The Death Of The Apostle John

(a) Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, II, 22, 5; III, 3, 4. (MSG, 7:785,


Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons soon after 177. He was born in Asia

Minor about 120, and was a disciple of Polycarp (ob. circa 155)

and of other elders who had seen John, the disciple of the Lord.

II, 22, 5. Those in Asia associated with John, the disciple of the Lord,

testify that
ohn delivered it [a tradition regarding the length of

Christ's ministry] to them. For he remained among them until the time of

Trajan [98-117 A. D.].

III, 3, 4. But the church in Ephesus also, which was founded by Paul, and

where John remained until the time of Trajan, is a faithful witness of the

apostolic tradition.

(b) Jerome, Comm. ad Galat. (MSL, 26:462.)

The following extract from Jerome's commentary on Galatians is of

such late date as to be of doubtful value as an authority. There

is, however, nothing improbable in it, and it is in harmony with

other traditions. It is to be taken as a tradition which at any

rate represents the opinion of the fourth century regarding the

Apostle John. Cf. Jerome, De Viris Inlustribus, ch. 9 (PNF,

ser. II, vol. III, 364).

When the holy Evangelist John had lived to extreme old age in Ephesus, he

could be carried only with difficulty by the hands of the disciples, and

as he was not able to pronounce more words, he was accustomed to say at

every assembly, "Little children, love one another." At length the

disciples and brethren who were present became tired of hearing always the

same thing and said: "Master, why do you always say this?" Thereupon John

gave an answer worthy of himself: "Because this is the commandment of the

Lord, and if it is observed then is it enough."

(c) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., III, 31. (MSG, 20:279.)

Polycrates was bishop of Ephesus and a contemporary of Victor of

Rome (189-199 A. D.). His date cannot be fixed more precisely. The

reference to the "high priest's mitre" is obscure; see J. B.

Lightfoot, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 345. A

longer extract from this epistle of Polycrates will be found under

the Easter Controversy (§ 38).

The time of John's death has been given in a general way,(1) but his

burial-place is indicated by an epistle of Polycrates (who was bishop of

the parish of Ephesus) addressed to Victor of Rome, mentioning him,

together with the Apostle Philip and his daughters, in the following

words: "For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise

again at the last day, at the coming of the Lord, when he shall come with

glory from heaven and seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one

of the twelve Apostles, who sleeps at Hierapolis, and his two aged virgin

daughters, and another daughter who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests

at Ephesus; and moreover John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who

reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and being a priest wore the high

priest's mitre, also sleeps at Ephesus."