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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

SAINT JOHN, next to Saint Paul, is perhaps the most prominent of the twelve apostles. He was a son of Zebedee, along with his brother James, who was also an apostle. John was from Galilee and was likely a fisherman by trade. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and it was Andrew and perhaps John who started following Jesus when John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God. John later introduced his brother James to Jesus. He lived to be around 100 years old and died about 100 A.D. John outlived the other apostles and was the only one who died a natural death.

John held, and will hold, several important offices in the Church. First, he was one of the twelve apostles of the Lord. Those twelve had the special and unique powers of being plenipotentiaries, inspiration, infallibility in their teachings, binding and loosing, and bestowing the gifts of the spirit. Jesus paired up the twelve two by two as they went out to preach and cast out unclean spirits. John and his brother James were paired together and undoubtedly complimented each other well, James being perhaps the oldest and John the youngest of the apostles. Of the twelve original apostles, Peter, James, and John seemed especially close to the Lord. They were the three whom Jesus took with Him up into the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17: 1); they were the only ones He allowed in the room with Him when He raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5: 37); and these were the ones whom He took deeper into the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal (Mark 14: 33). Of these three, it appears that John was especially singled out by the fact that Jesus, when He was being crucified, entrusted His mother to John’s care (John 19: 26, 27). Peter and John were also used greatly by the Lord, beginning with Pentecost. Shortly after Pentecost, these two were in the Temple, preaching boldly and healing diseases (Acts 3, 4).

Second, John was a star member of the Church (Revelation 1: 16). According to this passage, our Lord held seven stars in His right hand, but let us recognize that there were not merely seven individual star members, but seven composite stars, each star composed of several individuals, one set for each of the seven stages of the Church, totaling 49 altogether. For example, the first stage of the Church was Ephesus (Revelation 2: 1). That was the Apostolic Church which began in 29 A.D. and ended in 69 A.D. It consisted of twelve star members – the twelve apostles. Star members are sometimes referred to as the Lord’s eye, hand, and mouth. They were the only ones authorized by Him to officially bring forth advancing Truth as due to the Church and the household of faith.

Third, John was a principal man (Micah 5: 5). In this passage the seven shepherds are the same as the seven stars and the seven angels of Revelation, in other words, the seven sets of star members. Each of the first six stages of the Church had a principal man and the seventh stage had two. The principal man of the first stage of the Church was Paul. The principal man of the second, or Smyrna, stage of the Church was John. The principal men were the most important star members of each stage and were used by the Lord the most fruitfully.

John was a Bible writer. He wrote the gospel of John, the most prominent of the four gospels. Note that John never refers to himself by name, but humbly as “that disciple which Jesus loved,” again showing his close relationship with the Lord. He also wrote the three epistles bearing his name. John is sometimes mistakenly called the writer of the book of Revelation however, Jesus was the writer of that book, with John serving as His amanuensis.

John’s Saintly Character

John possessed a saintly character. We ask: What was it about his character that specially endeared him to the Lord. We answer: John was naturally loving, gentle, and meek, and those natural qualities continued to develop into beautiful graces through the working of the holy spirit in his heart and in his conduct. John appreciated companionship, and apparently comprehended better than the other apostles the truth which Jesus taught concerning the partnership which His disciples were to enjoy with Him in this life and in the future Kingdom glory. This is reflected in his writings:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15: 5).

“My Father is the husbandman” (John 15: 1).

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (John 15: 9).

“I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14: 2).

“I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14: 3).

“It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3: 2).

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1: 3).

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me” (John 17: 24).

John possessed deep humility. In his first epistle he makes no reference to himself at all, and in the other two he merely identifies himself as an “elder.” In the book of Revelation, he refers to himself simply as “his servant John,” “John,” or “your brother.”

John was zealous, which enabled Jesus to refer to him as one of the “sons of thunder.” Jesus did, however, warn him lest his zeal be misguided (Luke 9: 54-56). Faithfulness and boldness were also qualities which marked John’s character. He developed a high degree of patience, especially in his banishment to the lonely isles of Patmos because of his faithfulness as a witness to the Truth. Surely John is a good example to us, one that we could well attempt to emulate.

John’s Message

John’s message is one of the twelve stewardship doctrines of the Gospel Age: The office of Christ before, during, and after the days of His flesh, as God’s Special Representative.

In His prehuman office as the Logos, our Lord was God’s Agent in creation, revelation, and providence; as a human being, He became God’s Agent in redemption; and as a Divine being following His resurrection, our Lord has acted as God’s Agent in instruction, justification, sanctification, and deliverance for the consecrated during the Gospel Age; He will do so for the world in the Millennial Age; and He will act as God’s Vicegerent throughout the universe in the Ages of glory following the Millennial Age

All of John’s writings were composed between 90-100 A.D., and it was during those ten years that special errors arose which required John to stress the office work of our Lord from the above three standpoints. During the Smyrna, or second stage of the Church, various false doctrines that denied Christ’s ransom sacrifice were introduced into the Church. These included the doctrines of the trinity, immortality of the soul, and eternal torment. Some Jewish heretics denied our Lord’s prehuman existence. Gnostics denied His office as God’s Special Representative in creation. The Docetists denied Jesus’ death and resurrection as our Savior. Others denied His present office work toward the Church and His future office work toward the world. Additionally, the teachings of Antichrist were beginning to develop which culminated in the God-man and trinity doctrines. John had helpers in the work of refuting error. These included Ignatius, Polycarp, and Polycrates.

John’s writings stress the existence and work of Christ as God’s Representative in Creation (John 1: 1-3); His carnation to become man’s Savior (John 1: 14); His giving Himself as man’s propitiation (1 John 2: 2); and His ministry for the deliverance of the Church in this Age and of the world in the next Age (1 John 2: 1). Many years later several crown-lost leaders arose, the chief of whom was Origin, whose work resulted in perverting the Little Flock movement that John started into a denomination, the Greek Catholic Church. And yet, what truth of the stewardship doctrine which they maintained enabled them to use powerfully in correction, refutation, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3: 16). This doctrine is one of the three stewardship doctrines concerning God’s Wisdom, for Jesus is truly God’s Wisdom to us (1 Corinthians 1: 24).

May the Lord bless us with a greater appreciation of Himself, His Son, His Word, and His true servants, one of whom Saint John indeed proved to be.