Jesus loved his disciples very much. However, among all the disciples Jesus had, John was called the beloved disciple. According to John 13:23, the gospel suggests that John, the son of Zebedee, had a close connection with Jesus. John witnessed many miracles that Jesus performed in His early ministry. Most Bible readers and scholars are probably wondering, Who was the disciple that Jesus loved the most?
John was the disciple that Jesus loved. John 11:3, 5 implies that the beloved disciple is portrayed as a close and personal friend of Jesus. Along with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, John is described as one whom Jesus loved. The scripture further suggests that John sat close to Jesus during the last supper, reflecting honor and closeness. Besides his friendship with Jesus, he is a great witness to the amazing events of Jesus’s mission.
This article seeks to find out whether the New Testament reveals the beloved disciple’s identity. Why is John often referred to as the beloved disciple? Why is there a lack of consensus on the beloved disciple? Who do the conservative religious scholars believe is the loved disciple? Why isn’t he using his name while writing about the beloved disciple if John was the beloved disciple? Did Jesus show favoritism to some of his disciples? Stick to this article to get answers to the above questions.
Does the New Testament reveal the identity of the beloved disciple?
In relation to John 13:23-26 the beloved disciple is first mentioned in this verse. Many scholars have tried to crack the identity of the anonymous disciple of Jesus, who is beloved. In the New Testament, the beloved disciple is mentioned in the book of John. This beloved disciple is regarded as one of the most significant figures according to the gospel of John.
The common and recent identification of the beloved disciple is drawn from an early tradition that suggests the beloved disciple was indeed an actual person, whose name is John, the son of Zebedee and a disciple of Jesus. Furthermore, another theory identifies Zebedee’s son as the author of the book of John.
The beloved disciple has made several appearances in the gospel of John. For instance, in John 13:21-30, John 19:26-27, John 18:15-18, John 21:20, and John 21:7, one can see that the beloved disciple has been clearly described. Well, other scholars have identified the beloved disciple in the New Testament as Thomas (John 20:24-28), Lazarus (John 11:38-44), or even May Magdalene (John 20:11-18), but their assumptions have ultimately missed the point.
In the gospel of John, the scenes of the beloved disciple are in contrast to Simon Peter. This is because Peter is characterized as a less positive person. In each instance, the beloved disciple responds to Jesus in a way that is considered praiseworthy. While on the other hand, Peter shows doubt, confusion, and misunderstanding; he even denies knowing Jesus.
As the gospel of John suggests in the New Testament that among the Twelves disciples, John was the leading member who had a personal relationship with Jesus making him the Beloved disciple.
Why is John often referred to as the beloved disciple?
In Matthew 17, the scripture suggests that Jesus had an inner circle comprising three disciples, with whom He showed His transfiguration. And of the three disciples, John was among them. Jesus even asked John to take care of his mother during His Crucifixion. The scripture in John 13:23 says, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’s bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” This scripture depicts John as the beloved disciple since he used to rest in Jesus’ arms.
Soon after his initial call, John saw many of Jesus’ early teachings. After John saw miracles and listened to teachings, for example, the sermon on the Mountain prepared John for his calling as one of the twelve disciples. In addition, beyond John’s friendship with Jesus, some passages suggest that John was a powerful witness who saw special events of the mission of Jesus.
John 19:26 says, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciples whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” this verse implies that John stood near the cross because he wanted Jesus to speak to him and also the women. John was overwhelmed with grief and horror when he saw Jesus on the cross. All these happen were a revelation that shows why John was called the beloved disciple.
The beloved disciple is believed to get everything right. In John 18:15-18, and John 19:26-27, he is found in the location that indicates his loyalty to Jesus. John was capable of believing when he found Jesus’s tomb empty. Additionally, he was able to recognize the risen Christ.
Why is there a lack of consensus on the beloved disciple?
There is little, or no consensus on the beloved disciple since this character only appears in the gospel of John, which is covered in chapters 13 to 21. As a bible reader, you will notice that it covers between the last supper and the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection. Well, the identity of the beloved disciple is connected to the authorship of the book of John since in the last passage of this Gospel book it is revealed they are one and the same person.
Some New Testament scholars argue that the cause of the issue relates to the beloved disciple’s identity who wrote the gospel. So those who believe that it was John the son of Zebedee who authored it, then John is the beloved disciple. But if he is not the one, then it is someone else.
Who do the conservative religious scholars believe is the loved disciple?
Most conservative bible scholars believe that John, the son of Zebedee, is the beloved disciple. Some scholars conclude that John is the beloved disciple, although they are not 100% certain is the one. Below are some of the examples from the commentaries on John’s gospel.
Andreas Kostenberger says “the expression, “the disciple Jesus loved” may refer to the historical figure of John. As one of the forms of self-reference on the side of the evangelist. Since most of his recipients know him well, the author is able to his prophet’s name.
In addition, Craig Keener claims that of the twelve disciples of Jesus, known from the early tradition of Christianity. It is only John that could fulfill the beloved disciple character. In agreement with this, several scholars agree that John fits the evidence put forth as the beloved disciples.
D.A Carson also writes that if we compare the four canonical gospels, using the process of elimination we will arrive at John as the most likely to be identified as the disciple Jesus loved.
However, since there is no consensus concerning who the beloved disciple is. Those who disagree that John, the son of Zebedee, is the loved disciple suggest that it could be Lazarus. This is because the scripture mentions Jesus’ love for him John 11:3 Nonetheless, this would not explain how Lazarus could be present during the Last supper.
Why isn’t he using his name while writing about the beloved disciple if John was the beloved disciple?
In the gospel of John, the phrase “Beloved disciple” has been widely used. John did not use his name because he did not want to draw attention to himself. The scriptures imply that John wanted to remain anonymous. However, people who had read the gospel and witnessed various events were in a position to figure out the identity of John from the key issues he pointed out. For example, He does not mention his name entirely, instead, he mentions that during the Last supper, he leaned on Jesus’ bosom.
John appears to draw away the spotlight from himself, removing his name and instead putting his nickname. Additionally, John preferred the spotlight to be on Jesus rather than himself.
Did Jesus show favoritism to some of his disciples?
Jesus Christ the son of God does not have favoritism. Well, this is because favoritism goes against God’s character. In the book of Romans 2:11, “God shows no partiality,” this scripture says God does not welcome favoritism. The Bible further teaches in Ephesians 5:5-9 of the equality of all people in God’s sight.
When Jesus chose His disciples, he also chose an inner group from among the disciples. What is important is that it was not unfair favoring. Jesus’ choices were not unfair for several reasons. Many people did not desire to be Jesus’ disciples and preferred to remain spectators. Over and above, some people were fitter to take on some tasks than others. Remember Jesus had to pray for a whole night before selecting His disciples (Luke 6:12). It is clear that Jesus was keen on choosing the right disciples.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.