- What kind of literature is this paragraph?
- Is the author recording what Jesus said or what he did?
- Why did the author include this paragraph in his Gospel?
- Why did the author put this paragraph at this point in his Gospel?
- What differences do you notice in the translations you’ve read?
- What interrogation questions have you written down in your previous readings of this passage?
- What do you need to investigate to understand what this passage means?
- Are any of the answers to your questions revealed in the passage itself or in the passages that precede or follow it?
I did the first four verses yesterday. Here’s verses 5-11:
v. 5: Most of the differences here are in word order; the ESV calls it “the river Jordan” instead of the “Jordan River.” The major difference among the translations has to do with where the phrase “confessing their sins” is placed. The ESV places that phrase at the end of the verse just as the original Greek does. The NIV (both 1984 and 2011) places the phrase “confessing their sins” before “they were baptized,” suggesting to the reader that confession preceded baptism. The NLT makes more than a suggestion here: “And when they confessed their sins he baptized them.”
v. 6: No significant differences.
v. 7: Only minor differences here. Each translation handles the opening phrase a little differently (NIV ’84 & ’11: “And this was his message; NLT: “John announced,” ESV: “he preached saying.” The NLT adds a little interpretive juice to the idea of John’s not being worthy to fasten Jesus’ sandal straps: “so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave….”
v. 8: The only difference here is that the ESV translates the verb baptize as a perfect (“I have baptized”) while the others keep it in the present tense: “I baptize” (NIV ’84, ’11, NLT).
v. 9: Very minor differences.
v. 10: Again, very minor differences. The ESV retains the word “immediately,” which is omitted by the other translations.
v. 11: Again, the differences are small: “beloved” (ESV) is “whom I love” (NIV ’84, ’11) and “my dearly loved” (NLT). The NLT also translates “well pleased” as “bring me great joy.”
Who wrote this?
To whom was it written?
What does “the beginning of the gospel” mean exactly?
How can you baptize in a desert region?
Did they confess their sins to John (v. 5)?
What does John mean that ‘he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit?’
What are “straight paths” (v. 3)?
What is the context for the quote that John attributes to Isaiah in verses 2-3?
What does the word “for” mean in relationship to “the forgiveness of sins?”
Why on earth does Mark tell us what John wore and ate?
Beside the questions above, I would do a little background research on John the Baptist, as this passage reveals very little about him except his diet and dress (vv. 6-7).
The only question above I see answered in the text is the question, “How do you baptize in a desert region?” The answer to that is supplied in verse 5b: “the Jordan river,” so the river supplied the water necessary for baptism.
Although I have many, many commentaries at my disposal, I am limiting myself in this example to the two I recommend for every Christian to get. They are:
I’ll supply some of the things I learned in studying these commentaries in my next post.
[This post is one of a series of Monday-Friday posts detailing the results of my own personal Bible study following the method and steps I'm teaching in a class here at Calvary Bible Church. For more information about the class, see this post right here.]