Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, says of John the Baptist, whose birth he predicts and pronounces, that 'he shall go before him' that is to say, in context, before 'the Lord their God' - 'their' being 'the children of Israel' :

And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias ... [Luke 1:16,17 KJV]

Zacharias reiterates this same concept, when once his mouth is opened again, and he prophesies that John shall be called :

... the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; [Luke 1:76 KJV]

Thus John goes before 'him' (the Lord their God) and is the 'prophet of the Highest' and goes 'before the face of the Lord'.

This seems to be a fulfilment of Malachi 3:1 :

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. [Malachi 3:1 KJV]

Here, Malachi prophesies that a messenger will precede and prepare the way of 'the Lord'. And the Lord himself is designated as 'the messenger of the covenant', or as the writer to the Hebrews has it, the 'Apostle ... of our profession'.

Here, also, Malachi prophesies that the Lord will come to his own temple. And we know that only God has a temple.

Thus, is it true to say that the ministry of John the Baptist precedes the ministry of the Lord who is 'God' ?

  • 2
    "the Lord will come to his own temple. And we know that only God has a temple." And that, made without hands, is the body of the Lord Jesus. +1 Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 14:28
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? How was Lord most likely understood and how should it be understood today in Luke 1:76
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 14:42
  • 2
    Not only it is a duplicate but very low quality.
    – Michael16
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 14:42
  • 1
    @Michael16 The question (and answer) you link to is about Malachi's prophesy and regards Lordship. My question is specifically about Zacharias' prophecy concerning John the Baptist and regards Deity. I don't see an answer and I disagree with your comment about 'quality'. I am looking for an hermeneutic answer regarding the specific texts I have quoted in my question.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 14:46
  • 2
    Yet again, I must stress that my question is about Deity . . . . God. I dislike your tone and I wish not to comment any further. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


Taking 'precede' to mean coming before someone else (not precedence, as in priority over), then the answer is given by Jesus himself, and is clearly understood.

This happened when John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was, indeed, the foretold one who was to come. Their words to Jesus were:

"Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" (Luke 7:20) "Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." (vss.22-23)

The men returned to John and Jesus addressed the crowd regarding John, as to who he was. He said that John was in the wilderness as a prophet. "Yes, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet" and then quoted Malachi 3:1.

Unequivocally, Jesus stated that John the Baptist was the one who had been foretold to be sent before the Lord God, to prepare the way of the Lord God.

Of note is the way Malachi 3:1 continues to say that "the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts."

This shows the complexity of what was going on, and it is what Gabriel says to Zacharias in Luke 1:15-17 about the messenger that confirms the case for John the Baptist preceding the ministry of God himself. The relevant words are already quoted above, so all that needs to be said is, simply this:

The Lord God of Israel will have a messenger precede his sudden arrival at his temple. The one who suddenly arrives shortly after John the Baptist prepared the people of Israel to receive him is Jesus of Nazareth.


There is little clear direct information available but clearly, Luke & Malachi don’t quite merry.

Most evidence also shows that its unlikely that the passage is talking about Jesus.


Others have been called Lord / master and even worshipped – that has not made them God. David has also been called a begotten son. David himself was a Adon (lord) amongst his people, "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalm 2:7)"

The Lord = God = Jesus – this issues I will leave to other questions.

Malachi 3:1

‘Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.’

Note [“Prepare the way” – God needs no one to prepare the way – so likely that a human/prophet will come to prepare the way for another human/prophet]

Confusion John the Baptist or Elijah

Matthew 11:11 - 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

note [Clearly a questionable passage - does that imply that JtB is greater than Jesus as he was also born of a women & all previous prophets. Obviously he is someone to be highly respected a man of God, but arguably not as influential as others]

Malachi 4:5 - “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.”

2 Kings 2:9-12 - Elijah did not die but was taken up to heaven directly

Matthew 14:10 John the Baptist had come back to life, having previously been beheaded.

Mark 6:14-16 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

(could JtB have come back again / was he resurrected?)

Matthew 11:14 “If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Matthew 17:11-13 - 10The disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 Jesus replied, “Elijah does indeed come, and he will restore all things. 12But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him whatever they wished. In the same way, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.” 13Then the disciples understood that He was speaking to them about John the Baptist.…

Mark 9:11-13 - They asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

Mark 1:2-3 - 1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Isaiah 40:3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

note[It is unclear if it is JtB (possibly resurrected) or Elijah or JtB is in fact Elijah] [However, below JtB clearly states he is not Elijah]


Not very clear from the passages, but JtB should have clearly knows who Jesus is as they were cousins and both filled with the Holy Spirit, even before birth.

Matt. 11:2 awaiting death-penalty in the prison he sent two of his disciples to Jesus asking: "Art thou he that should come or do we look for another?"

Matthew 11:3-5 - 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

(Jesus seems to avoid the Q – many others preformed these miracles, so proves little)

Matthew 16:13-16 - Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

John 1:19-27 19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” 24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

note[surprisingly JtB is not clear that Lord/Messiah relates to Jesus and arguably JtB done very little, to prepare the way. Clearly 3 others are expected – JtB clearly confirms that he is not Elijah, Jesus being the Messiah, another prophet was clearly expected]

note [1 – very unclear is JtB does or doesn’t know who Jesus is. 2 – If he realised that Jesus was the expected Lord – why did he continue his mission / baptising, as he is making way for the arrival of the Lord, JtB would stop and followed Jesus]


Matthew 1:2 - 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Luke 3:33 - 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,

Psalms 60:7 "and Judah is my scepter or lawgiver"

Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Isaiah 3:1-2 - "For behold, the Lord God of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support, the whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water; the mighty man and the warrior, the judge and the prophet..."

“i was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of israel." (Matthew: 15/24).

come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself." (john: 6/15).

"Jesus answered, “my kingdom is not of this world. if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that i might not be delivered over to the jews. but my kingdom is not from the world." (john: 18/36).

Note [sceptre will pass form Judah, the arrival of ‘Shilon’ will end the law of Israel. Jesus was a descendent of Judah and ‘Only’ sent to the house of Israel & descendent of David. Jesus also implies that he does not want to be King and this is not his kingdom]

Was someone else be expected (a few of many passages)

Clearly someone else was expected

John 1:19-27 above 3 people were expected – Elijah, Messiah & The Prophet.

1 Corinthians 13:10 - but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Isaiah 46:10-11 "Declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying 'My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it."

genesis: 16:12 - “he shall be a wild donkey of a man; his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen." “a ruin, ruin, ruin i will make it. this also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and i will give it to him." (ezekiel: 21/27).

John 15:26 - 26 John 15:26 "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me"

John 16:7-14 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you."

John 14:30-31 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. (someone coming not here already)

Luke 3:16 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

(will come, clearly not Jesus as he was already here and did not baptise with fire)

Mark 1:7 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

(not Jesus as he was already here)

Deuteronomy 33:2 And Moses said, "The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them."

(again Lord does not = God – God doesn’t come from Sinai etc…)

Isaiah;21:7 “And he hath seen a chariot–a couple of horsemen, The rider of an ass, the rider of a camel, And he hath given attention–He hath increased attention!”

(Jesus is identified as the rider of an ass – 2 others expected horsemen & Camel)

And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”

note[Jesus was not given any book and no evidence that he could not read]

For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. [Jesus never spoke another tongue]

Isiah 30:27 “Behold, the name of the LORD comes from afar, burning with his anger, etc…” [Jesus was not from afar]

John 14:16 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (Paraclete), that he may abide with you for ever" (cant get more clear – Jesus says that another will come)

Note[clerly it is being implied that someone else was expected, other than, JtB, Jesus, Elijah. Some say the above few verses talk about the Holy Spirit. This is just an attempt to explain will no evidence. Spirit also does not = HS from Greek. Also why did Jesus need to leave before HS comes, when HS has been here from the beginning and Jesus & JtB were filled with the HS etc…]

1 John 2:1 (NRSV) 2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

Matthew 21:11 NRSV) 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Luke 24:19 (NRSV) 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,

1 John 4:6 (NRSV) 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. [I presume there are not 2 HS] John 4:1-3 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,"

note[Jesus is called a prophet (advocate, comforter etc…) and spirit = God spirit to guide and make people steadfast in their belief etc…]


There is no clear definitive answer. JtB is clear that he was not Elijah, he should know. But clear he doesn’t seem to know if Jesus is the Lord / Messiah which is very surprising.

There is nothing that JtB has done to ‘prepare the way’ and would have surely stopped his mission and followed Jesus

Jesus confirms someone else to come and he has to leave. John 14:30 ‘prince of this world’

Jesus was from Judah, brought no laws and was rejected by those he was sent to ‘only’ the tribe of Israel.

When the Lord comes sceptre will depart from Judah– however, this is not the case with Jesus as he was from Judah.


  1. Could be JtB – but unlikely based on all the above points
  2. Could be Elijah – again unlikely
  3. Could be jtb was Elijah – resurrected – or Jesus was wrong
  4. Possible someone else that came before Jesus but we have insufficient information.
  5. Unlikely ‘LORD’ relates to Jesus as he was from Judah and would be contradictory to the prophecies
  6. Clear evidence that someone else was to come, which leave the following possibilities. i) Possibly Jesus was ‘clearing the path’ for someone else to come – as its clear someone else was to come. ii) Someone else to come and pave the way before Jesus second coming
  • This is clearly a Jewish Perspective of Jesus. Nice seeing it. So much is done to the clear Texts of Scriptures to remove Jesus from being the Messiah as the scriptures says Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 21:01
  • @FaithMendel - Jesus is the Messiah - but this is used as a lose term – Anointed one is a saviour / liberator of a group of people – a prophet. Jesus says he was only sent to the Israelites not to ‘All’ the nations. There was more than one expected - 1 Chronicles 16:22 - 22‘Do not touch My anointed ones! Do no harm to My prophets!’ – plural. Happy for you to indicate where I may be wrong. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 10:57
  • Jesus also says go to all Nations, and also.prays for all who will come into the Faith. Off course the Jews has the privilege of receiving all the oracles and promises of God. It's states in Romans. Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 11:15
  • @FaithMendel - looks like a contradiction - Jesus says 'only' sent to - in any event the main point Messiah is not exclusively - Jesus. Its clear more then one anointed & someone else to come. John 16:7-14 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come....." Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 11:29
  • If I go not away the comforter will not come, simple means. Jesus was going to send the comforter by his ascension. And this comforter was called "The Spirit of Truth" in the same chapter . Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 12:01

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