The Life and Teachings
of Jesus
A Restatement of the Gospels

IV. John the Baptist

12. Coming of John the Baptist

        2It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold I send my messenger before you, who shall prepare your way, 3the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight a highway for our God.’” 4And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
        1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesara—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee,b his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lasanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
        1In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
        4Now John wore a garment of camels’ hair, and a leather girdle around his waist;c and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
        (Mk. 1:2–4; Lk. 3:1–2; Mt. 3:1–2, 4–6)

a   “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar”—Augustus Caesar adopted Tiberius Caesar as his son and made him co-emperor in the provinces in the latter part of AD 11, two and one-half years before his (Augustus’) death in AD 14. Therefore the fifteenth year of Tiberius’ rule in the province of Palestine would have been AD 25–26. In this way we may date John’s ministry at AD 25–26.

b   “Herod, tetrarch of Galilee”—Herod Antipas was made ruler of Galilee at his father’s (Herod the Great) death in the spring of 4 BC. (See also Ch. 9, fn. c)

c   “Now John wore a garment of camels’ hair, and a leather girdle around his waist;”—Compare John’s mode of dress with the description of the legendary Elijah as found in 2 Kings 1:8: “He wore a garment of haircloth, with a girdle of leather about his loins.” John not only dressed like Elijah; he also adopted Elijah’s method of direct and blunt attack upon the sin and evil of his generation.
        Elijah appears to have been John’s ideal of a prophet; and Jesus, in speaking of John, once referred to him as Elijah. (See also Ch. 15, fn. a; Ch. 65; and fns. b and c of Ch. 65.)

Mk. 1:2   Isaiah 40:3 • It / As it (RSV) • before you, who / before thy face, who (RSV) • prepare your way / prepare thy way (RSV)
Mk. 1:3   Isaiah 40:3 • ‘Make ready the / ‘Prepare the (RSV) • make straight a highway for our God’” (Is. 40:3) / make his paths straight’” (RSV)
Mk. 1:4  And so John (NIV) / John (RSV) • the Baptist appeared / the baptizer appeared (RSV)
Lk. 3:1  Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor / Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor (RSV) • Judea, Herod tetrarch / Judea, and Herod being tetrarch (RSV) • Galilee, his / Galilee and his (RSV)
Lk. 3:2  of Zacharias, in (KJV) / of Zechariah, in (RSV)
Mt. 3:1  Judea, saying, “Repent / Judea, “Repent (RSV)   (135:6/1501–2)