John the apostle and evangelist.
John the son of Zebedee, the elder John, John the seer.
Gospel of John
Epistle 1 of John .
Epistle 2 of John .
Epistle 3 of John .
Acts of John.
John in the Online Encyclopedia.
John in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
John the son of Zebedee is called along with his brother
James in Matthew 4.21 = Mark 1.19 = Luke 5.10, after which
event he surfaces frequently in the gospel narratives.
He makes the first quartet in every canonical list of
the disciples in Matthew 10.2 = Mark 3.17 = Luke 6.14
and Acts 1.13.
He witnesses the healing of the mother-in-law of Simon
in Mark 1.29 (refer also to Matthew 8.14 = Luke 4.38).
He asks Jesus about another exorcist in
Mark 9.38 = Luke 9.49.
It is John along with James his brother who asks Jesus
about the prospect of casting fire on a Samaritan
village in Luke 9.54.
In Matthew 20.20-24 = Mark 10.35-41 Jesus has occasion
to tell John and James that they too will drink from
the same cup and be baptized with the same baptism as
He, along with Peter and James, are the only disciples
to witness the raising of the daughter of Jairus in
Mark 5.37 = Luke 8.51 (refer also to Matthew 9.25),
the transfiguration in Matthew 17.1 = Mark 9.2 = Luke
9.28, and the Gethsemane agony in Matthew 26.37 =
Mark 14.33 (refer also to Luke 22.39).
He is one of four disciples to hear the Olivet discourse
in Mark 13.3.
John and Peter are the ones who Jesus sends to prepare
the Passover in
In the gospel of John itself he never appears by name, but only
as one of the unnamed sons of Zebedee in the Johannine appendix
(at John 21.2) and, in the judgment of many, as the unnamed beloved
disciple (John 13.23-25; 18.15-16; 19.26-27, 35; 20.2-10; 21.7,
20-24). In Acts 3.1-11 he performs a healing along with Peter, and
is arrested with Peter in Acts 4.1-22 for that action. In Acts 8.14-17
John is sent with Peter as an emissary from Jerusalem to Samaria.
In Acts 12.2 Herod puts his brother to the sword. Paul mentions him
only once, in Galatians 2.9, as one of the pillars of the Jerusalem
church, along with James and Cephas.
The Bible has five works in
three different genres that are attributed to John the disciple of
the Lord, to wit, the gospel, three epistles, and the apocalypse.
Papias claims to have inquired as to the
words of the elders, and includes two Johns on the list of disciples
whose sayings he sought out (Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.4; Jerome,
On Famous Men 18). Are they the
same John? Or two different Johns? I myself, like Eusebius, favor
Jerome, On Famous Men 9:
Ioannes apostolus, quem Iesus amavit
plurimum, filius Zebedaei, frater Iacobi apostoli, quem Herodes
post passionem domini docellavit, novissimus omnium scripsit
evangelium, rogatus ab Asiae episcopis, adversus Cerinthum
aliosque haereticos et maxime tunc Ebionitarum dogma consurgens,
qui asserunt Christum ante Mariam non fuisse. unde et compulsus
est divinam eius nativitatem edicere. sed et aliam causam huius
scripturae ferunt, quod cum legisset Matthaei, Marci, et Lucae
volumina, probaverit quidem textum historiae, et vera eos dixisse
firmaverit, sed unius tantum anni, in quo et passus est,
post carcerem Ioannis, historiam texuisse. praetermisso itaque anno,
cuius acta a tribus exposita fuerant, superioris temporis antequam
Ioannes clauderetur in carcerem, gesta narravit: sicut manifestum
esse poterit his qui diligenter quatuor evangeliorum volumina legerint.
quae res etiam διαφωνιαν,
dissonantiam, quae videtur Ioannis esse cum caeteris, tollit. scripsit
autem et unam epistolam cuius exordium est: Quod fuit ab initio,
quod audivimus et vidimus oculis nostris, quod perspeximus et manus
nostrae contrectaverunt de verbo vitae, quae ab universis
ecclesiasticis et eruditis viris probatur. reliquae autem duae,
quarum principium est: Senior electae dominae et natis eius, et
sequentis: Senior Caio charissimo, quem ego diligo in veritate,
Ioannis presbyteri asseruntur, cuius et hodie alterum sepulcrum
apud Ephesum ostenditur, etsi nonnulli putant duas memorias eiusdem
Ioannis evangelistae esse, super qua re cum per ordinem ad Papiam
auditorem eius ventum fuerit, disseremus. quarto decimo igitur anno,
secundum post Neronem persecutionem movente Domitiano, in Patmos
insulam relegatus, scripsit apocalypsim, quam interpretatur Iustinus
Martyr et Irenaeus. interfecto autem Domitiano et actis eius ob
nimiam crudelitatem a senatu rescissis, sub Nerva principe redit
Ephesum, ibique usque ad Traianum principem perseverans, totas Asiae
fundavit rexitque ecclesias, et confectus senio, sexagesimo octavo
post passionem domini anno mortuus, iuxta eamdem urbem sepultus
John, the apostle whom Jesus loved most,
the son of Zebedee and brother of James, the apostle whom Herod
after the passion of our Lord beheaded, most recently of all the
evangelists wrote a gospel, at the request of the bishops of Asia,
against Cerinthus and other heretics and especially against the then
growing dogma of the Ebionites, who assert that Christ did not exist
before Mary. On this account he was compelled to maintain his divine
nativity. But there is said to be yet another reason for this work,
in that, when he had read Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he approved indeed
the substance of the history and declared that the things they said
were true, but that they had given the history of only one year,
the one, that is, which follows the imprisonment of John and in which
he was put to death. So, passing by this year the events of which had
been set forth by these, he related the events of the earlier period
before John was shut up in prison, so that it might be manifest to
those who should diligently read the volumes of the four evangelists.
This also takes away the discrepancy which there seems to be between
John and the others. He wrote also one epistle which begins as
follows: That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard
and seen with our eyes and our hands handled concerning the word of
life, which is esteemed of by all men who are interested in the
church or in learning. Of the other two of these the first is: The
elder to the elect lady and her children, and the other: The elder unto
Gaius, the beloved, whom I love in truth, are said to be the work of
John the elder, to the memory of whom another sepulcher is shown at
Ephesus to the present day, though some think that there are two
memorials of this same John the evangelist. We shall treat of this
matter in its turn when we come to Papias his disciple. In the
fourteenth year then after Nero, Domitian having raised a second
persecution, he was banished to the island of Patmos and wrote the
apocalypse, which Justin Martyr and Irenaeus interpreted. But after
Domitian was put to death and his acts were annulled by the senate
on account of his excessive cruelty, he returned to Ephesus under
Pertinax and, continuing there until the time of the emperor Trajan,
founded and built churches throughout all Asia, and, worn out by
old age, died in the sixty-eighth year after the passion of the Lord
and was buried near the same city.
Origen, On Matthew 16.6:
But the sons of Zebedee drank the cup and were baptized
with the baptism, since indeed Herod killed James [the brother] of John with a
sword, and the king of the Romans, as tradition teaches, condemned John to
the island of Patmos for testifying for the sake of the word of
Tertullian, On Monogamy
Habebunt plane Christo quod legent
speciosum privilegium, carnis usquequaque imbecillitatem. sed hanc
iudicabunt iam non Isaac monogamus pater noster, nec Iohannes
aliqui Christi spado, nec Iudith filia Merari nec tot alia exempla
sanctorum. solent ethnici iudices destinari.
They will have plainly a specious privilege to plead
before Christ, the everlasting infirmity of the flesh! But upon this [infirmity]
will sit in judgment no longer an Isaac, our monogamist father, or a John,
a noted voluntary celibate of Christ, or a Judith, daughter of Merari, or so
many other examples of saints. Gentiles are wont to be destined our
Augustine, On the Gospel of John
124.2-3 (translation slightly modified from the one available
at New Advent):
Sed cui placet, adhuc resistat, et dicat verum
esse quod ait Ioannes, non dixisse dominum quod discipulus ille non moritur,
sed hoc tamen significatum esse talibus verbis, qualia eum dixisse narravit,
et asserat apostolum Ioannem vivere, atque in illo sepulcro eius quod est
apud Ephesum, dormire eum potius quam mortuum iacere contendat. assumat in
argumentum, quod illic terra sensim scatere, et quasi ebullire perhibetur,
atque hoc eius anhelitu fieri, sive constanter sive pertinaciter asseveret.
non enim possunt deesse qui credant, si non desunt qui etiam Moysen asserant
vivere, quia scriptum est eius sepulcrum non inveniri, et apparuit cum domino
in monte, ubi et Elias fuit, quem mortuum legimus non esse, sed raptum. quasi
Moysi corpus non potuerit alicubi sic abscondi, ut prorsus homines lateret
ubi esset, atque inde ad horam divinitus excitari, quando cum Christo Elias
et ipse sunt visi, sicut ad horam multa sanctorum corpora surrexerunt, quando
passus est Christus, et post eius resurrectionem apparuerunt multis in sancta,
sicut scriptum est, civitate. sed tamen, ut dicere coeperam, si quidam Moysen
mortuum negant, quem scriptura ipsa, ubi sepulcrum eius nusquam inveniri
legimus, mortuum tamen esse sine ulla ambiguitate testatur, quanto magis
Ioannes ex istorum occasione verborum ubi dominus ait: Sic eum volo manere
donec venio, creditur vivus dormire sub terra? quem tradunt etiam, quod in
quibusdam scripturis quamvis apocryphis reperitur, quando sibi fieri iussit
sepulcrum, incolumen fuisse praesentem, eoque effosso et diligentissime
praeparato, ibi se tamquam in lectulo collocasse, statimque eum esse defunctum,
ut autem isti putant, qui heec verba domini sic intelligunt, non defunctum,
sed defuncto similem cubuisse, et cum mortuus putaretur, sepultum fuisse
dormientem, et donec Christus veniat sic manere, suamque vitam scaturigine
pulveris indicare, qui pulvis creditur, ut ab imo ad superficiem tumuli
ascendat, flatu quiescentis impelli. huic opinioni supervacaneum existimo
reluctari. viderint enim qui locum sciunt, utrum hoc ibi faciat vel patiatur
terra quod dicitur, quia et revera non a levibus hominibus id audivimus.
But let any one who so resists still refuse his
assent, and declare that what John asserts is true enough, that the Lord said
not that that disciple dies not, and yet that this is the meaning of such words
as he is here recorded to have used; and further assert that the apostle John
is still living, and maintain that he is sleeping rather than lying dead in his
tomb at Ephesus. Let him employ as an argument the current report that there
the earth is in sensible commotion, and presents a kind of heaving appearance,
and assert whether it be steadfastly or obstinately that this is occasioned by
his breathing. For we cannot fail to have some who so believe, if there is no
want of those also who affirm that Moses is alive, because it is written that
his sepulchre could not be found,1 and that he appeared with the Lord
on the mountain along with Elijah,2 of whom we read that he did not
die, but was translated,3 as if the body of Moses could not have been
hidden somewhere in such a way as that its position should altogether escape
discovery by men, and be raised up therefrom by divine power at the time when
Elijah and he were seen with Christ just as at the time of the passion of Christ
many bodies of the saints arose, and after his resurrection appeared, according
to scripture, to many in the holy city.4 But still, as I began to say,
if some deny the death of Moses, whom scripture itself, in the very passage
where we read that his sepulcher could nowhere be found, explicitly declares to
have died, how much more may occasion be taken from these words where the Lord
says: Thus do I wish him to stay till I come,5 to believe that John
is sleeping, but still alive, beneath the ground? Of whom we have also the
tradition, which is found in certain apocryphal scriptures, that he was present,
in good health, when he ordered a sepulcher to be made for him, and that, when
it was dug and prepared with all possible care, he laid himself down there as
in a bed, and became immediately defunct; yet as those think who so understand
these words of the Lord, not really defunct, but only lying like one in such a
condition, and, while accounted dead, was actually buried when asleep, and that
he will so remain until the coming of Christ, making known meanwhile the fact
of his life by the bubbling up of the dust, which is believed to be forced by
the breath of the sleeper to ascend from the depths to the surface of the
grave. I think it quite superfluous to contend with such an opinion. For those
may see for themselves who know the locality whether the ground there does or
suffers what is said regarding it, because, in truth, we too have heard of it
from those who are not altogether unreliable witnesses.
1 Refer to Deuteronomy 34.6.
2 Refer to Matthew 17.3 = Mark 9.4 = Luke 9.30.
3 Refer to 2 Kings 2.11.
4 Refer to Matthew 27.52-53.
5 Refer to John 21.22.
Interim cedamus opinioni, quam certis documentis refellere
non valemus, ne rursus aliud quod a nobis quaeratur exsurgat: Cur super humatum
mortuum ipsa humus quodammodo vivere ac spirare videatur. sed numquid hinc tanta
ista solvitur quaestio, si magno miraculo, qualia potest facere omnipotens,
tamdiu vivum corpus in sopore sub terra est, donec veniat terminus saeculi?
quin imo fit amplior et difficilior, cur discipulo Iesus, quem diligebat prae
ceteris, in tantum ut super pectus eius discumbere mereretur, pro magno munere
longum in corpore donaverit somnum, cum beatum Petrum per ingentem martyrii
gloriam, ab onere ipsius corporis solverit, eique concesserit quod apostolus
Paulus se concupisse dixit, et scripsit: Dissolvi et esse cum Christo. si autem
quod magis creditur, ideo sanctus Ioannes ait, non dixisse dominum: Non moritur,
ne illis verbis quae dixit, hoc voluisse intelligi putaretur, corpusque eius
in sepulcro eius exanime sicut aliorum mortuorum iacet; restat ut si vere ibi
fit quod sparsit fama de terra,quae subinde ablata succrescit, aut ideo fiat
ut eo modo commendetur pretiosa mors eius, quoniam non eam commendat martyrium,
non enim eum pro fide Christi persecutor occidit, aut propter aliquid aliud quod
nos latet. manet tamen quaestio cur dixerit dominus de homine morituro: Sic eum
volo manere donec veniam.
Meanwhile let us yield to the opinion, which we are
unable to refute by any certain evidence, lest we stir up still another question
that may be put to us, why the very ground should seem in a kind of way to live
and breathe upon the interred corpse. But can so great a question as the one
before us be settled on such grounds as these, if by a great miracle, such as
can be wrought by the almighty, the living body lies so long asleep beneath
the ground until the coming of the end of the world? No, rather, does there not
arise a wider and more difficult one, why Jesus bestowed on the disciple,
whom he loved beyond the others to such an extent that he was counted worthy
to recline on his breast, the gift of a protracted sleep in the body, when he
delivered the blessed Peter, by the eminent glory of martyrdom, from the burden
of the body itself, and vouchsafed to him what the apostle Paul said that he
desired, and committed to writing, namely, to be let loose, and to be with
Christ?* But if, what is rather to be believed, saint John declared that the
Lord said not, he dies not, for the very purpose that no such meaning might be
attached to the words which he used, and his body lies in its sepulcher lifeless
like those of others deceased, it remains, if that really takes place which
report has spread abroad regarding the soil, which grows up anew, though
continually carried away, that it is either so done for the purpose of
commending the preciousness of his death, seeing it wants the commendation of
martyrdom, for he suffered not death at the hand of a persecutor for the faith
of Christ, or on some other account that is concealed from our knowledge.
Still there remains the question, why the Lord said of one who was destined to
die: Thus I wish him to remain till I come.
* Refer to Philippians 1.23.