Luke 3:16b-20

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 5, 2000


We’ve seen the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist.

His message was “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”, or, telling people to get baptized as a sign of their own repentance, the repentance leading to the forgiveness of sins.

As the people wanted to know more about what this all meant, he has been giving them examples of what they are to do.

To the “publicans”, Jewish tax collectors who worked for the Roman government, John told them to stop trying to get rich off their own people, but only collect what was appropriate.  To the soldiers, it meant being content with their wages and stopping the practice of manipulating or extorting people.

We then moved into a section where people began to wonder if John wasn’t the Messiah.

(Luke 3:16 KJV)  John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

:15-18  Is John the Messiah?

We looked at John’s humility to be sure to point people to Jesus instead of himself.  We talked about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Spirit comes upon your life to give you the power to live the Christian life.

:16  and with fire:

Often, this “fire” is linked with the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” to come up with the idea that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is a “fiery” kind of thing.  Some folks will say that it means that when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, that you’re going to get all excited, jump up and down, scream a lot, and other sorts of things.

But when you keep reading on to the next verse, you find that John is talking about something different than an emotional experience.

It would seem that the “fire” is something separate from the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

fan – “winnowing fork”.  Like a flat shove.

purgediakatharizo – to cleanse thoroughly

floorhalon – a ground plot or threshing floor, i.e. a place in the field made hard after the harvest by a roller, where grain was threshed out

garnerapotheke – a place in which anything is laid by or up; a storehouse, granary

This is a picture of a farmer “winnowing” his wheat crop.

The wheat was harvested and taken to a threshing floor, usually up on a hill where it was windy.  The grain was broken up, usually by walking an animal through it, sometimes pulling a “sledge” through it, the purpose being to break the outer shell, or “chaff”, away from the kernel of wheat.  Then the farmer would throw the grain up in the air with a winnowing fork (“fan”) and the wind would carry the chaff to the side while the heavier grain would fall back down.  The grain could then be swept up and stored in the granary.

It’s a picture of separating the bad from the good.  It’s a picture of judgment.

It could be a picture of judgment at the end of time, as when the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Mat. 25).

But here, the chaff is separated from the wheat and disposed of.

(Psa 1 KJV)  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. {2} But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. {3} And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. {4} The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. {5} Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. {6} For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Jesus will come to judge the earth and separate the good from the evil.

It could be a picture of God’s judgment working in our lives all the time, removing the chaff from the wheat.


Refiner’s Fire

(1 Pet 1:6-7 NIV)  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. {7} These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Peter is saying that our faith is like gold that has been refined by fire.

A goldsmith will heat up the gold until it’s a liquid, then continue heating it, causing the impurities, the dross, to rise to the surface where he can skim them off.  A goldsmith knows he’s done refining the gold when he can see his own reflection in the surface of the liquid gold.

Our faith, our ability to trust the Lord, has lots of impurities in it.

One of the ways that God strengthens and purifies our ability to trust Him is to LET US GO THROUGH HARD TIMES!!!

The “heat” of the hard times can cause all those impurities in our lives to come to the surface.  That’s why we can be so “grouchy” when we’re in a trial.

Let God take those impurities away.  Don’t be surprised that they come to the top.  It just shows how much more you need Jesus.

And don’t be surprised when you go through another hard time.  God will continually refine us until Jesus comes back.

:18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

otherheteros – the other, another, other; another: i.e. one not of the same nature, form, class, kind, different

What we’re reading here wasn’t all that John ever said.  He apparently spoke on lots of subjects, many different kinds of things.

:19-20  Herod puts John in prison

:19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,


She was the former wife of Herod’s half brother Philip, her uncle. When Herod Antipas (this Herod in our text) visited Rome, he seduced her and persuaded her to leave her husband and marry him (Herod Antipas).

reprovedelegcho to convict, refute, confute; generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted; by conviction to bring to the light, to expose


All about rebuking.

1.  It means to expose something hidden in darkness.
(John 3:16-21 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. {19} And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. {20} For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. {21} But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

(NAS) Joh 3:20  "For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

Sometimes we have the idea of “rebuke” as meaning to “say something mean” to another person.  A “rebuke” may come across firmly or harshly, but it’s main idea seams to be that of “exposing to the light”.
2.  It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to “reprove”.
(John 16:7-8 KJV)  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. {8} And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

It’s in His job description.

3.  The Holy Spirit can do it through us.
1Co 14:24  But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or [one] unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
(NAS) 1Co 14:24  But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;
(NIV) 1Co 14:24  But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all,

I like the context here.  It’s the idea that all in the church are exercising the gift of prophecy, and that’s when the Holy Spirit can bring things out in the open, exposing them to the light.

4.  It is our responsibility to “expose” sin.
Eph 5:11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].
(NIV) Eph 5:11  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

That doesn’t mean “embarrass”.  It also doesn’t mean that we are to go on a “sin hunt”.

Be careful to think about what you’re doing.  Be sure to have the proper heart.

It was F.B. Meyer, I believe, who once said that when we see a brother or sister sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances.

-- Editorial: "Welcoming the Sexually Tempted," Christianity Today, 4-5-93, p. 17.

5.  The privacy principle.
(AV) Mt 18:15  Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
(NAS) Mt 18:15  "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

If we are to confront someone, we should always start by doing it in private.

If we are in a service, and the Holy Spirit reveals something, I think it’s going to be done in a way that won’t bring unnecessary embarrassment on a person.  He’ll do it in an anonymous fashion (ie – “someone here has this problem …”)

6. Even “elders” are subject to reproof.
(1 Tim 5:20 KJV)  Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
(1 Tim 5:19-20 NLT)  Do not listen to complaints against an elder unless there are two or three witnesses to accuse him. {20} Anyone who sins should be rebuked in front of the whole church so that others will have a proper fear of God.

Pretty scary if you’re an elder!  To be rebuked publicly to set an example.

7.  There can be consequences for speaking up.
(Mark 6:17-20 NLT)  For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip's wife, but Herod had married her. {18} John kept telling Herod, "It is illegal for you to marry your brother's wife." {19} Herodias was enraged and wanted John killed in revenge, but without Herod's approval she was powerless. {20} And Herod respected John, knowing that he was a good and holy man, so he kept him under his protection. Herod was disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.

John apparently wasn’t too obnoxious to Herod, because Herod seems to have liked John, and even protected him for a time.

But even though John brought conviction to Herod, Herodias wasn’t too pleased with the whole thing, and ended up having John put to death.


A woman in our church was married for only a short time when she found out her husband was a homosexual.  Soon after, he left her. As I talked with her, she said something I shall never forget. "After I was divorced, several of my friends came to me and said they knew he was gay.  When I asked them why they didn't say anything to me, they said, 'We didn't think it was any of our business.'"

Her friends were dead wrong.  They violated a scriptural principle.  After hearing her story, I made up my mind never to stand by quietly and watch a friend make what I was sure in my heart was a mistake.  This resolution has made me very unpopular at times. People have left my church over things I have confronted them about. But when I start thinking that maybe I should keep my mouth shut, I always remember what Solomon said, "He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue (Proverbs 28:23)."

-- Charles Stanley

:20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.

Luke is going a little out of order here because he mentions John’s arrest before even getting to Jesus’ baptism (which was done by John).

It is probable that John’s ministry was only three years, one year out in the public, and two years in prison.