John is the English form of Iohannes, and the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes). And it is derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning “YAHWEH is gracious.” Among Palestinian Jews, the name was one of the most popular.
The New Testament mentions five different Johns:
- John the Baptist son of Zechariah, figures prominently in the beginning of each of the four Gospels (Matthew 3:1).
- John, son of Zebedee was one of the Twelve Apostles, along with his brother James. This John is mentioned frequently in the Synoptic Gospels, but always (with a lone exception) in company with his brother James or with Peter or often with both (Matthew 4:21).
- The father of the Apostles Simon Peter and Andrew also was known as Jonah (John 21:15).
- A member of the Jewish council (Acts 4:3).
- The nephew of Barnabas was also called Mark or John Mark (Acts 12:12).
The name John was initially more common among Eastern Christians in the Byzantine Empire, but it flourished in Western Europe after the First Crusade. In England it became extremely popular: during the later Middle Ages it was given to approximately a fifth of all English boys.
In His service,
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