Who was John? Jesus called John, a son of Zebedee, to change his career from fishing to fishing for men (Luke 5:1-11). John immediately responded and began to follow Jesus as a disciple. He observed the miracles of Jesus and heard His teachings. John was one of the three disciples closest to Jesus. The other two were James, John’s brother, and Peter.
John saw the transfiguration of Jesus with his own eyes (Matt.17:1-13), and he was the one who sat closest to Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:22-28). Jesus asked John to stay and pray with Him in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36), and John helped Peter enter the courtyard at the trial of Jesus (John 18:15). John was the only disciple to witness the crucifixion, and there Jesus asked him to watch over Mary (John 19:26-27). Peter and John were the first disciples to investigate the empty tomb and to believe in the resurrection (John 20:4-9). John was the first to recognize Jesus on shore as they fished after the resurrection (John 21:7)
John Wrote from Experience
John seems to have left Jerusalem before its fall in 70 AD. Tradition places him in Ephesus. There, he wrote his Gospel between 80-85 to explain Jesus to Gentile believers. A few years later, a group from these churches doubted that Jesus was God and left the church. John then wrote three letters to encourage the believers to remain followers of Jesus.
1 John was to a general audience, and the other two letters were to specific people, but all concerned the false teaching of the dissenting group. John could write with authority because he had physically walked with Jesus. Most likely, he was the last living disciple, and his eyewitness was essential to the church. It would have been after writing these three letters that Rome exiled John to Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation.
Jesus Transformed John
Jesus called John and his brother James the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17). We aren’t sure why, but there was a time when a Samaritan village refused to let them enter. John and James wanted to call down fire to destroy the village, but Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:54-55). At the end of his life, John wrote about the love of God. He had changed from being vengeful to loving because of Jesus.
John considered himself beloved of Jesus (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). It is from this place of being loved that he can love others. When he addresses the recipients of the letter of 1 John as “dear friends,” he calls them beloved. John wanted them to know that God loves them, and so does he. I believe that John wants them and us to be as transformed by the love of God as he was.
Who was John? To learn more, listen here: