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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

John the Evangelist

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This eminent Apostle was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman, and of Salome. It is probable that he was born at Bethsaida, on the lake of Galilee. His parents appear to have been in easy circumstances; at least, we find that Zebedee employed hired servants (), and that Salome was among the number of those women who contributed to the maintenance of Jesus (). We also find that John received Mary into his house after the death of Jesus. Since this house seems to have been situated at Jerusalem, it would appear that he was the owner of two houses. John's acquaintance, also, with the high priest () seems to indicate that he lived at Jerusalem, and belonged to the wealthier class. We may suppose that from a tender age he nourished religious feelings, since Salome, who evinced so much love for Jesus, probably fostered at an earlier period those hopes of a Messiah which she expresses in ; and we find that he entered into communion with the Baptist from pure motives. On the hanks of the Jordan the Baptist directed John to Jesus, and he immediately became the Lord's disciple, and accompanied him on his return to Galilee. Having arrived there, he at first resumed his trade, but was afterwards called to remain permanently with the Redeemer (). Jesus was particularly attached to John (; ; ; ), who was one of the three who were distinguished above the other apostles (; ; ). After the ascension, John abode at Jerusalem, where Paul met him on his third journey, about the year 52 (). Since he had undertaken the care of the mother of Jesus, we cannot well suppose that he left Jerusalem before Mary's death; and, indeed, we find that about the year 58, when Paul was at Ephesus, John was not yet living there. If we consider the great importance of Ephesus among the various churches of Asia Minor, and the dangers arising from false teachers, who were prevalent there as early as the days of Paul (), it will appear likely that John was sent to Ephesus after Paul had left that scene, about the year 65. During the time of his activity in Asia Minor he was exiled by the Roman emperor to Patmos, one of the Sporadic isles in the Ægean Sea, where, according to , he wrote the Apocalypse. Irenaeus and, following him, Eusebius state that John beheld the visions of the Apocalypse about the close of the reign of Domitian. If this statement can be depended upon, the exile to Patmos also took place under Domitian, who died A.D. 96. Tertullian relates that in the reign of Domitian John was forcibly conveyed to Rome, where he was thrown into a cask of oil; that he was miraculously released, and then brought to Patmos. But since none of the ancient writers besides the rather undiscriminating Tertullian, relate this circumstance, and since this mode of capital punishment was unheard of at Rome, we ought not to lay much stress upon it. It is, however, likely that John was called to suffer for his faith, since Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, writing about A.D. 200, calls him 'martyr.' According to Eusebius, he returned from exile during the reign of Nerva. The three epistles of John, as also the affecting account concerning his fidelity as a spiritual pastor, given by Clemens Alexandrinus, testify that he was the pastor of a large diocese. John's second Epistle, , and third Epistle, , indicate that he made journeys of pastoral visitation. John died at Ephesus past the age of ninety, in the reign of the Emperor Trajan. According to Jerome, he was a hundred years old, and according to Suidas, a hundred and twenty.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'John the Evangelist'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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