Part 5

October 22, 2017


BEFORE we begin, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take a moment to name your sins to God the Father. This will allow you to be filled with the power of The Holy Spirit as you read this booklet (EPH 5:18 & 1JO 1:9). IF YOU HAVE never believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have that opportunity right now. Simply tell God the Father that you are believing on His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you make that decision, you are now a believer and will always be a child of God! When you die, you will spend eternity with Him forever in heaven! (JOH 3:16 & ACT 16:31).

This week, we will begin our study with John, James’ brother. His name John is the Greek name ‘IOANNES. It comes from the Hebrew name YOHANAN which means, “Jehovah or Yahweh is (or has been) gracious.” John is the younger brother of James and a son of Zebedee and Salome, who, as we learned, were apparently wealthy. Looking at his acquaintance with Caiaphas, the High Priest at Jesus’ arrest and Jewish trials implies a position of at least considerable influence and means: Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple [John]. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest (JOHN 18:15)


John was most likely Our Lord’s first cousin and a relative of John the Baptist. He and James were probably trained in the ordinary education of Jewish youth with no special or rabbinical training. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother were in partnership with Simon-Peter and Andrew. He was deeply influenced by the teachings of John the Baptist.


Now, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar wording. They stand in contrast to John, whose content is comparatively distinct. The synoptic Gospels show John as a zealous and loyal follower of Jesus. He was the disciple whom Jesus loved, despite his zeal and intense character. As we learned when studying his brother James, Our Lord called him “Son of Thunder.”


John was not depicted as gentle and considerate. In the early days, it appeared that he knew little of the love that should characterize a follower of Jesus (as depicted in the scene regarding the Samaritans), but he did have faith and a passionate conviction that Jesus was The Son of God. In His Gospel and Epistles, we see a spiritually matured man – still zealous and intense – but abounding in love. On almost every occasion when he is mentioned in the Bible, he is in the company of someone else and normally his companion does the actual speaking. The only words in the Synoptic Gospels attributed specifically to John areJohn said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” (MARK 9:38) The fact that his companions did all the talking may be because of his age, being the younger brother, or just having a reserved personality. John may have been more a thinker than a man of action and leader of men.


John was highly esteemed among the apostles and he was especially close to Jesus. Upon Jesus’ invitation, he became a disciple among His followers: …and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (JOH 1:36-37) As noted when we studied James, he and John returned to their everyday lives for a while and when Jesus again called them, they left everything and permanently attached themselves to be His disciples. John is always mentioned in the first four in the lists of the twelve apostles. He is also among the “inner three” – Peter, James, and John – who were with Jesus at the raising of the synagogue ruler’s daughter, at the Transfiguration, and at His arrest in Gethsemane. Our Lord looked to Peter, James and John for encouragement.


And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.” (LUKE 22:8) This verse identifies Peter and John as the two disciples who were sent to prepare the Passover meal for Jesus and the disciples. He reclined with Jesus during the Last Supper. At that Passover, and at Peter’s urging, John asked who the betrayer was. At the betrayal, John and Peter followed Jesus, while the others ran away.


At the trial, John follows Christ into the council chamber (because of his acquaintance with the High Priest Caiaphas) and from there to the Praetorium (see JOH 18:15-28). It is believed John was the only Apostles who stood at the Cross with Jesus’ mother and was asked by our Lord to watch over her: …But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved [John] standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple [John] took her into his own household. (JOH 19:25-27)


Mary Magdalene first conveys the Resurrection of our Lord to John and Peter: So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved [John], and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (JOH 20:2)


John and Peter, the first to follow up on Mary’s story, ran to the empty tomb. John got there first, but stood outside the tomb until Peter got there. Peter, the leader of men, went right in, and John followed. We read that he saw and believedin JOH 20:8. After the Resurrection, John and Peter again return to the Sea of Galilee and a time later recognize The Risen Lord.


After Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, John, together with Peter, took a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the Church. The apostle John appears three times in the Book of Acts, and each time he is with Peter. He is with Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple. He is also thrown into prison with Peter. After Peter healed a man, they were arrested, imprisoned, and then released. He is also with Peter visiting the newly converted in Samaria.


Peter and John were considered uneducated and untrained men probably because of their Galilean accent; also, they had not received a rabbinical education. But they answered their accusers boldly: for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (ACTS 4:20) And later, John and Peter were sent to Samaria to confirm the conversion of Samaritans. Philip the deacon evangelist (not the apostle) evangelized the Samaritans, but the apostles in Jerusalem decided to send Peter and John to Samaria when they heard how the people had accepted the Gospel message. This is interesting given John and James’ earlier rebuke of the Samaritans when refusing to greet the Lord.


Peter’s affection and concern for John are shown in his question in JOH 21:21: So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” John like the other apostles remained some twelve years in the ministry of Jerusalem, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the apostles throughout the various provinces of the Roman Empire. Paul mentioned John only once, calling him, along with James and Simon Peter, pillars of the church and agreed that Paul and Barnabas would go to the Gentiles. John apparently remained in Jerusalem as a leader of the church there.


During the persecution, under Herod Agrippa I, John lost his brother James by martyrdom, while his friend Peter sought safety by fleeing. His life following this is unrecorded. He was not in Jerusalem, however, at the time of Paul’s last visit there.


John probably remained in Judea until the death of Mary released him from his promise to Our Lord. We can only speculate as to when this was. After the reference to him being a pillar, we don’t hear anything about him. We know nothing of his life and activity until we read of his banishment to Patmos and references to the old man at Ephesus, which occur in Christian literature of the 2nd century.

{to be continued}

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