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There were two men named "John" who provided testimony of the coming of the Christ, both of whom were cousins of Jesus of Nazareth, through His mother Mary: the apostle John (see Aunt Mary), who wrote the Gospel book of John and the Book of Revelation, and John the Baptist (Jesus' mother Mary and John the Baptist's mother Elizabeth were related i.e. "thy cousin Elizabeth" Luke 1:36 KJV), who was The Elijah To Come before the Messiah "11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 11:14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come" (Matthew 11:13-14 KJV).
"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3:3 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. 3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 3:6 And were baptized [see also The Origin of Baptism] of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." (Matthew 3:1-6 KJV)
"John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"
It was from John the Baptist that the widely-misunderstood "baptism of fire" term originated. It was a warning to repent - or burn (see Baptism Of Fire).
"3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of Vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
John the Baptist had a very popular ministry at the time when Jesus was almost unknown. Some even thought that John may have been the long-awaited Messiah. But John explained plainly that he was merely to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah; Jesus' ministry began when John's ministry ended (see John's Last Days).
"3:15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were The Christ, or not; 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 3:18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were independent witnesses; each saw for himself, and each wrote for himself. The four Gospel books are not merely four copies of the same thing. Very often one will provide details to a specific event that the others may not have recorded. A good example of that is the apostle John's account, below, of the same incident recorded in the verses above by Luke. John gives finer detail as to what was said between John the Baptist and those who questioned him about who he was and Who it was that he was serving.
"1:19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 1:20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
John the Baptist was given to know, and to preach, just enough to fulfill what he was given to do. It was a common trait of Prophets from the earliest times.
"1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world [see Why Blood?]. 1:30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 1:31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
Fact Finder: John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth were born a few months apart. Jesus was born of a virgin. Was there anything miraculous about John's birth?