John the Baptist

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Yo-hanan ha-matbil, יוחנן המטביל
Religious Figure
Christianity, Baptism, Islam, Bahá'í
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
c. 6–2 BCE
Place of Birth: 
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
c. 36 CE
Descendant Gurus: 


John the Baptist was an wandering preacher and a major religious figure prior to the appearance of Jesus who led a movement of Baptism at the Jordan River in expectation of a divine apocalypse that would restore occupied Israel.

He was an historical figure who lived until the year 36 CE and followed the example of previous Hebrew prophets, living austerely, challenging sinful rulers, calling for repentance, and promising God's justice.

John is regarded as a prophet in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Mandaeism.

John's baptism was a purification rite for repentant sinners, performed in "living water" (in this case a running river) in accord with Jewish custom.

John anticipated a messianic figure who would be greater than himself. Jesus was among those whom John baptized. Jesus may have been a follower of John.

Herod Antipas saw John as a threat and had him executed. Many Christian theologians believe that the ministry of Jesus followed John's, and some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John.

Both John and Jesus reportedly preached at times of great political, social, and religious conflict.


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See in the profile of Jesus (link above) details about the major Christian baptism site on the banks of the Jordan River in Israel.

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

John The Baptist In-Depth, a closer look

by Everett Aaron Edwards


John the Baptist In-depth: A Closer Look is for the reader who desires a greater understanding of God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son, by examining the prophet's role in history-John's unusual birth circumstances, his obedience to God the Father's call as forerunner for Messiah, his life, his ministry and his death. Past prophets foretold the coming of Messiah, but John the Baptist's entire reason for living was to announce His arrival (he was the only prophet to see it happen in his lifetime). As John's main goal was to point Israel to Messiah, the aim of this book is to direct readers to Christ. With thorough use of Old and New Testament passages, it examines the remarkable circumstances surrounding John's birth and helps the reader visualize John's childhood growing up in the comfortable home of a priest with bloodlines to Aaron, Moses' brother. It considers John's wilderness living over the privileges of a priestly home; it follows his short span of ministry and then takes us into prison at the time of John's humiliating death-all engineered by God with a divine purpose in mind. God called Everett Aaron Edwards in the middle of the night from a life of sin. Edwards had no prior understanding of why God would come into his life, yet he was quickly and powerfully changed. This experience led him to study the prophets and other men of the Bible who had similar dramatic callings. Because Jesus said that there was no greater prophet than John the Baptist, Edwards feels John's story needs to be understood better by the Church: "We need to learn from John the Baptist to serve God as he did."

Recommended DVD & Video: 
Cover image

The Gospel of John


An epic in the spirit of The Passion of the Christ, this widely acclaimed motion picture is a meticulous recreation of the turbulent era of Jesus and the events that changed the course of history! Narrated by Golden Globe nominee Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting Actor, American Tragedy, 2000), it’s the bold and powerful story of Jesus as told by his disciple John. The best-loved but least understood of the gospels, John presents a uniquely human portrait of courage and passion encompassing Jesus' entire three-year ministry, the final years of his life. Intimate and reflective, The Gospel of John offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the incomparable life and times of Jesus Christ.