Smith's Bible Dictionary
Apostle. John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman on the
Lake of Galilee, and of Salome, and brother of James, also an apostle.
Peter and James and John come within the innermost circle of their
Lord's friends; but to John belongs the distinction of being the
disciple whom Jesus loved. He hardly sustains the popular notion,
fostered by the received types of Christian art, of a nature gentle,
yielding, feminine. The name Boanerges,
Mar_3:17, implies a
vehemence, zeal, intensity, which gave to those who had it the might of
Sons of Thunder. See James.
The three are with our Lord when none else are, in the chamber of death,Mar_5:37, in the glory of the transfiguration, Mat_17:1, when he forewarns them, of the destruction of the Holy City, Mar_13:3, in the agony of Gethsemane. When the betrayal is accomplished, Peter and John follow afar off. Joh_18:15.
The personal acquaintance which existed between John and Caiaphas, enables him to gain access to the council chamber, praetorium of the Roman procurator.Joh_18:16; Joh_18:19; Joh_18:28. Thence, he follows to the place of crucifixion, and the Teacher leaves to him, the duty of becoming a son to the mother, who is left desolate. Joh_19:26-27.
It is to Peter and John that Mary Magdalene first runs, with the tidings of the emptied sepulchre,Joh_20:2, they are the first to go together, to see what the strange words meant, John running on most eagerly to the rock-tomb; Peter, the least restrained by awe, the first to enter in and look. Joh_20:4-6. For at least eight days, they continue in Jerusalem. Joh_20:26. Later, on the Sea of Galilee, John is the first to recognize, in the dim form seen in the morning twilight, the presence of his risen Lord; Peter, the first to plunge into the water, and swim toward the shore, where he stood calling to them. Joh_21:7.
The last words of John's Gospel reveal to us, the deep affection which united the two friends. The history of the Acts shows the same union. They are together at the ascension on the Day of Pentecost. Together, they enter the Temple as worshippers,Act_3:1, and protest against the threats of the Sanhedrin. Act_4:13. The persecution which was pushed on, by Saul of Tarsus did not drive John from his post. Act_8:1.
Fifteen years after St. Paul's first visit, he was still at Jerusalem, and helped to take part in the settlement of the great controversy, between the Jewish and the Gentile Christians.Act_15:6. His subsequent history, we know only by tradition. There can be no doubt that he removed from Jerusalem, and settled at Ephesus, though at what time is uncertain.
Tradition goes on to relate that, in the persecution under Domitian, he is taken to Rome, and there, by his boldness, though not by death, gains the crown of martyrdom. The boiling oil into which he is thrown has no power to hurt him. He is then sent to labor in the mines, and Patmos is the place of his exile.
The accession of Nerva frees him from danger, and he returns to Ephesus. Heresies continue to show themselves, but he meets them with the strongest possible protest. The very time of his death lies within the region of conjecture, rather than of history, and the dates that have been assigned for it, range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120.
Taken from: Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith (1884)