Died At Age: 94
Also Known As: Saint John the Apostle
Born Country: Roman Empire
Born in: Bethsaida, Galilee, Roman Empire
Famous as: One of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus
Ancient Roman Men
siblings: James the Great
Died on: 100
place of death: Ephesus, Roman Empire
Who was John the Apostle?
John the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, alongside his brother James, according to the New Testament. He is believed to be the youngest of the apostles and the only apostle who died of old age rather than being martyred. He is also known as John the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple, John of Patmos, John the Elder and John the Presbyter. He is believed to be the author of the 'Gospel of John', as well as four other books of the New Testament: the three 'Epistles of John' and the 'Book of Revelation'. Some sources also credit him for writing the pseudepigraphal apocryphal text of titled 'Acts of John' which, despite containing strong docetic themes, is not considered to be gnostic in modern scholarship. December 27 is observed as the feast day of Saint John.
John the Apostle was born around 6 C.E. in Bethsaida, Galilee, Roman Empire, to Zebedee, a fisherman, and Salome, who is the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus, according to some traditions. He and his brother James fished in the Sea of Galilee with their father Zebedee.
As per John 1: 35-39, he was one of two disciples of John the Baptist who followed Jesus and spent the day with him after hearing the Baptist call Jesus the 'Lamb of God'. Along with Peter, Andrew, and his brother James, he followed Jesus after he called them.
He and his brother were referred to as 'Boanerges', or 'sons of thunder', by Jesus, presumably because of their zealousness and intolerance. These qualities are evident in the gospel story in which they wanted to call down heavenly fire on an inhospitable Samaritan town, for which they were rebuked by Jesus.
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The Beloved Disciple
John the Apostle is traditionally identified as 'the Beloved Disciple' or 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' based on the use of the phrases five times in the 'Gospel of John', which he presumably wrote. It was customary for writers at the time to write in third person to disguise their identity.
Peter, James and John were the three disciples closest to Jesus and were the only witnesses of the raising of the Daughter of Jairus from the dead. They were also the only witnesses to the transfiguration of Jesus on a mountaintop and witnessed the Agony in Gethsemane more closely than the other Apostles.
It was John who reported to Jesus that the disciples had 'forbidden' a non-disciple from casting out demons in Jesus' name. John and Peter were the two disciples whom Jesus had sent into the city to make the preparation for the final Passover meal known as 'The Last Supper'.
He sat next to Jesus at 'The Last Supper', leaning on to him, and was the one to ask him who will betray him. Along with Peter, he also followed Jesus into the palace of the high-priest after his arrest.
He was the lone disciple who stayed near Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary alongside myrrhbearers and several other women. Jesus also entrusted him with the responsibility of taking care of his mother Mary.
Along with Peter, he contributed significantly to the construction and workings of the early churches, and with Peter and James the Just, was referred to as a 'pillar' of the Jerusalem church in Galatians 2. He and Peter healed a man crippled since birth at Solomon's Porch in the Temple, they were thrown into prison together, and they also visited the newly converted believers in Samaria.
Later Life & Death
While it is unknown for how long John the Apostle stayed in Judea, he and the other disciples were scattered through the Roman Empire's provinces as Herod Agrippa began persecution of Christians. He took care of the mother of Jesus until the Assumption of Mary, and then went to Ephesus where he wrote his three epistles.
According to Christian writer Tertullian, for preaching the gospel, Roman authorities exiled him to the Greek island of Patmos after throwing him into boiling oil from which he escaped unscathed. He received the revelation from Christ in Patmos, where he wrote the 'Book of Revelation'.
He eventually returned to Ephesus, where he died of old age sometime after 98 C.E., and was buried in modern-day Selçuk, Turkey, where his tomb is located. While early second-century bishop Papias of Hierapolis claimed that he was slain by the Jews, many doubt the authenticity of the claim, with some arguing that it was actually John the Baptist.
John the Apostle is often depicted as an aged man with a white or gray beard in Byzantine art or as a beardless youth in the art of Medieval Western Europe. In Medieval paintings, sculptures and literature, he is also often presented as an androgynous or feminine figure.