Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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        Son of Zacharias (of the course of Abijah, 1 Chronicles 24:10) and Elisabeth (of the daughters of Aaron), who both "walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Elisabeth was related to the Virgin Mary; but Scripture does not state the exact relationship; the Greek in Luke 1:36 (sungenees ), which our Bible renders "cousin," means any "relation" or "kinswoman," whether by marriage or birth. It is noteworthy that Jesus, of the Melchizedek order of priesthood, was related to but not descended from the Aaronic priests. Zacharias was old, and Elisabeth barren, when, as he was burning incense at the golden altar, Gabriel announced the answer to his prayers (not directly for a son, but, as Israel's representative, for Messiah the Hope of Israel) in the coming birth of a son, the appointed forerunner of Messiah; John (Jehovah's gift) was to he his name, because his supernatural birth was a pledge of the Lord's grace, long looked for, now visiting again His people to their joy (Luke 1). John was to be "great in the sight of the Lord" (contrast Baruch, Jeremiah 45:5). He should be in himself a pattern of that self denial which accords best with his subject of preaching, legal repentance, "drinking no strong drink, but filled with the Holy Spirit (see the same contrast,Ephesians 5:18, the minister's enthusiasm ought to be not from artificial stimulant but from the Spirit's unction) from the mother's womb," a Nazarite (Numbers 6:1-21). Like the great prophet reformer (compare 1 Kings 18:36,37) Elijah in "spirit. and power" of preaching, though not in miracles (John 10:41), he should turn the degenerate "children to the Lord and to" their righteous "fathers, and the heart of the fathers to the children," their past mutual alienation being due to the children's apostasy; fulfilling Malachi 4:4-6; bringing "Moses' law" to their remembrance, "lest Jehovah at His coming should smite the earth with a curse."Thus John should "make ready a people for the Lord."Zacharias for unbelief in withholding credit without a sign was punished with dumbness as the sign until the event came to pass. In the hill country, where Elisabeth had retired, her cousin Mary saluted her, and the babe leaped in Elisabeth's womb. His birth was six months before our Lord's. At his circumcision on the eighth day Zacharias gave his name John; and short, but calls himself the presbyter (elder)": 2 John 1; 3 John 1:1, so 1 Peter 5:1. Alexander of Alex. cites erring to the council of Carthage (De Haer. Bapt.), appeals to 2 John 1:10, "John the apostle in his epistle said, If any come to you," as recognized by the N. African church. The Peshito old Syriac version wants these two epistles. Eusebius reckous them among the controverted (antilegomena ) scriptures (see CANON OF SCRIPTURE ), as distinguished from those universally acknowledged (homologoumena ); his own opinion was that they were genuine (Demoustr. Evang. iii. 5). Origen (Eusebius, H. E. vi. 25) implies that most, though not all recognized their genuineness. Jerome (de Vir. Illustr. 9) mentions them as John's, whose sepulchre was shown at Ephesus in his day. The antilegomena were generally recognized after the council of Nice, A.D. 325. So Cyril of Jerusalem, A.D. 349; Gregory Naz., A.D. 389; and the councils of Hippo (A.D. 393) and Carthage (A.D. 397). So the oldest extant manuscripts eight of the 13 verses in 2 John 1 are in 1 John. A forger would never call John "the elder." Their brevity and the private nature of their contents caused the two epistles to be less read in church assemblies, and less quoted; hence their non-universal recognition at first. Their private nature confirms their genuineness, for there seems no purpose in their forgery. The style and coloring accord with those of 1 John. Persons addressed. 3 John 1 is directed to see GAIUS orCAIUS, probably of Corinth, a "host of the church." See Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14. Mill believes Gains, bishop of Pergamos (Apost. Const. vii. 40), a convert of John, and a man of wealth (3 John 1:4,5), is meant.
        2 John 1 is addressed to the elect lady, and closes with "the children of thy elect sister greet thee." Now 1 Peter 1:1,2, addresses the elect in Asia, and closes (1 Peter 5:13) "the Church at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you." "Lady" (kuria ) in Greek is the root of church (kuriakee , belonging to the Lord). So John writes to the elect church in Babylon where his old associate Peter ministered, as Peter thence had sent salutations of the elect church in the then Parthian (see Clement Alex. quoted above) Babylon to her elect sister in Asia where John presided (Wordsworth). Date and place. Eusebius (H. E. iii. 25) relates that John, after Domitian's death, returned from Patmos to Ephesus, and went on missionary tours into the pagan regions around, and visited the churches, ordaining bishops aspect. His Lord's contrasted phrases in the Gospel John adopts in his epistles, "flesh," "spirit," "light," "darkness," "life,""death," "abide in Him"; "fellowship with the Father and Son, and with one another" is a phrase not in the Gospel, but in Acts and Paul's epistles. It marks enjoyment experimentally of Christian verities as living realities, not abstract dogmas. Burning zeal, all absorbing love, appear in John combined with contemplative repose. Simple, withal profound, his writing is unrhetorical and undialectic, gentle, comforting, loving, the reflex of Jesus his Lord whose beloved disciple he was. Ewald speaks of its "unruffled heavenly repose ... the tone not so much of a father talking with beloved children as of a glorified saint from a higher world."Place in building up the church. Peter founded, Paul propagated, John completed it. The Old Testament puts prominent the fear of God; John, the last New Testament writer, the love of God. Yet as Old Testament also sets forth love, so John as a Boanerges also sets forth the terror of the Lord against unbelievers. Three leading developments of Christ. tan doctrine are: the Pauline, the Jacobean (between which the Petrine is the intermediate link), and the Johannean. James, whose molding was in Judaism, presents as a rule of life the law, under the gospel, established in its spirit, the letter only being superseded. John had not, like the apostle of the Gentiles, been brought to faith and peace through conflict, but through a quiet development from the personal view of Christ, and from communion with Him. So in John everything turns on the contrast: life in fellowship with Christ, death in separation from Him; life, light, truth, opposed to death, darkness, lie. Jamesand Peter represent the gradual transition from spiritualized Judaism to independent Christianity; Paul, independent Christianity contrasted with Judaism. John by the contemplative element reconciles the two, and forms the closing point in the training of the apostolic church (Neander). S ECOND A ND T HIRD E PISTLES . Authenticity. The similar tone, style, and sentiments prove both to be by the same writer. Irenaeus (adv. Haer, i. 16, section 3) quotes 2 John 1:10,11, and 2 John 1:7 in iii. 16, section 8, as John's writing. Clement Alex. (Strom. ii. 66), A.D. 192, speaks of John's larger epistle, and in Adumbr. p. 1011, "John's second epistle to the Parthians (so it ought to be read for parthenous ; see Augustine quoted, J OHN ' S F IRST E PISTLE ) is the simplest; it was to a Babylonian, the elect lady." Dionysius of Alexandria (Eusebius , H. E. vii. 25) says "John never names himself in his epistles, not even in the second and third, though his returning faith was rewarded with returning speech, of which his first use was to pour forth a thanksgiving hymn, in which he makes it his son's chief honour that he should be "prophet of the Highest, going before the Lord's face to prepare His ways" as His harbinger. John had the special honour of being the subject off prophecy ages before, and of being associated in close juxtaposition with Messiah Himself. John "waxed strong in spirit and was in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel" (Luke 1:80). Meanwhile God's interposition in the wonders of his birth caused "all the people to be in expectation, musing in their hearts whether he were the Christ" (Luke 3:15). The thinly-populated region adjoining the hill country of Judea was his haunt; there communion alone with God prepared him for his work. At 30, when "the word of God came to" him (Luke 3:2), he went forth, his very appearance a sign of the unworldliness and legal repentance. which he preached; his raiment a camel's hair garment secured with leather girdle (2 Kings 1:8) as Elijah's; his food that supplied by the desert, locusts (Leviticus 11:22) and wild honey (Psalm 81:16). All classes, Pharisees, Sadducees, the people, publicans, and soldiers, flocked to him from every quarter, Jerusalem, Judea, and the, region round Jordan (Matthew 3:5; Luke 3). The leading sects he denounced as a "generation of vipers" (compare Genesis 3:15, the serpent's "seed"), warning them that descent from Abraham would not avail with out doing Abraham's works (compare John 8:39), and telling all practically and discriminatinglythat the repentance needed required a renunciation of their several besetting sins; and that whereas, on their confession, he baptized with water (see BAPTISM ), the Mightier One would come baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11,12). When the ecclesiastical authorities sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask, Who art thou? John replied, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord" (John 1:19-23). The natural wilderness symbolized the moral (Isaiah 32:15), wherein was no highway for the Lord and for righteousness. The hills of pride and the valleys of degradation must be brought to the one holy level before the Lord (Isaiah 40). John was the forerunner of the reigning Messiah (Matthew 3:2; Malachi 3:1), but through the nation's rejection of Him that reign was deferred (compare Numbers 14:34 with atthew 23:37-39). John baptized see JESUS (which see, also see BAPTISM ) and though knowing Him before as a man and his kinsman, yet then first knew His divine Messiahship by the Spirit's visible descent (John 1:30-34). John thence forth witnessed to Jesus, desiring to "decrease that He might increase." By his testimony at Bethany (so oldest manuscripts for Bethabara) beyond Jordan, "Behold the Lamb of God," he led two of his disciples to Him, Andrew and John the apostle and evangelist (John 1:35 ff; 3:23-36; 4:1,2; Acts 19:3). Yet John never formally joined Jesus; for he was one of the greatest among the Old Testament prophets, but not strictly in the New Testament kingdom, the least in which, as to spiritual privileges, was greater than he (Luke 7:28). His standing was the last of Old Testament prophets, preparatory to the gospel. He taught fasting and prayers, rather in the spirit and therefore with the forms of, the old dispensation which the new would supersede, its new spirit creating its appropriate new forms (Luke 5:33-38; 11:1). see HEROD ANTIPAS beheaded him in the fortress Machaerus E. of the Dead Sea, to gratify Herodias' spite for John's faithfulness in denouncing her adultery, and in slavish adherence to his reckless oath to give Herodias' daughter Salome, for dancing on his birthday, whatever she might ask. From the prison John had sent two (the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts read Matthew 11:2 "by," dia , for duo , two) disciples to see JESUS to elicit from Himself a profession of His Messiahship, for their confirmation in the faith. Jesus at once confirmed them and comforted John himself (who probably had expected to see Jesus more openly vindicating righteousness, as foretold Malachi 3:2-5;4:1-3), by an appeal to His miracles and preaching, the very credentials promised in Isaiah 35:5, 61:1. Jesus at the same time attested John's unshaken firmness, appealing to His hearers' own knowledge of him (Matthew 11). No reed shaken by the wind, no courtier in soft raiment, was John. But whether it was the ascetical forerunner, or the social Lord Himself, that preached, that generation was dissatisfied, with John because he was too self denying, with Jesus because He would not commend their self-righteous fastings: "we have piped unto you (unto John) and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you (unto Jesus) and ye have not lamented." Of John as of Jesus they said, he hath a devil. John fell just before the third Passover of Christ's ministry; his disciples buried him Self denial, humility, wherewith he disclaimed Messiahship and said he was not worthy to unloose His shoes' latchet, zeal for the Lord's honour, and holy faithfulness at all costs, were his prominent graces. (On the "Elias who shall yet come," see ELIJAH , end). John's ministry extended at its close into Peraea at the S.E. end of the lake of Galilee. When the herald was silenced the Master took up the message (Mark 1:14) in the same quarter. John's labours there so impressed Herod that, "he feared and observed him, and when he heard him did many things, and heard him gladly"; but would not do the one thing needed, give up his adulterous paramour, his brother Philip's wife. Elijah was translated in a chariot of fire; but John died a felon's death, for the forerunner was to be as his Lord. The worthless Ahab reappears in Herod with similar germs of good struggling with evil. Herodias answers to the cruel Jezebel. As Ahab in spite of himself respected Elijah, so Herod John; but in both cases the bad woman counteracted the good. John in prison fell into the same dejection concerning the failure of the Messianic kingdom, because it did not come in outward manifestation, as Elijah under the juniper. In both cases God came in the still small voice, not the earthquake and fire (Matthew 12:15-21).
Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'john the baptist' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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