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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.
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"
"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)
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)
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.
Fact Finder: How long did John's ministry of preparing the way for the Messiah last?