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Who were the Apostles James and John?

Updated on June 26, 2019

What is a Character Study?

A character study is a picture of what a person may have been like based on what we know of their character.

It took a brave man to fish in the Sea of Galilee. The peaceful lake could turn deadly in an instant. Cool air dropping down from the mountains would hit the warmer air on the coast, brewing up a wind that would go screaming across the surface of the water with unbelievable fury. Nerves of steel and the strength of an ox were needed to keep a small fishing boat afloat in the face of such a storm. Waves as tall as 10 feet could wash an inattentive fisherman overboard before he knew what happened to him. The floor of the lake was littered with the bones of the unfortunate.

James and John were both brave men. They grew up on the Lake, fishing with their father day in and day out. They both planned on following in their father’s footsteps. Continuing the family business was priority and they worked hard to be just like him. They knew the lake well, and respected the temperaments it displayed. The courage and confidence they learned on the water, translated to boldness and determination on land. Their tempers were as quick as the squalls they encountered and nothing would deter their desire to succeed. This led to the nickname “Sons of Thunder”, bestowed on them by the man who knew them best.

The world they lived in was as volatile they were. They were part of a nation under distress, a people who longed for freedom, but lived under the thumb of a cruel and powerful race. Long ago, prophets had predicted that a savior would come. A warrior who would destroy their enemies and bring peace had been promised. They had been waiting a long time. Four hundred years had come and gone since the last prophesy and nothing had happened. Some still clung to the hope that relief would come, but secretly, others believed it was a fairy tale. Four hundred years was a long time, and life was not easy under Roman rule for a nation that resented being under the control of another.

But that was all about to change. What James and John didn’t know, as they fished in the calm waters of the Galilee and fought the storms she produced with such vigor, was that the savior they were waiting for had been born. He was already living among them. He was a relative of theirs, and they would become some of his closest followers. They would not live out their lives as simple fishermen following in their father’s footsteps. Instead they were about to witness the life of the man who would change the world. Young John would become the best friend of Jesus Christ, the very image of God in human form. His brother James would also be a part of the inner circle. They would be part of the 12 disciples who would have a front row seat to the biggest event in the history of the world. It would not be what everyone expected. They would personally know the savior who would die so we could live. It would take all their courage and bravery to face the events that would change history. It was their destiny.

Today we still have the words John wrote about those historical events. We can still read the story as he saw it through his eyes. His book is found in the Bible, the most powerful book ever written. His story has the power to change our lives.

If you would like to know how I developed this character study of John, please read part two, How do we know who the apostle John was?.


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