John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 1:37, The Beloved Disciple Inclusio

And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

//Yesterday, I pointed out the Petrine Inclusio in the Gospel of Mark. This, some scholars surmise, is meant to imply that the Gospel of Mark carries the authority of Peter.

Well, a similar inclusio occurs in the Gospel of John, this time highlighting the mysterious Beloved Disciple. In today’s verse, one of the two disciples mentioned is universally considered to be the Beloved Disciple. This verse, then, forms an inclusio with this story in the last chapter of John:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? –John 21:20

So the first and the last disciple mentioned in John’s Gospel is the Beloved Disciple! What makes this particularly fascinating is that John’s Gospel blatantly contradicts Mark’s claim that Peter was the first disciple called, and says instead that it was the Beloved Disciple.

John is claiming a greater authority than Mark: He is claiming the authority of the true first disciple. Indeed, this verse (John 21:20) seems to put Peter and the B.D. at odds. This should hardly come as a surprise, since nearly every time John’s Gospel refers to an event recorded in the Gospel of Mark, John contradicts Mark to set the record straight.


  1. Bible student

    “the first and the last disciple mentioned in John’s Gospel is the Beloved Disciple!” – is a flagrant distortion of the facts because, IN FACT, Andrew and an unidentified disciple BOTH follow Jesus together in the start of the fourth gospel (1:35-40) [and no beloved disciple is noted in the text].

    But given you are so quick to lean on your own understanding (and assume that the fourth gospel “blatantly contradicts” the other gospels, for example), it is no surprise that you would also distort what is presented elsewhere in scripture.

    • Alan Keohane

      I don’t always agree with Lee, but I do appreciate that he challenges my preconceptions and always makes me think. Wouldn’t it be more constructive to engage him in respectful dialog?

      Lee, thanks for continuing to raise interesting questions.

      • Lee Harmon

        Quite welcome, Alan, though I’d love to hear from you more often when you don’t agree. :)

  2. Lee Harmon

    Who do you imagine the other disciple to be, then? It clearly isn’t Peter, who shows up later, so this is a pretty blatant contradiction in my opinion.

    Thanks for contributing!

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