When Jesus called James and John to be his disciples they were two ordinary fisherman. They were brothers and he nicknamed them ‘the sons of Thunder’. Two incidents tell us about their fiery temperaments. In Mark 10:35-45 they asked Jesus for the best places in his kingdom, and in Luke 9:51-56 they wanted to call down fire from heaven upon a village that wouldn’t welcome Jesus.
James and John, together with Peter, were the closest to Jesus. They are mentioned by name on three very important occasions. When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43), when Jesus was transfigured (Mark 9:2-9) and when Jesus prayed before his death (Mark 14:32-42).
John, of all the disciples, was closest to Jesus. He is known as the disciple whom Jesus loved’. As he was being crucified Jesus asked John to look after Mary his mother (John 19:25-27). After Jesus was raised from the dead it was John who helped Peter lead the church in Jerusalem.
John died a very old man in Ephesus and some think he was the author of Revelation when he was exiled on the island of Patmos. James was put to death by the sword by King, Herod Agrippa 1 about 44A.D. (Acts 12:2)