The name John
John is the English form of Iohannes, and the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes). It is derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning “YAHWEH is gracious.” Among Palestinian Jews, the name was one of the most popular, even at the time of Jesus where we see several John’s in the Bible
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.
John’s in the Bible
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).
It’s interesting to note that despite the name John being common in the Bible, it was still the name chosen by God for His prophet that would proclaim the coming of Christ. It’s also the name of Christ’s most beloved disciple.
God choosing Names
Seeing several John’s in the Bible might not be coincidence. One might say that choosing a name of a child could be reflective of their future character. This might be why God chose the name of several of His people that would play a role in the Bible:
- Genesis 16:11
The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.
- Genesis 17:19
But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
- Genesis 32:28
He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
- 1 Chronicles 22:9
‘Behold, a son will be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.
- Hosea 1:4
And the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
- Luke 1:13
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. (One of the John’s in the Bible mentioned earlier)
In His service,