Bible Study on Luke 3:15-22

  1. First (if you are doing this study soon after), how was your Christmas? Share a special moment, a surprise, or just something that you enjoyed.
  2. Do you have godparents and how, if at all, are they involved in your life today?
  3. Read Luke 3:15-22
  4. In verse 15, do the people know who they are looking for or understand what they are looking for when they are looking for the Christ?
    1. Note: The word, “Christ,” is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word, “Messiah.” A “messiah” is an anointed one, “a person having sacred oil poured ceremonially on one’s head, and so become a person with special authority and function, with the implication of one having the choice and approval of God”[1] The pouring of oil is secondary to the being called of God for a special purpose. Look up the following verses to see uses of the word, “messiah,” in lower context than the ultimate messiah, Jesus of Nazareth:
    2. Leviticus 4:3, a priest is called the “anointed.” This is the Hebrew word, “messiah”
    3. Isaiah 45:1, the Assyrian king, Cyrus, is called the Lord’s anointed. Again, the Hebrew word here is “messiah.”
    4. Psalm 2:2, apparently a prophecy about the messiah who would rule the world.
    5. Acts 2:36, Christians see Jesus’ resurrection as proof that he is, indeed, the “anointed one,” the One set apart by God for special authority and function.
  5. In verse 16, how would you say John perceived the coming Christ? 
    1. For a more detailed account of Jesus’ baptism, including John’s understanding of his role and how he would identify the messiah, read John 1:19-34.
  6. In verse 16, John says the messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
    1. “Baptism” is a ritual cleansing (with water). What do you think John means by saying the messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire?
  7. What kind of activity is symbolized in verse 17?
    1. Verse 17 uses details that would be very familiar to an average person in Jesus’ day. A “winnowing fork” is basically a pitch fork. A “threshing floor” is “a surface of hard dirt or stone, for beating or trampling grain heads.”[2] Trampling the grain breaks the chaff loose. The chaff is the light outer husk of the grain, similar to the thin outer skin of a peanut. After threshing, the grain is tossed into the air with the winnowing fork. The heavier heads of grain fall back to the floor while the light chaff is blown away.
  8. Verse 18 calls John’s message “good news.” How do you understand baptism with fire and threshing to be good news?
    1. It may be helpful to remember that the Promised Land was, at this point, occupied by the Romans. Also, the central narrative of Jewish life is the Exodus, celebrated every year at Passover.
  9. Verses 19-20 are a flash-forward (as opposed to a “flashback”). The Gospel of Luke was probably composed around AD60. These verses are the Luke’s parenthetical comment about what Herod did later.
  10. In verse 21-22, who is Jesus baptized with? What unique thing happens to Jesus?
  11. What else strikes you in this passage?
  12. Close with prayer.

[1] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[2] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.