The Apostle john (also known as Saint John) was one of Jesus Christ’s 12 disciples, and a prominent leader in the early Christian church. In addition to James and Peter, john was one of Jesus’ the next confidants, therefore he shows up in much more biblical accounts 보다 the various other disciples.

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John is traditionally concerned as the author of five publications of the Bible: the Gospel of John, the epistles 1 John, 2 John, and also 3 John, and also the book of Revelation, although some scriptures scholars conflict which of these (if any) he actually wrote. He is also believed to be the just disciple who died of old period (the others to be allegedly martyred).

Ancient sources may or may not describe the Apostle man by several various other names including John the Patmos (because he to be banished to the island of Patmos), man the Evangelist, john the Elder, man the Presbyter, and also the lovely Disciple, despite it is unsure if all (or any!) of this names do in truth refer come this John. It’s likewise worth noting: man the disciple of Jesus is not the same person as man the Baptist, that was Jesus’ cousin.

So that was the Apostle John? What do we yes, really know about him? We’re walk to explore what the holy bible says around him, what us can draw from other ancient sources, and the points we still don’t recognize for sure.

For starters, below are some rapid facts about this renowned biblical figure.


Who was John?

Most of what we know around John originates from the holy bible itself, specifically the gospels. Interestingly, the Apostle man is stated by name in every gospel except the one named after him. According to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and also Luke) man was one of the first disciples Jesus dubbed to follow him. Like numerous of Jesus’ disciples, he was a fisherman through trade.

Going on from there, he witnessed two other brothers, James boy of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with your father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately lock left the boat and their father and followed him.” —Matthew 4:21–22

A column of the early Christian church

When Paul composed his letter to the Galatians, a false teacher had told them the in bespeak to follow Christ, they required to follow the Mosaic Law. This is the contrary of what Paul had actually been to teach them. In order to prove that he was appropriate to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and also to teach the they didn’t have to follow the regulation to it is in saved, Paul appealed to the apostles. Particularly, the 3 apostles who had the many authority: Peter, James, and also John.

Paul makes a suggest of speak that even these 3 apostles had nothing to include to the gospel he preached—so why would the Galatians hear to someone else, and also let some random teacher include the weight of the regulation to the good news of Christ?

On the contrary, they known that I had actually been entrusted v the task of preaching the gospel come the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, that was at work in Peter together an apostle to the circumcised, was also at occupational in me together an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas and also John, those esteemed together pillars, gave me and also Barnabas the best hand the fellowship once they known the grace offered to me. Lock agreed the we need to go to the Gentiles, and they come the circumcised.” —Galatians 2:7–9

Paul refers to Peter, James, and John together pillars of the church because they played an integral function in supporting, building up, and maintaining the Christian movement. The early on church stood on their leadership. As soon as there were disputes about how exactly Christians should behave and also what complying with Jesus looked like, the church appealed to these three original disciples of Jesus, who had actually witnessed an ext of his personal ministry 보다 anyone else.

Sons of thunder

Mark 3 perform the names and nicknames the Jesus’ 12 disciples, and when it it s okay to James and also John, there’s a note discovered nowhere else in Scripture:

These room the twelve the appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James kid of Zebedee and also his brother man (to castle he provided the surname Boanerges, which means “sons the thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” —Mark 3:16–19

This is the only place the nickname “sons that thunder” appears, and there’s no explanation regarding why Jesus offered them the name.

James and John to be brothers who might have had actually dangerous tempers, and also it is often assumed that the nickname come from your “thunderous nature.” The most prominent example is videotaped in Luke 9. A team of Samaritans no welcome Jesus into their village, for this reason James and also John asked, “Lord, do you want united state to call fire down from heaven to ruin them?” (Luke 9:54).

Jesus walk not, and also he rebuked them. Therefore is this nickname tongue-in-cheek for their explosive personalities? Is it an affirmation of your fervor? us will likely never know.

Part that Jesus’ inside circle

John was among Jesus’ 3 closest disciples. There space three time in the synoptic gospels where Peter, James, and also John get to angry Jesus carry out things no one else saw.

Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter indigenous the dead, and he doesn’t enable anyone else to watch as well as these three (Mark 5:37).Jesus takes Peter, James, and also John as much as a mountaintop, wherein he is transfigured prior to them. Jesus speak to Moses and also Elijah, and John is just one of the only three people to angry his glory (Matthew 17:1–11, note 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36).On the night that his betrayal, in the Garden the Gethsemane, Jesus bring away Peter, James, and John with him to pray, and asks lock to store watch (Matthew 26:36–46).

These 3 moments record the special partnership John had actually with Jesus, and according to the gospel the bears his name, John might have had actually an even much more privileged connection with Jesus (or perhaps he’s just bragging).

The one whom Jesus loved?

John (the disciple) is never mentioned in the Gospel of John. In ancient writings that was common for authors to omit themselves from an account or use third person explanation to disguise their identity. In the Gospel of John, the author uses “the one whom Jesus loved” 5 times to refer to a disciple who was particularly close come Jesus. It appears in man 13:23, man 19:26, john 20:2, john 21:7, and also John 21:20.

We understand from context that this title isn’t referring come Peter (“the one whom Jesus loved” interacts through Peter), and also scholars believe James died too early to have written this gospel (he’s executed in action 12:2).

The author clearly positions “the one who Jesus loved” as one of the most vital disciples, perhaps having the closest relationship with Jesus. Interestingly, with one exception, anytime the lover disciple is mentioned, it often tends to be in comparison to Peter.

For example, in ~ the last Supper, Peter asks “the one whom Jesus loved” to ask Jesus who will betray him:

One the them, the disciple who Jesus loved, was reclining beside him. Simon Peter motioned come this disciple and said, ‘Ask the which one the means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, the asked him, ‘Lord, that is it?’” —John 13:23-24

And when Jesus is betrayed and arrested in the garden the Gethsemane, just two disciples monitor Jesus to his trial indigenous a distance: Peter and the lovely disciple. If the lovely disciple pulls part strings to lug Peter closer to Jesus, Peter denies any kind of association through the mr (John 18:15–17).

But probably the most well-known instance of “the one whom Jesus loved” comes in man 20 ~ Jesus passed away on the cross, once Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb.

So she came running to Simon Peter and also the various other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and also said, ‘They have taken the Lord the end of the tomb, and we don’t understand where they have put him!’

So Peter and also the various other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the various other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips that linen lying there yet did no go in. Then Simon Peter come along behind him and went straight right into the tomb. He saw the strips that linen lied there, as well as the cloth that had actually been wrapped about Jesus’ head. The towel was tho lying in the place, different from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had actually reached the dig first, also went inside.” —John 20:2–9

In instance you let go the three references come it, the one whom Jesus loved was much faster than Peter. Tradition has connected “the lover disciple” with John since at the very least the second century, yet not every scholars agree the this is referring to him.

A disciple of man the Baptist?

It’s possible that john was actually a disciple of man the Baptist before he started adhering to Jesus. The author of the Gospel that John never reveals their identity, but there are hints throughout the it can be man the Apostle, and church tradition has embraced his authorship for well over a millennia. In the Gospel that John’s account the Jesus call the disciples, part speculate the the author omits themself indigenous the story (as the author often go in this gospel) while also suggesting the they were a disciple of john the Baptist:

“The next day john was there again v two of his disciples. When he observed Jesus pass by, that said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the 2 disciples heard him to speak this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus observed them following and also asked, ‘What carry out you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which way ‘Teacher’), ‘where space you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will certainly see.’ So lock went and also saw where he to be staying, and also they invested that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and also who had adhered to Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and also tell him, ‘We have uncovered the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he lugged him to Jesus.” —John 1:35–42a

In any kind of case, we know that man was among the closest followers of man the Baptist’s cousin (Jesus).

Did the disciple John write the Gospel of John?

In the last chapter of the Gospel that John, the author explicitly says that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is the author:

Peter turned and saw the the disciple whom Jesus loved was complying with them. (This was the one who had leaned back versus Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going come betray you?”) once Peter saw him, the asked, “Lord, what around him?” Jesus answered, “If I desire him to stay alive till I return, what is that to you? You need to follow me.” since of this, the rumor spread amongst the believers the this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say the he would certainly not die; he only said, “If I want him to stay alive till I return, what is the to you?” This is the disciple that testifies to these things and also who created them down. We understand that his testimony is true.” —John 21:20–24

This is the just gospel that insurance claims to be created by one eyewitness. And also some ofthe faster Christians claimed this eyewitness to be the Apostle John.

In Against Heresies, the early on church dad Irenaeus wrote that the gospel was created to attend to ancient Gnostic teachings the were circulating in ~ the exact same time together the church. Irenaeus especially identifies the author as john the Apostle:“John, the disciple that the Lord, who additionally had leaned top top His breast did self publish a Gospel throughout his residence at Ephesus in Asia . . .”

And Eusebius of Caesarea, known as the dad of church history, quoted Clement that Alexandria (not come be confused with Clement that Rome) as saying:

“Peter having preached words publicly at Rome, and by the spirit proclaimed the Gospel, those who were present, that were numerous, entreated Mark, inasmuch together he had actually attended him from an early period, and remembered what had been said, to compose down what had actually been spoken. Top top his composing the Gospel, he handed it to those who had actually made the request to him; which coming to Peter’s knowledge, he no hindered nor encouraged. However John, the last of all, seeing that what was corporeal was collection forth in the Gospels, ~ above the entreaty that his intimate friends, and inspired by the Spirit, written a spirituality Gospel.”

Could someone else have actually written the book of John?

There’s great reason to think that the Apostle man at least wrote few of the gospel the bears his name, but scholars still problem his authorship.

Some have said that the gospel is the work of a later on Christian writer who wanted come appear come be the Apostle John.

Others imply it’s Lazarus, who appears just before the first instance of “the one whom Jesus loved.” Lazarus is the only human being who the gospel clearly states that Jesus loved. In fact, as soon as Lazarus’ sisters tell Jesus the he has fallen ill, they don’t say, “Lazarus is sick”; castle say, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3).

It would certainly be how amazing if Lazarus was the author though, because we don’t check out him until John 11, and we don’t hear around him after man 12. Plus, the various other gospels don’t document him at few of the occasions the lovely disciple witnessed.

It could also be a man named man Mark, that traveled v Peter, and also is believed to have actually written the Gospel of note . . . Yet John mark wasn’t among the Twelve, together the one who Jesus loved seems to it is in (John 13:23, see additionally Matthew 26:20).

Other positions argue john wasn’t capable of creating this, or that geographical errors suggest it couldn’t have actually been written by one eyewitness, or that since some that the earliest Christian authors didn’t describe the Gospel of John, it wasn’t accepted within the church.

Did John, the son of Zebedee compose the Gospel that John? We might never know. However as far as heritage goes, the church at huge has been (mostly) comfortable with attributing this work-related to him.

Did John compose the book of Revelation?

The publication of Revelation is traditionally attributed to the Apostle John, yet Christians have disputed this since as beforehand as the 4th century.

John that Patmos

The Apostle john is periodically referred to as john of Patmos, though some argue that man of Patmos was actually a different person. The publication of Revelation is quite emphatic that it was written by someone named John, and that he was on the island the Patmos when he received the revelation native Jesus Christ.

“I, John, your brother and also companion in the suffering and kingdom and also patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, to be on the island the Patmos due to the fact that of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s work I remained in the Spirit, and also I heard behind me a loud voice choose a trumpet, i m sorry said: ‘Write top top a scroll what friend see and send it to the 7 churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.’” —Revelation 1:9–11

In the early second century, Justin Martyr was the first to imply this John was the Apostle John, and also since then, plenty of Christians have actually presumed that john the Apostle to be exiled to Patmos for preaching the gospel.

But even as beforehand as the fourth century, part historians believed this was a different Christian writer named John, that was close come Jesus. Eusebius of Caesarea suggested that this person was john the Presbyter, one enigmatic figure who an initial appears in the writings of the first-century church father, Papias the Hierapolis. Eusebius was the very first to distinguish John the Presbyter from john the Apostle based upon Papias’ writings.

Wait … but who’s man the Presbyter?

Papias composed a collection of Jesus’ sayings based upon interviews with the earliest pendant of Christ. His job-related is lost, however Eusebius preserved a fragment, which consisted of a list of the people Papias’ based his work on:

“If, then, everyone who had actually attended on the elders came, ns asked minutely after your sayings—what Andrew or Peter said, or what was stated by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or through Matthew, or by any kind of other that the Lord’s disciples, which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the practical worker of the Lord, say.” (Emphasis added.)

Eusebius taken this list as clear proof that there were two Johns—John the Apostle and also John the Presbyter—but church legacy has generally assumed that Papias simply made two recommendations to the same person.

Here’s Eusebius’ argument, based on the fragment native Papias:

“It is worthwhile observing below that the name john is double enumerated through him. The first one that mentions in connection with Peter and James and Matthew and also the remainder of the apostles, clearly meaning the evangelist; however the other John that mentions after an interval, and also places him amongst others external of the number of the apostles, placing Aristion before him, and also he distinctly calls him a presbyter.

This mirrors that the explain of those is true, that say the there were two persons in Asia that bore the exact same name, and that there were two tombs in Ephesus, each of which, even to the current day, is called John’s. That is vital to an alert this. Because that it is probable that it to be the second, if one is no willing to admit that it was the first that observed the Revelation, which is ascribed by surname to John.

and Papias, that whom us are currently speaking, confesses the he obtained the native of the apostles from those that followed them, however says that he was self a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them typically by name, and gives their traditions in his writings. These things we hope, have actually not been uselessly adduced by us.”

It’s worth noting as well: Eusebius wasn’t certain Revelation belonged in the biblical canon at all. He wasn’t alone—Revelation to be a tricky book for the early church. World either ardently love it and considered the Scripture, or they thought it had actually no place in the Bible. So perhaps he had some motivation to street it indigenous the apostles. Later on scholars have used this feasible motivation to discredit Eusebius’ translate of Papias.

Other scholars have actually maintained this distinction as fine though, and they’ve referred to as this writer man the Revelator, john the Elder, man the Divine, and John the Theologian. Every one of these name are provided to separate this John from john the Apostle. Yet it’s a bit messy, due to the fact that these names are likewise sometimes supplied interchangeably with John the Apostle.

Did Saint John write 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John?

Most scholars today think that the same writer wrote 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John, however not anyone believes that writer was john the Apostle. Tradition holds that he created them all, and 1 john does have a many correlations in contents to the Gospel of man (light, darkness, etc.), however there are some differences in grammatical style, too. (Those space pretty complicated, with conditional sentences, demonstrative pronouns, etc.)

Ancient authors have disputed the authorship the the Johannine epistles as well. Saint Jerome, the fourth-century theologian who created the Latin Vulgate, agreed with Eusebius’ conclusion around John the Presbyter, and also he went on to argue that while man the Apostle wrote the Gospel that John and also 1 John, a various John wrote 2 John and 3 John.

“It appears through this catalogue the names that the John who is placed among the practical worker is no the same as the elder john whom he places after Aristion in his enumeration. This we say moreover due to the fact that of the opinion stated above, where we record that that is declared by many that the last two epistles the John space the occupational not that the apostle however of the presbyter.” —On Illustrious Men

Jerome and also Eusebius likewise suggested the the introductions of these three letters make it show up as despite they weren’t all created by the very same person. (In various other words, john the Presbyter composed the second and third epistles.)

But Irenaeus, who lived earlier than Jerome and also Eusebius, referrals 1 and 2 John and also claims the is quoting the Apostle John.

So what execute we make of this? few of the earliest recommendations to the letter attribute them to the Apostle John, and also church tradition has held him together the author ever since. One deserve to argue the he didn’t write them, however there are strong counter arguments as well. In the end, we can’t say for certain that the did or didn’t write them.

How did man die?

Church tradition holds that john was the only apostle to dice of old age. The rest were martyred for their faith.

Before Jesus died on the cross, he entrusted his mommy Mary come John’s care—assuming john actually is the beloved disciple (John 19:26–27). As soon as Mary died, John checked out Ephesus and also wrote his three epistles. Then he was exiled to Patmos because that preaching the gospel, whereby he received the revelation indigenous Christ and wrote the book of Revelation. At some point he make it back to Ephesus and also died an ordinary death sometime ~ 98 AD.

Tertullian, a Christian writer from the late second and early third century, wrote that before the Romans banished John, they carried him right into a coliseum and dunked the in a vat of boiling oil. As soon as he emerged unharmed, the entire coliseum converted to Christianity.

Throughout his later life, John likewise had some far-ranging students. Polycarp (who eventually became bishop the Smyrna) learned native John and then taught Irenaeus. Man taught Ignatius the Antioch as well, whom Peter eventually appointed as the bishop the Antioch. And also Papias the Hierapolis learned straight from john as well.

A tower the church still leans on

The Apostle john is a famous gospel figure. Even if it is he was “the one whom Jesus loved” or not, that was among Jesus’ closestly followers, and he witnessed an ext of Jesus’ ministry than practically anyone else. It is why the at an early stage Christian church leaned on his insight into the life and also teachings the Christ, and why various other leaders like Paul appealed come his government (Galatians 2:8).

Centuries ~ his death, together the church deconstructed heretical beliefs, John’s writings would assist anchor christians in their understanding of Jesus’ preeminence (John 1:1–4) and his partnership to the dad (John 3:16).

Today, John’s gospel is among the best tools for evangelism that Christians have—if no the best. I from his works have end up being our an interpretation of God (1 john 4:8), and also others have come to be so ubiquitous that even many non-Christians know them through heart.

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We might never understand with absolute certainty exactly how much the Apostle John wrote himself. And we will certainly never have the ability to measure the influence he’s had on Christianity and also the world.