The Father William Most Collection
John The Apostle = Beloved Disciple
[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]
l. St. Irenaeus 3. 1. 1: "Then John the disciple (mathetes) of the Lord, who reclined on His bosom, also put forth a Gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia."
Comment: Eusebius 4. 14. 3-8 reports that Irenaeus had heard Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who had heard John.
Objection 1: There is no NT evidence John lived at Ephesus. Reply: Apoc. 1. 9 says it was written at Patmos near Ephesus by a John.
Objection 2: But in Apoc. 18. 20 & 21. 14 the writer speaks as if he is not one of the twelve. Reply: Apoc. 18. 20 merely speaks of "saints, apostles and prophets" -- no implication. 21. 14 also merely speaks of the names of the apostles of the Lamb written on the stones of the foundation. No need to imply author is or is not one of them.
Objection 3: Paul at Ephesus in 58 AD, Acts 20. 18ff does not mention John, nor does the Epistle to the Ephesians(63 AD?). Ignatius to the Ephesians mentions the work of Paul at Ephesus, but no mention of John. Reply: John may not have gone to Ephesus until the Jewish revolt, 66-70. On the other hand, Justin Martyr at Ephesus c. 135 does say John, one of the Apostles had lived there: Trypho 81. 4.
2. Muratorian Fragment (170-200) does say it was John, one of the disciples who wrote the Gospel.
3. Anti-Marcionite Prologue says "John the Apostle, one of the Twelve, wrote the Apocalypse on the island of Patmos, and after that the Gospel." Date debated. Some think 160-180 AD.
4. John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, p. 449: argues, referring to John 21. 20-23: "Thus it seems likely that this beloved disciple is Peter, James or John, one of the three privileged disciples; he cannot be Peter, and James was martyred in 44, too early to be the author of the Gospel." So it should be John the son of Zebedee. McK also notices that John is mentioned twice in Mt, 9 times in Mk, 6 times in Lk, never in John.
5. There are intrinsic reasons, which are highly probable: The beloved disciple reclined on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper, was present at the cross, went to the tomb with Peter, had Mary the Mother of Jesus entrusted to his care. --So it seems he was one of the special three, Peter, James and John. Now the beloved disciple is of course not Peter, nor could he be James who was a martyr in 42 AD. So it almost certainly must be John the Apostle.