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Bible Commentaries
John 21

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


After this. Compare Matthew 28:7; Mark 16:7. Lake Tiberias. Another name for Lake Galilee. See John 6:1; John 6:23 and notes.

Verse 2


Were all together. Seven are mentioned. Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew, and probably all are apostles. They cannot think their apostleship has terminated; so we understand that they are only waiting, until Jesus comes as he promised (Matthew 28:7).

Verse 3


I am going fishing. As usual, Peter takes the lead.

Verse 4


As the sun was rising. This is after they had fished all night without success.

Verse 5


Young men. PAIDIA. He deliberately speaks as any stranger would who wanted to buy fish from fishermen.

Verse 7


It is the Lord! The miracle helps John recognize Jesus. Peter, as usual, is the first to act. He jumps into the water!

Verses 12-13


None of the disciples dared ask him. This implies there was something “different” which made them want to ask questions.

Verse 14


The third time. The third time to the disciples. [The first was to ten (John 20:19); the second to eleven (John 20:26).] A list of the appearances is given in the notes on Matthew 28:9.

Verses 15-17


Do you love me more than these? Than these other disciples do? [Some think it means: “Than you love the boat and the fishing business?” McGarvey thinks this.] This incident with Peter is probably to show him that he is still an apostle and shares the obligation with the others. There is a subtle “play on words” in the original language. Jesus does not say Peter (a rock), but Simon (a hearing, Genesis 29:33). Twice Jesus asks: “Do you love me?” [AGAPE]; and Peter answers: “You know that I like you” [PHILOS]. The third time, Jesus asks: “Do you like me?” [PHILOS]. Peter becomes sad as he answers: “You know that I like you” [PHILOS]. Alford (Greek Testament), McGarvey, et. al., think this is the correct explanation. However, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Johnson, Lipscomb, et. al., think there is no significance in using the two words. The Latin Vulgate does distinguish between them, though, using DILIGIS and AMO. But few English translations make the distinction. [Some see this as an “official reinstatement” of Peter as an apostle; that he denied three times, therefore must confess three times. But there is no proof Peter ever ceased to be an apostle, and his guilt is not greatly different from the others who also abandoned Jesus (compare John 16:32).] Take care of my Iambs. Three times Jesus repeats this [in different forms], showing he places his trust in this man [who probably had a deep sense of guilt]. Peter was never the same after these things had happened to him (see Luke 22:31-32),

Verse 18


I tell you the truth. What Jesus now says is a prediction that Peter will die for his Lord. [All the apostles did die because of Christ, except John.]

Verse 19


(In which Peter would die.) Traditional history says Peter was crucified [upside down] at Rome, and Paul was beheaded there, both about the same time (around 68 A.D.), by Emperor Nero. [Paul was a Roman citizen, Peter was not.] Follow me! The future had a blessing for Peter, if he “kept the Faith.” He did, from this time on!

Verse 22


If I want him to live until I come? Jesus is saying: “It’s none of your business what the future holds for others. You follow me, and let the others take care of themselves!” Johnson sees in “until I come, “ a reference to John staying on earth longer than the others, and “Christ coming” to give John the Revelation message. John died about 100 A.D.

Verse 23


So a report spread. This shows how precisely John remembered what Jesus had said! There can be no question that John died. His grave at Ephesus was well known among the early Christians.

Verse 24


And we know that what he said is true. Many think these words were written by the church-elders at Ephesus, showing their “endorsement” of all that John writes. McGarvey thinks the “I suppose” of the next verse implies this verse is an “official statement” in formal language. Compare the introduction to 1 John.

Verse 25


There are many other things that Jesus did. Only a small part of Jesus’ life and actions are recorded for us. But the sacred historians had no intention of producing an “unabridged cyclopedia.” We are given all the facts we need to make an accurate choice (John 20:31).

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 21". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/john-21.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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