Special Birth of John the Baptist

Hello RZIM community,

I was reading the first chapter of Luke and found myself questioning the special conditions that John the Baptist was born into. Many aspects of his life parallel Jesus. He was essentially a miracle child and he was born with the Holy Spirit, which if I’m not mistaken, was not a common occurrence at the time. My question is, if he was born under supreme supervision of the holy spirit then did God favor him and ultimately guaranteed him salvation? I ask this because we are now born with the Holy Spirit but we don’t experience the same supernatural guidance in our lives. In fact, many of us fall short and ultimately stray away from God.

P.S. Why was he forbidden to Drink wine?


Great question @bondar.

Let me address the postscript first. In Numbers 6:1-21 there is a description of a Nazirite, which was a person that took a vow and set themselves apart “to the Lord.” The regulations on how there were to live out that vow are in that passage, a key regulation being to not partake of any products of the vine in any way during the period of their vow.

When the angel tells Zechariah he must not taste wine or strong drink, it’s a similar setting apart like a Nazirite. John has been conceived and consecrated for a purpose and he received the Holy Spirit, even in the womb, to be equipped for the special task ahead.

Although the Spirit is eternal, you are correct that John’s gifting of the Spirit would not have been a common occurrence. In the OT and pre-Pentecost days of the NT the Spirit would enable special gifts on persons being used to usher in and participate with the Kingdom of God. A good example is Simeon and Anna in Luke 2 when Jesus is presented at the temple. How blessed are we that throughout human history God has chosen to use us in His plan for the kingdom!

John the Baptist believed in Jesus as the Son of the Living God. John was saved by his faith.

It is the same for us. We also are saved by faith.

John received the Holy Spirit in the womb. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again, or “born of the Spirit” as Jesus says in John 3.

Indeed we are fallible humans with wandering hearts. Although we may not experience the H.S. in the same circumstances as John the Baptist, we can experience the same supernatural guidance in our life. It is the Spirit in us that enables us to be transformed into Christ likeness, but it takes a lifetime of yielding. It is the Spirit that enables us to move from self-centered to God-centered.

Indeed, many stray. We stray because we are not listening to the Spirit, we are not abiding in Christ. We must willingly yield to the changes God desires in us. It will not be forced on us. The process of sanctification, the maturing of our faith, is a partnership with the Spirit where we are the junior partner. But we definitely must do our part.

Are there times in your life where you’ve sensed the moving of the Holy Spirit in your life? John Wesley, who began the Methodist movement, said we cannot even begin to believe in Jesus as our savior without the work of the Spirit–he called it Prevenient Grace. The wooing of our spirit with the Spirit. As this process is prior to our confession of faith, perhaps it’s akin to the Spirit John the Baptist had in-utero.

I’ve often compared how intimately we commune with the Holy Spirit to be similar to tuning in a radio station. At times it’s a weak signal and hard to tune in–often because we are not walking closely with God and living in rebellion (sin). But when we are walking closely with God and being obedient the station can be very strong and easy to tune in.


Thank you David for this thought provoking question as it brought me to fellowship with The Lord pondering this question. Moreover @Jennifer_Judson that was a very biblical and heart steering question and I thank you.
I dont want to expound what Jen said because she said it beautifully but just cover a different angle which the part of did John have a “spiritual leg up” from birth. God said in Exodus if I remember correctly and reiterated by Paul in Romans that He will bless whom He will bless. That puts Johns purpose as used by God for His purpose. Jenn is absolutely right that The Holy Spirit was given to people before Christ for specific purposes deemed by God. As we saw in the life of Samson that didnt mean they were perfect. John however appears that he had such an advantage not because he was specifically holier but, as a Nazirite, he was set apart from usual pit falls like alcohol but he was even set apart more by his isolation from normal society living in the wilderness. I dont know about you but I could cut many sins out of my life by being completely insulated from the world which was the main thought behind the monastic movement during the dark ages.
Even after all of that spiritual grooming, literally being the herald of the messiah, John’s faith was still tested when in prison. Remember he sent some of his disciples to Jesus asking if He really was the Messiah that is to come. Immediately following His answer to John’s disciples, Jesus turns and gives John the greatest accolade given to any man in Scripture. Yet Jesus says that those that are least in The Kingdom are greater than John.
So the point being that even though John was amazingly set aside for God’s purposes and ushered to the forefront as greatest prophet, we who are in Christ now are considered more fully called and set aside for God’s purposes.
Praise God for His mercy and grace is what I say!

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Amen and Amen! Hallelujah!

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Great question, David. And, some great answers already!

A small addition might be to point out that the indwelling that John experienced could be categorically different from the believer’s indwelling post-Pentecost. David prayed, “take not your HS from me”. He knew that God could give and take His presence and power as He deemed fit, just as happened with the removal of His glory from the Holy of Holies. But, the indwelling we have as believers post-crucifixion is a permanent one - eternal atonement for all of our sins for all time was taken care of at the cross. Even John did not have the wonder of an eternal indwelling of the HS while he was on the earth like we do today. Crazy to consider!

Further, that indwelling had limits to his specific mission. We are told that he received specific information from God, like a prophet that was given specific information in some manner (angelic delivery, dreams and other methods are noted in the Bible). But, he didn’t know Jesus, who he probably knew most of his life, was the Messiah until after Jesus baptism when he saw the Spirit descend like a dove onto Jesus. That was the sign John was told to look for to know the One God had purposed to be the Savior of Jerusalem. But, it seemed to have been withheld that Jesus was going to establish a heavenly kingdom and not an earthly one. I believe his confusion while he was in prison waiting to be beheaded was that he thought, like the disciples, that an earthly kingdom was intended and that he, as the forerunner, would have an esteemed place in it. His doubt seemed to be tied to the story not playing out like he believed it would/should - the mystery of the atoning death of Jesus by crucifixion was still hidden from him.

Anyway, some supplemental thoughts to add…

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