What does Matthew 3:14 mean?
ESV: John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
NIV: But John tried to deter him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?'
NASB: But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have the need to be baptized by You, and yet You are coming to me?'
CSB: But John tried to stop him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me? "
NLT: But John tried to talk him out of it. 'I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,' he said, 'so why are you coming to me?'
KJV: But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has arrived at a place along the Jordan River where John the Baptist is preaching to Israel with the message, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). John has been baptizing those willing to publicly repent of sin and renew their commitment to live in faithfulness to the Lord.

John recognizes that Jesus is the very Messiah he has been preaching about. We don't know when John discovered this. He may have been taught it as a child, accompanied by his parent's explanation of the circumstances of Jesus' birth (Luke 1—2). In any case, John resists the idea that he should baptize Jesus. He had said of the Messiah, after all, that he was not even worthy to carry His sandals (Matthew 3:11).

As a prophet of God, John had the authority to baptize the people of Israel as a sign of their repentance before God. He could not imagine he had the authority to baptize the Messiah. Also, he likely understood that Jesus had no sin to repent from. Nor would God's Promised One need to declare a change of mind to the people. From John's perspective, there was no point in such a baptism!

John, as a humble man, was aware of his own sinfulness. He declares that he needs to be baptized by Jesus, not the other way around. By this, John may have meant that he wanted Jesus to conduct his own baptism of repentance. Or, perhaps, he wanted Jesus to baptize him with the Holy Spirit and fire as he said the Messiah would do for those who repented (Matthew 3:11).

Jesus explains His insistence on being baptized by John in the following verse.
Verse Context:
Matthew 3:13–17 describes Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus arrives at the site of John's baptismal ministry somewhere along the Jordan River. John resists, but Jesus insists that His baptism is meant to fulfill all righteousness. As Jesus emerges from the water, He sees the heavens open, and the Holy Spirit descends to rest on Him in a dove-like form. The voice of God the Father declares that Jesus is His Son and that He is pleased with Him. Jesus' ministry is both confirmed and revealed on earth.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew introduces John the Baptist as a fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3. He is the voice crying in the wilderness as he prepares the way for the Lord. John calls the crowds who travel to hear him to repent from their sins. The kingdom of heaven is close! He also warns of God's judgment, specifically on Israel's spiritually-barren religious leaders. Finally, the Messiah he has been speaking of arrives and insists that John baptize Him. When he does, the heavens break open, the Holy Spirit comes to rest on Jesus, and the voice of God the Father says Jesus is His Son and that He is pleased with Him.
Chapter Context:
Matthew's story of Jesus jumps forward several decades from the moment when His family settled in Nazareth. This passage finds John the Baptist preaching about repentance in the wilderness and baptizing those who are willing. Crowds come from all around to hear John preach in the look and style of Elijah, including Israel's religious leaders. John warns them of God's coming judgment on those who do not truly repent. Jesus arrives and insists that John baptize Him. As Jesus emerges from the water, the heavens break open, the Holy Spirit descends to rest on Jesus in dove-like form, and the voice of God declares that Jesus is His Son. After this baptism, Jesus will be led into the desert to be tempted by Satan, in chapter 4.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 4/22/2024 2:17:23 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com