John The Apostle - The Acts of John Tradition

The Acts of John Tradition

Before Jesus ascended, he charged John with watching over the newly established Church and he was a pillar at the Church of Jerusalem. While dying on the cross, he asked John to take care of Mary, his mother, a duty which John fulfilled even after Christ's resurrection up until her death. At the time John was the only apostle present at the crucifixion, despite being the youngest of all twelve apostles. Jesus told his disciples how they would meet their end with the exception of John and this irked Peter.

It was after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost where they were gathered in one place that John spent much of his time in Judea and in the surrounding lands preaching the gospel. He accompanied Peter through the temple one day and they healed a lame beggar. The people in the temple were amazed and Peter testified to them and then again to the Jewish Council. They were arrested but later freed. In that day, Herod the king committed violence against some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John the Beloved with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. He was later freed by an angel of God.

In 54 AD, Mary the mother of Jesus died and was buried, and so John fulfilled his duty of caring for her until the very end. It was said that when they opened the tomb her body was gone. Catholic tradition says she rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven with both body and soul intact in what is called the Assumption of Mary, however others say her body was taken away lest it become an idol. It was not uncommon for God to hide the body or take it as with the case of Moses to prevent the establishment of institutionalized religion. John and Mary Magdalene went north and visited the churches that were established along the way. They travel as far as Asia Minor and settle in Ephesus. One night, while they slept a thief broke into their home and John confronted him and converted him to the faith and told him turn from doing evil. The thief’s name was Cleophus whose name means "vision of glory". This story was shared among the Church and it became used as another example to describe the second coming of Christ as “thief in the night”.

John, one day, was going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, he then rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the Truth, is within.” He wrote three epistles while living in Ephesus, and he also completed the Gospel of John during this period. John was taken away in the persecution of the Roman emperors in Ephesus, leaving Mary Magdalene in the care of Cleophus. Eastern Orthodox tradition states Mary Magdalene went to Cyprus to be with her sister Martha, where Lazarus became the first Bishop of Kittim (modern Larnaca). All three died in Cyprus. While Catholic tradition says she later traveled to France and lived out her days there in penance.

During the reign of Roman emperor Domitian after having spent time imprisoned in Rome, John was sentenced to be boiled in oil at the Colosseum. However he endured no harm or suffering from the scalding oil. It is said that all in the entire Colosseum audience were converted Christianity upon witnessing this miracle. John was then allegedly banished by the Roman authorities to the Greek island of Patmos, where some believe that he wrote the Book of Revelation, and where it is said he was later freed. When John was aged, he trained Polycarp who later became Bishop of Smyrna. This was important because Polycarp was able to carry John's message to future generations. Polycarp in turn taught Irenaeus, and passed on to him stories about John. The only one of the Apostles who was not martyred, John testified that somehow God has kept him alive for so long for himself and his service. He then proceeded to lie down at the spot he wanted to die and preached to them. Surrounded by his closest friends in Ephesus, he'd closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep and died of age 94 in 100 AD.

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