Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
February 12, 2006
7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 He said therefore to the multitudes that went out to be baptized of him, Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
- I. The Issue(s) Involved in the "Viper" Description.
- A. The term is not found in many sources in the known literature.
- B. It is used in Acts 28:3 of some kind of "fanged" snake that could easily be expected to cause swelling (at least), or death (the norm).
- C. It is used in conjunction with a more widely used word (serpent) in Matthew 23:33.
- D. The "issue" seems to be the inherent nature of the fanged snake that uses its fangs as the predominant "method of life". It "protects" itself and it "feeds" itself by this means. In other words, it is a "killing machine" -- its method of "life" is "death to others".
- a. It is here that most men stumble over the biblical truth: though man was created in the image of God, there is no hesitation in John in describing him as a product of the "serpent". Paul deliberately teaches this in Ephesians 2:3 and does so inclusively (there are no exceptions apart from the quickening power of God).
- b. The pervasive mentality of humanity outside of Christ is a mentality of self preservation through death to others.
- E. The "generation" terminology is used to refer to the "fruit" of a plant/animal/human being that reproduces itself. It is a derivation of the often used "begat" terminology. The central idea is that there is an on-going process of producing another generation so that the entity is essentially on the scene continuously.
- II. The Issue(s) Involved in the "Flight From Wrath".
- A. The word is used regularly to refer to "repayment" ... the repercussion of Justice.
- B. The idea of "flight" is the notion that one can "escape" by putting oneself into another environment where the danger does not exist.
- 1. It is interesting that John's message of "forgiveness" is presented as the only "out" to the environment of the "viper".
- 2. The "problem" with seeing "forgiveness" as the "out" is that there is no direct dealing with the root of the "generation of the causes requiring forgiveness". In other words, "forgiveness" does not "generate" a new nature.
- a. This may well be the reason that John was the "forerunner": he had only a temporary solution to the problem of "viperhood".
- 1) The "Coming One" was, then, to accomplish two major things: He would make "forgiveness" possible in an environment of Justice; and He would make "nature change" possible by the generation of a new nature.
- 2) Thus, the "Coming One" is presented as "mightier than I" by John (Luke 3:16).
- b. The "introduction", however, remains the same: you repent and God will address the "problems" (the Isaiah 40:3-5 shift in the "voice" of the verbs from the active in the imperative to the passive in the indicative -- from demand to promise).