John the Beloved provides some wonderful insight into how Church members should receive and apply the words of God, said Victor L. Ludlow.
"Through the writings of John, more than through any other single author in the New Testament, I have received insights into the heart of the Savior and I have received incentive to better follow His loving example," explained Brother Ludlow, BYU professor of ancient scripture.Giving the keynote address Sept. 18 at the 27th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium on the Scriptures, Brother Ludlow - and 27 other presenters - addressed the topic "The Life and Teachings of John the Beloved."
More than 800 people participated in the symposium, which was started 26 years ago to increase gospel knowledge and strengthen individual testimonies. This year, organizers said, they also wanted to present material that would be an important supplement to the 1999 gospel doctrine curriculum on the New Testament.
In his keynote address, Brother Ludlow noted that John, as one of the original Twelve Apostles, contributed greatly to the growth of the early Church through his leadership and writings.
"His ministry is unmatched in length - He accompanied Jesus at the beginning of the Savior's ministry and was still serving as a leader at the end of the first century AD," Brother Ludlow said.
He added that John's many names - "Saint John, John the Beloved, John the Elder, John the Divine, John the Revelator, and John the Evangelist" - tell much about His character and roles.
Brother Ludlow said the title of the "beloved" demonstrates a special nature of John's personality as he exhibited the capacity to receive and give love without reservation.
"Without John's leadership, the early Church would have suffered like a flock without a shepherd; without his writings, modern Saints would lack some of the most profound teachings in the New Testament; without his life, early and latter-day Saints would miss the example of a loving servant - like unto the Savior."
Speaking of faith, commitment and courage, Brother Ludlow said the major messages of John's three different types of writings can be highlighted as follows:
- His gospel records his witness that "Jesus is the Christ." (John 20:31.) "John's gospel witness complemented the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; and it strengthened the faith of the early Christians as he gave his own powerful, personal testimony of the life and mission of the Son of God," noted Brother Ludlow.
- His epistles review his exhortation to "Love and be loved of God." (1 John 4:16.) "As John continued to serve and lead the early Christian community, he recognized that the Saints needed further help and direction in living their struggling faith," said Brother Ludlow. ". . . John's epistles were written to strengthen the Saints' commitment to the gospel as he admonished them to serve God in loving faith and obedience."
- His book of revelation reports his promise that "Jesus the Lord God Reigneth." (Rev. 19:6.) Brother Ludlow said that John was sent into exile on the desert island of Patmos where he records his great visions found in the Book of Revelation. "These writings gave courage to the early Saints and those who will be persecuted in the latter days that in the end good will prevail over evil as Christ returns in power and glory," he said.