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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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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      "4. That water points definitely to the rite of baptism, and that with a twofold reference - to the past and to the future. Water naturally suggested to Nicodemus the baptism of John, which was then awakening such profound and general interest; and, with this, the symbolical purifications of the Jews, and the Old Testament use of washing as the figure of purifying from sin (Psalm 2:2, Psalm 2:7; Ezekiel 36:25; Zechariah 13:1). Jesus' words opened to Nicodemus a new and more spiritual significance in both the ceremonial purifications and the baptism of John which the Pharisees had rejected (Luke 7:30). John's rite had a real and legitimate relation to the kingdom of God which Nicodemus must accept." Vincent's commentary

      "Be born of water - By "water," here, is evidently signified "baptism." Thus the word is used in Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5. Baptism was practiced by the Jews in receiving a Gentile as a proselyte. It was practiced by John among the Jews; and Jesus here says that it is an ordinance of his religion, and the sign and seal of the renewing influences of his Spirit. So he said Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." It is clear from these places, and from the example of the apostles Act 2:38, Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12-13, Acts 8:36, Acts 8:38; Acts 9:18; Acts 10:47-48; Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27, that they considered this ordinance as binding on all who professed to love the Lord Jesus. And though it cannot be said that none who are not baptized can be saved, yet Jesus meant, undoubtedly, to be understood as affirming that this was to be the regular and uniform way of entering into his church; that it was the appropriate mode of making a profession of religion; and that a man who neglected this, when the duty was made known to him, neglected a plain command of God. It is clear, also, that any other command of God might as well be neglected or violated as this, and that it is the duty of everyone not only to love the Saviour, but to make an acknowledgment of that love by being baptized, and by devoting himself thus to his service." Barnes's commentary

      Genethe is singular. John 3:5 refers to one birth of water and spirit. Not two births of water and spirit. The new birth must consist of both water AND spirit. Jesus is referring to the new birth. Nicodemus would have been confused if Jesus had been referring to the initial birth and then to the rebirth in this clause. This amniotic fluid interpretation is bogus.

    • April Reynolds profile imageAUTHOR

      April Reynolds 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Good Morning, happy Wednesday.

      I believe John 3 is talking about two births, not 3. Nicodemus is asking about physical birth and Jesus is telling him that there is a physical birth and a spiritual birth.

      In John 6 I believe that Jesus is talking about his death on the cross when he talks about giving his flesh. I think that eating and drinking refers to the depth of our complete acceptance of his sacrifice of his body and blood to sustain us and give us life spiritually.

      Are you still running? It has been really nice in the mornings. My youngest son is "training" me to run a 5K with him in February.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      John 3:3-5 indicates baptismal regeneration, that baptism is necessary for salvation.

      John 6:51-58 indicates that communion is also necessary for salvation.

      Your responses to these?

    • April Reynolds profile imageAUTHOR

      April Reynolds 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you Felipe! I hope you read on. Although I must admit that this is one of my favorites.

    • Felipe717 profile image


      8 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      This is truly a superb introduction about the disciple John.

    • profile image

      Sharon A. 

      9 years ago

      April!! Holy Smack--Who knew you had this up your sleeve?! Wonderfully written... :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      So well written!!

    • April Reynolds profile imageAUTHOR

      April Reynolds 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you so much! I love trying to imagine what their lives were like. It helps make them more real to me

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fantastic! I love your capability in making the lives of these disciples come alive to your readers. I am looking forward to more.


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