Who was John the Baptist?

The Bible tells us about a few different men named John. John, the apostle, authored five inspired books of the New Testament, described himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20), and had a brother named James. Jesus revealed that Peter’s father was also named John (John 21:15), and after the arrest of Peter and John, we read of another John who was an associate of the High Priest (Acts 4:6). While several men shared this name during the 1st century, there is only one who was known as John the Baptist.

John the Baptist had a God-given role. God chose him to be the forerunner of Christ. Even before his birth, the angel Gabriel spoke to John’s father, Zacharias, and said, “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

John the Baptist boldly preached the gospel. Just before Jesus’ ministry began, John taught the people about “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). He then commanded the crowds to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). Later in the chapter we read, “with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people” (Luke 3:18).

John the Baptist died a tragic physical death. Eventually, John fulfilled his role as Jesus’ earthly ministry grew. In Mark 6, we read that while imprisoned, King Herod executed John and had his head presented on a platter.

His role was unique, his life was faithful, and his death was tragic. While his name was common, John the Baptist was unlike any other.

Matt Langfield