John The Apostle - in The Bible

In The Bible

John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee and the younger brother of James, son of Zebedee (Saint James the Greater). Tradition, based on Sacred Scripture, considers Salome their mother. James and John were the cousins of Jesus and their mother Salome was the younger sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Zebedee and his sons fished in the Lake of Genesareth. James and John first were disciples of Saint John the Baptist, their second cousin. Jesus then called Saint Peter and Saint Andrew, and these two sons of Zebedee to follow him. James and John did so and thus rank high among the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. James and John both held prominent positions for not only being the first of the disciples to be called but also because of their relationship to Jesus among the Apostles. Jesus referred to the pair collectively as "Boanerges" (translated "sons of thunder") being that although their nature was of a calm and gentle manner, when their patience was pushed to its limits their anger became wild, fierce and thunderous causing them to speak out like an untamed storm. At one point John and his brother James wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan town, but Jesus rebuked them. John survived James by more than half a century after James became the first Apostle to die a martyr's death.

Peter, James and John were the only witnesses of the raising of Daughter of Jairus. All three also witnessed the Transfiguration, and these same three witnessed the Agony in Gethsemane more closely than the other Apostles did.

Jesus sent only John and Peter into the city to make the preparation for the final Passover meal (the Last Supper). At the meal itself, the "disciple whom Jesus loved" sat next to Jesus and leaned onto his chest. Tradition identifies this disciple as Saint John. After the arrest of Jesus, Peter and the "other disciple" (according to Sacred Tradition, John) followed him into the palace of the high-priest.

John alone among the Apostles remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary alongside myrrhbearers and numerous other women; following the instruction of Jesus from the Cross, John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, into his care as the last legacy of Jesus . After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, John, together with Peter, took a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the church. He is with Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple. With Peter he is also thrown into prison. He is also with Peter visiting the newly converted in Samaria.

A series of articles on
John in the Bible
Johannine literature
Gospel of John · First Epistle of John · Second Epistle of John · Third Epistle of John · Revelation · Authorship
John the Apostle · John the Evangelist · John of Patmos · John the Presbyter · Disciple whom Jesus loved
Communities
Twelve Apostles · The Early Church
Related literature
Apocryphon of John · Acts of John · Logos · Signs Gospel

There is no other information in the Bible concerning the duration of this activity in Judea. According to tradition, John and the other Apostles remained some 12 years in this first field of labor, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire. . In any case, a messianic community was already in existence at Ephesus before Paul's first labors there (cf. "the brethren"), in addition to Priscilla and Aquila. While he remained in Judea and the surrounding area, the other disciples returned to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (about AD 51). Paul, in opposing his enemies in Galatia, recalls that John explicitly, along with Peter and James the Just, were referred to as "pillars of the church" and refers to the recognition that his Apostolic preaching of a gospel free from Jewish Law received from these three, the most prominent men of the messianic community at Jerusalem.

Of the other New Testament writings, it is only from the three Letters of John and the Book of Revelation that anything further might be learned about John, if we assume that he was the author of these books. From the Letters and Revelation we may suppose that John belonged to the multitude of personal eyewitnesses of the life and work of Jesus (cf. especially 1 Jn 1:1-5; 4:14), that he had lived for a long time in Asia Minor, was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the various messianic communities there, and that he had a position of authority recognized by all messianic communities as leader of this part of the church. Moreover, the Book of Revelation says that its author was on the island of Patmos "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus", when he was honored with the vision contained in Revelation.

Though some scholars agree in placing the Gospel of John somewhere between AD 65 and 85, John A.T. Robinson proposes an initial edition by 50–55 and then a final edition by 65 due to narrative similarities with Paul. Other critical scholars are of the opinion that John was composed in stages (probably two or three). There is also a strongly held view amongst contemporary scholars that the Gospel was not written until the latter third of the first century CE. The Dean of New Testament at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Gail R O'Day, writes in her introduction to the Gospel in the New Revised Standard Translation of the Bible "...a date of 75-80 CE as the earliest possible date of composition for this Gospel". Other reliable scholars are convinced that an even later date, perhaps even the last decade of the first century CE right up to the start of the 2nd century (i.e., 90 - 100) is applicable.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite commemorate the "Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian" on September 26. On May 8 they celebrate the "Feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian", on which date Christians used to draw forth from his grave fine ashes which were believed to be effective for healing the sick.

Until 1960, another feast day which appeared in the General Roman Calendar is that of "St John Before the Latin Gate" on May 6, celebrating a tradition recounted by Jerome that St John was brought to Rome during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, and was thrown in a vat of boiling oil, from which he was miraculously preserved unharmed. A church (San Giovanni a Porta Latina) dedicated to him was built near the Latin gate of Rome, the traditional scene of this event.

Other Christians highly revere him but do not canonize or venerate saints.

Until the 19th century, the authorship of the Gospel of John had universally been attributed to the Apostle John. However, critical scholars since then have had their doubts. The Gospel does not make that attribution. Instead, authorship is internally credited to the disciple whom Jesus loved ("ο μαθητης ον ηγαπα ο Ιησους") in John 20:2. The term the Beloved Disciple ("ον εφιλει ο Ιησους") is used five times in the Gospel of John to indicate authorship. John 21:24 claims that the Gospel of John is based on the written testimony of the "Beloved Disciple".

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