John the Baptist

Audience: Adult Youth Format: Web

John is sometimes called the last “Old Testament prophet” because of the warnings he brought about God's judgment and because he announced the coming of God's “Chosen One” (Messiah). Luke reports that John was born to an old couple named Elizabeth and Zechariah, who had learned from the angel Gabriel that God was going to give them a son. This son would have special work to do in preparing the way for God's Messiah (see Luke 1.13-17, 57-66). In the Gospels, John is described as a prophet who preached in the desert and warned people that they should get ready for the new thing God was going to do (Matt 3.1-12; Mark 1.4-8; Luke 3.1-20). John wore clothes made of camel hair (see 2 Kgs 1.8), and he ate grasshoppers and wild honey (see Lev 11.20-23). He told the people of Israel that they could not count on being accepted by God simply because they were descendants of Abraham. They had to realize how they were disobeying God and how they could get ready to accept the new powerful messenger God was going to send to live among them (Luke 3.16).

John baptized people who were sorry for their sins and many people thought he was the Messiah (Luke 3.15). But John told everyone that the Messiah would be more powerful than he was (Matt 3.11,12; Luke 3.16,17). Jesus compared John with Elijah, the prophet who many believed would come back before God judged the world (Matt 11.14), and he said that John's work was to prepare people for the coming of God's kingdom (Matt 11.10; Luke 7.27). Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great and brother of Archelaus (see Matt 2.19-22), ordered that John the Baptist be killed (see Matt 14.1-12; Mark 6.14-29).

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for nearly 200 years.

Help us share God's Word where needed most.

Give Now

Sign up to receive regular email updates from the Bible Resource Center.

Related Resources