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5: The Ministry of John (Lk 3:1-20)
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5: The Ministry of John (Lk 3:1-20)

I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

As in the previous two chapters, John once again came on the scene first. His mission was to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus and introduce to the people about “One mightier than I.” John was the messenger of God whom the OT prophets spoke about (Isa 40:3-5; Mal 3:1; 4:5-6). Since he was the forerunner, the clear implication is that Jesus, who came after John, would be the Messiah.

B.     Key Verse

            “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (3:9).

            “John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’” (3:16).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.      Annas and Caiaphas (3:2): Annas was high priest from A.D. 6 until he was deposed by the Roman official Gratus in 15. He was followed by his son Eleazar, his son-in-law Caiaphas and then four more sons. Even though Rome had replaced Annas, the Jews continued to recognize his authority (see Jn 18:13; Ac 4:6); so Luke included his name as well as that of the Roman appointee, Caiaphas.5/1541

2.      Tunic (3:11): undergarment worn under the longer robe.

3.      Tax collectors (3:12): Jewish agents who collected tax for the Roman government. They often collected more than they paid the Romans and were therefore despised by the Jews.

4.      The soldiers (3:14): [They] were probably not Roman but Jewish, assigned to internal affairs. The very nature of their work gave them opportunity to commit the sins specified.3/856

5.      Winnowing fork (3:17): The grain is tossed in the air with a “winnowing fork.” The lighter and heavier elements are thus separated, the heavier grain falling on the “threshing floor.” The “chaff,” which is not the true grain, is burned up and the wheat stored in the barn.3/857

6.      Concerning Herodias (3:19): Herod Antips divorced his former wife to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip.

II.    Observation

A.     Outline




B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. Segment Analysis

A.     3:1-6

1a. When did John begin his ministry?

1b. Where did he carry out his ministry?

2.   Explain the meaning and significance of the statement, “the word of God came to John.”

3a. What was the message of John’s ministry?

3b. What is the difference between John’s baptism and that of the apostles? (Acts 2:38, 19:4-5)

4.   According to the prophecy of Isaiah, what is the purpose of John’s ministry? 

B.     3:7-14

5a. Why did John call the multitudes “brood of vipers”?

5b. What does “the wrath to come” refer to?

6.   What does true repentance involve?

7a. Explain the meaning of the phrase, “we have Abraham as our father.” Why would someone say these words?

7b. According to John, what is wrong with such mentality?

8a. What would God do with those who do not bear the fruits of repentance?

8b. What message do the words, “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees” convey?

8c. What fruits of repentance do you need to bear in your life today?

9.   How would John’s instructions to each of the following groups apply to our lives today? Give some examples.

9a. To the people (11)

9b. To the tax collectors (13)

9c. To the soldiers (14)

C.     3:15~20

10. How will Jesus Christ baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire?

11. Explain the analogy of the winnowing fan, the gathering of the wheat, and the burning of the chaff.

12. How did John’s Ministry end?

D.     Final Thoughts

13. What lessons have you learned from John’s life and ministry?

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