What does Matthew 3:4 mean?
ESV: Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
NIV: John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
NASB: Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
CSB: Now John had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
NLT: John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
KJV: And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Verse Commentary:
Scripture's description of John the Baptist intends to show him as something more than just a wild character. Of course, he was wild, indeed. He wore unusual clothing, like a camel's hair garment with a leather belt, and ate unusual food, such as locusts and wild honey. Matthew's description also connects John the Baptist to the prophet Elijah, who dressed in a similar way (2 Kings 1:8). Malachi prophesied that Elijah would return (Malachi 4:5).

John's clothing and diet also connected him to the poor. Wilderness-dwelling people in the Middle East still eat locusts, which are similar to large grasshoppers. John's simple, frugal lifestyle echoed his message to the Jewish people to humbly confess their sins and repent: to turn back to following God.
Verse Context:
Matthew 3:1–12 introduces John the Baptist, preaching and baptizing in the wilderness of Judea near the Jordan River. John, dressed in camel hair and a leather belt in the style of the prophet Elijah, has a simple message: repent because the kingdom of heaven is coming. Crowds come from miles around, including even Israel's religious leaders. John calls those leaders vipers and warns that Messiah will bring the wrath of God against the unrepentant. The Messiah will baptize the repentant with the Holy Spirit and fire. The trees that do not bear fruit, spiritually speaking, will be cut down and burned.
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 2:25:33 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