Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 8, 1955
NUMBER 18, PAGE 6,9c

A Study Of John The Baptist

C. D. Plum, Columbus, Ohio

Some people imagine that when we read in the scriptures of John the Baptist that John was a member of a church by the name of Baptist. Of course, all Bible students know that this is not true, not one word of it is true. In fact, such a statement is not a forty-second cousin to the truth. There isn't a man living that can take the Bible and show us a church therein by the name of Baptist. (This may also be applied to all human churches. Their names are simply not found in the word of God.) John the Baptist simply means John, the baptizer, for such was his work. He baptized people, hence his name, John the baptist. Of this same John it is written: "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in the Jordan, confessing their sins." (Matt. 3:5-6.)

Of John The Baptist It May Be Said

1. He was the son of promise. "But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shall call his name John." (Luke 1:13.) It will be observed that the Lord gave this name to John. The Lord named this man before he was born. His mother, Elizabeth, knew the Lord wanted him to be called by the name of John, but the people then, even as now, wanted a different name. But when Zacharias wrote: "His name is John," his tongue was loosed, and he praised God, and the people marveled. (Luke 1:63:64.) Jesus, according to earthly ties, was also named by God before he was born of the virgin Mary. (Matt. 1:21.)

2. God selected a righteous father and mother for John the Baptist. Of John's parents it is written: "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." (Luke 1:6.) If God had his way about it, the only kind of parents that would bring children into this world would be righteous ones. It is a shame that parents bring innocent children into this world and fail to set a Christian example before them. God does not want such a condition to exist. He has shown He does not in the selection of John's parents. Also he has shown it regarding Jesus, His own Son. God selected for the mother of Jesus a godly, pure virgin. It shows plainly God's mind concerning what He wants parents to be. Timothy's mother and grandmother were godly souls. (II Tim. 1:5.) Listen, dear readers, it helps the children when the parents are straight before marriage, and after marriage. Remember the scripture says, "As is the mother, so is her daughter." But we would not with this or other scriptures, try to minimize the power of training. The proper teaching and training of children may overcome the laxity in parents, but it is better where the children are trained both by teaching and example of the parents."

3. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. John was the advertising agent for Jesus. Says the word of God of John and Jesus: "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way." (Mark 1:2.) John was the messenger.

4. John was more than a prophet. "For John said unto him (Herod), it is not lawful for thee to have her (his brother Philip's wife), and when he (Herod) would have put him to death (for condemning his sin), he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet." (Matt. 14:3-5.) What a prophet John was! What a teacher! He wasn't afraid to rebuke a king to his face for his sin. He didn't fear the wrath of a woman whose pride had been hurt. Here was sin, rank meant nothing. Sin is just as black when in high places as in low places, and John knew it, and he knew his duty was to rebuke sin. He didn't take time to consider how such a rebuke might affect his prestige. He didn't even think of the bodily injury it might bring to him, or if he did, he never at one time faltered. The rebuke of this sin cost John his life, but what an example to preachers today to cry aloud and spare not.

But John was more than a prophet. Jesus said he was, and Jesus not only ought to know, but he does know. "He knows what is in man." (John 2:25.) But let us examine the statement. "But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and MORE THAN A PROPHET." And as further explanation of what he meant, Jesus said, "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matt. 11:11.)

I once heard a sectarian Sunday School teacher comment on the above scripture like this. "Here is a contradiction, surely. If John was the greatest born of woman, he is greater than any in the kingdom, yet Jesus says the least in the kingdom was greater than John. Either it is a contradiction," he said, when pressed, "or else it is a faulty translation." This is about as good as you might expect a sectarian to do. This teacher never seemed to think about accepting the statement as is, as a matter of faith, as we should do with all statements we cannot understand. Neither was he enlightened to the truth that John was never in the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom of heaven is, of course, the church. The reason John the Baptist was not in this kingdom of heaven, the church, is because John was beheaded by Herod, whom he had rebuked for his adultery, before the church was established. The birthday of the church was the day of Pentecost, in A.D. 33, and the birthplace of the church was Jerusalem. Of this we read in Acts, second chapter. John was beheaded in about A.D. 31. This was about two years before the church was established. So, of course John could not be a member of the church. John never knew what membership in the church meant. The least in the kingdom was enjoying greater things than John had ever known. This is what Jesus meant.

5. John the Baptist came by God's authority. The scripture declares: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." (John 1:6.) Whenever God selects and sends a messenger, He gives him a message. John the Baptist is no exception to this rule.

6. For some reason, it pleased God to send John in the spirit and power of Elias. Read and see: "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 lust; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17.) Some contend that John is Elias in person. And they think the scriptures so teach. They seem to think that the Elias of the Mount of Transfiguration, in Matthew 17:1-8, is John the Baptist. But I am not arguing this point, unless it should be that Luke 1:17 is the explanation. If so, John is not the exact person, but does possess the spirit and power of Elias, much the same as did Elisha, yet they were two distinct persons.

7. John was to prepare Christ's way. Of him it is said: and by the way, this is spoken by Zacharias, the father of John: "And thou child, shall be called the prophet of the highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way." (Luke 1:76.) It is further said of John: "To give light to them that sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace." (Luke 1:79.) John guided people to Jesus, and Jesus said of himself: "In me ye might have peace." (John 16:33.)

8. "John made ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17.) John told people to believe on Jesus who was to follow him. (Acts 19:4.) He told people to repent of their sins. (Matt. 3:2.) John baptized people for the remission of sins in much water. (Luke 3:3; John 3:23.) This is the way John made ready a people prepared for the Lord.