What was a winnowing fork? (Matthew 3:12)

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 

Matthew 3:1 - 12

ESV - 1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Clarify Share Report Asked January 30 2022 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
A winnowing fork is a device with a wooden handle and curved metal blades (similar to a pitchfork) that is used when harvesting a mixture of grain and chaff (weeds) to separate the two. The fork's contents are tossed up in the air, and the lighter chaff is blown away, while the heavier grain falls back to the threshing floor on which the operation is occurring, where it is gathered and stored for a useful purpose as food.

John's reference to a winnowing fork being in Jesus' hand indicated the function that He would perform in separating believers from unbelievers, with different eternal fates awaiting the two groups.

January 31 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
A winnowing fork was a pitchfork-like tool used to toss threshed grain in the air so that the wind blew away the chaff, leaving the grain to fall to the ground. NET BIBLE

The "winnowing fork" or “fan” here is a shovel. It's not a shovel like you think of a shovel. It literally means shovel. It's a winnowing shovel - big flat thing. You'll notice that you have the floor mentioned in verse 12 and the purging and the shovel and here's what happened. This is a threshing floor. After the harvest - again, we're still dealing with an agricultural series of metaphors here. This was John's lifestyle out in the wilderness. There was a threshing floor and the threshing floor was a most unique thing. They would take a hard place in a field, usually where there was rock bed, and they would wet it and wet it and pack it and pack it until it was just very, very hard. And they would shape it like a saucer so that it was deeper in the middle and then became shallower, just like a saucer. And then, around the outside of it, they would stack rocks to act as a little wall to keep the grain in. 

And then when the harvest was done, they would take the bunches - bunch by bunch of the grain, whatever it was - and they would throw it onto the threshing floor. And then there would be an ox or oxen, depending upon the size of the threshing floor, and that ox or oxen team would walk around the threshing floor dragging great heavy pieces of wood over the grain which would act in a way to separate the kernel from all the rest of the straw and the dirt and the dust and everything else that was attached. Usually, 30 to 50 feet in diameter would be enough for a single threshing floor, and sometimes there would be many of them. 

Now, what would finally be left would be the hard kernel, and then there would be some of the crusty coating of the kernel and dirt, pieces of straw and so forth, and that had to be separated out. And so the farmer or whoever was doing it would take this flat shovel and usually, as I read about this, I found that they would build the threshing floor on a promontory if there were mountains around where the wind could blow by easily, or on a great flat field on the front coast, the coast of Sharon. John MacArthur

This image shows that there is nothing arbitrary about judgment: The good, solid grain falls to the threshing floor, while the dry, empty chaff is blown away (See Isa 64:6--ESV: "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away"; Compare John 12:47–48 47: "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."). FSB

February 01 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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