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John the Baptist and the Prophetic Spirit of Pentecost

In view of our spiritual inheritance can we remain silent in a world bereft of moral guidance?

Did John the Baptist fully understand the risk he took in bringing God’s prophetic truth to those who stood condemned? The testimony of his Old Testament predecessors point to an unequivocal “yes” as the answer.17 He realized the risks, but his fear and love of God overcame his fear of man and the seductive appeal of worldly acclaim. He proclaimed the truth of God to his entire generation in spite of the consequences. Those who are heirs of the prophetic Spirit of Pentecost are kin to the prophetic Spirit of John the Baptist. Should not the church of Jesus Christ display the same prophetic courage to speak God’s truth today? In view of our spiritual inheritance can we remain silent in a world bereft of moral guidance, set adrift in a sea of moral relativism, without an anchor of transcendent truth? In a day when people reject any notion of truth apart from what is expedient or “seems right,” who will hold up the standard of God’s unchanging truth if not those who have inherited the prophetic mantle of the Baptist?





1 This well-known literary device of bracketing a passage by repeating the same word, phrase or clause is called inclusio and is used to emphasize a thought or topic that the author wants to underscore.

2 Roger Stronstad, The Prophethood of All Believers: A Study in Luke’s Charismatic Theology (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003), 15.

3 True, the verse goes on to say, “yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” However, these words should be understood not as assessment of intrinsic worth or value, but of privilege within the history of salvation. As great a prophet as John was, his ministry stilled belonged to the era of promise and he did not live to see the total fulfillment of what was promised in the Old Testament nor receive the revelation given to the New Testament church.

4 Caiaphas was the ruling high priest (cf Jn 18:13) who occupied the office from AD 18-36. However, Annas, his father, is mentioned along with him, probably because of his considerable influence over and through his son.

5 What is interesting is that Matthew (3:7) has this rebuke directed primarily at the Pharisees and Sadducees.

6 See Everett Ferguson. Backgrounds of Early Christianity, (Grand Rapids, MI: William. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1987), 87-88.

7 See Mt 3:3ff; Mk 1:2ff; Cf. Jn 1:19-23.

God defines the command to covenantal holiness in ethical terms—the command to love one’s neighbor.

8 Jesus preached that “the kingdom of God is near” (lit. ‘has come near’). The verb ̕ήγγικεν is an intensive perfect which stresses the present result of an action or condition. The idea is that the kingdom of God has approached or come near to humanity in the preaching and ministry of Jesus. As a result the kingdom is near at hand. This could be described as the “imminent” kingdom. Luke’s gospel also presents the kingdom as present (Lk 11:20) and future (22:18).

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2005

About the Author: James D. Hernando, Ph.D. (Drew University), is Professor of New Testament at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He is author of Dictionary of Hermeneutics (Gospel Publishing House, 2005), the commentary on 2 Corinthians in the Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament (Zondervan, 1999), as well as numerous articles and papers.

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