Table of Contents
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 individuals by the name John 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.
The Different Johns in the Bible
The New Testament mentions five different Johns:
- John the Baptist son of Zechariah. This person appears prominently in the beginning of each of the four Gospels. He was the herald of Christ and also his relative. He preached and baptized people in the Jordan river. Herod beheaded him because the prophet had condemned their marriage as adulterous.
- John, son of Zebedee. He was one of the Twelve Apostles, along with his brother James. He 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).
- This John was the father of the Apostles Simon Peter and Andrew. He was known as Jonah (John 21:15).
- This John was a member of the Jewish council (Acts 4:5-6) and is mentioned in the book of Acts at the trial of Peter.
- This John was the nephew of Barnabas and was also called 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 Johns 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 names of several of His people that would play a role in the Bible:
- Genesis 16:11
The angel of the Lord said to Hagar, “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
The Lord said to Abraham, “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
The Lord said to the Patriarch, “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
The Lord said to David, “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 Hosea, “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
The angel said to the priest, “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.”
In His service,