A.D. 28 – John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist (a.k.a. Saint John the Forerunner; born 4 B.C.) and The Baptism of Christ

The Gospel of Luke tells that John was born to Zechariah (a priest serving God in the Temple in Jerusalem) and his wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25). Luke 3:1-2 tells us that John began preaching in the wilderness in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius CaesarNow in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness”, which was late in A.D. 28 or early in A.D. 29. All four of the Gospels tell that John was born to be a herald to Christ, proclaiming the need for all men to repent of their sins and “make straight the way of the Lord”. He lived an ascetic life in the desert adjacent to the Jordan River, just north of where the Jordan river flows into the Dead Sea (roughly 30 miles north and east of Jerusalem). He called the people of Judea to repentance, and he baptized them in the Jordan River. Christ stated that John the Baptist is the reappearance of Elijahand if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” (see Matthew 11:14).

At the Baptism of Christ the entire Holy Trinity was revealed: The divine Logos was incarnate in Christ. The Holy Spirit descended on Christ “in the form of a dove”, and God the Father announced “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The Sacrament of Baptism: The apostolic, patristic, understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism becomes very specifically the act of a person’s death (purification) and resurrection in and with Jesus Christ. Christian baptism is man’s participation in the event of Easter. Baptism (from the Greek noun βάπτισμα) is a Christian sacrament of admission and adoption, into the Christian Church generally. The apostolic church strongly (and unmistakably) taught that salvation was (is) intimately linked to baptism (this was later known as the Doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration; which fell form popularity during the western Christian Reformation but was the traditional and universal view of the church, east and west up to that time). “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). It is a “new birth by water and the Holy Spirit” into the Kingdom of God. As Cyprian of Carthage (A.D. 248) described it: “While he attributed all the saving energy to the grace of God, he considered the ‘laver of saving water’ the instrument of God that makes a person ‘born again’, receiving a new life and putting off what he had previously been. The ‘water of new birth’ animated him to new life by the Spirit of holiness working through it.”

Traditionally baptism is also tightly linked with the Sacrament of Chrismation (also referred to later, in the western church as Confirmation) which was traditionally performed at the same time as baptism (immediately after the baptism); Chrismation is understood to be the new believer’s participation in the events of the Pentecost. In the sacrament of Chrismation we receive “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” (see Rom 8, 1 Cor 6, and 2 Cor 1:21-22), as the apostles did on the day of Pentecost (i.e., we are filled with and become indwelt by God’s the Holy Spirit).