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Verse 1. In those days. The days here referred to cannot be those mentioned in the preceding chapter, for John was but six months older than Christ. Perhaps Matthew intended to extend his narrative to the whole time that Jesus dwelt at Nazareth; and the meaning is, "in those days while Jesus still dwelt at Nazareth." John began to preach. It is not probable that John began to baptize or preach long before the Saviour entered on his ministry; and, consequently, from the time that is mentioned at the close of the second chapter, to that mentioned in the beginning of the third, an interval of twenty-five or more years elapsed.

John the Baptist. Or, John the baptizer—so called from his principal office, that of baptizing. Baptism, or the application of water, was a rite well known to the Jews, and practised when they admitted proselytes to their religion from heathenism.—Lightfoot.

Preaching. The word rendered to preach, means, to proclaim in the manner of a public crier; to make proclamation. The discourses recorded in the New Testament are mostly brief, sometimes a single sentence. They were public proclamations of some great truth. Such appear to have been the discourses of John, calling men to repentance.

In the wilderness of Judea. This country was situated along the Jordan, and the Dead Sea, to the east of Jerusalem. The word translated wilderness does not denote, as with us, a place of boundless forests, entirely destitute of inhabitants; but a mountainous, rough, and thinly-settled country, covered, to some considerable extent, with forests and rocks, and better fitted for pasture than for tilling. There were inhabitants in those places, and even villages, but they were the comparatively unsettled portions of the country, 1 Sa 25:1,2. In the time of Joshua there were six cities in what was then called a wilderness, Jos 15:61,62.

{l} "came John" Lu 3:2; Joh 1:18

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