JOHN THE BAPTIZER
(The Greek word, baptistes, means one who baptizes; thus, the BAPTIZER.)
Old Testament prophecies of John: Isaiah 40:1-3; Mal. 3:1
A. Isaiah 40:1-3
1. The voice (qol): the emphasis here is not on the person but on the
2. of one proclaiming: qAra as a qal active participle. Again, this is
the focus of his ministry.
It is not even on the character of the messenger, other than he is
characterized by his
3. in the wilderness: The PHYSICAL location of the messenger carries an
message. It speaks of the spiritual depravity of the nation of Israel.
This is determined by the next sentence. “Make smooth IN THE DESERT, a
our God.” It is NOT that a pathway is needed IN THE DESERT. The idea
here is that the
spiritual condition of the nation and the people is a DESERT – a place
devoid of spiritual
4. Clear the way: the verb is pAnAh. It means to clean away any obstacles
It is a piel imperative as an appeal to the souls of the populace.
5. for the LORD: YAweh is the personal name of God. It refers here to God’s
arrival and His
claim upon the lives of the people of Israel. The people need to
PREPARE for the arrival of
God who will lay claim to their lives and authority over the nation of
The arrival of Yahweh refers to the Messianic promise that God would
send a Savior.
seed of the woman: Gen. 3:15; fulfilled @ Gal. 4:4
B. Seed of Abraham: Gen. 12:7;
13:15; fulfilled @ Gal.
C. From Israel: Numbers 24:17 fulfilled @ Mat. 1:1-17
D. From Judah: Gen. 49:10 fulfilled @ Mat. 1:1-3
E. From David: Isaiah 11:1, 10 fulfilled @ Luke 1:31-33
F. Virgin birth: Isaiah 7:14 (600 years before) fulfilled @ Mat.
G. Born in
Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 (600 years before) fulfilled @ Luke 2:4-7
H. Isaiah 52:13-53:12
I. Isaiah 61:1-2a: fulfilled @ Luke 4:16-21; John 1:32-34
6. This is a prophecy for the arrival of John the Baptizer.
It is quoted at Matthew 3:1-4 as referring to
this “clearing the way” by announcing that the
of God is at
hand and that the Messiah has arrived. Matthew 3:11-12; John 1:29-30;
The command itself is quoted at Mat. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6; John
Verse 4: The issue of creating volitional neutrality
“Let every valley be lifted up
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley.”
These images speak of a SPIRITUAL leveling maneuver. All distractions and
encumbrances must be removed so that the issues of Messiah’s person and
be heard and faced.
This was accomplished in John’s ministry by the intensity of his message.
language that was designed to SHOCK the soul into listening to the message.
It did not
automatically PRODUCE positive response, but it ALLOWED the
self-consciousness of the
soul to initially face the issues without distraction. Matthew 3:7-10;
Luke 3:7-9, 18
Verse 5: The revelation of God’s salvation glory
“And the glory of Yahweh will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”
The GLORY of Yahweh here refers to the salvation provision made available
Messiah’s arrival on the earth, and subsequent sin sacrifice on the cross.
This is confirmed by the quote at Luke 3:6, “And all flesh shall see the
salvation of God.”
This is also consistent with the Greek of the Septuagint translation at
The word, glory, refers to some aspect of God’s CHARACTER. In this case, it
revelation of God’s love and mercy that provides the savior (John
3:16; Romans 5:8;
The idea of
“together” communicates the universality of God’s salvation provision.
It does not mean, “at the same time.” Since the focus by the Holy Spirit in
the ministry of
John, quoting the LXX, is salvation provision at the first coming, we
should not look
beyond that focus here at the source.
This is not the
same as the PHYSICAL revelation of His glory at the second coming.
Revelation 1:7; Isaiah 52:10;
as the context continues in Isaiah at verses 9-11, the focus changes to the
second coming. Accordingly, as is the normal style, there
could be BOTH advents in view
at verse 5. Quite often the message of the prophet would use a
“first-coming” factor as
a launching pad for a “second-coming” factor.
Verse 6-8: THE
JUDGMENT OF GOD ON HUMANITY
says, ‘call out.’ Then he answered, ‘What shall I call out?’”
messenger responds in true humility to the authority of the divine
messenger. The following indictment on humanity is quoted by Peter at
2. All flesh is grass: This compares humanity to the fragile nature of
stem) in order to communicate the CERTAINTY of divine judgment at the
coming of Messiah.
3. and all its
loveliness: This refers to the general character of humanity; mans attitudes
and works. At 1Peter
1:24, the word glory (doxa)
is used to describe that which is
produced by humanity by way of human goodness and works.
4. is like the flower of the field: the analogy shows the frailty and
inadequacy of human
works in man’s attempt to relate to God.
Isaiah 41:24, “Behold, you are of no account, and your work amounts to
Isaiah 64:6, “All our righteous deeds are like an unclean garment.”
Isaiah 57:12, “I will proclaim your righteousness and your deeds, but
they will not
1. The grass withers, the flower fades: Both stem and flower are temporary
in the realm
of nature. But this analogy is used to show the inadequacy of human
works and the
fact that all attempts of man to relate to God on human terms will
2. because the breath of Yahweh blows upon it: The conjunction is kiy,
BECAUSE. It is the judgment of God that demonstrate all the works of man
inadequate and will destroy those works and unbelieving humanity as well
3. Surely the people
are grass: repeated for emphasis. This is designed to get the
people’s attention so that they will focus on the truth of God’s
character and plan.
4. Thus at verse 8, the analogy-indictment is repeated with a DIRECT
reference to the
only solution available to man for salvation from sin and
the word of God.
Verse 8: The only solution is the word of God
1. The grass withers; the flower fades:
2. But the word of our God: specifically the message that indicts human
righteousness as inadequate, and the Messianic promise as the only
3. stands forever: the verb is qūm as a qal imperfect to state a fact as
true and absolute.
4. forever is – le olAm. It means, PERPETUALLY. The nature of the
perpetuity depends on
the context. In this case, of course, it refers to ETERNITY.
5. Thus the message of salvation is constant and unchanging from generation
generation. It is always to believe in the person and work of the
B. Malachi 3:1a
“Behold, I am going to send my messenger before Me,
and he will clear the way before Me.”
This is quoted at Mark
1:2 as being fulfilled by John the Baptizer.
And Jesus Himself applied it to John at Matthew
Malachi 3:1b-3 refers to the second coming of the Messiah, when He comes in
“But who can endure the
day of His coming?”
And who can stand when He appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and a washer’s soap.”
C. Malachi 4:5-6
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of
the great and
terrible day of the Lord. And he will return the hearts of the fathers to
and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the
land with a
curse of destruction.”
This amplifies the prophecy of the first-coming messenger already
Malachi at verse 3:1a.
It also looks to the second-coming messenger, who will be a resuscitated
The two messengers have a similar mission and John actually comes in the
power of Elijah.”
Luke 1:16-17, “And he
will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.
And it is he who will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to
turn the hearts
of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude
of the righteous,
so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
“Elijah is coming and will restore all things. But I say to you, that
Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him
wished. Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John
“And if you care to accept it, he himself is Elijah who is to come.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And of course,
Elijah is still to come in the END-TIMES prior to the arrival of
the Day of the Lord.
See Topic: The Two Witnesses
2. THE BIRTH OF JOHN
Luke 1:5-25, 57-79
3. THE GROWTH AND
CHARACTER OF JOHN
A. Luke 1:80, “And the child continued to grow and to become strong in
B. Matthew 11:11a, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there
arisen anyone greater than john the Baptizer.”
This refers to both his CHARACTER and his
C. “Yet he who is less in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
This is a
John’s ministry was local and specific, although of utmost importance.
Thus, to date, there has been no one greater than John.
But after John, ANYONE who becomes a citizen of the
will be part of
the new evangelistic agency. As such, at least from a ministry
they will have a greater impact in the angelic conflict.
It is through the church that the fullness of God’s grace, love and
demonstrated through the fulfillment of His plan of salvation.
It is the church
as the new evangelistic body (1 Peter 2:9-10) that now has the mission
of communicating the Messianic promise to the world.
It is through the
church that the wisdom of God will be more completely revealed to
the angels (Eph. 3:10-11).
It is through the church that God will complete his plan for Israel in
1 Cor. 10:11, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and
written for our instruction upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
However, from a
RELATIONSHIP perspective, there is total equality in the kingdom
of heaven. Jesus could be using hyperbole to teach this principle of
EQUALITY in God’s
kingdom. Matthew 19:30, “But many who are first will be last; and the
Matthew 20:16, “Thus, the last shall be first, and the first last.”
4. THE MINISTRY OF JOHN
A. Luke 3:1 tells
us that it began in the 15th year of Tiberius. This is the year 26
See Topic: TIBERIUS: year 15
B. Herod was the Tetrarch of Galilee. From 4 BC to 39 AD
Herod Antipas the son of Herod the Great.
C. Both Caiphas and Annas were functioning as the high priest.
1. Annas was not actually the high priest.
2. He was appointed by the governor of Syria in 7 AD and was deposed in
3. Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas, and was the actual high priest
at this time.
He held the office from 18 AD until 36 AD.
4. Annas retained great power and authority over the people even though
he was not the
actual high priest. He still held the primary religious control over
the religious system.
D. He started his ministry around the area of the Jordan river. Luke 3:3
It was probably in the fall months of 26 AD. Tiberius would measure
his reign from the 19th
of August. Any earlier than the month of
August, would be counted as the end of year 14.
E. He taught a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:4
1. It is not the baptism that is FOR forgiveness.
2. The baptism is an overt testimonial to the fact of repentance – a
change of mind about
one’s belief system and the acceptance of faith in Christ as the
means of salvation.
3. The baptism is BECAUSE of repentance and the resultant forgiveness.
4. Mark 1:4, “a baptism of repentance because of the forgiveness of
The preposition “because of” is EIS. Sometimes it can be translated
“unto” or “for or
“upon – based on.”
This depends on context. The rest of scripture makes it clear that
forgiveness of sins comes
BECAUSE OF, repentance and faith (Mark 1:15).
5. Acts 10:43, “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His
name everyone who
believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
6. At Matthew 3:11, “I baptize you in water because of repentance.”
Here we have the same use of the preposition EIS.
7. Also at Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized . .
. because of the
forgiveness of your sins.”
8. See Topic: BAPTISM
SUMMARY OF JOHN’S MINISTRY
A. John’s ministry ws a call to return to the true Messianic expectations of
Luke 1:16-27, A return of fathers to children and children to fathers.
1. This of course is simply the message of the eternal gospel of Rev.
14:6; Luke 3:18.
2. Salvation reality is the forgiveness of sins provided by faith in
the person and work
of Jesus Christ. Luke 1:77-79
3. Therefore, the central issue of John’s message was to trust in the
4. Accordingly, his message was a proclamation of Messiah’s –
a. Arrival: Mat.
b. His Person: John 1:6-8, 34
c. His work: John 1:29, 35-36
B. His ministry exposed and rejected the false religious system and activity
of the leaders
and the citizenry.
1. He used as his platform the office of a prophet rather than his
inherited priestly office of a
Levite. Luke 1:5; Mat. 3:1-4 cf. Luke 1:17a
2. This served as a sign that the temple services had become totally
corrupted, which was
also proclaimed by Jesus. Matthew 21:12-13
3. The message of Isaiah indicates that the nation was on the wrong
road. Mark 1:2-3
4. John exposed their self-righteousness and the falsehood of their
Matthew 3:7-9; Luke 3:7-8
5. The demand for fruits of repentance indicated a major failure in the
overt love standards
of Leviticus 19:9-18. Luke 3:8-14
C. He also exposed the moral violations of the political leadership as a
failure in national
responsibility. This resulted in his imprisonment and subsequent
beheading by those
political leaders. Luke 3:19-20; Mat. 14:3-12
D. So John called for repentance. Matthew 3:2
Repentance involves a change of mind about one’s current belief system
1. Recognition of one’s NEED for salvation: sinfulness, Matthew 3:6
2. Recognition of God’s salvation provision: Mark 1:4
3. Total rejection of one’s current belief system.
Matthew 3:8, “bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.”
4. Total faith and trust in the RIGHT belief system. Acts 19:4 with Mark
E. The issue of baptism:
1. Baptism indicated a person’s positive response to the gospel.
2. It was a symbol of a change of mind and a change of status.
Rejection of religion and
acceptance of Messianic reality.
3. It indicated acceptance and identification with a new worship system
under the leadership
of the Messiah. Matthew 3:2, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at
a. John’s baptism was a symbol of identification with Messiah’s
b. Jesus’ baptism was the same. John 4:1-2
c. The believer’s water baptism after Christ’s resurrection was a
symbol of union with
Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
d. Repentance is a mental attitude and baptism was the symbol of that
e. But John called for the OVERT expression of good works, to
demonstrate that the
change of mind was genuine. Mat. 3:7-9; Luke 3:7
f. If they changed their minds about Messianic truth, then they must
reject all Messianic
error. This does not involve total CHARACTER change, for that
comes only through
growth. But it does require immediate overt rejection and
separation from one’s current
F. At one point during John’s imprisonment, he lost his focus on Messianic
questioned whether Jesus was indeed the promised Savior. Matthew
We are told nothing more of this, but I believe the answer that Jesus
gave to John relieved
his doubts, and he died in total trust that Jesus was indeed the