And they were baptized (kai ebaptizonto). It is the imperfect tense to show the repetition of the act as the crowds from Judea and the surrounding country kept going out to him (exeporeueto), imperfect again, a regular stream of folks going forth. Moffatt takes it as causative middle, "got baptized," which is possible. "The movement of course was gradual. It began on a small scale and steadily grew till it reached colossal proportions" (Bruce). It is a pity that baptism is now such a matter of controversy. Let Plummer, the great Church of England commentator on Matthew, speak here of John's baptising these people who came in throngs: "It is his office to bind them to a new life, symbolized by immersion in water." That is correct, symbolized, not caused or obtained. The word "river" is in the correct text, "river Jordan." They came "confessing their sins" (exomologoumenoi), probably each one confessing just before he was baptized, "making open confession" (Weymouth). Note ex. It was a never to be forgotten scene here in the Jordan. John was calling a nation to a new life. They came from all over Judea and even from the other side of El Ghor (the Jordan Gorge), Perea. Mark adds that finally all Jerusalem came.