National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series

John the Baptist, also known as John the Baptizer, is a significant figure in the New Testament of the Bible. He is considered a prophet and a forerunner to Jesus Christ, preparing the way for His ministry. The primary accounts of John’s life and ministry are found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Here is a biography of John the Baptist with scriptural citations:

Birth and Lineage:

John the Baptist was born to Zechariah, a priest of the division of Abijah, and his wife Elizabeth, who was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Their story is recounted in the Gospel of Luke.

Luke 1:5-7: “In the time of Herod king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”

Announcement of John’s Birth:

The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah while he was serving in the temple, foretelling the birth of John and his mission.

– Luke 1:13-17: “But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.'”

Ministry and Preaching:

John began his ministry of baptism and repentance in the wilderness of Judea, calling people to turn away from their sins and prepare for the coming of the Messiah.

Matthew 3:1-3: “In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”

Baptism of Jesus:

John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, and during this event, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, and God the Father proclaimed His approval.

– Matthew 3:13-17: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment, heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.'”

Confrontation with Herod:

John fearlessly confronted King Herod Antipas for his immoral relationship with Herodias, his brother’s wife, which led to his imprisonment.

Mark 6:17-18: “For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married.”

Death and Martyrdom:

John’s ministry eventually led to his martyrdom. Herodias, who held a grudge against John, orchestrated his execution through the daughter of Herodias, who danced before Herod and pleased him.

– Mark 6:27-28: “So, Herod sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.”

John the Baptist’s life and ministry were vital in preparing the hearts of the people for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. His message of repentance and baptism had a profound impact on many, and he continues to be revered as a significant figure in Christianity.