Thursday, January 2, 2014

John 1:19-28: Who is John the Baptist?

This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Who is John the Baptist? It is clear from the Gospel of John that there was some confusion as to who he was. Some thought he was a prophet, others claimed he was Elijah, and most importantly some thought he was the Messiah himself. To better understand this problem read Matthew and Luke's account. John's introduction is a clarification as to who he is. It is also clear that John has a title, 'the Baptist'. This is because if it was simply a description of what he did, he would be called John the baptizer. It is clear from the text John's role is to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

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