| jon (the grace or mercy of the Lord)
RELATED: Apostle(s), Barnabas, Gospels, The; Jesus, John the Baptist, Mark, Transfiguration, The
| WORKS (John the Apostle): John,
The Book of (Gospel of); John,
The Book of 1, 2,
The Book of
Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1) One who, with Annas and Caiaphas, sat in judgment on the apostles Peter and
John ( Acts
4:6 ). He was of the kindred of the high priest; otherwise unknown.
(2) The Hebrew name of Mark (q.v.). He is designated by this name in the acts
of the Apostles ( Acts
12:12 , 12:25
(3) THE APOSTLE, brother of James the "Greater" ( Matthew
4:21 ; 10:2
1:19 ; 3:17
). He was one, probably the younger, of the sons of Zebedee ( Matthew
4:21 ) and Salome ( Matthew
27:56 ; Compare Mark
15:40 ), and was born at Bethsaida. His father was apparently a man of some
wealth (Compare Mark
1:20 ; Luke
5:3 ; John
19:27 ). He was doubtless trained in all that constituted the ordinary education
of Jewish youth. When he grew up he followed the occupation of a fisherman on
the Lake of Galilee. When John the Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness
of Judea, John, with many others, gathered round him, and was deeply influenced
by his teaching. There he heard the announcement, "Behold the Lamb of God," and
forthwith, on the invitation of Jesus, became a disciple and ranked among his
followers ( John
1:36 , 1:37
) for a time. He and his brother then returned to their former avocation, for
how long is uncertain. Jesus again called them ( Matthew
4:21 ; Luke
5:1 - 11
), and now they left all and permanently attached themselves to the company of
his disciples. He became one of the innermost circle ( Mark
5:37 ; Matthew
17:1 ; 26:37
13:3 ). He was the disciple whom Jesus loved. In zeal and intensity of character
he was a "Boanerges" ( Mark
3:17 ). This spirit once and again broke out ( Matthew
20:20 - 24
10:35 - 41
9:49 , 9:54
). At the betrayal he and Peter follow Christ afar off, while the others betake
themselves to hasty flight ( John
18:15 ). At the trial he follows Christ into the council chamber, and thence
to the praetorium ( John
18:16 , 18:19
) and to the place of crucifixion ( John
19:26 , 19:27
). To him and Peter, Mary first conveys tidings of the resurrection ( John 20:2
), and they are the first to go and see what her strange words mean. After the
resurrection he and Peter again return to the Sea of Galilee, where the Lord reveals
himself to them ( John
21:1 , 21:7
). We find Peter and John frequently after this together ( Acts
3:1 ; 4:13
). John remained apparently in Jerusalem as the leader of the church there ( Acts
15:6 ; Galatians
2:9 ). His subsequent history is unrecorded. He was not there, however, at
the time of Paul's last visit ( Acts
21:15 - 40).
He appears to have retired to Ephesus, but at what time is unknown. The seven
churches of Asia were the objects of his special care ( Revelation
1:11 ). He suffered under persecution, and was banished to Patmos ( Revelation
1:9 ); whence he again returned to Ephesus, where he died, probably about
A.D. 98, having outlived all or nearly all the friends and companions even of
his maturer years. There are many interesting traditions regarding John during
his residence at Ephesus, but these cannot claim the character of historical truth.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
the grace or mercy of the Lord
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(1) John the apostle was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee,
and of Salome, and brother of James, also an apostle. Peter and James and John
come within the innermost circle of their Lords friends; but to John belongs the
distinction of being the disciple whom Jesus loved. He hardly sustains the popular
notion, fostered by the received types of Christian art, of a nature gentle, yielding,
feminine. The name Boanerges, ( Mark 3:17 ) implies a vehemence, zeal, intensity,
which gave to those who had it the might of sons of thunder. [JAMES]
The three are with our Lord when none else are, in the chamber of death, ( Mark
5:37 ) in the glory of the transfiguration, ( Matthew 17:1 ) when he forewarns
them of the destruction of the holy city, ( Mark 13:3 ) in the agony of Gethsemane.
When the betrayal is accomplished, Peter and John follow afar off. ( John 18:15
) The personal acquaintance which exited between John and Caiaphas enables him
to gain access to the council chamber, praetorium of the Roman procurator. ( John
18:16 , 18:19 , 18:28 ) Thence he follows to the place of crucifixion, and the
Teacher leaves to him the duty of becoming a son to the mother who is left desolate.
( John 19:26 , 19:27 ) It is to Peter and John that Mary Magdalene first runs
with the tidings of the emptied sepulchre, ( John 20:2 ) they are the first to
go together to see what the strange words meant, John running on most eagerly
to the rock-tomb; Peter, the least restrained by awe, the first to enter in and
look. ( John 20:4 - 6 ) For at least eight days they continue in Jerusalem. (
John 20:26 ) Later, on the Sea of Galilee, John is the first to recognize in the
dim form seen in the morning twilight the presence of his risen Lord; Peter the
first to plunge into the water and swim toward the shore where he stood calling
to them. ( John 21:7 ) The last words of Johns Gospel reveal to us the deep affection
which united the two friends. The history of the Acts shows the same union. They
are together at the ascension on the day of Pentecost. Together they enter the
temple as worshippers, ( Acts 3:1 ) and protest against the threats of the Sanhedrin.
ch ( Acts 4:13 ) The persecution which was pushed on by Saul of Tarsus did not
drive John from his post. ch. ( Acts 8:1 ) Fifteen years after St. Pauls first
visit he was still at Jerusalem, and helped to take part in the settlement of
the great controversy between the Jewish and the Gentile Christians. ( Acts 15:6
) His subsequent history we know only by tradition. There can be no doubt that
he removed from jerusalem and settled at Ephesus, though at what time is uncertain.
Tradition goes on to relate that in the persecution under Domitian he is taken
to Rome, and there, by his boldness, though not by death, gains the crown of martyrdom.
The boiling oil into which he is thrown has no power to hurt him. He is then sent
to labor in the mines, and Patmost is the place of his exile. The accession of
Nerva frees him from danger, and he returns to Ephesus. Heresies continue to show
themselves, but he meets them with the strongest possible protest. The very time
of his death lies within the region of conjecture rather than of history, and
the dates that have been assigned for it range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120.
(2) the same name as Johanan, a contraction of Jehoanan, Jehovahs gift .
(3) One of the high priests family, who, with Annas and Caiaphas, sat in judgment
upon the apostles Peter and John. ( Acts 6:6 )
(4) The Hebrew name of the evangelist Mark. ( Acts 12:12 , 12:25 ; 13:5 , 13:13
; 15:37 )
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) JOHN, THE APOSTLE
Sources of the Life of John:
The sources for the life of the apostle John are of various kinds, and of different
degrees of trustworthiness. There are the references in the Synoptic Gospels,
which may be used simply and easily without any preliminary critical inquiry into
their worth as sources; for these Gospels contain the common tradition of the
early church, and for the present purpose may be accepted as trustworthy. Further,
there are the statements in Ac and in Galatians, which we may use without discussion
as a source for the life of John. There is next the universal tradition of the
2nd century, which we may use, if we can show that the John of Ephesus, who bulks
so largely in the Christian literature of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, is identical
with the son of Zebedee. Further, on the supposition that the son of Zebedee is
the author of the Johannine writings of the New Testament, there is another source
of unequaled value for the estimate of the life and character of the son of Zebedee
in these writings. Finally, there is the considerable volume of tradition which
gathered around the name of John of Ephesus, of which, picturesque and interesting
though the traditions be, only sparing use can be made.
I. Witness of the New Testament.
Addressing ourselves first to the Synoptic Gospels, to Acts and to Galatians,
we ask, What, from these sources, can we know of the apostle John? A glance only
need be taken at the Johannine writings, more fully discussed elsewhere in relation
to their author.
1. The Synoptic Gospels:
That John was one of the two sons of Zebedee, that he became one of the disciples
of Jesus, that at His call he forsook all and followed Jesus, and was thereafter
continuously with Jesus to the end, are facts familiar to every reader of the
Synoptic Gospels. The call was given to John and to his brother James at the Sea
of Galilee, while in a boat with their father Zebedee, "mending their nets" (Matthew
4:21 , 22 , and parallel passages). "Come ye after me," said Jesus, "and I will
make you to become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17; on the earlier call in Judea, John
1:35, see below). That Zebedee was a man of considerable wealth may be inferred
from the fact that he had "hired servants" with him (Mark 1:20), and that his
wife was one of those women who ministered of their substance to Jesus and His
disciples (Matthew 27:55 , 56). Comparison of the latter passage with Mark 15:40
, 41 identifies the wife of Zebedee, John's mother, with Salome, and it seems
a fair inference from John 19:25, though all do not accept it, that Mary, the
mother of Jesus, and Salome, the wife of Zebedee, were sisters. On this view,
James and John were cousins of Jesus, and were also related to the family of John
the Baptist. The name of John appears in all the lists of the apostles given in
the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 10:2 and parallels). While his name appears rarely
in a position by itself, he is still one of the most prominent of the disciples.
With Peter and James he is present at the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark
5:37 ; Luke 8:51). These three were also present at the transfiguration (Matthew
17 ; Mark 9 ; Luke 9). They were nearest to the Lord at the agony of Gethsemane.
In all these cases nothing characteristic of John is to be noted. He is simply
present as one of the three, and therefore one of the most intimate of the disciples.
But there is something characteristic in an incident recorded by Luke (Luke 9:54),
in which James and John are represented as wishing to call down fire on a Sam
village, which had refused them hospitality. From this can be inferred something
of the earnestness, zeal, and enthusiasm of the brothers, and of their high sense
of what was due to their Master. Peter, James, John, and Andrew are the four who
asked Jesus about the prophecies He had uttered: "Tell us, when shall these things
be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished?"
(Mark 13:4). Then there is the request of their mother as to the place she desired
for her sons in the coming kingdom (Mark 10:35). To Peter and John was entrusted
the task of preparation for the keeping of the Passover (Luke 22:8). Once John
stands alone, and asks what we may consider a characteristic question: "Teacher,
we saw one casting out demons in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followed
not us" (Mark 9:38 ; Luke 9:49). From these notices we see that John was in the
front rank of the disciples, and we see also that he was so far conscious of the
position he held, and of the intimate connection he had with the Master. We note
further that John was a young man of fiery zeal, and of a tendency toward intolerance
and exclusiveness. The zeal and the intolerance are in evidence in the desire
to call down fire upon the Samaritan village, and the tendency toward exclusiveness
is manifested in the request of his mother as to the place her sons were to occupy
in the kingdom. They desire to have the highest positions. These tendencies were
not encouraged by Jesus. They were rebuked by Him once and again, but the tendencies
reveal the men. In harmony with these notices of character and temperament is
the name given to the brothers by Jesus, "Boanerges," "Sons of thunder" (Mark
3:17), which, whatever else may be meant by it, means strength, unexpectedness,
and zeal approaching to methods of violence.
2. Acts and Galatians:
John is found in company with Peter in the opening scenes in Acts. He is with
Peter while the man at the gate was healed (Acts 3:1). He is with Peter on the
mission to Samaria (Acts 8:14). He is with Peter and James, the Lord's brother,
at the interview with Paul recorded in Galatians 2, and the three are described
by Paul as the pillar apostles (Galatians 2:9). This interview is of importance
because it proves that John had survived his brother James, whose death is recorded
in Acts 12; at all events that John and James were not killed by the Jews at the
same time, as some now contend that they were. This contention is considered below.
3. The Johannine Writings:
Gospel and Revelation: Much is to be learned of the apostle John from the Fourth
Gospel, assuming the Gospel to have been written by him. We learn from it that
he was a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35), that he was one of the first
six disciples called by Jesus in His early ministry in Judea (John
1:37 - 51), and that he was present at all the scenes which he describes
in the Gospel. We find later that he had a home in Jerusalem, and was acquainted
with many there. To that home he took Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom the dying
Saviour entrusted to his care (John 19:26 , 27).
Much more also we learn of him and of his history, for the Gospel is a spiritual
biography, a record of the growth of faith on the part of the writer, and of the
way in which his eyes were opened to see the glory of the Lord, until faith seems
to have become vision. He was in the inner circle of the disciples, indeed, nearest
of all to Jesus, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23 ; 19:26 ; 20:2 ; 21:7 , 20), and, because of that love, became the
apostle of love (see, further, JOHN, GOSPEL OF; JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF; JOHANNINE
The Book of Revelation, likewise traditionally ascribed to John, bears important
witness to the apostle's banishment in later life to the isle of Patmos in the
Aegean (Revelation 1:9). There he received the visions recorded in the book. The
banishment probably took place in the reign of Domitian (see REVELATION), with
whose practice it was entirely in consonance (on the severity of such exile, compare
Sir W.M. Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, chapter viii). The testimony
is of high importance in its bearing on the disputed question of John's residence
in Asia, a point now to be discussed.
II. Alleged Early Martyrdom of John:
Criticism of Evidence.
1. Recent Denial of John's Residence in Ephesus:
The consentient testimony of the church of the 2nd century is that the later years
of John were spent at Ephesus, where he wrote his Gospel, and gathered round him
many disciples (see the evidence drawn out in detail in Godet, Commentary on Gospel
of John, 43; compare also Lightfoot, "The School of Ephesus," in Essays on the
Work Entitled "Supernatural Religion"). Before, however, we can use the traditions
connected with this residence at Ephesus, it is needful to inquire into the statement
alleged to be made by Papias that John, the son of Zebedee, was killed by the
Jews at an early date. It is plain, that, if this statement is correct, the apostle
could not be the author of the Johannine writings in the New Testament, universally
dated near the end of the 1st century.
2. Grounds of Denial:
The evidence for the statement that John was early killed by the Jews is thus
summed up by Dr. Moffatt: "The evidence for the early martyrdom of John the son
of Zebedee is, in fact, threefold: (a) a prophecy of Jesus preserved in Mark 10:39
= Matthew 20:23, (b) the witness of Papias, and (c) the calendars of the church"
(Intro to Lit. of New Testament, 602). Our limits do not admit of an exhaustive
examination of this so-called evidence, but, happily, an exhaustive examination
is not needed.
|(a) The first head proceeds on an assumption which is not
warranted, namely, that a prophecy of Jesus would not be allowed to stand, if
it were not evidently fulfilled. In the present instance, a literal fulfillment
of the prophecy ("The cup that I drink ye shall drink," etc.) is out of the question,
for there is no hint that either James or John was crucified. We must therefore
fall back on the primary meaning of martyrdom, and recognize a fulfillment of
the prophecy in the sufferings John endured and the testimony he bore for the
Master's sake (thus Origen, etc.).
(b) Dr. Moffatt lays great stress on what he calls the testimony of Papias. But
the alleged testimony of Papias is not found in any early authority, and then
occurs in writers not of any great value from the point of view of critical investigation.
It is found in a passage of Georgius Hamartolus (9th century), and is held to
be corroborated by a fragment of an epitome (7th or 8th century) of the Chronicle
of Philip Sidetes (5th century), a thoroughly untrustworthy writer. The passage
from Georgius may be seen in convenient form in Lightfoot's Apostolic Fathers,
513-19. It tells that John survived to the time of Nerva, quotes a saying of Papias
that he was killed by the Jews, states that this was in fulfillment of the prophecy
of Jesus above referred to, and goes on to say, "So the learned Origen affirms
in his interpretation of Matthew's Gospel, that John was martyred, declaring that
he had learnt the last from the successors of the apostles" (Lightfoot, op. cit.,
531). Fortunately, the statement of Origen can be tested, and it by no means,
as Moffatt admits (op. cit., 604), bears out the meaning attached to it. Origen
is of opinion that the prophecy of Jesus was sufficiently fulfilled by the fact
of John's banishment to Patmos and his sufferings there. This, according to him,
is what tradition taught and what the prophecy meant. From the whole statement
of Georgius, which expressly declares that John survived till the time of Nerva,
nothing can be inferred in support of the so-called quotation from Papias. It
is to be remembered that the writings of Papias were known to Irenaeus and to
Eusebius, and it is inconceivable that, if such a statement was to be found in
these, they would have ignored it, and have given currency to a statement contradictory
to it. No stress, therefore, can be laid on the alleged quotation. We do not know
its context, nor is there anything in the literature of the first 3 centuries
corroborative of it. In the citation in the epitome of Philip, Papias is made
to speak of "John the divine" (ho theologos). This title is not applied to John
till the close of the 4th century.
(c) As regards the 3rd line of evidence instanced by Dr. Moffatt--church calendars,
in which James and John are commemorated together as martyrs--it is even more
worthless than the other two. On the nature and origin of these martyrologies,
Dr. J. Drummond may be quoted: "They were constructed in process of time out of
local calendars. At some period in the 2nd half of the 5th century, a martyrology
was formed by welding together a number of provincial calendars, Roman, Italian,
Spanish, and Gallic, into what was in effect a general martyrology of Western
Europe. At Nicomedia, about the year 350, a similar eastern martyrology was formed
out of the local calendars, and this was translated with curtailments into Syriac
at Edessa about the year 400. It is a copy of this, made in 411, which is now
in the British Museum" (Inquiry into Character and Authorship of the Fourth Gospel,
232). If this is a true account of the rise and origin of martyrologies we need
not be surprised that Sir W. M. Ramsay speaks as follows: "That James and John,
who were not slain at the same time, should be commemorated together, is the flimsiest
conceivable evidence that John was killed early in Jerusalem. The bracketing together
of the memory of apostles who had some historical connection in life, but none
in death, must be regarded as the worst side, historically speaking, of the martyrologies"
(The First Christian Century, 49, note).
III. The Ephesian Traditions.
1. John the Apostle, and John the Presbyter:
Thus the early traditions of the churches are available for the life of John the
son of Zebedee. But there still remain many blank spaces in that life. After the
reference to the pillar apostles in Galatians, silence falls on the life of John,
and we know nothing of his life and activity until we read of his banishment to
Patmos, and meet with those references to the old man at Ephesus, which occur
in the Christian literature of the 2nd century. One point of interest relates
to the (genuine) quotation from Papias, preserved by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica,
III, 39), regarding a "Presbyter John," a disciple of the Lord, who was one of
his living authorities. Were there two Johns at Ephesus? Or was there only one?
Or, if there was only one, was he John the Evangelist, or only John the Presbyter?
Here there is every possible variety of opinion. Many hold that there were two,
and many that there was only one. Many who hold that there was only one, hold
that the one was John the son of Zebedee; others hold, with equal assurance, that
he was a distinct person. Obviously, it is impossible to discuss the question
adequately here. After due consideration, we lean to the conclusion that there
was only one John at Ephesus, and he the son of Zebedee. For the proof of this,
impossible within our limits, we refer to the learned argument of John Chapman,
in his work John the Presbyter and the Fourth Gospel (1911).
2. Characteristic Traditions:
Into the traditions which cluster round John in Ephesus it is not necessary to
enter in detail (compare Godet, op. cit., 57). According to the tradition universally
accepted in the church, John survived till the time of Trajan (98 AD). Striking
and characteristic things are told of him in harmony with the touches we find
in the Synoptic Gospels. The story of his rushing forth from the bath when Cerinthus,
the heretic, entered it (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., iii.3, 4) recalls the characteristics
of him whom Jesus called "son of thunder." The same tone of exclusiveness, modified
by larger experience, is found in the 1st Epistle, which so frequently and so
decisively discriminates between those who believe in Jesus and those who do not.
IV. The Character of John.
The general character of this great apostle is already sufficiently apparent.
While we recall the illustrative facts found in the Synoptics, that James and
John were the two who wished to call down fire from heaven on the inhospitable
village, that John was one of those who desired one of the chief places in the
kingdom, that he it was who forbade the man to cast out demons in the name of
Jesus because he followed not with them, we do not forget that on each of these
occasions he was corrected and rebuked by the Master, and he was not the kind
of man who could not profit by the rebuke of Jesus. So that vehemence of disposition
was held in check, and, while still in existence, was under control, and allowed
to have vent only on occasions when it was permissible, and even necessary. So
in his writings, and in the reflections in the Gospel, we note the vehemence displayed,
but now directed only against those who refused to believe in, and to acknowledge,
"A quiet and thoughtful temperament is by no means inconsistent with a certain
vehemence, when, on occasions, the pent-up fire flashes forth; indeed, the very
violence of feeling may help to foster an habitual quietude, lest word or deed
should betray too deep an emotion. Then it is not without significance that, in
the three narratives which are cited from the Gospels to prove the overbearing
temper of John, we are expressly told that Jesus corrected him. Are we to suppose
that these rebukes made no impression? Is it not more likely that they sank deep
into his heart, and that the agony of beholding his Master's crucifixion made
them ineffaceable? Then, if not before, began that long development which changed
the youthful son of thunder into the aged apostle of love" (Drummond, op. cit,
But love itself has its side of vehemence, and the intensity of love toward a
person or a cause may be measured by the intensity of aversion and of hatred toward
their contradictories. There are many reflections in the Gospel and in the Epistles
which display this energy of hatred toward the work of the devil, and toward those
dispositions which are under the influence of the father of lies. We simply notice
these, for they prove that the fervent youth who was devoted to his Master carried
with him to the end the same disposition which was characteristic of him from
In addition to books mentioned in article, see the list of works appended to article
The name of several persons mentioned in the Apocrypha:
(2) Father of Mattathias, grandfather of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers (1 Macc 2:1).
(3) Eldest son of Mattathias, surnamed GADDIS (which see).
(4) Father of Eupolemus, one of the envoys sent to Rome by Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 8:17 ; 2 Macc 4:11).
(5) John Hyrcanus, "a valiant man," son of Simon, and nephew of Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 13:53 ; 16:1).
See ASMONEANS; MACCABEES.
(6) One of the envoys sent to treat with Lysias (2 Macc 11:17).
The name of 4 persons:
(7) JOHN THE BAPTIST (which see).
(8) The apostle, the son of Zebedee, and brother of James (JOHN,
(9) A relative of Annas the high priest, who sat in the Sanhedrin when Peter and
John were tried (Acts 4:6).
Lightfoot supposes him to be the Jochanan ben Zacchai
of the Talmud, who, however, did not belong to the family of the high priest.
Nothing is really known of him.
(11) Father of Simon Peter (John 1:42 ; 21:15 , 17 , margin "Greek Joanes: called
in Matthew 16:17, Jonah").
S. F. Hunter
apostle, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, fisherman, john, mark