The Disciple Jesus Loved: Unsolved Mystery

Photo: Liam Quin “Some Pictures of Books”

One of the commentors on my blog introduced me to this topic. Thanks Chuck. I love a good mystery!

In case you are like me, blissfully ignorant of the assumptions made on our behalf when printers place the title of John on the fourth gospel, let  me the one to break it to you. We aren’t sure John wrote “John.” Don’t let that shake your faith in the inspired Bible. The author was inspired, the titles (and chapters and verses) are not.

There is a lot of information on this topic, so I’d like to do one of my sum-ups to whet your appetite. The following information is from The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, a free e-book by J Phillips.

What does this gospel writer say about himself?

  • He keeps his identity a mystery. No where does he claim his name.
  • He uses the phrases “the beloved disciple” (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”), “another disciple,” or the “other disciple” to designate his part in the story.
  • He claims authorship of the book in 21:24.
  • He is present at the Last Supper reclining beside Jesus. Jesus tells him the identity of the traitor. (13:23-25)
  • He is known by the High Priest and is allowed into Jesus’ trial. (18:15)
  • He is present at the crucifixion. Jesus gives him the responsibility for caring for Mary. (19:26-27)
  • He is present at the empty tomb and is the first to believe in the RISEN Lord. (20:1-10)
  • He is the first to recognize Jesus on the shore of Galilee after the resurrection. (21:7)
  • His method of death is questioned by Peter on the shore of Galilee after the resurrection. It was rumored he wouldn’t die.(21:20-23)

Why does John get the credit?

Tradition, or word of mouth, considers John to be the beloved disciple before the book was attributed to him in the 2nd century. From Wikipedia:

As for early Church opinions on the disciple’s identification, a 2nd century quote of Polycrates of Ephesus (c. 130s – 196), recorded by Eusebius in his Church History, supports the classical identification of the Beloved Disciple, who reclined beside Jesus at the Last Supper, with John.

John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus.~ Eusebius

Because of this tradition, the reasoning for John starts cycling on itself…

  • John is the beloved disciple.
  • The beloved disciple wrote the fourth gospel.
  • John wrote the fourth gospel.
  • The beloved disciple is assumed to be John.

That reads a little wonky, but that is how the thinking occurs. Boiled down, it is believed John wrote the fourth gospel because within the earliest phase of Christianity his name was associated with this gospel.

Why does it matter?

John is printed as the title of the fourth gospel in every Bible I’ve read. When it isn’t certain that John is the author, why? And does it do any damage to have the wrong name associated with the authorship? I believe the two most important reasons it matters are:

  1. The author wanted to remain anonymous. (“John” 21:24)
  2. Truth matters. The title of “John” is extra-Biblical information that introduces a few contradictions into the inspired Word of God. (Psalm 118:8)

Why would the author not want his name associated with this book? We don’t know for sure, but he may give us a clue in “John” 20:31. “But these have been writtenso that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ,  the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” The goal for his book was that people find life in the name of Jesus. Maybe the author believed his name would not serve that goal?

When you superimpose John on to the disciple Jesus loved, the text begins to contradict itself in a few places. For instance, if John (the text says another disciple) was present at Jesus’ trial in chapters 18-19, then he would have been known by Annas, the high priest (18:15).  Yet, we read in Acts 4:13-16 that John wasn’t recognized as being with Jesus by Annas until after Peter’s speech. A contradiction, unless the other disciple wasn’t John. Read more about the argument against John.

Who fits better?

This is where the mystery gets exciting! Using only the evidence found in the inspired text, and not tradition, there are clues to the author’s identity.

  • The author displays a deeper understanding of Christology than the other gospel writers. (“John” 1:1-5 and elsewhere) This may indicate a more intimate and personal experience with Jesus as DIVINITY. Can we find a man who would have this knowledge from experience?
  • The author’s desire for anonymity may indicate his identity may distract from his stated goal to point people to Christ. Can we find a man whose fame would rival Jesus’ in context?
  • The author uses Jesus’ particular love for him as a means to identify himself. Can we find a man Jesus was known to have particularly loved in the text alone outside of tradition?
  • Yes, we can!

From “John” 11-12:

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.  “Take away the stone,” he said.“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

Could the mystery author of the fourth gospel be Lazarus? I think its a good possibility. Lazarus KNEW who Jesus was. Because of his unique experience with death, Lazarus witnessed the glory of God and lived to tell us about it. His fame resulted in the sizable crowds between Bethany and Jerusalem as Jesus’ rode on the donkey, and  in his own death warrant. Some notable speculation:

  • The other disciple and Peter alone follow Jesus to trial and the cross. Could his resurrection have instilled a courage in Lazarus not found in the other disciples (except Peter and the women) until after Pentecost? He wasn’t afraid to die. Been there, done that!
  • The other disciple saw the corpse shroud of Jesus and believed in His resurrection. Lazarus would have a unique experience with death clothes AND what the empty state of them meant! Been there, done that!

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. ~”John” 20

  • On the beach of Galilee, Peter is curious about the other disciple’s death after hearing Jesus prophecy about his own. Wouldn’t this curiosity be natural if the other disciple was Lazarus? After all, it was rumored the other disciple wouldn’t die. Been there, done that!

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. ~”John ” 21

I challenge you to read through the fourth gospel this week with Lazarus in mind as the other disciple. I am amazed.  Jesus is glorified. I believe in His Name.

Where can you read more?

http://www.thedisciplewhomjesusloved.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciple_whom_Jesus_loved

http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/beloved-disciple.html

http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/disciple-jesus-loved-lazarus-faq.htm

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21 thoughts on “The Disciple Jesus Loved: Unsolved Mystery

  1. Okay, I’m curious…I printed Phillips’ book off, will read it, and let you know. In a quick research, I found one problem with Lazarus as author:

    Mark 14:17 (and parallels in Mt 26:20, Lk 22:14) indicate that no one except the apostles were at the last supper.

    We’ll see if Phillips addresses this, too.

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    1. I’m went through the authorship possibilities of that book a few years ago and didn’t come away from any strong opinions (though I lean toward the traditional view of John being the author). But I did learn it’s often hard to draw conclusions based on who is or isn’t specifically listed as being present. Their culture was must more community based than ours so it was uncommon for people to be alone in the sense we think of. There were usually people around. It was simply a part of the culture and they saw no reason to list everyone. For example:

      Mark 4: 10 (NIV) When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.

      None of us were consider being surrounded by 20 people ‘alone’. Saying he’s alone is very much a relative term – he was amongst friends and family rather than the crowds. I don’t think I agree with Lazarus as author, but we probably can’t rule him out based when a lack of explicit reference to him.

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      1. Ah, I should have remembered that. I hope that didn’t come across “you just don’t know non-Western cultures”

        Someone I know told me a story from when he was studying in Jordan(?). He’d was worn out from about a week where he literally hadn’t been alone at all except to shower/use the bathroom. So he found a small out of the way room to read, until several locals he didn’t even know (but affiliated with the same organization) noticed him, thought “that poor guy must be lonely”, and started a two hour conversation. I wouldn’t have handled the situation as politely as he did. Or adapted to Brazil as well as you 🙂

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  2. I think it’s John.

    But I’ll tell you the real mystery.

    Who wrote Hebrews. Tradition claims it was Paul. But the writing style is so NOT Paul I can’t possibly be.

    If you read Hebrews you will note that the greeting has been severed off but the closing is still intact.

    There are many guesses concerning authorship.
    The most intriguing to me is the possibility of it being Priscilla. No conclusive evidence. But wouldn’t it be cool if it was her?

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    1. Good point Sidney. I didn’t make my argument very clear. I went back and tried to clarify.

      It isn’t that Annas didn’t recognize that John had been with Jesus, but WHEN he recognized it. If Annas knew John as the fourth gospel tells us, why did it take Peter’s speech and debating before they realized these were disciples of Jesus?
      “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. ”

      If that still is unclear, Phillips does a better job explaining here:
      http://thedisciplewhomjesusloved.com/fourth-gospel-author-not-John/
      Scroll down to A Hidden Key in the Book of Acts
      “The thing to notice here is that those leaders were learning obvious and elementary facts about the two men who were before them, and Acts 4:13 goes on to say that “they took knowledge of them [Peter and John] that they had been with Jesus”. [In the Greek this reads, “they recognized them that with Jesus they were”.] The telltale discoveries that were being made by those leaders during this event make it perfectly clear that Peter and John were not recognized by, or familiar to, these religious leaders.”

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  3. …yes, authorship of the fourth gospel matters. The greatest scriptural measure by which the greatest degree of scriptural certainty might be achieved in discerning the true identity of him whose testimony we know by faith is true is…belief in Christ resurrected…without which Jesus beloved disciple could not have had any good reason to testify thereby, much less whereby to write. [(John) 20:31 KJV]. Either one follows the Apostle John “to the heart of Jesus” in unbelief first, only to be rebuked by the risen Lord for unbelief in the testimony of them that saw Jesus with their own eyes after he was risen again from the dead
    (Mark 16:14 KJV)…or one follows Lazarus of Bethany “to the heart of Jesus” because Lazarus of Bethany was the first to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead [(John) 20:8 KJV]. The Apostle John was a bold Apostolic member of the body of Christ, for Jesus set him so…”son of thunder”…however, if I follow John son of Zebedee in accordance with a doctrinal tradition of men, then I shall be walking contrary to what I first believed when I heard the report…Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
    Only a man who first believed Jesus was risen from the dead could lend the greatest degree of scriptural credibility as a reliable eye-witness to testify of and write these things. Only a man whom Jesus raised from the dead could be a living breathing testimony to the power of God’s only acquired, empowered, and glorified (adopted) Son. There he was…Lazarus of Bethany….whose dead body after four days was reeking with a stinking savor in spite of the apothecaries best efforts. Then Jesus raised him from the dead. Now Lazarus is a living testimony to the power of Christ…he didn’t actually need to say or write anything…all he had to do to testify of Christ’s authority was to simply stand there and breathe.
    Here we are now reading this testimony of this resurrected friend of our only Lord and Saviour, and we read in another place…”For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Hebrews 9:16,17 KJV
    The amazing thing is, Lazarus had already died once…so his testimony of Christ had even more power to it after Jesus raised him from the dead. It was by reason of Lazarus that many of the Jews went their way believing on Jesus. And so it is today that many go their way believing on Jesus by reason of Lazarus. If you approach the fourth gospel believing that the apostle John wrote it, then you approach The Doctrine of Christ Resurrected in unbelief first, much like the Apostle John did shortly before Jesus rebuked him for it.

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      1. Oh, but Lazarus did “claim” to be the author of the fourth gospel…
        (John) 21:24 KJV. If you recall, the resurrected Lazarus presented a number of problems to the establishment. First, many of the Jews were going their way believing on Jesus because of Lazarus who was dead (and they were all witnesses to this fact) but was now alive. Second, there is the position Lazarus held prior to his death. I suggest you read “Lazarus and The Fourth Gospel Community” by Frederick W. Baltz.
        The chief priests were plotting to kill Lazarus along with their plot to kill Jesus. So if those vipers had succeeded in their murderous plot to kill a man after he had already died and lived again by the power of God, then the testimony Lazarus was commissioned by Jesus to write would never have been written. Fortunately for us Lazarus did write it. Was he hiding behind a seeming elusive moniker…”the disciple whom Jesus loved”…out of fear for his life? Hardly, otherwise there would be obvious and considerable doubt coloring his testimony throughout the entirety of his gospel testimony…and never once did Jesus beloved disciple testify that Jesus preached unbelief precedes belief. I’ll leave you with this also to consider. Jesus said…
        “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John) 15:15 KJV.
        If Jesus called them ‘friends’ unto whom The Word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, why then do traditionalists say of John son of Zebedee that he is called servant again at the advent of Revelation 1 KJV?
        Which do you suppose came first: The Revelation of Jesus Christ proclaimed to Israel…OR…The Revelation of Jesus Christ made manifest to Israel?

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      2. Littlewitness, with what follows your “Oh, but Lazarus did “claim” to be the author of the fourth gospel…”, I’m not quite certain how it qualifies as a “claim”, nor does it appear to address Kay’s question, “Do you have any theories of why Lazarus did not claim the gospel?”.

        If it is as you suggest, and it was so patently obvious, why has the Church, for centuries, affixed John’s name across the top of the 4th Gospel? You provided what you believe is evidence that Lazarus was the 4th Gospel’s author, but unless I misunderstood what you wrote (which is entirely possible), I don’t see that as an answer to Kay’s question.

        The Apostle John had absolutely no identifiable motivation to conceal his authorship (at least none that I can think of), but Lazarus, who had achieved rock-star like status, may have become concerned that he was garnering far too much attention. He may have wanted to deflect the focus from his resurrection to the ONE and only one who forever conquered death, both physical and spiritual.

        It’s really quite a mystery why his name (or his raising) is not recorded in any of the Synoptics and only found in a few chapters of the 4th Gospel. Omitting what arguably may have been the greatest of all recorded miracles, is mind boggling.

        I have found it interesting that those who promote John’s 4th Gospel authorship, never seem to deal with the obvious. They not only fail to address Kay’s question, but neither do they recognize the elephant in the room, namely, why it was that John was called “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved”.

        There’s not one shred of Biblical or extra-Biblical evidence suggesting that John was more beloved than the rest. It’s always assumed by circular reasoning. Since da Vinci painted John next to Jesus as they posed for that last photo op (just kidding of course :), people assume he was the beloved disciple. And why did da Vinci paint it that way (with only twelve plus Jesus in the room)? Because of the anecdotal evidence from Iranaeus (which is extremely flimsy). The Church has ignored the most obvious problems with Johanine authorship. And unfortunately, conservative scholars have gone to the mat on this one furthering critics of the Bible’s jaundiced view. They (the conservative scholars) could have easily eaten a little crow, recognized their error and moved on. Instead, they muddy the waters and bring on the criticism that could have been avoided.

        At any rate, Littlewitness, do you have any answers to Kay’s question? I’d like to see it explored a bit further since I am at a loss to provide anything but conjecture. What has perplexed me is that, if whomever wrote the 4th Gospel, wrote the 3 Epistles of John and the Revelation (and that seems like a fair assumption), why did Lazarus (perhaps John Eleazar) reveal himself multiple times in the Revelation?

        As a sidebar note, there’s both Biblical and historical evidence that points to the Apostle John not living in the late AD 90’s but in fact dying during the Neronic Persecution which ended the lives of the majority of the Church from AD 64-66. But that may be fodder for another thought-provoking Happy Sunrise blog post. LoL

        Thanks for the invigorating discussion, Kay. 🙂

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  4. Hi,

    (sorry my english)

    Among the various hypothesis, I’ve read that the “beloved disciple” can be only a symbol. Remember that in the Gospel of Luke, Peter was alone when he went to the tomb. Then in John he was with the beloved disciple. Maybe the “beloved disciple” is all of us?

    When I see discussions about the beloved disciple people say these who are named aren’t him. Lazaru’s name is said again when they were taking a meal in his house. If he was the beloved disciple why not omitting his name since then? Yes there’s that passage that says “Lord, he whom you love is ill” but to me this too explicit. Not eliminating him to the hypothesis, just thoughts.

    Other thing that I thought, how can we know that the “other disciple” and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” are the same? Because sometimes the “other disciple” is a sentence alone, without “whom Jesus loved”.

    Whether the beloved was Lazarus, John,etc, does it matters this much to the Catholic Church? If one day a strong evidence proves the tradiction wrong, what issues could it bring?

    Surely the Apostle John is important enough, even if he’s not the beloved he belongs to the inner circle of Jesus with Peter and James. He witnessed important miracles like the Transfiguration and the raising of Jairu’s daughter with them.

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    1. Lin, if I communicated as clearly as you do in a second language, I’d be extremely proud. You are more articulate than most Americans. LoL

      Regarding your theory, though it’s intriguing, I think it lacks a bit of credibility and has some rather expansive holes. If in fact the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved (DWJL) was supposed to be a symbolic representation of all of us, how could Jesus have entrusted all of us with the care of His mother? She left that very hour with someone. 🙂

      John 19:27 (NASB) Then He [Jesus] said to THE DISCIPLE, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

      Also, your theory would mean that we all participated in the writing of the 4th Gospel, since it was written by the DWJL. And, there’s nothing in the context in any passages of the 4th Gospel that sanctions some sort of symbolic representation. The DWJL was addressed as “he”.

      John 21:23 (NASB) Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that THAT DISCIPLE would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

      Lin, did you or I testify to those first generation events as eyewitnesses? 🙂

      John 21:24 (NASB) This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

      If you follow the continuity of the usage of the DWJL and the “another disciple” / “other disciple”, specifically with reference to chapters 18-21 in the 4th Gospel, I’m confident you will find they are one in the same person. The terms are used interchangeably.

      John 18:15-16 (NASB) Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was ANOTHER DISCIPLE. Now THAT DISCIPLE was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, 16 but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the OTHER DISCIPLE, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter in.

      John 19:26-27 (NASB) When Jesus then saw His mother, and THE DISCIPLE WHOM HE LOVED standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He said to THE DISCIPLE, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour THE DISCIPLE took her into his own household.

      John 20:2-4 (NASB) So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the OTHER DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 So Peter and the OTHER DISCIPLE went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and the OTHER DISCIPLE ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first;

      John 21:2 (NASB) Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two OTHERS OF HIS DISCIPLES were together.

      John 21:7 (NASB) Therefore THAT DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.

      John 21:20 (NASB) Peter, turning around, saw THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”

      From the flow of usage, especially John 20:2, we see the “OTHER DISCIPLE” coupled with “WHOM JESUS LOVED.”

      So, though I may be wrong, I’m confident that the DWJL and the other references to “another disciple” or “other disciple are one in the same person. There were only 7 disciples mentioned at the lake in John 21, 5 are named and two are unnamed. However, we find that one of the two is the DWJL.

      With regard to your comment, what difference does it make, I think truth always matters. Since the evidence for the Apostle John’s writing of the 4th Gospel has been so resoundingly questioned, I believe conservatives who believe in the inspiration of Scripture need to answer the challenges. I would have no problem if no author was affixed atop the 4th Gospel, but I think it does the Scripture grave disservice by naming the wrong author.

      I believe had Lazarus been credited with 4th Gospel authorship from the earliest times, no one would be questioning his authorship today… at least none who care deeply about the Word of God.

      Clearly the Apostle John was extremely valuable to the early church and for the explosive propagation of the Gospel. He was one of the chosen 12 and as such should be esteemed. However, had he not been credited with writing the 4th Gospel, I don’t think he would be included in the inner circle. Did you know that Matthew never mentioned him by name? No once! He was always referenced as the brother of James or James’ little brother etc.

      Did you also know that the Apostle John is only referenced 4 times in Matthew’s Gospel:

      Mt 4:21 – Mending Nets – James and his brother John
      Mt 10:2 – Naming the 12 – James and John his brother
      Mt 17:1 – Transfiguration – and John the brother of James
      Mt 26:37 Garden of Gethsemane Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him

      In every event where John is named, he is always with his older brother, James.

      In large part the reason the Apostle John is considered one of the most prominent disciples is due to circular reasoning. Since he’s assumed to be the DWJL, this means that he was Jesus’ most trusted friend and so beloved that he was entrusted to care for Jesus’ mother. Yet, if all the things that are attributed to John as the DWJL (known by the high priest, wouldn’t die etc.) are not true and attributed to the wrong person, John’s status would be greatly diminished.

      Again, I’m not in the least saying that John wasn’t important or that he wasn’t a pivotal member of the early church. I just believe his persona has been greatly exaggerated.

      To your question, “If one day a strong evidence proves the tradiction wrong, what issues could it bring?” That moment is already here. There are 3 convincing pieces of incontrovertible evidence that the Apostle John was not the 4th Gospel’s author. And not one characteristic attributed to the DWJL fits the Apostle John.

      Last comments:.

      1. I don’t believe that one event where John is named as present in the other 3 Gospels, is found in the 4th Gospel.

      2. None of the three most life-changing events in which John participated, are recorded in the 4th Gospel. This is the greatest oddity. Why would he write an eyewitness account and then no include the 3 most life changing events in which he witnessed?

      A) The transfiguration is mentioned in all 3 synoptics but not in the the 4th Gospel

      B) The Garden of Gethsemane is found in 2 out 3 of the synoptics, but not in the 4th Gospel

      C) The raising of Jairus’ daughter is found in 2 out of the 3 synoptics, but not in the 4th Gospel

      Does any of this matter? Yes, I think truth always matters. Thanks for your thoughts and I hope I’ve justly handled your questions and assertions. Lord bless you, Lin. 🙂

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  5. I know this is an old post, but just wondering… the “another disciple” in John 18:15 was known to the priest, and he was let in because of it. But in John 12:9-10, the priest was making plans to kill Lazarus. It seems like he would have a hard time getting in…

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    1. Billy, you make an excellent point and one that I am embarrassed to admit, I had not fully considered. So, after reading through the various connected accounts, I have to say that it does seem odd that a wanted man, and one with such a high profile, would be admitted beyond the gates.

      My initial reaction (which I need to consider further) is that since the authorities now had Jesus (their ring leader) in custody, they may have determined that this was sufficient to quell the disturbance. They may have decided that once they cut off the head of the movement, the others would become a non-factor and fade away. And, with the exception of the DWJL, that is in fact what happened until Jesus appeared to the 12 after the resurrection. So in the heat of the moment, the religious elite may been angered only for a season by the way the crowds were responding to Lazarus, Regardless, this is one I will have to ruminate on.

      We know based upon Acts 4, that this “other disciple” couldn’t have been the Apostle John since it’s clear that he was a complete unknown to the entire group of elders, priests and scribes present during the questioning of both Peter and John.

      “5 On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; 6 and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent.”

      If either Peter or John had been known to the High Priest, we wouldn’t expect the following reaction:

      “13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

      And if we follow this “other disciple” through the passage, we see him emerge in John 20.

      “2 So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

      So we now have the clear connection that this “other disciple” who was known by the High Priest, was in fact the DWJL. Therefore, since this “other disciple” couldn’t have been John, Lazarus is the only other viable choice.

      However, Billy, you have caused me slight pause. Again, I think I’ll have to ponder this for a while and think through the possibilities. Thanks again for sharing what I should have already considered. Bravo!

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      1. A few more questions/observation:
        Lazarus is never mentioned in conjunction with the other disciples, yet the assumption is that he was one of the seven that went fishing in John 21, we know that John was one of those 7.
        Why was the passover held at a random house in Jerusalem rather than at Lazarus’s house? It would not have been the first time that Jesus and His disciples had stayed there, and it was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and just about as far from the garden as Jerusalem.

        As far as Acts 4, that could also be translated “They perceived that they had been with Jesus.” It is not the recognition of them as individuals that they did not previously know, but the recognition that these were disciples of Jesus.

        George MacDonald says that he thinks that John wrote his gospel to fill in what the others seemed to miss: The transfiguration is mentioned in the others, as well as those other events. Scripture is, after all, inspired by God regardless of the human author. And if the writer was John, then the Spirit did not see fitting that those events should be added.

        You said that truth matters. What is truth? I am not saying this to mock, but Paul tells Timothy to teach others not to wrangle about words (2 Timothy 2:14), and yet KJV only people will say that truth matters, and that their translation is closest to the truth because of it’s origins and wording. But is not truth a greater revealing of who God is? I do not see how the name of the author changes that.

        I do not think much of Church tradition; much of it comes from the paganism that Constantine introduced, and it is difficult to sort much of it out two centuries later.
        However, they were closer chronologically to the time then we are today, and I can see no reason that they would give credit to John over Lazarus for writing the fourth Gospel.

        John was there from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and the author of the gospel says that he testified of the things written (John 21:24). He may have started as Jesus’ 13 year-old kid cousin. He was the only one of the 12 disciples that may not have been martyred. As it seems to be the latest gospel, John would have had most likely had the most time to reflect on everything that happened and even more time to write a less technical, more personal narrative of the One he had grown to love and the One he was sure loved him.

        Just more thoughts, nothing conclusive. I don’t think we will ever know for sure until eternity.

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      2. BILLY WROTE: A few more questions/observation:
        Lazarus is never mentioned in conjunction with the other disciples, yet the assumption is that he was one of the seven that went fishing in John 21, we know that John was one of those 7.

        MY RESPONSE: Too many questions/observations to deal with succinctly. They’re all over the map. You raised one good initial question but beyond that most of it has been covered and answered.

        There is no such assumption as stated. We know that there were at least 7 with Jesus at the lake. But if you think that there were only actually 6 with the author purposely misleading his audience, then so be it. Personally, I think it makes a whole lot more sense if John is not named twice and someone other than John is the DWJL. Why would the author specifically reference the Sons of Zebedee and then refer to two other disciples (one of which was the DWJL) if one of the two others was also John?

        There is a huge difference between being named as either one of the 12 (or after Judas died as one of the 11) disciples, and simply referring to disciples generically. There were many disciples and the 12 were part of that larger contingent. In Acts 1, Luke records a gathering of approx 120. Were they not all disciples of Christ?

        “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together)… (Acts 1:12-15)

        BILLY WROTE: Why was the passover held at a random house in Jerusalem rather than at Lazarus’s house? It would not have been the first time that Jesus and His disciples had stayed there, and it was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and just about as far from the garden as Jerusalem.

        MY RESPONSE: And you know for certain that this was not Lazarus home, how? Where in the 3 synoptic accounts did you learn this? Whether it was or was not Lazarus’ home, makes little difference, but, in keeping with the Synoptics not mentioning Lazarus by name, it very well could have been Lazarus’ home. At the very least it is most likely that Lazarus was an integral part of this arrangement.

        “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” 19 The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.” (Matt 26:18-19) The other accounts are found in Luke 22:10-13 and Mark 14:13-15.

        BILLY WROTE: As far as Acts 4, that could also be translated “They perceived that they had been with Jesus.” It is not the recognition of them as individuals that they did not previously know, but the recognition that these were disciples of Jesus.

        MY RESPONSE: This misses the point. The fact is that neither Peter nor John were immediately recognized by the High Priest or his cohorts. Their reaction is not consistent with John 18 when the 4th Gospel author made clear that the DWJL was known by the high priest. Matter of fact, the 4th Gospel author makes this statement twice for obvious emphasis. Finally realizing that Peter and John had been seen with Jesus, is a far cry from John being recognized as one who was known to the High Priest.

        BILLY WROTE: George MacDonald says that he thinks that John wrote his gospel to fill in what the others seemed to miss: The transfiguration is mentioned in the others, as well as those other events. Scripture is, after all, inspired by God regardless of the human author. And if the writer was John, then the Spirit did not see fitting that those events should be added.

        MY REPONSE: George MacDonald is entitled to his opinion and it is mine that he ignores the abundance of evidence to the contrary. If you are unfamiliar with this overwhelming evidence, I suggest you read the material found at http://www.thedisciplewhomjesusloved.com/Index.cfm.

        I suppose one can conclude that the vast differences between the synoptics and the 4th Gospel were due to the author simply wanting to “fill in what others seemed to miss”. However, I think it’s much more plausible to recognize the stark contrast in writing styles (very different from the Galilean accounts), the focus of events and the intimate knowledge the 4th Gospel author shared with the priestly contingent. Since we are merely asking questions, the fact that the 4th Gospel’s author chose to not include any of the 3 most life-changing events to which he was an eyewitness (transfiguration, Garden and Jairus’ daughter), seems rather odd, don’t you think? It doesn’t prove anything but it certainly doesn’t bolster the Johanine authorship argument either.

        Why even assert that “Scripture is after all inspired”? Seriously, that’s a given. And the only way to demean and distort God’s Word is to ascribe authorship to the wrong person. So although determining authorship is important and can give us greater insight into his writings, it is far more vital to pin the tail on the wrong author. This only serves to cause confusion. I would much prefer no author’s name was affixed atop the 4th Gospel. But by forcing the Apostle John into this role, with a plethora of proofs that it could not have been the Apostle John, does us all a disservice.

        BILLY WROTE: You said that truth matters. What is truth? I am not saying this to mock, but Paul tells Timothy to teach others not to wrangle about words (2 Timothy 2:14), and yet KJV only people will say that truth matters, and that their translation is closest to the truth because of it’s origins and wording. But is not truth a greater revealing of who God is? I do not see how the name of the author changes that.

        MY RESPONSE: Sounds rather condescending to me but I’ll take your word for it. Falsely insinuating that I am in violation of Paul’s exhortation to not “wrangle about words”, seems rather presumptuous. I’d back off a bit if I were you. Yes, truth clearly matter in ALL things, not the least of which pertains to the Word of God. But Billy, who is doing the wrangling? The author of this blog, other contributors and I, are attempting to esteem the Word.

        Further, if Paul’s 2 Tim 2:14 warning applies to the conversation at this blog, then I find it strange that you would engage in the wrangling? No one here is denying any essential doctrine. And if you don’t see how ascribing the wrong author can become a serious stumbling block to the authority of Scripture, then I can’t help you.

        Liberal scholars are convinced that John could not be the author for many of the same reasons suggested in this thread. Yet, if conservative scholars insist they are wrong and continue to provide what I believe are lame answers to their objections, then the conservatives lose credibility. And this causes serious reverberations. It’s my view that if Lazarus had originally been presumed to be the DWJL, there would be almost universal agreement today.

        BILLY WROTE: However, they were closer chronologically to the time then we are today, and I can see no reason that they would give credit to John over Lazarus for writing the fourth Gospel.

        MY RESPONSE: There are numerous reasons why the Apostle John may have been given credit. All speculative in nature. The silence that existed from AD 66 to approx 110 is deafening. So to reconstruct some of these things is extremely difficult. Some insist that Apostolic authorship was used to arrest the book from the clenches of the Gnostics. The fact is that there were a zillion Johns at that time. Even Mark was known as John Mark. There was an Elder John who has been suggested as potential author or co-author. And Lazarus was also known as John Eleazar. The point is that we must first appeal to Scripture and allow the Bible to interpret itself. It unequivocally proves that the Apostle John was not the author. Beyond that we can’t be certain. However, putting all the evidence together points to Lazarus.

        Whether it was the Apostle John or Lazarus who peered into the empty tomb and noticed the head cloth neatly folded in the corner, will not change the validity or reality of the resurrection. To that we all agree.

        However, if Lazarus was the one who was the first to believe in contrast to the 11 (which would have included John) who were disillusioned and fearful as they hovelled in the room… then that makes the event come alive and brings a far greater sense of awe. How amazing if the one who had been raised and wore similar grave clothes not that long before, was the first to have believed without seeing the risen Christ. How heartening to believe that the fearless man who sat at the foot of the cross with his sister and Jesus’ mother, while all the disciples fled in fear, was the one who was seemingly impervious to death. How revealing is it when the one who was known to have been specifically loved by Jesus, is not only sitting next to his close friend at the last supper, but was so the one so emboldened to ask the infamous “who?” question even impetulant Peter was afraid to ask?

        BILLY WROTE: John was there from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and the author of the gospel says that he testified of the things written (John 21:24). He may have started as Jesus’ 13 year-old kid cousin. He was the only one of the 12 disciples that may not have been martyred. As it seems to be the latest gospel, John would have had most likely had the most time to reflect on everything that happened and even more time to write a less technical, more personal narrative of the One he had grown to love and the One he was sure loved him.

        MY RESPONSE: So also was Lazarus with Him from the beginning. One of the two disciples (the other being Andrew) mentioned in John 1:35-42 was a disciple of John the Baptist and most likely a contemporary. Interesting that only Andrew is identified. The other disciple was never named.

        There is not only resounding prophetic testimony from Jesus, but there is also historical evidence suggesting that the Apostle John was martyred near the end of the Neronic persecution (64-66 AD). http://www.buzzsprout.com/11633/94331-neronic-persecution-ad-64

        “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” 22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” 23 He *said to them, “MY CUP YOU SHALL DRINK; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” (Matthew 20:20-23)

        This is a declaration of martyrdom. So why do so many think, contrary to Jesus’ prophetic word, that John lived to a ripe old age? Because they rely upon sketchy anecdotal evidence from Irenaeus written more than 100 years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Most agree that James was the first disciple martyred. So why conclude that John wasn’t martyred as well.

        BILLY WROTE: Just more thoughts, nothing conclusive. I don’t think we will ever know for sure until eternity.

        Yes, you offered nothing conclusive. Just questions. I agree. But you seem bothered by those who are trying to do more than just ask questions. Since you say that it doesn’t really matter who wrote the 4th Gospel, then why not agree that it was Lazarus?

        I think if we weigh all the evidence, we can determine who the 4th Gospel author wasn’t. And that’s the point. Determining who it was, after knowing that it wasn’t John, is a healthy exercise.

        But I find that many of those who believe in Johanine authorship, assume what they need to prove. They use circular reasoning. They ascribe all of the characteristics that pertain to the DWJL, directly to the Apostle John. Then they build a case from there. They assume John was rich and had a house nearby for Jesus’ mother to live in. They assume he was the bravest of all because he was at the cross. They assume he was Jesus’ best friend because he was seated next to Jesus at the Last Supper. They assume that the rumor went out that he would not die, yet Jesus stated that he would die. And the list goes on. But if John didn’t write the 4th Gospel, then none of these things give an accurate portrayal of John. And, quite frankly, nothing learned about the Apostle John from the synoptics, corroborate the things we know about the DWJL from the 4th Gospel.

        I’ve run out of time and won’t be able to revisit this for while. Good luck in your questioning, but I hope you find a few answers.

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