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John the Apostle: Profile & Biography of John the Apostle

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Apostle John

Apostle John

Who was John the Apostle?:


John, the son of Zebedee, was called along with this brother James to be one of Jesus’ twelve apostles who would accompany him on his ministry. John appears in the lists of apostles in the synoptic gospels as well as Acts. John and his brother James were given the nickname “Boanerges” (sons of thunder) by Jesus; some believe this was a reference to their tempers.

When did John the Apostle live?:


The gospel texts offer no information on how old John might have been when he became one of Jesus’ disciples. Christian traditions have it that John lived until at least 100 CE (which likely would have been quite old) in Ephesus.

Where did John the Apostle live?:


John, like his brother James, came from a fishing village along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. A reference in Mark to “hired servants” suggests that their family was relatively prosperous. After joining Jesus’ ministry, John likely would have traveled extensively.

What did John the Apostle do?:


John, along with his brother James, is portrayed in the gospels as perhaps being more important than most of the other apostles. He was present at the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter, at Jesus’ transfiguration, and at the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was arrested. Paul later describes John as a “pillar” of the Jerusalem church. Other than a few references to him in the New Testament, however, we have no information about who he was or what he did.

Why was John the Apostle important?:


John has been an important figure for Christianity because he is believed to have been the author of the fourth (non-synoptic) gospel, three canonical letters, and the book of Revelation. Most scholars no longer attribute all (or any) of this to an original companion of Jesus, but that doesn’t change John’s stature for historical Christianity.

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