The beloved disciple was probably John, one of the 12 apostles. The beloved disciple is the author of the fourth gospel, attributed to John. He was very close to Jesus and followed him throughout his ministry.
Why does the beloved disciple not identify himself?
The beloved disciple probably did not use his name out of modesty. He recorded the names of other disciples and followers of Jesus but not his. The beloved disciple recorded the events of John’s gospel and seems to have been known to early readers of that gospel, so he didn’t need to identify himself ( John 21:24 ).
The beloved disciple may not have identified himself for literary reasons either: for each reader to identify more easily with him. Whoever reads the gospel of John can put himself in the place of the disciple Jesus loved, because he loves all his disciples.
See also: who was João de Patmos?
John was one of Jesus’ closest disciples , along with his brother James and Peter, his fishing partner ( Luke 5: 9-10 ). He followed Jesus from the beginning of his ministry, so he would have a lot of information to write a gospel. The evidence points to John:
- The beloved disciple was one of the 12 apostles, who were at the table with Jesus at the last supper – Mark 14: 16-18; John 13: 21-24
- The gospel of John never speaks the names of John or his brother James, but speaks of Peter, Andrew and other less intimate apostles of Jesus
- James was killed before the writing of the gospel of John, so the beloved disciple could not be James – Acts 12: 1-2
- The beloved disciple was a friend of Peter and accompanied him to many sides, just like John
Do you want to know more about Jesus’ apostles? See here: who were the 12 apostles?
The evidence and the oldest tradition point to John as the beloved disciple but there are some other suggestions:
- James– John’s brother, he just couldn’t have been the beloved disciple because he died before the writing of John’s gospel, which implies that the beloved disciple was still alive when it was written – John 21: 23-24
- Lazarus– he was loved by Jesus; on the other hand, he was not an apostle – only the 12 apostles ate at Jesus’ table at the last supper, where the beloved disciple was
- One woman– there were several women who followed Jesus but were not part of the 12 apostles; the beloved disciple was a man