Are Christians "greater" than John the Baptist?

In this thread:

I read a statement by a poster which I thought was (unintentionally on his part) rather offensive to St John the Baptist:

"…in fact, according to Jesus Himself, each and every one of us Christians is greater that St. John the Baptist…"


According to Jesus THOUGH, those who belong to his Kingdom are actually described as being in some way “greater” that St. John the Baptist: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)

This statement has always concerned me a little.

John the Baptist was so important in salvation history, and he is the first martyr for Jesus and the first to proclaim the Gospel.

His role was unique, and none of us could certainly attain to the same honor and station as being the man granted the right to precede and usher in the Coming of Christ and his Ministry.

Can someone please explain this saying to me? John the Baptist is a SAINT, and it concerns me that Christ is inferring that everybody else in heaven is above him as this poster seemed to think, this obviously cannot be the case surely?

It is my understanding that Jesus was not disputing John’s sanctity, life of heroic virtue, importance, high status, unique position and role in the divine plan, which is above all of us and I daresay everyone else except the Virgin Mary, however he is speaking perhaps in terms of “knowledge” of the Gospel. Christians after Jesus have knowledge of the fullness of public revelation, whereas John - like the OT prophets - had not yet been able to receive this “fullness”, although he was the bridge that made its advent possible?

Jesus was speaking of John’s then-present state. At the time Jesus said this, John was still alive (he was beheaded 3 chapters later - in Matthew 14).

John’s ministry was to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom but as yet had not entered it. Now, of course, he is a member of the Church triumphant; therefore, a member of the kingdom. Thus, he is greater now than when he worked his ministry.

[INDENT][INDENT]:bible1: Amen* I*** say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.** - Matthew 11:11**[/INDENT][/INDENT]Our Lord was speaking of those who are born again through baptism into the Body of Christ . . . who are also called “new creations”. John . . .* as were all of mankind at the time *. . . was yet to receive this blessing . . . which instruction was given by Christ to his disciples just before his ascension . . . he is now St. John the Baptist . . . so his holiness and uprightness has been wonderfully honored in the Lord . . .

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . thank You Blessed Lord for so loving us+[/RIGHT]

I think it’s a misreading of Scripture to say that we are all better than John the Baptist.

Indeed, the Church has always (as our Lord did) held John the Baptist in the highest esteem. He is the only other saint besides Mary (and Jesus, of course!) who gets a specific feast day in honor of his birth (6 months before Jesus’). We also celebrate his beheading (which was just a few days ago), in addition to his regular feast day (just after Christmas).

Very few saints are on the universal calendar multiple times. I can only think of Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul, and John the Baptist.

This quote has everything to do with the change between the Old and New Covenant. Though he only appears in the New Testament, John the Baptist is still operating under the Old Covenant in light of the fact that Jesus had yet to undergo His Paschal Mystery.

December 27 is the Feast of John the Apostle and Evangelist, not John the Baptist.

I have been told that we celebrate his birthday because he, like Jesus and Mary, was born without Original Sin. He was conceived with Original Sin, but it was removed by Jesus when Mary greeted Elizabeth at the time of her Visitation. Thus he leapt with joy. I don’t think the Church has an official position on this, but it is a widely held belief.

No, I don’t think it is widely held at all that John the Baptist was born without sin. There’s absolutely nothing to support such an idea.

John the Baptist is held in esteem because he was the forerunner of Christ. Born without sin? That’s unsubstantiated.

:blush: I’d say it was a senior moment, but I’m too young for those. :o Thanks for the correction. :thumbsup:

Nope. We can celebrate his birthday and conception because we know he was 6 months older than Jesus. Therefore we can put a date on it.

This seems fitting to me considering the role John the Baptist fulfilled and the person he was.

As for the question.

When Jesus describes John the Baptist as “born of woman’” He points our minds to the human race as a generation of Adam. Of all those generated from the loins of Adam born of Eve, there is no greater man than John the Baptist. In that respect there still isn’t .

In the context of human origins Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven as a new generation set apart and above the generation “born of woman”. Not so much excluding the other but adding to it.

With rather minimal effort I can supply the birth dates of a few hundred other saints, and with more accuracy than we have for John. While he was born six months before Jesus, there is considerable question as to the date of Jesus’ birth- day, month and year are all questioned.

Amen! :slight_smile:

So when John came into the Kingdom of Heaven after Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, he will actually be now HIGHER than the rest of us :slight_smile: I think I get it.

Pump the brakes there, killer. Its dangerous thinking to put the saints on an unattainable pedestal.

Well I could never attain to the purity and holiness of the Virgin Mother of God :slight_smile:

Nevertheless, I am not saying that we cannot attain a holiness LIKE John, but he had a SPECIAL role and a UNIQUE holiness in the plan of God, which I do not feel can ever truly be replicated.

We are only “greater” in that we live at a time after the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We live in the time after the veil being torn in two from top to bottom. We have direct access to God almighty, John didn’t.

I am, in every way, a lesser man than John the Baptist. I’m just blessed to live under the New Covenant, and this is through the grace of God.

When we were young and acted beyond our years they called us precocious. Now when we act beyond our years they mumble senility. Definitely a prejudice. :smiley:

Sergius Bulgakov, the great Russian Orthodox theologian, wrote a great book on John the Baptist in the 1920s/30s called “The Friend of the Bridegroom” - in it he wrote:

**"…The holy Orthodox Church honours and venerates St John, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, above all saints. In order of glorification in the Church he comes right after the Virgin Mary. The Church attests in a prayer to the Forerunner that “we know that, after the Mother of God, he is, before the Lord, greater than anyone born on earth”. According to the Lord Himself, he is the greatest “among them that are born of women” (Matt.11:11). The Church venerates him by celebrating not only his death but also his conception and birth, an honour that is bestowed upon no other human being except the Mother of God. The Church also celebrates the synaxis of St. John the Forerunner (7 January) soon after that of the Mother of God (26 December)…To prepare the way for Christ, that was his mission. But his significance consists not only in this; it consists, first and foremost, in him himself, in his person. The Forerunner’s work was necessary for that of Christ; the coming of the Forerunner was necessary for that of Christ. In other words not only John’s mission but his person was necessary. If not for John, Christ the Saviour could not have come into the world. John and Christ are personally and indissolubly linked like the great and small celestial lights to which the Church hymn compares them…" **

This website is very good:

Its a link to the official canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church concerning John the Baptist. These should be of interest since (I am presuming?) that these will be the same canons followed by Eastern Catholics, and are thus representative of the Catholic Church as well. The Canons say of St John (an excerpt):

"…O proclaimer and Baptist of Christ, * Angel, Apostle, and Martyr, * Prophet, Forerunner, lamp, and nearest friend, * seal of the Prophets, * most honored among those born of men, * mediator between the old and the new covenants, * joyful voice of the Word…O blessed John the Forerunner, * sincere friend of the Lord…O thou, offspring of barrenness * and the Lord’s garden of purity, * ornament of all mankind, * Baptiser of the Lord, * all-praised John the Forerunner…Thou art the most compassionate of all mankind, * full of divine grace, * O ever-glorious Prophet…the great Forerunner, * who came forth from the barren womb of Elizabeth, * a Prophet, indeed the greatest of all the Prophets, * for there was no greater before, nor hath one arisen since. * The lamp that preceded the most resplendent Light, * that followed after the voice the Word, * the Bridegroom’s harbinger. * He prepared the multitudes of the peoples for the Lord, * cleansing them with water in preparation for the cleansing of the Spirit; * Zacharia’s offspring and a good pupil of wilderness living, * the preacher of repentance and cleansing of transgressions, * announcing unto those in Hades * the resurrection from the dead and ever interceding for our souls…"

I just love these Orthodox canons…they are marvellous!

This other Orthodox website also has a great description of St John the Baptist’s role and significance:

More Orthodox Canons:

**3rd Finding of the Glorious head of St. John the Baptist, In Tone VI:

The shining pillar on earth, the Forerunner, lamp of the spiritual Sun, * has revealed his radiant, holy head to the world. * He sanctifies those who venerate it and who faithfully cry: * O wise Baptist of Christ, save us all.

But if there be none , or no Typicon, sing the following:

Kontakion In Tone VIII:

I the unworthy one, sin more than all mankind * nevertheless I bring unto thee a hymn, * O John the Forerunner who art truly greater of all the saints, * and since thou hath boldness before the Lord, * I implore thee to free me from all misfortunes that can be, * that I may sing unto thee: * Rejoice thou the proclaimer of grace.

Refrain: Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptizer of the Lord, John, pray to God for us.

As a great star of the living Sun, O Forerunner thou hast illumined the earth with thy radiance; wherefore I call unto thee; enlighten also my heart O Baptist, blinded with the dark shadows of my numberless transgressions

Expostilarion [Svetilen]:

O blessed Forerunner, as a morning star * before the Sun of Glory * thou didst shine forth in a God-pleasing manner * from the aged and barren one and an elderly priest, * announcing the Lord’s birth from the Virgin * for the redemption of mankind; * wherefore O Baptist we lovingly hymn and adore, * thy most honored [name of the event.]

O divine Forerunner, thou hast appeared as a beautiful turtle-dove, as a sweetly-spoken swallow, announcing Christ the Divine Spring; I implore thee do thou entreat Him to deliver me from the soul-corrupting wintry storm of sins**

You need to check yourself, bother. It is not a good sign when you find what Jesus Christ himself said “deeply offensive”. Read your bible.

Jesus Christ said that John the Baptist was the “greatest” of those born on the earth, except his Virgin mother. This belief has been consistently upheld by both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. However, at the tme when Jesus said this, John had not yet received the grace of the Kingdom of God and sanctification. When Jesus died and went down into Hades, John then received this grace and became a member of the Church Triumphant and a Saint. As a Saint now, who was also the “greatest” human being, his former status was “added” to his new glorified status; such that he is still the greatest human being - but now the greatest of the saints, after the Virgin Mary.

I was offended not by Jesus but by the poster’s mistaken understanding of Jesus! :slight_smile:

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