John and his brother James, the sons of Zebedee, were commercial fishermen on the Sea of Galilee before they became disciples of Jesus. It’s possible that John’s mom, Salome, was a sister to Mary, the mother of Jesus. If so, the Zebedee boys and Jesus were cousins (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, John 19:25). Maybe…?
John was one of the earliest disciples (Mark 1:16-20) and one of Jesus’ inner-circle. When Jesus went to the Mount of Transfiguration, He invited “Peter, James and John” to tag along (Mark 9:2). When He withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, “He took Peter, James and John” (Mark 14:33). From a distance, John heard Jesus pray, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Wow! What a privilege!
John wrote five New Testament books. When John wrote the Gospel that bears his name, he didn’t sign it with his name. As a matter of fact, he never used his own name. Rather, he referred to himself as “the one Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:9, 21:7. 21:20). John was God’s humble servant!
Similarly, the three epistles of John are written anonymously. The similarities of the writing styles between the Gospel and the Epistles argues convincingly for John’s authorship.
The Revelation is John’s final contribution to the New Testament. There, John takes credit for authorship. “The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John” (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9). “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things” (Revelation 22:8).
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, John had a front-row seat! He witnessed every miracle. He heard every parable and sermon. He walked with Jesus in intimate partnership and friendship. He was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Oh, what a gift of grace!
As a prisoner of the Roman government, the aged John was exiled “on the island called Patmos” (Revelation 1:9), an uninhabited rocky crag off the Mediterranean coast near Ephesus. It was there, in forced solitude, that Jesus “revealed” Himself to John. In obedience to Jesus’ direction, John scribed the book called the Revelation… the revealing. “Write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this” (Revelation 1:19).
God opened the windows of heaven, ushered John into the eternal throne-room, and allowed the “beloved disciple” to see… “the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one seated on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the one seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne and say, Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:8–11).
Oh, the glorious grace of God … originally bestowed upon John … but shared with us in the Holy Scriptures! Grace!