Was John the Baptist a prophet?

by Matt Slick

Yes, John the Baptist was a prophet. We find this taught by Jesus.

Matthew 11:9-11, "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? [John the Baptist] Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10 “This is the one about whom it is written, BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU. Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

We can clearly see that Jesus affirmed that John the Baptist was a prophet. In addition, the people consider him to be a prophet as well as is seen in Matthew 14:5 and Mark 11:32.  What is interesting is that John performed no miracles nor did he write any scripture. Yet, he is called the greatest of the prophets.  Why?  Because he was the forerunner of the Messiah.  His calling was to prepare the people for Jesus' arrival (Mark 1:2-4). John the Baptist was dressed in clothing made of camel's hair (Mark 1:6) and ate locusts and wild honey (Mark 1:6).  He was associated with Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:13-14). John the Baptist performed baptisms in the Jordan River (Mark 1:5), at Bethany beyond the Jordan (John 1:28) and Aenon near Salim (John 3:23). 

Was John the Baptist a prophet in the same style as the Old Testament prophets?

We would have to affirm that John the Baptist was indeed a prophet in the same style as the Old Testament prophets because the Old Testament covenant was still in effect. The Old Testament covenant system was done away fulfilled and abrogated at the death of Christ.

  • Hebrews 8:13, "When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear."
  • Hebrews 9:15–16, "For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it."

So, Hebrews tells us that the Old Testament covenant system with its laws, prophets, etc. was until the death of Christ. This is why Jesus said,

Luke 16:16, "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it."

John The Baptist was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, but now God is spoken to us through his son Jesus Christ...

Hebrews 1:1–2, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world."


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.