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The Gospel According to Who? - Part 3

Updated on June 13, 2014

A Quick Review

In Part 1 we looked at how tradition has formed much of what we believe so we must be on guard and study Scripture for ourselves as did the Bereans of Acts 17.

In Part 2 we looked at what we know for sure about John. We know his name - John; one of Zebedee's children (Mark 10:35). We know that he had a brother, James, and was a business partner with Simon Peter (Luke 5:10). We know he was an apostle (Mark 1:19, 20).among much more.

W saw circumstantial evidence that John did not write the Gospel. None of his major life experiences are recorded in the gospel that bares his name even though it is an eye-witness account.We saw that "the disciple whom Jesus loved" was not using the term necessarily in humility. John never names his name in the gospel as he does in the book of Revelation which he definitely wrote. He mentions himself as the author five times.

Now we must on.


The Commentary of Commentaries

Nowhere in "John's Gospel or anywhere else in Scripture are we given the idea that John is indeed the author. As a matter of fact, Scripture paints the opposite picture by declaring that John did not write the book. The Bible was meant to be its own best commentary. We do not need the commentaries of men when we have God's Word on a matter.

The problem is we are all too often guilty of not studying the Scriptures for ourselves. There is nothing new in the Bible. What is written therein has been there since 95 AD in its completed form. We have failed to look for ourselves, and have taken the easy way out - accepting what someone has to say on a matter; in this case, who is the author of the Fourth Gospel?

It will be easier to prove who did not write the gospel than it will be to prove who actually did write it. There is however, much evidence that does point to a certain individual. First, let us look as some verses and see what Scripture has to say about the Apostle John in relation to his authorship of the Fourth Gospel.

Scriptural Proof

Despite the clear teaching of Scripture, there may still be some that want to hold on to the false belief that John is indeed the author. Again, we need to let God be true (Romans3:4). Would you be honest enough to just take Scripture at face value and be willing to follow the trail wherever it may lead.

Let us turn to the Fourth Gospel itself and see what it has to say about the author of the book. John 21:24 makes this statement. "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true." This disciple is the author. He is also known in Scripture as that other disciple.So who is this disciple? Although we will not name him by name just yet, realize there is no evidence that this disciple is the Apostle John.


If we go back to verse seven we see that this disciple is that disciple whom Jesus loved. In verse 20 we also see this one identified as the disciple whom Jesus loved. So the question now becomes how do we know that John is not the disciple whom Jesus loved? If we go back to verse two this disciple lists all those in attendance at this meeting on the shore.- " There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples."

Along with the other disciple (Who was the disciple whom Jesus loved), there was also Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and another unnamed disciple. In Mark 10:35 and Luke 5:10 the sons of Zebedee are identified as James and John. That creates a bit of a problem. John is mentioned as one of the sons of Zebedee, not the disciple whom Jesus loved. Folks try to twist that verse any way they can, but the truth is John is listed separately, and the disciple whom Jesus loved is listed separately. We know from verse 24 that the disciple whom Jesus loved is the author.

Let us move on. John 18:15 and 16 gives us more information about this other disciple - "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter." (The word "known" means well-known. Keep that in mind as we go to another group of verses in Acts 4).

We see by these verses that the High Priest was familiar with that other disciple. We also see that he was not familiar with Peter as Peter had to be ushered in by that other disciple. After the ascension of Jesus, Peter and John were found preaching the resurrection, and were subsequently imprisoned for it (Acts 4:1-3). We see in verse 6 that Annas and Caiaphas interrogated Peter and John; Annas being the high priest. This is the same high priest that knew the disciple whom Jesus loved.

Once again if we are to assume that John is that disciple we have a problem. Reading on in the story, we see in verses 7-12, Peter preaches a salvation message to the high priest resulting in verse 13's declaration - "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

The key word here is "perceived", The high priest's first impression of John was that he was unlearned and ignorant. If John were that other disciple, these facts would have already been known to the High Priest as he knew that other disciple well. He would not have known Peter well if he remembered him at all.

This is probably the clearest passage that indicates that John is not the disciple whom Jesus loved. Go with me back in time to Resurrection Morning.."The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."


Are you beginning to see that John did not author the Fourth Gospel?

See results

At the bidding of Mary Magdalene, Peter and the other disciple went to the tomb. Jesus had long been gone and in verse 8 we are told that the other disciple after entering the tomb believed in the resurrected Lord. We need to compare this with another portion of Scripture.

Mark 16:15 gives us some light on this one that was the first to believe. We read, "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." This appearance of Jesus was later in the day, but yet he upbraids the 11 because they didn't believe. Has it occurred to you that John was part of the 11? If he was the first to believe Jesus would not be upbraiding him here.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to read through the Fourth Gospel and try to see if you can figure out who is the disciple whom Jesus loved. If you read carefully, you just might find the answer, but keep it to yourself!

In Part 4 we will look at evidence pointing to who this might be. Stay tuned.


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    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi mylinda,

      Thanks for reading. Part 4 will finish it up.

    • mylindaelliott profile image


      4 years ago from Louisiana

      I can't wait for the next part. I'm not very good a figuring out this sort of thing.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi MsDora,

      Peter tells us to have an answer for the hope that is in us. I think that includes more than just salvation, but anything we might be asked, and we don't always have a hub in front of us.. Part will be up soon. Thanks for stopping by.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very interesting, Bill. I intend to read this one again before you publish the next one. I'm following and I want to know the facts well enough to state them without pulling up the article. Waiting on Part 4.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Tammy,

      Thanks again for adding to things here. I know for sure I need to spend more time studying the Book for myself. Someone got upset with me at church a while back thinking I was trying to change what was written. I didn't change anything, I was just following the path the Scriptures led. Unless someone has studied this out before, I think some will be surprised at who the real author might be. I'll get to that in Part 4. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • Tamarajo profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      Interesting and suspenseful. I have been following along and have not yet solved the mystery. I look forward to the unveiling of it.

      I agree that scripture interprets itself and is consistent in all that God proclaims in it. I sincerely appreciate a fellow Berean like seeker. So many times we just take things for granted simply because that is what we have always been taught or told rather than really taking a good hard look at it for ourselves to see if that is what it says.

      Everything in the Word of God is relevant and deserving of correct understanding of it.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Lori,

      I apologize. I probably used the wrong word. As far as I know the Bible never says outright that John did not write the book. I do believe the evidence points to it though. and I do believe there is much biblical evidence that points to another writer. I'll get to who that may be next time.

      Also, I'm only scratching the surface. There is an excellent book entitled The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved by J. Phillips. It goes into so much more detail. It's definitely worth the read, and you can get through Amazon. Have a great weekend, and praying the power of God visits Calvary Chapel tomorrow.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks for the share, Jackie. I don't really think it's a mystery. I believe the answers are there, but the Bible does say we are to study the Word to rightly divide it. I think possibly the reason God doesn't just outright tell us some things is because He wants us to dig for it ourselves. Thanks again for stopping by and hope you have a great weekend.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      "As a matter of fact, Scripture paints the opposite picture by declaring that John did not write the book." I would like clarification on this - you use the word "declaring." Do you mean the Bible specifically makes a written declaration, or statement that John was not the author? Or are you saying the evidence declares it, not by a specific statement but by gathering evidence or lack of evidence?

      This is very compelling. I have a ton of questions but will hold off until the series is done (If I possibly can).

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I wish I had caught this earlier so I could try to solve the mystery! It will be interesting; I just wonder why they have made it a mystery? Surely Jesus loved them all...but I am sure this is a clue. Too bad Faith is as busy as me or we could have us a really fun contest. Isn't that a shameful thing to say? I know it is. Well I will get on it this weekend for I really do love solving the mysteries of the bible and having more open up trying to find the one.

      Very well done; so interesting, up and sharing.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      You're quite welcome, Bill. I must say you're fast. I just published this a couple minutes ago. As always,thanks for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I always enjoy reading your interpretations...thanks for the food for thought.


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