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Was John A Baptist?
by Wayne Blank
References in the Scriptures to John as the "baptist" are based on the translation of the original Greek word of the New Testament, pronounced bap-tis-tace, which means a baptizer. Further, the Greek word from which the English word baptize originated, pronounced bap-tid-zo, means to completely immerse. The reason for that total immersion in water is because of what the Holy Scriptures say baptism ultimately symbolizes - death (i.e. death of the old self by means of repentance - people who are not repentant refuse and even mock baptism), burial (by "burial" in the water just as the dead are buried in the earth) and resurrection (the coming up out of the water just as the dead will one day come up out of the earth):
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4 KJV)
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance"
John didn't merely recognize the Messiah when He came; John himself fulfilled a prophesied role as the "Elijah to come" for Christ's first coming (see The Elijahs). John's purpose was to proclaim that the Messiah's sacrifice would only benefit the repentant i.e. "were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins ... Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (see below). Otherwise "every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" and "He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (see below).
John's ministry existed to prepare the way for the Messiah. When the Messiah came, John's work was done (see John's Last Days).
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea [see Judea, also Who Should Flee Into The Mountains?], And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight."
Jesus Christ plainly identified John as the "Elijah to come" ("Elias" in the King James) of that time:
"And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."