Luke 3: John Baptizes the Son of God

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 55–56

John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins (see Luke 1:36), and John was just six months older than Jesus. He was sent to prepare the way for the mission of Jesus Christ. As you study Luke 3, look for what John taught the people and the ways it would help them be ready to hear the Savior. Be sure to read the Joseph Smith Translation additions to this chapter, which tell us more about the mission of Jesus Christ.

Understanding the Scriptures

Luke 3

Tetrarch (v. 1)Ruler or governor 
Remission (v. 3)Forgiveness 
The wrath to come (v. 7)The coming judgments of God 
Fruits worthy of repentance (v. 8)Actions that demonstrate true repentance 
Ax is laid unto the root of the trees (v. 9)See “Understanding the Scriptures” for Matthew 3:10 (p. 12) 
Hewn (v. 9)Cut 
Publicans (v. 12)Tax collectors 
Exact (v. 13)Take, collect 
Content (v. 14)Satisfied 
Mused (v. 15)Thought about 
Latchet (v. 16)Laces or straps 
Fan (v. 17)A tool or instrument used to separate wheat kernels from their lighter outer shell (chaff) that is not eaten 
Purge his floor (v. 17)Clean his place of harvesting 
Exhortation (v. 18)A speech to encourage and strengthen 
Reproved (v. 19)Scolded, rebuked 
separating wheat from chaff

Separating wheat from chaff

Luke 3:8–9—“We Have Abraham to Our Father”

The Lord made great promises to Abraham because of his faithfulness (see Genesis 13:14–17; Abraham 2:8–11). Many Jews believed that they would be saved simply because they were the descendants of Abraham (see JST,Luke 3:13). John the Baptist told them that if they did not repent, they would be cut down like useless trees. This teaching emphasized that we will be judged by our works, and that only the righteous receive eternal life.

Luke 3:19–20—What Had Herod Done Wrong?

Luke 3:19–20 refers to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch. He was the son of Herod the Great, whom you read about in Matthew 2. Herod Antipas left his first wife to marry his niece Herodias, who had been married to his brother Philip. Such a marriage was against the law of Moses (see Leviticus 20:21). When John the Baptist called him to repent, Herod had John thrown into prison.

Studying the Scriptures

Do the three following activities (A–C) as you study Luke 3.

Activity A iconJohn Prepares the Way

  1. 1.

    Review Luke 3:7–14 and list the “fruits worthy of repentance” that John told the people to “bring forth” (v. 8).

  2. 2.

    Write about how each of these fruits would help us prepare to meet the Savior.

Activity B iconWhat Should We Do?

After John the Baptist taught the people that every tree that would not grow good fruit would be cut down and “cast into the fire” (Luke 3:9), the people asked, “What shall we do then?” (v. 10). John then gave some examples of what it meant to bring forth good fruit.

  1. 1.

    List what John suggested for:

    1. a.

      People with food and clothing

    2. b.


    3. c.


  2. 2.

    Based on what John taught, write what you think he would suggest today for:

    1. a.

      Teenagers at school

    2. b.

      Children living with their parents

    3. c.


John the Baptist

Activity C iconChoose a Symbol

  1. 1.

    Explain what each of the following words found in Luke 3:7–18 could symbolize in the message or mission of John the Baptist: vipers, stones, fruit, roots, shoes, wheat.

  2. 2.

    Choose one of the above symbols that people you know would be least likely to relate to. Think of a different symbol that people in your area might better understand. Describe how you would use it to teach a principle John taught.