Who is The Disciple That Jesus Loved? Biblical Truth

By Charalampos •  Updated: 04/01/23 •  7 min read

Are you curious about who the disciple Jesus loved might be? It’s a mystery that has been pondered by theologians, and Bible scholars over centuries.

As Christians, understanding the identity of this special individual can help us to gain further insight into the life of Jesus and His mission here on Earth.

In this blog post, we’ll explore different theories surrounding who Jesus may have introduced as “the disciple whom he loved,” so grab your Bible and let’s dive in!

John the Evangelist

John the Evangelist

The Gospel of John mentions the disciple whom Jesus loved several times, but never by name.

John 13:23 is written about a disciple whom Jesus loved. It’s said that he was reclining at Jesus’ side. This shows that the disciple also had a big love for Jesus.

Later, in John 19:26, Jesus says “Woman, behold your son,” referring to the beloved disciple, and saying it to the mother of Jesus.

In John 21:20, it says that Peter saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. There is also written that this was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper. It shows that the words “whom Jesus loved” refer to the same person.

We can’t find such words in other Gospels. The tradition of the Church considers the apostle John to be the author of the Gospel of John, and he is traditionally identified as the “beloved disciple”.

The Disciple is Not Named

Jesus with his Disciples

The fact that this disciple is not named has led to much speculation about his identity. Some scholars have suggested that the beloved disciple was Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Others have suggested that the disciple was Mary Magdalene or even a fictional character created by the author of the Gospel of John.

However, Orthodox Christian tradition has generally held that the beloved disciple was John the Evangelist, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.

This view is supported by several Church Fathers, who wrote about the Gospel of John and the figure of the beloved disciple.

The Church Fathers on The Disciple That Jesus Loved

Saint Augustine of Hippo, for example, writes in his Commentary on John: “It is generally agreed that the beloved disciple is John, the son of Zebedee, the apostle whom Jesus loved more than the others.”

So, the saint literally tells us who was the beloved apostle. Most probably the word beloved means that Jesus saw a special potential in him since God loves everyone equally.

Saint Augustine explains that John’s close relationship with Jesus is an example for all Christians to follow: “He was the disciple whom Jesus loved because he loved Jesus more than the others. And so, we too can be the disciple whom Jesus loves, if we love him with all our hearts.”

It proves the opinion that John was a special disciple because he loved Jesus the most.

Saint John Chrysostom also identified the beloved disciple as John the Evangelist. In his Homilies on the Gospel of John, he writes: “It is clear that the beloved disciple is John, the son of Zebedee because he was closer to Jesus than any of the other disciples.”

Saint Cyril of Alexandria shares the same opinion. He writes: “The disciple whom Jesus loved is none other than John the Evangelist, who reclined on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper.” (Commentary on John) 
Thus, we can’t find any difference in the opinions of the Church Fathers regarding this question. All of them state that it was John.

This opinion is based on many facts. John the Evangelist is often mentioned alongside Peter in the Gospel of John, and he is described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” in several key scenes.

Read Also: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?

The Significance of This Disciple

The Disciple That Jesus Loved

The significance of the disciple whom Jesus loved in Orthodox Christian teaching goes beyond simply identifying him as John the Evangelist.

Rather, Orthodox Church Fathers have shown the role of the beloved disciple as a model for all Christians to follow, and as an embodiment of the ideal relationship that all Christians should wish to have with Christ.

How Christians Should Treat Jesus

Saint John Chrysostom writes about the significance of the beloved disciple in his Homilies on the Gospel of John: “The beloved disciple was a model for us, teaching us how to be close to Christ, how to listen to his words, and how to follow his example.”

Indeed, John often asked questions, listened to Jesus, and was very close to him. It shows the enormous love that he had for Jesus. This is exactly how all Christians should treat Jesus, not like a simple prophet or a teacher, but as God, who loves everyone equally.

Related Read: Where is Jesus?

Imitating the Love

Saint Cyril of Alexandria also shows the importance of imitating the beloved disciple’s relationship with Jesus: “Let us learn from the example of the beloved disciple how to love Jesus and follow him with all our hearts, as he did”. This is also what other Church Fathers said. This love goes beyond the definition of feelings for a person. It’s a true love that includes self-sacrifice and willingness to give own life for something or someone.

This disciple is also a symbol of the Church, which must be full of love and always listen to the words of the Savior.

Trusting The Church

Saint Augustine writes in his Commentary on John that the disciple signifies the trust of the Church, which rests close to the heart of Christ, listening to his words and receiving nourishment from his love.

In John 19:26 Jesus entrusts the care of His mother to the disciple, saying: “Woman, behold your son.” By the Church Fathers, this verse is seen as a symbol of the Church’s adoption.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria said “Jesus entrusted his mother to the beloved disciple, just as he entrusts the Church to those who love him. We too are called to be sons and daughters of God, and to care for one another as members of his family.” (Commentary on John)

The disciple who loved Jesus the most became a symbol of the Church of Christ. Before going to God the Father He gives this Church to people who love him.

The saint Cyril of Alexandria also writes that the disciple saw the empty tomb and believed in the resurrection of Christ. He says that Christians must believe the same way, even though we do not see, and hold fast to the hope of the resurrection. (Commentary on John) 

You May Also Like: How Old Was Mary When She Had Jesus?

Final Thoughts

It can be concluded that due to the Orthodox Christian tradition, we believe that the author of the Gospel of John was the apostle John, and therefore John was the beloved disciple.

He is seen as a model of faith, love, and devotion to Christ. It’s a great example of how people should believe and listen to God.

Some Church Fathers also say that he is a symbol of the Church, which Jesus gave to people who love him. It shows what the Church should look like, in other words, it should be full of love and always adhere to the words of Jesus. 

Saint Augustine of Hippo. Commentary on John.
Saint John Chrysostom. Homilies on the Gospel of John.
Cyril of Alexandria. Commentary on John


Charalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.

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