Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each speak to the work of John the Baptist, preaching and baptizing people in the Jordan River. While the descriptions of the people who came, heard, and were baptized is varied and indicates many people and possibly some Gentiles (Luke's soldiers) were present, there is no direct statement that Samaritans ever came to John. Based on this silence, one could assume Samaritans had no part of John's message or baptism.

In giving the Gospel at Antioch of Pisidia Paul said:

Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ (Acts 13:23-25 ESV)

All the people of Israel would include those in Samaria. Based on Paul's statement is it reasonable to conclude that Samaritans went to hear John (despite the silence of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)?

  • I remember reading a long time ago that the mission of Jesus as many misunderstood that his purpose was to preach the gospel all the people of the world. But his true purpose, while he was here were to reach only the Jews. For the gentiles Jesus has tasked the job to his disciple Peter, who later in some disagreement with Paul gave that initial task to Apostle Paul.
    – hawkenfox
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 20:41
  • Israel is the name of Jacob's descendant. Which incidentally refers to the all the Jews in the bible. I think "All the people of Israel" refers to the Jews only. In the old testament Jacob's name was changed to Isreal when he was an old man. Gen32:28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won. That’s why your name will be Israel.”
    – hawkenfox
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 20:47
  • It is a misinterpretation of Galatians 2:7 ... I had been entrusted to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. It also reduces the role of Christ to that of a preacher and not a Savior.
    – user15733
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 17:34
  • and possibly some Gentiles (Luke's soldiers) I wondered about this myself. There were separate Roman and Herodian militaries (Chilton, Rabbi Jesus: an intimate biography, p. 64). The latter would presumably have been Jews. I don't know enough about Roman history to know whether the Romans would have had Jews as enlistees in this time and place. That whole passage in Luke seems likely to be ahistorical. Tax collectors were despised by the kind of people who would go to John, and reaching out to them was a feature of Jesus's mission, not John's. Soldiers wouldn't have leisure to go see John.
    – user39728
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 22:11

2 Answers 2


John wasn't commissioned to preach to anyone in particular, but rather was sent to proclaim his message of repentance in the wilderness.

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea
-- Matthew 3:1

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
-- Mark 1:4

... the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
-- Luke 3:2

... I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah.
-- John 1:23

People had to go out of their way to hear his message, which one could conclude God moved them to do.

Jesus questioned the crowds in regard to John:

What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? ... A man clothed in soft raiment? ... A prophet?
-- Matthew 11:7-9

Now, in regard to where in the wilderness John the Baptist preached, John the Apostle tells us this in his Gospel:

And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
-- John 3:23

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John's Mission Foretold - thebiblejourney.org

Given this evidence, it is very likely that the Samaritans heard John's message.


Jesus did not appear to have considered Samaria as belonging to "all the people of Israel," at least according to the testimony of Matthew (10:5-6):

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Thus, to answer your narrower question, Paul's statement by itself would not lead one to conclude that Samaritans did or did not go to hear John.

Matthew's account, however, states that those who went out to John were from Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region about Jordan (5:5). If we take "all the region about Jordan" as meaning those jurisdictions that bordered the Jordan, then the passage would imply that people from Samaria, Perea, Decapolis, and Galilee would also have come to John.

  • While there may be technicalities on the particulars of who was initially sent to which group, I agree the Gospel is for all people. My question is about John who preceded the Gospel. I would think that John would understand his assignment solely from the perspective of OT. I would also assume Paul's statement about John's work is given from that context. IMO unless specifically stated otherwise, neither Jesus nor Matthew or Paul are relevant to the scope of John the Baptist's work. As Paul is speaking about John, is there an OT understanding that would cause John to ignore Samaria? Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 19:26
  • I was just trying to answer your title question, "Did Samaritans hear John the Baptist's message?" Matthew 5:5 seems to indicate they did. You then asked "Based on Paul's statement is it reasonable to conclude that Samaritans went to hear John". I don't think one can conclude that Samaritans went to hear John based on this statement alone, but neither can one conclude they didn't. Probably my answer could have been clearer.
    – user15733
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 19:53
  • I would agree.But you begin your answer with something which states otherwise. Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 19:57

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