Saint John

John was a disciple of Jesus, the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the younger brother of James the greater. Jesus called the two "Boanerges", or sons of thunder. The brothers worked with their father Zebedee as fishermen, with Simon and Andrew and probably in Bethsaida or the surrounding neighborhood. As the owners of their own boat (or boats) and the masters of hired servants, the family evidently occupied a position of great importance. They were sufficiently prosperous to have hired servants.

John was the younger son, probably younger than the Lord and the other apostles. Salome appears as one of the women who followed the Lord and "ministered" to him of their substance. Salome seems to have been a sister of Mary making John a cousin of Jesus. Besides his fishing business in Capernaum, he had a house in Jerusalem and was a personal acquaintance of the high priest. He may also have been kin to John the Baptist. Thunder in the Hebrew idiom is the voice of God and appears to have given swift, startling vehement utterance to the divine truth which they felt within them. The brothers were at first disciples of John the Baptist, and afterwards, with their friends, Peter and Andrew, followed Jesus. They were called the day Jesus came down from the mountain.

After Pentecost, John appears with Peter in Jerusalem and then in Samaria. When Paul goes to Jerusalem in 49 to attend the council of the Apostles he finds John there. It is probable that John evangelized Palestine for 12 years. After this we do not find the guardian of Jesus' mother in Palestine again; probably he left in 57, for when Paul returns to Jerusalem he makes no mention, the later tradition places him at Asia Minor. John and all of the other apostles, like Peter, were married men. John was the acknowledged head of the Christians in Asia. . The name sons of thunder, their joint petition for precedence, their passionate request to call fire from heaven, the energy of the Apocalypse, Cerinthus - all show him the spirit of an eagle, not the dove.. Yet the Master made him the "disciple Jesus loved." The beloved disciple, John was a sensitive type of person, imaginative, poetic, a dreamer of dreams and often saw visions.

John made Jerusalem his Headquarters, caring for Jesus' mother until her death. During the persecution of Herod Antipas, the Christians dispersed and John went to Asia Minor and preached. He wrote the gospel at Ephesus and lived there until the reign of Trajan.

John wrote the gospel about early 90's, the Apocalypse possibly AD 96, and the epistles even later toward the end of his life. The fourth Gospel stresses the pre-existent Son of God, where His deity rather than his humanity is stressed. John traces the life of Jesus, but in its own original way. The gospel undertakes to show not simply that Jesus was the Messiah, as Matthew does, but that he is a spiritual being of a higher order than man. It is not a compilation, not a rewriting, but a fresh creation by a great spiritual genius. There is a tradition that both the gospel and the Apocalypse were written at Patmos and published at Ephesus. I John was apparently written from Ephesus. Eusebius relates that 2 and 3rd john were written after the apocalypse. I John was recognized as a Circular Letter of the apostle to the Churches around Ephesus.. Never has the doctrine of heavenly love perfected itself in this way, of a love working in stillness, ever unwearied, never exhausted, so thoroughly proved, and approved itself, as in his epistles. Truth, Life, Light-are realities, and the only realities, because they are inherent in the Logos.. They are men only because He is in men, and they are the only Life, the only Light, the only Truth.

He lived a full life of apostolic activity, appointing and reproving Bishops, visiting and directing churches, and yet finding time to care for individual souls. Loving the young and willing to brave any danger in order to rescue them from temptation. He used to make missionary journeys also to neighboring Gentile cities, in some places to appoint Bishops, and in some to set in order whole churches. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira were founded by him. There is a tradition that he played with a tame partridge.

Polycarp was his friend and hearer, Ignatius is said to be a hearer. Papias 70-155 a pupil. Among his pupils, Polycarp became bishop of Smyrna; Papias, Hieapolis; and Ignatius, Antioch.

Rather than compromise with emperor worship, he preferred banishment to hard labor. His enemies once plunged him into a cauldron of boiling oil before the Latin Gate at Rome but he miraculously came out more vigorous and youthful than before. There is a story of an attempt to kill him with a poisoned chalice, but that "it was rendered harmless, he gave the sign of the cross and the poison fled as a little asp." Under Domitian's reign of 81-96, John was banished to the rocky island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. Patmos was hard labor in a quarry. Upon the death of the tyrant Domitian, his successor, Nerva recalled him. He passed over to Ephesus from Patmos during the reign of Trajan.

When he was no longer a Son of Thunder or "Eagle of Christ", when he was a weak and worn old man, feeble voice and trembling hands, he still lifted them up to bless. A beloved and venerated old man, His slightest words were treasured up because he was the last of living men who had seen the Lord. He tarried at Ephesus to extreme old age, his home had already become a center of the Christian Church and his feeble body could only with difficulty be carried to church in the arms of his disciples. John in his last years was unable to give utterance to many words, he simply said children, love one another. Why? In John's words, "if only this is done it is enough." As far as they knew, he died quietly at Ephesus. He lived to so great an age that people said he would never die. John died perhaps in the 7th year of Trajan AD 104.
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