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John the Baptist

Did John the Baptist die before Jesus died?

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November 19, 2015 6:13AM

Another answer from our community:Yes. Example from Matthew 14:1-2,10-12 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, 2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. (So John was dead and Jesus still alive if Herod thought that He is John, who is risen from the dead) 10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

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Matthew 11:2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

11:3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? The previous marriage of Herod Antipas 'was annulled no later than 28 CE.' This is the position of the majority of scholars. (Source: Aryeh Kasher, 'Jews, Idumeans and Ancient Arabs, Mohr Siebeck, p.178.) This paved the way for Herod's marriage to Herodias soon after. It is considered also that John was arrested early in Jesus' ministry and so the events as recorded in history clearly indicate that John died first. The only logical conclusion to make in the light of all the biblical facts is that John died first.

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November 19, 2015 6:11AM

According to the Jewish historian, Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews), John was executed because he had criticised the marriage of Herod Antipas to his own brother's wife, who divorced her husband in order to marry him. Since the marriage took place in 34 CE, it appears that Josephus is giving John's death as occurring no earlier than approximately 36 CE, which was later than the crucifixion of Jesus.

Josephus places the marriage of Antipas to his brother's former wife, Herodias, at the same time as, or shortly after, the death of Philip II, who he says died in the twentieth year of the reign of Tiberius (34 CE). John was highly critical of this marriage, causing Antipas to fear that he would cause an insurrection:

Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.


Josephus makes it clear that Antipas intended to execute John, and it seems most improbable that he would long delay the execution if he feared an insurrection by John's supporters. The execution would have quickly followed the imprisonment.


Additionally, King Aretas attacked and defeated Antipas in 36 CE in revenge for the slight to his daughter, whom Antipas divorced in order to marry Herodias. We can expect a one or two year delay during which the news reached Aretas and he considered a diplomatic solution or demanded compensation, then raised an army, but an angry father is not likely to have waited ten years to take action.

Some of the Jews believed that Antipas' defeat was divine retribution for his execution of John: Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him.


This association makes it most likely that John's death was a quite recent event at the time of the defeat - closer in time to the battle than to the wedding, and certainly not something that occurred 8 or 10 years earlier. John died long after Jesus.