John was the youngest of all of the disciples, most likely 17 or 18. He and his older brother James were some of the first to be called by Jesus, “and they immediately left the boat and their father [Zebedee], and followed Him.”~ Matthew 4:22. Along with Peter, they formed an “inner circle.” Jesus often took the three with Him to pray or be alone (garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36-37; transfiguration on the mountain, Matthew 17:1) Our pastor speculated this might have been because Jesus wanted to keep a close eye on the three of them. 🙂 After all, He nicknamed John and his brother James the “sons of thunder”! And we know that Peter was rather impetuous!
John’s mother asked Jesus on her sons’ behalf to command that they be seated at His right and left in heaven (Matthew 20:20-28). That caused quite an argument among the disciples! Jesus asked the sons of thunder if they were willing to drink the cup that He was about to drink, referring to His upcoming suffering and death. They replied they were, and Jesus told them they would drink of His cup. All eleven disciples died the death of a martyr- except John.
Legend has it that the wicked emperor Domitian, who ruled 81-96 A.D., threw John into a pot of boiling oil, but John was spared from harm. Domitian then banished him, around 82 A.D., to the prison island of Patmos, where prisoners were sent to work to death. While working and living on Patmos, John received the book of Revelation around 95-96 A.D. Domitian was assassinated in 96, and John was released and returned to Ephesus to pastor the church there. He was quite elderly by this time, and they carried him in to preach a few words and then carried him back out.
So there you have it, some background history on the apostle John. He was a young fisherman- who called himself in the Gospel of John the beloved disciple, the one Jesus loved- who lived his entire life following Jesus, willing to die for him. And Jesus used him in a mighty way, revealing to him the amazing book of Revelation.