While Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and Herod was ruler of Galilee, a man named John, the son of Zachariah, lived in the desert country. And God commanded him and he went into all the country around the river Jordan calling upon men to be baptized to show that they were sorry for their sins and wished to be forgiven. Those who were truly sorry for their sins, he baptized in the river Jordan.
This John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea and the country around the Jordan began to go out to him to confess their sins and to be baptized by him in the Jordan.
To the crowds that went out to be baptized by him he said, “You children of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Bear fruits, then, that will prove that you are truly sorry for what you have done. Do not say to yourselves, ‘We are children of Abraham‘; for I tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones. Already the axe lies at the root of the trees. Every tree, therefore, that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
The crowds kept asking him, “What must we do?” He answered them, “Let him who has two coats share with him who has none; and let him who has food do the same.”
When the tax-gatherers came to be baptized, they said to him, “Teacher, what must we do?” He said to them, “Do not take more from any one than rightfully belongs to you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what must we do?” To them he said, “Do not take money from anybody by force, nor make false charges, but be content with your wages.”
Now as the people were wondering whether John might possibly be the Christ, John said to them all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One is coming mightier than I, whose shoe-strings I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor, and will gather the wheat into his storehouse; but the chaff he will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.” In this way, and with many other earnest words, he told the good news to the people.