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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Beloved Disciple

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Term used only in John's Gospel to refer to a disciple for whom Jesus had deep feelings. He has been variously identified as Lazarus, an anonymous source or author of the Gospel, an idealized disciple, or John's reference to himself without using his own name. Church tradition and interpretation of biblical evidence appear to point to John. Modestly he declined to put his name on his literary works. For this reason the one-time “son of thunder” referred to himself as the other disciple whom Jesus loved. Matthew tells of the transfiguration in which Jesus chose an inner circle Peter, James, and John to be witnesses of His glory (Matthew 17:2 ). The inner circle of three narrowed down to one beloved disciple. The references from the Gospel of John reveal the deep love and strong character of John 1:1 . This disciple was next to Jesus at the Lord's Supper, an honored place (John 13:23 ). 2 . A disciple was known to the high priest and at the trial of Jesus managed to get Peter into the court area (John 18:15 ). This other disciple is not explicitly called “beloved disciple.” 3. The beloved disciple was at the cross with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and accepted her into his care (John 19:26-27 ). 4 . The beloved disciple and Peter were told by Mary Magdalene that the tomb was open and Jesus' body was not there. The men ran to the tomb. The other disciple outran Peter, but Peter entered the tomb first. When the other disciple followed and saw the empty tomb, he believed in the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:2-4 ,John 20:2-4,20:8 ). 5 . While fishing on Galilee, this disciple alone recognized the resurrected Jesus on the shore (John 21:7 ). 6 . Peter asked Jesus what plans He had for the beloved disciple. Jesus told Peter not to meddle, but to obey His command to “follow me” (John 21:20-22 ). 7 . The last reference to this disciple is a veiled reference to himself as the writer of this testimony, the Gospel of John (John 21:24 ). Again the phrase “disciple Jesus loved” does not appear here.

Lawson Hatfield

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Beloved Disciple'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/b/beloved-disciple.html. 1991.

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