Character Sketches » John The Apostle
It is widely believed that John is the author of the book of John, the three epistles of John and
the book of Revelation. John is well known as the younger of two disciples named John, but
when John wrote the book of John he was probably well over 70 years of age. He has had a
wonderfully full life, and is reflecting back under the lead of the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
It is likely that he recalls fondly youthful days at home and on the Sea of Galilee. Like us, he must have gratefully and joyfully remembered the day the Master called him. How the three years must have flown when he was with Jesus! What indescribable fellowship must have been his as he hung on every word our Savior spoke.
Imagine him grinning broadly as he remembers the impetuous acts of his youth, and then perhaps weeping with joy and thanksgiving remembering the rebuke, the chastening, the gentleness and tenderness in the Master's dealings with him. Not much different than any of us whose heart and lives have been transformed by Christ's redeeming touch!
Surely he rejoiced as he reflected on his associations with those great apostles of the faith Peter and Paul, drawing on their knowledge and experience and love for their Savior and their love of their fellowman! Can you picture him laughing and then weeping in deep sorrow and radiant joy as he recaptures one incident after another in his writing?
See him broken-hearted on Golgotha's hill watching his bleeding and dying Lord. Imagine him filled to overflowing as he sees the Master face-to-face after the resurrection! Feel the tugging
at his heart as the Savior ascends to the Father. Follow him home from Calvary with Mary, our Lord's mother, wondering at Christ's willingness to entrust the care of his mother to him -- the youngest of the disciples.
See him quietly learning from Peter and then Paul many wonderful spiritual truths and then later
in life as a pastor persecuted and then exiled to the Roman colony island of Patmos. Who could imagine the wonderful vision he received on Patmos and recorded in the book of Revelation.
What an intense mental, emotional and spiritual experience it must have been. See him trembling in fear a the glorified presence of Christ in the vision and falling at the feet of Christ as one dead and then reassured and told to rise up by the Master.
This then is the man who penned the gospel which bears his name, the three epistles of John and the book of Revelation -- John, "The disciple whom Jesus loved."
John was probably born in or near Bethsaida on the North Shores of Galilee. Galilee is an
Aramaic name meaning "the house of fishing." His father Zebedee was a Galilean fisherman of some means - "Hired Servants" Mark 1:20 - John had his own home as spoken of in John 19:27. His mother nurtured interest in godly things and was overly ambitious for her sons as shown in Matthew 20:20.
John was raised around men who were used to hard work, who were strong and who were sometimes coarse or vulgar in their speech. He was also acquainted with the high priest which indicates that he belonged to the wealthy class. John 18:15
John was originally a disciple of John the Baptist, but John the Baptist directed him to follow Jesus. He was personally called by the Lord while mending nets and immediately left the ship
and his father to follow Jesus. He was the youngest of the disciples and he outlived them all.
He was a Jew. The word Jew is found once in Matthew, twice in Mark and Luke, but over sixty times in John's gospel.
He was contemplative , hasty in temper Luke 9:54, had undisciplined zeal Mark 9:38 and was selfish Mark 10:35. Later in life he was wise, affectionate, mild-mannered and of great love; yet with strict moral earnestness.
He was associated with Paul and was in Peter's company before that. He never named himself
in his gospel but refers to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." John 13:23, John 19:26, 20:2 and 21:7. Like Paul and Peter and the other disciples he was willing to suffer and die for Jesus. I believe all true followers of Christ in every age think and act in obedience to Christ.
John was one of the three disciples closest to Jesus and dear to the Lord as recorded in the scriptures in the preceding paragraph. He was also the only disciple named as being present at the crucifixion and being entrusted with the mother of Jesus John 19:26-27. He was also the first to the tomb after the women told the disciples Jesus was risen as told in John 20:2-8. While all the other disciples were reported to have been martyred in death for their Lord, John was exiled
to the Isle of Patmos where he had visions recorded in the book of revelation and given to him personally by the risen Christ in his glorified body.
Later in life he pastored a large flock, made pastoral visits as any good pastor would and finally went to be with his Lord when he was around 100-120 years of age.
C R Lord © 1980