John the Apostle
In Mark 1:16-20 (see also Matt. 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11), Mark indicated that in the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus was near the Sea of Galilee and saw Simon and Andrew, two brothers who were fishermen. Jesus invited them to follow Him, and right away they did so. Then, walking “on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him” (vv. 19-20). Luke 5:10 says that James and John “were Simon’s partners” in his fishing business. Thus we see how four fishermen—Peter, Andrew, James, and John—became Jesus’ closest disciples, or His apostles. Here we will give special consideration to John.
In Mark 3:17, Mark recorded that Jesus called James and John “Boanerges,” or “Sons of Thunder.” In the four New Testament lists of the twelve apostles, John’s name always appears in the first four names mentioned (see Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:16-17; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). Among the Twelve, John, along with Peter and James, became Jesus’ “inner circle.” They were privileged to hear and see things up close that the other disciples were not. As examples, consider that Jesus invited these three to be with Him when He restored Jairus’s daughter to life (see Luke 8:51), He took them along to witness His transfiguration (see 9:28-31), and He took them with Him further into the Garden of Gethsemane than the rest of the disciples (see Matt. 26:36-37).
Here are some additional interesting and significant facts about John.
- John’s only recorded spoken words in the New Testament appear in Mark 9:38 and Luke 9:49.
- James and John requested that they be allowed to sit next to Jesus in His coming kingdom (see Matt. 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-41).
- Peter and John were the two disciples Jesus sent to make preparations for the Passover meal He—Jesus—would share with all the disciples (see Luke 22:7-8). These two also appear together on numerous occasions in Acts (see 3:1-11; 4:13-22; 8:14-17).
- In the text of the Gospel of John, John is not directly mentioned by name at all. A disciple “Jesus loved” is mentioned, however; and he appears to have been John the apostle (see 13:23; 19:25-27; 20:2-10; 21:4-7,20-24).
- Aided by the writings of Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul from AD 130-200, church tradition affirms that the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation were all written by John the apostle. Interestingly while Matthew, Mark, and Luke were likely written somewhere between AD 50-65, John’s Gospel is believed to have been written between AD 80-90. In addition, the text of John’s Gospel is significantly different in style and content from those of the other three Gospels. Revelation identifies “John” as it’s inspired author (see Rev. 1:4,9; 22:8) without giving any additional personal information.
- Church tradition also says that John was released from exile on Patmos and went to Ephesus where, even as an elderly man, he defended truth and preached on the importance of Christian love.