It was these same four that approached Jesus shortly before His betrayal and inquired of Him regarding the end times, Mark 13:3-4. We know of these four men that James was martyred (Acts 12:2) and Peter likewise (John 21:18-19); though history does not clearly record how Peter died, despite the popular notion that he was crucified upside down. However, the Apostle John did one thing that none of his fellow disciples did: he stayed with his Lord through Christ’s most agonizing moments on earth, John 19:26-27.
James and John, along with Peter, would become the three who were a part of an inner circle within the twelve; Jesus’ three closest disciples, Matthew 17:1; Mark 14:33. John appears to be the younger brother of James since the two were generally mentioned together and James is listed first. It is speculated that John was quite young when called to follow our Lord; perhaps a teenager yet. It is also Church tradition that John was an elder of the church at Ephesus in his later years, and a future bishop named Polycarp laid claim to being a convert of John’s who would likewise become bishop of Ephesus. This cannot be ascertained for certain, but we can know that John was an elder in the church at Jerusalem during the first great Christian council; Acts 15; Galatians 2:9. What happened to John between this famous council and his exile to Patmos near the end of the first century cannot be known with certainty.
All of the dates for the latter portion of John’s life are more speculation than verifiable truth so we must take them with a pinch of salt. It is assumed that John’s gospel was first written, perhaps to embellish the concept of grace, faith and love: doctrines that utterly saturate the fourth gospel. Bill Wells (a teacher at New Hope Bible Church) believes John’s gospel was written in part to counteract legalism budding within the first century church as the first three “synoptic” gospels were being quoted out of context to affirm salvation by works of human righteousness (such as keeping the Law or water baptism). The first three epistles were written thereafter, with the Revelation of Jesus Christ being divinely bestowed upon John while he was suffering as a prisoner of Rome in Patmos near the end of the first century. It is believed that John died shortly after Emperor Trajan assumed the throne about 98 AD. Again, these are not solid facts, so do not take them as such.