John (The Apostle)

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series

John, known as John the Apostle or John the Evangelist, is a prominent figure in the New Testament. He is renowned for his role as one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and as the author of several New Testament books. Let’s explore a biography of John based on scriptural citations and historical accounts:


1. Early Life and Calling:

John, the son of Zebedee, was born in Bethsaida, a fishing village in Galilee. He was also the younger brother of James, another disciple of Jesus, and together, they were known as the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). John was likely a fisherman by trade, and he and his brother James were called by Jesus to become His disciples.

Matthew 4:21-22 (NIV):

“Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”


2. Close Relationship with Jesus:

Among the twelve disciples, John held a special place as one of Jesus’ closest companions. He, along with Peter and James, was part of the inner circle that witnessed some significant events, such as the transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9) and the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42).


3. The “Beloved Disciple”:

In the Gospel of John, the author refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, John 19:26, John 20:2, John 21:7, John 21:20). This description is often understood to be John, as he had a particularly intimate relationship with Jesus.


4. Witnessing Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection:

John was present at the crucifixion of Jesus, standing with Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of the cross (John 19:25-27). He also played a crucial role in spreading the news of Jesus’ resurrection and empty tomb (John 20:1-10).


5. Writings:

John is traditionally believed to have authored five books of the New Testament: the Gospel of John, the three Epistles of John (1 John, 2 John, and 3 John), and the Book of Revelation. These writings are significant for their theological depth and emphasis on love and the divine nature of Jesus Christ.


6. The Book of Revelation:

The Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, is a prophetic and apocalyptic book that provides insight into the end times and the triumph of Christ over evil. John received this revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos:


Revelation 1:9 (NIV):

“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”


7. Later Life and Death:

Historical accounts indicate that John lived a long life and played a significant role in the early Christian community. He likely resided in Ephesus and contributed to the growth of the Church in that region. According to tradition, he died as an old man, and there are accounts suggesting he might have been the only apostle to die a natural death rather than by martyrdom.

John’s writings, especially the Gospel of John, have had a profound influence on Christian theology, emphasizing themes of love, faith, and the deity of Jesus Christ. His life and teachings continue to be cherished and studied by Christians around the world.