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Bible Commentaries
John 21

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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John 21:3 . Instead of ἐνέβησαν , Elz. has ἀνέβησαν , against decisive testimony.

After πλοῖον , Elz. Griesb. Secholz have: εὐθύς , which is condemned by decisive testimony.

John 21:4 . γενομ .] Tisch.: γινομ ., which is to be preferred, since to the witnesses C.* E. L., A. B. with γεινομ . are to be added; though with the copyists γενομ . was more current.

εἰς ] Lachm. Tisch.: ἐπί . The Codd. are very much divided; ἐπί came to be more readily added as a gloss than εἰς . Comp. Matthew 13:2 ; Matthew 13:48 ; Acts 21:5 .

John 21:6 . ἴσχυσαν ] Tisch.: ἴσχυον , according to preponderant testimonies. The aorist form was involuntarily suggested from the surrounding context ( ἔβαλον , ἑλκῦσαι ).

John 21:11 . ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ] Lachm. Tisch.: εἰς τὴν γῆν , according to A. B. C. L. א ., etc. Nevertheless, the Recepta is to be retained. ʼΕπὶ τὴν γ . (so D. Curss.) was written as a gloss in some instances, in others, after John 21:9 , εἰς τ . γ . was written.

In John 21:15-17 , as in John 1:43 , instead of Ἰωνᾶ , we are to read: Ἰωάννου .

John 21:17 . πρόβατα ] A. B. C.: προβάτια . Rightly adopted by Tisch. The Recepta is a repetition from John 21:16 . Tisch. has, indeed, even already in John 21:16 , προβάτια , but only according to B. C., so that the testimony of A. appears first for John 21:17 .

John 21:22 . Read with Lachm. Tisch., μοι ἀκολούθει .

John 21:25 is wanting in א .*, is explained in Scholia as an addition, aud has in detail the variations ἅ (Lachm. Tisch.) instead of ὅσα ; Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς (D.), in one Cod. of It. with the addition: quae non scripta in hoc libro; οὐδʼ (Laehm. Tisch.) instead of οὐδέ ; χωρήσειν (Tisch. according to B. C.* א .** Or.); at the conclusion ἀμήν (Elz.).

Chap. John 20:30-31 , bears so obviously the stamp of a formal conclusion worthy of an apostle, while chap. 21, moreover, begins in a manner so completely unexpected, that this chap, can appear only as a supplement . The question is, however, [273] whether this supplement proceeds from John or not . This question first became a subject of investigation from the time of Grotius, who saw in the chapter a supplement of the Ephesian church , composed after the apostle’s death by the bishop (perhaps by John the Presbyter). Since all witnesses contain the chapter, a judgment can only be pronounced from internal grounds. These, however, decide only against John 21:25 , which contains an exaggeration so surprising, unapostolical, and in such absolute contradiction to the Johannean simplicity, intelligence, and delicacy, that it is impossible that it can have proceeded from the pen of the apostle, but must appear probably as a later, although very ancient, form of conclusion, an apocryphal and inharmonious echo of John 20:30 . The omission [274] of John 21:25 in א *, and its suspicious character in the Scholia, rests upon a correct critical feeling. On such feeling, however, also rests the fact that this omission and suspicion have not likewise affected John 21:24 , which throughout contains nothing that John could not have written, but rather forms a worthy conclusion to the entire supplement of chap. 21, and does not by οἴδαμεν betray the work of a strange hand (see the exegetical notes). The grounds, moreover, brought forward against the authenticity of John 21:1-23 are untenable. For (1) it by no means follows from John 21:23 , that at the time of the composition the apostle was already dead (Weizsäcker, Keim, and others), since the speech there mentioned required the correct historical explanation precisely for the eventuality of his death, which was still future . Comp. Ewald, Jahrb . III. p. 172. (2) The advent of Christ, mentioned in John 21:22-23 , is without any reason declared to be non-Johannean. See on John 14:3 . Just as little is (3) the self-designation, John 21:20 , un-Johannean; it corresponds rather just as well to the importance which the recollection, therein expressed, of the never-to-be-forgotten moment must have had for John, in and of itself, as also to the connection into which it is interwoven. See on John 21:20 . Further, (4) the individual expressions [275] which are designated as non-Johannean (as e.g . John 21:3 , ἔρχεσθαι σύν instead of ἀκολουθεῖν ; John 21:4 , πρωΐας γινομ . instead of πρωΐ ; John 21:12 , τολμᾶν and ἐξετάζειν ; John 21:18 , φέρειν instead of ἄγ ΕΙΝ ) are, taken together, phenomena so unessential, nay, having for the most part in the sense of the context so natural a foundation, that they, especially in consideration of the later time of the composition of the supplement, do not leave at all any serious difficulty behind them, and are far outweighed by the otherwise completely Johannean stamp, which the composition bears in itself, in the language, in the mode of presentation, and in the individual features which betray the eye-witness (how entirely different is the section concerning the adulteress!). For, in particular, (5) the alleged want of Johannean clearness and demonstrativeness is removed partly by correct exposition, partly in the question as to the genuineness, rendered ineffective by the fact that John, even in the earlier part of the Gospel, does not always narrate with equal clearness and demonstrativeness. (6) It is not correct to say that with the spurious conclusion the entire chapter also falls to the ground, [276] since the non-Johannean conclusion may have been added to the Johannean chapter, especially as, on the assumption to be made of the genuineness of John 21:24 , the appendix itself did not proceed without a conclusion from the hand of the apostle. In accordance with all that has been advanced, the view is justified, that John by way of authentic historical explanation of the legend in John 21:23 , some time after finishing his Gospel, which he had closed with John 20:31 , wrote chap . John 21:1-24 , [277] as a complement of the book , and that this appendix , simply because its Johannean origin was immediately certain and recognised, already at a very early period, whilst the Gospel had not yet issued forth from the narrower circle of its first readers ( Einl . sec. 5), had become an inseparable part of the Gospel; but that simply owing to the fact that now the entire book was without a principal conclusion, the apocryphal conclusion, John 21:25 , exaggerating the original conclusion , John 20:31 , came to be added . This addition of John 21:25 must have been made at a very early date, because only a few isolated traces of the spuriousness of John 21:25 have been preserved, which, however, by the evidence of א .* go back to a very ancient time; while, on the other hand, in reference to John 21:1-24 , not the faintest echo of a critical tradition is found which would have testified against the genuineness. Tisch. also designates only John 21:25 as spurious.

The apostolic origin of the chapter was controverted , amid the setting forth of very different theories, especially its derivation from the author of the Gospel, after Grotius, by Clericus, Hammond, Semler, Paulus, Gurlitt ( Lection. im N. T. Spec . III., Hamb. 1805), Bertholdt, Seyffarth (Beitr. zur Specialcharakt. der Joh. Schriften, Lpz. 1823, p. 271 ff.), Lücke, Schott, De Wette, Credner, Wieseler ( Diss . 1839: John the Presbyter wrote the chap, after the death of the apostle), Schweizer, Bleek, Schwegler, Zeller, Baur (because it is not in keeping with the main idea of the whole), Kostlin, Keim, Scholten, and several others; Brückner has doubts. In opposition to Baur’s school, according to which it is said to be designed, along with the entire chap., for the purpose of exalting the apostle of Asia Minor over Peter, see especially Bleek.

The Johannean origin, or at least the derivation from the writer of the Gospel, is defended, but in such a way that recently John 21:24-25 have been for the most part rejected by Calovius, Rich. Simon, Mill, Wetstein, Lampe, Michaelis, Krause ( Diss. Viteb . 1793), Beck (Lips. 1795), Eichhorn, Kuinoel, Hug, Wegscheider (Einl. in d. Ev. Joh.), Handschke (de αὐθεντίᾳ c. 21 ev. Joh. e sola orat. indole dijud ., Lips. 1818), Erdmann (Bemerk. üb. Joh., Rostock 1821), Weber ( authentia argumentor. intern. usu vindic ., Hal. 1823), Guerike, Redding ( Disput . Groning. 1833), Frommann, Tholuck, Olshausen, Klee, Maier, B. Crusius (not decidedly), [278] in the Stud. u. Krit . 1849, p. 601 ff., Luthardt, Lange, Laurillard ( Disp. L. B . 1853), Ebrard (on Olshausen), Hengstenberg, Godet, Hoelemann, Schleiermacher (at least in respect of the contents). According to Ewald ( l.c ., comp. also Jahrb . X. p. 87), a friend of the apostle (probably a presbyter at Ephesus), of whose hand, probably also of whose art, John availed himself in the composition of the Gospel, wrote the appendix for himself alone at a later date, without desiring in the slightest degree to conceal that it was by a different individual. In his Johann. Schriften , I. p. 54 ff., Ewald ascribes the composition to the same circle of friends, in which the Gospel may have remained perhaps for ten years before its publication; that the apostle himself, however, permitted the publication with this appendix (inclusive also of John 21:24-25 ) before his death. Similarly Baeumlein.

Very superficially and peremptorily does Hengstenberg designate the entire view that chap. 21 is a supplement, as leading to a view of the accidental nature of the authorship, which is unworthy of the apostle, and in conflict with the character of the Gospel. Hilgenfeld assigns the chap., with inclusion of John 21:24-25 , to the evangelist, who, however, was not the apostle. Comp. also Bretschneider, p. 182.

[273] See generally Hoelemann, der Epilog des Evang. Joh ., in his Bibelstudien , II. p. 61 ff.

[274] According to the usual statement, ver. 25 should also be wanting in Cod. 63. This, however, Tisch. ( Wann wurden unsere Evangelien verf . p. 127, Exodus 4:0 ) declares to be an error. On ver. 25 in א . Tisch. passes this judgment: the copyist of this Cod. did not find the verse in his copy, and therefore did not add it; but the words are supplied, “ab eo qui eadem aetate totum librum recensebat ac passim ex alio exemplari corrigebat atque augebat,” Cod. א . ed. Lips. p. LIX.

[275] For a minute discussion of the peculiarities of language in chap. 21, and their variation from the Gospel, see in Tiele, Annotatio in locos nonnull. ev. Joh. ad vindicand. huj. ev. authent. , Amst. 1853, p. 115 ff. In answer to Scholten, who believes he has found most linguistie deviations, see Hilgenfeld in his ZeitsChr. 1868, p. 441 ff.

[276] Much more correct would it be to say: the chap. partially betrays, in so striking a manner, the Johannean delicacy and originality (pre-eminently vv. 15 17), that the whole stands along with it as a production of the apostle.

[277] Vv. 1 14 hardly have an object unknown to us (Brückner), since they are in simple objective historical connection with what follows.

[278] He, as also Lange, Hengstenberg, Hoelemann, ascribes also vv. 24, 25 to the apostle, in opposition to which Luthardt regards 24, 25 as a testimony added from the Ephesian church.

Verses 1-2

John 21:1-2 . Μετὰ ταῦτα ] Referring, in conformity with the nature of a supplement, to the last narrative before the conclusion in John 20:30-31 .

ἐφανέρωσεν ἑαυτόν ] Comp. the passive expression, Mark 16:12 ; Mark 16:14 ; it is, however, precisely the reflexive expression which is Johannean, see John 7:4 . It presupposes a state of concealment , from which He now again ( πάλιν points back to John 21:14 , to the two preceding appearances, John 20:19 ; John 20:26 ) came forth and made Himself manifest to His disciples, brought Himself into view, not a spiritual existence (De Wette), not “a sphere of invisibility , in which He moves by Himself” (Luthardt, comp. Tholuck), but rather a wonderfully altered existence, no longer belonging to ordinary intercourse, brought nearer to a state of glorification, yet still material, διὰ τὸ λοιπὸν ἄφθαρτον εἶναι τὸ σῶμα καὶ ἀκήρατον , Chrysostom.

ἐπὶ τῆς θαλ .] on the lake , because the shore is over the lake. Comp. on Matthew 14:25 ; Xen. Anab . iv. 3. 28: ἐπὶ τοῦ ποταμοῦ , and passages from Herodotus in Schweighäuser’s Lex . p. 245. It belongs to ἐφαν .

ἐφανέρωσε δὲ οὕτως ] sc . ἑαυτόν , not, as Hengstenberg imports from John 2:11 , τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ . Further, an iteration of this kind, in simple, continuous narration, is not elsewhere found in John. But he may here have purposely written in so diffuse a manner as a set-off to the distortions of actual fact in tradition (comp. John 21:23 ).

Of the seven disciples, John 21:2 , the last two remain unnamed. Hence they are probably (John 6:60 , John 7:3 , John 8:31 , John 18:19 ) to be deemed disciples in the wider sense, with which John 21:1 does not conflict (in answer to Hengstenberg, who conjectures Andrew and Philip), since the two unnamed are simply subordinate persons. That of the disciples in the narrower sense the sons of Zebedee are mentioned last , is in harmony with the composition of the narrative by John himself. All the less is any deeper or emblematic significance to be sought as lying behind the succession of the names, or even behind the number seven. Another composer would probably have placed the sons of Zebedee immediately after Peter.

ὁ ἀπὸ Κανᾶ τ . Γαλ .] added, without any special design, in this supplement of late composition. According to Hengstenberg, the representative of the first miracle (chap. 2) could not but be indicated, which is pure invention.

οἱ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου ] does not occur elsewhere in John; but, at the same time, it is only here that the occasion presents itself to him to mention in a series of names himself [279] and his brother along with others.

On the tradition which Luke sets forth, which is altogether irreconcilable with Galilean appearances of the Risen One, useless upon arbitrary harmonistic presuppositions (such as even Luthardt entertains), see on Luke 24:50 . Acts 1:4 does not, however, necessarily presuppose, in reference to the appearances, that none took place in Galilee. Matthew, on the other hand, excludes the appearances which took place before the disciples at Jerusalem , which are related by John 20:0 . See on Matthew 28:10 . Harmonistic expedients also in Hengstenberg and Godet.

[279] Hence Nathanael cannot be John (Späth): comp. on John 1:46 .

Verses 3-4

John 21:3-4 . Ἐρχόμ . κ . ἡμεῖς σὺν σοί ] John has not employed ἀκολουθεῖν , nor said ἄγωμεν κ . ἡμεῖς (John 11:16 ), because he has thought just what was said.

The circumstantiality is not un-Johannean (Lücke), but comp. e.g . John 1:39-40 , John 9:1-12 . In particular, moreover, the ὑπάγω ἁλιεύειν is only the simple language of familiar association, in which neither a “ brusque tone ,” nor “an internal impulse , a presentiment ” (Godet), is to be recognised. The disciples desire again to pursue their earthly employments, “ quod privatos homines decebat ,” Calvin.

ἐξῆλθον ] from the place indicated in John 21:2 , probably Capernaum, out to the lake, John 21:1 .

By night the fishing was productive. Comp. on Luke 5:5 ; Aristot. H. A . viii. 19. But they caught nothing . How entirely different was it afterwards, when they cast out at the bidding of the Lord!

ἔστη ] Expressing the sudden appearance. Comp. John 20:19 ; John 20:26 .

εἰς τ . αἰγ .] Comp. John 20:19 ; John 20:26 .

οὐ μέντοι , κ . τ . λ .] To be explained from the entirely altered condition and appearance of the Risen One. Chrysostom, assigns the reason to the will of Jesus: οὐκ εὐθέως ἑαυτὸν δείκνυσιν , comp. also Luthardt and Hengstenberg, of which John, however, gives no indication. Comp. rather on John 20:14 .

Verses 5-6

John 21:5-6 . Παιδία ] Not un-Johannean (1 John 2:14 ; 1 John 2:18 ), although in John 13:33 τεκνία is used.

μή τι προσφάγ . ἔχετε ] The emphasis lies, as frequently, on the concluding word: you are not, I suppose , (already) in possession of something to eat? The question presupposes the opinion of the questioner, that they had probably as yet taken nothing, as well as the thought that in the opposite case He need not step in. That, however, He designates fishes exactly by προσφάγιον , is grounded on the fact that He intends to take a breakfast with the disciples on the fishes, after which He inquires. On προσφάγ . itself, which is, like the Attic ὄψον , used especially of fishes (comp. προσφάγημα , Moeris, p. 204. 24; προσόψημα , Athen. iv. p. 162 C, vii. p. 276 E), see Sturz, Dial. Al . p. 191; Fischer, de vitiis, Lex . p. 697 f.

The disciples simply answer: no; they have therefore taken Him for an entire stranger, who perhaps wishes to buy fishes for breakfast. The παιδία , intended by Jesus in the sense of fatherly love, they may have regarded , in the mouth of the unknown, as a friendly designation of the state of service (Nonnus: παῖδες ἁλὸς δρηστῆρες ; Euth. Zigabenus: τοὺς ἐργατικούς ). Comp. on John 6:6 .

εἰς τὰ δεξιὰ μ .] They had the net then in the lake, on quite another side of the boat.

οὐκέτι ] no more , as previously, when it was empty and light. Observe the pictorial imperf. ἴσχυον (see the critical notes).

ἑλκῦσαι ] draw , draw up the submerged net. On the other hand, σύροντες , John 21:8 : tugging, dragging forth . See Tittmann, Synon . p. 57 f.

ἀπό ] on account of . See Bernhardy, p. 224.

To regard the above fruitless toils (on the left , it is thought), and this abundant take on the right , as a figure of the apostolic activity, in relation first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (Grotius, Weitzel, Hengstenberg, Godet, Hilgenfeld, and several others), is too special, and not even conformable to history (Galatians 2:9 ; Acts 22:20 , et al ., comp. Luthardt), without prejudice, moreover, to the symbolism of the draught of fishes in itself; see note after John 21:14 .

Verse 7

John 21:7 . Πάλιν τὰ ἰδιώματα τῶν οἰκείων ἐπιδείκνυνται τρόπων οἱ μαθηταὶ Πέτρος καὶ Ἰωάννης . Ὁ μὲν γὰρ θερμότερος , ὁ δὲ ὑψηλότερος ἦν · καὶ ὁ μὲν ὀξύτερος ἦν , ὁ δὲ διορατικώτερος . Διὰ τοῦτο ὁ μὲν Ἰωάννης πρῶτως ἐπέγνω τὸν Ἰησοῦν · ὁ δὲ Πέτρος πρῶτος ἦλθε πρὸς αὐτόν , Chrysostom. Comp. John 20:3 ff.

τὸν ἐπενδύτην διεζώσατο ] He had laid aside the ἐπενδύτης , and was in so far naked , which, however, does not prevent his having on the shirt, χιτωνίσκος , according to the well-known usage of γυμνός , [280] nudus , and עַרוּם (see Perizonius, ad Ael. V. H. vi. 11; Cuper. Obss . i. 7, p. 39, Interpp. zu Jes. xxx. 2; Grotius in loc ). In order, however, not to appear unbecomingly in his mere shirt before Jesus, he girded around him the ἐπενδύτης , i.e . he drew it on, so that he gathered it together by means of a girdle on his body. Hengstenberg says incorrectly: he had the ἘΠΕΝΔΎΤ . on, and only girded himself in the same (accus. of closer definition), in order to be able to swim the better. The middle with accus. of a garment always denotes to gird oneself therewith (Lucian, Somm . 6, de conscrib. hist . 3). Comp. περιζώννυσθαι , Revelation 1:13 . The ἐπενδύτης is not equivalent to χιτών (Fischer, Kuinoel, Bretschneider), but an overwrap , an overcoat . Any garment drawn over may be so called (see the LXX. in Schleusner, Thes . II. p. 436; Soph, fragm . in Pollux, vii. 45; Dind. 391, comp. ἘΠΈΝΔΥΜΑ in Plut. Alex . 32); it was, however, according to Nonnus and Theophylact, in the case of fishermen, and according to the Talmud, which has even appropriated to itself the word אטונדתא , in the case of workmen generally, a linen article of clothing (possibly a short frock or blouse ) which, according to the Talmud, was worn, provided with pockets, over the shirt (according to Theophylact, also over other articles of clothing). See especially Drusius in loc. According to Euth. Zigabenus, it reached to the knees, and was without sleeves.

γυμνός ] He had, in point of fact, no other clothing on except the mere shirt (comp. Dem. 583. 21 : γυμνὸν ἐν τῷ χιτωνίσκῳ ); for precisely διὰ τὴν γύμνωσιν (Theodoret, Heracleus) he quickly put on the ἐπενδύτης , which had been laid aside during his work.

He reached the land swimming , not walking on the water (Grotius and several others), which is an imported addition. The ἔβαλεν ἑαυτόν graphically represents the rapid self-decision .

[280] This also in opposition to Godet, according to whom Peter was quite naked . This would have been disgraceful even amongst barbarians. See Krüger on Thuc. i. 6. 4.

Verses 8-9

John 21:8-9 . Τῷ πλοιαρ .] in the little boat , on board of which they remained; local dative. Comp. Herod. v. 99: ἀπικέατο εἴκοσι νηυσί . See generally Becker, Homer. Blätter , p. 208 f.

The γάρ in the parenthesis states the reason why they did not quit the vessel; they could in this way also quickly enough reach the shore, which was very near (200 cubits = ½ stadium 300 feet, see Wurm, de ponder , etc., p. 195; Hermann, Privatalterth . § 46. 7).

On the form τηχῶν instead of the Attic πηχέων , see Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 245 f. On ἀπό , see on John 11:18 .

τὸ δίκτυον τῶν ἰχθ .] the net, which was filled with the fishes (John 21:6 ). Comp. on this genit., Nägelsbach, z. Ilias , p. 31, Exodus 3:0 .

John 21:6 . βλέπουσιν , κ . τ . λ .] John relates simply what they saw on landing, namely, a fire of coals lying there, and food lying thereon ( i.e . a mess of fish , see on John 7:9 ; the singul. not of a single fish, as Beza, Hengstenberg, Godet, and others think, but collectively , as also ἄρτον , comp. Polyb. xxxiv. 8. 6 : τὸ θαλάττιον ὄψον ), and bread . That this preparation for the breakfast to be given was made by Jesus , would be understood by the reader as matter of course (see John 21:12-13 ). But how He brought together the materials, and who kindled the fire, cannot be determined; He might, before He called to the disciples, have Himself, or by other hands, made the preparations. Hence the narrative yields no miracle (bringing forth out of nothing, thought Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Grotius, Calovius, Maldonatus, and several others; but Nicephorus, Jansen, Luthardt: the angels had provided Him therewith; finally, Hengstenberg, Godet: without more precise definition of the marvellous How ), nor even the appearance of such (Lücke). But wherefore did Jesus make this preparation? Because the disciples were to eat with Him the early meal, with which He designed to connect so significant a transaction as that related in John 21:15 ff.; He willed to be the giver of the meal . Much that is irrelevant in the older expositors. According to Luthardt, the design is to depict how Jesus, without requiring their aid, knows how to feed the disciples from His own resources. But to what purpose any such further representation, since He had long ago miraculously fed thousands before the eyes of the disciples?

Verses 10-11

John 21:10-11 . ʼΕνέγκατε , κ . τ . λ .] for the completion, conformably to their needs, of the dish of fish already found upon the fire of coals. That the eating of Jesus and of the disciples was no material, but a spiritual one (the enjoyment which Jesus has from the activity of His apostles), is a fiction of Hengstenberg’s.

According to John 21:11 , Peter alone draws the full net to land, which, of course, since it hung on the vessel, which lay on the shore, was easier than to draw it up out of the water into the boat, John 21:6 . According to Hengstenberg, he is, indeed, named only as being the chief person, because he was the middle point of the spiritual fishing . The statement of the number of the fishes is as little an apocryphal trait as the statement of the number of those who were miraculously fed, John 6:10 , and all the less, since it is not a round number which is named. The μεγάλων heightens the miraculous effect.

καὶ τοσούτων ὄντων , κ . τ . λ .] Regarded by John as incomprehensible , and as effected by Christ; by Strauss, as manifestly legendary , as well as the number of the fishes, which, however, might, notwithstanding, be to the minds of the disciples, in relation to this miraculous experience, important enough, and sufficiently so not to be forgotten. On the allegorical interpretations of the number 153, see note after John 21:14 .

Verses 12-13

John 21:12-13 . Ἄριστον is, as little as in Matthew 22:4 , Luke 11:38 , the principal meal , which, in spite of John 21:4 , Hengstenberg suggests in the interest of allegorical interpretation, but breakfast .

ἐτόλμα ] dared , presumed. Although, that is, it had been possible for them, in respect of the external appearance, to doubt whether He was the Lord, they were nevertheless convinced of His identity, and hence dared not to ask Him: Who art thou? Reverential awe (comp. already John 4:27 ), in presence of the marvellous appearance of the Risen One, deprived them of the courage to do so. According to Augustine, Beda, Jansen, and several others, they dared not doubt , which however, is not expressed. Chrysostom aptly remarks: οὐκέτι γὰρ τὴν αὐτὴν παῤῥησίαν εἶχον · … τὴν δὲ μορφὴν ἀλλοιοτέραν ὁρῶντες καὶ πολλῆς ἐκπλήξεως γέμουσαν , σφόδρα ἦσαν καταπεπληγμένοι , καὶ ἐβούλοντο τι περὶ αὐτῆς ἐρωτᾶν · ἀλλὰ τὸ δέος καὶ τὸ εἰδέναι αὐτοὺς , ὅτι οὐχ ἕτερός τις ἦν , ἀλλʼ αὐτὸς , ἐπεῖχον τὴν ἐρώτησιν .

ἐξετάσαι ] to explore (Matthew 2:8 ; Matthew 10:11 ; Sir 11:7 ; Sir 13:11 , frequently in the classics), sciscitari; strong expression from the point of view from which the respectful timidity of the disciples regarded the daring nature of the question.

εἰδότες ] Constructio κατὰ σύνεσιν . See Kühner, II. § 419 a; Krüger, § 58. 4. 5.

John 21:13 . ἔρχεται ] The δεῦτε , John 21:12 , has summoned the disciples to the place of the meal where the fire of coals was; Jesus Himself, who had therefore stood at some distance therefrom, now steps forward, in order to distribute the breakfast.

τὸν ἄρτον ] points back to John 21:9 , but τὸ ὀψάριον to John 21:9-10 : the bread lying there, etc. Both are again collective . It is not merely one loaf and one fish which Jesus distributes, as Hengstenberg, for the purpose of symbolically interpreting it of a heavenly reward of toil, assumes; see John 21:10 .

A thanksgiving before the δίδωσιν is not related, not as though Jesus omitted τὰ ἀνθρώπινα (Euth. Zigabenus); nor as though He did not desire positively to offer Himself to their recognition (Lange, in opposition to John 21:12 ); nor, again, as though the meal was to be a silent [281] one (Luthardt, who adds: “for such is the table fellowship of Jesus and His own in the present aeon”); nor, again, because the meal represented future blessings (Hengstenberg), but because here it is not a question of any proper meal, as in Luke 24:20 , but rather only of a breakfast , of a morning meal, partaken of only while standing (there is no mention, moreover, of a lying down), which also was not to have, like that early meal of Paul, Acts 27:35 , a character of solemnity. It was not this breakfast in itself, which Christ prepared for the disciples, but that which preceded (the draught of fishes) and succeeded (John 21:15 ff.), which was the object for which the Risen One here appeared.

[281] That the meal passed generally in entire silence , as also Hengstenberg suggests, as little appears from the text as that Jesus did not Himself partake of it (Hengstenberg). In favour of a symbolical interpretation of details, a dismal and extravagant character is given to the incident. But the text breaks off with the distribution of the bread and of the mess of fish, and it says nothing of the progress of the breakfast.

Verse 14

John 21:14 . Τοῦτο ἤδη τρίτον ] This time already for the third time . See on 2 Corinthians 13:1 .

ἤδη presupposes, on the one hand, that, according to John, until now any other appearances before the disciples had not taken place, with the exception of the three related (John 20:19 ff., John 20:26 ff., John 21:1 ff.); but, on the other hand, that at a later date several other appearances occurred. Since he, moreover, refers his τρίτον only to the appearances that were made to the circle of disciples (not to individual persons), a wider scope is thereby given to harmonists; in no case, however, can they succeed in reconciling the three appearances with the statements of Paul , 1 Corinthians 15:5 ff., especially as there εἶτα and ἔπειτα (in opposition to Wieseler) denote chronological sequence. The Apostle Paul is charged, on the supposition that his account is to be understood in an internal way, with a great arbitrariness, when it is asserted that the three appearances related by John are comprized in εἶτα τοῖς δώδεκα in Paul (Luthardt, Lange). Not even can ὤφθη Κηφᾷ in Paul be reconciled with John. To John, however, must be accorded the preference over the tradition followed by Paul, so far as the latter does not agree with the former.


To the draught of fishes , to contest the historical truth of which, in a manner which evinced arbitrariness, and in part even malice, the similarity of the earlier history, Luke 5:2 ff., afforded a welcome opportunity (Strauss, Weisse, Schenkel, and several others), a symbolical destination has, since the most ancient times (Chrysostom and his followers, Cyril, Augustine, and many others), been ascribed, and in general justly, since the word of Jesus, Matthew 4:19 , parall., gives, naturally enough, the psychological solution why He, as the Risen One, performs, precisely in this fashion, a miraculous work in the presence of His disciples. The tradition in which, from the above word, the draught of fishes, Luke 5:0 , took shape (see on Luke 5:1 ff.), has, although pushing forward the later occurrence, nevertheless apprehended with right feeling the idea which it contained. The disciples themselves could not but find in the words of that first call, Matt. loc. cit ., the key to the symbolical significance of the miraculous fact, in which that word, which Jesus had spoken at the beginning, was now, on the boundary of their earthly intercourse with Him, and before the restoration (a renewed calling, as it were) of Peter, set forth and sealed as a fact with the highest appropriateness. Only in respect of the interpretation of this symbolism, we have no right to go beyond Matthew 4:14 , and read more therein than the rich blessing of the apostolical office , of which the men fishers of Jesus were to be the possessors. To go further, and, with Augustine, to expound all the individual features of the history allegorically (so recently, especially Weitzel in the Stud. u. Krit . 1849, p. 618 f., Luthardt, Lange, Hengstenberg), is groundless and arbitrary, and without any definable limits. Especially is an interpretation of the fish meal, which refers it to the heavenly supper, [282] “which the Lord prepares for His own with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God” (Olshausen, after Augustine), all the less authorized, since this supper of the kingdom does not concern the apostles as such , and consequently something that is remote would be mixed up with the reference. It is certainly in the present passage only an ἄριστον , a breakfast, which was merely to serve as a handle for the appearance, and for the draught of fishes, as well as for the further scene with Peter. In a manner which serves as a special warning have the allegorical tendencies of the Fathers, in respect of the number of fishes, displayed themselves, as, e.g ., Severus, Ammonius, Theophylact (also τινές in Euth. Zigabenus) see depicted in the 100 fishes the Gentiles, in the 50 the Jews, and in the 3 the Trinity; whilst Jerome, who is followed by Köstlin in the Theol. Jahrb . 1851, p. 195, and Hilgenfeld recognises in the 153 fishes, in spite of the fact that they were large ones only, all genera piscium , and thereby the universality of the apostolic activity, [283] which Ruperti derives from the text even by an arithmetical analysis [284] of the number; whilst Hengstenberg, on the other hand (after Grotius), thinks to find the key in the 153,600 strangers, 2 Chronicles 2:17 , so that John counts a fish for every thousand (with which the surplus of 600 falls away)!

That John says nothing regarding the symbolical determination of the draught of fishes, is sufficiently explained from the fact that Jesus Himself does not expressly declare it, but allows the thing to speak its silent symbolic language for itself, as He also has not Himself interpreted the symbolism of the withered fig-tree (Matthew 21:21 ).

[282] Even the Lord’s Supper was found by Augustine to be signified, and he went so far as to say: “ piscis assus Christus est passus .”

[283] Hilgenfeld in his ZeitsChr. 1868, p. 446: “The copious take …, i.e. the spiritual harvest from the Gentile world , is now added to the provision of fish and bread already lying ready, I think, for the feeding of the Jewish people (comp. John 6:12 ).” The fundamental thought is, he thinks, in John 10:16 .

[284] Recently enigmatic numeration has been attempted in the case of these fishes, so that according to the Hebrew numerical letters, 118 + 35 = שמען יובה is = Σίμων ʼΙωνᾶ . See Theol. Jahrb. 1854, p. 135; on the other hand: Ewald, Jahrb. vi. p. 161. Volkmar also (Mos. Prophetie, p. 61 f.) gives the enigmatic solution of the number as “Simeon Bar Jona Kepha.” Calvin already correctly observes: “quantum ad piscium numerum spectat, non est sublime aliquod in eo quaerendum mysterium.”

Verses 15-17

John 21:15-17 . The thrice-repeated question: “ut illi occasionem praeberet, triplicis abnegationis maculam triplici professione eluendi,” Wetstein, which Hengstenberg arbitrarily denies.

Σίμων Ἰωάννου ] Thrice the same complete mention of the name with a certain solemnity of deeply-moved affection . In the use of the name Simon Joh . in itself, we are not to recognise since certainly it is not at all susceptible of proof, that Jesus elsewhere addressed the apostle by the name Peter or Cephas another and special purpose as in view, neither a reminiscence of the lost confidence (De Wette), nor of the human presupposition of the apostolical calling (Luthardt), nor a replacement into the natural condition for the purpose of an exaltation to the new dignity (Hengstenberg). The name of Peter is not refused to him (Hoelemann).

ἀγαπ .] He does not ask after his faith; for this had not become wavering, but the love proceeding from the faith had not been sufficiently strong.

τούτων ] ἢ οὗτοι , than these my other disciples. They are still present; comp. on John 21:20 . Peter had given expression , in his whole behaviour down to his fall, to so pre-eminent a love for Jesus (let John 6:68 , let the washing of the feet, the sword-stroke, and John 13:37 be borne in mind), and in virtue of the distinction, of which Jesus had deemed him worthy (John 1:43 ), as well as by his post at the head of the apostles (comp. on Matthew 16:18 ), into which he was not now for the first time to be introduced (Hengstenberg), so pre-eminent a love was to be expected from him, that there is sufficient occasion for the πλεῖον τούτων without requiring a special reference to Matthew 26:33 (from which, in comparison with John 13:37 , a conclusion has been drawn adverse to the Johannean authorship).

Peter in his answer places, instead of the ἀγαπ . ( diligis ) of the question, the expression of personal heart emotion , φιλῶ , amo (comp. John 11:3 ; John 11:5 , John 20:2 ), by which he gives the most direct satisfaction to his inmost feeling; appeals, in so doing, in the consciousness of the want of personal warranty, to the Lord’s knowledge of the heart, but leaves the πλεῖον τούτων unanswered, because his fall has made him humble, for which reason Jesus also, in tender forbearance, is silent as to that πλεῖον τούτων in the questions that follow vivid originality of the narrative, marked by such delicacy of feeling.

βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου ] Restoration to the previous standing, which the rest of the apostles did not require, therefore containing the primacy of Peter only in so far as it already previously existed; see on Matthew 16:18 .

ἀρνία ] Expression of tender emotion: little lambs , without obliteration of the diminutive signification also in Revelation 5:6 ; Isaiah 40:11 , Aq. The discourse becomes firmer in John 21:16 , where πρόβατα , and again, more touched with emotion in John 21:17 , where προβάτια , little sheep (see the critical notes), is found. By all three words, the ἀρχιποίμην [285] means His believing ones in general (1 Peter 5:4 ), without making a separation between beginners and those who are matured (Euth. Zigabenus, Wetstein, Lange, and several others), or even between laity and clergy (Eusebius, Emiss, Bellarmine). Maldonatus aptly remarks: the distinction is non in re, sed in voce , where, notwithstanding, he, with other Catholic expositors, erroneously lays emphasis on the fact that precisely to Peter was the whole flock entrusted; the latter shared, in truth, with all the apostles, the same office of tending the entire flock.

πάλιν δεύτερον ] See on Matthew 26:42 .

ποίμαινε ] More universal and more expressive of carefully ruling activity in general (Acts 20:28 ; 1 Peter 5:2 ; Revelation 2:27 ; Revelation 7:17 , and see Dissen, ad Pind. Ol . x. 9) than βόσκε , in which rather the special reference of nourishing protective activity is brought out (Hom. Od . μ . 97, ξ . 102, et al .; comp. βοσκή and βόσκημα , victus , and the compounds like γηροβοσκεῖν , et al .; see also Philo, deter. insid. pot . I. p. 197; Ellendt, Lex. Soph . I. p. 312 f.). The latter, therefore, corresponds to the diminutive designations.

In His third question, John 21:17 , Jesus takes up the φιλῶ σε of Peter, and cuts, by means of the thus altered question, still more deeply into his heart. Peter was troubled about this, that Jesus in this third question appeared to throw doubt even upon his φιλεῖν . Hence now his more earnest answer, with an appeal to his Lord’s unlimited knowledge of the heart : σὺ πάντα οἶδας , κ . τ . λ ., which popular and deeply emotional expression is not to be interpreted of absolute omniscience (Baur), but according to the standard of John 16:30 , John 2:25 , John 4:19 , John 6:64 , John 1:49 f.

[285] To apply the sense of the thrice-uttered behest so differently: duty of individuals; care for the whole; leading in of individuals for the whole (Luthardt), is a separation of the idea which cannot be proved by the change of the words, and is entirely out of keeping with the mood of emotional feeling. In each of the three expressions lies the whole duty of the shepherd. “Quam vocum vim optime se intellexisse Petrus demonstrat, 1 Peter 5:2 ,” Grotius.

Verse 18

John 21:18 . With the thrice-uttered βόσκε τὰ προβάτιά μου Peter is again installed in his vocation, and with solemn earnestness ( ἀμὴν , ἀμὴν , κ . τ . λ .) Jesus now immediately connects the prediction of what he will one day have to endure in this vocation. The prediction is clothed in a symbolic form. Comp. Acts 21:11 .

ὅτε ἦς νεώτερος ] than now. Peter, who had been already for a considerable time married (Matthew 8:14 ), was at that time of middle age. In the antithesis of past youth and coming old age ( γηράσῃς ) the present condition certainly remains without being characterized; but this, in the vivid delineation of the prophetic picture, must not be pressed. Every expression of prophetic mould is otherwise subject to its “obliquity” (against De Wette). But the objection of the want of a simplicity worthy of Jesus (De Wette) is, considering the entire concrete and illustrative form of the prophecy, perfectly unjust. Note, moreover, that ὅτε ἦς νεώτερος … ἤθελες is not designed with the rest for symbolical interpretation (refers perhaps to his self-willedness before his conversion, Euth. Zigabenus, Luthardt, or in the earlier time of youth, Lange; to the autonomic energy in his calling, Hengstenberg), but serves only as a plastic preparation for the prediction beginning with ὅταν δὲ γηράσῃς , as a further background, from which the predictive figure the more vividly stands out in relief.

ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χεῖρ . σου ] Feebly stretching them out to the power of strangers, and therewith surrendering thyself to it. Then will another (undefined subject of the hostile power) gird thee , i.e. surround thee with fetters as with a girdle , bind thy body around with bonds, and convey thee away, whither thou wilt not , namely, to the place of execution (comp. Mark 15:22 ); for with ὅπου οὐ θέλεις : τῆς φύσεως λέγει τὸ συμπαθὲς καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς τὴν ἀνάγκην , καὶ ὅτι ἄκουσα ἀποῤῥήγνυται τοῦ σώματος ἡ ψυχή , Chrysostom. Note further, that as with the three clauses of the first half of the verse there is a complete correspondence formed by means of the three clauses of the second, namely (1) by ὅταν δὲ γηρ .; (2) by ἄλλος σε ζώσει ; and (3) by οἴσει ὅπου οὐ θέλεις , the words ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χεῖράς σου form no independent point, but only serve for the illustration of the second, graphically describing the surrender into the power of the ἄλλος , who will perform the ζώσει (not the joy at being bound with fetters, Weitzel). All the less were the Fathers, and most of the later expositors (including Tholuck, Maier, De Wette, Brückner, Hilgenfeld, Hengstenberg, Baeumlein), justified in making ἐκτεν . τ . χεῖρ . σ . precisely the characteristic point of the prediction, and in interpreting it of the stretching out on the transverse beam of the cross , in which case we must then, if ἄλλος σε ζώσει is not, as designating passivity, to be volatilized into a general expression (Hengstenberg), refer the ζώσει to the binding to the cross before the nailing thereto (so already Tertullian, Scorp . 15), or again, to the girding round with the loin cloth (which, however, can by no means be historically proved by Ev. Nicod . 10, see Thilo, ad Cod. Apocr. I. p. 582 f.), as also Brückner and Ewald have done. It is decisive against the entire explanation, referring it to the crucifixion, that οἴσει ὅπου οὐ θέλεις would be quite incongruous not before but after the stretching out of the hands and girding, [286] and it must in that case be understood of the bearing to the cross by the executioner’s assistants (Ewald, comp. Bengel), according to which, however, in spite of this very special interpretation, the reference of the stretching out of the hands to the crucifixion must be again given up, and there would remain only the above doubtful binding on of the girdle round the loins as a specific mark of crucifixion. Others (so especially Gurlitt and Paulus) have found nothing more than the prediction of actual weakness of old age , and therewith made of the saying introduced in so weighty a manner something that says nothing. Olshausen refers to youth and old age in the spiritual life ; [287] Peter, that is to say, will in his old age be in manifold ways hindered, persecuted, and compelled against his will to be active then and there, of which experiences his cross is the culminating point. In a similar manner Tholuck: the apostle is given to understand how he, who had been still governed in the earlier period of his life more by self-will, will come more and more under a higher power, and will submit himself at last even with resignation to the martyr-death destined by God. Comp. Lange, and even Bleek, p. 235 f., who by the ἄλλος actually understands Jesus; a mistaken view also in Mayerhoff, Petr. Schr . p. 87. All such spiritual allusions fall to the ground in virtue of John 21:19 , as, moreover, ὅπου οὐ θέλεις also is not appropriate, the supposed representation of complete surrender, and instead of it probably ὅπου ἄρτι οὐ θέλεις must have been expected. Unsuitable also would be ὅταν γηράσῃς , since in truth that spiritual maturity of the apostle could not first be a subject of expectation in his old age. Beza is correct: “Christus in genere praedicat Petri mortem violentam fore.” Nonnus: Ὀψὲ δὲ γηράσκων τανύσεις σέο χεῖρας ἀνάκγῃ · | καί σε περισφίγξουσιν ἀφειδέες ἀνέρες ἄλλοι , | εἴς τινα χῶρον ἄγοντες , ὃν οὐ σέο θυμὸς ἀνώγει . And beyond that point we cannot go without arbitrariness. Comp. also Luthardt and Godet.

[286] A resource has indeed been sought with Casaubon by referring ἐκτ . τ . χεῖρ . σ . to the circumstance that before the crucifixion took place the cruciarii were carried about “collo furcae inserto et manibus dispessis et ad furcae cornua deligatis,” Wetstein. But the girding , as it necessarily points to binding round the body, would be an inappropriate figure of the attaching the hands . Logical subtleties cannot succeed in putting right the incongruity above alluded to, although Brückner has made the attempt.

[287] Comp. Euth. Zigabenus: to the life of Peter under the law, in which he has acted with self-will, the full maturity of the ἡλικία πνευματική is opposed, in which he will stretch out his hands for crucifixion, etc.

Verse 19

John 21:19 . A comment, quite of Johannean stamp, on the remarkable saying. Comp. John 18:32 , also John 12:33 .

ποίῳ θανάτῳ ] i.e . by what manner of death, namely, by the death of martyrdom , for which Peter, bound round with fetters , was conveyed to the place of execution . John, who wrote long after the death of Peter, presupposes the details as well known , as also Clem. Cor . I. 5. Peter was crucified , as tradition, from the time of Tertullian, Scorp . 15, [288] de praeser . 35, and Origen in Eusebius, credibly relates; the reader had therefore to take this special element of the ποιότης of the execution from history, as the fulfilment of the less definite word of prophecy, in addition to , but not to derive it from , the words of Christ themselves.

δοξάσει τ . θεόν ] For such a death tended to the glorifying of God , in whose service he suffered for the revelation of His counsel and for the victory of His work (comp. John 17:4 ; John 17:6 ); hence δοξάζειν τ . θεόν became “magnificus martyrii titulus,” Grotius. See Suicer, Thes . I. p. 949. Comp. also Philippians 1:20 ; 1 Peter 4:16 ; Acts 5:41 .

ἀκολούθει μοι ] On the announcement of the martyrdom which is destined for Peter in his old age, there now follows, after a pause, the summons thereto, and that in the significant form: follow me! Comp. John 13:36 ; Matthew 10:38 ; Matthew 16:24 . This, then, refers, according to the context, to the following of Christ in the like death that He had died, i.e . in the death of martyrdom , which Peter is to undergo . Luther: “give thyself willingly to death.” Too special is the interpretation which refers it to the death of the cross , since this was not expressly characterized in John 21:18 (against Euth. Zigabenus and many others). Quite in opposition to the context, however (see also John 21:22 ), others, after Chrysostom and Theophylact, have referred it to the appointment to be oecumenical bishop . The reference to the guidance of the church is by no means to be connected with that to the death of martyrdom (Ewald, Jahrb . III. p. 171), since ἀκολ . is the opposite of μένειν , John 21:22 . Others , again, have divested the words of all significance: Jesus had something particular to speak of with Peter, and hence summoned him to go with Him . In this way Kuinoel, Paulus, and even Tholuck and Schleiermacher, whilst Grotius, Bengel, Luthardt, Lange, Hengstenberg, Brückner, Baeumlein, Godet attempt to melt away the proper and symbolical meaning.

[288] “Tunc Petrus ab altero cingitur, cum cruci adstringitur.”

Verses 20-21

John 21:20-21 . From ἀκολουθοῦντα which here, as belonging to the narrative , is, as a matter of course, not to be taken in the significant sense of the ἀκολούθει belonging to the language of Jesus, John 21:19 it results that Jesus, during the preceding conversation with Peter (not now first, in accordance with ἀκολούθει μοι , John 21:19 , as Luthardt assumes; for this ἀκολ . μοι is to be left purely in its higher sense), has gone away with him a little distance from the disciples. Peter, engaged in walking with Jesus, turns round ( ἐπιστραφείς , comp. Matthew 9:22 ) and sees that John is following them .

ὃν ἠγπα ὁ Ἰησοῦς ] Not to be connected with ἀκολουθ . (“he knew that Jesus loved his company,” Ewald, loc. cit .), but comp. John 13:23 .

ὃς καὶ ἀνέπεσεν , κ . τ . λ .] Retrospect of the special circumstance, John 13:25 ; hence, however, not: who also lay at table , etc. (Hengstenberg and others), but: who also laid himself down (with the head) at the well-known Supper ( ἐν τῷ δείπνῳ ) on the breast of Jesus . Ὃς … παραδ . σε is not to be placed within a parenthesis , since with John 21:21 a new sentence begins. The subjoining of this observation is not intended to state the reason for John, as the confidant of Jesus, following Him (Bengel, Luthardt, Lange, Godet); but to prepare the way for the following question of petty jealousy, in which the point of the further narrative lies, while it indicates the consideration which determines Peter to put this question, whether possibly a destiny of suffering might not in like manner be contemplated for the disciple so pre-eminently beloved and distinguished by Jesus, this ἐπιστήθιος of the Lord. According to Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euth. Zigabenus (similarly Olshausen), the intention is to make the reader sensible of how far bolder than at the Last Supper Peter has now become after his restoration. But the subsequent question neither presupposes any special boldness (comp. on John 21:22 ), nor, considering the peculiar situation of the Last Supper, was a want of boldness the reason why Peter did not himself put the question, John 13:25 . The καί after ὅς expresses the relation corresponding to ὃν ἠγάπα ; Baeumlein, Partik . p. 152.

οὖτος δὲ τί ] sc . ἔσται . See Buttmann, Neut. Gr . p. 338 [E. T. p. 394]. Nonnus: καὶ τί τελέσσει οὗτος ἐμὸς συνάεθλος ; but what will become of this man if the result is to be such for me? Will the issue be otherwise with him? οὐκ ἀκολουθήσει σοι ; οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἡμῖν ὁδὸν τοῦ θανάτου βαδιεῖται ; Euth. Zigabenus. The rendering: but what shall this man? Shall he then now be with us (Paulus and several others), a part of the false explanation of ἀκολούθει μοι , John 21:19 . On the neut. τί , comp. Acts 12:18 ; Xen. Hell. ii. 3. 17 : ἔσοιτο ἡ πολιτεία ; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep . p. 332 E.

Verse 22

John 21:22 . Jesus gives, in virtue of His personal sovereignty over the life and death of His own (comp. Romans 14:9 ), to the unwarranted question, put by Peter, too, not merely out of curiosity, but even from a certain jealousy (Chrysostom, Erasmus, Wetstein, and several others import: out of particular love to John), [289] the answer: that it does not at all concern him, if He have possibly allotted to John a more distant and happier goal, and leads him, who had again so soon turned away his gaze from himself, immediately back to the task of ἈΚΟΛΟΎΘΕΙ ΜΟΙ imposed upon him, John 21:19 .

ΜΈΝΕΙΝ ] Opposite of the ἈΚΟΛΟΥΘΕῖΝ , to be fulfilled by the death of martyrdom; hence: be preserved in life . Comp. John 12:34 ; Philippians 1:25 ; 1 Corinthians 15:6 ; Kypke, I. p. 415 f. Olshausen (and so substantially even Ewald) arbitrarily adds, after Augustine, the sense: “to tarry in quiet and peaceful life.” [290]

ἕως ἔρχομαι ] By this Jesus means, as the solemn and absolute ἜΡΧΟΜΑΙ itself renders undoubted, His final historical Parousia , which He, according to the apprehension of all evangelists and apostles, has promised will take place even before the passing away of the generation (see note 3 after Matthew 24:0 ), not the destruction of Jerusalem, which, moreover, John far outlived ( τινὲς in Theophylact, Wetstein, Lange, and several others, including Luthardt, who sees in this destruction the beginning of the Parousia, in opposition to the view of the N. T. generally, and to John 21:23 ); not the world historical conflict between Christ and Rome, which began under Domitian (Hengstenberg); not the carrying away by a gentle death (Olshausen, Lange, Ewald, after the older expositors, as Ruperti, Clarius, Zeger, Grotius, and several others); not the leading out from Galilee (where John in the meanwhile was to remain) to the scene of Apostolic activity (Theophylact); not the apocalyptic coming in the visions of John’s revelation (Ebrard); not the coming at any place, where John was to wait (Paulus)! See rather Joh 14:3 ; 1 John 2:28 ; 1 John 3:2 . On ἕως ἔρχομαι (as 1 Timothy 4:13 ), as long as until I come, see Buttmann, Neut. Gr . p. 199 [E. T. p. 231]. In σύ μοι ἀκολ ., σύ bears the emphasis, in opposition to the other disciples.

[289] Comp. Luthardt: “only loving interest for his comrade,” to which, however, the reproving τί πρὸς σέ , ver. 22, does not apply.

[290] Comp. Godet, who, strangely enough, finds here an allusion to the fact that John remained at rest in the boat, and with his comrades (except Peter) towed the full net to land, where Jesus was. This allusion again includes the other, that John, in the history of the development of the founding of the church, received “ a calm and collected part .” And with this Godet finally connects: At the great gospel draught of fishes in the Gentile world, where Peter at the beginning stood foremost, “ John assisted thereat until the end of the first century, a type of the whole history of the church, and here begins the mystery perhaps he is therewith associated in an incomprehensible manner until the end of the present economy, until the vessel touches the shore of eternity .” Thus, if we depart from the clear and certain sense of the words, we fall into the habit of phantasy , so that we no longer expound , but invent and create .

Verse 23

John 21:23 . Hence there went forth (comp. Matthew 9:26 ), in consequence of this answer of Jesus, the following legend [291] among the brethren (Christians): that disciple dies not (but remains in life until the Parousia, whereupon he experiences, not death, but change, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ).

The legend, which correctly took ἔρχομαι in the solemn sense of Maranatha (1 Corinthians 16:22 ), would with reason have inferred its οὐκ ἀποθνήσκει from the word of Christ, had the latter run categorically: ΘΈΛΩ ΑὐΤῸΝ ΜΈΝΕΙΝ ἝΩς ἜΡΧ . From the manner, however, in which Jesus expressed Himself, a categorical judgment was derived from the conditional sentence, and consequently the case supposed by Jesus, the occurrence of which is to be left to the judgment of experience ( ἐάν , not ΕἸ ), was proclaimed as an actually existing relation. This John exposes as an overstepping of the words of Jesus, and hence his observation intimates, that it was straightway asserted, but without reason, on the ground of that saying: this disciple dies not, that rather the possible occurrence of the case supposed by ἘᾺΝ ΘΈΛΩ must be left over to the experience of the future, without asserting by way of anticipation either the ΟὐΚ ἈΠΟΘΝΉΣΚΕΙ or the opposite. Considering the expected nearness of the Parousia, it is conceivable enough how John himself does not in a general way declare the saying, which was in circulation about him, to be incorrect, and does not refute it (it might in truth be verified through the impending Parousia), but only refers to its conditional character (“leaves it therefore to hang in doubt,” Luther), and places it merely in its historical light, with verbally exact repetition of its source. According to others (see especially Heumann, B. Crusius, Hengstenberg), John would indicate that there is yet another coming of Jesus than that which is to take place at the close of history. But this other the expositors have here first invented, see on John 21:22 .

After the death of the apostle, the legend was further expanded, to the effect that he slumbered in the grave, and by his breath moved the earth. See Introd . § 1, and generally Ittig, sel. capita hist. eccl . sec. I. p. 441 ff.

[291] Which therefore did not originate from the Apocalypse (Baur, Hilgenfeld).

Verse 24

John 21:24 . Conclusion by John to this his supplement, John 21:1-23 , which he makes known as his work, and the contents of which he maintains to be true . To his book he had given the conclusion, John 20:31 ; all the less should the apostolic legitimation be wanting to the appendix added by him at a later time.

περὶ τούτων and ταῦτα refer to the supplementary narrative in John 21:1-23 .

Observe the change of participles, pres . μαρτυρῶν (for his witness, i.e . his eye- and ear-witness, still continued a living one in an oral form) and aor . γράψας . [292]

οἴδαμεν ] Not οἰδα μὲν (Chrysostom, Theophylact); but John, as he has avoided throughout in the Gospel, in accordance with his delicate peculiarity, the self-designation by I , here speaks out of the consciousness of fellowship with his readers at that time , none of whom the aged apostle justly presupposed would doubt the truth of his testimony. With this good apostolical confidence he utters his οἴδαμεν . He might have written, as in John 19:35 , οἶδεν (Beza so conjectured). But his book up to this appendix, chap. 21, had belonged in truth already for a considerable time to the narrower circle of his first readers; they could not therefore but know from it how truly he had testified concerning all that he had written; all the more could he now, when by way of supplement he further added the appendix, conceive what was to be said concerning the truth of the contents in the above form of fellowship, and as he conceived it, so he says it; as he is in so doing certain of the concurrence of his readers (comp. 3 John 1:12 ) with his own consciousness, so he writes it. According to this, no satisfactory reason is apparent for recognising in οἴδαμεν a composer different from the γράψας (Bleek, Baeumlein), and conceiving of the Ephesian presbyters or friends of the apostle as the subject, whether the chapter be now ascribed to them (or to an individual among them) (Grotius, Lücke, Ewald, Bleek, and several others), or only John 21:24-25 (Tholuck, Luthardt, Godet, and several others), or again merely John 21:24 , John 21:25 being rejected (Tischendorf).

[292] Note also how the witness is identical with the γράψας , so that John himself expressly announces himself as the composer of the appendix, and consequently also of the whole Gospel, with which the assumption that the Gospel proceeds from the apostle through a second hand , stands in contradiction.

Verse 25

John 21:25 . Apocryphal conclusion to the entire Gospel (see the critical notes) after the Johannean appendix, John 21:1-24 , had been added. ὅ σα] ἅ, which Lachmann, Tischendorf, after B. C.* X. א . Or. read, would give the relative definition simply as to matter (quae fecit); but ὅ σα gives it quantitatively (quotquot fecit), as, frequently also in the classics, ὅ σος follows after πολύς (Hom. Il. xxii. 380; Xen. Hell. iii. 4. 3). The ἐ ποίησεν (without σημε ῖ α, John 20:31 ) designates the working of Jesus in its entire universality, but as that which took place on earth, not also the Logos activity from the beginning of the world, as, in spite of the name ὁ Ἰ ησο ῦ ς, comp. John 20:30 , Hoelemann, p. 79 ff., assumes, who sees in John 21:25 the completion of the symmetry of the gospel in keeping with the prologue. The pre-human activity of the Logos might be an object of speculation, as John 1:1 ff., but not the contents of the histories, which were still to be written καθ ʼ ἕ ν, not the task of a gospel. Hence the composer of John 21:25 , moreover, has throughout indicated nothing which points back further than to the activity of the Incarnate One, [1] and not even has he written ὁ Χριστός, or ὁ κύριος, or ὁ υ ἱὸ ς το ῦ Θεο ῦ, but ὁ Ἰ ησο ῦ ς. ἅ τινα] quippe quae, utpote quae. The relative is like wise qualitative (Kühner, II. § 781, 4, 5, and ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 30), namely, in respect of the great multitude; hence not the simple ἅ . καθ ʼ ἕ ν] one by one, point by point. See Bernhardy, p. 240; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p 639 f. ο ὐ δ ὲ α ὐ τ ὸ ν τ. κόσμ.] ne ipsum quidem mundum, much less a space in it. ο ἶ μαι] Placed in John’s mouth by the composer of the concluding verse. χωρ ῆ σαι] to contain (comp. John 2:6 ; Mark 2:2 ). The infin. aor. after ο ἶ μαι without ἄ ν, a pure Greek idiom (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 751 ff.), expresses what is believed with certainty and decision. See Bernhardy, p. 383, and on the distinction of the infin. pres. (Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 283) and future, Kühner, II. p. 80 f. τ ὰ γραφόμενα] the books, which, if the supposed case occurs, shall be written. The w orld is too small, then thinks the writer, to include these books within it, not, as Luthardt suggests, to embrace the fulness of such testimonies, to which he inaptly adds, since in truth it is books that are spoken of: “for only an absolutely external circumference is in keeping with the absolute contents of the Person and of the life of Christ.” Hengstenberg also applies the expression of external dimension to the “internal overflowing greatness;” comp. Godet; the object of the history is greater than the world, etc.; Ebrard’s remark is singular: there would be no room in literature for the books. In a manner opposed to the context, Jerome, Augustine, Ruperti (who says: the world is “et ad quaerendum fastidiosus est ad intelligendum obtusus”), Calovius, Bengel, and several others have explained it of the capacitas non loci, sed intellectus (comp. on Matthew 19:11 ).

Not only is the inharmonious and unspiritual exaggeration in John 21:25 un-Johannean (unsuccessfully defended by Weitzel, loc. cit. p. 632 ff., and softened down by Ewald, with a reference also to Coh xii. 12), it is also apocryphal in character (comp. similar hyperboles in Fabricius, ad Cod. Apocr. I. p. 321 f., and Wetstein in loc.), but also the periodic mode of expression, which does not agree with the Johannean simplicity, as well as the first person (ο ἶ μαι), in which John in the Gospel never speaks; moreover, nowhere else does he use ο ἴ εσθαι, which, however, is found in Paul also only once (Philippians 1:17 ). The variations are (see the critical not es) of no importance for a critical judgment.

[1] For that καθʼ ἕν should point back to John 1:3 , and τὸν κόσμον to John 1:10 , is without any internal justification, and could be discovered by no reader.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 21". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/john-21.html. 1832.
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