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Luke 3:7-18 - You brood of vipers!

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

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John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."


And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."


As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."


So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.


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This is the Gospel selection to be read aloud by a priest on the third Sunday of Advent, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow a reading from the prophet Zephaniah, who sang as the voice of Yahweh, “I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” That will be followed by a singing of the first song of Isaiah (also called Canticle 9), where that prophet sang: “Make his deeds known among the peoples; see that they remember that his Name is exalted.” That pair will precede a reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, where he wrote: “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”


These selected verses follow last Sunday’s presentation of the song o Zechariah, the father of John (Luke 3:1-6). The first word in verse seven is not “John.” It is a capitalized “Elegen,” rooted in “legó,” meaning “to say” (Strong’s Definition), while implying “(denoting speech in progress), (a) I say, speak; I mean, mention, tell, (b) I call, name, especially in the pass., (c) I tell, command” (Strong’s Usage). It is written in the third-person singular imperfect active indicative, meaning it translates here as “He-She-It said.” The capitalization must then be seen as divinely elevating the meaning of this “third person,” so it goes beyond John and become the voice of Yahweh speaking through a servant. Therefore, John opened his mouth and spoke, but like Jesus when he spoke, it was the voice of Yahweh heard.


Yahweh was then using John to speak to the Jews who “came out to be baptized by him.” The Greek of that statement is written, “tois ekporeuomenois ochlois baptisthēnai hyp’ autou,” which literally can translate as this: “these coming forth common people to be submerged under of same.” When the capitalization of “Elegen” is realized to be the voice of Yahweh, spoken by a prophet, the “crowds” (meaning “common Jews”) that “were coming forth” (or “who came out from”) were seekers, in need of repentance. Using the shepherd-sheep analogy, this says the lost sheep heard their master’s voice and came running in droves.


While John was known to baptize Jews in streams and rivers, the capitalization of “Elegen” again reminds us it was not the physical person John who attracted so many Jews. It was Yahweh. Thus, while John dunked their heads and bodies under water (the word “baptize” means “to submerge”), it was more the way the souls of the people felt by “coming out” to hear the Word spoken to them. It was that which made their souls feel a need to be “submerged under of same,” and feel the presence of Yahweh within them, as did John.


Thus, the Word spoken is the capitalized word “Gennēmata,” which means “Offspring” (Strong’s Definition), implying “Child, Fruit” (Strong’s Usage). The word is plural in number, with the implication being as “Progeny” or that “Spawned,” such that “Brood” speaks down at those “coming out.” The NRSV translates this as “You,” but this must be seen as Yahweh speaking to those who called themselves the “Children” of God, as not being so. This elevated meaning is then attached to the following word, “echidnōn,” which is the plural form of “echidna,” meaning “vipers,” but also “serpents, snakes.”


When Yahweh is seen as the author of these words, speaking to those who claim to be His “Children,” to call then the “Children of serpents,” this has to be seen as a reflection of the true “Children” of Yahweh [Adam and Eve], who were tricked by the “serpent” and banned from immortality [Eden]. So too was the “serpent,” so those “coming out” to the voice of Yahweh through John were being ‘called out’ for not being His “Children,” but instead the “Creations” of sinners, following the voice of “serpents.”


In the question asked to those who came out to John, “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” this is again Yahweh speaking through one of His prophets. It was the guilt felt by their souls, caused by Yahweh giving each inklings of thought about an impending doom coming, due to their wayward ways (having listened to the “serpents’” influences). By understanding that those guilty souls were running like lost sheep to their master’s voice, they were trying to come close, close enough to be “submerged under” the holiness they felt in John; and, that is a problem that lingers always.


People who call themselves religious and mostly only trying to cover all the bases, having no clue what comes after death. By being close to one who is felt to know some things, the sheep mentality is to think being close is like being sheared or bathed. One only has to be close to have the good of another rub off on them, while they can always prance and play, never having to do anything. That is what makes one be grouped with others like oneself, as “You brood of vipers.” Being under John is like being under some televangelist or megachurch ministers, where the more sheep he or she owns the more money they make. The fear that drove them to John was not something John could save them from. They had to be born from above, just like John had been. That is the intent of Yahweh saying through John, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”


When the message then said, “Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham,” the element of “stones” needs to be understood. A body of flesh is death, when it is not animated by a living soul. When Yahweh asked Ezekiel about dry bones being able to live, this should be equated to John saying a stone can be given life, if Yahweh sends it a soul to animate it. The bloodline of the Jews led way back in time to the promise made to Abraham, but the mistake was to think that was a promise to a lineage of stones – a series of dead bodies with no souls married to Yahweh. Abraham was such a soul, as was John; so, the lesson here says, “You have no claim as a “Child of Yahweh” when you are “Children of snakes.” Everything depends on who one’s soul is married to.


That is then why John said: “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Both Israel and Judah had been trees bearing good fruit; but then they died and were cut down. Only those individual souls in bodies of flesh who are married to Yahweh can be His trees. All those “Spawned by serpents” were sinners, whose souls had been sold to Satan. The ax was to cut off any claim they had to salvation. Their souls would be thrown into the fire of reincarnation (or worse). The only thing keeping that from happening was the guilt they felt within, which drew them out, seeking to repent and return to Yahweh’s possession.


When the Jews of various backgrounds and professions asked John what they should do, his answers were basically the same. He told them to share with others, rather than try to take advantage of others, always trying to get more for oneself. This included those who were forced to be close to easily grabbing more, because they had the power of the authorities at their disposal. The authorities were the “serpents” incarnate. Thus, John told them to not follow the influences to sin; just “Do your job and nothing more.”


When the reading then says, “all were questioning in their hearts concerning John,” the Greek word “kardias” means “heart,” in a physical sense, but should be read here as meaning more “mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center.” This says their souls questioned if John was the “Christ,” which is written “Christos,” but translated selectively in this reading as “the Messiah.” Here it is important to grasp that John was not speaking for himself. Instead, he spoke what Yahweh had him speak, in the same way that Yahweh made Zechariah sing a prophecy of his infant John. This means Yahweh had full understanding of what the “Christ” meant; and, that needs to be read into the response given to those who questioned I John was “the Messiah.”


John and Jesus were cousins, but that bloodline is no different than the bloodline that linked wayward Jews to Abraham. John most likely had little contact with Jesus and did not know was in any way connected to what words came out of his mouth here. While it is comforting to think the contrary, as if John were just some warm-up entertainer, before the main attraction would be introduced, John was an equal to Jesus, because Yahweh was married to his soul and John was an obedient wife, doing only what Yahweh commanded him. Thus, it is vital to hear the words spoken by John as not totally exclusive of Jesus. Because John was an equal in Spirit to Jesus, in ministry when the ministry of Jesus (in the vassals of Rome formerly known as Israel and Judah) had yet to begin, John was speaking (as Yahweh through him) of himself – his soul married to Yahweh, having been Anointed (the meaning of “Christos” and “Messiah”).


Here is what John said, slowly dissected: “Egō men hydati baptize hymas ;” which says, “I truly water to bathe with yourself”. While it is certain that John would dunk Jews in water, the capitalization of “Egō” must be seen as the voice of Yahweh, as the divinely elevated meaning of “I.” Thus, no matter what physical “water” John would be associated with, Yahweh (being Spiritual) was the “true water” that would be poured out upon one’s soul, as an “Anointment” of the Spirit. This means John spoke as Yahweh, because his soul had merged with Yahweh’s Spirit, through his being a “Christ,” so John’s soul permanently “bathed” or was “submerged” in that living “water,” the same living “water” that each questioning John should receive for “yourselves” (a “self” should be read as a ‘soul”).


Following the semi-colon, Yahweh then spoke through John’s lips saying, “erchetai de ho ischyroteros mou ,” which literally translates to say, “comes now this mightier of I”. By realizing that John is speaking of his being a “Christ” – one “Anointed” by Yahweh, thus a “Messiah” – he is not referring to some other person in the flesh to later “come,” but a presence that has “come now.” It is this possessing Spirit that “comes now” when divinely married to Yahweh, and that coming is “this mightier than I.” In that, the Greek word “mou” is the enclitic genitive form of “egṓ,” which in the lower-case is a statement of John (“me,” as a statement of “I”), not the capitalized “Egō” that began the first statement (up to a semi-colon).


Following the comma mark, which says subsequent separation is now noted, Yahweh said through John, “hou ouk eimi hikanos lysai ton himanta tōn hypodēmatōn autou ;” which literally translates to say, “of it not I exist fit to release this binding of a sole bound under of same”. When the imagery of a strap for a sandal is removed, so one can see a soul bound, where “not I exist” is a statement furthering the prior “this mightier than I,” then one can see the truth of a soul possessed by Yahweh, so tightly bound in union that one’s soul has come completely and totally “a sole bound under” the Spirit of Yahweh, so one’s soul can only do “the same” as the Spirit wants. It is one’s preconceptions of Jesus coming that forbids one from clearly seeing one’s own expectation to be like John – “of the same” (“autou”).


Following another semi-colon, the voice of Yahweh through John then said, “autos hymas baptisei en Pneumati Hagiō ,” which literally says, “same yourselves he will immerse in Spirit Sacred”. The third-person singular “he” must be seen as a statement about Yahweh, not Jesus. If John could not “Anoint” one, then neither could Jesus; but this means Yahweh is the only one who can, whereas the Son in Jesus would have abilities unlike John. Still, the only “Anointment” of the “Spirit,” which comes upon one permanently and makes one “Sacred, Holy, or Set Apart” by Yahweh is that from Yahweh. This is then the truth being stated (Yahweh speaking) through John that said souls would be so “Anointed” by the presence of Yahweh in Jesus, more than would come through His presence in John; but all (including John and Jesus” were to be “Anointed” via the “Spirit” and made “Holy” by Yahweh.


When Yahweh spoke through John, saying “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary,” this relates back to verse seven, when the capitalized word “Gennēmata” was written, translated as “Offspring” or “Brood.” The same word can be seen as “Grains,” which then relates to the “good fruit” produced by the “Children” of Yahweh. Now, rather than figs or grapes, from trees and vines, the analogy is made to the food that sustains the people as “Children” of Yahweh. This becomes metaphor for souls possessed by Yahweh’s “Spirit,” made “Holy” or “Sacred,” as the Spiritual food that feeds souls, just as living waters immerse bodies of flesh. Here, the analogy of the “winnowing fork” and the “threshing floor” is the test that separates the “Grain” from the chaff. The difference will be found in those souls who do as John and Jesus and “Receive the Spirit.”


As the Gospel reading to be read aloud on the third Sunday of Advent, when one’s soul should be pregnant with the soul of Jesus to be one’s life change, the lesson of Luke’s story about John is to hear the Word of Yahweh speaking to you. The birth of Jesus within one’s soul is not about having a baby to care for, by placing him in a manger or crib and dressing him up in cute clothes. Jesus will be reborn fully grown, in your body of flesh; and, his birth will be a time to get rid of the old you, once and forever. One’s soul will be led to become “Holy” and “Sacred,” doing only what Yahweh orders through His Son. That must be seen as a joyous change coming. One must hear the Word spoken by Yahweh through John as the “warning” to get right and look forward to that change in self.

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