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29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God. (NLT translation)

How could John claim Jesus was the Messiah (verse 29) if this was prior to the Baptism of Jesus and John specifically claims in the verse after (verse 31) I did not recognize him as the Messiah? Furthermore, the Holy Spirit did not descend on Jesus at the time John made the claim in (verse 29) to confirm the sign God made to John (verse 33) "The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit."

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How did John the Baptist proclaim Jesus' deity before the Holy Spirit descended on him?

Answer: This appears to be a misreading of the text.

Suppose we enumerate what we are told in John's Gospel.

Item # Passage / Commentary Verse(s)
1. "The next day [John] saw Jesus coming to him and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'" Note that John refers to this as "the next day". Jn. 1:29
2. [John declares]: “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’" Jn. 1:30
3. [Upon first encounter]: “I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” This is a simple fact, unrelated to Christ's Anointing. Jn. 1:31
3. [Now, today,] "John testified saying, 'I have [since] seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.'" Jn. 1:32
4. [Prior to Christ's anointing by the Spirit,] "I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John is again referring to a past event. 1:33-34

It is not the case that John, upon first encounter, recognized Christ at all. But when the Spirit descended on Jesus "like a dove," as John says, he then recognized Him.

John seems merely to be recounting the event of the previous day when all of this took place.

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  • Correct: "Behold the Lamb ... this is the Son of God" is one discourse from John the Baptist, thus past events occurred before his discourse.
    – Perry Webb
    May 31 at 14:10
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John the Baptist expected the Messiah at this (exact) time. The Essenes were awaiting the Messiah - they anticipated both his birth and death, even dated them! And John the Baptist was associated with the Essenes, he ‘headed’ the school of the prophets.

The point here is that the Essenes knew this man was the Messiah

When Jesus was presented for circumcision, we read ...

LUKE 2:25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout,

The Holy Spirit had told Simeon that the Messiah had been born. We can actually ‘add’ more to this text. ‘devout means not a Pharisee - they didn’t expect Jesus. Neither a Sadducee - they didn’t believe in the Holy Spirit. The next ‘large’ grouping were the Essenes - a group who [actually] ‘believed’ Torah! Devoutly.

So Simeon knew the ‘prophecies’ - a baby, born in Bethlehem, at this time, named Yeshua - and here was a baby that fit all these prophecies.

Point is - There was a group who expected the Messiah, at this time. And John the Baptist was part of that group. He knew this was Yeshua. He did not need to be told (via a or any ‘sign’).

This all verified via the DSS - specifically the commentaries- they outline this whole story. Even to the setting aside of John as the one who was to ‘prepare the way’!

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The answer to this is actually in the text quoted by the OP which I repeat below (John 1:29-34):

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God. (NLT translation)

Thus, it appears that John had seen the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus and thus knew that Jesus was the Messiah and the Lamb of God. That is, John declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God AFTER he had seen the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus.

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