The Gospel According to Saint John

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 75–93


Who Was John?

John was one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. His brother James was also one of the Twelve Apostles. John and James were fishermen until Jesus called them to be His disciples and, later, Apostles. John was one of the three Apostles with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and one of the three Apostles Jesus asked to be with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is often called John the Beloved because he referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20).

John is also known as John the Revelator because he wrote the book of Revelation. He also wrote three short epistles (letters) found in the New Testament. When Peter was the head of the Church after Jesus’ death and resurrection, John was one of his counselors (see John W. Taylor, in Collected Discourses, Brian H. Stuy, comp., 5 vols. [1987–92], 4:256). John did not die, but was translated and allowed to remain on the earth as one of the Lord’s servants until the time of the Lord’s Second Coming (see D&C 7). John, with Peter and James, came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1829. (For more information on John, see Bible Dictionary, “John,” p. 715).

Why Did John Write This Gospel?

John was with Jesus and knew and loved Him. He wrote about the Savior so that people throughout the world could come to know about Him and love Him, too. He was a witness of what Jesus said and did. His book is not a history of Jesus, but a testimony of Him (as it is called in the Joseph Smith Translation). He said that he wrote his gospel so that the reader “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31). The gospel of John is sometimes called the “gospel of love” because John speaks of God’s love so many times in his book. He also emphasized that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

John, the Unique Gospel

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell many of the same stories and follow the same basic order and pattern. They mostly tell about what Jesus did in Galilee, but the Gospel of John includes some different stories and tells more about what Jesus did in Judea and Jerusalem. The following are some of Jesus’ teachings and experiences unique to John:

  • The premortal Jesus (see John 1)

  • Times when Jesus testified to individuals about who He really is (see John 3–4, 8)

  • Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Living Water (see John 6–7)

  • Raising Lazarus from the dead (see John 11)

  • Washing the Apostles’ feet (see John 13)

  • Teachings about the Holy Ghost (see John 14–15)

  • Jesus’ prayer for His Apostles (see John 17)

  • Jesus’ charge to Peter to “feed my sheep” (see John 21)

For more information on this book, see the Bible Dictionary, “John, Gospel of” (pp. 715–16).

Christ addressing fishermen

John as a fisherman

Mount of Transfiguration

The Mount of Transfiguration

John writing

John writing

John ordaining Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery

John ordaining Joseph and Oliver