Free & Accepted Masons


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A Biography of Saint John the Evangelist

from The Southern California Research Lodge F&AM

by RW Sydney Grunberg PDDGM

Saint John the Evangelist and apostle of Jesus, whose gospel is so important to all Freemasons, was born in Bethaida, in Galilee, AD99. A son of Zebedee, a Galilean fisherman, and to Salome, throughout the New Testament, he is referred to as being a disciple of Jesus, who loved him because he distinguished himself by his gentleness and humility.

He was a much different type than John the Baptist. He was more calm and thoughtful, only arriving at a decision after careful study, and never threatened, but tried to win by persuasion.

After the ascension of Jesus, he returned to Patmos. After the Crucifixion, he returned from exile to Asia Minor and settled at Ephesus, where it is probable that he died at a very old age. He was a man of great energy and poetic fire and life; in his early years somewhat haughty and intolerant, but afterwards an example of love. However, there was one incident told in the Gospel where his good judgment was overcome by his hasty action. He, with other disciples, had accompanied Jesus to a village whose residents were mostly Samaritans, between whom and the people there was little feeling. So when the Samaritans refused to receive or listen to Jesus and his disciples, James and John asked permission to pray for fire to come down and destroy them. Jesus not only refused their request, but rebuked them for such thought, saying "Ye know knot what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."

In the 2nd century, John the apostle was identified by Justin with the prophet John who suffered on the island of Patmos, wrote the Book of Revelation. Yet, in Revelation 21:14, that writer implicitly differentiates himself from the group of twelve apostles. An even stronger tradition was reported by Irenaeus in which John is identified as the unnamed Beloved Disciple of Jesus, who was the source of the Fourth Gospel and, hence, an evangelist. The title "John the Divine" designates him a theologian because of the quality of the Gospel.

The Beloved Disciple seemingly lived a long life and did not die a martyr, hence the tradition that john lived at Ephesus in Asia Minor until early in the reign of Trajan (98 -117 AC). Irenaeus has him confronting the heretic Cerinthus in the public baths there, perhaps a legendary recollection of the type of doctrinal conflict found in the Epistles of John. Tertullian says that John was taken from Ephesus to Rome and cast into a cauldron of boiling oil before the Latin Gate. Other ancient legends have him raising a dead man to life, reclaiming a robber for Christ, and constantly repeating in his old age, "Little children, love one another."

Of the four figurative representations of the evangelists based on Ezekiel 1:10 and Revelation 4:7, John was depicted as an eagle because of the soaring theology of the Gospel prologue.

The Gospel of Saint John the Evangelist is especially important to the Freemasons, for he preached love, and his book contains all the fundamental doctrines of Freemasonry. As a Freemason ought never to forget that he has laid his hand upon the Gospel of Saint John, so should he never cease to love his Brethren according to the doctrine of love contained in that sacred book. Many Lodges celebrate his anniversary, the 27th of December.

The primary purpose of commemorating these patrons is to remind Masons of their obligations, to weed evil out of their lives and to nurture and cultivate their finest strains. It also reminds them that his can best be done through friendship, understanding, and mutual aid.

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