3 witnesses needed for baptism.Posted: December 14, 2010
I have never really been interested in the genealogy in Matthew or any of the other Biblical books for that matter. I have mostly considered them
boring and normally skipped quickly over them.
Yet in saying this I was caught by this passage and stopped to reflect on it.
Mat 1:17 There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were also fourteen from David to the exile in Babylonia and fourteen more to the birth of the Messiah.
And as I reflected I become quite excited. For in this short little verse Matthew points out that Christ is the fulfilment of the promises that God gave to Abraham, David and Micah about the coming Christ. Matthew is drawing on the 3 witnesses of the OT Abraham, David and the Prophets; all whom were told by God of the coming Christ.
Jewish law points that there are to be 3 witnesses for certain baptisms; especially that of a proselytes conversion.
Therefore we must note that the witnessing of baptisms was to be normally done by the Sanhedrin; and so in Chapter 3 we note they were coming down to the river where John the Baptist was baptising people. It was here they were rebuked as being a bunch of vipers.
But when John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them, “You children of serpents! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Mat 3:7
I think they were coming down in mass force within an official lawful capacity and in doing so were saying; Without our being present here; the baptisms you are performing are illegitimate and will not be recognised by us and therefore will not be recognised by God.
Skipping forward to Matthew 21 we see again this same crowd of officials asking Jesus by whose authority was he doing what he was doing. Jesus used a very Jewish traditional form of answering a questions answered in the form of asking them a question in regards to when John was baptising people and more specifically was asking them if His own baptism by John was legitimate.
Mat 21:23-27 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Therefore we can say that for the Jewish readers whom Matthew wrote there is a big challenge as to whose side the readers were on. The religious right who didn’t recognise God in their midst or were they going to accept Christ as being the fulfilment of the law and the prophets.