John lived in the wilderness of Judea. He was clothed in camel's hair, wore a leather belt, and ate locusts and wild honey.
John boldly preached to working men, religious leaders, and governing officials, encouraging them to repent. He baptized people in the Jordan River for repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
Tax collectors hear John
When the tax collectors asked John what they should do, he instructed them not to collect more than they had been ordered to. Publicans purchased the right to collect taxes from Rome. They often increased their wages by unfairly taxing the Jews.
Soldiers hear John's message
When the Roman soldiers heard John, they also repented. He told them not to accuse anyone falsely, not to take money from anyone by force, and to be content with their wages. This is the first New Testament record of Gentile baptism.
That John did not instruct the soldiers to quit their jobs is noteworthy. This further affirms Paul's message in Romans 13:1-5, which shows it is lawful for a soldier or law enforcement official to use lethal force when required by the state.
Religious leaders hear John
When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to hear John, he called them a "brood of vipers," and warned them to repent.
Herod hears John the Baptist
Herod Antipas, the governor of Galilee, had taken the wife of his brother Philip. John boldly told Herod that it was unlawful for him to have his brother's wife. This message lead to the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist.
God's marriage laws apply to believers and to unbelievers.
- Luke 3:1-20
- Mark 1:2-8
- Matthew 3:1-12