The Repose of St. John the Theologian (September 26th)

Icon St John the TheologianSt. John the theologian is one of the four evangelists, or authors of the Gospels. St. John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, who were well-to-do fishermen. As a very young man, St. John was a disciple of John the Baptist. He, together with Peter and James, were especially close to Jesus and were with him at special moments such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the Transfiguration. At the Last Supper, St. John leaned on Christ’s bosom. At the crucifixion the Lord Jesus entrusted his mother to Saint John. St. John was a zealous disciple of our Lord and when a Samaritan village did not welcome our Lord he asked that God send down fire on the village. For this reason St. John was named “Son of Thunder.” After Christ’s Ascension he remained in Jerusalem until that city was destroyed by Rome, after which he lived and ministered in Ephesus. For a time he was exiled to the island of Patmos. Although he was tortured by the Romans he died a natural death in great old age.
If we compare St. John’s Gospel with the first three we find that in Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus taught primarily in parables (short stories with a point) and short, pithy sayings. Within the fourth Gospel, Jesus teaches in long theological discourses. For this reason some critics would say that John’s Gospel cannot be relied on.
However, in the first three Gospels Jesus was teaching humble peasants in Galilee while in the fourth Gospel Jesus is addressing the well-educated theologians in Jerusalem and also was addressing his own disciples rather than the crowds.
As mentioned earlier, St. John lived to a ripe old age and wrote his Gospel many decades after the first there. St. John wanted to give a fuller teaching of Christ’s divinity than the first three did. In other words, St. John made what was implicit in the other Gospels explicit. Or to put it another way, St. John had been teaching, preaching and meditating on the Gospels for many years, so some scholars would suggest that St. John gives the deeper meaning of Christ’s words. This is not to say that St. John was “making things up,” rather he was presenting the fullest meaning of Christ’s words and deeds. This means we should always read Christ’s words and deeds in the first three Gospels in the context of John’s Gospel so we can understand them most fully.

Fr. John