These are the names of the twelve disciples: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Plus his replacement Matthias)
John concentrates all his writings in the Gospel named after him, concerning the Good News of Jesus, on historical fact, vivid descriptions and interpretations of the facts plus a Spirit inspired understanding of what is happening at that time. The message it brought was the truth then and it is still delivers the same truth today. It brings the Gospel message direct to the front door of any reader.
In the first two verses of the Gospel he clearly shows that John was fully aware who Jesus was and of the position Jesus had in relationship to God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. And in the closing verses of the Gospel, John was equally aware the controversy, discussion and reality that the life of Jesus would create. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. In between lays the heart of the Gospel message regarding the restitution of human race to God through Jesus. John 3:16-17
John, and his brother James, were the sons of Zebedee. They were all part of the family run fishing business, a prosperous one that employed hired servants. (See Mark 1:20) Both brothers had an impetuous nature and Jesus called them ‘sons of thunder’. John was one of the earliest of the disciples that was called to follow Jesus. He asked for special honours of Jesus but he was also willing to die for Jesus. John is always one of the first four disciples mentioned in scripture and was one of the inner circle, appearing at the raising of the daughter of Jairus; the transfiguration and Gethsemane. He is commonly thought to be ‘the beloved disciple’, referred to in the Gospel of John, but even on this point theologians seem to differ. The disciple ‘whom Jesus loved’ was near the cross when Jesus was crucified and it was into this disciples keeping that Jesus gave his mother, with the words to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
John was one of Jesus followers who waited in Jerusalem after the Ascension and also John was with Peter at the place called Solomon’s Colonnade and it was also here, at the gate called Beautiful, that the lame man was healed. It was this miracle that caused Peter and John to be placed in jail. Because of what they stood for and because they told the truth and because their act of healing had been witnessed by many and because they had been with Jesus, their release was the justification for those in power to let them go free. After this, John remained active in the early church and he, along with Peter and James, were regarded as pillars of the church. John continued to serve in this position for many years until his death sometime late in the first century.
John explains the purpose of the Gospel he wrote and it is with his words that I finish. John writes, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”