St John The Evangelist
St John the Evangelist
Feast Day 27th December
cast your bright beams of light upon the Church:
that, being enlightened by the teaching
of your blessed apostle and evangelist Saint John,
we may so walk in the light of your truth
that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ your incarnate Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
St John the Evangelist
St John the Evangelist was one of the inner circle of Christ’s twelve apostles; the only one to live into old age; and not killed for his faith.
John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James. John, and his brother feature prominently in the gospels and Acts of the Apostles as two of Christ’s closest disciples, with John being called the ‘beloved disciple’ (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 20:8, 21:7 and 21:20). They are referred to “the sons of Zebedee” and received from Christ the honourable title of Boanerges, i.e. “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). The brothers were fishermen and fished with their family on the lake of Galilee and were among the first to be called to follow Christ (Matthew 4:18-22) and as the gospel of Matthew explains they “Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him [Jesus]” (Matthew 4:22).
John was among the three that witnessed of the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:37), the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), and the Agony in Gethsemane before Christ’s arrest (Matthew 26:37). Only he and Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the Last Supper (Luke 22:8). At the Supper itself his place was next to Christ on Whose breast he leaned (John 13:23, 25). It is traditionally believed that John was the “other disciple” who with Peter followed Christ after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest (John 18:15). John is the only disciple to remain near Christ at the foot of the Cross with the Mother of Jesus and the other women including John’s own mother, Salome. John is the ‘beloved disciple’ to whom Christ gave care of His mother, Mary. (John 19:25-27). After the Resurrection, John with Peter was the first of the disciples to hasten to the grave and he was the first to believe that Christ had truly risen (John 20:2-10). John was among the seven disciples on the Sea of Tiberias to witness Christ’s first appearance after His resurrection. (John 21:7).
From all the biblical accounts of John, it is clear that john was very close to Christ. From this it is held that John as an eyewitness ‘the beloved disciple’, wrote the 4th Gospel. Hence his saintly title ‘St John the Evangelist’. The early church believed that St John also wrote the Book of Revelation, “receiving the visions presented in Revelation while he was a political and religious prisoner on Patmos, a rock island used as a Roman prison off the western coast of Asia Minor near Ephesus”(NLT Study Bible). Yet the authorship of this writing is still debated today. St John is also attributed to writing the three New Testament Epistles (first, second, and third letters of John) “the writing style of John’s Gospel is undeniably similar to that of these three letters” (NLT Study Bible), but again, the authorship is still often debated. After Pentecost (the disciple’s receiving of the Holy Spirit) John took a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the Church. We see him in the company of Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple (Acts 3), thrown into prison (Acts 4:3), and visiting the newly converted in Samaria (Acts 8:14). John is mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Galatians as a “pillar of the Church” (alongside James and Cephas), and refers to the recognition which his Apostolic preaching of a Gospel free from the law received from these three, the most prominent men of the old Mother-Church at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9).
As we give thanks for John the Evangelist
and for the Gospel which he wrote
we pray that the word of salvation may have free course among us,
and that it may prosper and bear fruit in the Church
and in the world.
We ask you to bless all Christian thinkers and writers,
that through them the life amd witness and holiness of the Church may be strengthened and deepened.
NLT Study Bible 2nd edition, Tyndale House Publishers Inc, Illinois, USA,
Collect – Common Worship, Services and Prayers for the Church of England, Church House Publishing, London, UK, 2000.
Prayer – Eric Simmons, Look with Mercy, penitential Rites and Intercessions Volume 2, Feast Days, Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, UK, 2005.