A Narrative From Our Book Study: The Apostle John
Of the 66 books in the Bible, John the apostle wrote five: the Gospel of John, 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, and Revelation. While each book is filled with knowledge, wisdom and history, we seldom see much regarding the writers themselves. This article is about the Apostle John.
John was born the son of Zebedee, a successful Galilean fisherman who lived near the village of Capernaum, which was also the place that headquartered Jesus’ ministry. Zebedee was prosperous enough to hire a crew to help with his fishing. John had a brother, James, who became the first disciple to be martyred. Jesus nicknamed the two “sons of thunder” and they, along with Peter, were said to be the closest to Jesus. Although the Bible does not say how old John was when he started following Jesus, there are a few hints that suggest he was not yet 20 years old; one, Matthew 17:24-27, provides evidence when Jesus and Peter are the only ones in the group to pay the temple tax which is only required to be paid by every man aged 20 and up. This suggests that the other disciples, including John, were not out of their teens yet. Also, Jewish schooling ended at age 12 giving these men plenty of time to have established professions such as the fisherman John had already become.
John left his life as a fisherman to follow Jesus immediately upon being told (Mark 4:22). He was among the few invited to witness some events that the other disciples would merely hear about such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter and Jesus’ private prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He, along with his brother, boldly asked Jesus if he could sit beside Him on His throne once He became King. John walked closely with Jesus and even reclined into Him at the Last Supper to inquired who was to betray the Lord (John 13:25). John along with Peter was entrusted with preparing the Last Supper. John was the disciple that Jesus entrusted the care of His mother, Mary, to at His crucifixion (John 19: 26-27). John outran Peter to Jesus’ tomb upon hearing it had been opened (John 20:4).
After Jesus’ descent into Heaven, John continued to evangelize and is described as one of the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9). According to church tradition, John knew of the other Gospels and wanted to write his in such a way that it would make a unique contribution to life of our Lord Jesus Christ. His writing was both complimentary and supplementary to the other three books entailing Jesus’ life and ministry. For example, while the first three Gospels tell of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and then sending his disciples out to cross the Sea of Galilee, John’s account tells us the why: the people wanted to crown Jesus king because of the miracle He had just preformed and Jesus was avoiding such an event. At the time of writing the Gospel of John, he was in Asia Minor. The book is said to be written between AD 85 and AD 95. The purpose of the Gospel of John is to show Jesus as the Son of God, the Word made into flesh, the One who provides eternal life for all who believe in Him. The key verse for John is “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John3:16.
John is said to have later moved to Ephesus where he wrote his three letters or epistles. Later, when he was exiled to the island, Patmos, he wrote Revelation. John was an Apostle, Evangelist and a Saint. He is the last known witness to the crucifixion of Jesus. He was the only disciple to die of natural causes at an old age. John is buried at the Cathedral of Saint John in Ephesus Izmir, Turkey. The plot is an alleged interment site. The building has been demolished but the columns and his crypt are said to still be there.