Luke alone among the gospels makes a claim that Jesus was related to John the Baptist during his nativity account:

“And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.” (Luke 1:36 NSRV)

Raymond Brown points out this connection contradicts the Gospel of John where John the Baptist claims to have never known Jesus [1]:

"I myself did not know him" (John 1:33 NSRV)

What purpose does the Lukan familial connection between Jesus and John the Baptist serve? Does this try to bridge between the Jesus movement and John the Baptist's movement?

[1]. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Updated Edition, Yale University Press, 1999

  • @DerÜbermensch thanks! only partially, I am still curious what the purpose of Luke making the family connection was. David Friedrich Strauss thinks it was to boost the Jesus movement Mar 27 at 17:04
  • Removed the question about John the Baptist not knowing Jesus Mar 27 at 17:05
  • 1
    Whatever the motivation, I question the assumption that "We are related" contradicts "We have not met", since the story in Luke hardly counts as a ameeting. Mar 27 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


Apart from the obvious possibility that they were related, there is more to consider, quite apart from conspiracy theories long after the event.

All four of the accounts about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ contain many similarities, but many unique points and intriguing, individual details. Luke demonstrates this, but none more so than the aged apostle John, with his astonishingly different account.

Luke is clearly filling in a raft of details the other three never mentioned. He starts by majoring on Elizabeth and Zacharias. Yet John does not say a thing about Jesus' birth on Earth! John links Genesis 1 - creation - with the logos, who later became flesh. John doesn't even detail the Baptist baptising Jesus. Luke and John were writing with particular ideas in mind that needed to be conveyed. Put both their accounts together and the Big Picture emerges. Ditto when you put Matthew and Mark's accounts together, noting what one leaves out, and what the other stresses.

If you are going to ask why author Luke alone mentions that John the Baptist and Jesus were related, you are going to have to ask dozens more questions like that regarding other things he mentions that the others do not. And when it comes to John's account, there will be hundreds such questions about his startlingly different account. Of course, it's all too easy to assume that Luke had a vested interest in promoting the pre-birth details of John and Jesus, and anyone starting with that assumption will not be satisfied with any answer.

  • "quite apart from conspiracy theories long after the event" - what conspiracy are you referring to here? I also don't see a single answer to the question, just a complaint about its starting assumptions Mar 28 at 15:21
  • @AviAvraham My para.3 answers the Q. But don't forget: there is the option of down-voting my answer.
    – Anne
    Mar 28 at 16:18

Let us keep in mind that Infant John was less than two years of age when Herod ordered the killing of the babes. In the case of Jesus, his parents fled with him to Egypt. But how was Infant John saved? His birth was known in the vicinity and anyone would have betrayed Zakarias and Elizabeth. Thus, John was most probably taken to a distant place and was brought up in disguise. It is also possible that Jesus and John never met till the beginning of their public life. John's style of life, especially his austere food habit, which got a mention from Jesus, and his wearing of camel skin, implies that he lived a solitary life . Once, John even ends up doubting if Jesus was the Messiah! That would not have happened if his mother had told him of Mary's visit to her thirty years back and the heavenly talk they both had!

  • This doesn’t answer the question, I’m not asking about why John doesn’t know Jesus. I’m asking why the author of Luke alone makes Jesus and John related Mar 28 at 12:48
  • Sorry, I had in mind your original Question, while drafting my response. Honestly, I have no idea if it would make a material difference to the Ministry of Jesus and that of John, if they were not related by blood. Mar 28 at 13:21

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