corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.21
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
John 21

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

That this concluding chapter is an appendix by the Evangelist's own hand was never doubted by Christians until the days of Grotius. That Neander and Lucke should have expressed their opinion that it was written by another hand from materials left by John, and so is to be regarded as authentic history, but not as the apostle's composition, is to be regretted rather than wondered at, considering their tendencies. We are sorry that Wieseler also should have given in to this opinion. But the vast majority of the ablest and most impartial critics are satisfied that there is no ground to doubt its being from the same beloved pen as the rest of this Gospel. It is in almost all the MSS. and Version. As to the difference of style-of which Alford, while admitting it to be John's, makes fully too much-even Credner, the most searching investigator of the language of the New Testament, bears the following testimony, which, from him and in the present case, is certainly an impartial one: 'There is not a single external testimony against the 21st chapter; and regarded internally, this chapter displays almost all the peculiarities of John's style.' There is positively no other objection to it except that the Evangelist had already concluded his Gospel at the end of John 20:1-31. But neither in the Epistles of the New Testament nor in other good authors is it unusual to insert supplementary matter, and so have more than one conclusion.

Of the ten manifestations of the Risen Saviour recorded in Scripture, including that in 1 Corinthians 15:6, this in order is the seventh-or to His assembled disciples the third.

After those things Jesus showed (or 'manifested') himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias: and on this wise showed he himself. This way of speaking shows that after His resurrection He appeared to them but occasionally, unexpectedly, and in a way quite unearthly, though yet really and corporeally.


Verse 2

There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of (or 'from') Cana in Galilee - as to whose identity with Bartholomew the apostle, see the note at Matthew 10:3. And the sons of Zebedee. Here only, as Stier observes, does John refer to himself in this manner.

And two other of his disciples - that is, two other apostles: so there were seven in all present.


Verse 3

Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go (rather 'come') with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing - just as at the first miraculous draught; and no doubt it was so ordered that the miracle might strike them the more. The same principle is seen in operation throughout much of Christ's ministry, and is indeed a great law of God's spiritual procedure with His people. (See the notes at Luke 5:1-11, Remark 1 at the close of that section; and at John 11:1-57, Remark 4 at the close of that section.)


Verse 4

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Perhaps there had been some considerable interval since the last manifestation, and having agreed to betake themselves to their secular employment, they would be unprepared to expect Him.


Verse 5

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children. This term would not necessarily identify Him, being not unusual from any superior; but when they did recognize Him, they would feel it sweetly like Himself.

Have ye any meat? [ prosfagion (Greek #4371)] - 'any food?' meaning, Have ye caught anything?

They answered him, No. This was in His usual style making them tell their case and so be better prepared They answered him, No. This was in His usual style, making them tell their case, and so be better prepared for what was coming.


Verse 6

And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side - no doubt, by this very specific direction, intending to reveal to them His knowledge of the deep and power over it.


Verse 7

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord - again having the advantage of his brother in quickness of recognition (see the note at John 20:8), to be followed, however, in Peter by an alacrity all his own.

Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat [unto] (or 'about') him, (for he was naked) - his vest only on, worn next to the body,

And did cast himself into the sea - the shallow part, not more than a hundred yards from the water's edge (John 21:8); not meaning therefore to swim, but to get sooner to Jesus than in the full boat, which they could hardly draw to shore.


Verse 8

And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

And (or, 'But') the other disciples came in a little ship , [ too (Greek #3588) ploiarioo (Greek #4142)] - rather, 'in the boat,'

(For they were not far from land, but as it were ('but about') two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with [`the'] fish.


Verse 9

As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

As soon then as they were come to land - or 'had landed,'

They saw ('see') a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. By comparing this with 1 Kings 19:6, and similar passages, the unseen agency by which Jesus made this provision will appear evident.


Verse 10

Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Observe the double supply thus provided-His and theirs. The meaning of this will appear presently.


Verse 11

Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

Simon Peter went up (went on board), and drew the net to land full of great fish, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. The manifest reference here to the former miraculous draught (Luke 5:9) furnishes the key to this scene. There the draught was symbolical of the success of their future ministry: While "Peter and all that were with him were astonished at the draught of the fish which they had taken, Jesus said unto him, Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men." Nay, when first called, in the act of "casting their net into the sea, for they were fishers," the same symbolic reference was made to their secular occupation: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:18-19). Here, then, if but the same symbolic reference be kept in view, the design of the whole scene will, we think, be clear. The multitude and the size of the fish they caught symbolically foreshadowed the vast success of their now fast approaching ministry, and this only as a beginning of successive draughts, through the agency of a Christian ministry, until, "as the waters cover the sea, the earth should be full of the knowledge of the Lord." And whereas, at the first miraculous draught, the net "was breaking," through the weight of what it contained-expressive, perhaps, of the difficulty with which, after they had "caught men," they would be able to retain, or keep them from escaping back into the world-while here, "for all they were so many, yet was not the net broken," are we not, as Luthardt hints, reminded of such sayings as these (John 10:28): "I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand"? But it is not through the agency of a Christian ministry that all true disciples are gathered. Jesus Himself, by unseen methods, gathers some, who afterward are recognized by the constituted fishers of men, and mingle with the fruit of their labours. And are not these symbolized by that portion of our Galilean repast which the fishers found, in some unseen way, made ready to their hand?


Verse 12

Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine , [ deute (Greek #1205), aristeesate (Greek #709)] - sweet familiarity, after such a manifestation of His command over the deep and its living contents!

And (or, 'But') none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord - implying that they would have liked Him just to say, "It is I" but having such convincing evidence, they were afraid of being "upbraided for their unbelief and hardness of heart" if they ventured to put the question.


Verse 13

Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

Jesus then cometh, and taketh [the] bread, and giveth them, and [the] fish likewise. See the notes at Luke 24:30-31.


Verse 14

This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself , [ efaneroothee (Greek #5319)] - rather, 'was manifested'

To his disciples - that is, His assembled disciples; for if we reckon His appearances to individual disciples, they were certainly more; "after that he was risen from the dead."


Verse 15

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter. Silence appears to have reigned during the meal; unbroken on His part, that by their mute observation of Him they might have their assurance of His identity the more confirmed; and on theirs, from reverential shrinking to speak until He did.

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? - referring lovingly to those sad words of Peter, shortly before denying his Lord, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended" (Matthew 26:33), and intending by this allusion to bring the whole scene vividly before his mind and put him to shame.

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He adds not, "more than these," but prefixes a touching appeal to the Saviour's own omniscience for the truth of his protestation, which makes it a totally different kind of speech from his former.

Feed my lambs - It is surely wrong to view this term, as some good critics do, as a mere diminutive of affection, and as meaning the same thing as "the sheep." It is much more according to usage to understand by the "lambs" young and tender disciples, whether in age or Christian standing (Isaiah 40:11; 1 John 2:12-13), and by the "sheep" the more mature. Shall we now say, with many, that Peter was here re-instated in office? Not exactly, since he was not actually excluded from it. But after such conduct as his, the deep wound which the honour of Christ had received, the stain brought on his office, and the damage done to his high standing among his brethren, nay even his own comfort, in prospect of the great work before him, required some such renewal of his call and re-establishment of his position as this.


Verse 16

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. In this repetition of the question, though the wound was meant to be re-opened, the words, "more than these" are not repeated; for Christ is a tender as well as skillful Physician, and Peter's silence on that point was confession enough of his sin and folly. On Peter's repeating his protestation in the same words, our Lord rises higher in the manifestation of His restoring grace.

He saith unto him, Feed (or 'Keep') my sheep. It has been observed, particularly by Trench, who has some beautiful remarks on this subject in his 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' that the word here is studiously changed from one signifying simply to 'feed' [ boskoo (Greek #1006)] to one signifying to 'tend' as a shepherd [ poimainoo (Greek #4165)], denoting the abiding exercise of the pastoral vocation and its highest functions.


Verse 17

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. This was the Physician's deepest incision into the wound, while the patient was yet smarting under the two former probings. Not until now would Peter discern the object of this succession of thrusts. The third time reveals it all, bringing up such a rush of dreadful recollections before his view, of his "thrice denying that he knew Him," that he feels it to the quick. It was fitting that he should; it was meant that he should. But this accomplished, the painful dialogue has a delightful conclusion.

Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep - `My little sheep' [ probata (Greek #4263)] is the reading of Tischendorf and Tregelles, and approved by Meyer and de Wette: it has about equal support with that of the received text. If we so read it, we must not understand it to mean "My lambs," as in John 21:15, but to be used as a varied form, and designed as a sweet diminutive, for "sheep;" just as He calls His disciples, "Little children." It is as if He should say, 'Now, Simon, the last speck of the cloud which overhung thee since that night of nights is dispelled: Henceforth thou art to Me and to My work as if no such scene had ever happened.'


Verse 18

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young - embracing the whole period of life to the verge of old age.

Thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst where thou wouldest - in other words, 'thou wast thine own master:'

But when thou shalt be old [or 'art grown old' [ geerasees (G1095)], thou shalt stretch forth thy hands

- to be bound for execution, though not necessarily meaning on a cross. There is no reason, however, to doubt the very early tradition, that Peter's death was by crucifixion.


Verse 19

This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

This spake he, signifying by what ('manner of') death, [ poioo (G4169)] he should glorify God - not, therefore, a mere prediction of the manner of his death, but of the honour to be conferred upon him by dying for his Master. And, indeed, beyond doubt, this prediction was intended to follow up his triple restoration: 'Yes, Simon, thou shalt not only feed My lambs, and feed My sheep, but after a long career of such service, shalt be counted worthy to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.'

And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. By thus connecting the utterance of this prediction with the invitation to follow Him, the Evangelist would indicate the deeper sense in which the call was understood, not merely to go along with Him at that moment, but to come after Him, taking up his across.


Verse 20

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

Then (or, 'But') Peter, turning about - showing that he followed immediately as directed.

Seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at [the] supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? The Evangelist makes these allusions to the special familiarity to which he had been admitted on the most memorable of all occasions, perhaps lovingly to account for Peter's somewhat forward question about him to Jesus; which is the rather probable as it was at Peter's suggestion that he had put the question about the traitor which he here recalls (John 13:24-25).

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what [shall] this man [do]? - `What of this man?' or, 'How shall it fare with him?'


Verse 21

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 22

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Jesus saith to him, If I will that he tarry until I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. From the fact that John alone of the Twelve survived the destruction of Jerusalem, and so witnessed the commencement of that series of events which belong to "the last days," many good interpreters think that this is a virtual prediction of fact, and not a mere supposition. But this is very doubtful, and it seems more natural to consider our Lord as intending to give no positive indication of John's fate at all, but to signify that this was a matter which belonged to the Master of both, who would disclose or conceal it as He thought proper, and that Peter's part was to mind his own affairs. Accordingly, in "Follow thou me," the word "thou" is emphatic. Observe the absolute disposal of human life which Christ here claims: "IF I WILL that he tarry," etc.


Verse 23

Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die - into which they the more easily fell, from the prevalent belief that Christ's Second Coming was there near at hand.

Yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry until I come, what is that to thee? The Evangelist is jealous for His Master's honour, which his death might be thought to compromise if such a misunderstanding should not be corrected.


Verse 24

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things - thus identify the author of the present Gospel, including this supplementary chapter, with all that it says of this disciple: "and we know that his testimony is true." Compare John 19:35.


Verse 25

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not

And (or, 'Moreover') there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose , [ oimai (Greek #3633)] - an expression used to show that what follows is not to be pressed too far.

That even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. This is to be taken as something more than a mere hyperbolical expression, which would hardly comport with the sublime simplicity of this writer. It is intended to let his reader know that, even now when he had done, he felt his materials so far from being exhausted, that he was still running over, and could multiply 'Gospels' to almost any extent within the strict limits of what "Jesus did." But in the limitation of the matchless Histories-in point of length and number alike-there is as much of that divine wisdom which has presided over and pervades the living oracles, as in their variety and fullness.

[Amen.] This "Amen" is excluded from the text by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles; and as it seems insufficiently supported, it is probably rather the irresistible addition-shall we say?-of the transcribers, than from the pen of the Evangelist. See, on the same closing word of the Third Gospel, at Luke 24:53.

Remark: Thus end these peerless Histories-this Fourfold Gospel. And who that has walked with us through this Garden of the Lord, these "beds of spices," has not often said, with Peter on the mount of transfiguration, It is good to be here! Who that has reverentially and lovingly bent over the sacred text has not found himself in the presence of the Word made flesh-has not beheld the glory of the Only begottten of the Father, full of grace and truth-has not felt His warm, tender hand upon him, and heard that voice saying to himself, as so often to the disciples of old, "Fear not!" Well, dear reader, "Abide in Him," and let "His words" - as here recorded - "abide in thee." This Fourfold Gospel is the Sun of the Scripture, from which all the rest derives its light. It is, as observed in the Introduction, the serenest spot in the paradise of God; it is the four rivers of the water of life, the streams whereof make glad the City of God. Into it, as a Reservoir, all the foregoing revelations pour their full tide, and out of it, as a Fountain, flow all subsequent revelations. Till the day dawn, then, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to this mountain of myrrh, this hill of frankincense! (Song of Solomon 4:6.)

P.S.-In discussing the genuineness of the much disputed passage regarding the woman taken in adultery, John 7:53; John 8:11 (pp. 400, 401), we came to the conclusion that it rested on evidence, external and internal, sufficient to satisfy the reasonable inquirer, and that its place-supposing its historical truth and canonical authority admitted-could be no other than that in which it stands in the received text. But there was one difficulty which we candidly acknowledged we were then unable to remove-as to Jesus having gone, on the evening before, to the mount of Olives (John 8:1). The argument against the passage from this verse is, that 'nowhere else in this Gospel is "the Mount of Olives" mentioned at all, nor does our Lord's passing the night there agree with this or any stage of His public life except the last.' Of this objection we said, at the close of the discussion, that it 'mist be allowed to remain among the difficulties that we, at least, find it not easy to solve.' But since that paragraph was written, it has occurred to us that the following explanation sufficiently meets it, The first three Gospels record no visit of our Lord to Jerusalem except the last; nor should we have known for certain that He was there at all until He went there to die, but for the Fourth Gospel (see page 21, first column).

It cannot then be proved, from the first three Gospels at least, that His retiring to the Mount of Olives, instead of remaining in the city or going to Bethany, was inconsistent with any earlier stage of His life than the last. The utmost that could be fairly alleged would be, that the circumstances which led to His going to the Mount of Olives at the time of His last visit had no parallel at any earlier stage. But the contrary of this may be plainly gathered from what is recorded immediately before the disputed passage. The Pharisees, having sent officers to apprehend Jesus, were galled at their returning not only without Him but with a confession of their impotence to lay hands on so incomparable a Teacher. Scarcely had they given vent to their rage, when one of themselves hinted at the illegality of condemning a man unheard. And though this division in their own camp had the effect of paralysing their efforts to arrest the Saviour at that time, it was so critical a juncture that He whose hour was not yet come might well decline to sleep that night in Jerusalem. In that case, whether He retired to the mount of Olives, only to spend some quiet hours alone, and then retired to sleep at Bethany, or whether He spent the whole night there-as at that season He could safely enough do-in of little moment. Enough that, either way, the only objection to the genuineness of this passage, from internal evidence, which has any plausibility, admits of sufficient explanation.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 21:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-21.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology