The Disciples: John


After Peter, we probably know more about John than any of the other disciples.

Many believe John and his brother, were followers of John the Baptist.  However, these followers are never mentioned by name.  {John 1:35-39}

Scripture first shows Jesus interaction with John and his brother on the sea shore.  Actually, Jesus came upon Peter and Andrew first and “going a little farther” stumbled upon James…and John, his brother.  {Mark 1:16-20}

From this, we can assert that the two sets of brothers knew one another, before Jesus called them.

“And going on from thence he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.”  {Matthew 4:21}

From this passage, we learn a few things.

  1. He is the son of Zebedee, which means gift of God
  2. He has a brother, James.
  3. He is the younger brother.  James is always listed first, indicating he is the oldest of the brothers.
  4. They are fishermen

 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him.”   {Mark 1:20}

Clearly, this was a family of means.

“and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and them he surnamed Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder:”    {Mark 3:17}

Jesus named them Boanerges, which means sons of thunder or rage, commotion, tumult, or throng.

This is best indicated when they wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan town and Jesus rebuked them.  {Luke 9:51-56}

“among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of [a]James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.”   {Matthew 27:56}

Their mother was still alive and a follower of Jesus.  She often hung out with the women who traveled with Jesus. It is commonly believed their mother was either Salome, who is often mentioned in scripture with the women.  However, scripture does not connect the two definitively.

But, back to her sons.

“And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and sore troubled.”  {Matthew 26:37}

John, and his brother, James, were part of Jesus inner circle. This trio saw miracles even the other disciples did not see.

In the Gospel of John, he refers himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”.

John was the only disciple standing at the foot of the cross and Jesus entrusted his mother to John. 

“hen He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”   {John 19:27}

John took Mary into his home and cared for her.

John was the first to arrive at the empty grave, while Peter was the first to enter the empty tomb.

When Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection, Peter ask “What about him?” Jesus answers, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”   {John 21:20-23}

This led to the believe the John would never die among the disciples.  He was the last of the disciples to die.

After Pentecost, Peter and John heal the sick, preach and raise the dead. 

Paul wrote “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars.”  {Galatians 2:9} 

John recalled the account many years later

We know from this he was a pillar of the apostles and early church.

According to the Book of Revelation, John is a prisoner on the island of Patmos, which is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea.

There is great debate as to whether he authorized the Gospel of John and the other three books {1 John, 2 John, 3 John} also attributed to him.

Scripture does not give us any additional information on John.

Historical text state he trained Polycarp, later Bishop of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch.

John is said to live to an old age and be the last of the disciples to die. He is believed to have died in Ephesus sometime after 98AD. There is a tomb in the small town of Selçuk, in Ephesus {present day Turkey} which is traditionally believed to be his tomb.

For more on John, check out my series on him.

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