The Birth of John the Baptist

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

The Birth of John the Baptist

the birth of John the BaptistJohn the Baptist was born to old parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth.  They were righteous people who obeyed (слушались) all the commandments of the Lord.  Zechariah was a priest in a temple of Jerusalem.  For many years he and his wife prayed to God for a child.

Once, as Zechariah was serving in the temple, the Angel Gabriel appeared before him.  He had a message from the Lord.  And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall* call his name John.” (Luke 1:12-13)  Zechariah doubted** (засомневался, усомнился) the words of the angel.  “How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” (1:18) The Angel said that for his doubt Zechariah would remain silent until the birth of his son.  “And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (1:20)

No word of the Lord is spoken in vain (напрасно).   In due time, Elizabeth gave birth to a son.  The parents and relatives rejoiced greatly.  Zechariah wrote on a tablet that the baby’s name was John.   As soon as he did that, he was able to speak again.

At age 30 John started preaching about the coming of the Messiah.  John came before our Saviour and prepared the way.  That is why he is called John the Forerunner.  Many people were baptized, and they repented of their sins.  Saint John baptized our Saviour in the waters of the Jordan, and witnessed the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove.

John the Baptist died a martyr’s death at the hands of King Herod.

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* shall может употребляться со всеми местоимениями, не только с I и we.  В таких случаях он имеет значение «должен».  You shall call... (И наречёшь ему имя..) – shall в данном предложении передаёт волю Господа (т.е. «ты должен будешь назвать его Иоанном»).  
** в отличие от русского языка, глагол doubt (сомневаться в чём-то) употребляется без предлога.   I did not doubt his truthfulness.  Я не усомнился в его правдивости.