Big Problem With John’s Disciples

After Herod had John beheaded there was unrest amongst his followers who the fictional Jesus approaches while they were grieving, on the verge of revolt. No doubt there was a protest and revolt, but, it was not broadcast on the radio of T.V. The news of John’s murder was broadcast abroad in the Diaspora where the disciples of John preached in Synagogues about the Great Atonement at the End Days.

Now Jews were upset in Greece and Rome. An excuse had to be invented, such as, John TRANSFERRED the Holy Spirit over to his disciple Jesus (Jesus who?)while in prison, and thus the Holy Spirit that WAS in John, and now is in Jesus. When John’s teaching about the Jubilee caused the debt archives to be burned and the war with with Rome to begin – and after the Jews lost this war – here come Paul down the road to murder John’s followers, now claiming Jesus (as the Holy Spirit) TRANSFERRED this Holy Spirit over to him. Thus, there is a good chance most of the words that come out of Jesus’ mouth, came out of John’s mouth – only! The result, John’s Revolt has been put down, and a lie invented to keep it down, and at the same time go into the Diaspora and corrupt and placate a world wide revolt – something Herod feared BEFORE he went ahead and murdered John the Baptist – the real deal! Why didn’tJohn’s followers go over to Jesus? He is pure fiction!

Keep your eye on the ball, the Holy Spirit, which is a Gift of God, the meaning of the name John. Jesus means ‘savior’ a title that may have been applied to John by tens of thousands of Jews.

Christin leaders have said for two thousand years THE JEWS murdered Jesus because they did not recognize him – AS WHAT – God? The Jews recognized John the Baptist! Herod sees that he is a great prophet who performed miracles, and was capable of being resurrected from the dead – into another person. Did Herod believe in the RESUSCITATION? What is that?

Jon Presco

Copyright 2012

Acts 19:2-7 – Disciples of John the Baptist
April 5, 2011 in Luke / Acts, Observations on Acts | Tags: Acts 19, Holy Spirit, John the Baptist

Luke intended this paragraph to be read along with the previous unit, the introduction of Apollos as a disciple of John. Just as Luke contrasted Barnabas with Ananias in 4:36-28 and 5:1-2, Apollos and the other disciples of John stand in contrast One disciple heard John and accept Jesus as the Messiah (although not fully understanding the implications of the resurrection, most likely with respect for Gentile salvation), the other disciples heard John but were ignorant of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The dozen disciples of John indicate that even 20 years after John’s death there was a movement amount the Jews that held John to be a prophet and in some way kept his teachings alive. Perhaps the gospel of John gives us a similar hint, especially if it can be show that John wrote from Ephesus near the end of the first century.

These disciples cannot be considered Christians at this point since they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. While Luke only uses “disciple” for believers in every other case in Acts, his use of μαθητής here is without a definite article, the such example in Acts. At the very least these are unusual Christians, perhaps “fringe” Christians, similar to the “unusual, fringes of Judaism described in the first half of the book. Paul’s question – did you receive the Holy Spirit – is equivalent to asked, “are you believers?” Not only have these disciples not received the Holy Spirit, they do not even know that there is a Holy Spirit!

Paul asked them “into whom” or “into what” they were baptized. The NIV obscures this a bit, interpreting the question as “who baptized you,” rather than “what was the medium in which you were baptized.” Witherington comments that the image of being immersed into the Holy Spirit was common in the early church, see Rom 6:3, 1 Cor 1:13, 15, 10:2, 12:13, Gal 3:27). His point is that the “whom” of this verse cannot refer to water; he sees the baptism of the Holy Spirit as entry into saving faith, while baptism in water is entry into the Christian community (Acts, 571).

Since they had been baptized “in John’s baptism,” Paul explains that John’s baptism was not enough, it was a “baptism of repentance,” which looked forward to the ministry of Jesus. One could not be saved at this point in history only by accepting the message of John, it is only through faith in Jesus that one can be saved (as Acts has made abundantly clear prior to this point in the book!)

As has happened at several points in the book of Acts already, there is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit (tongues and prophesy) after Paul lays hands on these disciples. There is no consistent “order of events” in Acts, sometimes the Spirit comes prior to baptism (10:44-48, Cornelius) and other times baptism is prior (19:1-7), and in the case of Apollos, there is no mention of a re-baptism or of the coming of the Spirit. Perhaps this is because he properly understood the message of John as pointing forward to Jesus, but that is not clear.

In fact, this is the only case of re-baptism in the New Testament, even the twelve were not re-baptized into the name of Jesus, they only had experienced the baptism of John (although one wonders about Matthew, since he was called to be an Apostle after John’s ministry.) The point of this brief narrative is to show that it is possible to have a limited knowledge of Jesus which is not enough to be saved – theologically there was nothing wrong with these disciples except that they did not quite believe enough. They did not believe something that was wrong, but they did not take their belief to the full extent needed for salvation.

Here is another problem for Applying Acts – what do we make of these disciples? Are these disciples “partial believers” who have participated in a ritual (John’s Baptism) but did not believe enough to be actually Christians? What is it that “saved” these disciples? In any case, it is the reception of the Holy Spirit which demonstrates they are in fact now Christians.

Disciples of John the Baptist
Like Christ, John the Baptist had disciples who followed him.

Andrew was first a disciple of John the Baptist. He left John to become a disciple of Jesus. Andrew brought his brother, Simon Peter, to Christ.

John’s disciples fast
Jesus called Matthew the tax collector to be a disciple. Matthew, also named Levi, held a great feast which the disciples of John and Jesus attended.
   John’s disciples were fasting, and asked Jesus why his disciples did not fast. Using 4 parables, Jesus showed that it was inappropriate for his own disciples to fast at that time.

The baptizers
Jesus began preaching near the Jordan river. His disciples were baptizing more people than John’s disciples. John’s disciples came to him with this concern.
   John the Baptist told them that he was not the Christ, and that he would decrease as Jesus increased.

John’s messengers
After John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, he sent his disciples to Jesus with the question “Are you the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”
   Jesus responded with these encouraging words “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
   Jesus commended John by telling the multitude that John was greater than any of the prophets.

Problem: John the Baptist still had disciples
Verses: John 3:25-28, others; Status: Minor
Like Jesus, John the Baptist was a historical figure who definitely existed. Nevertheless, it has been argued that the gospels do not present an accurate picture of John. I’d like to examine one problem, that of John’s disciples (this was brought to my attention by Paul Tobin).
All the gospels agree that John came to prepare the way for Jesus. For example, this is Luke 3:16:
John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (ESV)
It would seem logical that, when Jesus arrived on the scene, John would point his disciples to him and instruct them to follow Jesus. And yet, there are verses where we are told that John still had disciples. For example, this is Matthew 9:14:
Then the disciples of John came to him [Jesus], saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (ESV)
Mark 2:18 and Luke 5:33 also mention that the disciples of John were behaving differently from the disciples of Jesus.
In a different context, we are told at Luke 7:18-23 and Matthew 11:2-6 that John’s disciples were relaying messages between him and Jesus.
I’m not sure what to make of all this. On the one hand, being a disciple of John doesn’t rule out also being a disciple of Jesus. I think this could resolve the problem of the messengers: they could have been disciples of both teachers. Also, since John was thrown in prison, it’s possible that many of his followers were never told that they should be following Jesus. That might solve the fasting problem – if these disciples of John were still following the “old rules”.
Perhaps the most difficult problem is John 3:25-28:
Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness – look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ (ESV)
This passage sums up the whole problem. Why are these particular disciples – who should be aware that Jesus is the Messiah – still following John? Well, you might say that John’s followers loved him so much that they were unhappy to leave him. That seems possible. Alternatively, perhaps they hadn’t quite “got it” yet.
Even after his death, history records that John had many followers who were not Christians, but this can be explained away if we accept that not every follower of John would have been fully aware of all his teachings. It’s still a bit odd though.
In the end, I’ve not found any really sharp contradiction here, but it’s definitely a thorny issue.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Big Problem With John’s Disciples

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    I take away Jesus from all evangelicals who voted for The Beast!


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