But the Pharisees and lawyers
Or Scribes, as the Syriac and Persic versions read; for the Scribes and lawyers were the same sort of persons. The Ethiopic version calls them, "the Scribes of the city": these "rejected the counsel of God against themselves"; against their own advantage, to their hurt and detriment; since by their impenitence and unbelief, and through their rejection of Christ and his forerunner, and the Gospel and the ordinances of it, they brought ruin and destruction, both temporal and eternal, upon themselves: or "towards themselves", or "unto them"; that is, they "rejected the command of God unto them", as the Arabic version renders it: for by "the counsel of God" here, is not meant his purpose, intention, and design, with respect to these persons, which was not, nor never is frustrated; but the precept of God, and so the Ethiopic version renders it,
they despised the command of God:
that is, the ordinance of baptism, which was of God, and the produce of his counsel and wisdom, as the whole scheme, and all the ordinances of the Gospel are, and not the invention of men: or they rejected this "in themselves", as it may be rendered, and is by the Syriac and Persic versions; not openly and publicly, for they were afraid of the people, but inwardly and privately, and which their actions and conduct declared:
being not baptized of him;
of John: by their neglect of this ordinance, they testified their aversion to it, and rejection of it.