Early Christianity: The Apostle John
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” (John 1:6-8)
This post is about John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. John and his brother James were Galilean fishermen from a family of distinction. They were originally disciples of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. Some say that John and Andrew were cousins of Jesus, through their mother, Salome.
John, like Peter, was sometimes quick to anger. He seems to have been a favorite of the Lord’s since he was present at many important events in Jesus’ ministry. As Jesus was on the cross dying he asked John to take care of his mother Mary in his absence and even told her that she had a new son in John.
John was one of the key leaders in the early church. Along with James the Just, Peter and Paul, he built the early Christian church and presided over the church in Ephesus for many years. John had disciples of his own, and some scholars believe that it is one of these disciples and not John himself who wrote the Gospel of John.
The authorship of I John, II John, and III John, the Gospel of John, and the Book of Revelation have generally been attributed to the disciple John, but modern scholars largely dismiss this idea, believing that the letters, gospel and apocalyptic vision were written by two or three separate authors.
John was present at the Pentecost and preached with Peter in Samaria. He was thrown in jail with Peter. John preached in Judea for twelve years until persecution of Christians caused them to generally flee the area, and he ended up in Ephesus where he stayed for many years. The letters that bear his name were written there.
John was the longest living of all of Jesus’ disciples and is believed to have lived until approximately 100 C.E. Although he was eventually exiled on the island of Patmos and spent time in prison for his beliefs, he is the only one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples to escape death from violence (Judas having taken his own life and the others suffering martyrdom).
The Gospel of John is a lasting tribute to his memory. It is my personal favorite gospel, in that the language is of a superior literary quality. It’s also more concerned with theology than the other gospels. John’s gospel is less concerned with presenting factual evidence for Jesus’ divinity and establishing his claim as Messiah and more concerned with conveying the essence of Jesus’ message: love one another.
The other three gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, are generally grouped together and referred to as the synoptic gospels, so named because they have many incidents in common with one another. Matthew, Mark and Luke seem more preoccupied with a historical account of Jesus’ ministry than with a summary of his message.
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)
If you haven’t done so already you really owe it to yourself to read his message. The first link goes right to the Bible Gateway site where you can read the entire Gospel of John online.
Entry filed under: Chrisitanity, Faith, History, Spirituality, The Holy Bible. Tags: Apostle (Christian), Early Christianity, First Epistle of John, Gospel, Gospel of John, Jesus, John the Baptist, New Testament.