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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

John 21

Verse 1

Shewed [εφανερωσεν] . This rendering might easily convey merely the sense of appearing; but its meaning is much deeper. Occurring frequently in the New Testament, it is used most frequently of God and Christ, or of men in their relation to these. Thus, of Christ in person while upon earth (Mark 16:12, Mark 16:14; John 1:31; John 2:11; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 1:2). Of the works of Christ (John 2:11; John 9:3; 1 John 3:5). Of Christ in redemption (1 John 3:5). Of Christ in His second coming (1 John 2:28). Of Christ in glory (1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:4). It is used of God. Of His revelation to men of the knowledge of Himself (Romans 1:19). Of His manifestation in Christ (1 Timothy 3:16). Of His righteousness (Romans 3:21). Of His love (1 John 4:9). It is used of men. As epistles manifesting the character and spirit of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:11). In the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10). In all these cases the appearing is not merely an appeal to sense, but is addressed to spiritual perception, and contemplates a moral and spiritual effect. It is the setting forth of the law or will or character of God; of the person or work of Christ; of the character or deeds of men, with a view to the disclosure of their quality and to the producing of a moral impression. Rev., manifested.

Sea. See on Matthew 4:18.

Of Tiberias. Not elsewhere in the Gospels. The Synoptists say, Sea of Galilee or Lake of Gennesaret.

Verse 3

A ship [το πλοιον] . Rev., the boat; restoring the article, which indicates a familiar implement. See on Luke 5:2.

Immediately. Omit.

That night. The emphatic pronoun that [εκεινη] may indicate that their ill success was unusual.

Caught [επιασαν] . So ver. 10. The verb means to lay hold of, and is nowhere else used in the New Testament of taking fish. Elsewhere in this Gospel always of the seizure of Christ by the authorities (vii. 30, 39, 44; John 8:20; John 10:39; John 11:57). Of apprehending Peter and Paul (Acts 12:4; 2 Corinthians 11:32). Of the taking of the beast (Revelation 19:20). Of taking by the hand (Acts 3:7).

Verse 4

Was come [γενομενης] . The best texts read the present participle, ginomenhv, is coming. Rev., when day was now breaking. The A. V. does not agree so well with the fact that Jesus was not at once recognized by the disciples, owing in part, perhaps, to the imperfect light.

On the shore [εις τον αιγιαλον] . Rev., beach. See on Matthew 13:2. The preposition eijv, to, makes the phrase equivalent to "Jesus came to the beach and stood there."

Verse 5

Children [παιδια] . Or, little children. Used also by John, in address, twice in the First Epistle (ii. 13, 18), where, however, the more common word is teknia, little children.

Have ye any meat [μη τι προσφαγιον εχετε] ? The interrogative mh ti indicates that a negative answer is expected : you have not, I suppose, anything. Prosfagion is equivalent to ojyarion, what is added to bread at a meal, especially fish. See on 6 9. Only here in the New Testament. Wyc, any supping - thing. 55

Verse 6

The net [δικτυον] . See on Matthew 4:18; Matthew 13:47.

Were not able [ουκ ισχυσαν] . See on Luke 14:30; Luke 16:3; James 5:16.

To draw [ελκυσαι] . Into the boat. Compare surontev, ver. 8, dragging the net behind the boat.

Verse 7

Fisher's coat [επενδυτην] . An upper garment or blouse. Only here in the New Testament. In the Septuagint, 1 Samuel 18:4, the robe which Jonathan gave to David. 2 Samuel 13:18, the royal virgin garment of Tamar. The kindred verb, ejpenduomai, occurs twice (2 Corinthians 5:2, 2 Corinthians 5:4), meaning "to be clothed upon," with the house which is from heaven, i e., clothed as with an upper garment. See on that passage.

Naked. Not absolutely, but clothed merely in his undergarment or shirt.

Verse 8

A little ship [τω πλοιαριω] . The noun is diminutive. Rev., the little boat. It is hardly probable that this refers to a smaller boat accompanying the vessel. Compare the alternation of ploion and ploiarion in John 6:17, John 6:19, John 6:21, John 6:22, John 6:24.

Two hundred cubits. A little over a hundred yards.

With fishes [των ιχθυων] . Or, the net of the fishes. So Wyc, Rev., full of fishes.

Verse 9

They were come to land [απεβησαν εις την γην] . Not of the arrival of the boat, but of the going ashore of the boatmen. Rev., therefore, correctly, they got out upon the land.

A fire of coals. Charcoal. See John 18:18.

Fish [οψαριον] . See on 6 9.

Bread [αρτον] . Or, a loaf. See on Matthew 4:1; Matthew 7:9.

Verse 10

Of the fish [των οψαριων] . As in ver. 9. Emphasizing the fish as food.

Ye hate caught [επιασατε] . See on ver. 3. Bengel says : "By the Lord 's gift they had caught them : and yet, He courteously says, that they have caught them."

Verse 11

Went up. Into the vessel.

To land [επι της γης] . Strictly, upon the land.

Great fishes. All authorities agree as to the abundance of fish in the Lake of Galilee. M. Lortet, cited by Dr. Thomson, says that two castings of the net usually filled his boat. Bethsaida (there were two places of that name on the lake) means House of the Fisheries. The fame of the lake in this particular reached back to very early times; so that, according to the Rabbinical legend, one of the ten fundamental laws laid down by Joshua on the division of the country was, that any one might fish with a hook in the Lake of Galilee, so that they did not interfere with the free passage of boats. The Talmud names certain kinds of fish which might be eaten without being cooked, and designates them as small fishes. So ojyaria is rendered in John 6:9. Possibly the expression great fishes may imply a contrast with the small fishes which swarmed in the lake, and the salting and pickling of which was a special industry among its fishermen.

Verse 12

Dine [αριστησατε] . Rather, breakfast. In Attic Greek ariston signified the mid - day meal; the evening meal being known as deipnon. The regular hour for the ariston cannot be fixed with precision. The drift of authority among Greek writers seems to be in favor of noon. The meal described here, however, evidently took place at an earlier hour, and would seem to have answered more nearly to the ajkratisma, or breakfast of the Greeks, which was taken directly upon rising. Plutarch, however, expressly states that both names were applied to the morning meal, and says of Alexander, "He was accustomed to breakfast [ηριστα] at early dawn, sitting, and to sup [εδειπνει] late in the evening." In Matthew 22:4, it is an ariston to which the king's wedding - guests are invited. Ask [εξετα. σαι] . Rev., inquire. Implying careful and precise inquiry. It occurs only three times in the New Testament; of Herod 's command to search diligently for the infant Christ (Matthew 2:8), and of the apostles ' inquiring out the worthy members of a household (Matthew 10:11).

Verse 13

Bread - fish. Both have the article - the loaf, the fish - apparently pointing to the provision which Jesus himself had made.

Giveth them. Nothing is said of His partaking Himself. Compare Luke 24:42, Luke 24:43.

Verse 14

The third time. The two former occasions being recorded in John 20:19,

John 21:26The appearance to Mary Magdalene is not counted, because the Evangelist expressly says to His disciples.

Verse 15

Simon, son of Jonas. Compare Christ 's first address to Peter, John 1:43. He never addresses him by the name of Peter, while that name is commonly used, either alone or with Simon, in the narrative of the Gospels, and in the Greek form Peter, not the Aramaic Cephas, which, on the other hand, is always employed by Paul. For Jonas read as Rev., John. Lovest [αγαπας] . Jesus uses the more dignified, really the nobler, but, as it seems to Peter, in the ardor of his affection, the colder word for love. See on 5 20.

More than these. More than these disciples love me. Compare John 13:37; Matthew 26:33. The question conveys a gentle rebuke for his former extravagant professions.

I love [φιλω] . Peter substitutes the warmer, more affectionate word, and omits all comparison with his fellow - disciples.

Feed [βοσκε] . See on 1 Peter 5:2.

Lambs [αρνια] . Diminutive : little lambs. Godet remarks : "There is a remarkable resemblance between the present situation and that of the two scenes in the previous life of Peter with which it is related. He had been called to the ministry by Jesus after a miraculous draught of fishes; it is after a similar draught that the ministry is restored to him. He had lost his office by a denial beside a fire of coal; it is beside a fire of coal that he recovers it."

Verse 16

Lovest [αγαπας] . Again the colder word, but more than these is omitted.

I love [φιλω] . Peter reiterates his former word expressive of personal affection.

Feed [ποιμαινε] . A different word : tend, as Rev. See on 1 Peter 5:2. Sheep [προβατα] . Some of the best texts read probatia, diminutive, little sheep.

Verse 17

Lovest [φιλεις] . Here Jesus adopts Peter's word. Canon Westcott, however, ascribes Peter's use of filew to his humility, and his hesitation in claiming that higher love which is implied in ajgapav. This seems to me to be less natural, and to be refining too much.

Verse 18

Young [νεωτερος] . Literally, younger. Peter was apparently of middle age. See Matthew 8:14.

Thou girdedst thyself [εζωννυες σεαυτον] . The word may have been suggested by Peter's girding his fisher's coat round him. The imperfect tense signifies something habitual. Thou wast wont to clothe thyself and to come and go at will.

Walkedst [περιεπατεις] . Literally, walkedst about. Peculiarly appropriate to describe the free activity of vigorous manhood.

Stretch forth thy hands. The allusion to the extending of the hands on the cross, which some interpreters have found here, is fanciful. It is merely an expression for the helplessness of age.

Whither thou wouldest not. According to tradition Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome, and was crucified with his head downward.

Verse 19

By what death [ποιω] . Properly, by what manner of death. So Rev.

Verse 20

Leaned [ανεπεσεν] . Rev., leaned back. See on 13 25. The reference is to the special act of John, leaning back to whisper to Jesus, and not to his position at table.

Verse 21

And what shall this man do [ουτος δε τι; ] ? Literally, and this one what?

Verse 22

Till I come [εως ερχομαι] . Rather, while I am coming. Compare John 9:4; John 12:35, John 12:36; 1 Timothy 4:13.

What is that to thee [τι προς σε; ] ? Literally, what as concerns thee?

Verse 23

Should not die [ουκ αποθνησκει] . Literally, dieth not.

24, 25. Many interpreters think that these two verses were written by some other hand than John's. Some ascribe vv. 24 and 25 to two different writers. The entire chapter, though bearing unmistakable marks of John's authorship in its style and language, was probably composed subsequently to the completion of the Gospel.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 21". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/john-21.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.