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John the Evangelist occasionally refers to himself as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' (Jn 12:23; 19:26; 21:7; 21:20). (Interestingly, no other evangelist makes such a reference.) Is it possible that Jesus had a special consideration for John because of that status? What is the Catholic view of it?

  • "Is it possible that Jesus had a special consideration for John because of that status" aren't you just asking if his title gave him status when it seems to me that his status gave him the title? Or am I reading your question wrong? – Adam Heeg Oct 5 '15 at 18:29
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In Church Tradition, St. John was very young, perhaps an adolescent, when he first followed Jesus, and it is said he was never married.

In Chap. 16 That All May Be Saved, 266 in the book Friends of God, St. Josemaría Escrivá preaches:

'Whereupon the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord.' Love, love is farsighted. Love is the first to appreciate kindness. The adolescent Apostle, who felt a deep and firm affection for Jesus, because he loved Christ with all the purity and tenderness of a heart that had never been corrupted, exclaimed: 'It is the Lord!'

'Simon Peter, hearing him say that it was the Lord, girded up the fisherman's coat, and sprang into the sea.' Peter personifies faith. Full of marvellous daring, he leaps into the sea. With a love like John's and a faith like Peter's, what is there that can stop us?

In the Gospels there is another young man who Jesus looked at and loved, and that was the Rich Man, who had observed ALL the commandments from his youth.

Where can therefore conclude from the preaching of St. Josemaría and from the Gospels that St. John was the beloved disciple because he, like the Rich Young Man, was uncorrupted from his youth, but unlike the the Rich Young Man, St. John followed Jesus and was faithful to the end of his very long life.

Conclusion

From Catholic Tradition and from Scripture, one cannot imply anything about the marital status of St. John the Evangelist from the moniker "the beloved disciple" .

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The Catholic New American Bible, in its introduction to John's Gospel says, "Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person," so perhaps we can no longer think of the Gospel as entirely, if at all, the work of the apostle John. The Introduction says that although tradition identified the source of the fourth gospel as John, the son of Zebedee, most modern scholars find that the evidence does not support this. This means that the evangelist who actually wrote John's Gospel was not referring to himself, nor in all likelihood to John. Therefore we do not know the identity of 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'.

From the synoptic gospels it does appear possible that John was unmarried during the life and mission of Jesus, although Paul seems to have believed that the apostles were married:

1 Corinthians 9:5: Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Kephas?

The references to 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' provide no certain information about the apostle John and, unfortunately, after the passage of two thousand years we could not truly say whether Jesus had a special consideration for John because of his marital status, if indeed he was unmarried.

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