**Please be sure to read all around this passage so that you are getting it in context; and as always, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the understanding that He would have you see. Passage: Matthew 3:6-12
Here we get a "sermon" from John seemingly directed at the Pharisees and Sadducees; though I would say it also speaks to other issues as well. We know that at this time John was baptising many people from the area (Judea, Jordan Valley, & Jerusalem) and so I would venture to say that the Pharisees and Sadducees were there to find out who it is and what it is "stirring up the locals". Because they were the type to consider themselves the only real students of the law they most certainly (as a group) didn't come to learn from John. Yet they get an ear-full...
"...brood of snakes." This seems to be a pretty harsh epithet. I am wondering what it means because I'm sure it was specifically used and not just random slander thrown out in heated conversation. Let's find out what Strong's has to say:
BROOD - King James version uses the word "Generation" instead of "Brood"...and the Strong's gives the following definition: offspring; by analogy produce (literally or figuratively): - fruit, generation.
SNAKES - King James version uses the word "Vipers" instead of "Snakes" and Webster's defines vipers this way:
Pronunciation: \ˈvī-pər\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English vipere, from Latin vipera Date: 15th century 1 a : a common Eurasian venomous snake (Vipera berus) that attains a length of about two feet (0.6 meter), varies in color from red, brown, or gray with dark markings to black, and is usually not fatal to humans; broadly : any of a family (Viperidae) of venomous snakes that includes Old World snakes (subfamily Viperinae) and the pit vipers b : a venomous or reputedly venomous snake 2 : a vicious or treacherous person
So, what can we learn from this little study of that phrase? I think that John is making sure that everyone listening, including the Pharisees and Sadducees, hears the word brood or generation. This would ensure that they didn't think he was directing the epithet at just the small group that had shown up...he was directing this descriptive "dis" at ALL Pharisees and Sadducess as well as anyone who might wish to join their brood or generation. It was a warning statement to everyone.
Next John goes on to describe why they are a brood of snakes. To try and put the rest into a nutshell, he is warning them that what they prize most...
...their outward perfection
...their apparent grand status
...their self attained knowledge
...was not going to be able to save them from God's wrath. They too needed to be baptized and realize that they were in need of salvation too. They had spent so much time deciding what God's word meant that they had lost sight of God's word. They no longer could see God's character, which is displayed in His word, but instead could only see their interpretation of God's word and all the things they had added to it. This was one of the biggest parts of Jesus' ministry...to bring them back to God's word and an understanding of God's character. Study this for yourself...you'll find that Jesus never "made up" anything when teaching. Everything he taught was found in the scriptures of their time...the Old Testament. That is the simple reason that you should NEVER I repeat NEVER let anyone tell you that the Old Testament is no longer necessary. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the new. Same character. Same love and forgiveness. Same grace. Same desire to have a people devoted to Him...
Dear Alpha and Omega,
Thank you for being God. Thank you for being a loving God, capable of infinite mercy and grace. Thank you for taking the time to teach us and for being willing to work through us. I ask you, on your Holy Sabbath day, to watch over my family and church. Please provide an extra portion of your Holy Spirit today so that we can learn directly from you. I ask that you forgive my sin so that I can be filled with Your word.
Thank you for all that you supply in my life. Thank you for my home, health, family, and friends.
Lord, please be with all of the prayer requests that are in my heart right now. May your will be done in all situations. Amen.