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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 3 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Out of the water. This shows that he had descended to the river. It literally means, "he went up directly FROM the water." The original does not imply that they had descended into the river.

The heavens were opened unto him. This was done while he was praying, Lu 3:21. The sacred ordinance of baptism he attended with prayer. The ordinances of religion will be commonly ineffectual without prayer. If in those ordinances we look to God, we may expect he will bless us; the heavens will be opened; light will shine upon our path; and we shall meet with the approbation of God. The expression "the heavens were opened," is one that commonly denotes the appearance of the clouds when it lightens. The heavens appear to open, or give way. Something of this kind probably appeared to John at this time. The same appearance took place at Stephen's death, Ac 7:56. The expression means, he was permitted to see far into the heavens beyond what the natural vision would allow.

To him. Some have referred this to Jesus, others to John. It probably refers to John. See Joh 1:33. It was a testimony given to John that this was the Messiah.

He saw. John saw.

The Spirit of God. See Mt 3:11. This was the Third Person of the Trinity, descending upon him in the form of a dove, Lu 3:22. The dove, among the Jews, was the symbol of purity or harmlessness, (Mt 10:16) and of softness, (Ps 55:7.) The form chosen here was doubtless an emblem of the innocence, meekness, and tenderness of the Saviour. The gift of the Holy Spirit, in this manner, was the public approbation of Jesus, (Joh 1:33,) and a sign of his being set apart to the office of the Messiah. We are not to suppose that there was any change wrought in the moral character of Jesus, but only that he was publicly set apart to his work, and solemnly approved by God in the office to which he was appointed.

{y} "Spirit of God" Isa 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; Joh 3:34.

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