The below 2 verses in the Gospel of John seem to indicate that "John" was not the true author of this Gospel.

This intertextual proof seems to indicate that it was him because of the usage of personal pronouns "We know" and also "This is the disciple...".

24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

What sort of arguments for/against can be said concerning these passages?

Reference: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+21%3A24-25&version=NIV


Compare "I am the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down" with "This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down." The first would be a claim to authorship, while the second - which we find in John 21:24 - is not, although it does not entirely preclude the beloved disciple being the author.

Then look at "We know that his testimony is true," again from John 21:24. This was certainly not written by the beloved disciple.

The combined effect of these two observations is that the beloved disciple was not the author of gospel now known as John's Gospel. If, as tradition holds, the beloved disciple was John, that also immediately rules out John as the author.

On the other hand, there is no real evidence that John was the beloved disciple, this being an assumption that developed among the Church Fathers later in the second century. If John and the beloved disciple were two different people, we need to look at John 21:24-25 with a different perspective. The claim that it was the beloved disciple who testified these things and wrote these things would now rule out John as the author, because otherwise it would really be John who testified these things and wrote these things. The ambiguous statement in verse 25, "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose ..." also does not read much like the testimony of an eyewitness, who would more likely say something along the lines of "I witnessed many other things ..."

Overall, whether or not the beloved disciple and John were the same person, the evidence of John 21:24-25, taken in isolation, indicates that neither was the author of John.

  • "There is no real evidence that John was the beloved disciple" - although John is a prominent figure in the other gospels and somehow goes un-named in the fourth Gospel. It's a fairly natural conclusion that when one of the most notable characters disappears, that this new un-named disciple is a fairly neat fit. – Steve Taylor Nov 14 '16 at 9:55
  • @SteveTaylor Yes, I believe this "fairly natural conclusion" was a major reason the Church Fathers attributed the Gospel to John, later in the second century. – Dick Harfield Nov 14 '16 at 19:53

There is a recurring theme, found only in John, about someone “knowing” someone's “testimony”
to be “true”, of which the quoted verse is obviously part :

John 5:32  There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

John 19:35  And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

John 21:24  This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

3 John 1:12  ¶Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.

So all it indicates is that four of the five canonical works attributed to John share the same author.


John writes the entire gospel account in 3rd person. It is only natural for him to write the last two verses they way they are written. John told this gospel account verbally for 6 decades. Many times, he told it over and over to the same believers. It would only be natural for his audience to say, "We know his testimony is true," right after John said, "This is the disciple who bears witness of these things."

Author: The Apostle John, Son Of Zebedee

Strictly speaking, the Gospel of John does not name its author in the body of text. Titles to the book consistenly label it as the Gospel of John in ancient manuscripts. There is plenty evidence which can lead to the conclusion that is was the Apostle John

External Evidence: Early church tradition is unanimous in ascribing the fourth gospel to John

  1. Ireneus (c. A.D. 130-202) was the first to name the gospel of John and said that it was written after the other gospels from Ephesus1

  2. John was either cited or named as authentic during the first four centuries by the following2

a. Clement of Rome (c. 95-97)

b. Polycarp (c. 110-150)

c. Papias (c. 130-40)

d. Irenaeus (c. 130-202)

e. Justin Martyr (c. 150-155)

f. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)

g. Tertullian (c. 150-220)

h. The Muratorian Fragment (c. 170-200)

i. The Latin Marcionite Prologue (c. 200)

j. Origen (c. 185-254)

k. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-386)

l. Eusebius (c. 325-340)

m. Jerome (c. 340-420)

n. Augustine (c. 400)

  1. Eusebius specifically identified John with the Gospel which bares his name when he writes, “of all those who had been with the Lord only Matthew and John have left us their recollections....”

The author was a Jew:

a. He understood and quoted from the OT (12:40; 13:18; 19:37)

b. He knew and understood Jewish customs:

1) Wedding feasts 2:1-10

2) Ceremonial purification 3:25; 11:55

3) The manner of burial 11:38,44; 19:40

c. He knew and understood the Jewish expectation of the coming Messiah 1:19-18

d. He perceived the religious differences between the Jew and the Samaritan 4:9,20

  1. The author was a Jew from Palestine:

a. He knew the pool of Bethesda had five porches 5:2

b. He knew that Bethany was only fifteen furlongs away from Jerusalem 11:18

c. He knew that Ephraim was near the wilderness 11:54

d. He knew that the Garden of Gethsemane was on the other side of the brook Kidron 18:1

e. He knew that there was a paved area outside of the praetorium 19:13

f. He was aware of the region of Samaria and that Jacob’s well was located in Sychar (4:5-6), and that it was deep 4:11

g. He knew about the sacred mountain of Samaritan worship 4:20-21

h. He was aware of Galilee 1:44,46; 2:1,2

  1. The author was an eye-witness of what happened

a. He does not state his name, but there are traces of his own hand in the Gospel

b. “We beheld his glory” 1:14

c. He knew the number of pots used at the wedding at Cana 2:6

d. He knew the value of the anointing perfume 12:5

e. He was at the crucifixion 19:33-35

f. He knew the distance from the shore of the apostles boat and the number of fish caught 21:8,11

g. “This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true” 21:24

  1. The author was an Apostle, probably John:

a. He refers to himself often as the disciple whom Jesus loved 13:23; 19:26; 20:2 21:7,20

b. The identity of this “one whom Jesus loved” is narrowed down to be John through the following correlations:

1) From 21:7 the “disciple” may be identified as one of the seven persons mentioned in 21:2

a) Simon Peter

b) Thomas called the Twin

c) Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee

d) The sons of Zebedee

e) Two others

2) He must be one of the Twelve since only they were with the Lord at the last supper (Jn. 13:23-24; cf. Mk. 14:17; Lk. 22:14)

3) He is not Peter:

a) He sat next to the Lord at the Last Supper, and Peter motioned to him 13:23-24

b) His future is distinguished from Peter’s 21:20ff

4) He is closely related to Peter and thus seems to be one of the inner three (James, John and Peter ) [20:2-10; cf. Mk. 5:37-38; 9:2-3; 14:33)

5) James (John’s brother) died in AD 44, therefore, he was not the author (Acts 12:2)

6) Therefore, if it is true that he was an apostle, and one of the inner three, and he was not Peter, or James, then he must have been the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee.

Date: Probably Between AD 85 And 95

External Evidence: Allows for a date between 90-98

  1. Extant manuscripts argue for around the turn of the century:

a. The earliest evidence is in the Rylands Papyrus 457 (p52), an Egyptian fragment of John 18:31-33,37-38, dated in the first half of the second century (c. 98-150). The p52 fragment has also been dated as early as 40 A.D.

b. Other papyri (p66, p75 c. AD 175-225) offer significant sections of John

c. The Egyptian witness, Papyrus Egerton 2, supplies a composite work from c. AD 150

d. The above evidence suggests copies of the gospel circulating around Egypt in the first and second halves of the second century. This suggests a date for John to be at least around the turn of the century

  1. Ireneaus stated that John remained in Ephesus until the time of Trajan (AD 98-117). This would place John’s writing during the last decades of the first century

Therefore, if John is the author of the Gospel, then a date between 90-98 seems to be possible.

Internal Evidence: may argue for an early date (pre-AD 70)

  1. The present tense in John 5:2 “there is” suggests a time when the gate is still standing, unlike after the destruction by Titus (But this could be a part of an earlier writing wherein John expresses its existence at the time and then edited it into his gospel account). This is a strong argument

  2. The correct tradition of Palestinian places, situations, and customs argues for a time before or shortly after AD 70 when the scenes could be remembered as they were (but the author could tap his own memory without tying his writing to that period)

  3. John 21:18-23 imply the passing of time until the later death of Peter (especially 21:19). This would argue for a later date rather than an earlier one.

  4. It seems that since Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and this is not mentioned in the gospel, it gives credence to the possibility that it could have been written before 70 A.D.

  5. The gospel of John also contains more quoting of Jesus' words and discussions than the other gospels, which would tend to be an indication of an early writing date.


  1. It is possible that the Gospel was written just before or just after AD 70.

  2. It is also possible that the Gospel was written in the latter part of the first century--around the turn of the century (AD 80-98) which allows for the writing of the three epistles and Revelation by John (external evidence)

  3. Eusebius identifies John as the last Gospel written after Matthew, Mark and Luke: “The three gospels which had been written down before were distributed to all including himself.” This would support a later time for John more than an earlier one

  4. It is also possible that parts of the gospel were written down and saved, then compiled as a whole at a later date.

Therefore, it seems best to date John along with many scholars between 80-98 A.D.

Destination: Ephesus To Ephesian Gentiles

A. There is no explicit evidence for the place of origin or for the destination of the Gospel of John

B. Irenaeus and Eusebius affirm that John wrote from Ephesus where he had settled after the Roman war under Titus (AD 66-70)

C. Ephesus was not far from Phrygia, the center of the Montanist movement which made early use of John’s Gospel

D. The primary audience may have been Ephesian Gentiles:

  1. The various Jewish feasts are identified for the readers

  2. The geographical locations are identified for the readers

  3. Jewish names are translated for the readers

  4. Jewish usages are explained for the reader

  5. The introduction of the “Greeks” in chapter 12 may also reveal the author’s interest in the Gentiles.

Purposes Of The Gospel Of John:

A. John 20:30-32 states the purpose for the “book:”

“Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing you may have life in his name”

  1. Chapter 21 need not be considered a portion later added to the original conclusion of the Gospel. While 20:30-31 relay the purpose of the book, chapter 21 is then presented as an epilogue illustrating the result of faith -- restoration into life abundant

  2. The two pronged purpose statement for the book relates to the two pronged thrust of the book10

a. The first half of the book of the seven signs (chapters 1--12) are given so that all people “might believe” or come to faith (assuming the aorist subjunctive tense in the textual problem) in Jesus as Messiah

b. The second portion of the purpose statement [“you may have life in his name”] correlates with chapters 13--20 where believers are exhorted to close fellowship--eternal life which is not only a quantity of life but also a quality of life (cf. 5:24 with 17:2-3)

B. Gospel of John also was written to reveal who Jesus was:

  1. Unlike the synoptics which reveal Jesus inductively (from the ground up), John reveals Jesus deductively (from heaven down)

  2. Jesus is also revealed as the “Logos,” “Messiah,” “Son of God,” “God,” and “Man” fighting the incipient gnostic views of Cerinthus and the Ebionites (that Jesus was only a man upon whom the Spirit visited and then left thus affirming no pre-existence), and fighting Docitism (emphasizing Jesus’ deity over his humanity).

  • Paldrion, while you have gone to a good deal of trouble to provide external and internal support for the authorship of the gospel of John, I do not see any where that you have answered the OP's question specifically concerning vs. 24-25. While much of your support for the authorship seems correct, it is beyond the scope of the question. Can you modify / edit your answer? – Gina Aug 8 '18 at 4:41

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