John 1:6 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
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John 1:6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John: egeneto (3SAMI) anthropos, apestalmenos (MSNRPP) para theou, onoma auto Ioannes. (NASB: Lockman)

  • a man: John 1:33 Jn 3:28 Isa 40:3-5 Mal 3:1 Mal 4:5,6 Mt 3:1-11 Mt 11:10 Mt 21:25 Mk 1:1-8 Lu 1:15-17,76 Lk 3:2-20 Acts 13:24
  • John: Lu 1:13,61-63

Barclay - There emerged a man sent from God whose name was John.

Hendricksen - There came a man named John, commissioned by God.


John Phillips Outline

I. The Divine Light in Evidence (Jn 1:6-13)

A. The Witness and the Light (Jn 1:6-8)

1. The Messenger (Jn 1:6)

2. The Motive (Jn 1:7)

3. The Method (Jn 1:8)

B. The World and the Light (Jn 1:9-13)

1. The Light Revealed (Jn 1:9)

2. The Light Resisted (Jn 1:10-11)

3. The Light Received (Jn 1:12-13)

(Exploring the Gospel of John)

After God spoke His last Old Testament message through Malachi, He was silent for 400 years, but before He went silent, He gave a promise to send two messengers "Behold, I am going to send My messenger (John the Baptist), and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant (Jesus Christ), in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1-note)

Notice that John 1:1-5 speak about Jesus. Then abruptly John 1:6-8 introduce "John the Witness.' And then John 1:9ff pick up John's discussion of Jesus.

John Piper raises the question of why John abruptly introduces "John the Witness" at this juncture instead of completing his introduction of the Word of God. Piper reasons that "the effect of the way he did write it is to make crystal clear from the very outset that God's way of letting the light of Christ shine in the world is by human witnesses. God's way of pushing back the darkness is by human witnesses. It didn't have to be this way. God could have caused the light of Christ to spread in some other way. He could have done it with angels. He could have written the gospel in the sky with big puffy white letters made out of clouds. He could have caused the wind to talk. But instead God chose to call and send human beings to bear witness to the light. "There was a man [a human being] sent from God, whose name was John. This general principle is even more clear because John was sent to testify to the light while the light was there. As soon as the light was in the world—as soon as Jesus came—God prepared and sent a human being right alongside the light to bear witness to the light. Jesus did not need John the Baptist to make him known. He could have managed by himself—he was the light of the world. But evidently God's wisdom dictates that his Son should be heralded, announced, proclaimed by people that he sends. Evidently God knows that this is the way to bring the greatest happiness to men and the greatest glory to his Son… Be ready and open to God's call on your life to send you to bear witness to the light; and be ready and open to recognize the word of God to you when it comes from others that God has sent to you. (A Burning Witness to the Light)

Hendricksen writes that John the Witness "is introduced as an example of the constant shining of the light… John, whose name means “Jehovah has been gracious,” had been sent (perfect passive participle, indicating abiding result; from apostello) from—or commissioned by—God. The purpose for which he had been commissioned is stated in Jn 1:7-8"

D A Carson - A fuller description of the Baptist’s witness appears in Jn 1:19–34; Jn 3:27–30; Jn 5:35, with a marvelous summary in Jn 10:40–42. (The Gospel according to John The Pillar New Testament Commentary)

Spurgeon - How grand, how sublime, are the Evangelist’s words when he speaks of Jesus! How truly human he becomes, how he dips his pen in ordinary ink, when he writes: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” Yet that was a noble testimony to the herald of Christ. John the Baptist was “a man sent from God.”

There came a man (There became) - A man, not the Man Christ Jesus. As a man, he is the first human being described in John's prologue. In short, the evangelist describes the historical appearance of John the Baptist (Witness), who was the last OT prophet in the sense of his message and his perspective. While the synoptic writers refer to him as the Baptist (Mt 3:1; 11:11f; 14:2, 8; 16:14; 17:13; Mk 1:4; 6:14, 24f; 8:28; Lk 7:20, 33; 9:19), John never calls his the Baptist. However he does describe his baptizing work (Jn 1:25-33, John 3:23) so there is no doubt that this man is John the Baptizer of the synoptic gospels. In the synoptic gospels we see who John is, but the fourth Gospel we see why he is -- his purpose is not primarily to baptize but to serve as a witness of Jesus Christ! And that is every believer's primary purpose for existence! To tell those lost in darkness about the Light of the World!

John was "sent from God" and was an evangelist. An evangelist (Greek = euaggelistes, one who announces good news) is a person authorized to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. God set in the church evangelists (Eph 4:11-12-note). Paul told Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (1Ti 4:11). God still works through men to evangelize men! Beloved, you may not have the title "Evangelist so and so" but you can mark it down that you are God's man or woman on the scene of your job, your school, your community. In short you are God's evangelist wherever you are and are empowered with the dynamic Gospel (Ro 1:16-note) and the Spirit enabled boldness to speak the message of Jesus to others (cp Paul's prayer Eph 6:19-20-What is repeated? See commentary). Are you availing yourself of your "once in a lifetime" privilege of proclaiming the Gospel to those in your sphere of influence, those who are dead in their trespasses and sins and are destined for eternal separation from God (2Th 1:9)? Remember, you have access to individuals that no pastor will ever see in their service, so don't miss your opportunity!

Note the contrast between John and Jesus - John came, the Word was. John was a man, the Word was God. John was sent from God, the Word was with God.

The apostle John presents the greatest man born of women (Mt 11:11, Lk 7:28) and contrasts him with Christ (See chart below). John himself highlights the striking contrast declaring "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me." (Jn 1:15), "He Who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." (Jn 1:26), "After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me." (Jn 1:30) and "He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals." (Mt 3:11) In fact John's conclusion was "He must increase, but I must decrease." (Jn 3:30)




son of a man
Son of God

(aorist tense)
always Was

(imperfect tense)
by God
of All
A Man
Sent from God
The Word was God and
Sent from God
Bore witness
of the Light
Jesus was
the Light
Thru Whom Men Believed
In Whom Men were to Believe

William Hendriksen contrasts John the Witness and Jesus the One about Whom John witnesses…

Christ was (ēn) from all eternity; John came (egenetō).

Christ is the Word (ho logos); John is a mere man (anthrōpos).

Christ is Himself God; John is commissioned by God.

Christ is the real Light; John came to testify concerning the real Light.

Christ is the object of trust; John is the agent through whose testimony men come to trust in the real Light, even Christ. (The Gospel According to John)

In a word, no human compares with Jesus.

Westcott on there came (egeneto) - Each of the three words in the original which describe the advent of John is expressive. His “becoming” is contrasted with the “being” of the Word (Jn 1:9). He is spoken of as “a man” with a significant reference to the mystery realised in ("the Man" Jesus - Jn 1:14. And at the same time he was charged with a divine mission (Ed: sent = apostello = speaks of one sent on a mission with a commission [power and authority of the sender]). (The Gospel according to St John)

Bob Utley - It is interesting to note that Christ is described in IMPERFECT TENSE (pre-existence) verbs, while John is described in AORIST (manifested in time - "there came" is aorist tense) and PERFECT TENSE (a historical event with lasting results) verbs (cf. apostello in perfect tense in Jn 1:6). Jesus has always existed. (John 1 Commentary)

Steven Cole sees this next section (Jn 1:6-13) as analogous to the beginning of a courtroom drama or trial - "He has already (Jn 1:1-5) given us a description of Jesus Christ as the eternal Word, the second Member of the Trinity, and the Creator of all that is. He has said that in Jesus is life and that life was the light of men. But even though that Light shines in the darkness, the darkness did not comprehend (or overpower) it (Jn 1:5). This implies the conflict between light and darkness that unfolds in this drama. In John 1-4, there is initially belief in Jesus, but in John 5-12, there is subsequent unbelief, leading up to His mock trial and crucifixion. In our text, John introduces the witness of John the Baptist to Jesus (Jn 1:6-8) and the witness of Jesus Himself, “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9). There is more than adequate testimony in Jesus’ favor. But what will the jury decide? While as I said, this plays out throughout the entire story, John shows here that many who should have decided favorably sadly rejected the witness to Jesus Christ, whereas others welcomed the witness by receiving and believing in Him. But John isn’t just reporting a courtroom drama for your entertainment. He wants to draw you into the story and elicit your personal verdict on the witness to Jesus Christ: Our text falls into two parts: In 1:6-9, John shows that God has given adequate witness to His Son. In 1:10-13, he shows that this witness to God’s Son demands a verdict of faith in Him. But in spite of the solid evidence, that verdict isn’t guaranteed. Many of those who should have decided in favor of Jesus did not know Him or receive Him. But those who did are born of God and become His children. (John 1:6-13 God’s Witness, Your Verdict)

It is fascinating to recall Jesus' own evaluation of John the Baptist declaring ""Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Mt 11:11) Luke records "he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb." (Lk 1:15) No other person has ever been described as full of the Spirit while still in utero! This man was great! Now ponder Jesus' sterling affirmation of John for a moment. He is saying that John was greater than Noah, Job, Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, or any other of the ancient men of God.

Bennema agrees that the Baptizer's role is primarily that of a witness of Jesus but that his "characterization as a witness is complex and multifaceted—his single trait is not a simple trait. This becomes evident when we examine his other roles as a baptizer, herald-forerunner, teacher, best man, and a “lamp.” (Ed: Bennema has a lengthy discussion of each of these facets of John the Baptist) Most scholars do not adequately explain how John’s other roles relate to his principal role. In fact, I will argue that it is misleading to speak of primary and secondary, major and minor roles. John never operates as a witness apart from his other roles; rather, he is a witness in these roles." (The Character of John in the Fourth Gospel - JETS 52/2, 6/2009, 271-284)

Dods - The testimony of John is introduced not only as a historical note but in order to bring out the aggravated blindness of those who rejected Christ.

John is an excellent example for us to imitate as witnesses of Jesus Christ. Using these passages that describe John the Baptist, Pastor Steve Kreloff gives us some basic principles for being a witness - (1) John was a man and God uses men and women. God uses people! Evangelism works best with people… There is no substitute for a person, for the Gospel must be seen in a life for it to be believable to others. People need to see changes in our lives. We are the letter people will read. The change in us and the life of Christ in us demonstrates the validity of the Gospel… This is not too deep but it is important to understand… God always uses people… You may think you don't have the gift of evangelism (etc)… all that it requires is that you have a voice. If you have voice you can be a witness. (See Jn 1:22-23 "I am a Voice… ")… So just be a "voice!" (2) A voice has to speak of Christ - "He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the Light." (Jn 1:7) A witness simply takes the witness stand and says what he knows to be true… Some people think that "I will just witness with my life." That is not enough. That's part of it… If you never open your mouth and share the Gospel with people, but you think "They're just going to see my life and they will conclude that God has changed me and they need salvation." No, you know what they will conclude if you never them Who changed you, they'll conclude that you're just a good person… honest… caring… You need to tell them that Christ has changed you and He can change them… You have to open your mouth and speak the truth… So we are witness of the Light. We are to tell people what we know about Christ… You don't have to be an expert… Some Christians are so fearful because they don't know the answers to the tough questions… There is nothing wrong with saying "I don't know the answer, but I will look it up."… Stop worrying about defending the faith and make certain you are explaining the Gospel… Tell them what you do know and don't worry about what you don't know. (3) John's witness is of Jesus Christ (the Light, Jn 1:7) Our witness should always cause people to look away from us and towards the Lord… Much of what is called evangelism today is self-centered. It's "me." It's bearing witness to ourselves… to our experience… all the changes… John made it clear that he did not want to talk about himself… make much of Jesus Christ, not yourself… He must increase. I must decrease… Of course there is a place for our personal testimony, but use it to make a place to present the Gospel… We need to realize who we are. In John 1:8 John realized "he was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light." John understood who he was (Ed: and for what purpose he had been sent)… Turn to John 5:35 where Jesus speaking of John the Baptist says "He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light." So here Jesus called John a burning and shining light and yet in John 1:8 we read "He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light." Is this a contradiction? Not at all. It only serves to clarify what God's Word teaches about witnessing. There are two Greek words for "light"-- in chapter 1 the word (phos) means the essence of light, not the rays coming from the light. John was not the essence of light. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the essence of light. He is the Light of the world (Jn 8:12). But in Jn 5:35 the word "light" describes a portable lamp (Gk - luchnos) which has no light in and of itself. John the Baptist had no light of his own. He was a "portable lamp" who was lit by Jesus Christ. In other words, he was not the Light, but he reflected the Light of Christ… And that's what being a witness is… We too have received light (when we were saved) and our role is to tell other darkened souls about the Light that is powerful enough to dispel their darkness also. Evangelism is nothing more than one shining lamp telling a darkened lamp where it can get eternal light (life)!… Be as simplistic as John was… Make sure that you are talking about Christ. Make sure you tell them Who He is, what He has done for you and how they can receive Him. Don't worry about being eloquent… Just be faithful to the message and exalt the Lord. (John 1 Sermons - sermon #7449)

William Simmons on John the Baptist - Apart from Jesus Christ, John the Baptist is probably the most theologically significant figure in the Gospels. As was the case with Jesus, his birth was meticulously recorded (Luke 1:5-25 ). His entrance into the world was marked by angelic proclamation and divine intervention (Luke 1:57-80 ). John's birth not only parallels that of Jesus, but echoes the momentous occasion of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-22; 21:1-7 ). John is clearly a pivotal figure in the salvation history of God. Although his formative years were lived in obscurity in the desert (Luke 1:80 ), his public ministry ended nearly four hundred years of prophetic silence. John was that voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the coming Messiah (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 3:3-6 ). In this sense his message and ministry marked the culmination of the law and the prophets, but heralded the in breaking of the kingdom of God (Matthew 11:12; Luke 16:16 ). So John was truly a transitional figure, forming the link between the Old and New Testaments. He spans the ages with one foot firmly planted in the Old Testament and the other squarely placed in the New. The central theme of his ministry was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2 ). He was called "The Baptist" because his practice was to baptize those who responded to the message he proclaimed and sincerely repented of their sins (Matthew 3:1; Mark 6:14; Luke 7:20). John was an end-times prophet. He conducted his ministry with an eschatological authority that demanded immediate action. He taught that judgment is at hand. The axe is laid to the roots and God will thoroughly purge his threshing floor (Matthew 3:10-12; Luke 3:9,17 ). And the authenticity of repentance was evidenced in very practical terms: share with those in need, eliminate graft, and prohibit extortion (Luke 3:11-14). John's lifestyle was as austere as his message. He was an ascetic living in the wilderness, clothed in camel hair and subsisting on locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6). Unlike Jesus, he expected people to come to him, rather than he going to them (Matthew 3:5). John was no "crowd pleaser." He willingly confronted the hypocrisy of the religious establishment (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7). He did not hesitate to expose the immorality of Herod and chose to die a martyr's death rather than compromise his convictions (Matthew 14:3-12; Mark 6:17-29). All of these characteristics portray John as a fiery prophet proclaiming the apocalyptic message of God. Indeed, Luke says that John came "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17). He goes on to allude to Malachi 4:5 , which states that Elijah will return "before that great and dreadful day of the Lord." In fact, some contemporaries of John inquired if he were Elijah (John 1:21).(John the Baptist - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

Related Resources on John the Baptist


Sent from God - This is a clear indication that John comes on the scene backed by the power and authority of God. Notice that sent (apostello) is in the perfect tense which speaks of permanence. Leon Morris adds that the perfect tense "indicates the permanent character of his mission. He continues in the character of a man sent."

John the Baptist himself testifies of his having been sent from God - “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent (verb pempo) me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ (Jn 1:33).“You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent (apostello in the perfect tense) before Him.’ (Jn 3:28).

POSB - Jesus the Light of the World: The Special Witness of John the Baptist, John 1:6-8

(John 1:6-8) Introduction: there was one person who was a very special witness to Christ, John the Baptist. John's sole purpose on earth was to witness and to bear testimony to the Light of the world. His purpose stands as a dynamic example for every believer. The purpose of the believer is to bear the same witness as John: Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.

1. A man sent from God (Jn 1:6)

2. A man with a mission (Jn 1:7)

3. A man who was great, but was not the Light (Jn 1:8)

(Jn 1:6) John the Baptist— Commission: a man sent from God. Note three points.

1. The man "was a man" and only a man. A strong contrast is being made between what had been said about Christ and what is now being said about John.

= Christ "was in the beginning"; He was "with God" and He "was God" (John 1:1-2).

= John "was a man" who had come into existence at birth, just as all men have the beginning of their existence at birth. John was the son of a man, whereas Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). John was not a divine being, not even an angel. He was a mere man. (See Job 7:17, Ps 8:4, Isa 40:21-22, Jn 3:27)


2. The man, however, was "sent from God"; and he was sent on a very special mission. Two facts show this.

a. The word "sent" - "sent" (apestalmenos) means to send out; to commission as a representative, an ambassador, an envoy. Three things are true of the person sent from God.

1. He belongs to God, who has sent him out.

2. He is commissioned to be sent out.

3. He possesses all the authority and power of God, who has sent him out.

b. The phrase "from God" (para theou) means from beside God. John was not only sent by God, He was sent from the very side and heart of God. He was only a man, but a man of high calling and mission, of enormous responsibility and accountability. He was a man sent by God, not by man.

Thought 1. Note three significant points. The servant and messenger of God…

• is not sent forth by men, but by God. He is sent forth as the ambassador of God.

• is sent forth from God, from the very side and heart of God.

• is a man of high calling and mission, of enormous responsibility and accountability.

(See Jn 15:16, 2Cor 5:18-20, 2Cor 3:5-6, Eph. 3:7, 1Ti 1:12, 2Ti 1:11, 1Cor 1:27-29).

3. The man was named John. His name means gracious. He was a man sent forth with a name to match his message: God's grace is now to enter upon the scene of world history. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, the embodiment of God's glorious grace. (full of grace and truth… grace upon grace" Jn 1:14, 16) (Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible-KJV-John) (POSB - WORDsearch)

Westcott on sent from God - from (para) and not simply by God (comp. Jn 15:26). (Ibid)

Kostenberger adds that "The phrase “sent from God” is reminiscent of the OT description of a prophet whose role was to function as a spokesperson for God (e.g., 2Chr 24:19; 25:15; Jer. 7:25; 25:4; 28:9; 35:15; 44:4; Ezek 2:3). The Jewish crowds thought of John as a prophet (Matt. 21:26 pars.), and that is how Jesus referred to him as well (Mt. 11:9 = Lk 7:26).

John explained in Jn 3:28 - “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent (apostello, also in the perfect tense) before Him."

In at least 3 Old Testament prophecies we see where God promises to send John the Baptist before He sends His Son:

Isaiah 40:3-5 = A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up (exalted), And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed (Jn 1:14), And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Pause for Praise - Play Handel's Messiah - Every Valley Shall Be Exalted

Malachi 3:1-note = “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 4:5-note = "Behold (Pay attention!), I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible Day of the Lord. (See Jesus' words in Mt 11:10-14 especially "And if you care to accept it, he himself [John the Baptist] is Elijah, who was to come." and Mt 17:11-12) -

John MacArthur - The mention of Elijah was to announce the Messiah’s arrival (see Introduction: Interpretive Challenges). John the Baptist was a type of Elijah at Christ’s first advent (cf. Lk 1:17).

ESV Study Bible note on Mt 11:14 - he is Elijah who is to come. Malachi had prophesied that “Elijah” would prepare the way for the Messiah (Mal. 3:1; 4:5; see Mal. 4:4-6). He did not actually imply only a literal reappearance of Elijah, and John’s earlier denial that he was Elijah (John 1:21) was probably an attempt to correct a popular belief that Elijah himself would reappear. Before John’s birth, he was designated as the one who would minister in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), thereby fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy.

Charles Ryrie commenting on Mt 17:11-12 has an interesting note - The sequence of thought is as follows: (1) Elijah is coming as the restorer (Mal. 4:5); (2) he came, unrecognized, in the person of John the Baptist, and was killed; (3) the Son of Man faces a like fate. The disciples seem to grasp only the first two points.

Sent (649)(apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off, to send forth, to send out. To send out; to commission as a representative, an ambassador, an envoy. The idea is to send forth from one place to another. But the meaning of apostello is more than just to send because it means "to send off on a commission to do something as one’s personal representative, with credentials furnished" (Wuest) To send upon some business (Mt. 2:16; 10:5; 20:2). To send away in the sense of to dismiss (Mk 12:3, 4). To send or thrust forth as a sickle among corn (Mk 4:29).

See New International Dictionary of NT Theology for - 8 page discussion including discussion of apostle

Three things are true of the person sent from God.

(1) He belongs to God, who has sent him out.

(2) He is commissioned to be sent out.

(3) He possesses all the authority and power of God, who has sent him out. (Practical Word Studies)

See related study on apostolos = apostle

Apostello repeatedly speaks of the Father sending the Son on mission. Indeed the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to "consider Jesus the Apostle (apostolos) and High Priest of our confession" (Heb 3:1-note), so here are just a few of over 30 passages (see complete list below)

Luke 10:16 “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”

John 3:17; “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

John 5:36 “But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

The rabbis used the term apostello to refer to one called and sent as an official representative of another (something like our English "Ambassador" - 2Cor 5:20-note). Apostello was used by the Greeks for the personal representatives of the king, ambassadors who functioned with the king’s authority. To make light of the king’s envoys was to be in danger of insubordination.

John Phillips notes that the root verb stello was used for the furling of a sail. It suggest shrinking back.

Apostello means to commission to special task and empowered with the authority of the sender, a perfect description of John the Baptist. Webster defines commission as an authorization or command to act in a prescribed manner or to perform prescribed acts. In Acts 26:17,when Christ commissioned Saul He said "ego apostello," which literally could be read “I apostle you.” Saul was “called out of the world to be sent to the world.” The call confers on him a missionary commission to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:16; 2:7; Ro 11:13; 2Cor. 10:13-16; Eph 3:1-2), which determines both the direction of his ministry, from Jerusalem to Illyricum to Rome to Spain (Rom. 15:19, 24), and the recipients of his ministry (Gal. 2:8). See related discussion below on Let the Missionary be a Missionary.

To set apart or send forth on a mission with a commission -

(1) the Son sent by the Father - Mt 10:40, Mt 15:24, Mt 21:37, Mk 9:37, Mk 12:6, Lk 4:18,43, Lk 9:48, Lk 10:16, Jn 3:17, Jn 5:36,38, Jn 6:29,57, Jn 7:29, Jn 8:42, Jn 10:36,Jn 11:42, Jn 17:3,8,18, Jn 17:21,23,25, Jn 20:21, Acts 3:20 future; Acts 3:26, 1Jn 4:9,10,14)

(2) the Holy Spirit by Christ (Luke 24:49, 1Pe1:12, Rev 5:6),

(3) John the Baptist (Jn 1:6, 3:28),

(4) the disciples and apostles of Jesus (Mt 10:16, Mk 6:7, Lk 9:2),

(5) in Septuagint of God sending Moses (Ex 3:10, Acts 7:35).

(6) To send officers and officials (Mark 6:27, John 7:32, Acts 16:35),

(7) messengers (Acts 10:8,17,20, Acts 15:27),

(8) evangelists (Ro 10:15),

(9) angels (Mt 13:41, Mt 24:31, Mk 13:27, Lk 1:19,26, Heb 1:14, Rev 1:1, 22:6),

(10) bad angels - demons (Mk 5:10).

(11) Used of Jesus sending believers (John 17:18; 20:21)

Apostello summarized - 1. send someone out, implying for a particular purpose (Mk 1:11; 1Co 1:17); 2. send a message, send word (Ac 28:28, Mt 14:35, Mt 27:19); 3. (apostellō to drepanon), begin to harvest, place the sickle (Mk 4:29) (Ed: literally "send the sickle" = begin to harvest) (Swanson)

In Luke 10:1 we read "Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent (apostello) them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come." As Wiersbe says these 70 "were not called “apostles,” but they were still “sent [apostello] with a commission” to represent the Lord. They were therefore truly ambassadors of the King. Not only were they sent by Him, but they were also sent before Him to prepare the way for His coming. Their calling was certainly a dignified one." (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Jesus uses apostello in the parables to describe servants sent on assignments by their masters (e.g., Mt 20:2; Mk 12:1-6).

G Campbell Morgan - The word apostello, from which the word apostle comes, always marked first a setting apart. Now we are very apt to say that an apostle is one sent, and that is true as it reveals a result. The first meaning of the word, however, is to set apart, and therefore to be sent. That is the word He used here about Himself. It is consonant with His constant reference to His own mission, especially as John records it. There are only four chapters in John's Gospel in which He is not recorded as claiming to have been sent. He was the Sent of God. The verb apostello stands for delegated authority. Pempo never refers to delegated authority. It always stands for dispatch under authority.

The idea of apostello most often is to send forth on a certain mission such as to preach (Mk 3:14; Lk 9:2); speak (Lk 1:19); bless (Acts 3:26); rule, redeem, propitiate (Acts 7:35; 1Jn 4:10); save (1Jn 4:14). Of course the main sending was when God sent Jesus (Jn 3:34) on a "rescue mission" with the authority of the Father to fulfill the mission of provision of redemption.

In Luke 4:18 Jesus reading from Isaiah 61:1 declared “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN." Here the purpose of apostello is the proclamation of liberty or freedom (from bondage to sin, Satan, fear of death).

In Acts 28:28 apostello speaks of the gift of "salvation of God (that) has been sent to the Gentiles." (cf Ps 111:9 = "He has sent (Lxx = apostello) redemption (lutrosis) to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.

In Acts 10:36 God sends His Word through proclamation of the Word about "the Word" (Jn 1:1) = “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)." (cf sending His Word in Lxx of Ps 107:20, cp Ps 147:15 "He sends forth His command to the earth. His word runs very swiftly.", cf similar sending in Ps 147:18)

In Acts 11:30 "the relief of the brethren living in Judea" (Acts 11:29) was sent "in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders."

Apostello versus pempo - Pémpō bears a significant relationship to apostéllō (649), to send. In secular Gr. there was usually a distinction between pémpō and apostéllō. The comp. verb apostéllō means to send away, referring to both persons and things. Delegation for a particular purpose is involved, and the cause for sending is often particularly stressed. This is the verb from which the word apóstolos (652), apostle, is derived. Pémpō was more common in secular Gr.; it merely stresses the fact of sending. In the NT, apostéllō occurs as a technical term denoting divine authorization… This word is to be distinguished from pémpō (3992), to send, a more general term than apostéllō. The two terms, however, are used interchangeably and yet the distinction is discernible in passages such as John 5:23, 24, 30, 37 where the word used is pémpō (cf. with John 5:33, 36, 38 where the word apostéllō is used). Pémpō was more common in secular Gr.; it merely stresses the fact of sending… Pémpō occurs as a virtual synonym (of apostello)., more often in John (32 times), but also in the Gospel of Luke and Acts (10 or 11 times). John uses the two words side by side in John 20:21 where apostéllō may be said to mean to send with delegated authority. Pémpō, however, means merely to send, the authority being retained by Jesus Christ and derived from the believer’s attachment to Christ… Pémpō is not used in the Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17, while apostéllō is used six times (Jn 17:3, 8, 18, 21, 23, 25). Here He identifies Himself as the one whom God has sent, the sent one. The purpose and mission of His coming had been set prior to His incarnation (John 16:28). Therefore, pémpō is a general term, but apostéllō suggests official or authoritative sending. (Complete Word Study Dictionary-Spiros Zodhiates-)

Apostello - 132x in 130v - NAS Usage: puts(1), send(17), send forth(3), sending(3), sends(1), sent(104), sent… away(1), set(1). --

Click here to see the full passages below - you might take about 10-15 minutes to go through each verse -- you will glean a keener sense of the meaning of apostello, especially as you see repeated allusions of the Father sending the Son -- How great is the Father's love for us who are so undeserving! -

Matt 2:16; 8:31; 10:5, 16, 40; 11:10; 13:41; 14:35; 15:24; 20:2; 21:1, 3, 34, 36f; 22:3f, 16; 23:34, 37; 24:31; 27:19; Mark 1:2; 3:14, 31; 4:29; 5:10; 6:7, 17, 27; 8:26; 9:37; 11:1, 3; 12:2ff, 13; 13:27; 14:13; Luke 1:19, 26; 4:18, 43; 7:3, 20, 27; 9:2, 48, 52; 10:1, 3, 16; 11:49; 13:34; 14:17, 32; 19:14, 29, 32; 20:10, 20; 22:8, 35; 24:49; John 1:6, 19, 24; 3:17, 28, 34; 4:38; 5:33, 36, 38; 6:29, 57; 7:29, 32; 8:42; 9:7; 10:36; 11:3, 42; 17:3, 8, 18, 21, 23, 25; 18:24; 20:21; Acts 3:20, 26; 5:21; 7:14, 34f; 8:14; 9:17, 38; 10:8, 17, 20, 36; 11:11, 13, 30; 13:15; 15:27, 33; 16:35f; 19:22; 26:17; 28:28; Rom 10:15; 1 Cor 1:17; 2 Cor 12:17; 2 Tim 4:12; Heb 1:14; 1 Pet 1:12; 1 John 4:9f, 14; Rev 1:1; 5:6; 22:6

In Mark 6:7 Jesus sent (from apostéllō; cf. 3:14; 6:30) the Twelve out two by two, a common practice in that day for practical and legal reasons (cf. Mark 11:1; 14:13; John 8:17; Deut. 17:6; 19:15).

Apostello - about 493v in the Septuagint -

Ge 8:7-8; 19:13; 20:2; 21:14; 24:7, 40; Ge 26:27; 27:45; 28:5; 30:25; 31:4; 32:3, 5, 18, 26; 37:13-14, 32; 38:17, 20, 23, 25; 41:8, 14; 42:4, 16; 43:4-5, 8, 14; 44:3; 45:5, 7f, 23, 27; 46:5, 28; Ex 2:5; 3:10, 13ff; 4:13, 28; 5:22; 7:16; 8:28; 9:15, 27; 10:10; 15:7, 10; 23:20, 27f; Lev 16:10; 25:21; 26:22; Nu 13:2, 16f, 27; 14:36; 16:12, 28f; 20:14, 16; 21:6, 21, 32; 22:5, 10, 15, 37, 40; 24:12; 31:4, 6; 32:8; Dt 1:22; 2:26; 7:20; 19:12; 22:7; 28:8; 29:22; 32:24; 34:11; Josh 1:16; 2:1, 3; 6:25; 7:2, 22; 8:3, 9; 10:3, 6; 11:1; 14:7, 11; 22:13; 23:5; 24:9, 28; Jdg 4:6; 5:15; 6:35; 7:24; 9:31; 11:12, 14, 17, 19, 28, 38; 13:8; 16:18; 18:2; 19:29; 20:6, 12; 21:10, 13; 1Sa 4:4; 5:8; 6:2, 21; 9:16; 11:3, 7; 12:8, 11; 15:1, 18, 20; 16:1, 11f, 19, 22; 19:11, 14f, 20f; 20:12, 21, 31; 21:2; 22:11; 25:5, 14, 25, 32, 39f; 26:4; 30:26; 31:9; 2Sa 2:5; 3:12, 15, 21ff, 26; 5:11; 8:10; 9:5; 10:2f, 5ff, 16; 11:1, 3ff, 14, 18, 27; 12:1, 25, 27; 13:7, 27; 14:2, 29, 32; 15:10, 12, 36; 17:16; 18:2, 29; 19:11, 14; 22:15, 17; 24:13; 1Kgs 1:44, 53; 2:29, 42; 5:1f, 8f, 14; 7:13; 9:27; 12:18, 20, 24; 15:20; 18:10, 19f; 19:2; 20:2, 5ff, 9, 17; 21:8, 11, 14; 2Kgs 1:2, 6, 9, 11, 13, 16; 2:2, 4, 6, 16f; 4:22; 5:6ff, 10, 22; 6:9f, 13f, 23, 32; 7:13f; 8:9; 9:17, 19; 10:1, 5, 7, 21; 11:4; 12:18; 14:8f, 19; 16:7f, 10f; 17:4, 13, 25f; 18:14, 17, 27; 19:2, 4, 9, 16, 20; 20:12; 22:3, 15, 18; 23:1, 16; 24:2; 1Chr 8:8; 10:9; 13:2; 14:1; 18:10; 19:2ff, 8, 16; 21:12, 15; 2Chr 2:3, 7f, 11, 13, 15; 6:34; 7:10, 13; 8:18; 10:3, 18; 16:2ff; 17:7; 24:19, 23; 25:15, 17f, 27; 28:16; 30:1; 32:9, 21, 31; 34:8, 23, 26, 29; 35:21; 36:5, 10, 15; Ezra 4:11, 17f; 5:5ff; 6:13; 7:14; 8:16; Neh 2:6, 9; 6:2ff, 8, 12, 19; 8:10, 12; Esther 1:22; 3:13; 4:4f; 8:5, 12; 9:19; Job 1:5, 11; 2:5; 5:10; 8:4; 38:35; 40:11; Ps 59:1; 78:25; 105:17, 20; 107:20; 111:9; 147:15, 18; Pr 9:3; 21:8; 25:13; 26:6, 13; Eccl 11:1; Song 5:4; Isa 6:6, 8; 9:8; 10:6, 16; 14:12; 16:1, 8; 18:2; 19:20; 20:1; 33:7; 36:2, 12; 37:2, 4, 9, 17, 21; 39:1; 43:14; 48:16; 57:9; 58:6; 61:1; Jer 2:10; 7:25; 9:17; 14:3, 14f; 16:16; 19:14; 21:1; 23:21, 32, 38; 24:10; 25:4, 9, 15ff, 27; 26:5, 12, 15; 27:3, 15f; 28:9, 15; 29:1, 3, 9, 25, 28, 31; 34:10, 14; 35:15; 36:14, 21; 37:3, 7, 15, 17; 38:14; 39:14; 40:1, 4, 14; 42:5f, 20f; 43:1f, 10; 44:4; 48:12; 49:14; Lam 1:13; Ezek 7:3; 13:6; 30:11; 39:6; Dan 3:2, 28; 4:1, 13, 23, 25; 5:24; 6:22; 10:11; Hos 5:13; Zech 2:8f; 6:15; Mal 4:5

Green - "In the LXX the verb apostellō is used more than 709 times, and almost always as a translation equivalent for the Hebrew verb šālah (“to send”). Šālah denotes for the most part the idea of being sent with a commission, either by another human agent or by God… In the NT (with the exception of John’s Gospel), it may be said that pempō is used where the simple idea of sending is conveyed, and apostellō when something of a commission is involved. In John’s Gospel, however, the two terms are used interchangeably." (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels).

Here are some uses of apostello in the Septuagint…

Genesis 8:7 (Context: After the Worldwide Flood) and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land;

Genesis 19:13 (Context: The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah) for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us (Angels on mission!) to destroy it.”

Genesis 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

Genesis 21:14 So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Genesis 24:7 (Abraham to Isaac) “The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me, and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel (Angels on mission!) before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there… 40 “And he said to me, ‘The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives, and from my father’s house;

Genesis 3:10 (Jehovah sends Moses on Mission with Commission) “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”… 13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” (Answer = Ex 3:14).

Psalm 107:20 He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah 10:6 I send it (My indignation - Isa 10:5) against a godless nation And commission it against the people of My fury To capture booty and to seize plunder, And to trample them down like mud in the streets.

Isaiah 10:16 Therefore the Lord, the GOD of hosts, will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors; And under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame.

Isaiah 48:16 "Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit."

I agree with MacArthur's interpretation (some say it is Cyrus speaking) - Here it was not the prophet who spoke, but the Messiah, the Servant of the Lord whom the Lord God and the Holy Spirit will send for the final regathering of Israel and establishment of His kingdom as described in Isaiah 61:1-7. (Ed: Many have seen an allusion to the Trinity in this passage).

ESV Study Bible - This unidentified speaker appears more clearly in Isa 49:1-6 as the servant of the Lord (cf. Isa 42:1-13). Unlike Cyrus, the servant’s power is not a human sword but the divine Spirit (cf. Isa 11:2; 61:1). Many would see this as a reference to the three persons of the Trinity: the Father (“the LORD God”), the Son (“has sent me”), and the Holy Spirit (“his Spirit”)

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; (Clearly referring to the Messiah who quotes this in Luke 4:18)

Jeremiah 7:25 "Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them. (Result? Jer 7:26-34ff!, cf Jer 35:15)

Jeremiah 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. (cf Jer 23:21, 32)

Jeremiah 19:14 Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD'S house and said to all the people:

Jeremiah 24:10 'I will send the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers.'"

Daniel 5:24 "Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.

Daniel 6:22 "My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime."

Mal 4:5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.


Whose name was John - His name means "Jehovah is gracious" or "God's gracious gift" a most appropriate name for the voice of one who would announce the coming of the greatest Gift ever given by God to sinful mankind, His only Son (Jn 3:16), the One "full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14) "for of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." (Jn 1:16). John's God glorifying name was not an accident but was sovereignly ordained by the gracious God Himself! Luke records the unusual circumstances-

"But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb… And it came about that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. And his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet, and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished." (Luke 1:13-15, 61-63)


And so we see God's sovereignty even in the most minute details - not only was John sent from God but He was also named by God!

John Phillips - John the Baptist was both a priest and a Nazarite. There are only three lifelong Nazarites mentioned in the Bible: Samuel, Samson, and John the Baptist. A Nazarite had to keep from touching a dead body and from any contact with the fruit of the vine. He also had to let his hair grow long. Forbidden to touch the dead body of even his nearest and dearest relative, he proclaimed to the world that his affections were on the altar. His love for God eclipsed all lesser loves. Abstaining from wine, he proclaimed to the world that his appetites were on the altar. He kept his body in subjection. Allowing his hair to grow long, he proclaimed to the world that even in his appearance, all was on the alter. This was a high standard of consecration, much more demanding than normal devotion to the things of God. It is no wonder that in fifteen hundred years of continuous Hebrew history we read only of three who were thus set apart for God. One of them, Samson, failed dismally. The other two, Samuel and John the baptist, were Hebrew prophets-Samuel was the first of them and John the last. John was a prophet "and more than a prophet" (Luke 7:26). He was also a priest. A prophet represents God to man; a priest represents man to God. John was a priest and more than a priest-he was a Nazarite priest. A priest suggests professional consecration; a Nazarite suggests personal consecration. John the baptist is injected suddenly into the gospel narrative. John the apostle had been speaking of "life" and "light," two common denominators of a person's belief and behavior. ("Light" has to do with knowing; "life" has to do with showing.) There flashed into the apostle's mind a vision of "a man sent from God," one who on the human level epitomized both light and life. John the baptist lived a life so wholly true to his calling and conviction that he earned the Lord's commendation: "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." He was sent from God to bring to the nation of Israel fresh light on the coming of Christ after the darkness of some four hundred silent years. He cast a floodlight of truth and expectation on the times, backed by the authority of a life beyond reproach. (Exploring the Gospel of John)

Gotquestions'What should we learn from the life of John the Baptist?

Gotquestions' Answer: Although his name implies that he baptized people (which he did), John’s life on earth was more than just baptizing. John’s adult life was characterized by blind (Ed: I suggest it was eyes wide open) devotion and utter surrender to Jesus Christ and His kingdom. John’s voice was a “lone voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23) as he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah to a people who desperately needed a Savior. He was the precursor for the modern day evangelist as he unashamedly shared the good news of Jesus Christ (Ed: How could he have accomplished this task? There has always been but one way - "Holy Spirit Boldness" - cf even the apostle Paul's "prayer request" - Eph 6:18-20, noticing the repeated request for boldness. A good prayer request for ALL God's children! Would you stop and pray it this very moment?). He was a man filled with faith (Ed: And like Stephen, he was filled with the Spirit = controlled by, empowered by the Spirit - Acts 6:3, 5,8 Acts 7:55, Luke 1:15) and a role model to those of us who wish to share our faith with others (Ed: Heb 6:11-12, cf 1Cor 11:1).

Most everyone, believer and non-believer alike, has heard of John the Baptist. He is arguably one of the most significant and well-known figures in the Bible. While John was known as “the Baptist,” he was in fact the first prophet called by God since Malachi some 400 years before his own birth. John’s own coming was foretold over 700 years previously by another prophet. In Isaiah 40:3-5 it states: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’" This passage illustrates God’s master (Sovereign) plan in action as God selected John to be His special ambassador to proclaim His own coming.

Little is actually known of John, although we do know that John was a Levite, one of the special tribe set aside by God to take care of all of the work associated with the temple (Nu 1:50-53, Ed: In light of this truth it is interesting to compare Jesus' description of Himself as a "Temple" - Jn 2:18-22). John was the son of Zechariah, a temple priest of the lineage of Abijah (Ed: A leading priest in the days of the return from Exile = Neh 12:4, and then a priestly house Neh 12:17 to which Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, belonged Lk 1:5), while John’s mother Elizabeth was from the lineage of Aaron (Luke 1:5). John was also related to Jesus as their mothers were cousins (Luke 1:36). John lived a rugged life in the mountainous area of Judea, between the city of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. It is written that he wore clothes made out of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. His diet was a simple one—locusts and wild honey (Mt 3:4). John lived a simple life as he focused on the kingdom work set before him.

John’s ministry grew in popularity, as recounted in Matthew 3:5-6: “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” We also see that he spoke very boldly to the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, calling them a “brood of vipers” and warning them not to rely on their Jewish lineage for salvation, but to repent and “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7-10). People of that day simply did not address leaders, religious or otherwise, in this manner for fear of punishment. But John’s faith made him fearless in the face of opposition.

While his ministry was gaining strength, John’s message was gaining popularity. In fact, it became so popular that many people may have thought that he was the Messiah. This assuredly was not his intent as he had a clear vision for what he was called to do. John 3:28 tells us, “You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.'” (Ed: cp Jn 1:20) This verse speaks of John cautioning his disciples that what they had seen and heard from him is just the beginning of the miracle that was to come in the form of Jesus Christ. John was merely a messenger sent by God to proclaim the truth. His message was simple and direct: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt 3:2). He knew that once Jesus appeared on the scene, John’s work would be all but finished. He willingly gave up the spotlight to Jesus saying, “He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30-note). Perhaps there is no greater example of humility than the one demonstrated by both Jesus and John in Matthew 3:13-15 (Ed: cf Jn 1:27). Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized by John in the river Jordan.

John rightly recognized that the sinless Son of God needed no baptism of repentance and that he was certainly not worthy to baptize his own Savior. But Jesus answered his concern by requesting baptism “to fulfill all righteousness” meaning that He was identifying Himself with sinners for whom He would ultimately sacrifice Himself, thereby securing all righteousness for them (2 Corinthians 5:21). In humility, John obeyed and consented to baptize Jesus.

John’s ministry, as well as his life, came to an abrupt end at the hand of King Herod. In an act of unspeakable and violent vengeance, Herodias, Herod’s wife and the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip, plotted with her daughter to have John killed. So incensed was Herodias at John for claiming her marriage to Herod to be unlawful that she prompted her daughter to ask for the head of John on a platter as a reward for her pleasing Herod with her dancing. John had previously been arrested by Herod in attempt to silence him, and it was a simple thing to send the executioner to the prison and behead John, which is exactly what happened (Mark 6:17-28). This was a sad and ignoble end to the life of the man about whom Jesus said: “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28, Mt 11:11).


There are several lessons we can learn from the life of John the Baptist.

First, whole-heartedly believing in Jesus Christ is possible. John the Baptist could have believed in and worshipped any number of gods available to him before Jesus arrived on the scene. But at some point in his life John knew that the Messiah was coming. He believed this with his whole heart and spent his days “preparing the way” for the Lord’s coming (Matthew 11:10). But the road was not an easy one to prepare. Daily he faced doubters of various influence and popularity who did not share his enthusiasm for the coming Messiah. Under hard questioning from the Pharisees, John shared his belief: “‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie’" (John 1:26-27). John believed in the Christ and his great faith prepared him for hardships, but it kept him steadfast on his course until the time when he could say as he saw Jesus approach, “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). As believers, we can all have this steadfast faith.

Second, anyone can be a strong and serious witness for Jesus Christ. John’s life is an example to us of the seriousness with which we are to approach the Christian life and our call to ministry, whatever that may be. We pattern our lives after John’s by first examining ourselves to be sure we are truly in the faith (2Cor 13:5). Second, like John, we are to know and believe that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), so we can be fearless in the face of persecution and death (Ed: Beloved, do not attempt to "gut it out" in your own strength! This attitude can ONLY be accomplished supernaturally by the empowering of the indwelling Spirit!). John lived his life to introduce others to Jesus Christ, and knew the importance of repenting of one’s sins in order to live a holy and righteous life. And as a follower of Jesus Christ, he also was unafraid of calling out people such as Herod and the Pharisees for their sinful behavior.

Third, John shows us how to stand firm in our faith no matter what the circumstances. Paul reminded Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2Ti 3:12). But for many of us who live in freedom, persecution takes on a very mild form. As he lived in an occupied country, John had to be aware that anything contrary to utter devotion to the king or emperor was asking for trouble. Yet his message was unchanging, bold and strong. It was John’s belief, his message, and his continual rebuke of King Herod that landed him in prison. While it is hard to know for sure what John was feeling as he sat in prison, we can be sure that he might have had some doubts about the Lord who tested his faith. In fact, John gets a message out to Jesus asking, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:3). As Christians we will all have our faith put to the test, and we will either falter in our faith or, like John, cling to Christ and stand firm in our faith to the end.

See also:

George Peters on
Apostello versus Pempo


The Missionary Is One Sent Forth = The word missionary is not found in our English Bible. It comes to us from the Latin word mitto—I send and this is closely related to the New Testament apostello—to send. Any reader of the Bible quickly realizes that the words sent and send occupy a prominent place in the Bible, especially in the Gospels. The Greek words apostello, and pempo, both meaning to send, occur in the New Testament 215 time—apostello 135 times, pempo 80 times. The vast majority of them appear in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles—apostello 123 and pempo 60 times.

Both of the Greek words are used of Christ as well as of the apostles. There seems to be some difference in emphasis and depth. Thus, while pempo emphasizes more the act of sending, apostello also involves the idea of authoritative sending with a mission. The latter includes a definite purpose in the sending.

It is significant to note that pempo is never used in relation to God in the Synoptics, nor by Paul, while apostello is not used in relation to the sending of the Holy Spirit. And even in John the two words are not absolute synonyms. A fine distinction prevails throughout the Scriptures.

The common factor in both words is the fact that they point to an authority beyond the sent one. There is an Authority, a Sender, beyond the messenger. The messenger himself is not an authority. He merely represents an authority.

It is readily seen that the word apostle finds its roots in apostello and thus means a person authoritatively sent forth with a message and on a mission.

Christ, the Sent One. Turning back to the record of Scripture, we discover that Christ spoke of Himself on numerous occasions as the Sent One. He walked, worked, and suffered in the deep consciousness of having been sent into the world (comp. esp. John 6—John 8). He was, indeed, an apostle, One sent forth.

His own words reveal clearly that He walked in blessed fellowship with the Father, fully conscious that it was the Father who had sent Him, that the Father’s authority was resting upon Him, and that the Father was sharing in His ministry. There was authorization as well as companionship in the experience of having been sent. This illumined His path and lightened the burdens of the way. In obedience and submission to and in fellowship with the Father who had sent Him He withstood all opposition, pressures, criticism and endured suffering, shame and death, triumphing in it all.

The disciples, the sent ones. As we turn to the disciples, we discover very similar experiences. They, too, were sent ones—messengers, ambassadors and apostles. On several occasions Christ sent them forth into ministries. In fact, He chose them that they might be called apostles, or sent ones (Luke 6:13). Though the discipleship aspect is more dominant in the Gospels, the apostleship consciousness is not totally lacking. Nine times they are spoken of as apostles in the Gospels. In the Acts of the Apostles, the discipleship concept gives way to the apostleship. Thus they, too, walked and worked in the full consciousness of having been sent into the world for a specific purpose and with a definite message.

In the sending forth of the disciples there is, however, one absolute distinction from the sending of our Lord. They are never said to have been sent by the Father. To the contrary, twice it is explicitly stated that they are being sent by Christ (John 17:18; John 20:20). Already, previous to this, Christ had sent them out in His own name (comp. Mt. 10:1ff ; Mk 3:13-19; Mk 6:6-13; Lk 9:1-6;10:1-20). Thus while Christ is the Apostle of the Father, the disciples became apostles of Jesus Christ, and Paul designates himself repeatedly as Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ. Peter does likewise. Christ became their sending authority. As the sending authority, Christ became not only their authorization but also the sharer in their ministry. He is their authority and their companion. The apostles were fully conscious of their source of authority. When Peter was asked by the rulers: By what authority, or by what name, have ye done this? (a miracle), Peter is not slow to inform them that there is only one name (comp. Acts 4:5-12). Christ’s companionship is explicitly stated in His blessed promise in Matthew 28:20b when He says: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (or consummation of the age). The same truth is reiterated in Mark 16:20 where we read: “And they [the apostles] went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” This is also beautifully reflected in the words of Christ in John 20:21. Bishop Westcott, having made a rather detailed and comprehensive study of various words and tenses in the Gospel of John, makes the following remarks: “The general results of the examination of these facts seems to be that in this charge the Lord presents His own mission as the one abiding mission of the Father; this He fulfills through His church. His disciples receive no new commission, but carry out His. (Comp. Matt. 28:20; Heb. 3:1).” Thus the sending agent becomes the closest companion in the ministry. The apostles were not asked to do mission work for Christ but rather with Christ. This is, indeed, true partnership in missions, and Paul could speak with inner satisfaction of being collaborators with God. There is an identification of Christ with His sent ones that sweetens all bitterness and drives away the shadows through His blessed smile. His presence and companionship is their constant experience and abiding heritage. Their great need is to practice constantly the consciousness of His presence.

The missionary, a sent one. The missionary today, too, is a sent one if he is a missionary in the Biblical sense of the word. A missionary is not one who has gone out, but one who has been sent out. It is the sending that makes all the difference. And unless he can walk in the blessed assurance that he has been sent forth, he will be unable to bear the strain and frustrations, the pressures and the disappointments of missionary life. The consciousness, however, of having been sent forth will uphold him in his trials and failures and most certainly lead him to triumph and success (Let the Missionary Be a Missionary - George W. Peters)

All 132 uses of
Apostolos in the NT

NAS translates apostello as: puts(1), send(17), send forth(3), sending(3), sends(1), sent(104), sent… away(1), set(1).


Matthew 2:16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

Matthew 8:31 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, "If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine."

Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;

16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.

40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

Matthew 11:10 "This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.'

Matthew 13:41 "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,

Matthew 14:35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick;

Matthew 15:24 But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Matthew 20:2 "When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Matthew 21:1 When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,

3 "If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them."

34 "When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce.

36 "Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them.

37 "But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'

Matthew 22:3 "And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.

4 "Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."'

16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.

Matthew 23:34 "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,

37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Matthew 24:31 "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Matthew 27:19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."


Mark 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY;

Mark 3:14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach,

31 Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him.

Mark 4:29 "But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Mark 5:10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.

Mark 6:7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;

17 For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.

27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison,

Mark 8:26 And He sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."

Mark 9:37 "Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."

Mark 11:1 As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples,

3 "If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' you say, 'The Lord has need of it'; and immediately he will send it back here."

Mark 12:2 "At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers.

3 "They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

4 "Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully.

5 "And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others.

6 "He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement.

Mark 13:27 "And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

Mark 14:13 And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, "Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him;


Luke 1:19 The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,


43 But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose."

Luke 7:3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave.

20 When the men came to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, 'Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?'"

27 "This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.'

Luke 9:2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.

48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great."

52 and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him.

Luke 10:1 Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.

3 "Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.

16 "The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me."

Luke 11:49 "For this reason also the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute,

Luke 13:34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!

Luke 14:17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now.'

32 "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

Luke 19:14 "But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.'

29 When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples,

32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them.

Luke 20:10 "At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor.

Luke 22:8 And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it."

35 And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing."

Luke 24:49 "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."


John 1:6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.

19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.

John 3:17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

28 "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.'

34 "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.

John 4:38 "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."

John 5:33 "You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.

36 "But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish-- the very works that I do-- testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.

38 "You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.

John 7:29 "I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me."

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him.

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.

John 9:7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam " (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

John 10:36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God '?

John 11:3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick."

42 "I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me."

John 17:3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

8 for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.

18 "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

25 "O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;

John 18:24 So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."


Acts 3:20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,

26 "For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways."

Acts 5:21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought.

Acts 7:14 "Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all.


35 "This Moses whom they disowned, saying, 'WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?' is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush.

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,

Acts 9:17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, "Do not delay in coming to us."

Acts 10:8 and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate;

20 "But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself."

36 "The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)--

Acts 11:11 "And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea.

13 "And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, 'Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here;

30 And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.

Acts 13:15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it."

Acts 15:27 "Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth.

33 After they had spent time there, they were sent away from the brethren in peace to those who had sent them out.

Acts 16:35 Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, "Release those men."

36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace."

Acts 19:22 And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

Acts 26:17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,

Acts 28:28 "Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen."

Romans 10:15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

2 Corinthians 12:17 Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I?

2 Timothy 4:12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.

Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

1 Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look.

1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

Revelation 5:6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.

Revelation 22:6 And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.