John, the harbinger, visits Jericho. Meets the people at Gilgal. Announces his mission. Introduces the rite of baptism. Baptises many people. Returns to Bethany and teaches. Returns to the Jordan.
2 And when the people heard that he was there they came in throngs to hear him speak.
3 He spoke to none; but when the time was due he went down to the Jordan ford, and to the multitudes he said.
4 Reform and in the fount of purity wash all your sins away; the kingdom is at hand.
5 Come unto me and in the waters of this stream be washed, symbolic of the inner cleansing of the soul.
6 And, lo, the multitudes came down, and in the Jordan they were washed, and every man confessed his sins.
7 For many months, in all the regions round about, John pled for purity and righteousness, and after many days he went again to Bethany; and there he taught.
8 At first few but the honest seekers came; but, by and by, the selfish and the vicious came with no contrition; came because the many came.
9 And when John saw the repentant Pharisees and Sadducees come unto him, he said,
10 You children of the vipers, stay; are you disturbed by news of coming wrath?
11 Go to, and do the things that prove repentance genuine.
12 Is it enough for you to say that you are heirs of Abraham? I tell you, no.
13 The heirs of Abraham are just as wicked in the sight of God when they do wrong as any heathen man.
14 Behold the axe! and every tree that bears not wholesome fruit is cut down at the roots and cast into the fire.
15 And then the people asked, What must we do?
16 And John replied, Accept the ministry of helpfulness for all mankind; spend not upon your selfish selves all that you have.
17 Let him who has two coats give one to him who has no coat; give part of all the food you have to those in need.
18 And when the publicans came up and asked, What must we do? John answered them,
19 Be honest in your work; do not increase for selfish gain the tribute you collect; take nothing more than what your king demands.
20 And when the soldiers came and asked, What must we do? The harbinger replied,
21 Do violence to none; exact no wrongful thing, and be contented with the wages you receive.
22 Among the Jews were many who had been waiting for the Christ to come, and they regarded John as Christ.
23 But to their questions John replied, In water I do cleanse, symbolic of the cleansing of the soul; but when he comes who is to come, lo, he will cleanse in Holy Breath and purify in fire.
24 His fan is in his hand, and he will separate the wheat and chaff; will throw the chaff away, but garner every grain of wheat. This is the Christ.
25 Behold he comes! and he will walk with you, and you will know him not.
26 He is the king; the latchet of his shoes I am not worthy to unloose.
27 And John left Bethany and went again unto the Jordan ford.