Matthew 3:6 is the sixth verse of the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verse occurs in the section introducing John the Baptist with this verse describing his baptisms.
In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:
- And were baptized of him in
- Jordan, confessing their sins.
The World English Bible translates the passage as:
- They were baptized by him in
- the Jordan, confessing their sins.
For a collection of other versions see here: Matthew 3:6
The use of the word baptism to describe what John is doing is controversial. Anabaptists assert that the only proper translation for the Greek verb baptizmo is immerse. They thus practice baptisms where the entire body is immersed in water, rather than just a sprinkling of water as is done in most other Christian churches. Most non-Baptist scholars do agree that John the Baptist was probably immersing those that came to see him, but they disagree that this is the only valid form of baptism.
France notes that while in Luke and Mark John's baptisms have the power to forgive sins in Matthew they are merely confessed. France argues that in the Gospel of Matthew forgiveness of sins only becomes possible after Jesus' resurrection, a theology not held by the other synoptics. The wording of this verse gives no guidance to the Protestant/Catholic dispute over whether the act of baptism cleanses one of sins, or if it merely symbolizes that a person has already been cleansed by God. Similarly the verse is unclear on what role confession plays in the process.
The origins of John's baptism ritual are much discussed amongst scholars. Hill notes that various forms of baptism were practiced throughout the Jewish world at this time, but that only those of John the Baptist and Qumran are eschatological. This has many scholars to propose a link between the Baptist and those who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. There were still important difference between the baptisms of the Essenes and that of John. In Qumran baptism was a part of a regular ritual for those already purified. In John and in Christianity it is a one time event with transformative powers.
- France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
- France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985. pg. 107
- Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
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