After Jesus' arrest:

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.

16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.

The 3rd-person reference has led numerous commentators to conclude that the "other disciple" and the "disciple whom Jesus loved" are one and the the same (for example, this was the view of Jerome--see Clarke's commentary).

But other possibilities have been proposed as well. I've seen suggestions ranging everywhere from Mary Magdalene to Judas Iscariot.

This question is not asking who the "disciple whom Jesus loved is", though you are welcome to suggest they are the same person if that is your view--but please explain why. My question is who is the "other disciple", and whether or not his being known to the high priest tells us anything about him?

(Note: I'm referring to the disciple as a man because μαθητὴς in this passage is masculine--but feel free to argue otherwise if you believe that interpretation is unwarranted)


It is significant that in the Gospel of John, John NEVER names himself (his name does not appear at all in the Gospel), despite being one of the most prominent disciples, and part of Jesus' inner circle of Peter, James and John. Matt 17:1, Mark 5:37, 9:2, 14:33, Luke 8:51, etc. He always refers to himself in the third person as either, "that other disciple", or, "another disciple", or, "the one whom Jesus loved", etc. John 18:15, 16, 20:2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 21:20, 23, 24, etc.

Note that a simple comparison of John 21:20 with the other Gospels shows that the "other disciple" is definitely John.

Benson observes in his comments on John 18:15 -

another disciple — Generally supposed to have been John himself, it being the manner of this evangelist to speak of himself in the third person.

Similarly, Benson observes:

Another disciple - Not improbably John. Some critics, however, have supposed that this disciple was one who dwelt at Jerusalem, and who, not being a Galilean, could enter the palace without suspicion. John, however, mentions the circumstance of his being known to them, to show why it was that he was not questioned as Peter was.

Similarly, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary -

and … another disciple—Rather, "the other disciple"—our Evangelist himself, no doubt.

The Pulpit commentary also says this -

And also another disciple: but that disciple was known to the high priest, and therefore to the officials, and went fix with Jesus into (εἰς τὴν, right within) the court of the high priest; for he was well known to be, and from the first did not pretend to be anything else than, one of the disciples of Jesus. From the known habit of the evangelist in other places, the vast majority of commentators at once conclude (see Introduction, p. 54.) that the writer designates himself by this reference.

While this is impressive, it is not the unanimous opinion of all commentators, simply a large majority. My view is based on the final verse of John's Gospel that "the other disciple" is definitely John.

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    Some commentators go through a long process of elimination with the disciples, using the information in the gospel for the other disciple and end up with John. – Perry Webb Mar 18 at 9:07
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    @PerryWebb - agreed - among some there appears to be an extreme reticence to accept the obvious, non-threatening conclusion that it was John. I sometimes wonder if some academics, especially theology academics want to be different for the sake of difference rather than truth. – Dottard Mar 18 at 9:10
  • @Dottard a very good observation. I gather that some in academia do find eyewitness history threatening because 1) It limits their ability to publish papers inventing hypothetical redactors/communities & 2) Control of the narrative is at stake - the public can learn about history from the text itself rather than relying on academia to interpret it for them. – Hold To The Rod Mar 18 at 14:38

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