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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
John 21

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Manifested himself (εφανεροσεν εαυτον). First aorist active indicative of φανεροω with the reflexive pronoun (cf. John 7:4; John 13:4). For the passive see John 1:31; John 21:14. Jesus was only seen during the forty days now and then (Acts 1:3), ten instances being recorded. The word φανεροω is often used of Christ on earth (John 1:31; John 2:11; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 1:2), of his works (John 3:5), of the second coming (1 John 2:28), of Christ in glory (Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2).

At (επ). By or upon.

Of Tiberias (της Τιβεριαδος). As in John 6:1 instead of the usual "Sea of Galilee." Tiberias, the capital city of Galilee, gave this epithet to the Sea of Galilee. This is not the appearance in Galilee prearranged by Jesus (Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:7; Matthew 28:16).

Verse 2

There were together (ησαν ομου). These seven (Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two others). We know that the sons of Zebedee were James and John (Matthew 4:21), mentioned by name nowhere in John's Gospel, apparently because John is the author. We do not know who the "two others of his disciples" were, possibly Andrew and Philip. It seems to me to be crass criticism in spite of Harnack and Bernard to identify the incident here with that in Luke 5:1-11. There are a few points of similarity, but the differences are too great for such identification even with a hypothetical common source.

Verse 3

I go a fishing (υπαγω αλιευειν). The present active infinitive αλιευειν expresses purpose as often. It is a late verb from αλιευς (fisherman) and occurs in Jeremiah 16:16, in Philo, Plutarch, and one papyrus. Peter's proposal was a natural one. He had been a fisherman by practice and they were probably waiting in Galilee for the appointed meeting with Christ on the mountain. Andrew and Peter, James and John were fishermen also. Peter's proposition met a ready response from all.

They took (επιασαν). First aorist active indicative of πιαζω, Doric form for πιεζω, to catch.

Verse 4

When day was now breaking (πρωιας ηδη γινομενης). Genitive absolute and note present middle participle (dawn coming on and still dark). In Matthew 27:1 the aorist participle (γενομενης) means that dawn had come. For "beach" (αιγιαλον) see Matthew 13:2.

Was (εστιν). Present indicative retained in indirect assertion.

Verse 5

Children (Παιδια). Diminutive of παις and used here alone by Jesus in addressing his disciples. It is a colloquial expression like "my boys." The aged Apostle John uses it in 1 John 2:13; 1 John 2:18.

Have ye aught to eat? (μη τ προσφαγιον εχετε;). The negative answer is expected by this polite inquiry as in John 4:29. The rare and late word προσφαγιον from the root φαγ (εσθιω, to eat) and προς (in addition) was used for a relish with bread and then for fish as here. So in the papyri. Nowhere else in the N.T.

Verse 6

The right side (εις τα δεξια μερη). Jesus knew where the fish were. For "net" (δικτυον) see Matthew 4:20, here alone in John.

Were now not able to draw it (ουκετ αυτο ελκυσα ισχυον). Imperfect active picturing the disciples tugging at the net.

Verse 7

It is the Lord (ο κυριος εστιν). John's quick insight appears again.

Girt his coat about him (τον επενδυτην διεζωσατο). First aorist middle (indirect) indicative with which note διεζωσεν εαυτον in John 13:4. Apparently Peter threw on the upper garment or linen blouse (επενδυτην) worn by fishers over his waistcloth and tucked it under his girdle.

Verse 8

In the little boat (τω πλοιαριω). Locative case of πλοιαριον (diminutive) for the larger boat (πλοιον, verses John 21:3; John 21:6) could come no closer to shore. But the words seem interchangeable in John 6:17; John 6:19; John 6:21; John 6:22; John 6:24.

About two hundred cubits off (ως απο πηχων διακοσιων). For πηχυς, cubit, see Matthew 6:27 and for ως απο see John 11:18.

Dragging (συροντες). Present active participle of συρω for which see Acts 8:3.

Verse 9

Got out (απεβησαν). As in Luke 5:2.

They see (βλεπουσιν). Vivid historical present.

A fire of coals (ανθρακιαν). See John 18:18 for this word. Cf. our "anthracite."

There (κειμενην). Lying as placed, present middle participle of κειμα.

Fish (οψαριον). As in John 6:9; John 6:11, like προσφαγιον above.

Laid thereon (επικειμενον). So broiling with bread ready (toast).

Verse 10

Which (ων). Ablative case by attraction from α to agree with οψαριων. They had caught the fish by Christ's direction.

Verse 11

Went up (ανεβη). Into the little boat or dinghy.

Drew (ειλκυσεν). Same verb as ελκυσα in verse John 21:6. Peter now did what they had failed to do.

Three (τριων). The addition "three" to the "hundred and fifty" looks as if they were actually counted these "large" (μεγαλων) fish. It was a great fish story that John recalls vividly.

Was not rent (ουκ εσχισθη). First aorist passive indicative of σχιζω, to split (our word "schism").

Verse 12

Break your fast (αριστησατε). First aorist active imperative of αρισταω from αριστον, first to breakfast, as here and then later to dine as in Luke 11:37. What a delightful breakfast of fresh broiled fish just caught (verse John 21:10) with the hush of joyful surprise in the presence of the Risen Lord.

Durst (ετολμα) Imperfect active of τολμαω. The restraint of silence continued.

Verse 13

Taketh the bread, and giveth them (λαμβανε τον αρτον κα διδωσιν αυτοις). Vivid presents again. Jesus acts as host at this early breakfast, his last meal with these seven faithful followers.

Verse 14

Now the third time (το ηδη τριτον). "To the disciples" (apostles) John says, the two others being told by him (John 20:19; John 20:26) on the two Sunday evenings. There were four other appearances already (to Mary Magdalene, to the group of women, to the two on the way to Emmaus, to Peter).

Verse 15

Lovest thou me more than these? (αγαπαις με πλεον τουτων;). Ablative case of comparison τουτων (disciples) after πλεον. Peter had even boasted that he would stand by Christ though all men forsook him (Mark 14:29). We do not know what passed between Jesus and Peter when Jesus first appeared to him (Luke 24:34). But here Christ probes the inmost recesses of Peter's heart to secure the humility necessary for service.

I love thee (φιλω συ). Peter makes no claim here to superior love and passes by the "more than these" and does not even use Christ's word αγαπαω for high and devoted love, but the humbler word φιλεω for love as a friend. He insists that Christ knows this in spite of his conduct.

Feed my lambs (Βοσκε τα αρνια μου). For the old word βοσκω (to feed as a herdsman) see Matthew 8:33. Present active imperative here. Αρνια is a diminutive of αρνος (lamb).

Verse 16

Lovest thou me? (αγαπαις με;). This time Jesus drops the πλεον τουτων and challenges Peter's own statement. Peter repeats the same words in reply.

Tend my sheep (ποιμαινε τα προβατια). Present active imperative of ποιμαινω, old verb from ποιμην (shepherd), "shepherd my lambs" (προβατια, diminutive of προβατον, sheep).

Verse 17

Lovest thou me? (φιλεις με;). This time Jesus picks up the word φιλεω used by Peter and challenges that. These two words are often interchanged in the N.T., but here the distinction is preserved. Peter was cut to the heart (ελυπηθη, first aorist passive of λυπεω, to grieve) because Jesus challenges this very verb, and no doubt the third question vividly reminds him of the three denials in the early morning by the fire. He repeats his love for Jesus with the plea: "Thou knowest all things."

Feed my sheep (βοσκε τα προβατια). Many MSS. both here and in verse John 21:16 read προβατα (sheep) instead of προβατια (little sheep or lambs).

Verse 18

Thou girdest thyself (εζωννυες σεαυτον). Imperfect active of customary action of ζωννυω, old verb, in N.T. only here and Acts 12:8. So as to περιεπατεις (walkedst) and ηθελες (wouldest), two other imperfects of customary action.

When thou shalt be old (οταν γηρασηις). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν and the first aorist active subjunctive of γηρασκω, old verb to grow old, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 8:13, "whenever thou growest old."

Verse 19

By what manner of death (ποιω θανατω). Undoubtedly John, who is writing long after Peter's death, seems to mean that Peter was to die (and did die) a martyr's death. "Whither thou wouldest not." There is a tradition that Peter met death by crucifixion and asked to be crucified head downwards, but that is not made plain here.

Verse 20

Turning about (επιστραφεις). Second aorist passive participle of επιστρεφω, old verb, here a sudden turning round (ingressive aorist). For the simplex verb στρεφω see John 20:14; John 20:16.

Following (ακολουθουντα). Following both Jesus and Peter, perhaps having heard the graphic dialogue above.

Verse 21

And what shall this man do? (ουτος δε τι;). Literally, "But this one ... what?" The abrupt ellipsis is intelligible.

Verse 22

If I will (εαν θελω). Condition of the third class with εαν and the present active subjunctive of θελω.

Till I come (εως ερχομα). Literally, "while I am coming" (εως and the present indicative, not εως ελθω (second aorist active subjunctive).

What is that to thee? (τ προς σε;). A sharp rebuke to Peter's keen curiosity.

Follow thou me (συ μο ακολουθε). "Do thou me keep on following." That lesson Peter needed.

Verse 23

That that disciple should not die (οτ ο μαθητης εκεινος ουκ αποθνησκε) (present active indicative), because Peter or others misunderstood what Jesus meant as John now carefully explains. He was rebuking Peter's curiosity, not affirming that John would live on till the Master returned. John is anxious to set this matter right.

Verse 24

That is (ουτος εστιν). The one just mentioned in verse John 21:20, "the disciple whom Jesus loved."

And wrote these things (κα ο γραψας ταυτα). Here there is a definite statement that the Beloved Disciple wrote this book.

We know (οιδαμεν). The plural here seems intentional as the identification and endorsement of a group of disciples who know the author and wish to vouch for his identity and for the truthfulness of his witness. Probably we see here a verse added by a group of elders in Ephesus where John had long laboured.

Verse 25

If they should be written every one (εαν γραφητα καθ' εν). Condition of the third class with εαν and present passive subjunctive of γραφω, "If they should be written one by one" (in full detail).

I suppose (οιμα). Note change back to the first person singular by the author.

Would not contain (ουδ' αυτον τον κοσμον χωρησειν). Future active infinitive in indirect discourse after οιμα. This is, of course, natural hyperbole, but graphically pictures for us the vastness of the work and words of Jesus from which the author has made a small selection (John 20:30) and by which he has produced what is, all things considered, the greatest of all the books produced by man, the eternal gospel from the eagle who soars to the very heavens and gives us a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 21". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/john-21.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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