Did John the Baptist Go to Heaven?

Jehovah’s Witnesses have serious problems with their doctrines concerning being born again. They say that only 144,000 good Jehovah’s Witnesses are born again. The others aren’t born again, and they will not go to heaven, but to paradise on earth. The thing about that is we were all born dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5) and we must be born again to come to life. If Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t born again, they are still dead in their sins, and they will go to neither heaven nor paradise on earth. I wrote a tract about this, and you can take a look at it here: A Choice For Life.

After making this concept into a Youtube video, and talking about it on this blog, a JW finally responded to it, and we’ve been having an e-mail conversation. It turns out to be a very deep subject. On the surface it’s a pretty convincing argument against their doctrine, but as you dig deeper it becomes even more convincing. I’m grateful this guy is taking the time to write to me; he’s the only one who has even attempted to respond.

His main objections are:

  1. Old Testament people weren’t born again, but weren’t dead in their sin, so we have the same hope as them.
  2. Matthew 11:11 says John the Baptist isn’t going to heaven.
  3. The verses talking about passing from death to life (such as Ephesians 2:1, 5) aren’t talking about being born again. Therefore, JWs can have life without being born again.

Were Old Testament People Born Again?
This is an interesting topic, and I would say they were not born again during their lives. When they died, they went to Abraham’s Bosom to await the Messiah and being born again. We know they are born again today, and in heaven. We know they are in heaven, because Matthew 8:11 says Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in the kingdom of heaven. Luke 13:28 says those three and all of the prophets are in the kingdom of God. Since they are in heaven, they must be born again (John 3:3). Those two verses (Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:28) seem very valuable in doing away with their whole concept of 144,000 people in heaven.

John the Baptist and Matthew 11:11
What does Jesus mean when he says whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11)? This verse doesn’t say anywhere that when John the Baptist dies he’s not going to heaven or Abraham’s bosom. It just means that those of us who proclaim the New Covenant are better off than those who proclaimed the Old Covenant (Hebrews 7:22-24).

Is passing from death to life the same as being born again?
What does born again mean other than being reborn because we were born dead in our sins? If passing from death to life makes the 144,000 born again, why doesn’t it make everyone else born again? If Jehovah’s Witnesses want to claim to be alive without being born again, I think it goes against the meaning of the analogy of being born again, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because Ephesians 2:6 says, that anyone who has passed from death to life is going to heaven (and must therefore be born again).

So while they’ve managed to muddy the waters on another straightforward concept, there is no way out of the tangled web they’ve woven for themselves. By their own admission they aren’t born again. Only God can convince them that they are dead in their sins and headed for hell.

For a fantastic opportunity to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses, check out their 2008 convention schedule.  One of the reasons they think they are in the true church is because they think they are the only ones who are out witnessing. You can help refute that idea for possibly hundreds of them by showing up at a convention and passing out tracts.

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25 Responses to Did John the Baptist Go to Heaven?

  1. Mark Parker says:

    Bill,
    Matthew 11;
    11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
    Christ is useing a riddle to teach, in that the diciples will think on it and try to work it out because it seems not to make sense, ‘there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist’, that would incude Adam, Abraham, Moses etc. Now the riddle; ‘notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.’ He speaks now of himself, the God of Israel, ‘the least’. His diciples were yet to understand the difference between earthly kingdoms and their Kings who are served and God’s kingdom, where the greatest is the least in a worldly sense and servant of all.

    • Hi Friends, Please consider the following.

      (1)John the baptist was in the jail at this point of time
      (2) We can assume that John the baptist was expecting some miracle from Jesus to take him out of the jail.
      (3) We can assume that John the Baptist was frustrated and because of his present problem, he lost his faith in Jesus at that point of time
      (4) He sent his disciples because of his unbelief and may be also he wanted to remind Jesus to do some miracle.
      (5)Jesus talked to John’s disciples about the miracle he has done with reference to Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 34:5, which was known to John.
      (6) Jesus also used this time to preach john through his disciples “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (Luke 23:7)
      (7) Jesus was telling John that he is not blessed at this point of time because he stumbled on account of Jesus, ie. John lost faith in Jesus.
      (8) Mathew 11:11 just indicate the physical status of John at that of time.ie. He was spiritually dead because of his unbelief and he is not entitled for eternity at that point of time.
      (9)We can confidently believe that the word of God spoken by Jesus through the disciples impacted John and led him to repentance and subsequently eternity.
      (10)My Jesus is only love and He can only love. The ever loving Jesus will not be and cannot be a mute spectator to the spiritual death of his beloved ones and will do the needful to get them back.
      (11)By this we can summarize that John the Baptist was saved and was in Christ at the time of His death.
      Blessings
      Regi Abraham, Bngalore, India. abraham.regi@gmail.com

      • Replace point 8 by the following
        8) Mathew 11:11 just indicate the spiritual status of John at that of time.ie. He was spiritually dead because of his unbelief and he is not entitled for eternity at that point of time.

  2. Bill says:

    Mark,

    Great point. Thanks.

    Bill

  3. Bud Brown says:

    I don’t have much time to develop my arguments at the moment, but wanted to drop a quick comment to your excellent post.

    Yes, OT saints were born again. This fact is presupposed in Jesus’ comments to Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus’ statement is, in essence, “This is so plainly taught in the Old Testament that EVERYONE should understand it. How is it that you, being one of Israel’s teachers, don’t understand this?”

    The OT saints did not have the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. That was a provision of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31) which was not inaugurated until the Lamb had been slain.

    So, while the OT saints may have had a somewhat different experience than ours, that has nothing to do with being born again. Being born again is the result of faith regardless of whether OT or NT saint.

    The more interesting question concerns the nature of their spiritual development as believers inasmuch as they did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit!

  4. Bill says:

    Bud,

    Thank you for your comments. I’ve been struggling with this issue for quite a while now. I’d really appreciate any other insights and verses you might have.

    One thing that made me lean the other way on the topic is Ezekiel 36:26, which talks about how God is going to place a new heart in people. It seems to be talking about God’s plan for the future. What do you think?

    Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

    Bill

  5. ringostar69 says:

    It is important to remember that John the Baptist was a forerunner of Christ, as were the other great prophets whereas the disciples would become the beneficiaries of Christ, enjoy an even greater position by knowing, and accepting, what Christ did for them, and us, they would be in the Kingdom, but John the Baptist would not see it in his lifetime.
    I am somewhat surprised that the Witness’s use Matt 11:11 because of the reason mentioned above and the NWT translates the word μικρότερος as “lesser ones” instead of “least”. NWT Matt 11:11 “Truly I say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of heavens is greater than he is.”

  6. Bill says:

    Ringostar69,

    While the JW interpretation of Matt 11:11 makes no sense, it is a difficult verse to understand, and I appreciate your comment.

    Bill

  7. Excellent post. Thanks.

  8. Paul E.Tooley Sr says:

    It is very possible that John, the Baptist; is in heaven, we do not know for sure, however, I said: “possible.” For Matthew 27: 52,53 speaks of the graves that were opened and many of the saints arose and went to the Holy city as a first wave sheaf and appeared unto many. Elsewhere in scripture it mentions 500 as the number that arose. So why cannot one assume, as I do, that John, the Baptist is enjoying the paradise of God?

  9. Bill says:

    Paul,

    Thanks for your comment. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?

    When you say John the Baptist is enjoying paradise, my understanding is that would not be the JW belief. I think they would say he is dead, and awaiting resurrection to enter paradise. However, Christians would say that John the Baptist is in heaven, and paradise is the same thing as heaven.

    The reason I believe John the Baptist is clearly in heaven is that Luke 13:28, while not naming John the Baptist specifically, says that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the prophets (John was a prophet) are in the kingdom of God. As far as I know, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no reasonable explanation for what Luke 13:28, and Matt. 8:11 mean.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  10. Samuel Obeng says:

    Is John the Baptis greater than Adam? For Adam wasn’t born of a woman because the genealogy state that Adam the son of God..

  11. Bill says:

    Samuel,

    Saying Adam is the son of God doesn’t mean he’s deity like Jesus.

    Bill

  12. To Bill,
    No, I am not a JW. And, more properly, I should have said John the Baptist is “possibly” enjoying the Paradise of God. No one knows for certain. I can agree with you that John the Baptist could well be in heaven. You make a good point about that!
    Paul Tooley Sr

  13. Bill says:

    Paul,

    This may be the first time I’ve ever continued a conversation with someone after about 8 months of silence. I’m glad you came back.

    What other possibilities do you have for where John might be? What is the alternative to heaven?

    Thanks,
    Bill

  14. Red Johnson says:

    Snap here nearly a years silence .. however picking up on being born again this is a totally NT Christos teaching. The Hebrew Scriptures knows nothing of this. Following and obeying Torah incurs the blessing of life – disobeying incurs the horror of death. This is stated by Yahuwah Himself.

    The amount of false teaching in the NT is serious – and cannot be identified as Scripture.

  15. Bill says:

    Hi Red,

    What you say is simply untrue.

    Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

    Jeremiah 31:31 says, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

    The Hebrew Scriptures speak of a new covenant where people will be changed by God from the inside out.

    Also, you don’t obey the Torah, so you cannot receive any sort of blessing by it. You haven’t kept the law, you will never be able to keep the law. Blood is required to atone for sin (Leviticus 17:11). You have no offering of blood. I do.

    What are you going to do about your sin?

    Thanks,
    Bill

  16. Vic says:

    This sounds interesting. Being Born again means being born of WATER and HOLY SPIRIT. There is a strong difference between being BORN of the spirit and being LED by the spirit. And if you are not born of the Spirit, you cannot go to heaven – Jesus told Necodemus.
    if being born of the spirit statrted at Jesus’ death, then I think it makes sence to believe that those who died before he made that possible missed that opportunity.
    John 1: 18 says that no one has seen God at any time except Jesus who came from there and
    Jesus promised in John 5: 28 and 29 that “TIME IS COMING when ALL THOSE(not some) in their memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good to live and bad ones to judgement. If all the righteous ones had gone to heaven, why should jesus ressurect them from the dead.
    If you guys believe in the ressurection, then we don’t have to make this argument (Read Acts 24: 15). The dead are ALL in the graves waiting for ressurection(read Ecclesiates 9: 5,6 and 3: 18-22)and God decides who to ressurect………….

    Vic

  17. Vic says:

    Hi Bill, I am quite sorry for a mistake on my email address – earlier.
    Matt 8: 11 – reading further to verse 12 will help you see that Jesus was giving an illustration and that will be in contrast to John 1: 18 (Christ said that no one had been to heaven except him – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob died about 2115 B.C.E and Jesus came from heaven and would not have denied them)
    The bible clearly teaches the reason why God made man – Genesis 1: 28 – You can see that God did not create man to live in heaven – if Adam had not sinned, he would not have eventually gone to heaven. Granted, sin has caused us to be dying, but God through his son Jesus has made a promise in 2Peter 3: 13 (about new heavens and new earth in which righteousness is to dwell) – tell me if every good person goes to heaven what will happen to the righteous new earth.
    The bible is clear about Christ’s disciples going to heaven and the PURPOSE. Jesus also discussed about this with his disciples in Luke 22: 28-30 agreeing with Rev 20: 6 and 1 Cor6:2 – humans chosen(Heb 3:1) by God will inherit heavenly life for the purpose of ruling obedient mankind with Christ(Rev 20: 6).
    Before John the Baptist, all the obedient ones were in expectant of the Christ, but heavenly hope became possible after Christ (Matt 11: 11, 12) then read(Hebrew 11 :1 – 40)read 39 and 40 with emphasis.

    I will contribute more later – have to go

    Thanks

    Vic

  18. Bill says:

    Hi Vic,

    I’ve always wondered how something so obvious to me can be completely missed by someone else. I don’t know exactly what’s causing you to be unable to properly interpret Scripture. Is it your own bias that causes you to not see what is clear? Is it simply that you remain blind until God gives you sight?

    Really, this debate about whether you are born again has little to do with where you go when you die, though JWs always take it there. It has to do with whether you’re dead in your sins or alive with Christ. Are you a child of the devil or a born again child of God.

    The Watchtower teaches that the non-144,000 JWs are not children of God and not born again. What they don’t teach is that the only alternative is that they’re dead in their sin, enemies of God and children of the devil.

    I hope you will contribute more later. Check out my special rule for Jehovah’s Witnesses towards the top right of this blog.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  19. Vic says:

    Bill,
    What if I tell you that I am Born Again? Let me ask you, do you become born again after repentance or after being born of the spirit? Well, everyone who receives Jesus Christ as his lord and personal savior and repents of their sins gets a water baptism and stands in line for salvation – following Christs footsteps (as did all the christians with Christ) – this – contrary to your understanding – is NOT being born again – though a lot of people repent of their sins and believe they are born again. Baptism of the holy spirit (being born of the spirit) is what qualifies one for heavenly life and that is God’s prerogative.
    While I appreciate your zeal, you need to understand that Gods’ promises and thoughts supercedes our desires – I am not saying that you(or someone) may not get a heavenly calling, but bible’s teaching about Born again and heaven are very clear – you don’t just have to want to go to heaven – God has to choose you to be an associate ruler with Jesus Christ Luke 22: 28-30 and Rev 20:6 and adopt you via being born of the spirit(making you a spirit begotten son and joint heir of the heavenly kingdom with Jesus).
    The condition of things on earth is so very bad, but Jesus Christ and his joint heirs(co-rulers) begotten from the earth will fulfill the condition in 2Pet 3:13 and Rev 21:1-4. These conditions are reserved for those who obey God today (subjects of the Kingdom).
    Please, calm your heart, open your mind with humility and seek the truth about the purpose of God for men from the bible.
    I am not biased – contrary to your accusation – but am diligently studying the scriptures (under the guidance of the holy spirit).
    Majority of christians believe they have heavenly hope out of want – due to how bad the earth gets everyday and view heaven as the only reward for righteousness, but while a lot of scriptures talk about heaven, alot also talk about the righteous dwelling on the earth forever – Psalm 37: 29, Prov 2: 22, 2Pet 3: 13, Rev 21: 3,4 and so many more.
    As you rightly pointed out, rightousness is what matters and qualifies one to be in God’s favor in the first place and that is what I pursue.

    ‘have to go.

    Vic

  20. Bill says:

    Vic,

    Thanks for responding.

    You said, “What if I tell you that I am Born Again?”

    I sincerely hope you will be truly born again someday. However, if you told me that you are born again (and are one of the 144,000), that doesn’t mitigate the Watchtower’s false teaching that 99.9% of JWs are not born again and are therefore children of the devil. This is an issue you still haven’t responded to.

    You said, “Let me ask you, do you become born again after repentance or after being born of the spirit?”

    One is born again when they are born of the Spirit. I agree with you on that. They are raised from death to life and are then able to repent and trust Christ. No one can be saved or considered a Christian in any way until they are born again. It is impossible for anyone to please God on their own. They must be made spiritually alive so that they can then repent and believe (Romans 8:7).

    You said, “Baptism of the holy spirit (being born of the spirit) is what qualifies one for heavenly life and that is God’s prerogative.”

    I agree 100% (John 6:37).

    You said, “God has to choose you to be an associate ruler with Jesus Christ Luke 22: 28-30 and Rev 20:6 and adopt you via being born of the spirit(making you a spirit begotten son and joint heir of the heavenly kingdom with Jesus).”

    Again, I agree 100%.

    But with all of this you’ve missed my point again. Those who are not born again (adopted as God’s children [John 1:12-13]) are children of the devil. Those who are not born again are dead in their sin (Eph 2:1-5). Those who aren’t born again are blind and in darkness (1 John 2:9-11).

    1 John 5:1 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…”

    If someone isn’t born again, what’s the problem? Clearly they don’t believe in the true Jesus.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  21. Ouida Johnson says:

    I have to agree with the JW. And I feel that we are are entitle to our belief but we are all going to be surprised in the end. I don’t think that god will hold anyone responsible for being mistaken, honestly mistaken. there are things I believe and have asked god to direct me inthe right direction if I am wrong. In smoe cases he has changed my direction and in somehe has not. We are all growing. Example: I remember people saying Jehovah is not god’s name that the JW made that up. Well I can tell you that now there are many churches using that as god’s name. Going to one of their conventions handing out tracks is like them coming to your church service witinessing. We owe each other respect, would that really be something a christian would do. I belong to a group called Open Heart Ministries. It is made up of women (men are welcome) of different religions. We agree on thing and agree to disagree on other. The main objective is to grow our relation with god and we are doing that. God has truly blessed us because we are always displaying a christian way of life

  22. Bill says:

    Ouida,

    Do you really agree with the JWs that some children of the devil will spend eternity on paradise earth, and some children of the devil will cease to exist? I doubt that the JWs would agree with much of what you wrote.

    There are many people who are honestly mistaken who will spend eternity in hell. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. 13Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips.” (Romans 3:10-13)

    Who you consider to be honestly mistaken, God considers a monster of iniquity.

    I’m worried that you are not truly saved. I would urge you to examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Examine yourself, not by comparing to others and taking a vote on what God’s name is, but by the Bible. That means studying it and reading it, which we are commanded to do, and you clearly have not.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  23. About 25 years ago, I read an article in an “Awake” magazine that a JW gave to me. The article was about NOT going to heaven; and it stated..”After all, John the Baptist NEVER went to heaven”. And it referred to Math.11:11 as “proof”…(“a lesser one in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”). I like to point out to JWs that, as Jesus was speaking those very words, John the Baptist was alive and in prison. How can a person be alive on earth, and be in heaven, both at the same time? I interpret that chapter to imply that we don’t go to heaven just as we are. We must first be transformed into more “perfect” beings. And even though John the Baptist was the greatest man to ever walk the face of the earth, he was still inferior to ANY “transformed” person in heaven. The verse does not imply that John the Baptist NEVER went to heaven.

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