Sunday, June 25, 2023

A Study of Matthew Chapter 11:7-15 - John's Character

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 11:7-15 - John's Character

After addressing John's disciples, Jesus turned to the people watching and gave them an evaluation of John. 1) John was not "A reed swayed by the wind". John was dogmatic about what he was saying without doubt or ambiguity. Everyone knew just where John stood. (2) Not "clothed in fine clothes". John was not accustomed to luxurious living. (3) He was "a prophet". John received direct revelation from God. (4) He was "much more than a prophet". John was the forerunner to the Messiah. Jesus quoted Mal 3:1 and said that John was the fulfillment of that prophecy. (5) He was "the greatest among OT prophets". Jesus claimed that John the Baptist was the greatest of all of the OT prophets. Jesus went further though and said that although John was the greatest of the OT prophets, he was would be the least of those in the new kingdom program, probably referring to the indwelling of the Spirit that would be characteristic of the coming age.

Jesus was declaring to the people that the time of the Kingdom had come, and now was the time to accept and enter the Kingdom. Jesus had arrived, and John had been sent as the forerunner according to prophecy. Jesus points out the attributes and characteristics of John as that forerunner again.

Jesus points out that the Kingdom has been pressed forward by the teaching to repent for the kingdom is at hand, and Jesus and His disciples are teaching and preaching the kingdom forcefully. Since the beginning it has been subjected to violence and rejection rather than accepted.

The prophecies and law pointed to the future with this coming of John, but now that he was here they are to be concerned with the future giving way to the present in the form of the kingdom. The kingdom is not in abeyance yet, but it is headed that way. John was in prison and Jesus was teaching about coming persecution.

With regards to the comment that John could have been the Elijah that the Israelites were awaiting. Jesus here states that John the Baptist could have fulfilled the role of Elijah had the Jewish people accepted Jesus as Messiah. Due to their rejection, however, Elijah's arrival would be in the future along with the King and Kingdom.

Elijah's role according to prophecies that announce his arrival in the future is to resolve conflicts between parents and their children (Mal 4:5-6), Mat 17:11-13, Mat 11:14).

With regards to the coming of Elijah, a detailed look at this is found here: (

The conclusion of this pericope is usually given after an ambiguous or parabolic statement. Here it refers to the teaching Jesus just gave about John and Elijah. These words are a solemn warning to pay close attention to what is said. Failure to respond can result in judgment.

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