Who is John the Apostle?

John the Apostle (presumed author of the book of John, the three letters of John, and Revelation) was one of the greatest disciples of Jesus Christ, described in the Bible as “the one Jesus loved.”  In truth, all we know about him is from the Bible.

He’s the son of Zebedee and brother of James the apostle.  His mother was probably Salome who was the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus, who was one of the ones to discover Jesus’ tomb empty after his crucifixion.  This would have made Jesus and John cousins.  His family were fishermen along the Sea of Galilee.  He had some wealth since it is mentioned he had hired servants.  He probably knew the high priest (John 1:35) and so had connections.

He is first mentioned as the disciple of John the Baptist.  He meets Jesus and follows him through his 7-month sojourn in Judea, Samaria, and back to Galilee.

He is at the raising of Jairus’s daughter, the Transfiguration, and nearest to Jesus in Gethsemane.  He fled when Jesus was arrested but stood near the cross when Jesus was crucified, where he received Jesus’ commission to look after his mother (John 19:26).  He’s the first to recognize Jesus after his ascension (John 21:1-7).

After this, John is only briefly mentioned.  He’s with Peter at Pentecost for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Paul mentions him Galatians 2:9 and then in Revelation as the author of that book.

According to tradition, John spent the last years of his life in Ephesus and then on the island of Patmos in exile.  He died in Ephesus some time at the end of the first century AD.  He is believed to be  the only disciple not to be martyred and die a natural death.

In sum, by all accounts John lived an extraordinary life (who wouldn’t walking by the side of Jesus?), fulfilling God’s purpose for his life and converting countless to Jesus along the way.  Although we can’t walk with Jesus, we can live such a life–the life God meant for us to live–and touch countless in the process as well.

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