Who Were James and John?
Were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, also part of the original 12 apostles? And was this John the same as the gospel writer John?
Yes, James and John Zebedee were two of the original twelve apostles. There are several books and websites about the Saints that will give you plenty of in-depth information, but here's a brief overview of both men:
James Zebedee (the older brother) is mentioned in various spots in the Gospels (Mt 4:21, Mt 17:1, Mk 1:19, Mk 3:17, Mk 5:37, Mk 10:35, Mk 14:33, Lk 9:54) and in Acts 12:1-3 and is the first "recorded" apostle to be martyred. The verse is unclear whether he was stabbed or beheaded, scholars disagree over that point.
He was known as "James the Greater" not because he was better than the other James, necessarily, but because he was evangelized and began following Jesus prior to his counterpart. He is one of the patron saints of Spain and was one of the 'Big Three' inner circle of Jesus', along with Simon Peter and his younger brother, John; together, the three witnessed several private miracles and occurences with Christ, away from not only the crowds, but also the other apostles.
John Zebedee is probably the youngest of all the apostles. He is credited with being the author of the Gospel of John, almost everyone, in fact, believes St. John to be referring to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" in verses like Jn 13:23 and Jn 20:2. It was not a "slam" to the rest of the disciples, but a way of showing credibility, intimacy and love by the author as he re-told the stories of events he witnessed firsthand. The Gospel of John was written years after the synoptic Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, and is written with a very different audience and purpose in mind. For more information on that, be sure to read the Introduction pages to the Gospel of John in your Bible, there is great information to be found.
St. John is also credited with having written 1, 2, and 3 John and the Book of Revelation. Most scholars don't believe that St. John wrote all three letters, but many agree that St. John did write the Book of Revelation after receiving visions while exiled on the Island of Patmos.
I hope this helped. Have fun breaking open the word further.
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