The Gospel of John is the fourth Gospel in the New Testament. It contains a variety of statements and information about Jesus not contained in the Synoptic Gospels. While John’s content may be unique, he presents a different side of Jesus that is complementary to the other three Gospels and helps provide its readers with a clearer understanding of his divinity and pre-existence.


The only internal clue to the authorship of Gospel is John 21:20-24, which attribute the source of the account to ‘the Beloved Disciple’. ‘The Beloved Disciple’ is not named anywhere in the Gospel, but he is mentioned a few key times; he is beside Jesus at the last supper (John 13:22-25), is present at the crucifixion and is told to care for Jesus’ mother (John 19:25-27) and sees the empty tomb (John 20:1-8). The traditional identity of this disciple is John the Apostle. Theophilus of Antioch (c. 170) quotes the prologue of the Gospel and attributes it to John.[1] Eusebius of Caesarea quotes Irenaeus as saying that the disciple John, ‘who reclined on his bosom’, wrote a Gospel in Ephesus.[2] The Muratorian fragment (c. 170) also attributes the Gospel to John the Disciple.[3]

There is no direct evidence that this John is the son of Zebedee, and some scholars have suggested an alternative ‘John the Elder’. However, there is no direct evidence for the existence of this alternate John, and it is reasonable to assume that early church writers would specify if ‘John the Disciple’ was different to ‘John of Zebedee’, since the latter is so prominent in the Synoptic Gospels.[4]

One may accept the internal biblical data and the external evidence as proof that John, son of Zebedee wrote the Gospel. However, one may later change one’s opinion like Raymond E. Brown, author of the Anchor Bible commentary, who rescinded his earlier commentary opinion: “I now recognize that the external and internal evidence are probably not to be harmonize” (Brown, 1979, p. 34).–Rcnabi260 23:33, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Anyway, we must admit there is, however, no direct scriptural evidence that the author was John the disciple. We may conjecture that the author connected with John the Baptist and the community, itself. , only that it was a disciple who was very close to Jesus and an eye-witness. Some scholars suggest that the disciple might be Lazarus, who is the only male in the Gospel specifically described as being loved by Jesus (John 11:3-5).[5] Additionally, the phrase “we know that his testimony is true” in John 21:24 suggests that some form of editorial process has occurred after the initial writing. One possibility is that 24b was added on by the original community as a form of signature at the end of the document. A second possibility is that the entire chapter 21 was add to the original text (note the possible conclusion at John 20:31, potentially to explain the death of the ‘Disciple whom Jesus Loved’, who was rumoured to never die.[6]

The convention is to talk about the author as ‘John the Evangelist’, or just ‘John’, leaving open the question of whether it is John the son of Zebedee, or another close disciple who is the source and primary author of this Gospel.


There are two views concerning the date of John’s Gospel:

1) The traditional view places the writing of John around A.D. 85 or later. This view is supported on two types of evidence.

First, we note that “indeed, the action of expulsion might be connected with the reformulation ca. A. D. 85 of one of the Eighteen Benedictions (Shemoneh Esreh)which were recited in the synagogues. The reformulation of the Twelfth Benediction involved a curse on the minim, i.e., on deviators who seemingly included the Jewish Christians” (Brown, 1979, p. 22).–Rcnabi260 23:48, 8 December 2010 (UTC) Second, this view is supported by a statement from Clement of Alexandria that John wrote to supplement the other Gospel accounts. This would place his writings later in the first-century, considering the traditional view that the other Gospel writers wrote before A.D. 70. It is also argued that John’s theology appears more developed, giving suspicion for a later date.


  • Andreas Köstenberger, John. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2004.
  • D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John. Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, 1991.
  • C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction With Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text, 2nd edition. Westminster John Knox, 1978.

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