Heroes II John the Beloved


24 Surprising Things About the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

There are 12 apostles in the Bible. Can you name them all? Specifically, do you know the one with the designation “the disciple whom Jesus loved?”

Perhaps, you have an idea who it was. You probably know something about this disciple. However, 24 unpopular facts about him will surely surprise you.

Who Was “the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved”?

Among the twelve, John was the one known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Really? Does it mean that he was the only one?

Before knowing the answers to this question, how would you like to know them personally first?

Knowing his ancestral background

John was born in Bethsaida at around 6 AD. It was on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, part of the Roman Empire1.

Luke 5:10 (ESV) says, “James and John, the sons of Zebedee.” Similarly, Mark 3:17 (ESV) states, “James, the son of Zebedee, and John, the brother of James.”

Meanwhile, Matthew 27:55-56 (ESV) mentions three women. One of them is “the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” Mark 15:40 (ESV) gives her the name “Salome.” She was with two other women, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James the younger and of Joses.

With these, you can confirm that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was one of Zebedee and Salome’s sons. James was his elder brother. Hence, he was the youngest member of his family.

Heroes: John's genealogy
Photo credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8jpqeg8Gws

If you trace John’s genealogy, his mother Salome was one of three sisters named Mary. As such, he was a relative of his fellow disciples—James, Simon, and Judas. Jesus was also part of this clan.

Discovering his occupation

Matthew 4:21 (ESV) says, “And going on from there He saw two other brothers.” They were “James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother.” Interestingly, they were “with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets.”

As such, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was a fisherman, together with Peter, Andrew, and James.

Besides, they “were in a partnership from the gospels from Luke.” As such, they were under pressure to catch fish in order “to feed their families” and “pay the tax collector”2.

Unfortunately, the fishermen couldn’t eat their catch of fresh fish like carp and sardines. Instead, they had to hand them over to the tax collector as part of their contract.

Their catch was solely for the table of the rich people. So, as a trade, they could only receive inferior, processed fish as their take-home.

So unfair, isn’t it? How would you feel if you were in this situation?

Becoming a disciple of Jesus

One day, Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. The first ones he saw were Peter and Andrew. He told them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, ESV). Without much hesitation, they left their boats and followed Him.

Going further, Jesus saw James and John casting down their fishing nets. He invited them. Like Peter and Andrew, they followed Him without hesitation (verses 21-22).

If you were in their place, would you make that decision right away?

Heroes: Jesus healing a deaf person
Photo credit: Free Bible Images

Since then, they have been with Jesus in His ministry of preaching and healing. They have witnessed how He dealt with people and circumstances. Also, they have learned the lessons of heaven through His teachings.

With this, how would you like to be one of Jesus’ disciples?

Becoming an apostle of Christ

Did you know that Jesus had been with His disciples for three and a half years? Throughout His stay, He taught and trained them for ministry. Right before His ascension, He commissioned the twelve to become “apostles.”

“As Christ’s representatives, the apostles were to make a decided impression on the world”3. That is, they had to continue Jesus’ ministry of preaching and healing. He gave them the Holy Spirit as their Comforter.

As an apostle, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” had been instrumentally successful. “With great zeal and success, he continued to preach the doctrine of Christ.” Significantly, he had “a testimony of power, which his adversaries could not controvert, and which greatly encouraged his brethren”4.

Do you know someone with this gift of tongue?

John presented his faith with clarity, conviction, simplicity, and sincerity. With his powerful words from God, his hearers admired his wisdom and delivery. He even shut his opponents up with his sound reasoning5.

With this, how would you like to witness John’s preaching in person? Like his listeners, you too would surely be amazed.

Moreover, the disciple whom Jesus loved played a significant role in the early Christian church.

He partnered with Peter in the pioneering activities of the Christian movement. For instance, he helped him preach the Pentecost sermon, investigate the Samaritan revival, and others.

Diving into his writings

What are his books?

1) John

Heroes: Book of John
Photo credit: Canva

This book contains an account of John’s life. Written in 80–98 AD, it was his first writing.

It features his firsthand experience with Jesus in His earthly ministry. Hence, you call it a Gospel book, along with those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

It begins by describing Jesus as the Word Who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-18, ESV). After which, it goes through significant events such as His baptism, transfiguration, healing, preaching, and others. Finally, you can see it ends with His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

Honestly, there have been many things Jesus did. As such, John realized that his book was not enough to contain them all. He even exclaimed that the entire world would not have room for all the books he could write.

Can you believe it? How many books do you think would those be?

2) 1 John

Unlike John’s Gospel, this book, which he wrote in 90–95 AD, served a particular purpose.

The Bible does not mention specifically to whom the apostle addressed this writing. However, scholars say it was a letter to a known group of Christians in either Ephesus or Asia6.

John intended to give another testimony of the things he has heard, seen, and touched. He aimed at encouraging his readers to “have fellowship…with the Father and…Son” (1 John 1:3, ESV).

Aside from the theme of love and fellowship with God, John provided tests of true Christianity. You can read it in chapter 3.

Here, he enumerated the indications of genuine communication with God. Also, he discussed the life of active righteousness as proof of spiritual regeneration.

3) 2 John

This book is the second shortest one in the Bible. It contains only one chapter with 13 verses. Nevertheless, it speaks for its purpose well.

Written at the same time as 1 John, this epistle is also specific. John wrote this for the “elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth” (2 John 1:1, ESV).

Who is that lady? Who are those children? Are they literal or symbolic?

The Bible does not name this lady nor specify who it represents. However, scholars suggest that it is a metaphor referring to the entire church. As such, the children are its congregation7.

Regardless of this, this book addresses its message to all believers. It intends to remind them to love one another and follow God’s commandments.

4) 3 John

Do you know that this epistle of John is the shortest book in the Bible? While 2 John has fewer verses, the 15 ones of this book are shorter.

The first two epistles generally target the church. In contrast, this third one is for a specific person, “the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth” (3 John 1:1, ESV).

John expressed his prayer for this man’s health and faith. He wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (verse 4, ESV).

How would you like to receive this kind of love letter from a concerned friend?

5) Revelation

Perhaps, you know that this book is John’s last writing. He wrote it in 94–98 AD.

Different from his Gospel and epistles, this one contains prophecies and events in the last days. Those books talk about the past, while this one reveals the divine mysteries of the future. Hence, scholars categorize it as an apocalypse.

This book is a letter to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

These are the central visions of this apocalypse:

  1. A description of Christ (Revelation 1:9–3:22)
  2. A glimpse of the coming events (Revelation 4:1–16:21)
  3. A vision about the punishment of the Great Prostitute (Revelation 17:1–21:8)
  4. The vision of the bride (Revelation 21:9–22:5)

How does he write?

Heroes: John writing
Photo credit: Canva

1) Structure

Do you notice that John’s writings have an organization? There is a chronological sequence of events that any reader can follow.

For instance, you can see that his Gospel has four sections:

  1. Prologue – true identity of Jesus
  2. Book of Signs – His ministry
  3. Book of Glory – His return to heaven
  4. Conclusion – the purpose of the Gospel

Reading 1 John, you can also see these parts:

  1. Prologue – Jesus as the Word of Life
  2. Body – walking in the light of Christ and loving one another
  3. Conclusion – the purpose of the epistle

The book of Revelation has an organized structure as well. It begins with the vision of Christ, followed by the signs of the times that lead to Jesus’ second coming.

In the middle part of the book, John shows that Jesus is the Lamb—its theme and theological significance. And he ends with the promise of a new heaven and earth.

2) Voice

In most of his writings, the disciple whom Jesus loved communicates in the first-person perspective. Do you notice that? John is often the narrator. He develops the characters and unfolds the events in a personal way.

For instance, John presents Revelation from how he witnessed the visions God gave him. With this, you can get a visual glimpse of events.

Similarly, John speaks in his epistles through his conviction from God. He brings His messages like a friendly counselor concerned for your faith.

In contrast, John’s Gospel, which bears his name, is in the third-person view. He does not reveal himself throughout this book. How ironic!

Well, John has a reason for that. He wants you as a reader to focus on Jesus, the subject of the Gospel. He does not want to abuse his authorship by turning the spotlight on him, which can cause some bias.

3) Use of literary devices

Another essential quality you may notice in John’s writings is his use of literary techniques such as the following:

  1. Multiple allusions
    The disciple whom Jesus loved uses words that mean differently depending on situations and usage. For instance, “follow” in John 1:38 means going after Jesus. In the succeeding verses, it goes on a high meaning of obeying and abiding with Him.
  2. Irony
    John uses expressions that are contrary to what readers expect. For example, he wrote, “He was in the world…yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him” (John 1:10-11, ESV).
  3. Symbolism
    John uses objects from nature to represent reality and stimulate his readers’ imagination and critical analysis. For example, John 7:38 (ESV) says, “Whoever believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” The living water represents Jesus.

Why Did John Call Himself “the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved”?

1) It was a literary construct for modesty and polite reserve.

At first glance, you may say it sounds as if John was bragging about himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. It gives an impression that he was the only one or that he was Jesus’ favorite. But that’s not the case. This designation had its purpose.

It was a “device of authorial modesty”8. In other words, it is a polite way “to avoid self-promotion”9. It is evident in the fact that John never told you his name in his Gospel.

Like Matthew in his Gospel, John never wrote in the first person. He would always refer to himself in the third person—an act of humility10. That is, he didn’t want to take the spotlight. Instead, he liked his readers to focus on Jesus’ love.

2) He was one of Jesus’ closest disciples.

John was among Jesus’ three intimate disciples. The other two were Peter and James. With this, all three of them had been with Jesus on most of His significant trips.

Heroes: Jesus' transfiguration
Photo credit: Free Bible Images

For instance, you can read from Luke 9:28 that Peter, James, and John were there during Jesus’ transfiguration. Also, they were the only ones He chose to come with Him into the house of the synagogue ruler (Mark 5:37).

Similarly, they were the only disciples who went with Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). That’s how special they were to Him.

Meanwhile, did you know that John had a more intimate relationship with Jesus among the three of them? For instance, he would love sitting next to Him and leaning on His bosom (John 13:23). Then, he would engage in an intimate conversation with Him.

Are you like this to your closest friend? How often do you spend time with each other?

3) He was in awe of Jesus’ magnanimous love.

Being with Jesus in most of His activities, John had a close view of His loving character.

For instance, He witnessed His love and compassion for the sick. A large crowd would always follow Him, and He would heal them (Matthew 14:14). He would also feed the hungry (verse 32 of chapter 15). And He would intercede for His disciples and the church (John 17:20-21).

How would you like to witness this yourself too?

Above all, John saw the most significant act of love in Jesus’ crucifixion (John 3:16). It was the most touching scene that melted his heart, knowing that His blood had saved the entire humanity.

Realizing the depth of Jesus’ love for humanity, John personally exemplified it in his Gospel. He referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

If you were in his place, what would you call yourself?

That designation of John “wasn’t a statement of arrogance” but an expression of “sincere humility and a reflection of…God’s amazing grace” instead11.

Hence, it does not mean that John was the only disciple Jesus loved like what you may have assumed at first. As a fact, “God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11), suggesting that He loved all disciples equally.

How Was John the Beloved Related to John the Baptist?

Heroes: John the Beloved and John the Baptist
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Perhaps, you’re wondering if there was any relationship between John the Baptist and the so-called disciple whom Jesus loved.

Aside from the fact that they had similar names, you may be wondering if they had blood relations. Did they belong to the same race? Also, have they crossed each other’s paths?

Determining their ancestral relationship

First, let us trace the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.

In Luke 1:36 (KJV), Mary told Elizabeth that she would conceive a son. “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age,” restating what the angel told her.

Therefore, Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were cousins. It means that Jesus and John the Baptist were second cousins.

Do you get the idea?

“Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins…by the circumstances of their birth”12.

Now, considering that Jesus and John the Beloved were direct cousins, it makes sense that the two Johns were most likely second cousins.

What do you think?

Learning about their ethnicity

Heroes: John the Baptist preaching
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“John would have cut an imposing figure as he preached to his fellow Jews”13. Based on this, John could have been a Jewish prophet.

What about John, the disciple?

Well, Matthew 15:24 (ESV) writes that the Father sent Jesus “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The lost sheep referred to the Jews, the focus of His earthly mission.

“The Jews were God’s chosen people”14. They were “through whom He had purposed to bless the entire race.”

Now, concerning Jesus’ twelve disciples, do you think He would select non-Jewish individuals for this evangelistic mission? Would He spend three and a half years training the wrong people?

Acts 10:28 (ESV) talks about “how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation.” Since the disciples were able to worship with Jesus in the temples, they were undoubtedly Jews. As a matter of fact, no Gentiles could enter the synagogues.

So, being one of the twelve, the disciple whom Jesus loved was a Jew. This confirms that he and John the Baptist had the same race.

Knowing their social relationship

“These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing” (John 1:28, ESV). This verse does not specify which between the disciple and the baptist this John was. But the description that he was “baptizing” gives us a hint that he was indeed John the Baptist.

“John was standing with two of his disciples” (verse 35, ESV). “One of the two…was Andrew,” who went and “found his…brother Simon” (verses 40-41, ESV). Meanwhile, the author does not tell us who the other disciple was.

In his Gospel, Matthew mentions two pairs of brothers. “He saw two brothers, Simon…and Andrew, his brother” (Matthew 4:18, ESV). Also, “He saw two other brothers, James…and John, his brother” (verse 21, ESV).

Based on Matthew’s description, we have James and John as the suspects for the unknown disciple in John 1:35. So, which one is it?

“The unnamed disciple of verse 35 is…John, the writer of this fourth Gospel”15. “Never, in this Gospel, does the writer refer to himself by name.” Instead, “he designates himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’”16.

So, to solve the question of their social relationship, John the Beloved was a follower of John the Baptist.

24 Surprising Things You Should Know About The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

1) The name John denotes God’s grace and gift.

John originates from the Hebrew name Yohanan17. It means “God has been gracious” or “Jehovah has been gracious.” It is also an abbreviation of the expression “God’s gift”18.

It implies that John had indeed been a blessing from God. Specifically, he had been a heaven-sent comfort for Jesus during His years of being with men. Like Jonathan to David, he had been a good friend to Him.

2) He was a cousin of Jesus.

In the Bible, there were three sisters with the same name—Mary. Who were they?

One of them was Mary, the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14). The second was Mary, the mother of James and Joseph (Matthew 27:56). And the third was Mary Salome, the mother of James and John (Mark 15:40).

As implied, Jesus and John the Beloved were cousins.

3) He was once a disciple of John the Baptist. 

We’ve learned that John was a disciple of Jesus. However, would you believe that he was once a follower of John the Baptist?

John the Baptist was a prophet in Judea. He preached about the coming of the Messiah, encouraging people to repent. He would baptize them with water.

With this, he prepared the way for the Lord, making the paths straight (Mark 1:3). In a sense, he was Jesus’ forerunner.

Unfortunately, we cannot read from the Bible that John the Beloved was John the Baptist’s disciple. But we can get a hint from John 1:35 that the baptist was with his two disciples.

“One…was Andrew,” who called his brother Simon. Still, you won’t confirm the name of the other disciple here. But as a matter of fact, Andrew and John were Jesus’ first disciples19.

Also, Matthew would always pair Andrew with Peter and John with James. “He saw two brothers, Simon [Peter]…and Andrew, his brother” (Matthew 4:18, ESV). Likewise, “He saw two other brothers, James…and John, his brother” (verse 21, ESV).

Hence, John was probably the second follower1516.

4) He was the youngest disciple but the longest-lived apostle of Jesus.

Jesus commissioned His twelve disciples as apostles around 27 AD. Do you know how old they were during this time? Here20:

  1. Andrew – 33
  2. Simon Peter – 30
  3. James Zebedee – 30
  4. John – 24
  5. Philip – 27
  6. Nathanael – 25
  7. Matthew – 31
  8. Thomas – 29
  9. James Alpheus – 26
  10. Judas Alpheus – 26
  11. Simon the Zealot – 28
  12. Judas Iscariot – 30
Heroes: Last Supper
Photo credit: Fairfield Art

As you can see, the disciple whom Jesus loved was the youngest. But he was the last surviving apostle, dying at the old age of 101 in 103 AD20.

Meanwhile, the rest of the apostles died earlier. Peter and Paul, for instance, died in 66 AD, and James in 44 AD21.

5) He wanted to call down fire from heaven.

One day after His transfiguration, Jesus was with His disciples to go to Jerusalem. To get there, He had to pass by the Samaritan mountains, the same route that led Him to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

While traveling, Jesus sent some disciples ahead to look for some food and lodging. Unfortunately, the Samaritans were rude and unfriendly.

As Jesus reached the place, He saw James and John bursting in anger. “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54, ESV).

Can you imagine that?

Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” He continued that He did “not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (verses 55-56, KJV).

How would you feel if you were in these brothers’ place, hearing it from Jesus Himself? Isn’t it humbling yet reassuring?

6) He was one of the “sons of thunder.”

Heroes: John, the disciple whom Jesus loved

Because of their intolerant and hot-tempered spirit, Jesus called James and John the “sons of thunder.” The technical term for this label is Boanerges (Mark 3:17, ESV).

This attitude is evident in their encounter with the unfriendly Samaritans in Luke 9, which we’ve discussed earlier. If you read this passage, you can see how boldly and frankly they spoke the truth. True enough, you can compare them to thunder.

Do you know someone with this tendency? How do you deal with him or her?

7) He caught 153 fish.

Heroes: Caught many fish
Photo credit: Free Bible Images

One evening after Jesus’ resurrection, seven of His disciples went fishing. They were Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two others. Unfortunately, they caught nothing.

Are you familiar with this scene?

The following day, Jesus came and asked the disciples if they had a catch. Hearing that they had none, He asked them to throw their nets on the right side of their boat.

Miraculously, the disciples caught 153 fish (John 21:11). Their nets were so heavy that they couldn’t haul them.

Have you experienced catching this large number of fish? Or at least, have you witnessed such?

8) He performed a miracle of healing.

Heroes: Healing hand
Photo credit: Canva

One day, Peter and John were going up to the temple of Jerusalem. There was a lame man at the Beautiful Gate, asking for alms from all people passing by.

Do you know this story?

When Peter saw the man, he told him, “I have no silver and gold.” However, he comforted him by continuing, “But what I do have, I give to you” (Acts 3:6, ESV).

In Jesus’ name, Peter and John made the lame man rise and walk. His feet and ankles gained their strength. As he began walking, he couldn’t help but leap and praise God. After which, he went with them inside the temple.

If you were in this man’s shoes, wouldn’t you be overjoyed and excited to tell other people the good news?

9) He was among the three intimate disciples of Jesus.

Three of Jesus’ twelve disciples—Peter, James, and John—belonged to the inner circle until they were commissioned as apostles.

Among the three of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved had been with Him the longest (Luke 5:4-11). He witnessed His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3) and saw Him raise the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:49-56).

Heroes: Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane
Photo credit: Free Bible Images

Besides, John was there when He prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-33). He was present from His trial until His death, being among the few who endured the agony. Even after His resurrection, he was among the first eyewitnesses.

How would you like to belong to this group if you were a disciple of Jesus?

10) He was close to Jesus.

The disciple whom Jesus loved sat beside Him at the Last Supper.

As we’ve learned earlier, John would lean his head upon Jesus’ bosom (John 13:23). Then, he would engage in close and intimate conversation with Him (verses 24-26).

Heroes: John on Jesus' chest
Photo credit: Beacon

We can say that Jesus and John were indeed best of friends.

11) He was Jesus’ trusted disciple to take care of His mother.

Heroes: Mary crying
Photo credit: Free Bible Images

A few moments before He died on the cross, Jesus thought of His mother, Mary. Precisely, He needed someone from His disciples to take care of her.

Most likely, it would have been any of the three intimate disciples. It could have been Peter but he was rough. James was also a good option. Or, would it be John?

Yes, Jesus chose John because he was tender and affectionate. He told her, “Woman, behold, your son” (John 19:26, ESV). Then, to John, He declared, “Behold, your mother” (verse 27, ESV). The disciple knew what He meant precisely. So, without hesitation, he took her to his home.

Imagine Jesus’ trust in John. How would you feel if you were this trusted disciple? How would you value that trust?

12) He wanted a place on Jesus’ heavenly throne.

One day, James and John asked Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you” (Mark 10:35, ESV).

Specifically, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your glory” (verse 37, ESV). It surprised Jesus that He said James and John did not know what they were asking.

Probably, James and John thought that Jesus’ kingdom would be on earth. They had mistaken it for a government position to which they could easily apply.

Perhaps, you would also think the same if you were in their place.

Jesus explained that He could let them drink from His cup and baptize of His baptism. However, “to sit at My right hand or My left is not Mine to grant” (verse 40, ESV). Instead, it was for those to whom God the Father has given it.

13) He did not die from boiling oil.

Heroes: Boiling oil
Photo credit: Canva

In 81 AD, there was Christian persecution under Emperor Domitian22. It was second to the one under Nero in 67 AD, which involved Paul and Peter.

In the second one, Domitian ordered different types of punishment. For instance, Simeon, a bishop of Jerusalem, was a victim of crucifixion. Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was a subject of exile to Pontus23.

Now, that of John was unusual. Would you believe the emperor had him bathe in burning oil? That’s right. But do you know what? It did not seem to threaten him. Still, he continued preaching from within the pot.

Can you imagine that?

14) He survived after drinking poison.

Amid the persecution, John proved to be persistent in preaching. In fact, many people followed him. Some even knelt at his feet, seeking healing.

It made Aristodemus, a chief priest in the Roman Empire, angry. John asked him what he could do to take away his anger. But the priest challenged him to drink poison. He gave him a condition: If the poison did not harm John, the priest would believe in God24.

If you were John, would you accept such a challenge for Christ’s sake?

Surprisingly, the drink did not poison John at all. Can you believe that? He claimed God’s promise that if people “drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them” (Mark 16:18, ESV).

15) He received special instructions.

Heroes: John writing
Photo credit: Canva

As an apostle, John received instructions that no other apostles knew. Even Paul had never seen these things.

Sounds like such instructions were really special, huh? What were those?

During John’s exile at Patmos, God showed him visions concerning the “events that would take place in the closing scenes of this earth’s history”25.

How would you like to have a dream of such things as these?

“In his isolated home, John was able to study more closely than ever” God’s mysteries26. He learned about the work of creation, and His wisdom and skill. Also, through nature, he learned the essential lessons of His power and glory.

16) He was a pillar of the early Christian church.

Heroes: John preaching
Photo credit: Free Bible Images

As an apostle after Jesus’ ascension, John was active in preaching and building the early church.

His insights about Christ’s teachings were instrumentally significant in its development. As a matter of fact, even his fellow apostle, Paul, appealed to his authority (Galatians 2:7-8).

What a humbling privilege!

After John’s death, the church deconstructed some beliefs27. Fortunately, his writings united Christians in understanding Jesus’ superiority (John 1:1-4) and relationship with the Father (verse 16 of chapter 3).

17) He concealed his name.

True enough, you can never read John’s name in his Gospel. Instead, he would always refer to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Besides, John maintained a third-person view throughout his book. For instance, in John 21:24 (ESV), he wrote, “this is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things.”

Why was it so? Was John a person of a high place in Jerusalem that he wanted to hide his Christian affiliation?

John “deliberately obscured the identity of the beloved disciple.” It was so that the Gospel readers “may better identify with [his] relationship with Jesus”28.

18) He had more than 5 names or designations.

These are how the Bible and other writings call the disciple whom Jesus loved:

  1. John the Younger Brother: being next to James by birth
  2. John the Fisherman: grew up fishing with his brother and father
  3. John the Disciple of John the Baptist: being a follower of this preacher
  4. John the Apostle: among the disciples commissioned before Jesus’ ascension
  5. John the Writer: wrote 5 books in the Bible
  6. John the Evangelist: actively preached and ministered to the Christians
  7. John the Theologian: knowledgeable about God and the Scriptures
  8. John of Patmos: exiled to the isle of Patmos as part of the Christian persecution
  9. John the Revelator: wrote about God’s revelations of the last-day events

These are a lot, huh? If you were in John’s place as an evangelist, how do you think people might have known you?

19) He wrote 5 books in the New Testament.

Heroes: Book of Revelation
Photo credit: Canva
  1. Gospel of John
    – This book is an account of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. He wrote it in 80–98 AD.
  2. 1 John
    – This epistle is John’s love letter to a church in Ephesus or Asia. Its writing dated back to 90–95 AD.
  3. 2 John
    – Like 1 John, this second letter is for the church and its congregation. He composed it from 90 to 95 AD as well.
  4. 3 John
    – Different from his first two epistles, this one is for Gaius, his beloved friend. He wrote it at the same time he did the other two.
  5. Revelation
    – This book is an apocalypse of the events before Jesus’ second coming. He wrote it in 94–98 AD.

20) The Bible mentioned him 5 times as the disciple whom Jesus loved.

  1. “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to Him” (John 13:23, NIV).
  2. “When Jesus saw His mother there and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son’” (19:26, NIV).
  3. “So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!’” (20:2, NIV).
  4. “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” (21:7, NIV).
  5. “Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them” (21:20, NIV).

Notable, isn’t it?

21) He made the number seven significant.

First, John wrote seven miracles proving that Jesus is the Son of God:

  1. Turning of water into wine during the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)
  2. Healing of an official’s son in Capernaum (4:46-54)
  3. Healing of a disabled man at the Pool of Bethesda (5:1-18)
  4. Feeding of the 5,000 men (6:5-14)
  5. Walking on the Sea of Galilee (6:16-21)
  6. Healing of a blind man in Jerusalem (9:1-7)
  7. Raising Lazarus in Bethany (11:1-45)

Second, John mentioned “I am” 7 times in his Gospel, reflecting who Jesus is:

  1. “I am the Bread of life” (John 6:35, ESV)
  2. “I am the Light of the world” (8:12, ESV)
  3. “I am the Door of the sheep” (10:7, ESV)
  4. “I am the good Shepherd” (10:11, ESV)
  5. “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (11:25, ESV)
  6. “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (14:6, ESV)
  7. “I am the true Vine” (15:1, ESV)

Are these a coincidence? No.

22) He saw Christ again after the resurrection.

Heroes: Jesus resurrected
Photo credit: Free Bible Images

On Jesus’ resurrection day, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw the stone was not there anymore. Are you familiar with this scene? After which, she called Peter and “the one whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2, ESV)?

Right away, Peter and John went to the grave. Seeing only the linen cloth, they believed that Jesus had just risen.

During the evening of that day, the disciples were in a room. Later, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you” (verse 19, ESV). They couldn’t believe it but they did when He showed them his pierced hands and bruised side.

Would you have some doubts too if you were in this encounter?

Jesus stayed for forty days before His ascension. On the day of His ascension, He gave the disciples His final words and commissioned them to be apostles.

For this, Jesus assured them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8-9, ESV).

After Jesus’ ascension, He showed Himself to John again during the apostle’s exile at Patmos, where he received visions concerning the last-day events.

23) He saw heaven and earth in the last days and beyond.

Heroes: Volcanic eruption
Photo credit: Canva

During his exile at Patmos, the disciple whom Jesus loved received visions from God. Specifically, he saw what would happen in heaven and earth in the last days.

How would you like to have this same privilege?

There would be famine with the symbol of a horseman riding a black horse (Revelation 6:5). Also, there would be terrible natural disasters with seven bowls as a symbol (chapter 16).

Are you familiar with these prophecies?

After all these tribulations, John saw Jesus coming in clouds with His angels and taking His faithful ones to heaven. For a thousand years, they would stay there.

After which, Jesus would restore heaven and earth. There would be no more suffering or death (verses 1-8 of chapter 21).

How would you like to experience it?

24) He was the only apostle who died of natural causes.

The apostles died as follows29:

  1. Andrew – crucified in Patrae in Achaia
  2. Simon Peter – crucified in Rome around 66 AD
  3. James Zebedee – killed by Herod with a sword in 44 AD (Acts 12:1-2)
  4. John – died a natural death at Ephesus in the Roman Empire in 103 AD
  5. Philip – crucified at Hierapolis after preaching in Phrygia
  6. Nathanael – died in India
  7. Matthew – killed in Lysimachia
  8. Thomas – died in Malta
  9. James Alphaeus – stoned to death after at least 5 years from Jesus’ death
  10. Judas Alphaeus – martyred in Syria on a missionary journey with Simon the Zealot (according to tradition)
  11. Simon the Zealot – died in Africa
  12. Judas Iscariot – hung himself at Aceldama after Jesus died

As you can see, only John died naturally. The rest of the apostles died of martyrdom and suicide.

Final Thoughts

John referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” However, it does not mean that Jesus did not love the rest of the disciples.

Instead, it was merely a title John used to refer to himself in his Gospel. He felt that he had a special place in Jesus’ heart. As such, the designation was his expression of God’s unconditional love that resonates so much in him.

If you were John, would this be your expression of God’s love, too?

We’ve also learned some unpopular facts about John’s relationship with Jesus and John the Baptist. We have seen some of the miracles he performed and witnessed how much he contributed and gained Jesus’ trust as a disciple and apostle.

As an author and evangelist, John has written 5 books in the New Testament. His Gospel, epistles, and apocalypse are unique in their structure and emblems. They revolve around the life of Jesus and His gospel.

Finally, the story of John teaches us a valuable lesson about God’s love. Having emphasized it several times in his epistles and Gospel, it provides us hope.

As sinners, we all need God’s love, grace, and mercy. How eager are you to attain His perfect character? And how can you be an effective witness for Him like John?

To learn more about John, subscribe to Heroes: The Bible Trivia Game, read his story on our hero page, find him in our Bible study course, and download our game on Google Play and App Store.

  1. New World Encyclopedia []
  2. Oakman, in Deni Rene YouTube Channel, 2017 []
  3. Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, 22.3 []
  4. Ellen White, The Sanctified Life, 70.1 []
  5. Ellen White, The Sanctified Life, 71.1 []
  6. Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 7 []
  7. Joe, 2018 []
  8. Köstenberger and Stout, 2008 []
  9. Smith, 2018 []
  10. Clough, 2017 []
  11. Fong, in Hope Channel, 2016 []
  12. Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, 109.2 []
  13. Ian Werrett, in Bible Odyssey, 2019 []
  14. Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, 374.3 []
  15. White, 1998 [] []
  16. Utley, 1999 [] []
  17. Behind the Name, 2020 []
  18. Rubia, 2017 []
  19. Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 5 []
  20. Master Universe Almanac [] []
  21. Ken Curtis, 2021 []
  22. Wilson, 2020 []
  23. Christian History Institute, 2021 []
  24. Early Christian Writings, 2021 []
  25. Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, 570.4 []
  26. Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, 571.2 []
  27. Nelson, 2019 []
  28. Smith, 1991 []
  29. Nelson, in Overview Bible, 2019 []
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13 Responses

  1. Wooo.Formidable.Merci grandement car j’ai appris beaucoup de bonnes choses.
    Dieu vous bénisse richement!

  2. I’m writing a story on John 13 And this is just what I needed.

    Love the arrangement and presentation, thank you and GOD bless you so much😊✨

    If you like, I’m willing to share the writing with you after I’m done😊✨

  3. You missed the most interesting thing!
    John never tasted of death. He was permitted to tarry until the Savior returns in the second coming. See John 21:20-23
    There are many stories of great help and miracles from people as they had visits from a stranger who helped but then was gone.

  4. Greetings from Virginia! I was so mesmerized with John’s “the apostle Jesus loved” life. Thank you so much for all your “revelation not only of his life but also the lives of the other apostles. I know so little about Jesus’ apostles but now, I’m so happy for the wealth of knowledge you gave me! I hope that others too who read this will learn so much and love Jesus more about His mercy, grace, compassion and love for us by dying on the cross because of His great love for us. Thank you, thank you, I can’t express in words what I feel now. God bless you always.

  5. Thanks lot for this deep study and secret things i have to found through this site really God bless you more it’s my prayers

  6. Thank you all so much for this writing of John the Baptist. I often wonder when I hear the words, the disciple Jesus loved”, how it made the other disciples feel. Also, I never understood why it is written specifically about John being the disciple Jesus loved, because Jesus loved everyone. All the disciples and the good people and the bad people and everyone on earth. This is particularly what I thought the very first time I read those words. Now, I am more used to seeing and hear it preached in sermons. I really enjoyed reading this. THANK YOU AGAIN. I know so much more about John than I ever have. I APPRECIATE YOU AND YOUR TIME.

  7. All bible readers know about the warnings about the false prophets Matth. 7: 15, and you may surely be one of them, concealed, a fleshly-physical spirit of darkness, vulgar and insincere, prostituting the holy name of John. You should be ashamed of yourself…

  8. Gala say:
    September 26, 2023

    Before I started reading John, I wanted to know more about the character. I thought it would give me a better understanding whenever start reading. I was overwhelmed and excited as I read your article, it will help me to under understand John when I go to read it. I believe it is better to know the characters before you read any book. Thanks again. Gala DeFriece

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