ESV - 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
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Even though John the Baptist first appeared in what we today refer to as the New Testament, his mission as a precursor and proclaimer of Christ's coming actually made him the last of the Old Testament-type of prophets (who had similarly foretold Christ's future appearance) in that regard. However, John's position as the messenger from God who told Israel of Christ's immediate and imminent appearance assigned him a place of particular importance in God's plan of salvation, to the point where Jesus could truly say that he was the greatest of those who had been born of women (that is, through the normal process of human reproduction). (In fact, the very last prophecy in the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5-6) likened John's coming mission to that of the great Old Testament prophet Elijah -- a similarity that was confirmed by Jesus Himself (Matthew 17:10-13).) However, Jesus came proclaiming a new birth (as He did in John 3:16) that would make people citizens of a higher kingdom (the kingdom of heaven) through faith in Him -- a kingdom that would endure forever into eternity future, and that represented the ultimate fulfillment and goal of God's dealings with humanity. It was the eternal nature of that kingdom that Jesus was saying would make even the least of its inhabitants (that is, those who would receive eternal life in God's presence through faith in Him) greater than anyone who had lived prior to the redemption of humanity that He alone made possible through His sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection
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