Keeping with Repentance

Keeping with Repentance


Luke 3:1-18

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,  and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” 15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.


This passage isn’t about parenting, but it is about what’s most important.

Whatever you think is most important will deeply shape your kids.

John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

John knew that there are some things only Jesus can do.

When we study God’s Word, it should lead us to both rejoicing and repenting. 

  • What stands out to you from the text?
  • What questions or comments do you have about it?
  • In what ways did you find yourself encouraged and/or rejoicing when you heard the message?
  • In what ways were you challenged to repent or change when you heard the message?
  • How did the teacher connect this passage to Christ? What other connections do you see between this message and the redemptive work of Christ?


  • What is one thing that you want to remember from this sermon?  
  • Why is that important to you?


Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,  nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water  that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;  for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. 
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 1:1–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


A. Old TestamentThe basic Hebrew word which is used to express this change is šwb, the root of which means simply “to turn.” It is a particularly instructive word because it reflects the notion of journeying and pilgrimage, which exemplifies in a very fundamental sense the attitude and relationship between Yahweh and Israel (Deut 26:5–11).The idea of walking in the way of the Lord is a common metaphor in the Hebrew Bible (Ps 1:1).

Healey, J. P. (1992). Repentance. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, p. 671). New York: Doubleday.

B. New TestamentThe primary Gk term rendered “repentance” in English translations of the NT (metanoia) is found 24 times, and its verbal form “to repent” (metanoeō) is used another 34 times. In addition, another important word which is sometimes translated “repent” (metamelomai) occurs six times. The generally recognized core idea of these words is a “change of mind” (NIDNTT 1: 356–57), although metamelomai also carries the nuance of “regret” or “remorse” (TDNT 4:628–29). The English rendering has perhaps been colored by the Latin background of concepts like penance and penitence.

Luter, A. B. J. (1992). Repentance. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, pp. 672–673). New York: Doubleday.

In his early ministry, Jesus’ own message was expressed in similar ways. Like the Baptizer, he proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom … is near” (Matt 4:17). His mission focused on calling “sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). What that meant is clarified in Mark 1:15: “Repent and believe the good news.” Any conception of repenting (metanoeō) not wedded to faith in the gospel falls short of the full biblical message.On the other hand, the proclamation of Jesus (Jeremias 1971: 152–58) and his apostles sometimes utilized the idea of metanoia to include faith (Mark 6:12). In a real sense, “Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin” (IDB 4:34). The issue could be sharpened to “repent” or “perish” (Luke 13:3, 5), “repent” or go to “hell” and “torment” after death (Luke 16:23, 28, 30). For those sinners who do repent, however, there is “joy in heaven” (Luke 15:7, 10). Thus, it can be concluded that, in the gospels, metanoia stands for the entire response bringing about eternal life, including faith when it is not stated. Accordingly, the Great Commission statement which concludes Luke’s gospel reads, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (24:47).

Luter, A. B. J. (1992). Repentance. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, p. 673). New York: Doubleday.

Virtually echoing John the Baptist, Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts urged, “Repent and be baptized … so that your sins may be forgiven” (Acts 2:38). Further usage links repentance not only with forgiveness (5:31) but also with “faith in our Lord Jesus” (20:21) and with “life,” as a result of repentance (11:18). In Acts 17:30–31 Paul on the Areopagus states God’s command for “all people everywhere to repent” or be justly judged. Parallel to the phenomena in the gospels (NIDNTT 1: 359), repentance in Acts may be complementary to faith (20:21) or include faith (17:30) and leads to forgiveness of sins (2:38; 5:31) and eternal life (11:18). 

Luter, A. B. J. (1992). Repentance. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, p. 673). New York: Doubleday.

Sadly, the last mentions of “repent” (metanoeō) in the NT picture an unrepentant mass of humankind as God’s climactic wrath is poured out on the earth (Rev 9:20, 21; 16:9, 11). Instead of turning to the Lord in repentant faith through his longstanding patience (2 Pet 3:9) or to escape his righteous judgment, these sinners continued with their abominable acts (9:20, 21) and cursed God instead of glorifying him (16:9, 11).In conclusion it can be said that repentance in the NT is always anchored in a change of thinking (metanoia), although the psychological and emotional aspects sometimes color or expand the concept (especially the usage of metamelomai) (ISBE 4: 136–37). Repentance must not be separated from its flip side of faith (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21), or from the realization that it sometimes stands for the package of human response to the good news of Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:9; cf. Acts 2:38). True repentance, whether by an unbeliever or a believer (Acts 26:18, 20; Luke 17:3–4), receives the gracious forgiveness that God continually offers all humankind in Christ (Luke 24:47).

Luter, A. B. J. (1992). Repentance. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, pp. 673–674). New York: Doubleday.

 In fact, “fire” appears throughout Luke as a metaphor for divine judgment (cf. 9:54; 12:49; 17:29). In the other two instances in which Luke mentioned the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5; 11:16), there is no mention of a baptism of “fire.” Perhaps this is because the audience addressed in these two instances consists of believers and thus “fire” does not fit their situation. In Luke 3:16, however, the audience is mixed, and “fire” describes well what happens to those who do not believe in Jesus. For Luke the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire is thus best understood as involving two separate groups. For the “wheat” there is the blessing of the Spirit, whereas for the “chaff” there is the judgment of burning. The messianic age therefore is seen as twofold in nature. It brings the blessing of the Spirit to the repentant but the fires of judgment to the unrepentant.22 

Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 135). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

According to CD 2:12 the Messiah, who is anointed by the Spirit (Isa 11:2; 42:1; 61:1), would be the bringer of the Holy Spirit. This promise, however, is not fulfilled until Pentecost (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4–5, 8; 2:1ff.). This “baptism of the Spirit” is best understood as referring to a water baptism (as in John’s case) but associated with messianic benefits that John’s mission lacked (the gift of the Spirit). In other words as the response to John’s preaching brought repentance, faith, and forgiveness and was marked by baptism, so the response to Jesus’ preaching would bring repentance, faith, and forgiveness but also the blessing of the messianic age (the coming of the Spirit) and was likewise marked by baptism. Thus the “baptism of the Spirit” involves a baptism in water by immersion that is the result of repentance and faith on the believer’s part and renewal on the Holy Spirit’s part. That the baptism of the Spirit is the experience of every true believer is evident from the parallelism with John’s baptism; for all, not just part, of John’s followers experienced his baptism (cf. also 1 Cor 12:13). 

Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 135). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

throw the grain and chaff (husk and straw) into the air so that the wind would blow the lighter chaff away from the heavier grain as they fell to the earth. Since burnable materials were in short supply, the chaff would be gathered to burn in the oven for cooking (cf. Matt 6:30). For Luke this winnowing already was realized in Jesus’ ministry rather than in the distant future. Already for Luke and his readers there was a fulfillment of this in Israel’s exclusion from God’s kingdom, Jerusalem’s destruction in a.d. 70, and the gathering of the outcasts into the kingdom. See comments on 3:9.With unquenchable fire. This portrays the eternal finality and irreversible nature of the final judgment. It fits well the description of Gehenna as a metaphor for the place of eternal judgment, for there Jerusalem’s garbage was burned, and its fires never went out. (Gehenna is Hebrew for the Valley of Hinom, which was the valley marking Jerusalem’s southern boundary.)
Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 135). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.