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According to Luke 7:33, John the Baptist "came neither eating bread nor drinking wine" (KJV).

King James Version:

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.

Textus Receptus (Estienne, 1550):

ἐλήλυθεν γὰρ Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς μήτε ἄρτον ἐσθίων μὴτὲ οἶνον πίνων καὶ λέγετε Δαιμόνιον ἔχει

Why didn't John the Baptist eat bread?

  • This has some relations to my answer of another question (though not exactly the same). – ScottS May 8 '14 at 1:53
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The short answer is, because he ate "locusts and wild honey" (Mt 3:4; Mk 1:6).

The slightly longer explanation is that John the Baptist lived a simple life (Lk 7:25) in the wilderness, where he was called from (Lk 3:2) and in which he ministered (Mt 3:1; Mk 1:4; Lk 7:24). Thus he lived off the land by eating these insects for protein, fat, and nutrients (as they were kosher for Jewish diets) and the wild honey for carbohydrates.

Bread and wine are processed foods found in civilization, and John was not like Christ—attending feasts and eating with people in the cities (hence the contrast of Lk 7:33-34, compare v.36; see more explanation in this answer).

So his diet did not include bread for practical purposes in respect to his living outside civilization. No way to make it, few opportunities to buy it (if he even had money to purchase it with), and no convenient way to store it, so he trusted God to provide food from the wild.

  • Is there any correlation to leaven (with bread) or fermentation (with wine) and their corresponding association with ritual impurity? – Joseph May 8 '14 at 16:44
  • @Joseph: I doubt such is intended here for three reasons based on the Luke 7 passage: (1) v.33-34 would be saying John the Baptist kept himself ritually pure, and Christ did not?!?! (2) "Bread" is generic enough to be a leavened or unleavened reference (but both are "processed" forms of food), (3) as my other answer I link to notes, the whole reference itself to the "eating and drinking" contrast (in context) is primarily about the participation habits of John and Christ with society (rather than specific diet); how each functioned differently in their social interaction in their ministries. – ScottS May 8 '14 at 16:54
  • Okay. Do you see any evidence that John the Baptist a Nazirite, in which case the ritual purification (from leavened bread or fermented wine) was necessary? – Joseph May 8 '14 at 17:15
  • @Joseph: Little evidence. Some make the assertion based off the parallel ideas of Luke 1:15 with Num 6:3, but that is the only parallel explicitly noted of John (and in Luke 1:15, it is not a vow by either John or his parents, but a statement about John's future character of being Spirit filled). Additionally, bread was not a forbidden thing to the Nazirite, so even if he was (which I doubt), that would not inform at all with this answer. – ScottS May 8 '14 at 17:30
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Bread and Wine symbolize the body and blood of Christ which represent all that encompasses the new covenant. John the baptist was a forerunner to Christ but part of the old covenant. Hence Jesus words, "The least in the kingdom of God is greater than John the baptist."

The fact that John ate no bread or drank no wine was "a picture" of the dispensation he represented. Another way to say this would be, "John did not partake of communion (the body and blood of Christ)."

Pictures in the bible are prophetic words painted by God. To this end they operate according to 2 Peter 1:20 "But know this first of all that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of ones own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

Pictures painted by God in the Bible are like parables. Given to illustrate a point. For example, most people can clearly see and understand how the baker and wine bearer who were in prison with Joseph (Genesis) represented the body and blood of Christ. The baker lost his head and the wine bearer was restored to his position. Joseph was a "type" of Christ. Joseph provided bread to the world, Christ was the bread of the world.

These pictures painted by God are not limited to the old testament. While Jesus was teaching and providing examples of the Kingdom of God on earth there was in His actions a prophetic picture being painted of the ministry He came to set up. For example, when He told Peter to cast out into the deep and Peter pulled in a huge number of fish such that he had to call for the other boat to help...This was a prophetic picture of Peters calling, "I will make you a fisher of men." When Jesus fed the multitude (twice) and had the disciples pick up the scraps. The baskets collected (12 once and 7 the second time) represented the gospel (broken bread) handed out and the harvest (scraps picked up so that nothing was lost).

Pictures painted by God are only understood in hindsight. God uses this effect at times to "time release" the message behind the message. Secondly, they are only understood in hindsight to prevent any man from claiming to "cause" the event.

These pictures painted by God are a Language of God. 1 Corinthians 14:10 "There are perhaps a great many kinds of Language in the world, and no kind of language is without meaning." This text does not say that there are many languages it says there are many KINDS of languages. I personally walk in this language so speak from experience (although I am growing in understanding).

Psalm 19: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; there voice is not heard.

This verse describes what I am saying. God paints His message in all of creation (without a word) and He illustrates specific messages in the lives of men. What I am saying raises dozens of additional points and questions but hopefully I have made my point regarding why John the baptist did not eat bread of drink wine.

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    This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. You may want to see "What are we looking for in answers?". – Dɑvïd Aug 12 '16 at 16:19
  • Notwithstanding that, this answer is very insightful. A little bit better citations, and I think you can make this answer and similar stellar. – James Shewey Aug 12 '16 at 16:51
  • Thank you both for the feedback. I stumbled into this site after doing an online search on this subject, "John the baptist comes to you eatting no bread and drinking no wine and you say he has a demon! (luke 7:33)" After reading the previous posts I saw the invitation to add my own thoughts and so logged in and did so. I have no knowledge of hermeneutics. Lord willing, I will come back at a later date and edit this post with "better citations" and some knowledge of the guidelines and boundaries of hermeneutics. – Crank Pipebender Aug 14 '16 at 19:48

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