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The Gospel According to Who? - Part 4
- The Gospel According to Who? - Part 3
The Gospel According to Who? - Part The Apostle John generally is given credit for writing the fourth gospel that bares his name - but did he? If not John, then who did?
Reviewing Part 3
In Part 3 we saw that if we give the Apostle John the title of the disciple whom Jesus loved, Scripture actually contradicts itself. For instance, we see in the Fourth Gospel (John) 18:15, and 16 that the disciple whom Jesus loved was known by the high priest. However if we go to Acts 4:1-3 we see that the High Priest perceived John to be unlearned and ignorant. If he were previously known, this characteristic no doubt would have been previously observed.
The Fourth Gospel 20:8 tells us that the other disciple was the first to believe, but yet in Mark 16:14 Jesus chides the eleven (One of them would have been John) for their unbelief.
In the Fourth Gospel 21:2, we have the other disciple and the sons of Zebedee (James and John) listed separately. There is much we could look at, but let us move on to the next logical step. If John did not write the Gospel, then who did? Can we know?
The Apostle John generally is given credit for writing the fourth gospel that bares his name. I have always been taught that John was indeed the author of the book, but after examining the Scriptural evidence there is no doubt in my mind that the Apostle John did not write the Fourth Gospel. If not John, then who?
Before we go there, let me remind you that many things that find their way into biblical teaching are not biblical teaching at all, but rather traditions of men. We are told in Colossians 2:8, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men . . . ."
Consider the following Scripture: "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5); “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6); “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs. 16:25); “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).
If the path of Scripture leads in a direction other than what man generally teaches, we must be true to the Scripture and follow the path anyway. Where it leads is truth even if it is a road we have never taken before.
So if John is not the author of the Fourth Gospel, we must decide who is. Does the Bible give us any clues?
I believe it is easier to prove from Scripture that John is not the author than to prove who is. I do however believe the Bible gives us some heavy circumstantial evidence.
What we do know is that the writer is a man. Forget the DiVinci Code and all the Mary Magdalene stuff. She is not the author. John 21:20 and 21 gives us this information - "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?"
The Last Supper
What would you think if i said that the disciple whom Jesus loved was not one of the 12 Apostles? "Well", you say, "he was the one that leaned on Jesus' shoulder at the Last Supper. He most certainly was one of the 12." Watch out for tradition again. Show me a single verse that says only the 12 attended the Last Supper.
Mark 14:18-20 tells us this - "And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish."
Jesus foretells his betrayal, and the question arises, who is it that will betray Him? Jesus answers by telling those present that it is one of the 12. Obviously, if only the 12 were present that answer would be redundant as he already said in verse 18, "One of you . . . shall betray me." In verse 20, Jesus narrows it down to one of the 12.
In verse 19, the 12, one by one, begin to ask, Is it I? This of course, would include John. Each of the 12 apostles were found questioning their own character. Yet we read in the Fourth Gospel 13:23-25 that Peter asks the disciple whom Jesus loved to ask the Lord who it is that will betray Him. Why didn't Peter ask Jesus himself? I believe it was because there was something different about the other disciple..Both Peter and John were questioning if they themselves could be the betrayer. The other disciple did not have that weight, and he easily asked the Lord on behalf of Peter. Whether it played out exactly that way or not is not the issue. What does matter is that when the other disciple or the disciple whom Jesus loved is mentioned, it would appear that he was just that, a disciple, not necessarily an apostle.
Other Thoughts About The Other Disciple
The other disciple waited at the cross of Jesus. It was to this disciple that Jesus gave the care of his mother (Fourth Gospel 19:25-27). Jesus says to Mary His mother, " . . . Behold thy son! and to the other disciple " . . .Behold thy mother!" Some would say because of this statement that James is the author, a son of Mary. The problem is that this gospel was written after James suffered martyrdom for the cause of Christ.
While the other disciples fell asleep in the garden and later fled, the other disciple remained with Jesus through the night except for one brief moment, and continued with Him until he was dismissed at the cross.
It was the other disciple whom Peter was jealous of in the Fourth Gospel 21:20-22.
Who Is It?
I believe the clue to identifying the disciple whom Jesus loved can be found in the Fourth Gospel chapter 11 and following.
When we come to chapter 11, we meet the man Lazarus for the first time. His name is mentioned only 11 times in Scripture - six in chapter 11; five in chapter 12. There is no mention of him before 11:1 and he is never mentioned again after 12:17. Beginning in chapter 13:23 the author begins to use the term, the disciple whom Jesus loved or the other disciple. One beloved friend seems to disappear, and another appears - or could it be that they are one in the same.
Lazarus played an important part in Jesus' ministry, much more than most people realize.
"John" 11:14 tells us, "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." Then again we are told in verse 44, "And he that was dead came forth . . . ." Clearly Lazarus was dead. As a matter of fact we are told that after four days his decomposing body "stinketh". The resurrection of Lazarus certainly was a powerful show of love.
Jesus' love is consistent. He cannot love you any more than He does right now. He cannot love you any less than He does right now. He loves you as much as he loved Adolph Hitler. His love is unchanging because He is unchanging. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and will be forever. There were also others that Jesus raised from the dead, but we cannot deny that the resurrection of Lazarus was a powerful display of God's love. He was a disciple whom Jesus loved.
After his resurrection, Lazarus had an experience to look back on that few others had. God's power became more than just head knowledge through his resurrection. Could it be that was at least part of the reason that the disciple who Jesus loved had no fear or concern for his own life as Peter did at the trial of Jesus (Fourth Gospel 18:15-17). He had been there - done that.
We know that at that same trial the disciple whom Jesus loved was known to the high priest. Why might he have been known? Lazarus was a celebrity of sorts. "John" 12:9:10 reveal this - "Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus."
Lazarus was on the Jews hit list, too, Why? Because he was responsible for the conversion of many Jews and highlighting the ministry of Jesus, their main enemy. In the context of the raising of Lazarus, chapter 11:45 says, "Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him."
This was not just another disciple, but one who was well known and acquainted with Jewish leadership. We may overlook it, but Lazarus played an important part of Jesus' Triumphal entry. In the context of Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding a donkey (Fourth Gospel 12:12-15) we read, "The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle" (verses 17, 18). The group who gathered on that first Palm Sunday was there largely due to Lazarus. His resurrection, in large part was what brought the people together. This infuriated the religious leadership.
Does that prove without question that Lazarus is the author? No. But I do believe he is a strong candidate for the position. Why did Peter ask Jesus about the future of the other disciple in the Fourth Gospel 21:21, 22? "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?" Why did he focus on this disciple? There were five others there also. Could it be that he was of concern because he had already faced death?
Have you been convinced the Apostle John did not write the Fourth Gospel?
The Law of First Mention
So who is the disciple whom Jesus loved? Within the Bible we have what is known as the law of first mention. The first time someone or something is mentioned in Scripture usually gives us insight as to how he/she/it will be seen throughout the rest of the Bible. The law of first mention is applied to Lazarus in "John" 11:1 and 3 which says, "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha . . . Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." It would seem that the law of first mention is responsible for the naming of Lazarus as the disciple whom Jesus loved. We probably cannot say for sure that this disciple is Lazarus, but it would certainly appear that way.
There is so much more we could look at, and I fully realize my shortcomings in sometimes explaining the details of what I mean. With that in mind, I want to encourage you to go to the link below and read through the free e-book, The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved by J. Phillips. There you will find much more evidence to answer the question, The Gospel of Who?