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P A R T II.
CHAPTER THE FIFTH.
OF ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL.
1. History of St. John.-II. Genuineness of his Gospel.
III. Place of its Publication.-IV. Its Date.V. Observations.
1. John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and younger brother of James the Great, with whom he was brought up as a fisherman, and with whom he was called to be a disciple and apostle of Christ. John has not recorded the circumstances of his own call; but we learn, from the other three Evangelists (a), that it took place when he and his brother were fishing upon the sea of Galilee, and early in our Saviour's ministry. St. Mark, in enumerating the twelve Apostles, informs us that onr Saviour surnamed these two brothers- Boanerges (b),
(a) Matt. c. 4. v.21. Mark, c. 1. V. 19. Luke, c. 5.
(b) Mark, c. 3. v. 17.
that is, Sons of Thunder, which title we may understand as a prophetic declaration of the zeal and resolution with which they would hereafter bear testimony to the great truths of the Gospel. James and John, according to the common prejudice of the Jews, considered the Messiah's kingdom as of a temporal nature, and applied to our Saviour for situations of honour and dignity in it. St. Mark (c) relates, that this application was made by the Apostles themselves, and St. Matthew (d), that it was made by their mother for them in their presence; but both Evangelists represent our Saviour's answer as directed to the Apostles. These two brothers incurred the reproof of our Saviour upon another occasion, in which they shewed a similar ignorance of the nature of their Master's kingdom : they desired that they might be allowed to call fire from heaven to .consume some Samaritans, who had refused to receive our Saviour, because he was going to Jerusalem: “ Christ turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; for the Sop of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them (e).” John was one of the four Apostles to whom our Lord delivered his pre
(c) Mark, C. JO. V. 35. (e) Luke, c. 9. v.54.
(d) Matt. c. 20. v. 20.
dictions relative to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the approaching calamities of the Jewish nation (f). Peter, and James, and John, were chosen to accompany our Saviour upon several occasions, when the other Apostles were not permitted to be present. When Christ restored the daughter of Jairus to life (g), when he was transfigured on the Mount (h), and when he endured his agony in the garden (i), Peter, and James, and John, were his only attendants. Peter and John were entrusted to make preparations for our Saviour's eating the last passover (k); but. John had alone the distinction of leaning upon his Master's bosom, and of being called the beloved disciple of the Saviour of Mankind (1). That he was treated by Christ with greater familiarity than the other Apostles, is evident from Peter desiring him to ask Christ who should betray him, when he himself did not dare to propose the question (m). He'seems to have been the only Apostle present at the
(f) Mark, c. 13. V. 3. (8) Mark, c. 5. v. 37. Luke, c. 8. v. 51. (h) Matt. C.-17. y. 1. & 2, Mark, c, 9. v. 2. Luke,
C. 9. v. 28.
(i) Matt. c. 26. v. 36 & 37. Mark, c. 14. V. 32 & 33. (k) Mark, c. 14. V. 13, Luke, c. 22. v. 8. (1) John, c. 21. v. 20. C. 13. V. 23, (m) John, c. 13. V, 24.
crucifixion, and to him Jesus, just as he was expiring upon the cross, gave the strongest proof of his confidence and regard, by consigning to him the care of his mother (n). As John had been witness to the death of our Saviour, by seeing the blood and water issue from his side, which a soldier had pierced (o), so he was one of the first who were made acquainted with his resur: rection. He believed, without any hesitation, this great event, though,"“ as yet he knew not the Scripture, that Christ was to rise from the dead (p).” He was one of those to whom our Saviour appeared at the sea of Galilee ; and he was afterwards with the other ten Apostles, a witness of his ascension into Heaven (9). John continued to preach the Gospel for some time at Jerusalem: he was imprisoned by the Sanhedrim, first with Peter only (r), and afterwards with the other Apostles (s). Some time after this second release, John and Peter were sent by the other Apostles to the Samaritans, whom Philip the Deacon had converted to the Gospel, that
through (n) John, c. 19. v. 26 and 27. Eusebius tells us that the Virgin Mary lived about 15 years after the ascension of our Saviour. H. E. lib. 2. cap. 42.
(0) John, c. 19. v. 34 & 35. (D) John, c. 20. v. 9. (9) Mark, c. 16. v. 19. Luke, c. 24. v. 51. (r) Acts, c. 4, V. I, &c. (s) Acts, c. 5.4.17 & 18,
through them they might receive the Holy Ghost (t).” With this journey the Scripture history of St. John ends, except that he informs us in the Revelation, that he was banished to Patmos (u), an island in the Ægean sea.
This banishment of St. John to the isle of Patmos is mentioned by many of the early ecclesiastical writers, and they all agree in attributing it to Domitian, except Epiphanius in the fourth century, who says that John was banished by command of Claudius; but he deserves the less credit; because there was no persecution of the Christians in the time of that emperor, and his edicts against the Jews did not extend to the provinces.
Sir Isaac Newton was of opinion that John was banished to Patmos in the time of Nero; but I own that even the authority of this great man will not weigh with me against the unanimous voice of antiquity (w). Dr. Lardner (y) has examined and answered his arguments with equal candour and learning.
It is not known at what time John went into Asia Minor (2); but it is certain that he lived
(t) Acts, c. 8. v. 14 and 15. (u) Rev. c. 1. v. 9.
(x) Tota antiquitas in eo abunde consentit, quod Domitianus exillii Joannis auctor fuerit. Lampe, Proleg.
(y) Vol. 6. (z) Lardner thought that it was about the year 66.
lib. I. cap. 40