CHURCH 12 - Spiritual Leadership NT: Apostle John

Mth 4:21-22, Mrk 1:19-20, Luk 5:9-10    Calling with James, Peter, Andrew
‘As we went from there (a little further from where Jesus just called Peter and Andrew), he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father (with the hired men), and followed him.’
  • John and James are brothers, sons of Zebedee, a fisherman, and the owner of a small fishing business. The family his probably not rich, but also not destitute. It seems the place of this happening is Capernaum of Galilee, on the shores of the sea of Galilee (Mth 4:12, 18).
  • James and John, as friends and partners of Peter and Andrew, co-experience the miraculous fish haul of Peter at Jesus’ command and are amazed (Luk 5:9-10). The are likely hearing Jesus’ call to Peter: 10 Then Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people. 11 When they had brought the boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
  • In Luke James and John hear Peter’s call and know themselves included. Matthew gives the detail that Jesus addressed and call them also.
Mth 27:55-56                                               James & John’s mother, wife of Zebedee

‘Many women … had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56 Among them were … the mother of the sons of Zebedee.’

  • James and John’s mother herself is a follower of and provider for Jesus since the early days. It seems the two brothers had the support from at least their mother in their pursuit of Jesus.
  • Some deduce from comparisons of lists mentioning women at the cross and at the grave that the mother of James and John is Salome, the sister of Mary. That would make James and John first cousins to Jesus. This is not sure, though, because the lists may not be exhaustive.
Mrk 1:29-30                                                 in Capernaum with James, Peter, Andrew

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever …’

  • John is one of the original first called group of disciples, experiencing Jesus and seeing his miracles from the very start.
Mth 10:2-4, Mrk 3:17, Luk 6:14, Act 1:13         List of the twelve disciples or apostles

‘… James, the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder)’

  • Jesus calls two, probably three sets of brothers: James and John, Peter and Andrew, probably Matthew and James (son of Alphaeus).
  • Jesus gives James and John another name: ‘sons of thunder (Boanerges)’. This doesn’t mean that father Zebedee was a loud man, but that his two sons were rather hot-headed and verbal.
  • This is exemplified when they want to call down fire on an unwelcoming Samaritan village (Luk 9:52-55), or when John tries to stop an exorcist who uses the name of Jesus but doesn’t follow him (Mrk 9:34-39, Luk 9:49-50).
Mrk 5:37, Luk 8:51                                      Jairus’ daughter with James, Peter

‘He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James.’

  • The raising of Jairus’ daughter back to life would have been an amazing experience; a bit a heady experience, too, since this is the first time Jesus deliberately limits an experience to these three disciples only.
  • This experience among many others makes John into the witness he later is: he saw it all from the beginning, and he will be the last witness left to tell.
Mth 17:1-13, Mrk 9:2-13, Luk 9:28            Transfiguration with James, Peter

‘Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them …

  • Again an amazing experience, seeing – for a moment – beyond the curtain into the invisible world, seeing clearly that Jesus is somebody ‘beyond a normal human’.
  • Again this is heady; this time the three are singled out for a longer journey, a special and separate time with Jesus, a very powerful event. With Jairus’ daughter one could argue that the limiting of numbers was due to the situation (a small room), but here this cannot be claimed. Jesus intentionally singles them out.
  • No wonder they start asking about who is the greatest. No wonder they start thinking about privileged position in the kingdom to come.
Mrk 9:34-39. Luk 9:46-50                              John inquiring by himself

‘On the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest … 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me … 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my named will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.” ‘

  • This is the first time we hear John speak on his own. The translation says ‘John said to him’. The word ‘said’ in Hebrew means to answer, to conclude oneself, to respond, to speak (where a response is expected). So John’s words are clearly triggered by something before, when he brings up the issue of the other exorcist. But what?
  • Jesus has just defined leadership as serving all and welcoming all. John brings up a case, where he felt he should exclude someone (that other exorcist), one who wasn’t part of the group, who wasn’t personally loyal to Jesus.
  • What does this show about John’s character? It shows his personal loyalty to Jesus, his faith in Jesus’ cause, his being protective of Jesus, but also his conscious or unconscious ‘power games’, his feeling uncomfortable with other people showing up who are not ‘part of the system’, his sense of ‘having to stop them’, ‘having to exclude them’. He has acted in this case without a precedent or authorization of Jesus, but he obviously felt ‘obliged’ or ‘authorized’ to do so.
  • Jesus reaffirms his point to John: leadership is to be serving and welcoming, there is no need to stop the other exorcist, nor force him to join them. Jesus is confident that the understanding this person has gotten so far will lead him on.
  • Jesus must have been well aware that by singling out the three disciples in special moments, that this would ‘mess with their heads’ and lead to the exclusive, elitist or competitive thoughts that it did. So why does he do it anyway?
  • Maybe because he doesn’t mind these problems to come up, rather he takes it as a chance to address important things. Jesus doesn’t their pursuit of leadership and influence, but he definitely wants to re-channel and develop it.
  • Quote of a rising Singaporean singer: ‘You do not overcome pride in a talent by not using your talent. You need to use your talent and overcome pride while doing so.’
  • Jesus, though definitely aware of the mechanism playing in John’s mind and personality, he affirms him; and keeps teaching him.
  • Which seems needed, because John (and the others) are not getting it:
Luk 9:52-55                                                  Calling down fire on Samaritans with James

‘And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them.’

  • James and John are ‘offended for Jesus’ at the Samaritans and with great faith (though not with godly attitude) want to implement a punishment on those not accepting Jesus.
  • What does this reveal about their character? They are ‘Boanerges, sons of thunder’ indeed, short-fused, easily provoked, quick to judge. But they are also fiercely loyal to Jesus, taking offense ‘for him’, feeling obliged to do something to save his honor and to teach his opponents a lesson.
  • There may well be a ‘power games’ element in their behavior: they are overtly displaying their loyalty, trying to endear themselves and win favor with Jesus.
  • Jesus sorely challenges their idea of how to use miraculous power and refuses to be offended.
Mrk 10:35-41                                               Asking for position with James

‘James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one on your left, in your glory”. 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it had been prepared.” 41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.

  • James and John together come forward, putting in their request for power through their mother (Who can refuse a loving mother, herself a follower of Jesus, having given two sons to the cause, wanting good for her sons?). This is clearly thought about, discussed among themselves, planned, approved, now implemented.
  • They think like most Jews think: The Messiah will establish a physical Jewish kingdom, get victory over the oppressors, over the Gentiles, over evil. Their request shows their faith in Jesus’ messiahship, their firm belief that Jesus will shorty bring about his kingdom in power.
  • Why do they think they can place this demand for preferential treatment? They have been among the first disciples to be called, they have been included in special events (Jairus’ daughter’ raising back to life and the transfiguration), they have signaled their loyalty (calling fire on the Samaritan village), they definitely are ‘the inner circle’, especially John.
  • They are clearly competitive in their thinking (so are the other disciples, as their anger at James and John’s proposal clearly shows). James and John are proactive, they think ‘future’, they want to secure their share, they know how to play the favor and power game. Maybe John was made insecure by Jesus’ earlier ‘not excluding’ reaction to that exorcist and feels he needs to secure his position.
  • Jesus doesn’t rebuke their request for position, power or leadership, but links it with the character, faithfulness, servant hood and self-sacrifice this will require.
  • When they answer that they ‘are able’, Jesus gives a prophecy, though he doesn’t grant their request: they will give their lives for God and they will suffer for Jesus.
  • It is interesting to note how this prophecy will fulfill: James dies as a martyr by beheading under Herod Agrippa I in around 44 AD (Acts 12:1). He is the first of the eleven disciples to die a martyr’s death (though Stephen died earlier).
  • But his brother John ends up being the only of the twelve disciple that reaches old age and dies a normal death (though he suffered persecution and attempts to kill him). Church history says he died around 98 AD in Ephesus.
  • Even though their deaths are so different, James and John both are described as ‘drinking the cup’ and as both being ‘baptized’. This implies that in God’s eyes a martyr’s death and a life lived faithfully for God till the end is of equal value. God does not exalt martyrdom over long-term faithfulness and enduring service. Nobody has to seek martyrdom, though martyrdom may be required.
  • For more details see COM 08 – Jesus and the power seekers.
Luk 22:8-13                                                   Passover preparation with Peter

‘So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” 9 They asked him, “where do you want us to make preparations for it?” 10 “Listen,” he said to them, “When you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?| 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.” 13 So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.’

  • A practical assignment to John together with Peter, giving them a chance to serve.
  • The assignment turns out to be very intriguing and encouraging: very specific instructions which come true to the letter. This would have built their faith, and probably also their expectation of what was about to happen.
Mrk 13:3-4                                                    End time information with James, Peter, Andrew

And he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?”

  • Jesus just dropped an ear shattering prophecy upon leaving Jerusalem “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will e thrown down.” (Mrk 13:2). He predicts the total destruction of temple and Jerusalem, both unthinkable in the Jews’ mind.
  • Upon reaching the opposite mountain (with view on Jerusalem city), Jesus sits down, seemingly actively inviting questions.
  • Four disciples, two sets of brothers, the inner circle of three (Peter, James, John) and Andrew come to him ‘privately’. What does ‘privately’ mean? It seems they are consciously trying to exclude others, to choose a moment where others are not around or not attentive to ask for some ‘insider knowledge’ on the end times.
  • End time knowledge has always (still today!) made people want to be exclusive, elitist, initiates-only, secretive … ‘we know but everybody else doesn’t’.
Jhn 13:23-25, 21:20                                     Last Supper with the twelve

“One of the disciples – the one whom Jesus loved – was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

  • John gives us a detail about himself (reclining next to Jesus) and a self-description ‘the one whom Jesus loved’, a picture of intimacy.
  • Because of this intimate picture, John tends to be portrayed as soft, almost feminine in the ‘Last supper’ paintings. Remember, though, he was also the ‘son of thunder’ wanting to call down fire and the one proactively trying to secure power! He may have rather been a rather forward, initiative, verbal, passionate, ‘out there’ sort of personality.
  • Picture above: ‘Last supper’ by Michelangelo.
  • Picture on the left’John & Jesus’ by Valentin de Boulogne.
    • Some say John claims to have been especially loved by Jesus. And maybe Jesus did indeed have a particularly close friendship with him.
  • But John’s self-description may not at all be exclusive, claiming that Jesus loved everybody else less. It may well be humble and thankful way to refer to himself (Jesus loved me, believe it or not!).
Mrk 14:33-34                                               Gethsemane

They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and keep awake.

  • Again the inner circle of three. But here it will be bitter. They are especially called on by Jesus in his need, and are failing him miserably at such a crucial time. This will be a source of shame, and hopefully humility later.
Jhn 18:16                                                      Access to the High priest’s house

‘but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate and brought Peter in.’

  • ‘the other disciple’ is most likely John referring to himself. Why? There is no other reason to be cryptic and it’s a story only the disciple himself would know or care enough to tell.
  • Like Peter, John is trying to stay close to Jesus, after the first mad dash when Jesus is arrested. John somehow is known enough to the high priest to be able to gain access for himself, and for Peter.
  • How does a young Galilean fishermen have such connections? Possibly he had relatives in Jerusalem, and frequented their houses when in Jerusalem for the 3 yearly festivals. Not unthinkable that through relatives he may be known to the high priest.
Jhn 19:26-27                                                Responsibility for Jesus’ mother

‘When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.’

  • Jesus as the firstborn son of Mary would feel the responsibility of leaving behind an aging mother and the need to make sure she will be taken care of.
  • Why does he not transfer this responsibility to his next older half-brother James (later the leader of the church in Jerusalem) or his four younger brothers collectively? Maybe because they are not yet believers at this point? But Jesus presumably knew that they would become believers. Maybe because they weren’t there to hand responsibility over to? Maybe because John is a blood relative? Or simply close?
  • And why to John among the eleven? Possibly because a very close friendship with John. But possibly also foreknowledge: Mary (according to Church tradition) will outlive all the apostles save one: John. By the time Jerusalem and Judea will be destroyed (70 AD) only John is still alive to take care of Mary (there is no information on his half-brothers). Church tradition says John took Mary with him to Ephesus, till she (and later him) died there. Mary would have been around 90 at that time.
Jhn 20:1-9                                                   Witness to the resurrection with Peter

‘Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there. But he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been over Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead.’

  • John, together with Peter, become some of the earliest witnesses to the empty tomb.
  • Mary’s first interpretation is that Jesus’ body has been removed, for whatever reason (only a bit later Jesus meets her when she goes back to the tomb).
  • When John and Peter go to investigate, they see the wrappings and head cloth and that challenges Mary’s interpretation for John. It says he ‘believed’. What exactly?
  • Hard to say, for all witnesses the resurrection morning is a step-wise and growing revelation. They only slowly come through to a full revelation of what it is that they are seeing with their own eyes. It will take more time still to understand the theological implications of this event more fully. See unit CHU 19 – Eyewitnesses to the Resurrection.
Acts 3:1-4:23                                              Peter & John heal a lame man at the temple gate

“That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

  • John shows himself here as perceptive, more so than Peter, though less pro-active.
Jhn 21:7                                                       Resurrected Jesus in Galilee

‘One day Peter and John were going up to the temple … 2 a man lame from birth was being carried in. … 4 Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting something from them. 6 But Peter said … 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up … 11 While he clung to Peter and John … 12 Peter … addressed the people … 4:1 While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2 much annoyed … 3 So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day … 7 When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired “By what power or by what name did you do this? “ 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them … 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus … 18 So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20 for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard. 21 After threatening them again, they let them go … 23 After they were released, they went .. and reported.’

  • The story is striking in the sense that though Peter seems to do most of the talking, all the people responding respond to both Peter and John: the beggar clings to both, the leaders arrest both, the leaders see the boldness of both. It’s Peter preaching (Acts 3:12) but both speaking to the people (Acts 4:1).
  • The picture is one of complete unity, in purpose, action and attitude, and though they don’t speak ‘in choir’, both men’s contribution is plain.
Acts 8:14 -17                                               Peter and John sent to Samaria with Peter

“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem hear that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 They went down and prayed for them … 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.’

  • A similar picture as above, Peter and John acting in unity, this time they are sent by the apostles in Jerusalem to check on a new church development in Samaria.
  • They are trusted by the other apostles to be able to evaluate, judge and handle appropriately what is happening in Samaria. Peter and John recognize God’s hand in what is happening and cooperate, contribute and strengthen what God started. John’s earlier tendenty to exclude, disqualify or compete is definitely gone.
Acts 12:1-2                                                 John loses his brother to a martyr’s death

‘About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.’

  • John loses his brother (44 AD), only some 14 years into the founding of the church. James is the first of the twelve apostles to die a martyr’s death. John must have been reminded of Jesus’ words about them indeed drinking the cup (Mrk 10:39), maybe he feared that he would be next after Peter (Acts 12:3). But it didn’t happen so.
  • The shocking death of Herod Agrippa I must have assured John of God’s control over things and of his justice (Acts 12:23)
Gal 2:2,9                                                       Peter, John & James (Jesus’ brother) as Jerusalem pillars

‘I (Paul) laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among he Gentiles … when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship.’

  • This happened around 47 AD, some 17 years into the founding of the church. John is one of the acknowledged pillars of the church in Jerusalem. Paul submits to him.
  • John is able to recognize God’s hand in Paul’s calling and is willing to support him in his future ministry. John probably sees in Paul another ‘son of thunder’, a bit like himself, another rather hot-headed, intense though whole-hearted follower of Christ. His earlier attitude of excluding others is definitely gone.
Church History on John
  • Church father Irenaeus (approximately 130-202 AD, a Greek, born in Smyrna, later bishop of Lyon in France and apologist) mentions that John ministered based out of Ephesus in the later years of his life. 68 AD the church of Jerusalem church flees during the final siege of the Jewish-Roman war. 70 AD Jerusalem is totally destroyed and all Jews are sent into the diaspora.
  • John, the remaining living apostle relocates to Ephesus, presumably latest by 70 AD.
  • From Ephesus he continues a ministry of discipleship, teaching, traveling (2 Jhn 12, 3 Jhn 14) and writing.
  • John most likely writes his gospel (John), his three letters (1, 2, 3 John) and Revelation from Ephesus. The very approximate dates for writing are 70-98 AD.
  • In 2 and 3 John John identifies himself as ‘the elder’, a humble title that he definitely could claim, being probably well over 70 by this time, and the last remaining apostle.
  • In 1 John he doesn’t identify himself in anyway, but writes powerfully as an eyewitness who was there from the beginning. ‘We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning he word of life’ (1 Jhn 1:1).
  • All John’s letters as well as his gospel combat false teachings that have arisen in the church. John is a needed anchor, a true eye-witness, one with authority to correct wrong developments, a bulwark of the truth.
  • John trains Ignatius, who later becomes the bishop of Antioch. He also trains Polycarp, who later becomes the bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp taught Irenaeus, passing on to him knowledge about John.
  • Irenaeus has a story of John going to a bath house in Ephesus, and on hearing that the gnostic heretic Cerinthus is also inside, rushes out exclaiming “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of truth, is within.” The son of thunder is alive yet still.
  • In the commentary of Jerome on Gal 6:10 he tells the famous story of John in extreme old age at Ephesus. He used to be carried into the congregation in the arms of the disciples and was unable to say anything except “Little children, love one another!” At last wearied that he always spoke the same words, they asked “Master, why do you always say this?” “Because”, he replied, “it is the Lord’s command, and if only this is done, it is enough”.
  • Church tradition says that John was the youngest of the 12 disciples and lived to the highest age, long enough to see Emperor Trajan, who ascends the throne in 98 AD.
  • Picture to the left: A Russian Orthodox icon of John, from the Monastery in Kizhi.
Rev 1:1,4,9; 21:2, 22:8                               John as the writer of the Apocalypse

‘The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him … he made is known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testified o the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. … 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia … 9 I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance.’
21:2 ‘And I John saw the holy city … coming down from God … 22:8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.’

  • Unlike in his other writings, John identifies himself clearly by name in Revelation, though not identifying himself by much else. Maybe the special nature of the writing required an authoritative name.
  • He saw the vision on Patmos (Rev 1:9), an island that is thought to have been used for exiles, prisoners and mining. Tertullian in “The Prescription of Heretics” says that John was banished (presumably to Patmos) after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering nothing from it, probably by persecuting Emperor Domitian.
Jhn 21:21-24                                                John as Gospel writer

‘When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” 23 so the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you.” 24 This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.’

  • Peter, just recently re-instated by Jesus into his role of feeding the sheep, and affirmed in his earlier calling, which included leadership for the church, here tries to map out the spheres of others, or his own in relation to others.
  • Jesus doesn’t let him, he calls him back to work on ‘self-management’, not management of others.
  • John finds it necessary to undermine a (probably) tenacious rumor that he wouldn’t die before Jesus came back. John’s survival for decades after all other apostles are gone would have unintentionally fed a rumor like that.
  • John is careful not to feed false hopes – and create assured disappointments, when he finally dies. For this then could lead to doubt about John’s witness, gospel, authority and teaching and so confuse the church. John has learned to be careful about false teaching, which he combats all his later life and in all his writing.
  • This is John’s humility: not to claim to be something special, rather to combat such a rumor. The young disciple who once had sought leadership and influence indeed received that, though no assurance of the position he asked for. What a life! What faithfulness.