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


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
  • @Gina I think the very first line of this answer deals with vs. 24-25. Aug 16 at 13:39

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. 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.


The Gospel of John concludes already in 20:30

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may believee that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.

I am not the first one to observe that chapter 21 is a post scriptum. This was probably added by another person who made a (first?) copy of the manuscript. The intention is just to name the author who avoids to mention his name.


John 21:24-25 is clearly that John was not the author of this passage and @DickHarfield answer above kind of summarises it so I will not repeat what has been said. Especially when words like we are used and you have other passages like;

One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. [John 13:23]

Was this just a 'post scriptum' by other scholars & is the rest by John and valid?

The discovery and publication in the 1930s of a papyrus fragments known as P52 was the earliest physical evidence that exists for the Gospel of John. Palaeographic dating has been used and recent examination say it could date around 200 years after Jesus. Palaeography is not the most effective method for dating texts.

Gospel does not emerge clearly in the historical record until the end of the 2nd century. Justin Martyr (100 – 165 CE) was an early Christian apologist and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos, a theology that is also found in John’s Gospel.

In the 2nd century Justin Martyr advocated a logos Christology without citing John’s Gospel explicitly. Such an omission by Justin would seem strange if the Gospel of John had already been written and was in circulation.

Another important factor is bishop Polycarp according to church history he was a student of John the Apostle, even ordained by him. The letter of Polycarp to the Philippians, generally thought to be from around 135 CE, never quotes from John, and never even alludes to it. Yet other New Testament writings are quoted abundantly in his letter. Even though he quotes the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, not one quote from John. This is incredible, the one person whose Gospel he should have written about and he didn’t.

There’s really no explicit attestation for John until the bishop Irenaeus, late in the 2nd century. Therefore, making it impossible that the disciple of Jesus was the author.

Another big problem with the Gospel of John

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and similar wording. Unlike, John, 90% of its material cannot be found in the Synoptics. Here are some examples

i. The spear piercing the side of Jesus. “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” [John 19:34]

So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. [John 18:3-6]

It is strange to think that the authors of the Synoptic would not have been aware of incidents such as the spear piercing the side of Jesus and the soldiers prostrating to him in the Garden of Gethsemane, had they really taken place. It is even more inconceivable that they would have intentionally omitted such remarkable accounts from the Synoptic.

John also contradicts the others

Here is Matthew’s account of the tomb visit:

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it” [Matthew 28:1-2] But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you” [Matthew 28:5-7] So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. [Matthew 28:8-9] So, in Matthew’s account Mary Magdalene is presented as having seen an angel at the tomb and heard the angel announce the resurrection of Jesus. After which she actually encountered Jesus as she was running away from the tomb in order to inform the disciples about what had happened.

Now here is John’s account of the tomb visit:

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon, Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” [John 20:1-2]

In John’s Gospel, however, Mary Magdalene is presented as having found the tomb empty, after which she ran to the disciples and told them that the body of Jesus had been stolen.

Last Supper

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me” [Mark 14:12-18]

So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it” [Luke 22:8]


“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress…” [John 13:1-2]

John implies no last supper.

There are many more examples, but this may not be the place / question for them.


Clearly, the author of John was not the disciple of Jesus and the writing come much later.

  • thank you for the -1 vote, any criticism or error in my answer welcomed Jul 19 at 15:01
  • John implies no last supper [John 13:1-2]. No, John implies that the Last Supper did not happen on the “first day of the unleavened bread”, but … “just before the Passover Festival”. It is a well known fact that the chronology of the Last Supper according to John is incompatible with the chronology according to the Synoptics. Jul 19 at 19:55
  • @anothertheory - you "theory" effectively turns the Gospel of John into a forgery on the basis that you say it is written by someone other that what the document itself claims. On that basis, the Gospel of John should not be in the canon of Scripture. Well, that is OK for you but I will have none of it. Sorry.
    – Dottard
    Sep 8 at 9:54
  • @Dottard everyone has a right to believe what they want. I'm showing in my opinion evidence (only some of it), if any errors happy for you to point it out! Sep 8 at 10:05
  • @anothertheory - I fully agree that you have an inalienable right to your views and opinion - a right that I would defend. However, I prefer to base my views in the Bible as I find it.
    – Dottard
    Sep 8 at 11:30

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