John the Apostle: Bible Biography, Facts and Death

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

John the Apostle was one of the 12 disciples of Christ. This disciple was one of the sons of Zebedee who followed our Lord. His story extends many years past the earthly ministry of Christ. John was known as an apostle, author, and the only apostle who was not killed by martyrdom, though not from lack of trying.

John the Apostle

We get the vast majority of our information about John from the pages of the four gospels. We know that John was the younger brother of James and the son of Zebedee (Mark 10:35; Luke 5:10). Though not directly stated, we know that John was called the beloved disciple, or “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20-24). His occupation was as a fisherman before he and his brother became disciples of Christ.

John and James were cousins to Jesus as their mother Salome was the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40). The two brothers were some of the first disciples of Jesus. Based on the language in John chapter 1 it is believed that John was probably the unnamed disciple of John the Baptist. John never refers to himself directly in the book that bears his name.

The two brothers, James and John, were called the sons of thunder by Christ. They seem to have been even tempered men, but there is one story at the end of Luke 9 where they asked Jesus if He wanted them to call down fire from Heaven to consume the unbelieving Samaritans. They must not have been completely docile men for Christ to refer to them as the sons of thunder and to be willing to call down God’s wrath (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:51-56).

Peter, James and John must have had a special relationship with the Lord because of the many times the Bible talks about those three to the exclusion of the other disciples. They were with Christ on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13; Luke 9:27-36). They (along with Andrew) were with Him for the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37). They were also the inner circle of prayer warriors in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37).

The book of the Revelation was written about the vision that John saw while banished to the Greek island of Patmos on the Aegean sea.

The book of the Revelation was written about the vision that John saw while banished to the Greek island of Patmos on the Aegean sea.

John the Author

John wrote 5 books in the New Testament. He wrote The Gospel According to John, First, Second and Third John, and he was the penman of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

All of his books were written later in life and after all the other books in the Bible were recorded. We don’t know the exact time or order of the books having been written, but here are some possible dates:

  • The Gospel According to John: AD 80 to 98
  • First, Second and Third John: AD 90 to 95
  • The Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ: AD 94 to 98

Of course we know God inspired the Bible and that it was written with His leading, but this may explain why the book of John seems so applicable to the readers of today. John had more time to think about what questions were raised in the 50 or more years after the resurrection of Christ. He knew what doubts had been raised and how to answer the questions before we knew to ask them.

The Epistles of John were written to various audiences. They were all written after John was an old man living in Ephesus. The first epistle was not addressed to anyone in particular, but was written more as a sermon. The second was written to an unnamed “elect lady.” The third to a man name Gaius. There are three men who bear that name to whom the letter could have been written. There was a Gaius in Macedonia (Acts 19: 29), Corinth (Rom. 16:23), and Derbe (Acts 20:4).

The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ was written by John probably close to the same time he wrote the epistles which bear his name. The book of the Revelation was written about the vision that John saw while banished to the Greek island of Patmos on the Aegean sea. Tradition says that this was after John had been sentenced to death by martyrdom.

John the Martyr

We know little about John’s later life and death from the Bible. The most insightful bit of information comes from John 21 when the risen Christ was talking to Peter about Peter’s death. After Jesus told Peter that he would not live long Peter asked about John’s death. Jesus replied that if John lived until Christ’s return, that was not Peter’s concern. This was not a promise that John would live until the Lord returned, but it does seem to indicate that the Lord knew John would live a long time (John 21:19-23).

Tradition holds that John was sentenced to death in a boiling vat of oil. Yet he emerged unharmed from the experience. Again tradition tells us that John lived into old age dying sometime after AD 98. He is thought to have died in Ephesus.

Here is another article also by David: Samson Bible Story Summary and Study

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie G. Patmon July 19, 2014 at 8:26 pm

No website yet. I enjoy learning all I can about our LORD. And other events of God’s Kingdom. And to go deeper into His word. I enjoyed what was written about John.


Krzysztof February 29, 2016 at 5:46 pm

I’m fascinated with the Gospel of John. It’s so incredibly profound, it talks right into my heart. I think it’s a cherry on top of the Bible cake. I like your article, its good to learn more about this man. unbelievable to think he used to be a fisherman and probably illiterate.


Jack Wellman February 29, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Amen to John’s Gospel. Thank you. This is, in my opinion, the most powerful gospel to witness to Mormans, JW’s, and Muslims because it proves the divinity of Christ and the eternality of Christ.


Theodore Crawford May 15, 2016 at 8:46 pm

Previously, I had only suspected that John the Apostle and John the Revelator were the same man. I’m glad to have the story of him being boiled in oil further substantiated. Any man who could come out of that treatment unharmed(!) would be looked on by the Roman authorities as a very dangerous man indeed; hence the Patmos exile.
John’s version of the Good News is my favorite. His straight-forward portrayal of Jesus Christ and His sayings is richly uplifting and encouraging.


Andrei November 19, 2017 at 4:50 am

This is the beloved disciple that is still among us on earth, working and waiting for our Lord’s return.


Jack Wellman November 19, 2017 at 7:55 am

Hello Andrei. Are you saying the Apostle John is still among us on earth? Can you explain that? thank you.


Jack Wellman November 19, 2017 at 7:55 am

Hello Andrei. Are you saying the Apostle John is still among us on earth? Can you explain that? thank you.


John April 3, 2019 at 6:33 pm

I feel very close to him. I’m a fisherman, I was the local fish and chip van man and I have been drenched in 180+ degree oil and remain unharmed or scared. My face for sprayed in hot oil and I was dreading the next day! I looked in the mirror in amazement!! Not a mark, not a blemish.
After reading this. I feel almost at one.
My family tree dates back to the Romans.
John Martin Davy


Paul427 August 27, 2019 at 8:26 am

You might enjoy a new book due out by Christmas called “My Neighbor John” which explores this possibility in a novel format.


John Dean September 4, 2018 at 4:57 am

Yes, I can assure you he is here.



Jack Wellman September 4, 2018 at 11:44 am

I can assure all the readers that John is not here on earth but he is with the Lord. John is human and cannot live in a body for over 2,000 years.


Tammy J. November 25, 2018 at 11:16 pm

To say it isn’t possible would be placing limits on God. I don’t think it is likely, but I do believe it’s possible.


Jack Wellman November 26, 2018 at 8:57 am

John was just a man. Men don’t live for thousands of years. God made us live in a range from 60-70 years of age, so says the Scripture, so it is not only not likely but impossible for a human to live physically for over 2,000 years. I stand by my statement.


Emmanuel December 15, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Yes I believe it is possible, the Bible says we are spirit, fisical prove blood. If john the Baptist came in the spirit of alijah, then they are many who are sent in the same spirit of john the beloved. So I believe john is still on earth means love

Sharon C June 19, 2020 at 7:44 am

God did not make us to live 60-70 years. That may be the average age now, but that is a result of sin, not God’s design intent. We know this by looking at the age of Adam (930 yrs), Methuselah (969 yrs), Noah (950 yrs), etc. Because of sin, the human life span has continued to decrease. This is not what God wanted for His people. We have to remember that we (not even scholars) do not have the capacity to fully understand everything. Our understanding is dim.

Dannie L. Jones December 12, 2018 at 2:15 pm

I’ve been looking at Rev. 10:9-11 my thoughts are John will be one of the two witnesses in the last days think about it


Bruce December 28, 2018 at 11:49 am

Adam lived for 930 years. Others lived for well over 60-70 years. Some science claims the body is meant to persist. “With God, nothing is impossible.” Other men in scripture stood in fire, unscathed. While remarkable, I’d have to admit, even if reluctantly, such would have to be possible.

Loved the story about the oil. Wouldn’t mind source(s).


Vaafuti Filipo March 1, 2019 at 2:36 pm

I want to say thank you for this material, I was able to know how the apostle John died.I have one request, if you able to send me all articles about how the twelve disciples and other saints’ death please. I’m interested to read and study.
Thank you
Vaafuti Filipo.


Paul427 August 27, 2019 at 6:59 am

If John becomes one of the two witnesses in the last days, he will indeed suffer death and then be raised from the dead.


Dianne October 12, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I too believe that John can visit those in need.


Zeke Zerkel January 25, 2021 at 5:26 pm

I would like to see some Biblical evidence that the Apostle John is the writer of Revelation. Assumptions, speculations & reasonings don’t work.
Can’t we leave it alone and admit “author unknown” just like Hebrews?



Jack Wellman January 25, 2021 at 6:58 pm

There is no mystery about who wrote the Book of Revelation and there is no reason to assume or speculate because the Bible is crystal clear, if you will read it Zeke. We don’t have to “leave it alone.” The Word of God itself shows this as the Apostle John wrote, ” The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Rev 1:1-2). Can you not read where it says “He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw,” so the Apostle John is 100% identified in the Book of Revelation. I suggest you buy a good study Bible, but read the Word itself because the Word of God tells us who wrote the Book of Revelation, as he recorded the very words Jesus gave Him. As for the Book of Hebrews, we don’t know for certain and we’ve said as much elsewhere on this website. Thank you Zeke.


Kwame October 16, 2021 at 9:44 am

Revelations 1:1-3


stephen Kostlan July 28, 2021 at 4:39 pm

Thank you very much David; refreshing to read!


Jack Wellman December 15, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Hello Emmanuel. Are you saying that John the Apostle is still on earth? Jesus never said John will not die, so what do you mean sir? Thank you.


Jack Wellman June 19, 2020 at 8:45 am

Hello Sharon. I wrote the very same thing in this article at That is what I thought too, so we are in agreement. I know God did not intend us or make us to live 60-70 years old only.


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