John and his brother James, another disciple of Jesus, were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called them to follow him. They later became part of Christ's inner circle, along with the Apostle Peter. These three were privileged to be with Jesus at the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead, at the transfiguration, and during Jesus' agony in Gethsemane.
On one occasion, when a Samaritan village rejected Jesus, James and John asked if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy the place. That earned them the nickname Boanerges, or "sons of thunder."
A previous relationship with Joseph Caiaphas allowed John to be present in the high priest's house during Jesus' trial. On the cross, Jesus entrusted the care of his mother, Mary, to an unnamed disciple, probably John, who took her into his home (John 19:27). Some scholars speculate that John may have been a cousin of Jesus.
John served the church in Jerusalem for many years, then moved to work in the church at Ephesus. An unsubstantiated legend holds that John was taken to Rome during a persecution and thrown into boiling oil but emerged unhurt. He was then exiled to the island of Patmos. John supposedly outlived all of the disciples, dying of old age at Ephesus, perhaps about A.D. 98.
John's Gospel is strikingly different from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the three Synoptic Gospels, which means "seen with the same eye" or from the same viewpoint. John continually emphasizes that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, sent by the Father to take away the sins of the world. He uses many symbolic titles for Jesus, such as the Lamb of God, resurrection, and the vine. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus uses the phrase "I am," unmistakably identifying himself with Jehovah, the Great "I AM" or eternal God.
Although John does not mention himself by name in his own gospel, he refers to himself four times as "the disciple Jesus loved."
Accomplishments of John the Apostle:John was one of the first disciples chosen. He was an elder in the early church and helped spread the gospel message. He is credited with writing the Gospel of John; the letters 1, 2, and 3 John; and the book of Revelation.
John the Apostle's Strengths:John was especially loyal to Jesus. He was the only one of the 12 apostles present at the cross. After Pentecost, John teamed up with Peter to fearlessly preach the gospel in Jerusalem and suffered beatings and imprisonment for it. Because John experienced the unconditional love of Jesus firsthand, he preached that love in his gospel and letters.
John the Apostle's Weaknesses:At times, John did not understand Jesus' message of forgiveness, as when he asked to call fire down upon unbelievers. He also asked for a favored position in Jesus' kingdom.
Life Lessons from John the Apostle:Christ is the Savior who offers every person eternal life. If we follow Jesus, we are assured of forgiveness and salvation. As Christ loves us, we are to love others. God is love, and we, as Christians, are to be channels of God's love to our neighbors.
Referenced in the Bible:John is mentioned in the four Gospels, the book of Acts, and as the narrator of Revelation.
Occupation:Fisherman, disciple of Jesus, evangelist, Scripture author.
Family Tree:Father - Zebedee
Mother - Salome
Brother - James
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (NIV)
1 John 4:16-17
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (NIV)
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (NIV)
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.