settings icon
share icon

Who wrote the book of John? Who was the author of John?

author of John

The Gospel of John, written by the apostle John, is cherished by many and is often the first book recommended to anyone who wants to learn more about Jesus. John proclaims Jesus as Son of God and Savior, emphasizing belief in Him for salvation. The book contains one of the most well-known verses in the whole Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The concept of Jesus’ deity is affirmed in other Gospels, but the universal consensus is that the Gospel of John proclaims it the loudest. It is the fourth book in the New Testament canon and the last Gospel to be written.

The Gospel of John doesn’t explicitly name its author. At every mention of himself, the author states that he is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (e.g., John 13:23). The author was an eyewitness to the events (see John 21:24), and, based on the fact that he was the disciple “leaning back against Jesus” at the Last Supper (John 13:25), he was likely one of Jesus’ inner circle, with Peter and James. Peter is mentioned as separate from the author (John 21:20), and James was martyred early in the history of the church (Acts 12:2). That leaves John as the remaining disciple of the inner three and, thus, the author.

Apart from the internal clues, the early church uniformly affirmed the authorship of John. Church fathers like Irenaeus plainly spoke of John writing an epistle. Besides Irenaeus, writers like Tatian, Theophilus, Clement, and Tertullian attributed the fourth Gospel to John. John’s Gospel was more theological because he sought to address the theological issues faced by the newer generation of Christians as the apostolic age ended. False teachers had sprung up, questioning core beliefs of Christianity, such as Jesus’ humanity (see 1 John). As a counter, John began his Gospel by introducing the Word who was God and who became flesh (John 1:1, 14).

One objection to John’s authorship concerns his literacy. Being a fisherman, how could he have written a sophisticated and theologically in-depth narrative? First, we mustn’t dismiss John as uneducated because of his profession. Jewish boys received training at an early age, learning to memorize and write the Torah. John was also acquainted with rabbis and Jewish teachers, such as the high priest (John 18:15–16). Also worth considering is the use of a scribe, known as an amanuensis. Literate Paul employed the skill of Tertius, an amanuensis, to write the book of Romans (Romans 16:22). It is possible that John did the same with his Gospel.

Skepticism toward tradition has persisted since the Enlightenment; thus, there will always be criticism concerning the authorship of John. However, the logical conclusion remains that John wrote the Gospel attributed to him.

Return to:

Questions about the Bible

Who wrote the book of John? Who was the author of John?
Subscribe to the

Question of the Week

Get our Question of the Week delivered right to your inbox!

Follow Us: Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube icon Pinterest icon Instagram icon
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy
This page last updated: March 14, 2024