St John the Evangelist


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St John the Evangelist

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The church’s tradition that the fourth evangelist was the apostle John cannot be disproved, but as there was some debate about this, the Lectionary Calendar commemorates the apostle and the evangelist separately. It is safer to deduce what we can about the evangelist and author of John’s gospel from the Gospel itself. The relationship of the Epistles (letters) of John later in the New Testament and of Revelations to the Gospel of John is also very theologically prob-lematic so we just look at the Gospel of John itself.

The closing chapter of John (John 21) is an appendix to the Gospel and states that the writer of the material in this chapter at least, is “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, implying that, by the time of its final revision, he was no longer alive (John 21:20-24). This disciple was a trustworthy witness to events at the Last Supper (John 13:23), at the cross (John 19:26-27 and, on Easter morning (John 20:2-10), and, possibly, in the high priest’s house at Jesus trial (John 18:15f.). He is also indicated as one of the two unnamed disciples by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:2), whether or not the final editor knew his identity.

He serves in the Gospel not only as a witness but also as a role model of being one with Christ, for he is described as lying in Jesus’ bosom (John 13:23) as Jesus is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). At the tomb, he was the first to see and believe in the resurrection (John 20:8). The author himself states in the gospel that he is a disciple and was an eyewitness to all these events. Scholars question that he was the sole author/editor of the gospel and in my opinion they should be given no credence whatsoever for doing so. If you are not going to believe the author when he says who he is, then you are not going to believe anything he writes and therefore you are a non-believer and have no right to comment on the beliefs of others to whom the Holy Spirit reveals the truth.

As a disciple of Jesus, he viewed Jesus as their Messiah (John 4:22,26) all the disciples were Jewish, and all the first believers were Jewish or converts to Judaism who had been in Jerusa-lem for Pentecost so Jesus was viewed in light of Moses and the Scriptures, that they had grown up learning since the time they were children. This author of the Gospel (the evangelist) seems to belong to a time and place where Christians are no longer allowed in the synagogues (cf. John 9:22; 12:42; 16:2). Just as Jesus himself predicted to them, the Pharisees hated him, so they hate the disciples and believers. The spiritual home of the author has ceased to be Jerusalem but has become his brothers and sisters in Christ.

BORN: 15 AD, Bethsaida

DIED: Ephesus, Selçuk, Turkey