Lives of Illustrious Men – John, the Apostle and Evangelist

[el Greco's painting of Saint John the Evangelist]

John, the apostle whom Jesus most loved, the son of Zebedee and brother of James, the apostle whom Herod, after our Lord’s passion, beheaded, most recently of all the evangelists wrote a Gospel, at the request of the bishops of Asia, against Cerinthus and other heretics and especially against the then growing dogma of the Ebionites, who assert that Christ did not exist before Mary. On this account he was compelled to maintain His divine nativity. But there is said to be yet another reason for this work, in that when he had read Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he approved indeed the substance of the history and declared that the things they said were true, but that they had given the history of only one year, the one, that is, which follows the imprisonment of John and in which he was put to death. So passing by this year the events of which had been set forth by these, he related the events of the earlier period before John was shut up in prison, so that it might be manifest to those who should diligently read the volumes of the four Evangelists. This also takes away the discrepancy which there seems to be between John and the others. He wrote also one Epistle which begins as follows “That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes and our hands handled concerning the word of life” which is esteemed of by all men who are interested in the church or in learning. The other two of which the first is “The elder to the elect lady and her children” and the other “The elder unto Gaius the beloved whom I love in truth,” are said to be the work of John the presbyter to the memory of whom another sepulchre is shown at Ephesus to the present day, though some think that there are two memorials of this same John the evangelist. We shall treat of this matter in its turn when we come to Papias his disciple. In the fourteenth year then after Nero Domitian having raised a second persecution he was banished to the island of Patmos, and wrote the Apocalypse, on which Justin Martyr and Irenaeus afterwards wrote commentaries. But Domitian having been put to death and his acts, on account of his excessive cruelty, having been annulled by the senate, he returned to Ephesus under Pertinax and continuing there until the tithe of the emperor Trajan, founded and built churches throughout all Asia, and, worn out by old age, died in the sixty-eighth year after our Lord’s passion and was buried near the same city.

MLA Citation

  • Saint Jerome. “John, the Apostle and Evangelist”. Lives of Illustrious Men, translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson. Saints.SQPN.com. 29 July 2012. Web. 21 September 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/lives-of-illustrious-men-john-the-apostle-and-evangelist/>