The Expository Files


An Apostle Named John
"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus"

John was the "disciple whom Jesus loved." He was a fisherman who worked at the family business. He and his brother James were the sons of Zebedee and Salome. His mother was also a disciple, and one of the women to visit the empty tomb of Jesus on that best of all Sunday mornings. John wrote five books of the New Testament; The Gospel of John, the three epistles that bear his name, and the Book of Revelation.

John Becomes A Disciple
We first see John as a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35). Scholars, with good reason, believe that the "other disciple" mentioned in John 1:35-42 is John. We find that John never mentions himself by name in his gospel. Whenever John wants to indicate himself, he simply uses terms such as "another disciple" or "the disciple whom Jesus loved." We are given no reason for this, but most think it has to do with John's modesty.

These disciples in this passage left John the Baptist and stayed with Jesus the remainder of the day. John vividly recalls the exact time (the 10th hour would be 4 pm) when they first met Jesus.

John the Baptist was not envious or angry over the loss of his disciples to Christ (John 3:22-36). He knew it was to be that way according to God's plan. Later, John the Baptist was imprisoned, and Jesus leaves for Galilee (Mk. 1:14; Matt. 4:12-16). Some disciples, including John, seemed to be called a second time in Galilee while they were fishing. From now on, John would be more than just a disciple. He would become an apostle (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20).

John was from Galilee, but had traveled far to the south to hear John the Baptist and become his disciple, as had James, Peter and Andrew. These men were seeking for something, and they came to the right place (Matthew 6:33; 7:7). They would hear the prophet speak of the Son;. "Behold the Lamb of God!" (Isaiah 53:7,8; 1 Peter 1:19,20).

John's Life With Christ
John tells us about Jesus' first miracle. It was done at a wedding feast in Cana (John. 2:1-12). Since this is recorded in Scriptures as the first miracle Jesus did, we know He had not done any as a child, as some fables suggest in what people miscall "the lost books of the Bible".

John also saw Jesus drive the money changers out of the temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-17). He wondered about things Jesus taught that he did not yet understand, but would eventually. One example was Jesus predicting His own death and resurrection by referring to the destruction and rebuilding of "this temple" . Everyone thought He was referring to the literal temple (John 2:18-22).

John records many things that he saw as an on the spot eyewitness. He tells us of the secret visit with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1-21). He heard Jesus in Judea calling for repentance when he and the other apostles baptized many (John 4:1-3). He tells of the conversation Jesus had at the well with the Samaritan woman (only John records this event) (John. 4:5-42).

John was ready to follow Jesus. Discipleship calls for sacrifice. Jesus said we must be so willing to put Him and His kingdom first.

John witnessed the life of Christ firsthand. We read that witness through the Holy Spirit inspired scriptures (John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-3).

John, "Son Of Thunder"
John was one of the more prominent disciples. He was a part of Christ's inner ring of beloved
disciples which included Peter and James. These three alone were privileged to witness some events the others were not.

1. They witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51)
2. They were present at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark. 9:2; Luke 9:28)
3. They were with Christ in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33).

Both John and his brother earned the nickname "sons of thunder" when some Samaritan villages rejected Jesus. John and James asked for fire from heaven to be sent on the villages (Luke 9:51-54; Mark 3:17). Of course, Jesus declined, but did give them the nickname. John was rebuked for his desire to see the city in Samaria destroyed. Sometimes we see and hear things that makes us angry as well. We must not allow our anger to cause us to forget God's love for the sinner or for our enemy.

John asked when Christ's prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem would come to pass (Mark. 13:3, 4). He would live to see it happen just as Christ has said it would.

John and Peter were sent by Jesus to prepare a place to observe the final Passover (Luke 22:8). We find John sitting next to Jesus at the Passover meal. Later, John, like the other apostles, fled into the night when Jesus was arrested. Next, he and Peter managed to get into the courtyard to see what was happening to Jesus (John 18:15-16). As Jesus hung on the cross the following day, He asked John to take care of His mother (John 19:26). On the following first day of the week, the third day after Jesus' death, John and Peter ran to the tomb of Christ after receiving word that His body was gone (John 20:2, 3).

Later that day, John would see and talk with Jesus again! We are blessed if we believe in Jesus as God. John writes of the first post resurrection appearance of Jesus to the apostles (John 20:19-23) and also of his informing Thomas of what Thomas had missed, (vs. 24-25). Note John's record of Thomas' reaction to seeing Jesus and his identification of Him as "my Lord and my God!" (27-29).

John makes reference repeatedly to "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 20:2; 13:23; 19:26; 21:7, 20, 24). This appears to be a reference to himself.

John After Pentecost
After John's involvement with the twelve apostles in the preaching of the gospel on Pentecost, we find him with Peter at the healing of the lame man (Acts 3&4). Peter and John were arrested and brought before the council.

Later, John and Peter were sent to Samaria to impart gifts of the Holy Spirit on new converts (Acts 8:14, 15). John is spoken of as "a pillar of the church" (Galatians 2:9). He wrote the books of John, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Revelation. (Revelation was written while exiled on the isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). According to secular sources, John spent the last years of his life preaching in Ephesus and to the seven churches of Asia.

Christ changed John. Christ is trying to change us as well (Colossians 3:9,10; 12-14). Christians are to be selfless people. We must sacrifice ourselves to the cause of Christ our Lord. John saw himself only in relation to Christ, "the beloved of Jesus." (1 John 2:3-6) People marveled because John "had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). Our lives should also reflect the glory of Christ. By our lives they should be able to tell that we have been with Jesus (spiritually by a living faith). In John's final words of Scripture, "Amen. Come Lord Jesus!"


By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 14.10; October 2007