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Who Is John the Baptist in the Bible?

Learn about the biblical figure of John the Baptist in this Howcast video with Reverend Dr. Timothy Coombs.


Hi, I'm Tim Coombs, co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY and a member of the network of biblical storytellers. To learn more about its mission, go to

John the Baptist, he is, according to Luke's gospel, a relation to Jesus, perhaps his cousin a few months older then Jesus. He comes out of the wilderness, we're told. He's dressed wildly in camel's hair and leather belt around his waist. He eats locusts and wild honey. He's proclaiming about God's kingdom, the common. He tells people to repent to confess their sins. And when they do he baptizes them in the river. A new birth a new start for them. John is also thought of in the gospels as being likened to Elijah. He is the forerunner of the Messiah, according to Jewish tradition. And he comes out of the desert proclaiming Isiah's prophecy. ""Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his path straight."" And Jesus comes to John. Jesus comes out of Nazareth and Galilee, and John baptizes Jesus. And the story goes when Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens ripped apart, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him likened to a dove. And Jesus goes out into the wilderness, to be tempted. And John sort of disappears from the story. He reappears in the gospels later. In Matthew, there is a story of him from prison sending disciples to ask if this Jesus is the one who is to come or to wait for another. Then there's the story about how he's killed at the hand of King Herod and his wife Herodias, who was jealous at him and has her daughter asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter, which Herod does. John's own disciples come and bury him. And Jesus carries on the story until his own end. and that's who John the Baptist was.

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