Death of John the Baptist

By this time John the Baptist had been executed. When Herod heard the news of Jesus’ miracles, he feared that Jesus was really John come back to life and that supernatural powers were working in him (Matt 14:1-2; Mark 6:14-16). (The Herod referred to here was Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great; see earlier section, ‘The New Testament World’.)

Having mentioned John’s death, the writers go back to record the events that led up to it. Herod had imprisoned John because John had accused him of adultery in marrying Herodias, wife of Herod’s brother, Philip (Mark 6:17-18; cf. Matt 4:12; 11:2). Herod both respected and feared John, as he knew that John was a godly man and that his accusations were true. But no amount of discussion with John could persuade Herod to conquer his passions and give up Herodias (Mark 6:19-20).

John’s place of imprisonment was apparently the dungeon of Herod’s palace. Although this gave Herod the opportunity to speak to him often, it also made it easier for Herodias when an opportunity arose for her to get rid of him. She hated John for his interference, and was quick to act when she saw the chance to have him executed (Mark 6:21-29).

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