Matthew 3:16

The singular and thrilling event recorded in these verses is recorded also by St. Mark (Mark 1:9-11)and by St. Luke (Luke 3:21, 22) in an equally full manner, while it is distinctly alluded to by St. John (John 1:32, 33). It is remarkable that, though nothing is said either way, we are left to conclude that the vision was confined to the two only - Jesus himself and John the Baptist. From that time John, who had personally long known Jesus, knew him for certain as the Messiah; and not only heralded the Christ, but could point to him as the Christ (John 1:29, 30). Notice -

I. THE CRISIS AT WHICH THIS GLORIOUS ATTESTATION OCCURRED. The first profound act of public, spontaneous self-humiliation is alighted upon by the visit of a supernatural glorification. Immediately the act of baptism was over, the heavens opened, the Dove sped down, the voice of the Majesty himself of all the universe uttered itself forth, and glory was poured on Jesus.


1. The "heavens opened." We are certainly entitled by Scripture warrant, to say the least, in order to help our weaker understanding and thought, to consider heaven as a place, that place being the abode of God. These helps to human imaginings of the Unknown will not discredit our faith in the Divine omnipresence and in the fact that he is perfect Spirit; but they are needful to our present limitations of apprehension of the dim, vast, uncomprehended.

2. The Spirit descended, and in the form of a dove. No doubt it was now that an enormous accession of the Spirit was made to the human nature of Jesus Christ, And the "bodily form" of the dove was to betoken alike the soft flight and that tenderest gentleness of the Spirit, and the peace and love of him who was now more fully replenished with the Spirit.

3. A voice from heaven speaks. It is here said "a" voice. But the words spoken prove that it was none less than the voice of Heaven, the voice of the majesty of the Father, of the Glory - God himself!

(1) Great is the impression of voice.

(2) Great may be the absolute charm of voice.

(3) Great beside all else is the fixed, distinct certainty of voice, as e.g. compared with vision or with imagination.

God speaks in all creation with ten thousand voices, it is true. But when he speaks with that voice which utters words, the ear hears as in its own right. The words uttered by the voice of God assert

(a) the Sonship of Jesus;

(b) that he is the object of the Father's unqualified complacence; and

(c) because flint might be the complacence of feeling chiefly, by the analogy of human relationship, the voice asserts the Father's perfect approbation as well.

III. THE GREAT OBJECT OF THIS ATTESTATION. It appears to have been vouchsafed for the absolute warranting of the faith of John the Baptist. The simplicity, and what should seem in some light the narrowness, of this object invest it to a very large extent with its greatness.

1. What a testimony of condescending graciousness to that one man! He is to live for Christ, to work for Christ, to die for Christ. And to furnish him with exactly the enough satisfaction of evidence, faith, growing into knowledge, all the grandest apparatus of Heaven is brought into use!

2. What a testimony of real consideration to the world! Is a great trust committed to earthly vessels? Is it a trust of critical and tremendous responsibility? Are men, not angels, the ministers of truth, of life, of salvation to their fellow-men, in the name of Christ? Then alike it is mercy for those who are to be blessed, as for those who are to bless, that into these latter, though they should stand but one by one, and follow one another in narrowest line of succession, the whole force of absolute conviction should be thrown by Heaven's and God's own most approved methods. On this occasion we cannot doubt Jesus himself was refreshed with the vision of open heaven, with the alighting on him of the holy Dove, with the voice of the Father, and the words that voice spoke. But, in that John was the witness, and presumably the only witness hereof, the significance can be but one; and it is plain and most striking. - B.

Heavens were opened unto Him.
1. Great in the Object.

2. Great in the Person.

3. Great in the Mysteries.


1. Jesus of .Nazareth.

2. The Holy Ghost miraculously exhibited.

3. The Holy Father.


1. Here was salvation embodied in Jesus Christ.

2. The Holy Ghost falls on Him.

3. The Holy Father's solemn attestation of the sufficiency of Christ and His salvation.


1. We view Him as our Federal Head and Representative.

2. In this capacity He received the Holy Ghost.

3. In this character the Father delighted in Him, and also in His people.

(1)What a practical view of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

(2)Have we a personal interest in this great work?

(3)Let the power of these truths be seen in our lives.

(F. Close, M. A.)

I. Demonstrate from Scripture the Tri-unity of the Godhead.

II. Prove Christ's perfect union in the Godhead, as the true ground of Christian faith.

III. How GREAT A BLESSING THIS GLORIOUS DOCTRINE IS FOR ALL GOD'S PEOPLE. There may be mines of precious wealth, of minerals, gold, silver, jewels, in a domain only partially known; so with this doctrine. God the Father planned the way of redemption. God the Son willingly came to accomplish our salvation. And God the Spirit guides us into all truth. The whole Trinity joins in man's salvation.

1. How great the condescension of Jehovah thus to reveal the nature and perfections of mercy.

2. How much all revelation testifies of God the Father's delight in His beloved Son.

3. How God is well pleased in the soul's salvation by Christ.

(J. G. Angley, M. A.)

I. Christ's SUBMISSION to the ordinance of baptism.

1. Jesus humbly waits upon the Baptist. The fortitude with which to meet publicity.

2. He is privately discovered to John.

3. The Saviour meekly persists in His obedient resolution. How lovely this conflict of humility!

4. Jesus at last receives the sign from His forerunner.

II. The HONOURS Christ received at His baptism.

1. The opening of the heavens.

2. The descent of the Spirit followed.

3. The proclamation of the Father closed the scene of wonders.

(J. Bennett, D. D.)


1. The dignity of His Person.

2. The endearedness of the Son.

II. THE FATHER'S COMPLACENCY IN THE SON. Complacency takes place.

1. In Creation: "All things were made by Him."

2. In redemption: "He hath made us accepted in the beloved."

3. The Father is well pleased with Christ in His incarnation and mediation.

4. He is well pleased with Him in all His people.

(H. Budd, M. A.)Here we have(1) the rising of the morning star, John the Baptist;(2) The more glorious rising and shining of the Sun of Righteousness Himself;(3) A messenger from heaven. The Spirit of Christ is a dove-like Spirit. The dove was the fowl offered in sacrifice; so Christ offered Himself without spot unto God.(4) A voice from heaven. As the Holy Ghost manifests Himself in the likeness of a dove, so God the Father in a voice. This voice speaks God's favour to Christ.

1. Expresses the relation He stands in to Him.

2. Expresses the affection the Father hath to Him. Observe God's favour to us Is Him. He is My beloved Son, IN whom I am well pleased. Consider what God is out of Christ, and what God is IN Christ.

I. WHAT GOD IS OUT OF CHRIST to the sinner.

(1)An angry God;

(2)a threatening God;

(3)a dishonoured God;

(4)a distant God.


(1)A reconciled God;

(2)a promising God;

(3)a glorified God;

(4)a near God.

(Ralph Erskine.)

A gentleman, passing a church with Daniel Webster, asked him, "How can you reconcile the doctrine of the Trinity with reason?" The statesman replied by asking, "Do you understand the arithmetic of heaven?" The application is evident.

(Anon.)The heavens are never shut while either of the sacraments is duly administered and received; neither do the heavens ever thus open without the descent of the Holy Ghost.

(Bishop Hall.)

1. The Person that did hear witness.

2. The manner how He testified to the honour of His Son.

3. The authority of that voice from heaven.

4. The Person to whom the witness is borne.

5. What is witnessed of Him in respect of Himself.

6. What is witnessed of Him in respect of our consolation, we the beloved in Him.

(Hacket.)As the Father sent His voice from heaven to earth, let our lips be full of prayers, that we may send our voice from earth to heaven.


Esaias, Isaiah, Jesus, John
Galilee, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Judea
Alighting, Baptised, Baptism, Baptized, Behold, Descending, Directly, Dove, Heaven, Heavens, Immediately, Lighting, Moment, Opened, Opening, Spirit, Straight, Straightway
1. John preaches: his office, life, and baptism.
7. He reprimands the Pharisees,
13. and baptizes Jesus in Jordan.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 3:16

     1670   symbols
     2206   Jesus, the Christ
     3015   Holy Spirit, divinity
     3120   Holy Spirit, descriptions
     3212   Holy Spirit, and mission
     3215   Holy Spirit, and peace
     3239   Holy Spirit, anointing
     3257   Holy Spirit, gift of
     3269   Holy Spirit, in Christ
     3293   Holy Spirit, witness of
     4636   dove
     9411   heaven

Matthew 3:13-17

     2078   Christ, sonship of
     7906   baptism, in Gospels

Matthew 3:16-17

     1085   God, love of
     1513   Trinity, mission of
     2039   Christ, joy of
     2422   gospel, confirmation
     6641   election, responsibilities
     7967   spiritual gifts, responsibility
     8138   monotheism

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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