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John the Baptist in the Bible, Biography

John the Baptist was the last prophet in the Bible who spoke about the coming Messiah. He was also a preacher who baptized people and denounced their sins. Jesus Christ was John’s cousin, and John had been born some years before he was conceived.

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Elizabeth and Zechariah, Parents of John the Baptist

According to the Bible, the birth of John the Baptist happened about six months before Jesus was born which is where it appears on the Bible Timeline online. He was born to a temple priest named Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth. Both of them were descendants from the priestly line of Aaron. Elizabeth had been barren for many years and one day while Zechariah was performing his temple duties the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him that he was going to have a son named John. Gabriel also told Zechariah that John was going to be filled with the Holy Spirit and that he was going to turn many people from sin by pronouncing the coming Messiah.

Zechariah then questioned Gabriel about what he said because Elizabeth and he were old. Gabriel then took away his ability to speak and told him that he would be able to talk again after John was born. During Elizabeth’s pregnancy Mary (Elizabeth’s cousin) the mother of Jesus had visited her after Gabriel told her that she was going to give a supernatural birth to Jesus. She realized that she was going to birth Jesus sometime after John was born.

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‘John the Baptist, by Andrea del Sarto, 1528.’

Background of John the Baptist 

Once John was born, he was raised under the teachings of his father Zechariah. He learned about the Torah, Talmud and other important Jewish Holy Books and scripture. John was probably being groomed for the priesthood like his father, but the Spirit of God had led John out into the wilderness to live as a wild man who learned how to eat off of the land. The Bible claims that he had eaten locust and wild honey as a part of his daily diet and that his clothing was manufactured from camel hair. John’s life is characterized as a life of a rugged individual who lived in the wilderness preaching the word of God.

Preaching in the Wilderness

John the Baptist earned his name by baptizing many people from their sins. He also preached the concept of repentance or turning away from their evil deeds. John’s fame went out far and wide, and many people came to hear his message and to be baptized. When a person is baptized, they are submerged underneath a body of water and then taken back out as part of a symbolic process that shows a person has received new life in Jesus Christ. John’s fame also caused some of the local people within Judea to follow him as disciples. Jesus made an appearance before John and was baptized by him though John had initially refused. John was telling the people about Jesus because he knew that he was the Son of God. John had also confronted many of the Jewish religious leaders who were Pharisees and Sadducees. King Herod (the ruling Judean monarch of the time) visited John one day and was denounced by him for marrying his brother’s wife. King Herod ultimately had John imprisoned for speaking out against him in public.

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‘Puvis de Chavannes, The Beheading of St John the Baptist, c. 1869’

Speaking out Against Herod John the Baptist eventually met his death while in prison. King Herod was having a birthday party and during this event his daughter had danced for the guests and it pleased everyone in attendance. King Herod told her that she could have anything that she desired because she danced so well. The young lady told the king that she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a platter after she listened to the advice of her mother. King Herod was upset because he liked to listen to John preach, and he knew that John’s death could cause serious problems with the people of Judea. However, he didn’t want to go back on his word in front of his guests and ended up killing John.

His Death

John’s disciples had taken away his body after he had died and Jesus was informed. During John’s incarceration he had his disciples go to Jesus to make sure that he was the chosen Messiah. John was only human and at times doubted, especially when he was imprisoned for his beliefs. Even though this was the case John ultimately knew that Jesus was the son of God and the chosen Messiah.
John died around four years before Christ.

Biblical References:

Luke 1: 1 – 79 The story about how Zechariah and Elizabeth give birth to John the Baptist.

Matthew 4: 13 – 17 Jesus is baptized by John.

Mark 6: 14 – 29 John the Baptist confronts King Herod about his unlawful marriage and ends up dying in prison.

Matthew 14: 1 – 12 John the Baptist is killed in prison by King Herod.