John & James - Mark: Chapter 10


I was re-reading Mark 10 - and I’m specifically struck by the passage detailing John and James’ requests to be sat at the right and left of Christ in heaven. Of course Christ makes known what one must go through if they wish to be held in heavenly high esteem.
The way I have understood this is that James and John must suffer martyrdom. Am I right?

We know James was martyred, fulfilling Christ’s prophesy - however, does John fulfil Christ’s prophesy? Though it seems he suffered enough for the Lord, in one way or another (boiling cauldron in Rome comes to mind), but we’re less clear as to how he perished…


Since it is not known how John died, can not be sure if he suffered martyrdom. The end of the Gospel of John seems to suggest he did not. However, he did appear to suffer during his life time.


It could be that since John the Beloved was at the Cross that God decided that him seeing Jesus on the cross was suffering enough. I’m still not sure though.


I see your point. And if the Churches tradition is correct about John’s venture into Rome - and his suffering within, surely that would fulfil prophesy.


Is it heresy to believe there was more than one John - significant to the Churches development post Resurrection?

I suppose what I’m trying to say is - could John of Patmos be another John, and not the same as the son of Zebedee?


Although it is not against Tradition to think so, the evidence we have from the Church Fathers say that John of Patmos and John the Apostle are one and the same.


Thanks. So this means that John’s demise - a martyrs demise is in question. Though, as stated above, if Church tradition is correct about John’s suffering in Rome, suffering of the heart in view of our Lord’s Passion, and his tireless work preaching, to me that would fit the criteria of a martyr in many ways!

Ben Witherington believes the two John’s are different. I don’t know too much about Ben Witherington, but through a little google searching I found an article in which he states a belief in two John’s - one being the son of Zebedee, who was most likely martyred along with his brother.


Jesus posed these questions, but he never promised those spots. They are reserved for those the Father has chosen, He said. So even if they were martyred, that does not mean they would get the spots. Not that there are any spots, really, since there is nothing “material” in heaven.



I wasn’t actually probing whether John and James obtained their positions in the kingdom of heaven, how can we ever know that? I was simply trying to find out how John died, and whether his death fits Jesus’ prophesy.


Jesus also said this about about John in Gospel of John 21:

"20Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate."

I have always thought that John had a very long life, and have never heard that he was martyred.


Thank you :slight_smile:
And combined with church tradition we realise Saint John did more than his fair share of work and sacrifice. Definitely earned.


Well, the more common tradition claims that John was the only apostle to not suffer martyrdom and was the last apostle to ever die. But here are a few scattered references in ancient sources (for example, ancient calendars and martyrologies) which seems to hint - to a few people, at least - that no, John was actually also martyred. However, scholars are still debating about whether these sources do really speak of John dying a violent death or whether people are just reading too much into them.

This author for example (Sean McDowell, The Fate of the Apostles), judges the idea of John experiencing martyrdom to be ‘improbable’. John Henry Bernard in his commentary on John’s gospel also dismisses the idea.


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