John the Apostle was one of the original 12 apostles. He is the author of five New Testament books, including the Gospel of John, which is sometimes called the book of John. John, his brother James and their father Zebedee were Galilean fisherman. Jesus called John and James to leave their careers as fishermen and to become His apostles. Soon after, John and James became part of an inner circle around Jesus with Peter and sometimes Andrew. John along with Andrew had been disciples of John the Baptist and became followers of Jesus after He was baptized by John the Baptist.
John was the "beloved disciple" who leaned on Jesus during the Last Supper (John 13:23), who was "known to the high priest" (John 18:15), who was entrusted by Jesus with the care of His mother Mary (John 19:26), and who outran Peter to the empty tomb (John 20:2-4). After the resurrection, John appears as one of the leaders of the early church.
According to Papias, one of John's disciples, John later went to the city of Ephesus. He was exiled under Emperor Domitian to the island Patmos. It was there that he wrote the Book of Revelation, which is the 27th book of the New Testament. Under Nerva, John returned to Ephesus, and there composed the Gospel of John, the 4th book of the New Testament, and three Epistles, called John 1, John 2, John 3. John reportedly died at a very old age.
John and his brother James were called the "Sons of thunder" by Jesus (Mark 3:17).
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was born to the elderly Zechariah and his barren wife Elizabeth (similar to Abraham and Sarah). Elizabeth was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and both became pregnant a few months apart. (Luke 1:41-42). Both were visited by the angel, Gabriel.
John grew up in the wilderness and preached in the wilderness. His message was for people to repent because the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2). John baptized his followers in the Jordan River, to signify the drowning of their old life and their emergence from the water into a new life. John, as did Jesus later on, ran into conflict with the Pharisees and Sadducees for whom he had sharp words (Matthew 3:7-12).
John baptized Jesus, and proclaimed Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus Himself appraised John in Matthew 11:7-15. John was much more than a prophet, surpassing his predecessors in greatness, and comparable to Elijah. But John's generation did not accept him, alleging instead that he was demon possessed (Matthew 11:17-18).
John's role as forerunner to Jesus was alluded to in a prophecy from Isaiah 40:3, which spoke of A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." There is another prophecy, in Malachi 3:1, that also alludes to John the Baptist's role in preparing the way for Jesus Christ.
John was beheaded AD 29 by Herod Antipas who imprisoned him in revenge for John's condemnation of his incestuous marriage to his brother's wife (Luke 3:19-20). Herodias' daughter, danced for Herod, who rewarded her by offering her whatever she wished. On the advice of her mother, she requested the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod was grieved at being requested to execute him, but having given his oath before witnesses, he commanded that it be done (Matthew 14:1-11, Mark 6:14-28).
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