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John the Baptist

Of The Priestly Line
John the Baptist was of the lineage of Levi because his father was a priest and his mother (Elizabeth) was also of the tribe of Levi. Because John the Baptists mother was also Jesus’ mother’s cousin(Luke 1:26), we also know that Elizabeth was also a descendant of Judah. John the Baptist, in his flesh was both a descendant of Levi and a descendant of Judah. In the flesh, John the Baptist was both a priest and king, but God knew our salvation could not come through our flesh nor could it come through the law which the tribe of Levi represented. Jesus did not have Levitical blood. If Jesus did have Levitical blood, we would be required to remain under the old covenant. As it is, Jesus is not a descendant of Aaron and in Him we are not under Levitical Law.
John the Baptist therefore became a type (a living example) of what the Levitical Law was designed to do. John the Baptist showed mankind that he needed to turn back to God. The Levitical Law did the same. It showed that human beings could not follow God through laws.
Proclaimed A Greater Baptism
In Luke 3:16-17 John the Baptist said that he baptized with water, but there was one greater who would baptize with the Holy Ghost (Spirit) and fire. He said that he would separate the wheat (Godly Righteous) from the straw (unrighteous sinners).
Then Jesus came to be baptized by John the Baptist and John said that Jesus didn’t need to be baptized by John the Baptist, but he needed to be baptized by Jesus. John recognized that under the Levitical Law, he was no match for the power that Jesus as High Priest would represent.
Everything that John said was true, however, Jesus told him in Matthew 3:15 that it was necessary for John to Baptize Jesus in order to fulfill all righteousness.

The First Evangelist

John the Baptist announced that God provided a better way than the law had to offer. Unlike the rest of the priests who stayed in the comforts of the temple, John the Baptist shucked his priestly garments of fine white linen and the delicacies of temple food for camel hair clothes, a leather belt and honey and locusts and went out into the wilderness to lead the people to repentance and to baptize with water.
The word for evangelist is euaggelistes in the Greek. The meaning of this word in the original language is a preacher of the good news. Traditionally, an evangelist is a preacher who preaches the gospel in areas in areas where there is no permanent clergy. This technically made John the Baptist the first evangelist because he told of and provided preparation for others to receive the truth of Jesus Christ’s authority.

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Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


Old Testament Sacrifices Replaced With A Better Plan

high priest
In the Old Testament, the high priest used to go into the Holy of Holies once a year in order to cover the sins of the people for the next year. Before he could do that though, he went through an elaborate ritual where he had to first be cleansed. For us under the new covenant of Jesus Christ, it is different.

A Priesthood Not of Aaron

In Hebrews Chapter 7 we learn about Melchisedec who Abraham paid tithes to. His descendants because they were still “seed” in Abraham paid tithes as well, including the priestly line of Levi. Like Melchisedec, Jesus Christ was a high priest who did not come through the lineage of Aaron.
The writer then goes onto say that under the New covenant, or New Testament, we have a new high priest, Jesus Christ who became a high priest, not in the Levitical Law of the Old Testament In the Old Testament, sacrifices had to be made by the high priest continually for sins, but that Jesus because he was not a high priest in that sense because he was not of the tribe of Levi. The priesthood changed. As the high priest, Jesus didn’t have to continually give sacrifices he provided the ultimate sacrifice which lasts forever.

A Forever Sacrifice

The old Levitical Law was weak and didn’t go far enough. It made nothing perfect, but it did point to a better way which Christ in himself fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled this by becoming a priest after the order of Melchisedec who did not have the lineage of a priest. His sacrifice replaced the Old Covenant Sacrifice and was the better sacrifice in that it was did not atone from year to year, but was a permanent solution.

Water Baptism

In the temple there was a piece of furniture called the laver. The laver, or basin, was a large bowl filled with water located halfway between the brazen altar and the Holy Place and was made totally of bronze. The priests used it to was their hands and feet before entering into the Holy Place. It stood as a reminder to the people for the need of cleansing before approaching God. The priests aloned for their sins through sacrifice at the brazen altar, but htye cleansed themselves at the laver before serving in the Holy Place, so they would be pure and not die when approaching God.
Baptism in water is not a new concept that originated with John the Baptist. Baptism has been a part of Jewish tradition since God first gave the law to the Israelites. People are cleansed in full immersion in a number of religious ceremonies where there is a major change. When a woman is married, she is cleansed from her past. When a proselyte comes into the Jewish faith, they are cleansed. They stand before the congregation, denounce their old ways and their old gods, vowing to follow the one true and living God.
John the Baptist was born to be a priest, but he was a priest who was different from any other priest. John in his priesthood became Jesus first evangelist and was an evangelist to the Jewish people. He pointed the way to Christ Rather than living like the rest of the priests, God chose for him to go out to the people and become “the voice crying in the wilderness”. He took the laver out to the people. He went out to where the people were to prepare them for “the coming of the Lord” by physical and symbolic cleansing through the act of immersion baptism. He prepared the people so that their hearts and minds would be open to God’s word through Jesus Christ.
When Jesus came to John, John recognized that Jesus did not need to come to him for cleansing because he was already pure and holy. Jesus, however, knew that because he was the second Adam he had to go through everything that his future followers would have to go through, so he insisted that John baptize him in the river of living (moving) water.

In Ephesians 5:25-27 it says “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

In Hebrews 10:22 the writer says, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled [with blood] to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


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John the Baptist preached and baptized people unto repentance. As Christians, we are called to repent and then be baptized for the remission of our sins. John showed us how to repent. The word translated “repent” when used in Matthew 3 meant to be totally repulsed by your sinful nature that you want nothing to do with it.

In Matthew 3:13-17  there are some very important things to note as Jesus comes onto the scene. Jesus coming to John the Baptist to be baptized. John said that he did not want to baptize him, because John said that he (John) needed to be baptized by him (Jesus). Jesus said that it was necessary for him to be baptized by John because it was “necessary to fulfill all righteousness”.

Why did Jesus do this? He wasn’t coming for the remission of sins because he knew no sin.He submitted to baptism for two reasons. First, as mentioned here, he did it to fulfill ALL righteousness. In John 1:31, he did it to be manifest to Israel.

When Jesus came up out of the water from being baptized, the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and landed on Jesus. Then John heard a voice from heaven saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Like John, Jesus was on a special mission. Both were sent by God and both had to fulfill what they were sent to do. Both did what God told them to do. Both suffered because of what God called them to do.

In verses 11-12 John had said that he baptized with water, but that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Whose fan was in his hand, and he would thoroughly purge his floor and gather his wheat unto the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

This is an analogy of judgement that Jesus would divide the sinful from the believers in the end. John saw Jesus not as he was then, but as he would be in the future. In this passage both John the speaker, and Matthew the writer, are letting us know that Jesus is the Messiah that the Jews were looking for.

Here is one of several places in the Bible where the trinity of God is present all at the same time. Jesus the Son, The Holy Spirit and God the father are all here. Jesus being baptized, The Holy Spirit lighting on him like a dove, and God the father speaking that he was pleased with his son’s obedience. One of the most important facts that we can meditate on during our study of the Gospels is the concept of “doing the will of The Father”. If , like Jesus, we could focus our every waking hour to this concept, we could, like Jesus, revolutionize the world around us.


John the Baptist

If we read our Bible in order, Matthew 3 is the first place that we meet John the Baptist, and here we see him preaching a warning at the Pharisees and Sadducees. In Luke1:5-25, however we learn about the unique circumstances of John the Baptist’s conception.

A priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth (who was also of the priestly line because she was an descendant of Aaron’s line) were old and had no children. One day while Zacharias was fulfilling his duties as a priest by burning incense when he went into the temple, an angel of the Lord (Gabriel) appeared to him.

The angel told Zacharias that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son and name him John. John would not drink alcohol and would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born. Because of John, many of the children of Israel would turn to the Lord their God. Because Zacharias did not believe what Gabriel had told him, he could not speak.  Elizabeth conceived.

Mary (with child with the son of God) went to visit Elizabeth when Mary was newly pregnant and Elizabeth was five months pregnant and when Mary announced her arrival, both Elizabeth and the unborn John were both filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary, then, prophesied concerning John (Luke 1:39-56) . John is born and the family wants to name him after his father, but Elizabeth said that his name was John.

When the family asked Zacharias, (because he had the final say), because he was still mute wrote on a tablet that his name was John. Immediately, Zacharias could again speak and the first words out of his mouth was to prophecy. (Luke1:57-79. John grew up strong physically and spiritually and lived in the desert until he began his ministry.

John’s ministry was as a priest and a prophet. He was the one to make way for the coming of the Lord.  John’s ministry was all about repentance. His represented the best of what man could offer before the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The best that man could bring himself to under the law was to learn that he full of sin and that sin was detestable. John’s ministry pointed at the only one who could save us.  That’s where Jesus steps in. He takes us beyond ourselves and into something truly amazing, but first we have to be willing to accept John’s baptism of repentance. We must recognize that we are not able to save ourselves. There is something far more complete–the immersion into the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.


In Matthew 3:7-12 John the Baptist sees a group of religious leaders–Pharisees and Sadducees  among the group of people who came to see him. John the Baptist called them out and told them how much he despised what they represented. He called them fruitless. He called them echidna (King James translates viper). Echidna were poisonous asps or adders.The common ones were about 4 inches in length, and no thicker than a power cord. they lurked under stones, in the desert sands, and in cracks in walls. they were very aggressive and deadly.  He said that they needed the evidence (fruit) that they had repented. (To know what repented means in this passage refer to previous post).

He told them that being born of Abraham physically wasn’t enough. God could raise rocks up to be the children of God if that was what he wanted. (He may also have been using a metaphor in saying that they were stubborn like rocks in that they were unyielding to God.) He told them the time had come to cut down trees that gave no fruit. Because he had called them fruitless just a few sentences earlier, he was warning them that if they did not repent, they were coming down along with the religious system that they represented.

Who were the Pharisees, and who were the Sadducees and why did John the Baptist find them so poisonous? Historically, all we knew about them came from the works of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus; the early rabbinical writings (200 CE and later); and the New Testament. However, recently discovered in the  Dead Sea Scrolls references are found regarding these two groups

It has been widely believed that the Sadducees were named after Zadok, a priest in the time of King David and King Solomon. Another less accepted theory claims their name came from a later Zadok who lived in the 2nd century BCE. Still others believe the name “Sadducee” comes from the Hebrew tsadiq, which means “righteous.” Prior to the rise of King Herod the Great, the Sadducees were the priests in control of the temple because the high priests came through them. However, King Herod, because he knew that as a half-Jew he could not be both king and priest set up the system whereby King Herod elected the High Priest. This broke the custom of the high priesthood being attached to a particular family or that the high priest would hold the position for life. this very much reduced the power of the Sadducees at the time of Christ. This group was  a rationalistic sect who denied the supernatural (angels, demons, and resurrections). They were like many people today who try to apply logic to the spiritual. They believed that if you can’t see it, touch it, hear it, smell it, or taste it, with your physical senses, it didn’t exist. What people like this fail to realize is that the spiritual transcends the physical, not the other way around.

The name Pharisee either comes from the Hebrew word perusim, meaning “separated ones or from the Hebrew parosim, meaning “specifier,” since they sought to specify the correct meaning of God’s law to the people. They held to the letter of their own interpretation of the law and to their own traditions, regardless to whether they nullified the Word of God or not.. To provide an education separate from the Greek influence set up by their Roman dictators, the Pharisees set up local Jewish schools so that all Jewish boys could read the Torah. They were a dominant religious group in the affairs of the Temple as early as the Maccabean period. Because they came from the middle class, the Pharisees emerged as a significant force in Jewish affairs because of their influence with the common people. The Pharisees however were not just laymen because many held lower level seats in the Sanhedrin. Recent evidence found in the Dead Sea Scrolls indicates that the Pharisees dominated the Jewish Temple at the time of Christ. To John the Baptist, they represented a system that offered only bondage a political human system to be manipulated so that they could stay in power.

We see much of the same problems with our religious system today. Religious organizations are trying to jockey for position and power within the political system that is in place, rather than learning that they must transcend that political system. Through veiled political sermons, (they can’t come out and tell us directly that they are for a certain political party because if they did, they would lose their government tax exempt status), they poison us by lobbying us to believe that one political party is better than the other. The sermons they give us are not to help lead us to Christ, but to help them secure their own lives and positions.

Like the Pharisees and Sadducees of John the Baptist’s day, there is an ax to the tree. Already the religious system that dominates is falling.

According to the US Religious Landscape Survey put out by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

Just as John the Baptist called for repentance of the religious leaders of his day, so am I now calling for repentance of the religious leaders of today. We must all recognize our sin and despise that sin with every fiber of our being. Like John the Baptist we need to be looking for that something more, something that transcends our physical lives and gives real meaning to our faith. That something comes in the baptism of the name of Jesus Christ.


John_the_baptist : Stained glass in Catholic church in Dublin showing a John the Baptist The stained-glass windows are by the famous artist, William Early, who died during the commission

In the previous post we learned that John the Baptist’s baptism was a baptism (immersion) unto repentance. How is John the Baptist’s baptism different than from being baptized unto the name of Jesus Christ? Why is it important to know the difference? Perhaps the reason becomes evident as we look at Acts 19:1-7. Paul asked the people of Ephesus if they had received the Holy Spirit and they said that they had only been baptized into John’s baptism into repentance. They were then baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

So how do we know whether we are baptized into just John’s baptism of if we are baptized into the name of Jesus Christ? First, it is important to understand what it means to repent. In the Bible eight different words are translated into the English word “repent”. It is important to understand that each of them have different shades of meaning.

Four of the words are Hebrew words in the Old Testament. The first word is nacham which means to breathe hard because you are sorry. This word was used in Genesis 6:6, Exodus 13:17, Job 42:6, and Jonah 3:10. The next Hebrew word is shuwb which means to turn back . It is found in I Kings 8:47, Ezekiel 14:6. Another Hebrew word used in the Old Testament which is translated “repent is nocham which means regret. This word is used in Hosea 13:14. The final Hebrew word for repent is  nichum this word means compassion. This word is found in Hosea 11:8.

All of the four Greek words in the New Testament that mean repent come from the root word meta meaning change as in the word metamorphesis. metamellomai means to regret consequences of sin, not the cause Matthew 27:3, 2 Corinthians 7:8. metanoeo to change the the mind for the better morally, to change the attitude toward sin (See note Luke 13:3)  Metanoia a real change of mind and attitude toward sin and its cause, not merely the consequences of it Matthew 3:8, 11; 9:13, Luke 24:47.  Final word ametameletos irrevocable Romans 11:29; 2 Corinthians 7:10.

What we can get from this study of repentance as we look at John the Baptist’s baptism, we see that John’s baptism in Matthew 3:8 was Metanoia which meant that his baptism was toward a real change of mind and attitude toward sin and its cause, not merely the consequences. Baptism in the name of Christ is something else, something greater than merely recognizing that a person is repulsed by sin and the desire to turn from it. Baptism in the name of Christ requires something greater.

I look forward to continuing this study of Matthew and all of the gospels. I have enjoyed the comments that we have shared so far. I know I have already learned a lot during this study. What is your take on what we have studied so far?


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As we continue our study of Matthew, and our study of John the Baptist in particular, we learned yesterday that Christian baptism did not originate with John the Baptist, but had immersing in water had been part of several types of Jewish religious cleansing rituals.

The word Baptism however, is not a Hebrew word, but came from a Greek word bapto meaning “to dip”. in the New Testament there are seven different ways that the word baptism has been used and by understanding the context of each of these meanings, helps us to understand what baptism is and what it  isn’t.

1. 2. I Corinthians 10:2-11  Speaks of the Baptism of the cloud and in the sea where the children of Israel was more than just a type of our relationship with Christ.

2.  As studied yesterday, there is the baptism of John. His baptism is mentioned in many passages in the New Testament. Besides Matthew 3 there is also Mark 1, Luke 3:, 7:29-30, John 1:31-33; 3:23-26: 10:40, Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:3.

3.    There was baptism of suffering as noted in Luke 12:50 where Jesus spoke of being dipped or experiencing for a short time the experience of death. In this passage Jesus also expressed that he was not looking forward to the occasion, but that he would be glad when the bapto was accomplished.

4.  In John 3:22 and 4:1-2 it speaks about Christ’s baptism in water. It is significant that Jesus was not the one who actually carried out the baptisms, but it was his disciples who did the actual baptizing. It is our duty as disciples of Jesus to immerse new converts in the good news of our Lord and Savior.

5. Christian baptism in water and the Baptism into Christ and His Body  (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38-41,:8:12-16; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17; 12: 13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12;  Peter 3:21) is one of the cornerstones of Christian faith. This baptism brings the new believer into his body at repentance and the new birth. It is called “one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), because it is the only baptism that saves the soul and brings into the body of Christ. The immersion in water is not what saves a person, but the confession of the faith that precedes the immersion in water. The immersion in water is a symbol of the death of the old life and the Resurrection into becoming a new creation in Christ.

6. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a controversial subject in Christendom. (Matthew 3:11, 14:20-23; Mark 1:8; 10:38-39, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16, 19:2-3.) Some say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the new birth, others say that it is a separate experience. For now, we will leave  the decision of when this occurs between you and your Creator.

I hope this study of the Gospels is helpful to you. This study, of course, I am not the final authority of the truth that Christ has for us as believers. I would not be so bold as to suggest that I were. What I would hope though, is that this study would help to open your eyes to how great our God is and how much he loves you. Please comment! Maybe you have a question I can help you with. Perhaps you have insights I don’t and we can learn together!

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