Crowds of people came out to be baptized by him, and he said to them: “You viper’s brood! Who warned you to escape from the coming retribution? Then prove your repentance by the fruit it bears; and do not begin saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father.’ I tell you that God can make children for Abraham out of these stones here.
Already the axe is laid to the roots of the trees; and every tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire.
The people asked him, “Then what are we to do?”
He replied, “The man with two shirts must share with him who has none, and anyone who has food must to the same.”
Among those who came to him to be baptized were tax-gatherers, and they said to him, “Master, what are we to do?”
He told them, “Extract no more than the assessment.”
Soldiers on service also asked him, “And what of us?”
To them he said, “No bullying, no blackmail. Make do with your pay.”
The people were on the tiptoe of expectation, all wondering about John, whether perhaps he was the Messiah, but he spoke out and said to them all, “I baptize you with water, but there is one to come who is mightier than I. I am not fit to unfasten his shoes. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His shovel is ready in his hand, to winnow his threshing-floor and gather the wheat into his granary; but he will burn the chaff on a fire than can never go out.”
In this and many other ways he made his appeal to the people and announced the good news. But Prince Herod [Agrippa], when he was rebuked by him over the affair of his brother’s wife Herodias and for his other misdeeds, crowned them all by shutting John up in prison.