According to the New Testament, Saint John the Apostle was one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome and was generally regarded as the youngest apostle. James, another of the Twelve Apostles, was his brother.
The Apostle Saint John
The Apostle Saint John (active 1st century A.D.), one of Jesus’ 12 Apostles, is traditionally regarded as the author of the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and three Letters, or Epistles, that bears his name.
Throughout the Gospels, John and James, along with Peter, are portrayed as the most closely associated with Jesus of all his disciples. John, along with Peter and James, witnesses Jesus’ supernatural communication with Moses and Elijah on Mt. Tabor; the night before Jesus’ death, he is present in the Garden of Gethsemane.
When everyone else abandons the dying Jesus, only John remains, and Jesus entrusts his mother, Mary, to his care. Following Jesus’ death, John is presented as one of the leaders of the Jerusalemite disciples of Jesus.
In the book of Acts, John, along with Peter and James, testifies about Jesus. He and Peter travel to Samaria to confirm new converts (Acts 8:14, 25).
Saint John Birth/Origins
John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, was born in Galilee, most likely between A.D. 10 and 15. His father was a fisherman, which is what John was doing when he met and followed Jesus (Mark 5:37).
His mother became one of the women who served Jesus’ followers (Mark 15:40-41; 16:1).
James, his brother, also followed Jesus. Both brothers were nicknamed Boanerges by Jesus, which means “sons of thunder” in Aramaic (Mark 3:17), about their fiery demeanour toward Jesus.
Saint John life with Christ
John, one of the first twelve apostles called by Jesus and known as the “beloved disciple,” knew and loved Jesus well. He witnessed him teach and perform miracles. John had the honor of sitting next to Jesus and leaning against his breast at the Last Supper (John 13:23).
He was the only disciple who remained with the Lord as he died on the cross, where Jesus entrusted his mother’s care to him (John 19:25-27).
Through prayerful reflection on Jesus’ words and deeds, John realized that Jesus is the way to eternal life (John 14:6)–a life revealed to the disciples first, and then to all people: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3 NAB).
John’s Travels With Jesus
During major events, Peter, James, and John travelled with and were close to Jesus. The three were with Jesus when he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, as well as during Jesus’ transfiguration when he became robed in light and Moses and Elijah appeared.
These three were also present when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, falling asleep several times the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, despite Jesus’ instructions to stay awake and pray.
Peter and John were even tasked with preparing the Last Supper for Jesus and his disciples, the momentous occasion when Jesus was betrayed and began the tradition that became known as the Eucharist, or what we now call communion.
James and John were zealous in their devotion to Jesus and his message, which often led to hasty actions. Because of this, Jesus referred to the brothers as “Boanerges” or “Sons of Thunder.”
They desired to call down the fires of heaven on a group of Samaritans who had rejected Jesus and his disciples, earning the brothers rebuke from Jesus. Because of their importance or closeness to Jesus, the two even asked if they could sit on thrones alongside him in his glory.
Saint John in the Scripture
John is best known as the author of the Gospel of John, as well as three other New Testament books, the Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.
The authorship of the Gospel is attributed to the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” and John 21:24 claims the Gospel of John is based on the testimony of the “Beloved Disciple.”
However, true authorship has been disputed since the year 200. According to Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, the First Epistle of John and the Gospel of John are widely accepted as John’s. Eusebius continues with the second and third points.
Saint John Achievement
St. John is the patron saint of authors, love, loyalty, and friendship. In art, he is frequently depicted with an eagle, symbolizing “the height he rose to in his gospel.” Other icons depict him looking up into heaven and dictating his Gospel to his disciple.
John held an authoritative position in the early church, as evidenced by his visit to Samaria with St. Peter to lay hands on new converts. He played an important role in St. Paul’s conversion. The evidence does not support John’s opposition to granting Gentiles membership in the church.
The only two apostles sent by Jesus to prepare for the final Passover meal, the Last Supper, were John and Peter. Rather than lying on the couches, St. John sat next to Jesus, leaning on him during the meal.
John was the only one of the Twelve Apostles who did not abandon the Savior during His crucifixion. When the Savior appointed him as the guardian of His Mother, he stood faithfully at the cross.
According to Church tradition, John went to Ephesus after Mary’s Assumption. Later, he was exiled by the Romans to the Greek island of Patmos, where he allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation.
Saint John Death
According to the most plausible theory of John’s death, he was arrested in Ephesus and faced martyrdom when his enemies threw him into a large basin of boiling oil. However, according to legend, John was miraculously saved from death. The authorities then sentenced John to slave labour in Patmos’ mines.
John had a vision of Jesus Christ and wrote the prophetic book of Revelation on this island in the southern Aegean Sea. Later, possibly due to old age, the apostle John was released and returned to what is now Turkey. He died peacefully as an old man sometime after AD 98, the only apostle to do so.
Another theory about John’s death is linked to the Papias of Hierapolis, a second-century bishop. According to one interpretation of Papias’ writings, John was murdered by a group of Jewish men. Many historians, however, believe Papias was misquoted or misread, casting doubt on the theory’s credibility.
There is also a legend that claims John did not die but instead ascended directly to heaven, like Enoch and Elijah. There is no biblical evidence to support this story.
Finally, it is not necessary to know how the apostle John died. What matters is that he was not ashamed of Christ and was willing to die for his faith (see Luke 9:26). A man will not die for something he believes in. A man will not die for something he knows to be a lie. John knew the truth that Jesus had been resurrected, and he was willing to die rather than to renounce his faith in his Savior
Saint John Key Takeaway
God makes the call, and humans respond. The vocation of John and his brother James, as well as Peter and his brother Andrew, is stated very simply in the Gospels: Jesus called them; they followed. The account demonstrates the absoluteness of their response.
“They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He summoned them, and they immediately abandoned their boat and father to follow him” (Matthew 4:21b-22).
That faith was to be rewarded by a special friendship with Jesus for the three former fishermen—Peter, James, and John. They were the only ones who witnessed the Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the agony in Gethsemane. But John’s friendship was something special. Tradition ascribes to him the Fourth Gospel, but most modern Bible scholars believe that the apostle and the evangelist are not the same people.
Saint John Summary
St. John the Apostle, son of Zebedee and Salome, was one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. Our Lord appointed John as an Apostle during the first year of His public ministry. He is thought to be the same as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, and the Beloved Disciple.
St. James the Great, another of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles, was John’s older brother. The brothers were referred to by Jesus as “Boanerges,” which means “sons of thunder.” John is thought to be the longest-living apostle and the only one who did not die as a martyr.
Resources Saint John the Apostle