The apostle of love

Recently we talked about Peter’s dramatic change, from a coward simple man into a bold preacher of the Gospel. Another person who went through a change like that was the apostle John. The Gospel written by John is my favorite book of the Bible, and he is the apostle that I like the most. Why? Mostly because he was known for his love.

John - apostle of love

Picture credit: St John the evangelist, by Guido Reni (Creative Commons)

Nowadays, people call John the “apostle of love”, but it wasn’t always like that. In fact, when John and his brother James first joined Jesus’ disciples, they were called “sons of thunder” (see Mark 3:17), which shows that they were mostly known by their temper.

We know that Peter’s faithfulness to Jesus failed when he denied Him three times. But John also failed a test before that:

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. (Luke 9:51-56)

Yep, John and James wanted to destroy the whole city. Not exactly what Jesus meant by loving your enemies, right? They definitely had faith, but they lacked love.

John was probably like many of us. He was probably a “good person”. But Jesus wanted more. He wanted him to live the love of God!

But in order to live the love of God, John needed the source of that love in him. So John was only able to fully love when he received the Holy Spirit.

John talks about love in the three epistoles credited to him, and, according to the Church tradition, when he was of very old age, he was carried to the meetings and was only able to give very short sermons, saying “my children, love one another”1. That became the focus of his ministry.

Like Peter, he was also changed by the Holy Spirit, which finally enabled him to love like Jesus wanted him to. He changed from wanting to destroy a city that didn’t welcome them to teaching and preaching about love. And most importantly, living it.

In John’s own words, love is the proof of the change made by the Holy Spirit:

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (1 John 3:14)

May we all allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and enable us to live the love of God.


  1. Loving, loving, and loving again.  That’s all we can rely on.  From others and TO others.  And, gratefully, as we choose to walk with the Lord through that gift of the Holy Spirit… ain’t nothin’ better or more successful.  Period.  Forever and ever.  Amen!  [And John, in Revelation, truly is my favorite.  It’s, basically, my favorite Book.]

    • I still need to do a proper study of Revelation. I have read it several times, and I have heard sermons about some parts of it, but I still want to read it slowly and carefully, with some study tools. It is a unique book and it handles very important matters.

      •  I started to read it again today.  Think I told you, but I had read it for 6 months last year… about 40 times.  The Lord had me buried in it. [I’ve read it many times over the years; it truly is one of my favorites.] Have it in the Amplified with extra translation/version phrases added in various places.  Read the first 7 chapters today; will read the next 15 tomorrow and Saturday.  I get so excited when I’m reading portions of it.  Not all, of course, but some of it just makes me rejoice … hollering Hallelujah!!! while I’m reading.  Wish you could be sitting in the room with me and we could be worshiping and rejoicing together. 

        • Joanne, I’ve never tried to study a book like that, reading it several times, one after the other. It might be really interesting to do it, I will try it out.
          I am currently reading the whole Bible, I am using for the first time an English translation (NIV). I am using a reading plan to read it in one year, and I am reading it in chronological order. I read an Portuguese translation in that order, and I enjoyed it so much. It gives us a different perspective and it helps have a better view of everything that was happening in parallel.
          I too would enjoy to be able to worship together. That’s one of the shortcomings of the Internet: there are tons of tools, but nothing replaces people talking in person…
          Blessings, sister!

          •  Actually, I’m doing the same.  It’s the Reese Chronological Bible… done in KJV.  I read it every couple years.  Amazingly how the the Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and I Sam. mix… adding Ps. here and there.  It’s one of my favorite ways to study. THEN I also was reading the NT the same way.  The reason I’m in Revelation at the moment is b/c that’s the last book in the NT both in the usual one and in the Chronological.  However, with the Revelation, I don’t stay in KJV, but go back to my Amp.  So, as of tomorrow, I finish it and that means I will have read the NT since Dec. 26.  In the OT, I’m in King David’s reign and tomorrow the reading is when he grabs Bathsheba, etc.  So, the total pages in 2 months will be nearly 800 pages.  That’s my goal… and I should be able to finish the Bible in 2 more months.  I won’t be re-reading the NT, just adding extra pages to my daily plan so I can finish.  I never know what the Lord will lay on my lap until I finish a project He assigned.  [I read a variety of translations.  I haven’t read the Message.  For some reason, I just can’t handle that one… others really love it, though.]

            Hmm.  Have learned much in the past re: my reading.  Maybe you and I can share.  Blessings….  I’m headed for church with 3 of my Bhutanese teens to watch a movie.  Would rather be home checking in on posts, but need to take care of my other dear ones, instead.

  2. John’s message? God is Love. When we show God’s love, even to the unlovable, we show the Light of God to a darkened world.

    • That’s right, Paul. Thank you for the comment and have a great 2013! God bless you!

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