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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Who Was John the Baptist?

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Don Stewart

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. The New Testament gives the following details about his life and ministry.

He Had A Miraculous Birth

John the Baptist was conceived in a miraculous way. His parents, Zechariah and Elisabeth, were beyond the childbearing years when John was conceived. His birth was miraculous as Luke records.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous - to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:11-17).

John Was The Forerunner Of Jesus

John came before Jesus making the way for the king.

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:1,2).

John Was Imprisoned By Herod

John was publicly saying that Herod Antipas should not have taken his brothers wife. This caused John's imprisonment.

For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet (Matthew 11:3-5).

John Questioned Jesus About His Role As Messiah

While in prison, John sent messenger to question Jesus about His Messiahship.

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the expected one, or shall we look for someone else?" (Matthew 11:2,3).

John Was Executed By Herod

John was then executed after Herod made a careless promise at his birthday party.

So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison (Mark 6:27).

According To Jesus There Was No One Greater Than John

Jesus said that no one born was greater than John.

This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! (Matthew 11:10,11).


John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. He was conceived in a miraculous way. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth were beyond the childbearing years when he was conceived. John preached a baptism of repentance looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. Herod imprisoned John for speaking out against the king's unlawful marriage. While in prison he sent two of his disciples to question Jesus if He were the Messiah. Herod executed John while in prison. Jesus testified that no one born of woman was greater than John.

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