John the Baptist is one of the most revered men in the Bible. His close relation to Jesus gives believers even more reason to read about their lives on earth and try to follow their ways.
However, many still try to find out are Jesus and John the Baptist cousins?
The Bible does not reveal how Jesus and John the Baptist are related. However, the Gospel of Luke implies that their mothers were relatives. Early Christian writings also imply that traditions in the past allowed related persons to identify as cousins, so it could be possible.
Who was John the Baptist, and how was he related to Jesus Christ? Were they of the same age? And how did Jesus’ relation to John assist in his ministry?
Let’s look at the answers to these questions according to evidence given in the Bible.
Who was John the Baptist in the Bible?
His name alone indicates that he was a man in the Bible who baptized people who turned their lives to God.
His coming was prophesied in Isaiah 40:3-5, where the scripture implied, A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
John was considered a prophet of the end times because of the message that he continuously preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2).
According to the scripture, John the Baptist was God’s special ambassador who was to perform the works of the Lord as he proclaimed God’s coming.
He was labeled as ‘the baptist’ because he baptized everyone who followed his message and repented.
How were John the Baptist and Jesus cousins?
Luke 1: 36 says, “Even Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.”
The Bible suggests that the mothers of Jesus and John were related, though we do not know how. There is nowhere in the Bible where their relationship is revealed.
However, the Bible suggests, in Luke 1:5, that Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron. These were descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron from the tribe of Levi.
Exodus 6:20 states, “Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.”
Mary, on the other hand, was from Judah’s tribe and was one of Jacob’s other sons and full brother of Levi, as they had the same mother.
Genesis 35:23 says, “The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.”
This shows that Mary and Elizabeth would have been closely related, probably as cousins. Hence, their sons were also closely related.
Yet, religious scholars argue that the Hebrew language did not have a word for cousin. Therefore, common tradition allowed a relative of any kind to be called a cousin.
So, since Mary and Elizabeth were related, then Jesus and John could as well be cousins.
Did John the Baptist know Jesus while they were growing up?
According to biblical evidence and suggestions by theologians, John the Baptist and Jesus did not grow up together. Their first encounter was in Matthew 3:13-17 when John baptized Jesus.
This is why in Matthew 11:3, we see John the Baptist, who was in prison, sending his disciples to inquire from Jesus if he was the Messiah. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
But how is this possible that John the Baptist and Jesus did not know each other?
The early Christian writings help us understand why even better. The Infancy of James implies that Elizabeth fled with her son to the hill country to avoid Herod, who was slaughtering male boys around the time of Jesus’ birth.
This suggests why Jesus and John were not playmates since they lived far apart while growing up.
John the Baptist also testifies about Jesus in John 1:32-34, where he insinuates that he did not know him. “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen, and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One”
How did Jesus’ relation to John the Baptist help with his ministry?
Just as the scriptures insinuate, John prepared a way for the Messiah. He came first and led people to believe in Jesus so that when the Son of Man came, his work would be easier.
Furthermore, he was identified in many Christian texts as the forerunner of Jesus Christ, meaning he who came before. So, Jesus’ relation to John the Baptist made everything easier, as they preached the same thing.
John’s followers understood and abode by Jesus’ teachings since they were already familiar with the Word.
The Gospel of Luke implies how the angel appeared before Mary and informed her that she would be blessed with a child, just as her relative Elizabeth had been and was now in her sixth month.
The scripture suggests that John the Baptist was 6 months older than Jesus.
- John the Baptist
- Who was John the Baptist in the Bible?
- Infancy Gospel of James
- Did John the Baptist Know Jesus Was the Messiah?
- John the Baptist and Jesus (Matthew 3:1-17)
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.