Who Was John The Baptist?

Clay's picture

Malachi 4:5&6

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

John 1:21
"And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No."

Matthew 11:11&14
" Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist....

And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come."

I don't know what to make of all this. The prophet Malachi said that Elijah, who never died, would be sent to prepare the way for the Lord. John, when questioned, said that he was not Elijah. Jesus, however, said that if you could accept it....that He was indeed Elijah.

Who was John The Baptist???? Does anyone have some insight on this?


drp's picture

“How do I reconcile these?”

Just take my word for it, and don't forget to pay your tithes to me. :-) But seriously …

Jesus, who was in Heaven when Elijah and Enoch were on the earth, said that no one had been there but him at those times. (John 3:13; 6:51, 62; 8:58; 17:5)
We know also that the wages of sin is death and that the only sinless human was Jesus himself. (Rom 6:23; 1 Pet 2:22) “All men must die, correct? Even Enoch?” Correct.
Taking Enoch’s case first, it may be significant that he lived “only” 365 years, an age far below that of most of his contemporaries. He lived in especially dangerous times, especially for someone with his high profile in standing up for Jehovah’s standards. (Jude 14,15; Ge 5:21-24; Heb 11:5) Likely persecution was brought against him because of his prophesying. However, God did not permit the opposers to kill Enoch. Instead, Jehovah “took him”. Enoch was “transferred so as not to see death,” which may mean that God put him in a prophetic trance and then terminated Enoch’s life so that he did not experience the pangs of death. That could have been a favor done for him because he did indeed “please God well”. It appears that, as in the case of Moses, Jehovah disposed of Enoch’s body, for “he was nowhere to be found.” (Men have a predilection for worshiping at shrines, which is not recommended. 2 Cor 5:7) And a quick, calm death is implied for Moses, also. (De 34:5-7; Jude 9.)

Elijah, as I noted earlier, didn’t die when he was taken up into “the heavens”. We know he wrote a letter to a disobedient king, and the bible says explicitly that any activity is impossible for the dead. (Ec 9:5,10) For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. All that your hand finds to do [while you’re alive], do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol*, the place to which you are going.
Elijah is dead; we just don’t know where or when he died.

Given all this, my conclusion about Jesus’ statement at Matthew 11 is that he was speaking illustratively. (Mt 13:34,35) Notice that Jehovah’s angel put it another way to John’s father: Also, he will go before him with E·li´jah’s spirit and power, to turn back the hearts of fathers to children and the disobedient ones to the practical wisdom of righteous ones, to get ready for Jehovah a prepared people.”

Matthew Henry was highly respected in some quarters, but I do better studying with my people. Even in the short quote you posted, I see at least two unscriptural statements; both lead him to what I think is a false conclusion about Enoch and Elijah.

* From our reference bible, p. 1574: “Sheol,” “Hades”—The Common Grave of Mankind; Gravedom. The derivation of the Hebrew word she’ohl´ is uncertain. According to one derivation, it means the “place of inquiry”; according to another, the “hollow place” or “resting-place”; according to still another, “the place that asks for and demands all without distinction of persons.” It is in the earth and is always associated with the dead, and plainly means the common grave of mankind, gravedom, or the earthly (not sea) region of the dead. In contrast, the Hebrew word qe´ver means an individual grave or burial place.—Ge 23:4, 6, 9, 20.
You should research this yourself. Less rigorous translations used by some churches give the idea that people are active there, usually being tortured.

Unless otherwise etc. all scriptures are NWT

Unless etc. all scriptures are NWT