Why was John the Baptist in jail and for how long?


Matthew 11:2

ESV - 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples

Clarify Share Report Asked March 22 2020 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
The Bible indicates in Matthew 14 that John the Baptist was placed in prison by Herod Antipas as a result of John condemning Herod for having divorced his wife and then having married Herodias, the divorced wife of Herod Antipas' half-brother Philip.

As indicated in John 3:23, John apparently continued to baptize for some time following Jesus' baptism prior to John's arrest.

Also, despite Herod Antipas' imprisonment of John, the Bible indicates in Mark 6:20 that Herod considered John to be a righteous man and liked to listen to his preaching, which would seem to indicate that Herod would have been reluctant to put him to death, and also that some time elapsed between John's arrest and his execution (which ultimately took place at the instigation of Herodias, as recorded in Matthew 14).

This lapse of time would be consistent with Matthew 11, which records John hearing in prison of what Jesus was doing in His ministry, and having time to send his disciples to Jesus to ask Him whether He was, in fact, the Messiah whose coming John had preached.

Matthew 14:2 indicates that Herod heard reports of Jesus' ministry after having already put John to death.

Based on passages such as Luke 3:1, Jesus' public ministry is commonly estimated as having begun in AD 28. His crucifixion is commonly dated as having occurred at Passover in the spring of AD 30. 

Taking all of the above information into consideration, I would therefore say that John would or could have been in prison no longer than one year following his arrest until his execution.

March 23 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini JACK H.
RE my methodology, first: I used a modified version of Orville Daniel's "Harmony of the Four Gospels" (moving Jn 2:13 thru Jn 4:54 to just before Lk 5:12 / Mk 1:40); second: I identified correlations between the three mandatory OT Festivals and various events in the Gospels. This yields John arrested after the first identified Passover (probably in 30 AD), very likely prior to Shavuot (Pentecost), and certainly before Jesus went north to Sychar. 

He was beheaded after Succoth of that year, and before the next Passover. So he was imprisoned for more than six and less than, say, ten months.

He was imprisoned because he offended Herod, accusing him of incest. He was beheaded because he was hated by Herod's wife.

June 19 2021 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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