Q. I have just finished a book which has got me thinking. This book claims that john, the brother of James, both sons of Zebedee, was not the same John as “the beloved disciple”. Although I do not take this premise as fact, it has got me thinking as to who was whom? Was John ben Zebedee the beloved disciple? Which John wrote the 3 letters of John? Which John wrote the Gospel of John, and who was John the Revelator?
A. Only one of the 12 disciples was named John and Matt.4:21 identifies him as the brother of James and son of Zebedee. In the Gospel of John he referred to himself only as the disciple whom Jesus loved. This makes sense if he wrote it, but not if he didn’t. The early church believed he wrote it and all other evidence agrees as well. Iraneus (140-203) Clement of Alexandria (155-215) Tertullian (150-222) and Origen (185-253) all stated that John, the son of Zebedee, wrote the gospel and the three letters that bear his name.
The early Church also believed that the Book of Revelation was written by John, which is why some call him John the Revelator. In the 3rd Century it was first suggested that another John might have been the real author of Revelation, but events of John’s life, such as his imprisonment on Patmos, the fact that he was well known to the seven churches to whom the book was written , and his reputation as a deeply religious Jewish believer provide overwhelming evidence of his authorship of this and all of the books that are credited to him.