Meet the Apostle John: 'The Disciple Jesus Loved'

John the Apostle Was Jesus' Friend and Pillar of the Early Church

Apostle John
John Outruns Peter to the Tomb. Culture Club / Contributor / Getty Images

The Apostle John had the distinction of being a beloved friend of Jesus Christ, writer of five books of the New Testament, and a pillar in the early Christian church.

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 (Peter, James, and John) 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.

The Bible tells us that John was later exiled to the island of Patmos. He 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 the Apostle John

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 John, 2 John, and 3 John; and the book of Revelation.

John was a member of the inner circle of three who accompanied Jesus even when the others were absent. Paul called John one of the pillars of the Jerusalem church:

...and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (Galatians, 2:6-10, ESV)

John'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.

John underwent a remarkable transformation as a disciple, from the quick-tempered Son of Thunder to the compassionate apostle of love. Because John experienced the unconditional love of Jesus firsthand, he preached that love in his gospel and letters.

John'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 the Apostle John

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.



References to John the Apostle in the Bible

John is mentioned in the four Gospels, the book of Acts, and as the narrator of Revelation.


Fisherman, a disciple of Jesus, evangelist, Scripture author.

Family Tree

Father - Zebedee
Mother - Salome
Brother - James

Key Verses

John 11:25-26
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?"

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.

Revelation 22:12-13
"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."

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Your Citation
Zavada, Jack. "Meet the Apostle John: 'The Disciple Jesus Loved'." Learn Religions, Dec. 6, 2021, Zavada, Jack. (2021, December 6). Meet the Apostle John: 'The Disciple Jesus Loved'. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "Meet the Apostle John: 'The Disciple Jesus Loved'." Learn Religions. (accessed March 30, 2023).

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