John the Baptist

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Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

John the Baptist (c. 1st century BC – c. AD 30) was a Jewish itinerant preacher and a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Mandaeism. He is called a prophet by all of these traditions, and a saint in many Christian traditions. John used baptism as the central sacrament of his messianic movement. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus.


  • Non licet tibi habere eam
    • It is not lawful for thee to have her to wife
    • (John Baptist to Herod regarding Herodias, his brother Philip's former wife; quoted in Gospel of Matthew 14,4)
  • In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • Manda ḏ-Hiia went to Yuhana [John] the Baptist and spoke to him: “Arise Yuhana, baptize me with thy baptism, which thou used to baptize with, and pronounce over me that name that thou used to pronounce.”
Yuhana said to Manda ḏ-Hiia: “My stomach is hungry for food and my body is thirsty for drink. I collect herbs and keep silent. I want to be freed (from baptism) but the souls are pressing in on me. Now there shall be enlightenment, come, I will baptize thee.”
  • Ginza Rabba, Right Ginza, Book 5, Part 4, verses 2-3. English translation from Gelbert, Carlos (2011). Ginza Rba. Sydney: Living Water Books. ISBN 9780958034630.
  • Who told Jesus? Who told Jesus Christ, Mary’s son?
Who told Jesus, so he came to the Jordan’s banks, and told him,
“John, perform your baptism over me, and pronounce over me the name you pronounce!
If I become your disciple, then I shall mention you in my epistle.
If I do not become your disciple, then erase my name from your scroll!”

Quotes about John Baptist

  • Quid autem aliud Ioannes nisi honestatem consideravit? ut inhonestas nuptias etiam in rege non posset perpeti, dicens: Non licet tibi illam uxorem habere. Potuit tacere, nisi indecorum sibi iudicasset mortis metu verum non dicere, inclinare regi propheticam auctoritatem, adulationem subtexere. Sciebat utique moriturum se esse, quia regi adversabatur: sed honestatem saluti praetulit. Et tamen quid utilius quam quod passionis viro sancto advexit gloriam?
    • And what else did John have in mind but what is virtuous, so that he could not endure a wicked union even in the king's case, saying: "It is not lawful for thee to have her to wife." He could have been silent, had he not thought it unseemly for himself not to speak the truth for fear of death, or to make the prophetic office yield to the king, or to indulge in flattery. He knew well that he would die as he was against the king, but he preferred virtue to safety. Yet what is more expedient than the suffering which brought glory to the saint.
    • Saint Ambrose De officiis ministrorum ("On the Offices of Ministers" or, "On the Duties of the Clergy"), Book III, chapter XIV, part 89 as quoted in
  • What did you go out into the wilderness to behold?
A reed shaken by the wind?
Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment?
Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses.
Why then did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is he of whom it is written, `Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.' Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Eli'jah who is to come.
  • For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
  • The Christian movement began with John the Baptist. … In his recorded teaching to the people there is not a word about the customary ritual of religion, about increased Sabbath observance, about stricter washings and sacrifices, or the ordinary exercises of piety. He spoke only of repentance, of ceasing from wrongdoing. He hailed the professional exponents of religion who came to hear him, as a brood of snakes wriggling away from the flames of the judgment. ... The way to prepare for the Messianic era and to escape the wrath of the Messiah was to institute a brotherly life and to equalize social inequalities.
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