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The Prophets: John The Baptist

"John the Baptist" was of the Israelite tribe of Levi (John's father was a Levite priest i.e. Luke 1:5; see also No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?). As a matter of religion, John was a Jew (just as the apostle Paul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, was a Jew - see Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?).

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 i.e. death of the old way of life 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):

"6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 6:4 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. 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:3-5 KJV)

John was a prophet whose coming was prophesied by an earlier prophet, Isaiah (i.e. "Esaias" in the King James New Testament):

"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea [see The Jordan River], 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." (Matthew 3:1-3 KJV)

The precise Scripture from Isaiah quoted in the New Testament was Isaiah 40:3-5, which further reveals what John did in his time would yet reach the ultimate fulfillment in the end time when "all flesh shall see it together.":

"40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 40:5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together [see The Gospel of The Kingdom of God]: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." (Isaiah 40:3-5 KJV)

"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come"

The prophet John was born for no other reason than the ministry that he would be given to do (see The Other Miraculous Birth; also Cousins John).

The Holy Scriptures

"1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years." (Luke 1:5-7 KJV)

"1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with The Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:13-17 KJV)

As stated above ("he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias"), John was the "Elijah to come" of that time, as the Messiah himself stated (see The Elijahs).

"11:9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 11:10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 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 11:9-14 KJV)

John's ministry of preparing the way for the coming of the LORD became so well-known that many thought that he was the Messiah. But John made clear why he was there:

"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 [see Baptism Of Fire]" (Luke 3:15-17 KJV)

"3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 3:28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:27-30 KJV)

John understood that his ministry would be over when the Messiah's ministry began (see The Prophet Of Galilee). That happened when John was imprisoned and beheaded by Herod Antipas (see The Herods), just as Jesus of Nazareth began to preach (see John's Last Days).

"14:3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. 14:4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 14:5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

14:6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. 14:7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. 14:8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. 14:9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. 14:10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 14:11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. 14:12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus." (Matthew 14:3-12 KJV)

Fact Finder: How long did John's ministry of preparing the way for the Messiah last?
See How Long Was John's Ministry?

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