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The Apologetic of the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

It is well documented that early Christians suffered for their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. All of the apostles except for John were martyred and it is said that John was arrested at Ephesus and cast into a vessel filled with boiling oil in Rome; after this, banished by the Emperor Domitian to the island of Patmos.[1]Throughout church history John the apostle has been attributed with authoring the fourth canonical gospel. Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 170) is the first writer known to call John the author. Polycarp, a second-generation Christian sat under the teaching of John the apostle. Irenaeus, a third-generation Christian sat under the teaching of Polycarp[2]who was martyred in Rome A.D. 155.[3]For unknown reasons Irenaeus migrated to Lyons where he died in A.D. 202. Irenaeus was likely martyred for his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as well.[4]Irenaeus widely quoted the fourth canonical gospel in his writings and attributed authorship to John the apostle; therefore, from Irenaeus on, the fourth canonical gospel has been attributed to John the apostle.[5]There is no reason for me to doubt John’s authorship and I believe that he is the author; however, the author of the fourth canonical was purposely anonymous, for that reason the author will be referred to throughout this writing the way that he referred to himself: “The disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Through the first few chapters of Acts (1-8) and prior to the conversion of Saul/Paul, (Acts 9) Peter and John are running partners. (cf.Jn.20:3-5) Along with the Pauline epistles, Peter and John’s epistles play a great part in New Testament theology. It is in 1 Peter 3:13-22 that Peter talks about Christian’s being prepared to suffer for doing good, and in the midst of this suffering to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, always being ready to give a defense for our hope to everyone who asks and do so with gentleness and reverence. (1Pt.3:15) 
It is from this text that an entire branch of Christian philosophy has been developed; however, this branch has become more Greco/Roman than any other branch of Christian study. Peter and John are Jewish Christians; therefore, I find it interesting that the most Greco/Roman branch of Christian thinking came from a text written by a Jewish follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The branch of Christian philosophy that I am referring to is called apologetics which comes from the Greek word apologia, a Greek term about giving a defense in court.[6]Christ warned his disciples, “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.” (Mk.13:9, NASB)
It is my belief that the fourth canonical gospel written by the disciple whom Jesus loved is in fact an apologetic; however, not Greco/Roman as apologetics are done today but Jewish; therefore, not recognized as an apologetic writing. The apostle Paul wrote, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Cor.1:22-24, NASB) I believe the fourth canonical gospel is a literarily Jewish apologetic because it is a book of signs about Jesus. (cf.Jn.20:30-31) 


[1]John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs(Alachua: Bridge Logos Foundation, 2001), 1-8.
[2]William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, 4thed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1463.
[3]Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity Volume I: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation, 2nded. (New York: harper Collins, 2010), 54.
[4]Ibid, 84.
[5]William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, 4thed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1463.
[6]Francis Beckwith, “Introduction,” in To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, ed. Frances J. Beckwith, et al. (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2004), 14.

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