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"John the Baptist" is one of the most well-known people of Bible History (keeping in mind that "John" is an English name; his actual name in Hebrew was pronounced yo-khaw-nawn - and that although the New Testament was written in Greek, most of the actual words spoken by the people recorded in it were in Hebrew). But what was he really? Most surely, he baptized people, as part of his prophesied ministry, but he wasn't a "Baptist" in the modern-day idea of that term - when John lived, the Church of Rome didn't yet exist, nor did the "Baptist" church that was formed from the Church of Rome after the "Protestant Reformation" centuries later (and John most-surely would have had nothing to do with the antichrist doctrines of either one of them).
John was a Levite (see Levites; also No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?), the son of a Levite who served in the Temple at Jerusalem (the primary reason that, while Jesus and John were only a few months apart in age, John's parents did not have to hide the not born in Bethlehem John to escape the slaughter of Bethlehem children that was ordered by Herod i.e. he "slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof" Matthew 2:16 KJV; see The Herods).
John did not merely decide to be a "preacher." The instructions were given to John's father Zacharias (also rendered into English as Zechariah) before John was born. John's father raised his son to be a teacher, just like his father, as the LORD commanded him to prepare his son to do.
"1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 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 1:11-17 KJV)
"And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him"
When his son was born to his wife Elizabeth, Zacharias obeyed the LORD (see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM') and named him John, thereby beginning the preparation of the one who would be given to prepare the way for the coming of The Messiah.
"1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 1:58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
Zacharias, from then filled with the Holy Spirit (John was filled with the Holy Spirit right from conception i.e. "he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb," quoted above), prophesied the mission of his son, for which Zacharias was given to prepare him.
"1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
While many regard John as a "man of the wilderness," as though he were always there, John's father was not a man of the wild country; he was a Levite who raised his son in his own home. An infant cannot survive on his own in the wilderness, nor can a boy - only a grown man who has left the home of his parents can do that. And that is what the Scriptures say that John did: "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit," and when he was able to look after himself, he was "in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel."
"1:80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel." (John 1:80 KJV)
The term "Rabbi" means teacher. John, when his ministry began, had "disciples" (which merely means students), which made John a Rabbi to them. It was "John the Rabbi" that baptized people in the Jordan River, in preparation for the coming of the Christ (see The Prophets: John The Baptist).
"3:25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 3:26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
Fact Finder: (a) Was Jesus Christ also frequently and routinely called "Rabbi" by His disciples (i.e. students)? (b) While He was a "Rabbi" (i.e. a teacher), why wasn't Jesus a Levite?