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Table of Contents
John the Baptist was a significant Biblical character who prepared the way for the coming Messiah.
See the fact file below for more information on John, the Baptist or alternatively, you can download our 22-page John, the Baptist worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- John, also known as John the Baptist after he was baptized, was born in Judea, Palestine, near Jerusalem, in the first century BCE.
- He was born to Zechariah (or Zacharias), a priest of the Order of the Abijah, and his wife, an elderly woman named Elizabeth. Despite the fact that she had been barren her entire life, God healed her so that she could bear a son.
- Elizabeth, John’s mother, was a cousin of Jesus’ mother, Mary, and a distant relative of Israel’s first high priest, Aaron (Holy Bible, Luke 1:36).
- During Abia’s time, his father, Zacharias, was a priest in Jerusalem’s temple, giving John priestly ancestry.
- His childhood and early years were mostly spent in the Judean desert, where monastic communities such as the Essenes, a strict Jewish group that existed between the 2nd century BCE and the end of the 1st century BCE, as well as individual hermits, often educated the young in their own ideals.
Gospel Narrative (Matthew)
- It is written in the book of Matthew 3:1-5 that John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom.
- “In due course, John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven [the heavens] is close at hand.’” (Bible, Matthew 3:1-2)
- In the book of Matthew, on the other hand, Jesus comes to John to be baptized, but John refuses because he is not worthy because Jesus is the one who brings baptism in the Spirit.
Gospel Narrative (Mark)
- The Gospel of Mark starts with a brief profile of John the Baptist’s work as the forerunner of the coming Messiah.
- During this time, Jesus traveled from Nazareth in Galilee to be baptized in the Jordan River by John.
- Furthermore, the description of John is taken directly from the book of Mark, which states that he was “clothed in camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.” (Mark 1:6)
- The book also mentions the announcement that someone would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Gospel Narrative (Luke & Acts)
- The Gospel of Luke includes a description of John’s childhood, introducing him as the miraculous son of Zechariah, an elderly priest, and his wife Elizabeth, who had reached menopause and was thus unable to bear children.
- According to this account, the angel Gabriel predicted the birth of John to Zechariah while he was serving and performing his duties as a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem.
- John was a descendant of Aaron on both his father’s and mother’s sides, as he was defined as a priest of the course of Abijah and Elizabeth, who was one of Aaron’s daughters.
Gospel Narrative (John)
- According to the fourth gospel (John), John the Baptist was “sent from God” and “came as a witness, to bear witness to the light,” so that everyone could believe through him.
- John explicitly denied being the Christ, Elijah, or “the prophet,” rather than referring to himself as a “voice crying in the wilderness.”
- When compared to figures such as Nicodemus, it is clear from literary analysis that John is the “testifier and confessor par excellence.”
- Jesus’ baptism is fairly evident but not displayed. Unlike the other gospels, John himself attests to seeing “the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and rest on him.”
- John explicitly declares that Jesus is the one “who baptizes with the Holy Spirit,” and he even professes his “belief that he is the Son of God” and “the Lamb of God.”
- According to Revelation 12:11, John the Baptist was sent to be a witness, and to bear witness about the coming Messiah.
- He also preached about God’s imminent judgment on the world.
- To prepare for this judgment, he said the people should repent their sins, be baptized, and show proof of genuine repentance.
Later Life and Death
- The death of John the Baptist is mentioned in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
- John the Baptist chastised King Herod Antipas for marrying his brother’s ex-wife Herodias. As a result, Herod Antipas had John the Baptist arrested.
- When John the Baptist was imprisoned and learned of Jesus’ deeds, he sent some disciples to see if Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.
- After listing his miracles, Jesus said, ‘Blessed is he who does not reject me.’ The disciples returned to John the Baptist.
- Herod wanted to assassinate John but was afraid of the people. At the request of Herodias’ daughter, Herod Antipas beheaded John the Baptist. His disciples buried him and informed Jesus.
Role in Christianity
- Before the coming of the Messiah, John was a significant figure who called for repentance and baptism (Matthew 3:1–12, Mark 1:2–8, Luke 3:1–18, John 1:19–28).
- The relationship between the two men received much interest since he baptized Jesus at the start of Jesus’ mission. Josephus in Antiquities (Jews 19:116–119) confirms John’s status as a widely respected man who was unjustly killed.
- Furthermore, his role as a forerunner to Jesus has been emphasized in Christian tradition, with theological emphasis placed on the Fourth Gospel: John is the forerunner who points the way to Jesus as the “lamb of God” (1:29).
- Several Catholics celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24th of each year. This feast is notable for several reasons, the most obvious being that it is one of three nativities in the Church calendar.
- The other two are Mary, the Mother of God’s Nativity as well as Christmas, the feast of Our Lord’s Nativity.
- Eastern Catholic Churches and Eastern Orthodox Christian believers believe that John was the last of the Old Testament prophets.
- He acted as a link between a certain period of revelation and the New Covenant.
- They also teach that after his death, John descended into Hades and preached once more that Jesus the Messiah was coming, proving that he was the “Forerunner of Christ in death as well as in life.”
- In Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches, an icon of Saint John the Baptist is frequently displayed on the iconostasis, and he is widely discussed during Divine Services. Every Tuesday during the year is devoted to him.
John, the Baptist in Popular Culture
- One of the most constantly featured saints in Christian art is John the Baptist.
- The Baptism of Christ was one of the first scenes from Christ’s life to be frequently depicted in Early Christian art, and by the 5th century, John’s tall, thin, even scrawny, and bearded figure had already been established.
- In the early Christian era, when the apostles wore trim classical haircuts, only he and Jesus had long hair.
- John the Baptist frequently appears on altarpieces designed for churches devoted solely to him, or where the donor patron was named after him, or where there was some other patronage connection.
- John is the patron saint of Florence, among many other cities, so he appears among the supporting saints in many important works.
John, The Baptist Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about John, the Baptist across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about John, The Baptist, a significant Biblical character who prepared the way for the coming Messiah.
Complete List of Included Worksheets
Below is a list of all the worksheets included in this document.
- John the Baptist Facts
- John Illustrated
- John According to Luke
- Family Circle
- John’s Time
- Prophet of the Wilderness
- Wilderness Survival
- Baptism at the Jordan River
- Prophet’s Wisdom
- Quick Review
- Great Prophets
Frequently Asked Questions
Who was John, the Baptist to Jesus?
John the Baptist is believed to have been sent as a witness, and to spread the word of the coming Messiah. Some people thought John was the Messiah, but he rejected this and spoke about Jesus.
What are 3 facts about John, the Baptist?
He was a forerunner of Jesus, he baptized Jesus, and he was a Jewish wilderness prophet.
Why is John called the Baptist?
The prophet John became known as the Baptist, because he would call on his followers to be baptised in water so they could demonstrate repentance for their sins and be washed clean.
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.