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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)

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  • How can we assume who the other disciple is if scripture do not mentions who he is or name in John's gospel some say its Judas and some say John what does the scripture say it does not say who the other disciple is if so should we
    – user52630
    Nov 8, 2022 at 14:18

5 Answers 5

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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.

John 21:24 NKJV

This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

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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, 2021 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, 2021 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. Mar 18, 2021 at 14:38
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The other disciple is very likely to be Judas, instead of John. Reason 1: Judas is the only disciple from South, not from Galilee. Reason 2: Judas is known to the high priest because he and the high priest have agreement beforehand for arresting Jesus. Reason3: He does not seem to care about the arrest of Jesus and is not with Peter always as John used to be.

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics.SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    May 11, 2023 at 13:12
  • @Nancy Li Your reasonings are quite possible in referring to Judas. But since there is no name, other possibilities are left open. Have you considered that the designation "other disciple" was used simply because he was not one of the Twelve, but was still indeed a follower of Jesus? Perhaps Nicodemus, or Joesph of Arimathea, who were known among the Sanhedrin? Keep up your Bible study! Peace
    – ray grant
    May 11, 2023 at 20:02
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Known unto the High Priest The only description of this "other disciple" is that he was known to the high priest, and this bit of information is mentioned, not once, but twice!

This could hardly be John, the close disciple of Jesus. His occupation, and association with Christ would not have ingratiated him to the high priest. And there were many other disciples of Jesus than the Twelve.

We recall that Nicodemus was a disciple (by night) and he was a ruler of the Jews and Jesus called him "a master of Israel." (John 3:1, 10) He would have had access to the High Priest.

And then there was Joseph of Arimathaea, who had access to the powers-that-be in Jerusalem (Pilate, the Roman procurator, John 19:38). He may also have known the High Priest from business dealings with the upper class. In Luke's Gospel, he is called "a counselor, who had not consented to the deed..." (Luke 23:50-51, Mark 15:43). This wording definitely implies that he was in the company of the rulers, perhaps even the Sanhedrin! He is also called "very rich" so there is no doubt he would be known by the priestly aristocracy.

I submit these men for your consideration as to the identity of the "other disciple."

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  • While I agree that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea were likely known to the High Priest, and John likely not (assuming John as the beloved disciple here) John names them in other places in his Gospel, so why wouldn't he here?
    – Belinda
    May 28, 2023 at 12:48
  • @BelindaIt was very dangerous for any of Jesus's disciples to be openly vocal at this time in the drama of the crucifixion. To flaunt their advocacy would have been quite dangerous, while in the presence of the high priest's guards and Roman soldiers. After the crucifixion was over the tension may have lessoned some (but not much). The author was doing them a favor by not mentioning his name.
    – ray grant
    May 28, 2023 at 20:31
  • I would asssume that if protecting the disciple was the reason for not naming the other disciple that they would not be named in the Gospel at all, or is your theory that it may be safe to know someone was a disciple, but that it was not safe to know they were in the palace during the 'trial'?
    – Belinda
    Jun 3, 2023 at 18:39
  • @BelindaThe book of John was written years after the Crucifixion/Resurrection events. So the incidents of danger would be different. Perhaps Nic and Joe were diseased by then.
    – ray grant
    Jun 3, 2023 at 22:55
  • Which leads me back to why refer to them as the other disciple, assuming the other disciple is one of them?
    – Belinda
    Jun 5, 2023 at 18:29
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Some scholars suggest the author of the Book of John to be Lazarus. My question concerns verses 15-16 of the 18th chapter of John, ie “another disciple” who was known to the high priest. Some have said that Lazarus would have been known to the High Priest and therefore could ask entrance for Peter…. my question…was Lazarus a Priest or of the tribe of Levi?

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    If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context. - From Review
    – agarza
    Jul 1, 2023 at 18:39
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    @Welcome! It is highly suggested that references be given when any bold statement is given. (e.g. Lazarus wrote the book of John.) And your question, while interesting, should be written as a separate post, not under an Answer section. Keep studying the Bible; it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Jul 1, 2023 at 23:04
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    One of the scholars who made a case that Lazarus was the "beloved disciple," was Vernard Eller in The Beloved Disciple: His Name, His Story, His Thought: Two Studies from the Gospel of John (1987). Incidentally, Eller also notes John 11:5, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." So, here we have the only three disciples that the Gospels explicitly state that Jesus loved.
    – Dieter
    Aug 18, 2023 at 2:24
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Would Lazarus have been allowed into the chief priest's house bearing in mind they wanted to kill him previously (John 12:10)?

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  • If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context. - From Review
    – agarza
    Aug 16, 2023 at 18:26
  • Welcome to the site, Russell. Answering a question by asking a counter-question is not, in itself, an answer. If you can expand on the point you raised and reason about it in relation to the question asked, that would be good.
    – Anne
    Aug 22, 2023 at 11:51

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