John the Baptist?


The Bible mentions John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, but does not mention becoming his disciple. According to some fringe protestants, John had a horrible death with his head on Salome’s platter because he failed to become Jesus’s disciple. Another religion (Mandaeism) recognizes John the Baptist but not Jesus. Was there a rift between the two? What is the Catholic position on the relationship between John and Jesus, if any?

[Disclaimer: I am Roman Catholic, I do have a hobby of reading extracanonical scriptures to come up with questions for the canon.]


St. John the Baptist has always been highly honored by the Church as the Lord’s Forerunner. St. John is the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets and the bridge between the two Testaments. Historically, I would say he was honored as the greatest of the saints after Our Lady, with many icons / images depicting St. John on the Lord’s left and Our Lady on His right in glory. (In recent centuries, St. Joseph has surpassed St. John in the Church’s popular devotions and perhaps in her liturgy, as St. Joseph is now commemorated in each Eucharistic Prayer at every mass). Liturgically, St. John the Baptist continues to be singled out in many special ways - some examples:
*]The Church honors St. John with two feasts: his birth (June 24) and his martyrdom (August 29). It is important to note that the feast of St. John’s nativity is one of the oldest feasts on the Church’s calendar. It is celebrated as a solemnity, the highest rank of feast, and is the only nativity celebrated other than those of Our Lord and Our Lady. Remember, only saints are celebrated- and due to original sin, no one is born a saint, with the exception of Our Lord (who is God), Our Lady (who was Immaculately Conceived), and St. John the Baptist who was filled with the Holy Spirit even in his mother’s womb (see Luke 1:15).
*]The Church remembers St. John each morning at Lauds where the Canticle of Zechariah, St. John’s father, is recited (taken from Luke 1) which proclaims the missions of both the Forerunner, St. John, and the Christ, Jesus.
*]In the Extraordinary Form St. John’s intercession is invoked in a couple different places at every mass, and in the Ordinary Form St. John is the first of the martyrs listed in Eucharistic Prayer I.
*]During the season of Advent, the liturgy, especially the readings, is very St. John oriented.
[/LIST]The Church recalls the words of St. John, who prepared the way for the Lord and pointed others to Him, at ever mass as the priest raises the Host sand says “Behold the Lamb of God…”

The Catechism says the following regarding this great saint:

523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.
1223 All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”


He was according to Jesus the greatest Prophet of the Old Testament.
He had a job to do when he was consecrated a Prophet of GOD.
And by the way few Prophets ever had tranquil lives, as they say “it comes with the turf” and also Jesus said Himself that the martirdom of Prophets was a frequent outcome.
The Apostles were chosen by Jesus and their job was different from John the Baptist.


Matthew 10 and Luke 7 suggest that Jesus and John are on good terms but operate independently. Is there a reason John remained independent of Jesus?

According to some sources I’m reading, “Jonah” means “dove” in Hebrew; John was a naming variant of Jonah, and the dove and fisher imagery of Christianity come from Jonah. He deliberately picked the Jordan River, which was considered brackish and filthy, to baptize Jews – a ritual reserved for new converts to the faith – as a political statement against the moral degeneracy of Herod’s Israel.


There are several ways to interpret JB. There is a large passage on Josephus on JB that is especially revealing.

JB was much more famous in his day that Jesus was. In fact, In ACTS it mentions a sect devoted to worshiping JB and not knowing about Jesus.

You can easily argue that Jesus opportunistically stepped into the void left by JB after he was arrested by Herod Antipas.

I would recommend Hagan’s “Year of the Passover” in this regards.

Understanding the details of the intereaction between Herod Antipas, JB, and Herodias is the key to understanding the year of the crucifixion and the early Christian time line.


Regarding the bold/red, maybe you could explain that further, recommend some reading or a website, or start a thread? I’d like to learn about this.

I never took the mention of John the Baptist in Acts of the Apostles to mean that anyone was worshiping him. Where do you see that in the text, what chapter/verse?



Maybe worshiping was the wrong term. They were followers of John. Here’s the passage…

19:1And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: 19:2and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. 19:3And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John’s baptism.

As far as the timeline goes, there is a thread around here, not very old, where I got into it with someone called Bart.

I think I got the last word in.

The key is linking the arrest of JB with Antipas preparing his troops for war with Arabia. In Josephus, the link is clear- Antipas did not want JB bothering his troops. In Mark, however, there is no link. JB’s death is linked to the dance of Herodias’ daughter, who is not named. In Josephus, she is identified as Salome.

So you have to use Josephus and Tacitus to fill in the gaps found in the New Testament. And that is surprisingly doable- there a several characters common to the NT and secular works of roughly the same time.

edit: did a quick search- here is the thread where you will find the details.


Good question.

It points to the danger of exposing oneself to fringe Protestant groups.
It is so much better to study Catholic scripture where verses are not taken out of context.

The fringe groups focus on:

Luke 7:19-28
“And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” … 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

And they wrongly conclude that John lacked faith in Jesus and hence the question above.
And that John rejected Jesus and because he is described as not part of the Kingdom.
BUT, we need to interpret Sacred Scripture in context. It comes from Holy Mother Church and needs to be interpreted from that context of her teachings as TWF presents so well in post #2 above. Also, study the full context of the passages below.

Luke 7:19-35
“And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” … 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”
24 When the messengers of John had gone, he began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” …
31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another,
‘We piped to you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

John 1:26-37
“John answered them, “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” …
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and [John the Baptist] said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.”

End Quote. Note, the text “[John the Baptist]”was added to the scripture passage above to emphasize and clarify what is being written.

John just had a different mission than Jesus. John was preparing people for faith in Jesus.

Now to go back and re-examine the question of why did John the Baptist send his disciples to Jesus with the question in Luke 7, “Are you [addressed to Jesus] he who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Note: the words [addressed to Jesus] are added to the scripture text for clarity.

A holy Catholic Scripture scholar once said that the reason John asks the question above is not because he, John, did not know the answer, rather John knew Jesus is the Messiah, and John was trusting that Jesus would know how to answer the question so as to move John’s disciples hearts and minds to faith in Jesus. It is important to realize that just the knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God does not save. For example Satan knows that, but he is not saved. John knew that Jesus would complete the work of faith that John had begun in the disciples. (Sorry, I forget my source.)



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