Story of John

As Catholics, we learn about the saints and their heroic deeds that led them to sainthood. But there is one saint in particular whose story is not as well known: John the Apostle. John was one of Jesus’ closest followers, and his story of John the Apostle is one of faith, hope, and love.

The Apostle John (also known as Saint John) was a key figure in the early Christian church and one of Jesus Christ’s 12 disciples. John is one of Jesus’ closest confidants, along with James and Peter, and appears in more biblical narratives than the other disciples.

Story of John the Apostle
Story of John the Apostle

Despite some Bible scholars contesting which of these (if any) he composed, John is widely thought to be the author of five Bible books:

the Gospel of John
the epistles 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John
the Book of Revelation

He is also thought to be the only disciple who has died of old age (the others were allegedly martyred).

Other titles for the Apostle John, such as John of Patmos (since he was exiled to the island of Patmos), John the Evangelist, John the Elder, John the Presbyter, and the Beloved Disciple, may or may not relate to this John, though it is unknown if all (or many!) of these names apply to this John. It’s also important to distinguish between John, the disciple of Jesus, and John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin.

So, who exactly was the Apostle John? What exactly do we know about him? We’ll look at what the Bible says about him, what we can learn from other ancient sources, and what we don’t know.

John’s Travels With Jesus

Peter, James, and John traveled with and were close to Jesus during significant events. The three were present when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead and during his transfiguration when he was clothed in light and Moses and Elijah appeared.

These three were also present when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, despite Jesus’ instructions to stay awake and pray. They fell asleep several times the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

Peter and John were even tasked with preparing the Last Supper for Jesus and his disciples, the pivotal event at which Jesus was betrayed and the Eucharist, or what we now call communion, was born.

James and John were enthusiastic in their dedication to Jesus and his message, which led to hasty actions on several occasions. Jesus referred to the brothers as “Boanerges” or “Sons of Thunder” due to this.

They wanted to call down the fires of heaven on a group of Samaritans who had turned their backs on Jesus and his disciples, earning the brothers Jesus’ wrath. The two even inquired whether they may sit on thrones alongside Jesus in his glory because of their importance or closeness to him.

Apostle John
Apostle John

New Testament author

The Gospel of John and four other New Testament works — the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation – are attributed to John, according to church tradition. Internally, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” is credited with authorship in John 20:2. ( o, o mathts on gapa o Isous).

The Gospel of John is based on the written testimony of the “Beloved Disciple,” according to John 21:24. The authorship of some Johannine literature has been contested since around the year 200.

The First Epistle of John and the Gospel of John are commonly acknowledged as his, However, according to Eusebius, John’s second and third epistles were not written by him but by a different John.

Eusebius also goes to considerable lengths to persuade the reader that John’s Revelation is not universally accepted. Only what is now known as the Book of Revelation may have been John’s Revelation.

The Gospel of John is very different from the Synoptic Gospels, which were most likely written decades before John. The bishops of Asia Minor purportedly requested that he write his Gospel to oppose the Ebionite heresy, which held that Christ did not exist before Mary.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were likely familiar to John, but they focused on Jesus in the year following John the Baptist’s arrest and death.

Sophronius of Jerusalem, writing around 600, noted that “two epistles bearing his name… are considered by some to be the work of a certain John the Elder” and that, while John wrote Revelation of Patmos, it was “later translated by Justin Martyr and Irenaeus,” presumably to reconcile tradition with the obvious differences in Greek style.

Until the twentieth century, the Apostle John was credited with writing the Gospel of John. The majority of modern critical scholars, on the other hand, are doubtful. Because of narrative parallels with Paul, some academics place the Gospel of John between A.D 65 and 85; John Robinson proposes an initial edition about 50–55, followed by a final edition around 65. Some scholars assume that John’s Gospel was written in two or three stages.

Apostle John
Apostle John

According to most contemporary scholars, the Gospel was not written until the later part of the first century with the earliest probable date being 75-80: “…a date of composition in 75-80 A.D as the oldest plausible date for this Gospel.” Others feel that a later date, potentially as late as the last decade of the first century A.D. and the start of the second century (i.e., 90-100), is more accurate.

Nonetheless, traditional authorship is still favored by many theological experts today. “Despite widespread reluctance to accept it by many, but by no means all, modern scholars,” according to Colin G. Kruse, “it is impossible to pass by this conclusion” because John the Evangelist has been acknowledged frequently in the works of early Church Fathers.

According to modern orthodox Bible scholars, the Gospel of John was written by an unknown author.

Regarding whether the author was an eyewitness, Paul N. Anderson believes that the Gospel of John “contains more direct claims to eyewitness origins than any other Gospel tradition.” According to F. F. Bruce, 19:35 contains an “emphatic and explicit claim to eyewitness authority.” The Gospel does not claim to be written by eyewitnesses to the events recounted.

 Apostle John
Apostle John

According to mainstream Bible scholars, all four New Testament gospels are largely anonymous, and most mainstream academics agree that eyewitnesses did not write them.

“Scholars generally accept that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after Jesus’ death,” according to The New Oxford Annotated Bible (2018).

Liturgical commemoration

The feast day of Saint John is observed as “Saint John, Apostle, and Evangelist” in the Roman Catholic Church and as “Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist” in the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Calendars.

According to the Tridentine Calendar, he was also commemorated on the days running up to and including January 3, the Octave of the December 27 feast. In 1955, Pope Pius XII abolished the Octave. The typical liturgical color is white. On December 27, the Church of England holds a commemoration to honor John the Apostle and Evangelist.

Icon Apostle John

Saint John icon, oval

Saint John, “the Theologian in Silence”, is depicted writing in his room, inspired by the teachings of his disciple Prochorus.

This beautiful icon was hand-painted in Romania following traditional Byzantine techniques and has a unique oval shape with beautiful decorations on the sides.

It’s a beautiful piece of art that would be perfect for any home or office.

Until 1960, another feast day in the General Roman Calendar was the May 6 commemoration of “Saint John Before the Latin Gate,” which commemorated a legend told by Jerome that St John was brought to Rome during the reign of Emperor Domitian and thrown into a vat of boiling oil, from which he miraculously survived unharmed. Rome’s Latin Gate, a church dedicated to him (San Giovanni a Porta Latina), was built at the traditional site of this occurrence.

The “Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian” is commemorated on September 26 by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches that utilize the Byzantine Rite. They commemorate the “Feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian” on May 8, a date when Christians used to gather fine ashes from his tomb, which were supposed to be beneficial for treating the sick.

Apostle John
Apostle John

Islamic view

The Quran references Jesus’ disciples but does not name them as “supporters for [Allah’s] cause.” Their names are likewise not mentioned in the Sunnah. On the other hand, some Muslim academics revealed their names, most likely drawing on the resources of Christians, who are recognized in Islamic tradition as “People of the Book.”

According to Muslim explanation, the New Testament list of disciples includes Peter, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, Andrew, James, Jude, John, and Simon the Zealot. Notably, Muslims are not to believe or reject People of the Book (Christians and Jews) unless the Quran or Sunnah confirms or denies them.

Latter-day Saint view

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S. Church) claims that “John is mentioned extensively in subsequent Revelation.

These writings add to the biblical account of John’s brilliance and the significance of the mission the Lord has entrusted him with on the globe in New Testament times and the end days for Latter-day Saints. According to the latter-day scriptures, John did not die but was allowed to remain on the earth as a ministering servant until the Lord’s Second Coming “.

It also claims that in 1829, John, along with the resurrected Peter and James, went to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored priestly authority to the earth through Apostolic succession. John and the Three Nephites will witness Christ’s Second Coming as translated animals.

John the Apostle is the same person as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, and the Beloved Disciple, according to the L.D.S. Church.

Saint John In Art

As a revered apostle, evangelist, and author of Revelation and several Epistles, John has played a significant role in art since the early Christian period. He is usually depicted as an elderly gentleman with a white or gray beard or a youthful man without a beard.

The first was more frequent in Byzantine art, possibly influenced by classical depictions of Socrates; the second was more widespread in Medieval Western European art and may be traced back to 4th-century Rome.

Saint John
Reni Saint John 1621

Legends from the Acts of John, a fictitious record attributed to John, had a big influence on Medieval iconography; it’s where the idea that John became an apostle at a young age came from. One of John’s most well-known emblems is the chalice, which frequently has a serpent.

This symbol is supposed to reference a story in the Book of Acts about John being challenged to drink a cup of poison to demonstrate the power of his faith (the poison being symbolized by the serpent).

In allusion to the writings commonly attributed to him, a book or scroll and an eagle, which are thought to represent the works’ high-soaring, inspirational nature, are also prominent symbols.

In Medieval and Renaissance art, sculpture, and literature, Saint John is commonly shown as androgynous or feminine. Historians have linked such depictions to the circumstances of the believers assigned to them.

Later Life & Death

While it is unknown how long John the Apostle stayed in Judea, as Herod Agrippa began to persecute Christians, he and the other disciples were scattered around the Roman Empire. He looked after Jesus’ mother until Mary’s Assumption, then to Ephesus to compose his three epistles.

According to Christian writer Tertullian, he was banished to the Greek island of Patmos for preaching the Gospel, following which he was thrown into boiling oil and escaped unharmed. In Patmos, he received Christ’s Revelation and wrote the ‘Book of Revelation.’

He eventually returned to Ephesus, where he died of old age around 98 CE and was buried in modern-day Selçuk, Turkey, where his tomb can still be visited. While the early second-century bishop Papias of Hierapolis said that he was assassinated by Jews, many doubt the story, with others suggesting that John the Baptist was the one who was killed.

Conclusion Story of John the Apostle

John the Apostle, along with his brother James the Lesser was one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles, according to the New Testament. He is regarded as the youngest of the apostles and the only one who died of natural causes rather than martyrdom. His other names include John the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple, John of Patmos, John the Elder, and John the Presbyter.

The ‘Gospel of John and three other New Testament books: the three ‘Epistles of John and the ‘Book of Revelation,’ are assumed to be written by him. According to some traditions, he also wrote the apocryphal pseudepigraphical tract known as ‘Acts of John,’ which is not considered gnostic in modern scholarship despite having strong docetic elements. On December 27, Saint John’s Day is commemorated.

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