John the Apostle

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Stain glass depiction of John the Apostle.
See also: Mystery: Was John a Samaritan?

John the Apostle (Saint John in Catholic and Orthodox traditions), also known as John the Evangelist, John the Presbyter, John the Revelator, and John of Patmos, was a disciple of Jesus along with his brother James. They were the sons of Zebedee, and the pair was humorously nicknamed Boanerges (by Jesus), meaning "sons of thunder." Originally disciples of John the Baptist along with Andrew, they turned to follow Jesus to become "fishers of men." John is called the "disciple whom Jesus loved" and is the author of the fourth gospel, The Gospel of John. John was with Jesus throughout his ministry, he stood faithfully at the Cross and raced to the tomb as soon as he heard that Jesus's body was no longer there. John then immediately believed in the Resurrection.

John emphasized "life" and especially "eternal life." Most of the references to "eternal life" in the Bible are in Gospel of John and 1 John, and none is in the Old Testament. Nearly 40% of the references to "life" in the New Testament are by John, while only 20% of its total words were by him. Overall, John is the third most prolific writer in the New Testament, behind Luke (27.5% of the New Testament) and Paul (23.5%).

John was likely a Samaritan or another diverse ethnicity,[1] and his Gospel speaks of the love of God for the entire world, see John 3:16 . The Encyclopedia Britannica repeats but rejects a false narrative of John being resistant to extend Christianity to all.

John was likely younger, and ostensibly less significant, than his brother the Apostle James, given that John was referenced in the Gospels merely as the "brother of James," and John may have been merely a teenager during the ministry of Jesus. For example, Mark 3:17 introduces John this way: "James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James," which strongly suggests that James was the older son of Zebedee, and John was James' younger brother.[2] (See Mystery: Was John the Apostle a child?)

John's later life was passed chiefly in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. He founded many churches in Asia Minor. Apart from the Gospel of John, John also wrote the biblical books of I John, II John, III John, and the book of Revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos; only the Apostle Paul wrote more books of the New Testament. In recent years, extensive liberal denial by contemporary "scholars" claim that John the Apostle not only was not the author of the Book of Revelation, but also that he supposedly wrote none of the Johannine works.

Tradition holds that John was the only one of the disciples who was not martyred. He died of old age in exile.

While Jesus was hanging on the cross, "there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own" (John 19:25–27).

Feastday: May 8, December 27.

Healthy rivalry with Peter?

The Gospel of John suggests that John may have had a rivalry with the Apostle Peter:

  • John 6:16 (omits the walking on water by Peter)
  • John 18:18 (recounts the denial by Peter of Jesus)
  • John 20:4 (describes outracing Peter to the tomb)
  • John 21:21–23 (describes Peter asking Jesus about John, and clarifying what Jesus said)

Given the likelihood of John's young age at the time, such a rivalry may have been motivated by age differences, as youngsters often exhibit eager tendencies to outdo their older peers. Without support, the Encyclopedia Britannica declares that John's mother was Salome, who was most likely Mark's mother instead.

See also

External links

St. John.jpg


  1. See Mystery:Was John a Samaritan?
  2. Quoting ESV. See also: Mark 5:37.