Rethink: John was NOT the disciple whom Jesus loved.

*Note, this is a personalized abridgement of David B Curtis sermon. I’ve taken the whole thing and reshuffled it a bit, adding my own thoughts, removing some of his words, quoting him verbatim at length, and and in short essentially bastardizing what is a brilliant sermon and observation to suit my blog better. It is an amalgamation of both our minds [mostly his] using his sermon as the template and as the source material and my own intellectual endeavours to fill in the rest  [And yes, I have contacted David Curtis and he has given me his blessing and permission to do this]  To get a better, fuller and clearer picture that what you will read here, you can see the original which was preached on November 30, 2008, and which the full transcript can be found here; ” I had originally intended this to be a single post with the HT at the end, but splitting it up made this impossible to do. I realize that it was unwise to not give this up front in the first post and for that I apologize, will rectify it, and will work better to ensure that any project is sourced up front rather than at the end, which had been my habit. Anyway, onward we go!

Continuing where we left off, we are brought to our next reference;

So the Roman cohort and the commander, and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas first; for he was father‑in‑law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. [John 18:12-14]

And Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought in Peter.    [John 18:15-16]

The context for this is during the trial of Jesus. We see that Jesus was being followed by Peter, which everyone knows about, and our second mysterious disciple make another appearance. Peter would not have been able to gain access by himself, but rather it was the “other disciple” who was known to the High Priest and he was the one who got Peter in. If you read John 20 you will see that the “other disciple” is “the disciple whom Jesus loved:

And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” [John 20:2]

At this point we will build a case against the “beloved disciple” being John. When we contrast  John 18 to Acts 4 I think we will see that this “other disciple” could not be John. Acts 4:1-23 tells us what happened to Peter and John following the healing of a crippled man. Peter and John were seized and brought before the “rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas” in order to be questioned about this miracle.

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. [Acts 4:13]

Here is where it gets interesting. Notice here what these Jewish leaders recognized. It was in that moment that they suddenly understood that these men had been with Jesus. The principal thing that we need to get out of this passage is that it was at that point that the high priest and the other rulers became acquainted with Peter and John for first time. But our text in John 18 tells us that the “other disciple” was known by the High Priest. This teaches us that the high priest did not know John [or Peter] before this incident. So the “other disciple” could not have been John!

Furthermore, and building upon this, we see in John 20 that this “other disciple” was the first to believe after the resurrection:

So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.    [John 20:8-9]

This happened early on the first day of the week “the other disciple saw and believed” but later that day notice what Mark tells us:

And afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen.    [Mark 16:14]

When he is speaking of “eleven” he is speaking of the“twelve” minus Judas. These eleven did not believe but the “other disciple” had believed that morning.  This fits really well because while we are told that “the other disciple whom Jesus loved” believed, Peter did not believe, but would believe a little later, as we see in Mark 16. The other disciple was clearly not one of the eleven and could not have been John, because John was counted among the eleven who were rebuked for not believing, while the disciple whom Jesus loved, Lazarus, had already believed!

To pile it one, at Jesus’ trial there are only two disciples there with Him, Peter and the “other disciple”. Peter denies that he even knows Him. Then we go to the cross and none of the “twelve” are there. They were all afraid. But notice who was there:

Therefore the soldiers did these things. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”  Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.    [John 19:25-27]

The Synoptics say all the twelve deserted Jesus once he was taken away for execution, even Peter, and record only women being at the cross. There is no contradiction here if the disciple whom Jesus loved is Lazarus rather than one of the Twelve.

The only man that we know of who was at the cross as Jesus died was “the disciple whom He loved”. Why? What gave Lazarus this boldness? Think about it. Why would Lazarus be afraid to die? He had already died and been raised from death. He had no fear of death he was loved by Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. We know too that this “other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” was the first to believe, and was not one of  “the eleven”

Jesus loved Lazarus and he made him responsible to take care of His mother. The historical figure of Lazarus is more important than we may have previously imagined, due to his role in the life of Jesus and Jesus’ mother. Jesus must have trusted him implicitly to hand over his mother to him when he died.

 After the resurrection morning, the next mention of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” occurs in John 21:2-8.

There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples.  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.    [John 21:2-3]

Two of those who were present are not named–which is consistent with the author’s practice of not naming himself! In fact, If you read John 20:1-8, you see that the writer mentions “the other disciple” 4 times without giving him a name even as he gives everyone else involved in the action a name. But that’s alright because he is named in verse 7.

That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” And so when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.    [John 21:7]

Since “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was present, look at the author’s list in John 21:2. We see that “the sons of Zebedee” are named one of which was John and we know that the unnamed “disciple whom Jesus loved” is present at the same time! This is strong evidence that the author was not the Apostle John. At the end of the Fourth Gospel Jesus is talking to Peter and tells him what kind of death he would experience. In response to this:

Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” [ John 21:20-21]

Jesus tells Peter how he is going to die and Peter’s response is, I would argue, “What about Lazarus”? As soon as the topic became death, who did Peter’s mind turn to? Lazarus!

Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” This saying therefore went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”  [John 21:22-23]

We have this idea that “this man” is John because we read that back into the text from Church history, knowing that he is supposed to have died at an old age and not martyred unlike the rest of the apostles [though it is doubtful John was unique in him not being tortured.] We say “it must be John” because the popular belief is that his longevity qualified him for this task. And yet what do we see in the text? Something about this “other disciple” caused some or all of the disciples that were present at this event to jump to their erroneous conclusion – that Jesus’ words, “If I want him to remain until I come” meant “that disciple should not die”  The rumor “that disciple should not die” did not spring from a misunderstanding about what Jesus said. This error happened because of whom Jesus was speaking about!

I’m sure that Peter and the rest of these disciples knew that this individual was Lazarus who had already died and been brought back from the dead. In this case, a reason for one or more of those disciples jumping to the conclusion that they did, suddenly becomes evident. Since Jesus had already raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, those who knew that Lazarus was the subject of Jesus’ words in John 21:22-23 had mistakenly interpreted Jesus words to mean that Lazarus would be ‘exempted’ from having to undergo a second physical death.

I think we can  agree that the raising of Lazarus from the dead was a profound event in the life of Jesus. Yet this remarkable miracle is missing from three of the four gospels. The first three gospels don’t offer even a hint that this miracle occurred and they never mention that Jesus had a friend named Lazarus that he loved. Now consider that Matthew was probably an eyewitness to the raising of Lazarus. This was surely a powerful and unforgettable experience, yet Matthew left this out when he wrote his Gospel. Lazarus was big news! So why is it that the other Gospels fail to mention any of this?

Strangely enough it turns out that there is another prominent figure in the life of Jesus who is also nowhere to be found in the first three gospels. The person is “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Is this simply a coincidence?

As fas as how the Fourth Gospel ever come to be attributed to John, I would suggest that  a man named John, not the son of Zebedee, could very well have edited this book. Although the Beloved Disciple is claimed as the Source of the book, that does not necessarily mean that he is its actual Writer. Most scholars are in agreement that John 21 makes clear that while the Beloved Disciple is said to have written down some Gospel traditions, he is no longer alive when at least the end of this chapter was written. This would also mesh well with the early Christian traditions attributing it to John.

This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true. [John 21:24]

The “we know his witness is true” is a dead give away that someone other than the Disciple whom Jesus loved put this Gospel into its final form and added this appendix. This also explains something else. Whoever put the memoirs of the Disciple whom Jesus loved together is probably the one who insisted on calling him that. In other words, the Disciple whom Jesus loved is called such by his final editor, and this is not a self designation. If the Writer was a close colleague and follower of the Source, it is quite understandable that he would refer to his master by using the honorific title “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Well what say you? Are you convinced? Unconvinced? I would love your thoughts. And also, if you want more evidence, click on the link to David’s blog, as he offers more things that I’ve chosen to delete for the sake of brevity and space.

13 thoughts on “Rethink: John was NOT the disciple whom Jesus loved.

  1. I mentioned a free eBook on this topic on your other page. Many of the point that David Curtis used were from one of the earlier editions of this book, so you may want to check out this new edition: is the site where you can either read it online or download various printer-friendly and pdf versions. FYI

    • You’re welcome and thank you for you’re willingness to encourage our fellow Bible students to search the scriptures on this topic. Sadly, far too many are not even willing to give a fair hearing to the biblical evidence, so you may get more heat for your posts than you expected, but the truth is ALWAYS worth whatever it costs!

  2. A book I would really like to get my hands on is Lazarus and the Fourth Gospel Community (link below) but I haven’t found it cheaper than $89 second-hand and I don’t believe its in print anymore.

    From a synopsis I’ve read in the past there is historical evidence of an Eleazar (Lazarus) from a priestly family with sisters named Miriam (Mary) and Martha. If that Eleazar is the same who was raised from the dead by Jesus and who wrote the fourth Gospel it explains how he was able to get Peter into the temple courts. Also how he knew the name of the slave whose ear was cut off, and how he knew that one of the people talking to Peter afterward was that slave’s cousin.

    If the same Eleazar wrote the Revelation it explains how he was so intimately familiar with the Old Testament temple imagery and how it was so eloquently woven into that text.

    Thanks to the one who posted the e-book, I am about to start reading it. Here’s the link to Amazaon for the one I mentioned.

  3. Good solid article. I have one clarification. I don’t think the rumor concerning Lazarus’ 9+ lives was started solely by Jesus’ statement in John 21. I think the seeds of this rumor began earlier. Consider this:

    John 11:23-25
    Jesus said to her, “Your brother [Lazarus] will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “ I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live EVEN IF HE DIES…”

    Though we now understand that Jesus was speaking about the gift of eternal life (not physical longevity), Martha was most likely confused. How could a man be dead and yet live? But this was before Lazarus was raised.

    So, consider the following rumor that you referenced..

    John 21:20-23
    Peter, turning around, saw THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED [DWJL] following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that THAT DISCIPLE WOULD NOT DIE; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?

    It was said of Lazarus, “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies…”

    John 11:3
    So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

    John 11:36
    So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”

    John 11:43
    When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”

    So revisiting what Jesus said to Martha, is there any doubt why this rumor would have taken off?

    John 11:25-26
    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me WILL LIVE EVEN IF HE DIES, and everyone who lives and believes in Me WILL NEVER DIE. Do you believe this?”

    To their knowledge, “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies”, applied directly to Lazarus. Lazarus, they assumed, would NEVER DIE.


  4. I came to this conclusion that Judas the betrayer was a metaphor for Lucifer the fallen archangel in the beginning of time. The Allegory of Judas sitting closest to Jesus during the last supper and betraying him is evident as a cross referenced story to the original fall of man caused by Lucifer (originally an archangel for good turned bad).
    This story is mirrored in the New Testament allegory of the last supper.

    Many scriptures cross reference Judas (the betrayer) as sitting the closest to Jesus?

    Further proof of this is shown in the crucifixion story of two thieves on the cross, one repents the other does not, this is a veiled story that the *unrepentant thief (Lucifer) was also close to Christ at Christ’s death.
    I would say the unrepentant thief (who tried to steal God’s power) is left behind (alive) to witness the second coming of Jesus.
    The second coming hasn’t happened yet, it is *happening over time.
    This is empowered by the end times of an antichrist acting as God itself, so there are many cross references to give us a heads up. When we see the opening scriptural reference.

    Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

    Jesus is referencing the resurrection here (when I return), also… he is showing the power of the Creator by saying, “if I want him to remain alive”?

    This is clearly coming from God through Jesus i.e., only God through Jesus has the power to keep those alive or dead, immortality or permanent death.
    The creator is allowing Lucifer to remain alive but behind Jesus, (not next to him) to witness the power of God in this statement.
    What better way to punish Lucifer of his original sin of misleading mankind than to “leave him alive but left behind” during Jesus second coming?
    Remember Lucifer thinks he can rule the earth, but the creator is showing that he can’t.

    The ultimate power of God is shown here.

  5. you are right about john judas was the most loved and this validates the gospel of judas you make several errors of judgement in trying to prove lazuras i am new to computers a poor typist and prefer writing or talking i believe i can logically prove my point if you are open minded to discuss it

    • presents the biblical evidence that proves the unnamed beloved disciple who wrote the fourth gospel was not John and shows why anyone who has been deceived by that unbiblical teaching of men should stop trusting in non-Bible sources and let the word of God be the standard of truth on biblical issues.
      Surprisingly the number of verses that would justify teaching the John idea is equal to the number of verses that would lead one to believe this person was Judas, but since that number is ZERO there is no BIBLICAL reason for anyone to believe either of those man-made notions — and the same is true for those who says this disciple was Mary Magdalene, Thomas, James, or any of the other litany of unbiblical ideas that men have and continue to propose as candidates for the writer of the fourth gospel. Since those ideas cannot stand up to biblical scrutiny, they like every other false teaching will be discarded by anyone who respects the authority of God’s word.

  6. Hello Bible Student
    There is nothing wrong in exploring Bible in different ways as long as the meanings enhance and add value to the “words” of God. Bible is multidimensional and paradoxical. There are 2 creation stories. There are 4 authors giving different perspectives. There are 4 resurrection stories. we can go on and on That makes the Bible far more powerful.

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