Who’s Greater Than John the Baptist?

Who is greater than John the Baptist?

You are.

I can guarantee this truth: Of all people ever born, no one is greater than John the Baptizer. Yet, the least important person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. (Matt. 11:11, God’s Word Version)

Have you ever thought about this? You should.

Underestimating Ourselves

In 1 Cor. 3:3 Paul rebukes the Corinthians for behaving like men.

We are not mere children of Adam. Have you ever noticed that Jesus is called "the last Adam" in 1 Cor. 15:45. Two verses later, he is called "the second man."

There’s a reason for the choice of "last" and "second." Jesus’ spiritual brothers are not sons of Adam anymore. Jesus was the last Adam.

He was also the second man. He came to make a new race of people, not children of Adam, but children of God. Not partakers of the fallen nature of man, but partakers of the heavenly nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4). The first man, Paul tells us, was a living soul. The second man, is a life-giving spirit.

We are of that new race of life-giving spirits, not of the old one that lives by the soul.

Whenever Jesus told us to lay down our lives, he used the Greek word psuche, which is the word for soul, the same word used in 1 Cor. 15:45.

Whoever tries to save his psuche shall lose it; whoever is willing to lose his psuche for my sake shall find it. (Matt. 16:25)

Am I taking this too far? I’d like you to consider the following verses:

"Soulish" Men

There’s a word not many of us are familiar with because it’s translated so many ways in our English Bibles.

That word is "soulish." It’s psuchikos in Greek, and it’s used 6 times (in 5 verses) in the New Testament. Let me list the 5 verses for you:

  • The soulish man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him. (1 Cor. 2:14)
  • It is sown a soulish body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a soulish body, and there is a spiritual one. (1 Cor. 15:44)
  • That which is spiritual was not first, but that which was soulish, then afterward that which is spiritual. (1 Cor. 15:46)
  • This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, soulish, demonic. (Jam. 3:15)
  • These are those who separate themselves, soulish, not having the Spirit. (Jude 1:19)

As you can see, it’s not really good to be soulish.

Do you know how I apply this? I apply this to the times when I want to say, "Well, you know, I’m just human."

No, I’m not. I’m not just human.

By [his divine power] are given to us exceptionally great and precious promises so that through these we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Pet. 1:4)

Wow. Do we believe this?

Would we accept a rebuke from a brother that said, "You’re behaving like humans."

Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be. (1 Jn. 3:2)

Greater Than John the Baptist

You have something John didn’t have. You have the New Covenant. Those who have entered the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:13) have been delivered from the darkness in a way which John the Baptist had not yet partaken of.

Remember Jesus’ comment about new wineskins?

Jesus was being asked why his disciples weren’t fasting. Jesus told the disciples of John—it wasn’t the Pharisees asking—that his disciples would fast when the bridegroom left them (Matt. 9:14-17).

Was that only because they would mourn over the bridegroom being gone?

Well, let me ask you. Are you living in mourning over the loss of Jesus? Are you supposed to be mourning that Jesus is gone?

I think not. I think that Jesus said it would be better if he left because that’s the only way the Comforter would come. C’est ne pas? (I’m probably misusing that French phrase, but it felt like a good place for it.)

Immediately after the comment about the bridegroom leaving, Jesus adds that you can’t put unshrunk cloth on an old garment, nor new wine in old wineskins.

He was saying his disciples’ fasting not only wasn’t necessary until he left, but their fasting wouldn’t be worth much until he left.

Why? Because they were still old garments and hardened wineskins. He was looking for new wine, and he needed to make them new garments and refreshed wineskins before he could patch them up or give them the new wine.

But now it’s happened! The bridegroom has gone—temporarily—and the Comforter has come. We are partakers of the new covenant, built on better promises—exceptionally great and precious promises—so that through these we might be partakers of the divine nature!

Divine beings; sons of Almighty God.

No wonder Paul rebukes the Corinthians for behaving like men. No wonder Jesus said it was better that he go away. No wonder he said the very least in his kingdom would be greater than John.

These all, having obtained a good report through faith, did not receive the promise; God having provided something better for us, so that they should not be made complete without us. (Heb. 11:39-40)

Do you know who "these all" are? Isaiah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses!

This comment by Jesus that we would be greater than John is not unique or alone!

But if the service of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not gaze at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance—a glory that would pass away—how will the service of the Spirit not be greater in glory? (2 Cor. 3:7-8)

Walking in the Promises of God

Okay, I’m taking a deep breath as I write this, so often the stinking hypocrite that I can be.

Can I believe this? Can I walk this out in truth?

The truth is that I do walk this out in truth … often. It’s those times when I don’t that make me breathe hard, lower my eyes, and mutter and mourn. What great promises! What great power!

Look what John the Baptist, Moses, and Abraham did without that same great power!

Listen, if we believe the Bible, that’s what it says. We have a more glorious service. We are greater than John who was greater than all men born before him. We have promises they did not have.

Yeah, I know; that can be depressing. Us? Greater than Moses?

I don’t believe God does "depressing." I believe that we should walk boldly into the light by the blood of Christ … and BELIEVE.

He can take care of the past. He can overlook all that of which we repent.

Don’t the righteous live by faith? Let’s BELIEVE.

Sin will not have power over you because you are not under Law but under grace. (Rom. 6:14)

Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:24)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Php. 4:13)

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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8 Responses to Who’s Greater Than John the Baptist?

  1. Pingback: Knock Until Your Knuckles Bleed « transientglory

  2. transientglory says:

    This was very helpful to me. It simply makes me want to be better. If I really do share in the very being of God, then I've got to step up!

  3. jeremiahbriggs says:

    Great blog! Here we are all on different spots on the planet encouraging one another. Elijah is one of my favorite stories and one I come back to when I lose track of myself. I love it when Christ says: "If you care to believe it John the Baptist is Elijah!" We all need to trust and obey there is no other way.

  4. shammahbn says:

    Thanks, Kambertyn. Nothing's more encouraging than to think I could be blowing someone's coals back into flame. We all need it regularly!

  5. Kambertyn says:

    That's true for me too… I do matter… if I am greater than John and not the tiny speck that I feel, than I've got to get really busy… you're words above launched light on a connection that has not glowed in some time… it was still in place… just I was tired and adrift alone among the masses shineing my light but not noticing my shine was dull… I will stay looking for the glow of my Family's knowledge at Rose Creek Village… I need to learn, learn, learn. I've stayed walking… just not replinishing by gathering… I will make my steps towards strength again.

  6. John Cullimore says:

    Yes, thanks. We all need to hear this and learn to walk in it.

  7. Eric says:

    Man Shammah… this stuff is hitting home right now with me. I was reading somewhere else last night what I consider one of the scariest verses in the Bible regarding power: James 5:17a: "Elijah was a man just like us." (side note: I don't mean a man in the sense of a human as you mean above, I interpret this to mean that he wasn't special and wasn't just some anomaly of God's power that was a one-time thing).

    If Elijah could stop and start the rain, could wet the altar and the water itself BURNED, raise the dead, call down fire from heaven, and that was just plain stuff that anyone has access to… man.

    • shammahbn says:

      Thanks, Eric!

      It is amazing, Britt and I writing on roughly the same subject. And I should have thought about Jam. 5:17. He was saying the same thing, but a lot shorter and to the point. I did a teaching once on 3 things that really matter, and then, later, I found the exact same three things in a prayer by Paul (Eph. 1:17-19). I really like it when I draw a conclusion, then find out an apostle had the same conclusion. No better affirmation than that.

      Great to hear from you!

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