Matthew 3:2 reads, “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” King James Version (KJV)
|ESV||“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”|
|NASB||“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”|
|NIV||and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”|
|NLT||“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”|
Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
3:1-6 After Malachi there was no prophet until John the Baptist came. He appeared first in the wilderness of Judea. This was not an uninhabited desert, but a part of the country not thickly peopled, nor much enclosed. No place is so remote as to shut us out from the visits of Divine grace.
The doctrine he preached was repentance; Repent ye. The word here used, implies a total alteration in the mind, a change in the judgment, disposition, and affections, another and a better bias of the soul. Consider your ways, change your minds: you have thought amiss; think again, and think aright.
True penitents have other thoughts of God and Christ, sin and holiness, of this world and the other, than they had. The change of the mind produces a change of the way.
That is gospel repentance, which flows from a sight of Christ, from a sense of his love, and from hopes of pardon and forgiveness through him. It is a great encouragement to us to repent; repent, for your sins shall be pardoned upon your repentance.
Return to God in a way of duty, and he will, through Christ, return unto you in the way of mercy. It is still as necessary to repent and humble ourselves, to prepare the way of the Lord, as it then was.
There is a great deal to be done, to make way for Christ into a soul, and nothing is more needful than the discovery of sin, and a conviction that we cannot be saved by our own righteousness.
The way of sin and Satan is a crooked way; but to prepare a way for Christ, the paths must be made straight, Heb 12:13. Those whose business it is to call others to mourn for sin, and to mortify it, ought themselves to live a serious life, a life of self-denial, and contempt of the world.
By giving others this example, John made way for Christ. Many came to John’s baptism, but few kept to the profession they made.
There may be many forward hearers, where there are few true believers. Curiosity, and love for novelty and variety, may bring many to attend on good preaching, and to be affected for a while, who never are subject to the power of it.
Those who received John’s doctrine, testified their repentance by confessing their sins. Those only are ready to receive Jesus Christ as their righteousness, who are brought with sorrow and shame to own their guilt. The benefits of the kingdom of heaven, now at hand, were thereupon sealed to them by baptism.
John washed them with water, in token that God would cleanse them from all their iniquities, thereby intimating, that by nature and practice all were polluted, and could not be admitted among the people of God, unless washed from their sins in the fountain Christ was to open, Zec 13:1.
Matthew 3:2 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And saying, Repent ye—Though the word strictly denotes a change of mind, it has respect here (and wherever it is used in connection with salvation) primarily to that sense of sin which leads the sinner to flee from the wrath to come, to look for relief only from above, and eagerly to fall in with the provided remedy.
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand—This sublime phrase, used in none of the other Gospels, occurs in this peculiarly Jewish Gospel nearly thirty times; and being suggested by Daniel’s grand vision of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of days, to receive His investiture in a world-wide kingdom (Da 7:13, 14), it was fitted at once both to meet the national expectations and to turn them into the right channel.
A kingdom for which repentance was the proper preparation behooved to be essentially spiritual. Deliverance from sin, the great blessing of Christ’s kingdom (Mt 1:21), can be valued by those only to whom sin is a burden (Mt 9:12). John’s great work, accordingly, was to awaken this feeling and hold out the hope of a speedy and precious remedy.