestow upon the poor sin-sick and unholy child the Grace needed to so change it as to make it a partaker of His great salvation.
G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church

Oration on the Holy Lights.
Oration on the Holy Lights. The Oration on the Holy Lights was preached on the Festival of the Epiphany 381, and was followed the next day by that on Baptism. In the Eastern Church this Festival is regarded as more particularly the commemoration of our Lord's Baptism, and is accordingly one of the great days for the solemn ministration of the Sacrament. It is generally called Theophania, and the Gospel in the Liturgy is S. Matthew iii. 13-17. The Sunday in the Octave is called meta ta phota (After
St. Cyril of Jerusalem—Lectures of S. Cyril of Jerusalem

Power --Its Source
In vain do the inhabitants of London go to their conduits for supply unless the man who has the master-key turns the water on; and in vain do we think to quench our thirst at ordinances, unless God communicates the living water of His Spirit.--Anon. It was the custom of the Roman emperors, at their triumphal entrance, to cast new coins among the multitudes; so doth Christ, in His triumphal ascension into heaven, throw the greatest gifts for the good of men that were ever given.--T. Goodwin. To
Dwight L. Moody—Secret Power

My Beloved is White and Ruddy, the Chiefest among Ten Thousand.
My Well-beloved, replies the Spouse, is white by His purity, innocence and simplicity. He is ruddy by His charity, and because He has chosen to be dyed and purpled in His own blood. He is white by His frankness, ruddy by the fire of His love. He is chiefest among ten thousand, that is to say, He is above all I have chosen and preferred Him to every other. His Father has chosen Him above all the children of men as His Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased (Matt. iii. 17). In short, if you would know,
Madame Guyon—Song of Songs of Solomon

"Because I have Lived So Many Years"
Monday, 20.--We embarked between three and four in the morning, in a very small, inconvenient sloop, and not a swift sailer; [38] so that we were seven hours in sailing what is called seven leagues. About eleven we landed at St. Helier, and went straight to Mr. Brackenbury's house. It stands very pleasantly, near the end of the town; it has a large, convenient garden, with a lovely range of fruitful hills, which rise at a small distance from it. I preached in the evening to an exceedingly serious
John Wesley—The Journal of John Wesley

The King's Herald.
"On Jordan's banks the Baptist's cry Announces that the Lord is nigh; Awake and hearken, for he brings Glad tidings of the King...." When the Saviour of the world was about to enter upon His public ministry, the Jewish nation was startled with the cry, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (S. Matt. iii. 2). Such was God's call to His people of old time, to prepare themselves to take part in the fulfilment of the promises, on which their faith and hopes were founded. The fulness of the times had come;
Edward Burbidge—The Kingdom of Heaven; What is it?

The Synoptic Gospels
ALL the gospels describe the sufferings and death of Christ with a minuteness which has no parallel in their narratives of other events of His life, and they all, to a certain extent, by references to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy or otherwise, indicate their sense of its meaning and importance. This, however, reveals the mind of the evangelists rather than that of the Lord. It is in His life, rather than in the record of His death itself, that we must look for indications of His mind.
James Denney—The Death of Christ

Repentance and Restitution.
"God commandeth all men everywhere to repent."--Acts xvii. 30. Repentance is one of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Yet I believe it is one of those truths that many people little understand at the present day. There are more people to-day in the mist and darkness about Repentance, Regeneration, the Atonement, and such-like fundamental truths, than perhaps on any other doctrines. Yet from our earliest years we have heard about them. If I were to ask for a definition of Repentance, a great
Dwight L. Moody—The Way to God and How to Find It

Christ's Priestly Office
Q-35: HOW DOES CHRIST EXECUTE THE OFFICE OF A PRIEST? A: In his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us. 'Now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.' Heb 9:96. What are the parts of Christ's priestly office? Christ's priestly office has two parts - his satisfaction and intercession. I. His Satisfaction; and this consists of two branches. [1] His active
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The First Ministry of the Baptist.
(LUKE III.) "Hark, what a sound, and too divine for hearing, Stirs on the earth and trembles in the air! Is it the thunder of the Lord's appearing? Is it the music of his people's prayer? "Surely He cometh, and a thousand voices Shout to the saints, and to the deaf and dumb; Surely He cometh, and the earth rejoices, Glad in his coming who hath sworn, I come." F. W. H. MYERS. The Preaching of Repentance--His Power as a Preacher--His Message--Warning of Impending Judgment--The Wages of Sin Thirty
F. B. Meyer—John the Baptist

From the Birth to the Ascension of Jesus.
The Four Gospels. The Story of this Period. It is common to designate this period as the "Life of Christ," meaning the time he spent on earth. There is, however, no scripture life of Jesus. The gospels do not claim to present such a life. They do, however, give us a vast amount of material and though different in purpose and consequently in content, they do present the same general picture of Jesus. The matter of arranging the material in an orderly way presents much difficulty. If a topographical
Josiah Blake Tidwell—The Bible Period by Period

The Security of Contemplatives Lies in their not Ascending to High Things if Our Lord Does not Raise Them. The Sacred Humanity must be the Road
1. There is one thing I should like to say--I think it important: and if you, my father, approve, it will serve for a lesson that possibly may be necessary; for in some books on prayer the writers say that the soul, though it cannot in its own strength attain to this state,--because it is altogether a supernatural work wrought in it by our Lord,--may nevertheless succeed, by lifting up the spirit above all created things, and raising it upwards in humility, after some years spent in a purgative life,
Teresa of Avila—The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

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