Historic Jesus

Character Profile

John (disciple)

Father: Zebedee (Matthew 4:21)

Mother: Salome (Mark 15:40)

Brother: James (Matthew 4:21)

First mention: Matthew 4:21

Final mention: Revelation 22:8

Meaning of his name: "The Grace of Jehovah"
Note: Both he and his brother James were nicknamed "Boanerges" by Christ, meaning, "Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17).

Frequency of his name: Referred to 42 times: As John, 33 times; as "that disciple that Jesus loved" (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7,20,24), six times; as "Boanerges" once, (Mark 3:17)

Biblical books mentioning him: Six books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Galatians, Revelation)

Occupation: Fisherman, before becoming one of Christ's key three apostles

Place of birth: Probably Bethsaida in Galilee

Place of death: Tradition suggests it was in Ephesus.

Important fact about his life: He was Christ's beloved apostle who authored five New Testament books.

Copyright 1999, used by permission from Dr. H.L. Willmington.

The Apostle, brother of James "the Greater." He was probably the younger of the sons of Zebedee and Salome, and was born at Bethsaida. His father was apparently a man of some wealth. He was doubtless trained in all that constituted the ordinary education of Jewish youth. When he grew up he became a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee. When John the Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea, John got many others to gather around him, and was deeply influenced by his teaching. There he heard the announcement, "Behold the Lamb of God" and immediately, on the invitation of Jesus, became a disciple and ranked among His followers for a time.

At some point he and his brother then returned to fishing, for how long is uncertain. Jesus again called them and now they left all and permanently attached themselves to the company of his disciples. He became one of the innermost circle. He was the disciple whom Jesus loved. In zeal and intensity of character he was a "Boanerges". This spirit once and again broke out. At the betrayal, he and Peter follow Christ afar off, while the others took to hasty flight. At the trial, he follows Christ into the council chamber and then to the praetorium and to the place of crucifixion.

To John and Peter, Mary first conveys tidings of the resurrection and they are the first to go and see what her strange words mean. After the resurrection, Peter and he again return to the Sea of Galilee, where the Lord reveals Himself to them.

John apparently remained in Jerusalem as the leader of the church there. His subsequent history is unrecorded. He was not there, however, at the time of Paul's last visit. He appears to have retired to Ephesus, but at what time is unknown. The seven churches of Asia were the objects of his special care. He suffered under persecution and was banished to Patmos. From there he again returned to Ephesus where he died, probably about A.D. 98.