(1.) One who, with Annas and Caiaphas, sat in judgment on the apostles Peter and John (Acts 4:6). He was of the kindred of the high priest; otherwise unknown.
(2.) The Hebrew name of Mark (q.v.). He is designated by this name in the Acts of the Apostles (12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37).
(3.) THE APOSTLE, brother of James the "Greater" (Matthew 4:21; 10:2; Mark 1:19; 3:17; 10:35). He was one, probably the younger, of the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21) and Salome (Matthew 27:56; Comp. Mark 15:40), and was born at Bethsaida. His father was apparently a man of some wealth (Comp. Mark 1:20; Luke 5:3; John 19:27). He was doubtless trained in all that constituted the ordinary education of Jewish youth. When he grew up he followed the occupation of a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee. When John the Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea, John, with many others, gathered round him, and was deeply influenced by his teaching. There he heard the announcement, "Behold the Lamb of God," and forthwith, on the invitation of Jesus, became a disciple and ranked among his followers (John 1:36, 37) for a time. He and his brother then returned to their former avocation, for how long is uncertain. Jesus again called them (Matthew 4: 21; Luke 5:1-11), and now they left all and permanently attached themselves to the company of his disciples. He became one of the innermost circle (Mark 5:37; Matthew 17:1; 26:37; Mark 13:3). He was the disciple whom Jesus loved. In zeal and intensity of character he was a "Boanerges" (Mark 3:17). This spirit once and again broke out (Matthew 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-41; Luke 9:49, 54). At the betrayal he and Peter follow Christ afar off, while the others betake themselves to hasty flight (John 18:15). At the trial he follows Christ into the council chamber, and thence to the praetorium (18:16, 19, 28) and to the place of crucifixion (19:26, 27). To him and Peter, Mary first conveys tidings of the resurrection (20:2), and they are the first to go and see what her strange words mean. After the resurrection he and Peter again return to the Sea of Galilee, where the Lord reveals himself to them (21:1, 7). We find Peter and John frequently after this together (Acts 3:1; 4:13). John remained apparently in Jerusalem as the leader of the church there (Acts 15:6; Galatians 2:9). His subsequent history is unrecorded. He was not there, however, at the time of Paul's last visit (Acts 21:15-40). He appears to have retired to Ephesus, but at what time is unknown. The seven churches of Asia were the objects of his special care (Revelation 1:11). He suffered under persecution, and was banished to Patmos (1:9); whence he again returned to Ephesus, where he died, probably about A.D. 98, having outlived all or nearly all the friends and companions even of his maturer years. There are many interesting traditions regarding John during his residence at Ephesus, but these cannot claim the character of historical truth.
John, First Epistle of
The fourth of the catholic or "general" epistles. It was evidently written by John the evangelist, and probably also at Ephesus, and when the writer was in advanced age. The purpose of the apostle (1:1-4) is to declare the Word of Life to those to whom he writes, in order that they might be united in fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. He shows that the means of union with God are, (1) on the part of Christ, his atoning work (1:7; 2:2; 3:5; 4:10, 14; 5:11, 12) and his advocacy (2:1); and (2), on the part of man, holiness (1:6), obedience (2:3), purity (3:3), faith (3:23; 4:3; 5:5), and love (2:7, 8; 3:14; 4:7; 5:1).
John, Gospel of
The genuineness of this Gospel, i.e., the fact that the apostle John was its author, is beyond all reasonable doubt. In recent times, from about 1820, many attempts have been made to impugn its genuineness, but without success.
The design of John in writing this Gospel is stated by himself (John 20:31). It was at one time supposed that he wrote for the purpose of supplying the omissions of the synoptical, i.e., of the first three, Gospels, but there is no evidence for this. "There is here no history of Jesus and his teaching after the manner of the other evangelists. But there is in historical form a representation of the Christian faith in relation to the person of Christ as its central point; and in this representation there is a picture on the one hand of the antagonism of the world to the truth revealed in him, and on the other of the spiritual blessedness of the few who yield themselves to him as the Light of life" (Reuss).
After the prologue (1:1-5), the historical part of the book begins with verse 6, and consists of two parts. The first part (1:6-ch. 12) contains the history of our Lord's public ministry from the time of his introduction to it by John the Baptist to its close. The second part (ch. 13-21) presents our Lord in the retirement of private life and in his intercourse with his immediate followers (13-17), and gives an account of his sufferings and of his appearances to the disciples after his resurrection (18-21).
The peculiarities of this Gospel are the place it gives (1) to the mystical relation of the Son to the Father, and (2) of the Redeemer to believers; (3) the announcement of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter; (4) the prominence given to love as an element in the Christian character. It was obviously addressed primarily to Christians.
It was probably written at Ephesus, which, after the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), became the centre of Christian life and activity in the East, about A.D. 90.
John, Second Epistle of
Is addressed to "the elect lady," and closes with the words, "The children of thy elect sister greet thee;" but some would read instead of "lady" the proper name Kyria. Of the thirteen verses composing this epistle seven are in the First Epistle. The person addressed is commended for her piety, and is warned against false teachers.
John the Baptist
The "forerunner of our Lord." We have but fragmentary and imperfect accounts of him in the Gospels. He was of priestly descent. His father, Zacharias, was a priest of the course of Abia (1 Chronicles 24:10), and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5). The mission of John was the subject of prophecy (Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1). His birth, which took place six months before that of Jesus, was foretold by an angel. Zacharias, deprived of the power of speech as a token of God's truth and a reproof of his own incredulity with reference to the birth of his son, had the power of speech restored to him on the occasion of his circumcision (Luke 1:64). After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what is mentioned in Luke 1:80. John was a Nazarite from his birth (Luke 1:15; Numbers 6:1-12). He spent his early years in the mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea (Matthew 3:1-12).
At length he came forth into public life, and great multitudes from "every quarter" were attracted to him. The sum of his preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned them of the folly of trusting to external privileges (Luke 3:8). "As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating. Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and consideration for others. The publicans he cautioned against extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder." His doctrine and manner of life roused the entire south of Palestine, and the people from all parts flocked to the place where he was, on the banks of the Jordan. There he baptized thousands unto repentance.
The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth (Matthew 3:5), and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John, on the special ground that it became him to "fulfil all righteousness" (3:15). John's special office ceased with the baptism of Jesus, who must now "increase" as the King come to his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus. He pointed him out to his disciples, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." His public ministry was suddenly (after about six months probably) brought to a close by his being cast into prison by Herod, whom he had reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his brother Philip (Luke 3:19). He was shut up in the castle of Machaerus (q.v.), a fortress on the southern extremity of Peraea, 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, and here he was beheaded. His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave, went and told Jesus all that had occurred (Matthew 14:3-12). John's death occurred apparently just before the third Passover of our Lord's ministry. Our Lord himself testified regarding him that he was a "burning and a shining light" (John 5:35).
John, Third Epistle of
Is addressed to Caius, or Gaius, but whether to the Christian of that name in Macedonia (Acts 19:29) or in Corinth (Romans 16:23) or in Derbe (Acts 20:4) is uncertain. It was written for the purpose of commending to Gaius some Christians who were strangers in the place where he lived, and who had gone thither for the purpose of preaching the gospel (ver. 7).
The Second and Third Epistles were probably written soon after the First, and from Ephesus.