Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
Bible History

Schaff's Bible Dictionary

Definitions in Biblical History

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z   

Who is John the Baptist?
        more properly "the Baptizer." Matt 3:1. The son of a priestly family on both sides, his father, Zacharias, being a priest of the course of Abiah, and his mother, Elisabeth, being of the daughters of Aaron, the prophet and forerunner of our Saviour, and the Elias of the N.T. His parents were old when they received the promise of his birth. Luke 1:18. See Zechariah. He was born about six months before Christ. His birth and work were predicted by the angel Gabriel, Luke 1:5-15, and by Isaiah, Isa 40:3, and Malachi. Mal 4:5. He grew up in solitude, and when about 30 years of age began to preach in the wilderness of Judaea, and to call men to repentance and reformation. By divine direction he baptized with the baptism of repentance all who came unto him confessing their sins, Luke 3:8; and many supposed he might be "the Christ." John 1:19-28. His manner of life was solitary, and even austere; for he seems to have shunned the habitations of men and to have subsisted on locusts and wild honey, while his dress was made of the coarse hair of camels, and a leathern girdle was about his loins. John, moreover, announced to the Jews the near approach of the Messiah's kingdom, called the "kingdom of heaven." Matt 3:2. Multitudes flocked to hear him, and to be baptized of him, from every part of the land; and among the rest came Jesus of Nazareth, and applied for baptism John at first hesitated on account of the dignity of the person and his own un worthiness; but when Jesus told him that it was necessary, John acquiesced; heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended on Jesus in the likeness of a dove, and a voice was heard from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matt 3:17. By this, John knew most certainly that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, and afterward pointed him out to his own disciples and announced to the people that he was then among them. John 1:26-36. John was a man of profound humility; and although he foresaw that his fame would be eclipsed by the coming of Christ, as the brightness of the morning star is dimmed by the rising of the sun, yet he rejoiced sincerely in the event, saying, "He must increase, but I must decrease." The testimony of John to the divine nature and offices of the Redeemer is full and distinct. John 1:29; John 3:28-32. The message he sent by his disciples while he was in prison was for their sakes rather than his own, although it is not impossible that his own faith was temporarily clouded by the gloom of the prison. Matt 11:1-6. The preaching of John was awakening and alarming, and produced a deep impression on the minds of his hearers, but with most it was but temporary. They rejoiced in his light only for a season. Among the hearers of John was Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee. This wicked prince not only heard him, but heard him with delight, and reformed his conduct in many points in consequence of his solemn warnings, Mark 6:20; but there was one sin which he would not relinquish. He had put away his own wife, and had married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, who was still living. For this iniquity John faithfully reproved the tetrarch, by which he was so much offended that he would have killed the preacher had he not feared an insurrection of the people, for all men held John to be a prophet. Matt 14:5. He went so far, however, as to shut him up in prison. The resentment of Herodias was still stronger and more implacable toward the man who had dared to reprove her sin. She therefore watched for some opportunity to wreak her vengeance on this prophet of the Lord. On Herod's birthday, when all the principal men of the country were feasting with him, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced so gracefully before the company that Herod was charmed beyond measure, and declared with an oath that he would give her whatever she asked, even to the half of his kingdom. She immediately asked the advice of her mother, who told her to request the head of John the Baptist. Herod, whose resentment against him seems to have subsided, was exceedingly sorry, but out of regard to his oath, as he said, and respect for his company, he caused John to be beheaded. His head was brought on a platter and presented to the young dancer, who immediately gave it to her mother. Thus terminated the life of him who, of all the prophets of old, came nearest to Christ, and was in this sense the greatest born among women, yet less than "least in the kingdom" of Christ. Matt 11:11. He was the promised Elijah - i.e. gifted with his power and spirit. He summed up the whole meaning of the Jewish dispensation, the Law, and the prophecy in its direct termination in Christ, who came to fulfil the Law and the promise. Josephus, the Jewish historian, says of John, he "was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue both as to righteousness toward one another, and piety toward God, and so to come to baptism." He also speaks of his "great influence over the people, who seemed ready to do anything he should advise." Josephus also confirms the gospel account of the murder of John. Antiq., xviii. 5^2.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'john the baptist' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

Copyright Information
© Schaff's Bible Dictionary

Schaff's Bible Dictionary Home
Bible History Online Home


Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE)
Online Bible (KJV)
Naves Topical Bible
Smith's Bible Dictionary
Easton's Bible Dictionary
Schaff's Bible Dictionary
Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Matthew Henry Bible Commentary
Hitchcock's Bible Dictionary