Profile and Biography of John the Apostle

Apostle John

National Gallery, London

John, the son of Zebedee, was called along with this brother James to be one of Jesus’ twelve apostles who would accompany him on his ministry. John appears in the lists of apostles in the synoptic gospels as well as Acts. John and his brother James were given the nickname “Boanerges” (sons of thunder) by Jesus; some believe this was a reference to their tempers.

Where and When He Lived

The gospel texts offer no information on how old John might have been when he became one of Jesus’ disciples. Christian traditions have it that John lived until at least 100 CE (which likely would have been quite old) in Ephesus.

John, like his brother James, came from a fishing village along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. A reference in Mark to “hired servants” suggests that their family was relatively prosperous. After joining Jesus’ ministry, John likely would have traveled extensively.

John the Apostle's Works

John, along with his brother James, is portrayed in the gospels as perhaps being more important than most of the other apostles. He was present at the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter, at Jesus’ transfiguration, and at the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was arrested. Paul later describes John as a “pillar” of the Jerusalem church. Other than a few references to him in the New Testament, however, we have no information about who he was or what he did.

The Importance of John the Apostle

John has been an important figure for Christianity because he is believed to have been the author of the fourth (non-synoptic) gospel, three canonical letters, and the book of Revelation. Most scholars no longer attribute all (or any) of this to an original companion of Jesus, but that doesn’t change John’s stature for historical Christianity.

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Cline, Austin. "Profile and Biography of John the Apostle." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Cline, Austin. (2020, August 27). Profile and Biography of John the Apostle. Retrieved from Cline, Austin. "Profile and Biography of John the Apostle." Learn Religions. (accessed March 20, 2023).

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