Matthew 3:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 3:1, NIV: In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea

Matthew 3:1, ESV: In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,

Matthew 3:1, KJV: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

Matthew 3:1, NASB: Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,

Matthew 3:1, NLT: In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was,

Matthew 3:1, CSB: In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea

What does Matthew 3:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Matthew's telling of Jesus' life jumps forward in time between chapters 2 and 3. The apostle reports nothing of what happened from when Joseph settled in Nazareth to the meeting between Jesus and John the Baptist in Matthew 3. Around 25–30 years have passed.

Luke gives a very thorough telling of how John the Baptist came to be born to Zechariah and Elizabeth, both of the priestly line of the Levites (Luke 1:5–25, 39–80), and the important part he would play in preparing the way for Jesus.

Before he was born, an angel of the Lord told John's father about the man John would become: "He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared" (Luke 1:16–17). Matthew's gospel introduces John the Baptist already doing exactly that.

Matthew describes the time as "in those days." We can place the scene in this chapter more specifically between AD 26 and 29. The prophet has already taken up residence as a preacher in the wilderness of Judea, which was some rough, dry country located west of the Jordan River near the Dead Sea. His location meant that those who wished to listen had to come to John; he did not go to the high-traffic areas of Israel to be heard by those passing by.

John was called "the Baptist" because baptizing people as a sign of their repentance from sin was a cornerstone of his ministry.