Death of John the Baptist - Bible Story

Death of John the Baptist - Bible Story

The Bible Story of John the Baptist's Death

John the Baptist, well-known for baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan, is commonly referred to as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus.  There are many parallels to the lives of John the Baptist and Jesus, as they both preached about repentance and the Kingdom of God and criticized the religious leaders of their day.  Additionally, they were both considered martyrs persecuted by officials of the Roman Empire.  

According to the gospels of Matthew and Mark, John the Baptist had been imprisoned because he condemned Herod Antipas for divorcing his wife and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I.  On Herod's birthday, Herodias' daughter, Salome, danced before the king and his guests and Herod was so pleased that he promised to give her any request she desired.  Out of revenge for criticizing her marriage to Herod, Herodias told Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Although Herod was dismayed by the request, he reluctantly agrees to have John executed in the prison of Machaerus. 

Importance of John the Baptist

Even though John was merely a witness serving as a transitional figure, the impact of his life and ministry should not be underestimated. During his lifetime he had a following of disciples who shared common practices such as fasting and prayers (Matt 9:14; John 1:35-37; John 4:1-2). John's disciples survived his death and spread throughout the Mediterranean world. Apollos was from Alexandria in North Africa and at one point knew only of the baptism of John (Acts 18:24-25). Similarly, upon arriving in Ephesus, Paul encountered about a dozen disciples of John. They too had only experienced the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-7). These instances indicate that the Baptist's movement may have had more influence than what we are able to glean from the New Testament. ~ Bible Dictionary

Read the full scripture of the Death of John the Baptist from Matthew and Mark below and find articles, videos, and audio sermons relating to the inspiring John the Baptist.  

Photo credit: gettyimages/gldburger



Matthew 14:1-12

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus,
2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,
4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.”
5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much
7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked.
8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted
10 and had John beheaded in the prison.
11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother.
12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Mark 6:14-42

14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married.
18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to,
20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled ; yet he liked to listen to him.
21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.
22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.”
23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”
24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.
25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.
27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison,
28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.
29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.
36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages ! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.
41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
42 They all ate and were satisfied,

Mark 6:14-42 Commentaries

John 1:35-51

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.
36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.
41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter ).
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.
45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus said, “You believebecause I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”
51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you,youwill see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’the Son of Man.”

John 4:1-2

1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—
2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.

Acts 18:24-28

24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.
28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.

Acts 19:1-7

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
7 There were about twelve men in all.