Saint John the Evangelist, the son of Zebedee and Salome, lived on the shores of the sea of Galilee. He and his brother, James, followed the Baptist when he preached repentance in the wilderness of Jordan. There can be little doubt that the two disciples, who followed Jesus after the Baptist exclaimed with prophetic perception, "Behold the Lamb of God!" were Andrew and John. John apparently followed his new Master to Galilee, and was with Him at the marriage feast of Cana, journeyed with Him to Capernaum, and thenceforth never left Him, save when sent on the missionary expedition with another, invested with the power of healing. He, James, and Peter, came within the innermost circle of their Lord's friends, and these three were suffered to remain with Christ when all the rest of the apostles were kept at a distance.

Apart from the writings that bear his name (Revelation, the Gospel, and the three Epistles) there are few references to Saint John in the New Testament, but, those few incidental references do at once suggest the complete portrait. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all associate James and John with Saint Peter in the story of the Transfiguration, which John omits altogether--probably for the reason that the others have told it so fully, his desire being to write what the others had omitted, or give precision to what they had sometimes told with the natural discrepancies of minds confronted with a light from beyond the world.

Saint John gives that vital personal memory of the moment when our Lord spoke of His approaching betrayal by one among them. The son of the fisherman rested his head upon the breast of his Master, and hearing "the beating of His Heart," asked Him, "Lord, who is it?" Often John speaks of "the disciple whom Jesus loved." He clearly does this to confirm and deepen the authority of his personal testimony, but his use of the third person is evidence, not of vanity, but of exactly the opposite. Saint John avoids the use of the capital "I," except in passages of Revelation where it is used with astonishment: "I John saw the Holy City." But elsewhere he avoids egotism by the use of the first person plural, associating himself with the other eyewitnesses: "That which we have seen and heard we declare to you."

Adapted from Alfred Noyes, "Life of Saint John."