Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 21:15

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Tend My lambs."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Peter;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Apostacy;   Church;   Denial;   Pastor;   Peter;   Sheep;   Shepherd;   Tongue;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Animals;   Jesus Christ;   Teach, Teacher;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Baptism, Christian;   Jonas;   Lamb;   Peter;   Resurrection of Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - James;   Lamb;   Love;   Peter, the Epistles of;   Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - John, the Gospel of;   Jona;   Pastor;   Peter;   Resurrection;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John;   John, Gospel of;   Love, Lover, Lovely, Beloved;   Meals;   Peter;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Animals;   Assumption of Moses;   Beauty;   Caesarea Philippi;   Character;   Church (2);   Communion (2);   Confession (of Christ);   Considerateness;   Discourse;   Flock;   Gentleness (2);   John (2);   Justice (2);   Little Ones;   Love;   Love (2);   Meals;   Numbers;   Numbers (2);   Patience ;   Reverence;   Rufus;   Sheep, Shepherd;   Surname;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Dinner;   Jonas, Jona ;   Lamb;   28 To Feed, Shepherd;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Peter;   Smith Bible Dictionary - John, Gospel of;   Jo'nas;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Andrew;   Banquet;   Bar-Jonah;   Dinner;   Ethics of Jesus;   John (2);   Jonas (2);   Lamb;   Lamb of God;   Love;   Meals;   Number;   Peter, the First Epistle of;   Shepherd;   Teach;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - New Testament;   Simon Cephas;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Simon lovest thou me - Peter had thrice denied his Lord, and now Christ gives him an opportunity in some measure to repair his fault by a triple confession.

More than these? - This was a kind of reproach to Peter: he had professed a more affectionate attachment to Christ than the rest; he had been more forward in making professions of friendship and love than any of the others; and no one (Judas excepted) had treated his Lord so basely. As he had before intimated that his attachment to his Master was more than that of the rest, our Lord now puts the question to him, Dost thou love me more than these? To which Peter made the most modest reply - Thou knowest I love thee, but no longer dwells on the strength of his love, nor compares himself with even the meanest of his brethren. He had before cast the very unkind reflection on his brethren, Though all be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended, Matthew 26:33. But he had now learned, by dreadful experience, that he who trusteth his own heart is a fool; and that a man's sufficiency for good is of the Lord alone.

The words, more than these, Bishop Pearce thinks refer to the provisions they were eating, or to their secular employments; for says he, "It does not seem probable that Jesus should put a question to Peter which he could not possibly answer; because he could only know his own degree of love for Jesus, not that of the other disciples." But it appears to me that our Lord refers to the profession made by Peter, which I have quoted above.

It is remarkable that in these three questions our Lord uses the verb αγαπαω, which signifies to love affectionately, ardently, supremely, perfectly - see the note on Matthew 21:37; and that Peter always replies, using the verb φιλεω, which signifies to love, to like, to regard, to feel friendship for another. As if our Lord had said, "Peter, dost thou love me ardently and supremely?" To which he answers, "Lord, I feel an affection for thee - I do esteem thee - but dare, at present, say no more."

There is another remarkable change of terms in this place. In John 21:15, John 21:17, our Lord uses the verb βοσκδω, to feed, and in John 21:16; he uses the word ποιμαινω, which signifies to tend a flock, not only to feed, but to take care of, guide, govern, defend, etc., by which he seems to intimate that it is not sufficient merely to offer the bread of life to the congregation of the Lord, but he must take care that the sheep be properly collected, attended to, regulated, guided, etc.; and it appears that Peter perfectly comprehended our Lord's meaning, and saw that it was a direction given not only to him, and to the rest of the disciples, but to all their successors in the Christian ministry; for himself says, 1 John 5:2; : Feed the flock of God (ποιμανατε το ποιμνιον του Θεου ) which is among you, taking the oversight (επισκοπουντες, acting as superintendents and guardians), not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Every spiritual shepherd of Christ has a flock, composed of Lambs - young converts, and Sheep - experienced Christians, to feed, guide, regulate, and govern. To be properly qualified for this, his wisdom and holiness should always exceed those of his flock. Who is sufficient for these things? The man who lives in God, and God in him.

To the answer of Christ, in John 21:16, the later Syriac adds, If thou lovest me and esteemest me, feed my sheep.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 21:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Lovest thou me more than these? - There is a slight ambiguity here in the original, as there is in our translation. The word these may be in the neuter gender, and refer to these things his boat, his fishing utensils, and his employments; or it may be in the masculine, and refer to the apostles. In the former sense it would mean, “Lovest thou me more than thou lovest these objects? Art thou now willing, from love to me, to forsake all these, and go and preach my gospel to the nations of the earth?” In the other sense, which is probably the true sense, it would mean, “Lovest thou me more than these other apostles love me?” In this question Jesus refers to the profession of superior attachment to him which Peter had made before his death Matthew 26:33; “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” Compare John 13:37. Jesus here slightly reproves him for that confident assertion, reminds him of his sad and painful denial, and now puts this direct and pointed question to him to know what was the present state of his feelings. After all that Peter had had to humble him, the Saviour inquired of him what had been the effect on his mind, and whether it had tended to prepare him for the arduous toils in which he was about to engage. This question we should all put to ourselves. It is a matter of much importance that we should ourselves know what is the effect of the dealings of divine Providence on our hearts, and what is our present state of feeling toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thou knowest that I love thee - Peter now made no pretensions to love superior to his brethren. His sad denial had convinced him of the folly of that claim; but still he could appeal to the Searcher of the heart, and say that he knew that he loved him. Here is the expression of a humbled soul - soul made sensible of its weakness and need of strength, yet with evidence of true attachment to the Saviour. It is not the most confident pretensions that constitute the highest proof of love to Christ; and the happiest and best state of feeling is when we can with humility, yet with confidence, look to the Lord Jesus and say, “Thou knowest that I love thee.”

Feed my lambs - The word here rendered “feed” means the care afforded by furnishing nutriment for the flock. In the next verse there is a change in the Greek, and the word rendered feed denotes rather the care, guidance, and protection which a shepherd extends to his flock. By the use of both these words, it is supposed that our Saviour intended that a shepherd was both to offer the proper food for his flock and to govern it; or, as we express it, to exercise the office of a pastor. The expression is taken from the office of a shepherd, with which the office of a minister of the gospel is frequently compared. It means, as a good shepherd provides for the wants of his flock, so the pastor in the church is to furnish food for the soul, or so to exhibit truth that the faith of believers may be strengthened and their hope confirmed.

My lambs - The church is often compared to a flock. See John 10:1-16. Here the expression my lambs undoubtedly refers to the tender and the young in the Christian church; to those who are young in years and in Christian experience. The Lord Jesus saw, what has been confirmed in the experience of the church, that the success of the gospel among men depended on the care which the ministry would extend to those in early life. It is in obedience to this command that Sunday schools have been established, and no means of fulfilling this command of the Saviour have been found so effectual as to extend patronage to those schools. It is not merely, therefore, the privilege, it is the solemn duty of ministers of the gospel to countenance and patronize those schools.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-21.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, 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.

Simon son of John ... This is the same as Matthew's "Simon Bar-Jonah" (Matthew 16:16,17ff) and had tremendous significance in Peter's memory, recalling the great Petrine confession which Christ made the dogmatic foundation of Christianity. The very use of "Simon Bar-Jonah" by Jesus here must have flooded Peter's heart with emotion.

Lovest thou me more than these ...? More than what? More than the big catch of fishes? More than the fishing business? More than the other apostles, of whom he had boasted that his love was greater? The words of Jesus are not specific here, and why should men feel the compulsion to be otherwise? Perhaps all of the above meanings, in one degree or another, are implicit in the Master's words here to his servant who denied him.

Thou knowest that I love thee ... The Greek words for "love" here are diverse (English Revised Version margin); and after reading a number of implications alleged from this premise, the most appealing is this, "There seems to be no difference of meaning between the two Greek words used for LOVE in John 20:15-17."[10] Perhaps the English Revised Version (1885) translators held the same view, for they made no distinction in the words as rendered into English. The big point of the whole episode would appear to be the threefold affirmation of Peter's love, contrasting with his triple denial.

Feed my lambs ... is a charge to teach Christ's disciples. The variation "feed my sheep" means the same thing, the only possible distinction being in the emphasis upon youth in the first charge.

ENDNOTE:

[10] Alan Richardson, op. cit., p. 218.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-21.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So when they had dined,.... The Persic version adds,

Jesus turned his face to Simon Peter; he did not interrupt them whilst they were eating; but when they had comfortably refreshed themselves, he looked at Peter, and singled him out from the rest, and directed his discourse to him; and saith unto Simon Peter,

Simon, son of Jonas; not John, as the Vulgate Latin, and Nonnus, and some copies read; for this answers not to the Hebrew word Jochanan, but Jonah, the same name with the prophet. Some have observed, that Christ spoke to him particularly by his original name, and not by that which he himself had given him, with a view to his strong faith, as Cephas, or Peter; but it should be known that Christ calls him by this name of Simon bar Jonah, when he made the most ample profession of his faith in him, and was pronounced blessed by him, Matthew 16:16

lovest thou me more than these? meaning, not than the fishes he had caught, nor the net and boat, or any worldly enjoyment, nor than he loved the disciples; but the question is, whether he loved Christ more than the rest of the disciples loved him: the reason of which was, because he had some time ago declared, though all the disciples were offended at Christ, and should deny him, he would not; and had just now thrown himself into the sea to come to him first, as if he loved him more than they did: which question is put, not out of ignorance, or as if Christ knew not whether he loved him or not, and what was the degree of his affection to him; but because the exercise of this grace, and the expressions of it, are very grateful to him; and that Peter also might have an opportunity of expressing it before others, who had so publicly denied him:

he saith unto him, yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee: not in word and tongue, but in deed and in truth; in sincerity, and without dissimulation, fervently and superlatively; for the truth of which he appeals to Christ himself; for he was so conscious to himself of the reality of his love, and the sincerity of his affection, that he chooses to make Christ himself judge of it, rather than say any more of it himself; though he modestly declines saying that he loved him more than the rest of the disciples did, having had an experience of his vanity and self-confidence. He was sure he loved Christ heartily; but whether he loved him more than the rest did, he chose not to say:

he saith unto him, feed my lambs; the younger and more tender part of the flock, weak believers, Christ's little children, newborn babes, the day of small things, which are not to be despised, the bruised reed that is not to be broken, and the smoking flax that is not to be quenched; but who are to be nourished, comforted, and strengthened, by feeding them with the milk of the Gospel, and by administering to them the ordinances and breasts of consolation. These Christ has an interest in, and therefore calls them "my lambs", being given him by the Father, and purchased by his blood, and for whom he has a tender concern and affection; and nothing he looks upon as a firmer and clearer proof and evidence of love to him, than to feed these lambs of his, and take care of them.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 21:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

2 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.

(2) Peter by this triple confession is restored into his former position from where he fell by his triple denial: and furthermore it is proclaimed that he is indeed a pastor, who shows his love to Christ in feeding his sheep.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 21:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-21.html. 1599-1645.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

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.

[Lovest thou me more than these?] Why more than these? Might it not have been enough to have said, "as well as these?" For what reason had he to expect that Peter should love him more than the rest did? especially more than St. John, whom Christ himself had so loved, and who had stuck so close to him?

Christ seems, therefore, to reflect upon Peter's late confidence, not without some kind of severity and reproof: q.d. "Thou saidst, O Simon, a little while ago, that thou wouldst never forsake me, no, not though all the other disciples should. Thou didst profess beyond all the rest that thou wouldst rather die than deny me; thou wouldst follow me to prison, to death; nay, lay down thy own life for me. What sayest thou now, Simon? Dost thou yet love me more than these? If thou thinkest thou art provided, and canst hazard thy life for me, feed my sheep; and for my sake do thou expose thy life, yea, and lay it down for them."

[Feed my lambs.] If there be any thing in that threefold repetition, Feed, Feed, Feed, we may most fitly apply it to the threefold object of St. Peter's ministry, viz. the Gentiles, the Jew, and the Israelites of the ten tribes.

I. To him were committed, by his Lord, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 16; that he might open the door of faith and the gospel to the Gentiles, which he did in his preaching it to Cornelius.

II. In sharing out the work of preaching the gospel amongst the three ministers of the circumcision, his lot fell amongst the Jews in Babylon. James's lot was amongst the Jews in Palestine and Syria: and John's amongst the Hellenists in Asia.

III. Now amongst the Jews in Babylon were mixed the Israelites of the ten tribes; and to them did the gospel come by the ministry of St. Peter, as I have shewn more at large in another treatise.

To this, therefore, have the words of our Saviour a plain reference; namely, putting Peter in mind, that whereas he had, with so much confidence and assurance of himself, made such professions of love and constancy beyond the other disciples, pretending to a wonderful resolution of laying down his very life in that behalf, that he would now shew his zeal and courage in 'feeding the sheep' of Christ:--"Thou canst not, Simon, lay down thy life for me, as thou didst once promise; for I have myself laid down my own life, and taken it up again. 'Feed thou my sheep,' therefore; and be ready to lay down thy life for them, when it shall come to be required of thee."

So that what is here said does not so much point out Peter's primacy, as his danger; nor so much the privilege as the bond of his office, and at last his martyrdom: for that our Saviour had this meaning with him, is plain, because, immediately after this, he tells him by what death he should glorify God, verse 18.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 21:15". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-21.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? At the close of the feast, the Lord turned to Peter with this question, one that he repeated twice. On the night of the betrayal, when Christ intimated that his disciples would forsake him in the trial he was about to suffer, Peter spoke up and asserted that though all others forsook him he would never forsake him. What Christ had said might be true of the rest, but he was so loving, faithful and true, that he would die for him. Yet before the cock crow of the next morning he had thrice denied that he knew Jesus, even with his oaths. Such was the collapse of the confident disciple who "loved the Master better than these" other disciples. Since that fall, Christ had met with Peter among the rest of the disciples, but had not referred to this subject, but now has come the time for a restoration of Peter. Hence, he probes him with the question, "Lovest thou me more than these?" That question would at once recall to Peter his boastful claim, his awful fall, and would pierce him to the heart. He no longer claims that he is the truest of the apostolic band, does not even affirm confidently, but answers, "Thou knowest my heart; thou knowest that I love thee." Then said the Savior, Feed my lambs.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 21:15". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-21.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Lovest thou me more than these? (αγαπαις με πλεον τουτωνagapāis me pleon toutōn). Ablative case of comparison τουτωνtoutōn (disciples) after πλεονpleon 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 (πιλω συphilō su). Peter makes no claim here to superior love and passes by the “more than these” and does not even use Christ‘s word αγαπαωagapaō for high and devoted love, but the humbler word πιλεωphileō for love as a friend. He insists that Christ knows this in spite of his conduct.

Feed my lambs
(οσκε τα αρνια μουBoske ta arnia mou). For the old word βοσκωboskō (to feed as a herdsman) see Matthew 8:33. Present active imperative here. ΑρνιαArnia is a diminutive of αρνοςarnos (lamb).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-21.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

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 ( ἀγαπᾶς )

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 John 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 ( φιλῶ )

Peter substitutes the warmer, more affectionate word, and omits all comparison with his fellow-disciples.

Feed ( βόσκε )

See on 1 Peter 5:2.

Lambs ( ἀρνία )

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.”

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-21.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Simon, son of Jonah — The appellation Christ had given him, when be made that glorious confession, Matthew 16:16, the remembrance of which might make him more deeply sensible of his late denial of him whom he had so confessed.

Lovest thou me? — Thrice our Lord asks him, who had denied him thrice: more than these - Thy fellow disciples do? - Peter thought so once, Matthew 26:33, but he now answers only - I love thee, without adding more than these.

Thou knowest — He had now learnt by sad experience that Jesus knew his heart.

My lambs — The weakest and tenderest of the flock.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 21:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-21.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

So when they had broken their fast1, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of John, lovest thou me more than these2? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs3.

  1. So when they had broken their fast. After the eating of a meal together had calmed and quieted the excitement of the disciples, and made them susceptible of teaching.

  2. Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of John, lovest thou me more than these? Jesus here means: Do you love me more than these fishes and this fishing business?* See .

  3. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. See .

    *NOTE.--Here again we dissent. See Hengstenberg, Alford, Meyer, etc. and especially Godet. Peter had boasted of a love toward Jesus superior to that of any of the other disciples (Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; John 13:37), and by refusing to have Jesus wash his feet, by being the first to draw a sword in his Master's defense, and even by now conspicuously deserting the others to swim to meet Jesus, he had endeavored to prove his boast. Jesus therefore asks him if it is indeed true that his love is greater than that of his fellow-disciples--"Do you love me more than these love me"?--Philip Y. Pendleton.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 21:15". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-21.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Когда же они обедали. Евангелист рассказывает о том, как Петр был восстановлен в достоинстве, от которого ранее отпал. Действительно, вероломное отречение, о котором мы читали, сделало Его недостойным апостольства. Как может быть учителем веры тот, кто позорно от нее отрекся? Петр был поставлен апостолом, причем одновременно с Иудой. Но как только он оставил свое служение, то тут же был лишен апостольской чести. Итак, теперь ему возвращается право учить и авторитет, утраченный им по своей вине. И чтобы за ним не сохранялась дурная слава, Христос изглаживает и стирает всякое о ней памятование. Такое восстановление в правах было необходимо и для Петра, и для его слушателей. Для него – чтобы он еще усерднее исполнял свой долг, будучи уверенным в собственном призвании, а для них – чтобы пятно, лежащее на человеке, не послужило поводом для презрения к Евангелию. И сегодня для нас важно, что Петр стал тогда как бы новым человеком, позор которого был изглажен, дабы не марать его апостольское достоинство.

Симон Ионин! Любишь ли ты Меня? Этими словами Христос хочет сказать, что никто не может верно служить Церкви и пасти Его стадо, если не будет взирать ввысь и смотреть только на людей. Вначале служение пастыря трудно и тягостно; нет ничего труднее, чем удерживать людей под ярмом Божиим. Ведь многие из них немощны: одни легкомысленны и непослушны, другие ленивы и медлительны, третьи – упорны и необучаемы. К тому же сатана полагает всевозможные препятствия, чтобы сломить дух пастыря и ослабить его. Сюда же относится неблагодарность многих людей и другие причины, дающие повод для отчаяния. Итак, никто не будет проявлять постоянство в служении, если в сердце его не царит любовь ко Христу. Так что, забыв про себя и полностью предаваясь Ему, человек одолевает все препятствия. О таком же настрое свидетельствует и Павел (2Кор.5:14), когда говорит, что любовь Христова понуждает нас, думающих так: если Один умер за всех, то и всем надлежит умереть. Хотя под любовью он разумеет ту любовь, которой нас возлюбил Христос, и пример которой Он явил Своей смертью; сюда же относится и взаимное чувство, рождающееся из осознания толикого благодеяния. С другой стороны, о негодных и ложных учителях, смущающих Церковь, он в другом месте говорит, что те не любят Господа Иисуса (1Кор.16:22).

Итак, пусть призванные управлять Церковью помнят: если они хотят правильно исполнять свое служение, начинать надо с любви ко Христу. Помимо прочего Христос ясно свидетельствует, сколь сильно ценит наше спасение. Ведь Он так заботливо вверяет его пастырям. И удостоверение их любви к Нему Он видит в том, как они будут печься о спасении стада. Нельзя сказать нечто более воодушевляющее для евангельских служителей. Ведь они слышат: Христу более всего дорого то служение, когда люди пасут Его стадо. Все благочестивые могут почерпнуть отсюда особое утешение, слыша, сколь они драгоценны и дороги Сыну Божию, которых Он ставит на место Самого Себя. Но это же учение внушает немалый страх лжеучителям, извращающим управление Церковью. Ведь Христос грозит им немалой карой, заявляя, что именно Ему они причиняют зло.

Паси агнцев. Слово «пасти» Писание использует метафорически, означая им какое-либо управление. Здесь же, поскольку речь идет о духовном управлении Церковью, достойно внимания, из каких именно частей состоит служение пастыря. Ибо нам не даровано некое бездеятельное достоинство, и Христос не дарует смертному человеку какую-либо власть, которую тот может использовать по своей прихоти. Мы видели выше, в десятой главе, что Христос, в собственном смысле, единственный Пастырь Церкви. Мы также видели, почему Он присваивает Себе подобную честь: потому что правит Своими овцами через учение о спасении и окормляет их, ибо только Он – истинная пища души. Поскольку же для проповеди Своего учения Он пользуется трудом людей, то переносит и на них Свой титул, или, по крайней мере, сообщает его им. Лишь те пастыри считаются законными перед Богом, которые предстоят Церкви, будучи под главою Христом и исполняя служение слова. Отсюда можно вывести, какую ношу взваливает на Петра Христос, и при каком условии предпоставляет его Своему стаду.

Этим явно опровергается нечестие ромофилов, искажающих это место ради утверждения тирании папства. Только Петру, – говорят они, – было сказано: паси овец Моих. Почему это сказано было ему, а не прочим, мы уже объяснили. А именно: чтобы, избавившись от подозрения в отступничестве, он мог свободно проповедовать Евангелие. И поэтому Христос трижды поставляет Его пастырем, чтобы три отречения, коими Петр навлек на себя вечный позор, не мешали его апостольству. Это мудро заметили Златоуст, Августин, Кирилл и многие другие. Кроме того, Петру не дано в этих словах ничего, что не принадлежит и другим служителям Евангелия. Итак, напрасно паписты претендуют на первенство Петра из того, что Он был призван особым образом. Но, допустим, что ему действительно было вручено какое-то особое достоинство; откуда, спрашиваю, они докажут, что это достоинство заключается в его примате? Действительно, Петр был главным среди апостолов, но разве отсюда следует, что Он был вселенским епископом всей земли? Добавь к этому, что все полученное Петром относится к папе не больше, чем к Магомету. По какому праву папа объявляет себя наследником Петра? Кроме того, какой здравомыслящий человек согласится, что Христос установил здесь какое-то наследственное право? Папа желает быть преемником Петра: о, если бы он действительно им был! Никто из нас не возражает, чтобы он и любил Христа, и пас Его стадо. Но презреть любовь ко Христу, отвергнуть пастырское служение, и при этом претендовать на преемство, – абсурдно и весьма глупо. Христос, заповедав Петру учительское служение, не хотел воздвигнуть идола и палача человеческих душ, дабы тот угнетал Его Церковь. Посему Он кратко говорит о том, какое правление Церковью Он одобряет. Таким образом, со всех этих «рогатых« епископов срывается личина. Ведь они присваивают себе епископскую власть, довольствуясь одной театральной помпой и пустым титулом.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-21.html. 1840-57.

Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

Ver. 15. "When therefore they had breakfasted, Jesus says to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me more than these do? He says to him, Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He says to him, Feed my lambs."

As there is a relation, which is perhaps not accidental, between the outward situation in which Peter had been called the first time to the ministry and that which has just been described, there is also a relation between the situation in which he had lost this office by his denial and the fire of coals near which he recovered it.

The title Simon, son of Jona, or, according to the reading of some Alexandrian authorities, Simon, son of John, is not unintentionally opposed to that of Simon Peter, of which the evangelist makes use in this same verse. It reminds Peter of his natural origin, and consequently of the state of sin from which the call of Jesus had drawn him, but into which he had sunk again by his fall. The allusion to the threefold denial of the apostle in the three following questions is not doubtful, whatever Hengstenberg may think. The threefold profession of his love for Jesus is to efface, in some sort, the threefold stain which he has brought upon himself. Jesus Himself is anxious to furnish him the occasion for it. By adding: more than these do, He certainly reminds Peter of the presumptuous superiority which he had attributed to himself when he said, Matthew 26:33, Mark 14:29 :

"Even if all the rest shall be offended in thee, I will not be offended." No doubt, John has not mentioned this saying; but his narrative is in constant relation to that of the Synoptics. One cites only as a remembered curiosity the interpretation which makes the word these the object of lovest thou, and which refers it to the fishing implements or to the fish: "Lovest thou me more than thou lovest thine old profession?" Peter, with a humility enjoined by the remembrance of his fall, at first in his answer rejects these last words: more than these; then he substitutes for the term ἀγαπᾶν, to love in the higher and spiritual sense of the word, love with the love of reverence, the term φιλεῖν,to cherish, love in the sense of personal attachment. He thinks that he can without presumption ascribe to himself this latter feeling; and yet he does not do it without expressing a certain distrust of himself and without seeking the guaranty of the testimony of his heart, to which he does not dare to trust any longer, in the infallible knowledge of the hearts of men, which he now attributes to his Master. The question here is not of omniscience in the absolute sense of the word. Comp. John 2:24-25. This appeal softens, as Luthardt says, the too decided character which a simple yes would have had.

Upon this answer, Jesus gives back to him the care of the flock. "He confides those whom He loves to the one who loves Him," says Luthardt. The expression: the lambs, designates, according to some, a particular class of the members of the Church, the children and beginners; but the whole flock, at the point where things then were, was composed only of those who were beginning and weak. This saying reminds us of that which Jesus had addressed to Peter before his fall: "When thou shalt be restored, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). The lambs are thus the whole flock of the faithful, apostles and simple believers. The term feed, βόσκειν, cause to feed, denotes the care of a flock from the point of view of nourishment. This function, in the spiritual sense, implies an inward sympathy which can only spring from love.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-21.html.

Scofield's Reference Notes

dined Lit. breakfasted.

lovest (Greek - διάβολος, deeply love; used of divine love John 14:21, and of that love which the law demands Luke 10:27.

love (Greek - καταφιλέω, am fond of). It is a lesser degree of love than agapas.

Feed See, 1 Peter 5:2.

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on John 21:15". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/john-21.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE ASKING CHRIST

Lovest thou Me?

John 21:15

‘Lovest thou Me?’ How does this sound, as regards the thought, the purpose, that lies behind it?

I. What does it say about the Speaker? Perhaps it carries with it at first, in our apprehension of it, the air of a demand—a claim, the levy of a due, the summons for an unpaid debt. Here is One Who knows (for He knows all things, and this assuredly is a fact present to His mind) that the son of Jonas is under immeasurable obligations to Him, and ought to love Him. Most certainly Jesus, for Simon, has done and borne incalculably much within the last few wonderful weeks; Simon is infinitely and for ever the better for the Cross and Passion. And behind all the atoning death, and the sin-covering merit, and the robe of righteousness, and the resultant pardon and peace for this very guilty man—behind it, and above it, there lies all that is implied by the fact that Christ has not only saved Peter, but first made him. He can claim the man’s whole being in the double name of Rescuer and of Creator. Yes, all this is the very truth; truth for me, and for you, as much altogether as for that Galilæan penitent of old. But I do not think that we read aright the thought and accent of the Lord in His question, Do you love Me? if we read into it this notion—the exaction of a right, the reminder of a debt.

II. Jesus Christ knew well that human love can never be asked for, face to face, except as just the free response to love; the return, the repercussion, of a tenderness that has first gone freely out as the unselfish gift of the asker’s heart. Just this is the beauty, the glory, the magnetic virtue, once it is apprehended, of the Lord Jesus Christ’s inquiry of us, Do you love Me? It is the very touch which lifts the veil from the heart, not of Peter, but of Jesus. In the very act of asking about Peter’s love for Him, He discloses His love for Peter; a love which is something infinitely different from mere compassion, or mere benevolence, or mere condescension. For it is a love which goes out towards Peter so powerfully, so longingly, with such contact and embrace, that it cannot rest without the responsive gaze and clasp of Peter’s love to Jesus. The Lord is not just stooping to say, It is your privilege to love Me. He covets His sinful disciple’s love; He wants it; it is important to Him; it is much to Him; because He loves the man with such mighty love Himself. Jesus Christ cannot ask if Peter loves Him, and cannot ask, as He does to-day, if we love Him, without betraying how much, how really, how strongly, He loves us.

III. O human soul, listen to the inquiry of Jesus Christ, and give yourself time to understand what it means about Himself.

(a) Are you acquainted with grief, perhaps such grief—so long and deep—as has seemed at last rather to benumb the heart than pierce it, yet leaving the consciousness of loss, of solitude, of change, only too complete? Nevertheless, One stands beside you Who is acquainted with grief Himself, in depths which He has sounded alone. The woe is over for Him, but not the experience. Souffrir passe; avoir souffert demeure éternellement. He understands you, as sorrow understands sorrow. But He also loves you; and He is avaricious of your love. Let Him have it, Him the eternal Truth and Beauty, but also the Brother and the Friend. And when your love has met and satisfied His, believe me, there shall take place a miracle at the point of contact; ‘your sorrow shall be turned into joy.’

(b) Human, heart, distracted, bewildered, preoccupied with we know not what—dissatisfied, perhaps, apart from Christ, perhaps, far sadder still, satisfied for the time apart from Him—to-day let no word be spoken by me of the vast truths which concern duty, law, and judgment to come. It shall be enough this hour to say once more, Listen to the asking Christ. Behold the Son of God; behold the Man of men! You are profoundly important to Him. He wants, He covets you. He will ‘proudly wear’ your love; He is asking whether it is for Him. Let your heart meet His; and for you, too, the contact shall work miracles.

Bishop H. C. G. Moule.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 21:15". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-21.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 15. Lovest thou me more than these?] As thou hast not spared to profess and promise (for when the rest said nothing, Peter said he would lay down his life for him), and as thou now pretendest, by casting thyself into the sea, to come first to me.

Thou knowest that I love thee] Being asked of the measure, he only answereth of the truth, q.d. for the quantity I can say little, but for the truth I dare affirm. The upright are perfect in God’s account. And Peter had now turned his crowing into crying.

Feed my lambs] These were his first care. The Syriac addeth, לי li, mihi, feed them for me. And Drusius reckons this among the eastern apothegms, Quicquid agas, propter Deum agas. Whatsoever thou doest, do it for God’s sake. Propter te Domino, propter te, was a godly man’s motto; it should be every minister’s especially.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 21:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-21.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 21:15

The last Scene with Peter

I. Every one has felt that the threefold question of Christ to Peter, alluded to the threefold betrayal. There lay in the question a mild rebuke, so exquisitely given that it would not sting, but soften the heart. It was a trial also; it was so spoken as to try whether the apostle had the same boastful spirit. Would he now exalt himself, put himself forward as the first? Was the element of self-conceit still mingled with his impulsive affection? We see in the reply how the apostle was changed. He accepted the reproof without a word of self-justification. He answered true to the testing power of the words on his heart. He did not even trust his own knowledge of his love, but appealed from himself to Christ. "Thou knowest, only Thou, Thou knowest that I love Thee."

II. "Follow Me." This links the first interview by the lake with the last. As it was said, Peter looked round, and there lay the lake, its waves dancing in the morning light. The nets were on the sand, the multitude of fishes were glittering in them; the boats were drawn up upon the shore; his partners were again by his side, and Jesus had come upon them. It was the same scene he had seen before when he said, in his impulse, that he was a sinful man. Nature was the same; she who is always the same in the midst of our stormiest change; but in all else she was different. Peter looked back, and an eternity seemed to roll between the first meeting and this last. The confession of sin he had then made was true, but it was that of an untried child; nor did he know how true it was. Since then he had known what it was to be tried, to fail, to touch the depths of miserable guilt and human weakness. He had passed through a tempest, and he was now a man. He had at the first meeting given up all, in quick impulse, and gone after Christ, in admiration and enthusiasm. But his love had no foundation on a rock, only on the shifting sands of human feeling; and when the wind and rain arose, the fair house fell. Now he knew that love meant, not the momentary rush of quick delight alone, but the steady direction of his whole being towards the will and wish of One who had redeemed him from an abyss of failure, who had forgiven him a base betrayal; not the passionate thought now and again of the person loved, in gusts of imagination, but that deep-rooted love which, having woven its fibres through every power of character, would never let him dream of following any other Master.

S. A. Brooke, The Spirit of the Christian Life, p. 15.


References: John 21:15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1684; G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, p. 163; S. Greg, A Layman's Legacy, p. 129; A. Jessopp, Norwich School Sermons, p. 193.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-21.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 21:15. Lovest thou me more than these? The original words, πλειον τουτων are ambiguous, and may either signify, "Dost thou love me more than any of thy brethren, as thou didst once profess?" (See Matthew 26:33.) Or, "Dost thou love me more than thou lovest these nets, and other instruments of thy trade, so as to prefer my service to any worldly advantages?" Whitby explains them in this latter sense. Peter only answers, Yea, Lord, or, assuredly, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee; but does not add, more than these: and this beautiful circumstance in the answer shews, how much he was humbled and improved by the remembrance of his fall; and possibly our Lord's question might be intended to remind him of that fall, and of the cause of it. Upon Peter's reply, Jesus said to him, feed my lambs: "As I shall favour thee so far as still to employ thee as one of my apostles, remember, that the most acceptable way of expressing thy love to me, will be by taking care even of the feeblest of my flock."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 21:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-21.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. Christ puts Peter upon a threefold profession of his love unto him, answerable to his threefold denial of him: his threefold denial required a threefold confession. True repentance ought, and will be as eminent in the fruit and effects of it, as the saint's fall hath been. A threefold denial of Christ shall be attended with a threefold profession of love unto him.

Observe, 2. The solemn question put by our Saviour unto Peter: Lovest thou me? Lovest thou me more than these? That is, more than thy occupation and employment, more than thy nets and fishing boats? If so, leave them, and wholly employ thyself in feeding my sheep and lambs. Or, more than these? that is, more than the rest of my disciples. Dost thou love me more than thou lovest these? Or, more than they love me? If so, evidence the sincerity of thy love to me by thy care of mine.

Thence note, that ministers who are called to take care of Christ's flock, had need of much love to Jesus Crhist, and great compassion for souls; by which they will be animated and fortified to go through with the labours and difficulties, as well as to encounter the dangers and sufferings, which do accompany their calling. Simon, lovest thou me? Feed my flock.

Note farther, that the surest argument and best evidence of a minister's love to Jesus Christ, is his conscientious care to feed, that is, to teach, instruct, and govern, the whole flock of Christ; lambs and sheep, weak and strong: the feeblest in the fold were purchased by the great Shepherd. And if he judged them worth his blood, well may we judge them worth our sweat.

Note again, that such as would be faithful in their ministerial charge, ought to look upon their people as committed to them by Christ himself, as loved of him, and committed to their care by him, and for which they must be accountable to him. Christ calls them three times over, his lambs and his sheep, and as often charges Peter to feed them.

Observe next, Peter's threefold answer to Christ's question: Simon, lovest thou me more than these? Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.

Where note, 1. The great modesty of Peter in his reply. Lovest thou me more than these? says Christ; Peter replies, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He doth not say, Lord! I love thee above them all, and before them all: here is no boasting now. Once it was said that Peter vaunted, though all men forsake thee, yet will not I; but now his fall had taught him humility; he boasts not of his love above others, and makes no comparison with others, but only ranks himself among the true lovers of Christ: Lord, I love thee.

Note, 2. The evidence that Peter gives of his sincere love to Christ: he dares appeal to Christ himself, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee; yea, Thou art omniscient, the all-knowing and heart-searching God, thou that knowest all things, knowest that I love thee.

O! it is a blessed thing, when we can and dare appeal to God's knowledge; and it is matter of high consolation to know that God knoweth our sincerity and love unto him, and he knoweth and approveth us as such. Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.

Note lastly, from these words, Lord, thou knowest all things, an argument of Christ's divinity. He that knows all things, and particularly the hearts of all men, is God, 1 Kings 8:29 but so doth Christ, if St. Peter's testimony here be true; saying, Lord, thou knowest all things, that is, say the Socinians, very many things; but this would have destroyed St. Peter's argument at once; for it follows not that Christ knew the sincerity of Peter's heart, unless he knew the secrets of all hearts; and if he knew the secrets of all hearts, he is really God.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 21:15". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/john-21.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

15. ὅτε οὖν ἠρ.] There appears to have been nothing said during the meal. Surely every word would have been recorded. One great object of this appearance, observes Stier, certainly was the confirmation, and encouragement of the “fisher of men,” in his apostolic office.

σίμων ἰωάννου] A reminiscence probably of his own name and parentage, as distinguished from his apostolic name of honour, Cephas, or Peter, see ch. John 1:43. Thus we have σ. βαριωνᾶ, Matthew 16:17, connected with the mention of his natural state of flesh and blood, which had not revealed to him the great truth just confessed—and Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon,” when he is reminded of his natural weakness. See also Mark 14:37, and Matthew 17:25, where the significance is not so plain.

πλέον τούτων] more than these thy fellow-disciples: compare Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29, “Though all should be offended, yet not I.” That John does not record this saying, makes no difficulty here; nor does it tell against the genuineness of this appendix to the Gospel. The narrator tells that which he heard the Lord say, and tells it faithfully and literally. That it coincides with what Peter is related to have said elsewhere, is a proof of the authenticity, not of the connexion, of the two accounts.

τούτων has been strangely enough understood (Whitby, Bolten) of the fish, or the “employment and furniture of a fisherman:”—Olshausen sees a reference to the pre-eminence given to Peter, Matthew 16:19,—and regards the words as implying that on that account he really did love Jesus more than the rest;—but surely this is most improbable, and the other explanation the only likely or true one. Perhaps there is also a slight reference to his present just-shewn zeal, in leaping from the ship first to meet the Lord. ‘Has thy past conduct to Me truly borne out thy former and present warmth of love to Me above these thy fellows?’ “Mira Christi sapientia, qui tam paucis vocibus efficit, ut Petrus et sibi satisfaceret, quem ter negaverat, et collegis quibus se prætulerat;—exemplum dans disciplinæ ecclesiasticæ.” Grot.

Peter’s answer shews that he understood the question as above. He says nothing of the πλέον τούτων—but dropping all comparison of himself with others, humbly refers to the Searcher of hearts the genuineness of his love, however the past may seem to have called it in question.

The distinction between ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν must not here be lost sight of, nor must we superficially say with Grotius, “Promiscue hic usurpavit Johannes ἀγαπᾶν et φιλεῖν ut mox βόσκειν et ποιμαίνειν (see below). Neque hic quærendæ sunt subtilitates.” If so, why do the Lord’s two first questions contain ἀγαπᾷς while Peter’s answers have φιλῶ—whereas the third time the question and answer both have φιλεῖν? This does not look like accident.

The distinction seems to be that ἀγαπᾶν is more used of that reverential love, grounded on high graces of character, which is borne towards God and man by the child of God;—whereas φιλεῖν expresses more the personal love of human affection. Peter therefore uses a less exalted word, and one implying a consciousness of his own weakness, but a persuasion and deep feeling of personal love. (Hence it will be seen that in the sublimest relations, where, all perfections existing, love can only be personal, φιλεῖν only can be used, see ch. John 5:20.) Then in the third question, the Lord adopts the word of Peter’s answer, the closer to press the meaning of it home to him.

The σὺ οἶδας, the two first times, seems to refer to the Lord’s personal knowledge of Peter’s heart—in His having given him that name, ch. John 1:43, in Matthew 16:17; Luke 22:31, and the announcement of his denial of Him. The last time, he widens this assertion ‘Thou knowest me,’ into ‘Thou knowest all things,’ being grieved at the repetition of a question which brought this Omniscience so painfully to his mind.

βόσκε τὰ ἀρν. μου] This and the following answers of the Lord can hardly be regarded as the reinstating of Peter in his apostolic office, for there is no record of his ever having lost it: but as a further and higher setting forth of it than that first one Matthew 4:18 ff., both as belonging to all of them on the present occasion, and as tending to comfort Peter’s own mind after his fall, and reassure him of his holding the same place among the Apostles as before, owing to the gracious forgiveness of his Lord.

We can hardly with any deep insight into the text hold βόσκειν and ποιμ. to be synonymous (Grot. above, Lücke, De Wette, Trench), or ἀρνία, πρόβατα, and προβάτια. The sayings of the Lord have not surely been so carelessly reported as this would assume. Every thing here speaks for a gradation of meaning. The variety of reading certainly makes it difficult to point out exactly the steps of that gradation, and unnecessary to follow the various interpreters in their assignment of them: but that there is such, may be seen from Isaiah 40:11; 1 John 2:12-13. Perhaps the feeding of the lambs was the furnishing the apostolic testimony of the Resurrection and facts of the Lord’s life on earth to the first converts; the shepherding or ruling the sheep, the subsequent government of the Church as shewn forth in the early part of the Acts; the feeding of the προβάτια, the choicest, the loved of the flock, the furnishing the now maturer Church of Christ with the wholesome food of the doctrine contained in his Epistles. But those must strangely miss the whole sense, who dream of an exclusive primatial power here granted or confirmed to him. A sufficient refutation of this silly idea, if it needed any other than the ἐλυπήθη of this passage, is found in the συμπρεσβύτερος of 1 Peter 5:1, to this very charge: see note on Matthew 16:17 ff. “Illud, ‘plus his’ ( πλέον τούτων), indicio est, Petrum hic restitui in locum suum, quem amiserat per abnegationem (but see above) simulque quiddam ei prœ condiscipulis tribui, sed nihil a quo cæteri excludantur. Nam sane etiam hi amabant Jesum. Desinat tandem hoc ad se, et ad se unum rapere, qui nec amat nec pascit, sed depascit, per successionis Petrinæ simulationem. Non magis Roma, quam Hierosolyma aut Antiochia aut quivis alius locus ubi apostolum Petrus egit, Petrum sibi vindicare potest: imo Roma minime, caput gentium: nam Petrus erat in apostolis circumcisionis. Unum Romæ proprium est, quod apostolorum, etiam Petri sanguis in ea reperietur.” Bengel.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 21:15". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-21.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 21:15. ὅτε, when) During their eating there had been more than usual silence. Silence at the beginning of a feast is not only the part of politeness, but even of modesty and self-control.— ἰησοῦς) The Byz. and Lat. formerly omitted these words, as is evident from Augustine. Nor were they in the cod. Reutlingensis “manu primâ.”(404)ἀγαπᾷς με, lovest [amas] thou Me?) Thrice the Lord asks a question: Lovest thou Me more than these? Lovest thou Me? φιλεῖς [diligis?], dost thou esteem Me? Thrice Peter answers, I do esteem Thee. ἀγαπᾶν, amare, is the part of relationship and affection: φιλεῖν, diligere, is the act of the judgment. Others make this distinction, that ἀγαπᾶν is simply to love; φιλεῖν, to love in such a way as that we should evince our love by kissing one: and this is the distinction which Eustathius upholds; but Peter, to the question of the Lord ἀγαπᾷς με, does not seem to have been likely to answer ἐμφατικώτερον, more emphatically, than was the expression in the question, φιλῶ. Where the difference is not expressed, the one is included in the signification of the other.(405) Jesus, now that Peter’s faith was established, questions him about his love: and this is the distinguishing characteristic of the Shepherd. On this condition of love depend the things which are mentioned in John 21:15, etc., and John 21:18-19.— πλεῖον τούτων) more than these, viz. thy fellow-disciples. So οὗτος, this man, occurs in John 21:21. Previously Peter had said that he would show more fidelity than these (his fellow-disciples): Matthew 26:33, “Though all(406) shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended:” but now he simply says, I love Thee: he does not add, more than these. Yet he had lately shown himself most eagerly desirous of the Lord, in John 21:7 [“He cast himself into the sea,” to reach Him the sooner].— σὺ οἶδας, Thou knowest) Peter had given a proof of the contrary by his late denial of Jesus: now, instead of argument, he makes his appeal to the knowledge and omniscience of Jesus.— βόσκε, feed) The words, more than these, serve to indicate that Peter is here restored to his place, which he had lost by his denial of Jesus; and at the same time that a something is assigned to him peculiarly, as compared with the other disciples, but nothing from which the others are to be excluded: for in truth they also loved Jesus, ch. John 16:27. Let the Pope, in the name of truth, cease, under the pretext of the succession to Peter, to claim violently this privilege to himself, and himself alone, seeing that he is one who does not either love or feed the sheep, but on the contrary feeds upon them. Rome can no more claim Peter as her own, than Jerusalem or Antioch, or any other place where Peter acted as an apostle: nay, Rome, as being the capital of the Gentiles, can least of all claim him. For Peter was one of the apostles of the circumcision. There is one feature peculiar to Rome, that the blood of the apostles, including even Peter, is to be ‘found’ in her: Revelation 18:20; Revelation 18:24.— τὰ ἀρνία μου, My lambs) Jesus is the Lord of the sheep and of the lambs. He loves His flock, and commits it to him that loves Him.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 21:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-21.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Lovest thou me more than these? More than the rest of my disciples love me? For so Peter had professed, when he told our Saviour, Matthew 26:33, Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Peter now having by his temptation learned more humility and modesty, doth not reply, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee more than these; he only avers the truth and sincerity, not the degree of his love. Christ replies,

Feed my lambs: by which he understands his people, his church; not the pastors of it, (as if Christ by this had made Peter the chief pastor over the rest of the apostles), but the community. The papists from this text argue for Peter’s primacy and authority over his fellow apostles, as well as over the members of the church. But Christ said not to Peter only, but to all the rest of the eleven, Matthew 28:19 Mark 16:15, Go ye, preach the gospel to all nations; and it was to the rest as well as to Peter that he said, John 20:23, Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted. So as it is apparent, whether feeding only signifies instructing, or feeding by doctrine, or (as most judge) comprehends government, and signifies that universal charge which ministers have over the church, the same power which Peter had was also committed to the other disciples.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 21:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-21.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

больше, нежели они Вероятно, здесь говорится о рыбе, ст. 11, представляющей профессию Петра, – рыбака, так как он вернулся к ней, ожидая Иисуса (см. ст. 3). Иисус хотел, чтобы Петр в такой величайшей степени любил Его, чтобы он забыл все, что знал, и был посвящен исключительно тому, чтобы быть ловцом человеков (Мф. 4:19). Эта фраза, возможно, относится и к другим ученикам, поскольку Петр заявил, что будет преданнее всех остальных (Мф. 26:33).

паси агнцев Моих Слово «паси» передает понятие быть преданным служению Господа как помощник Пастыря, который заботится о Его стаде (см. 1Пет. 5:1-4). Слово означает пасти и питать овец постоянно. Оно служило напоминанием, что важнейшая обязанность посланника Иисуса Христа – учить Слову Божьему (2Тим. 4:2). Деяния 1-12 описывают послушание Петра этому поручению.

(21:15-17) Смысл этого раздела вращается вокруг применения двух синонимов для слова «любить». С точки зрения перевода подчеркивается, хотя и небольшая, разница в значении двух синонимов, помещенных в контексте в тесной близости. Когда Иисус спросил Петра, любит ли он Его, Он использовал слово, означавшее полную передачу себя. Петр ответил словом, которое означало, что он любит Иисуса, но при этом не обязательно всецело себя вверяет. Не потому, что он не хотел выразить эту большую любовь, а потому что в прошлом был непослушен и отрекся от Господа. Сейчас он, возможно, не хотел делать заявление о величайшем посвящении себя преданности, когда в прошлом его жизнь не подтвердила подобное заявление. Неоднократно спрашивая Петра, любит ли он Его в высшей степени, величайшим образом, Иисус заставил Петра понять необходимость в непоколебимой преданности. Здесь существенным откровением является требование Иисуса от Своих последователей всецелого посвящения. Их любовь к Нему должна ставить Его выше всех остальных. Иисус засвидетельствовал Свою любовь не только потому, что Он хотел, чтобы Петр вел за собой апостолов (Мф. 16:18), но чтобы Петр был имеющим силу пастырем, а его непреодолимая напористость, большая энергия должна служить примером величайшей любви к его Господу.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 21:15". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-21.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

More than these? more than the other disciples, as Peter had intimated that he did. Matthew 26:33; John 13:37.

Lambs; the tender and feeble followers of Christ the great and good Shepherd. Chap John 10:11-16.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-21.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Had dined—But still sat at the meal. Peter was likely to be upon one side and John upon the other of Jesus, at the head. Jesus, in allusion (though the allusion is disclosed gradually) to Peter’s thrice denying him, proceeds to ask him thrice, Lovest thou me? At each profession Jesus bids him, in increasing kindness, to return to his pastoral office.

Simon, son of Jonas—Jesus calls him not by his name of honour, Peter. He recurs rather to his origin as a natural man, son of Jonah. Lovest—There are two Greek words alike rendered love in our translation, but which have a different force. The love of this question, signifies the love of will, of judgment or of moral feeling, nearly our English word to prize. The other is , which is simply affectional love, springing from the natural sensibility. In his question Jesus uses the former word; in his answer Peter uses the latter. Simon, son of Jonas, prizest thou me?

More than theseMore than the rest of the disciples at the meal love me. Peter had proudly boasted over them, “Though all should be offended in thee, yet will not I.” Our Lord tests him to see whether he still professes over the others. Thou knowest—He makes no vehement protestations, but appeals to the Lord’s own knowledge of his heart.

I love thee—Peter uses the affectional term for love:

I love thee tenderly from the heart. Feed my lambs—It is as if Peter’s first denial is now wiped out. Jesus bids him to return to the pastoral office in its humblest form.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-21.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘He says to him, “Indeed, Lord. You know that I love you.” He says to him, “Feed my lambs”.’

Note how impetuous Peter restrained his impetuosity. He made no claim to have special love. He would no longer compare the greatness of his love with that of others, even when given the opportunity. He would, however, declare that his love was true. Thus had he become fit to feed the lambs.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-21.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Education again followed eating, as it had often done before, for example, in the upper room (chs13-17). The following conversation may have taken place as Jesus and Peter walked along the shore, with John within earshot close behind (cf. John 21:20-21).

Jesus began by addressing Peter as Simon the son of Jonas. In the Gospels, Jesus addressed Peter this way on only the most important occasions. These were his call to follow Jesus ( John 1:42), his confession of Jesus as the Son of God ( Matthew 16:17), and as he slept in Gethsemane ( Mark 14:37). When Jesus addressed Peter this way here, Peter probably realized that what Jesus was about to say to him was extremely important.

Jesus used a word for "love" (Gr. agapas) in His question that many scholars have understood to refer to total commitment to another person. [Note: E.g, Westcott, The Gospel . . . Greek Text . . ., 2:367.] Other equally competent scholars, however, do not believe it had this strong meaning. [Note: E.g, R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, pp38-42.] Nevertheless most scholars recognize that agapao expresses a somewhat stronger love than phileo does. In his Gospel John did not usually make fine distinctions in meaning on the basis of synonym differences. [Note: Carson, The Gospel . . ., pp676-77; Tenney, " John," p201; Morris, p770.] Generally he treated synonyms as having essentially the same meaning. For example, John used both agapao and phileo to describe the Father"s love for the Son ( John 3:35; John 10:17; John 5:20), Jesus" love for Lazarus ( John 11:5; John 11:3; John 11:36), and Jesus" love for the beloved disciple ( John 13:23; John 20:2). However many expositors have concluded that Jesus was making a distinction between the meanings of the synonyms for love that He used here. [Note: E.g, K. L. McKay, "Style and Significance in the Language of John 21:15-17," Novum Testamentum27 (1985):319-33; Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest"s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, vol4: "Golden Nuggets from the Greek New Testament" (by the author, 1940; reprint ed, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1966), pp60-63; and Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics, p227.] Because of the debate over the meaning of agapao and its synonyms, it seems wise not to put too much emphasis on this distinction.

"His [Peter"s] actions had shown that Peter had not wanted a crucified Lord. But Jesus was crucified. How did Peter"s devotion stand in the light of this? Was he ready to love Jesus as he was, and not as Peter wished him to be?" [Note: Morris, p768.]

Jesus asked Peter if he had more love for Jesus than he had for "these things" (Gr. pleon touton). What did Jesus have in mind? Was it the fishing boats and nets that Peter had returned to, or was it the other disciples? The comparison seems more likely to have been with the love of the other disciples for Jesus since Peter had earlier professed complete devotion to Jesus in the upper room (cf. John 13:37; John 18:10). Peter had claimed that his love for and commitment to Jesus were so strong that even if all the other disciples forsook Him he would not ( Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; Luke 22:33). Still Peter had denied that he was one of Jesus" disciples and that he even knew Jesus three times. Thus Jesus" question was reasonable. He wanted Peter to think about just how strong his love for Jesus really was.

Peter replied by professing his love for Jesus, but he used a different word for love than Jesus had used (Gr. philo). Expositors who believe that philo expresses weaker love than agapao think that Peter apparently could not bring himself to claim complete devotion to Jesus in view of his denials. Those who view philo and agapao as essentially synonymous understand Peter as professing that he did indeed love Jesus. Peter wisely appealed for proof of his love to Jesus" knowledge, not to his own former behavior.

Jesus responded graciously by giving Peter a command, not criticism. He told Peter to tend (Gr. boske, feed) His lambs (Gr. arnia). Three more pairs of synonyms in addition to agapao and philo occur in this passage. Bosko (feed, John 21:15; John 21:17) and poimaino (tend, or take care of, John 21:16) may be significantly different, but they are probably not. Likewise arnia (lambs, John 21:15) and probata (sheep, John 21:16-17) create the same interpretive problem. The third pair is oidas (know intellectually, John 21:15-16) and ginoskeis (know experientially, John 21:17).

Previously Jesus had referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd ( John 10:14). Now he was committing the care of His flock to this disciple who had failed Him miserably in the past. Jesus had formerly called Peter to be a fisher of men, an essentially evangelistic ministry ( Matthew 4:19). Now he was broadening this calling to include being a shepherd of sheep, a pastoral ministry.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-21.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 21:15. When therefore they had breakfasted, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. The question (‘lovest thou’ ) contains the second of the two Greek verbs for loving, of which we have already spoken at chap. John 5:20. This verb is less expressive of emotions of tenderness, of personal feeling and affection, than that verb used by Peter in his reply. The words ‘more than these’ in our Lord’s question can hardly spring from any thing else than the remembrance of the apostle’s hasty assertion before his denial of his Master, ‘Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.’ They were thus especially designed to expose to Peter’s view the pride and self-sufficiency by which his fall had been hastened; and that they effected this object we may infer from the absence of these words in his reply. He will make no mention of others now: one step in his education has been gained. Not only so; it is to be further noticed that the apostle does not use the same word for ‘love’ as had been employed by Jesus. He uses one that speaks of a more familiar and friendly affection, implying less depth of serious thought. The change may be connected with his recollection of his fall; but it is to be mainly traced to the genuine sincerity, the real warmth, of his love for Jesus. Jesus accepts the declaration of his love and recognizes its genuineness, hence the charge now given to the apostle.

He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. This charge will be more fully noticed when we have dealt with the exposition of the following verses.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-21.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 21:15. , “when, then, they had broken their fast,” a note of time essential to the conversation following. Peter had manifested the most ardent affection, by abandoning on the instant the net of fish for which he had been toiling all night, and by springing into the sea to greet his Lord. But was not that a mere impulsive demonstration, “the wholesome madness of an hour”? Therefore He lets Peter settle down, He lets him breakfast and then takes him at the coolest hour of the day, and, at last breaking silence, says, [better, ] [better, ] ; “Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these?” So far as grammar goes, this may either mean “Lovest thou me more than the other disciples love me?” or “Lovest thou me more than this boat and net and your old life?” It may either refer to Peter’s saying, “Though all should forsake Thee, yet will not I,” or to his sudden abandonment of the boat and fishing gear. If the former were intended, the second personal pronoun would almost necessarily be expressed; but, as the words stand, the contrast is not between “you” and “these,” but between “me” and “these”. Besides, would the characteristic tact and delicacy of Jesus have allowed Him to put a question involving a comparison of Peter with his fellow-disciples? The latter interpretation, although branded by Lücke as “eine geistlose lächerliche Frage,” commends itself. Difference of opinion also exists about the use of and , most interpreters believing that by the former a love based on esteem or judgment is indicated, by the latter the affection of the heart. The Vulgate distinguishes by using “diligis” and “amo”. Trench (Synonyms, 38) uses this distinction for the interpretation of this passage, and maintains that Peter in his reply intentionally changes the colder into the warmer . It is very doubtful whether this is justifiable. The two words are used interchangeably to express the love of Jesus for John, see John 13:23, and John 20:2; also for His love for Lazarus, John 11:3; John 11:5; John 11:36. And that the distinction cannot be maintained at any rate in this conversation is obvious from John 21:17; for if the words differed in meaning, it could not be said that “Peter was grieved because Jesus a third time said, ”; because Jesus had not used these words three times. The words seem interchanged for euphony, as in Aelian, Var. Hist., ix. 1, where Hiero is said to have lived with his three brothers, . In Peter’s answer there is no sense of any discrepancy between the kind of love demanded and the love felt. It comes with a , . Why need He ask? .’ In this appeal to Christ’s own knowledge there is probably, as Weiss suggests, a consciousness of his own liability to be deceived, as shown in his recent experience.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 21:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-21.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

John 21:15. When they had dined — On the kind provision wherewith Jesus had supplied them, and, it is likely, had been edified with such discourse as Jesus had generally used when eating with them; Jesus said to Simon Peter — Who, by his late denial of him, had given him great reason to call in question the sincerity of his love; Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? — He speaks to him by name, the more to affect him, as he did (Luke 22:31) when he warned him of a great approaching trial. He doth not call him Cephas, or Peter, a name signifying strength or stability, for he had lost the credit of that; but gives him his original name, Simon, adding, however, son of Jonas, as he had called him when he pronounced him blessed, Matthew 16:17. And the question he asked him is, of all others, one of the most important, and on which we should frequently and especially ask ourselves: for, on the one hand, if any man love not the Lord Jesus he is anathema, that is, exposed to the wrath and curse of God, 1 Corinthians 16:22; whereas the grace and blessing of God is the portion of all those who love him in sincerity, Ephesians 6:24. Observe, reader, the question is not, Dost thou know me? Dost thou believe in me? Dost thou admire, honour, or fear me? but, Dost thou love me? Give me but proof of that, as if Jesus had said, and I will acknowledge that thy repentance is sincere; that thy backslidings are healed, and that thou art recovered from thy fall. Peter had professed himself a penitent, had wept bitterly for his sin, had returned to the society of the disciples, and had taken great interest in the death and resurrection of Christ; deeply mourning for the former, and greatly rejoicing at being assured of the latter: but still this is not sufficient: the question is, Lovest thou me? Nay, further, Lovest thou me more than these? — More than thou lovest these persons, James or John, thy intimate friends, or Andrew, thy own brother and companion? Those do not love Christ aright, who do not love him better than the best friend they have in the world, and make it appear so whenever there is a comparison or competition between these objects of their love. Or, more than thou lovest these things, these boats and nets, and the other implements of fishing, by which thou earnest a livelihood: that is, more than thou lovest thy occupation and the gains of it. So Dr. Whitby. And the question, thus interpreted, “is neither so cold nor so foreign,” says Dr. Campbell, “as some have represented it. This was probably the last time that Peter exercised his profession as a fisherman. Jesus was about to employ him as an apostle; but as he disdained all forced obedience, and would accept no service that did not spring from choice, and originate in love, he put this question to give Peter an opportunity of professing openly his love, (which his late transgression had rendered questionable,) and consequently his preference of the work in which Jesus was to employ him, with whatever difficulties and perils it might be accompanied, to any worldly occupation, however gainful.” The sense, however, in which the words are more commonly taken is, Lovest thou me more than these men [thy fellow-disciples] love me? Thus interpreted, the question must be considered as having a reference to the declaration formerly made by Peter, (Matthew 26:33,) when he seemed to arrogate a superiority to the rest, in zeal for his Master and steadiness in his service; Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. This gives a peculiar propriety to Peter’s reply here. “Convinced, at length, that his Master knew his heart better than he himself; conscious, at the same time, of the affection which he bore him, he dares make the declaration, [as to the sincerity of his love,] appealing to the infallible Judge, before whom he stood, as the voucher of his truth. But as to his fellow-disciples, he is now taught not to assume any thing. He dares not utter a single word which would lead to a comparison with those to whom he knew his woful defection had made him appear so much inferior.” He only says, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee — “And his silence on this part of the question speaks strongly the shame he had on recollecting his former presumption, in boasting superior zeal and firmness, and shows, that the lesson of humility and self-knowledge he had so lately received, had not been lost.”

He saith unto him, Feed my lambs — Manifest thy love to me in a way which will be peculiarly acceptable; administer spiritual food to my people, even to the weakest and feeblest of my flock; give milk to babes, explain the first principles of my doctrine to those who, having but lately believed in me, are not yet thoroughly instructed in the truths, or established in the grace of the gospel. It may be worth observing here, that the original word αρνια, being the diminutive of αρνα, signifies the least of my lambs; and if, says Dr. Doddridge, “we interpret it as an intimation of the care which Peter, as a minister of Christ, was to take of little children, it seems perfectly congruous to the wisdom and tenderness of the great Shepherd of the sheep, to give so particular an injunction concerning it.”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on John 21:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/john-21.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? That is, more than any one of these love me. Christ puts this question thrice to St. Peter, that this triple protestation of love, says St. Augustine, might correspond to his triple denial. St. Peter did not answer that he loved him more than the rest did, which he could not know, but modestly said: yea, Lord, thou knowest I love thee: and the third time, thou knowest all things, and the hearts of all men, thou knowest how much I love thee. At each protestation, Jesus answered, feed my lambs; and the third time, feed my sheep. To feed, in the style of the Scriptures, is to guide, rule, and govern. St. Ambrose and some others take notice, as if by the lambs, might be understood the people, and by the sheep, those placed over them, as bishops, priests, &c. but others make no such difference in this place, betwixt lambs and sheep, only as comprehending all the members of Christ's Church, of what condition soever, even the rest of the apostles. For here it was that Christ gave to St. Peter that power which he had promised him, (Matthew xvi. 18.) that is, He now made St. Peter head(1) of his whole Church, as he had insinuated at the first meeting, when St. Andrew brought him to our Saviour, when he changed his name from Simon to Peter: again, when he chose him, and made him the first of his twelve apostles; but particularly, when he said, thou art Peter, (a rock) and upon this rock will I build my Church, &c. Upon this account the Catholic Church, from the very first ages, hath always reverenced, and acknowledged the supreme power of the successors of St. Peter, in spirituals, over all Christian Churches. This appears also by the writings of Tertullian, of St. Irenæus, of St. Cyprian, of the greatest doctors and bishops, both of the west and east, of St. Jerome, St. Augustine, of St. John Chrysostom, in several places, of the first general Councils, particularly of the great Council of Chalcedon, &c. (Witham) --- Simon (son) of John. The father's name is here added, to discriminate him from Simon Thaddeus, that every one might know that the chief care of the universal Church was not given to any other apostle but Peter. This Simon of John is the same as Simon Bar-jona. See Matthew xvi. 17. (Menochius) --- St. Peter had three times renounced his master; and Jesus, to give him an opportunity of repairing his fault by a triple confession, three several times demanded of him, if he loved him more than these? That, as St. Augustine remarks, he who had thrice denied through fear might thrice confess through love. (Calmet)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

He made St. Peter head of his whole Church. See Tertullian, lib. de pudicitia, p. 556. Ed. Rig. where he calls the successor of St. Peter, Pontificem maximum, & Episcopum Episcoporum; St. Irenæus, lib. iii. chap. 3; St. Cyprian, ep. 55. p. 84, Ed. Rig. Navigare audent & ad Petri Cathedram, atque ad Ecclesiam principalem. See St. Jerome, epist. lvii. and lviii. p. 175. nov. Ed. St. Augustine. --- St. John Chrysostom on this place, hom. lxxxviii. p. 525. nov. Ed. Cur. aliis prætermissis (Petrum) alloquitur? he answers, Greek: ekkritos en ton Apostolon, kai stoma ton matheton, kai koruphe tou chorou, cœtus illius caput. ... fratrum præfecturam suscipe; Greek: egcheirizetai ten prostasian ton adelphon. And a little after, p. 527. putting the objection, why St. James, and not St. Peter, was made bishop of Jerusalem, he answers; because St. Peter was to be over the whole universe; Greek: tes oikoumenes echeirotonese, &c. The same St. John Chrysostom, lib. ii. de Sacerd. chap. 1. tom. 1. p. 372. nov. Ed. Ben. qua de causa ille sanguinem effudit suum? certe ut oves eas acquireret, quarum curam tum Petro, tum Petri Successoribus committebat. --- Conc. Chalced. Lab. tom. 4. p. 565. The Council thus writes to St. Leo; omnibus constitutus interpres, quibus tu quidem tanquam caput membris præeras, &c. Greek: pasin ermeneus kathestamenos, &c. And p. 368. Petrus per Leonem ita locutus est; Greek: Petros dia Leontos tauta exephonesen. See Annotation for Matthew xvi. ver. 18.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 21:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

So = Therefore.

Simon. Peter was always addressed by the Lord as Simon except in Luke 22:34. See App-147.

more than these: i.e. than these other disciples do. Referring to his words in Matthew 26:33, Matthew 26:35.

love. Greek phileo. App-135. Note the different words used in these verses. The Lord uses agapao twice and phileo once, Peter always phileo.

Feed: i.e. provide pasture for. Greek. bosko. Save in this passage, always of swine.

lambs. Greek. arnion, a diminutive. Only here and in the Revelation, where it occurs twenty-nine times, always of the Lord, except John 13:11. The other word for "lamb", amnos, only in John 1:29, John 1:36. Acts 8:32. 1 Peter 1:19.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 21:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-21.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas.—The better text here and in John 21:16-17, is, Simon, son of John. The contrast of the name by which the Evangelist denotes, and with that by which the Lord addresses Peter, at once strikes us as significant, and the more so because it comes in a context containing several significant verbal contrasts. Our Lord’s words would seem to address him as one who had fallen from the steadfastness of the Rock-man, and had been true rather to his natural than to his apostolic name. (Comp. Note on John 1:42, and Matthew 16:17.)

Lovest thou me more than these?—i.e., than these disciples who are present here with thee. It seems unnecessary to add this explanation, but not a few English notes on this verse explain the word “these” of the fishes, or of the boats and nets, as though the question was, “Lovest thou Me more than thy worldly calling? Art thou willing to give up all for Me?” The obvious reference is to Peter’s own comparison of himself with others in the confidence of love which he thought could never fail. (Comp. Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29.)

The thrice-asked question has been generally understood to have special force in the restoration of him who had thrice denied his Lord, and now thrice declares his love for Him, and is thrice entrusted with a work for Him; and we feel that this interpretation gives a natural meaning to the emphasis of these verses. It may not be fanciful to trace significance, even in the external circumstances under which the question was asked. By the side of the lake after casting his net into the sea had Peter first been called to be a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). The lake, the very spot on the shore, the nets, the boat, would bring back to his mind in all their fulness the thoughts of the day which had been the turning-point of his life. By the side of the “fire of coals” (see Note on John 18:18, the only other place where the word occurs) he had denied his Lord. As the eye rests upon the “fire of coals” before him, and he is conscious of the presence of the Lord, who knows all things (John 21:17), burning thoughts of penitence and shame may have come to his mind, and these may have been the true preparation for the words which follow.

Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.—Peter uses a less strong expression for love than that which had been used by our Lord. The question seems to ask, “Dost thou in the full determination of the will, in profound reverence and devotion, love Me?” The answer seems to say, “Thou knowest me; I dare not now declare this fixed determination of the will, but in the fulness of personal affection I dare answer, and Thou knowest that even in my denials it was true, ‘I love Thee.’”

He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.—More exactly, little lambs.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
son
16,17; 1:42
Jona
Matthew 16:17
Bar-jona
lovest.
8:42; 14:15-24; 16:27; Matthew 10:37; 25:34-45; 1 Corinthians 16:21,22; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 6:24; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 4:19; 5:1
more
7; Matthew 26:33,35; Mark 14:29
thou knowest
17; 2 Samuel 7:20; 2 Kings 20:3; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:23
Feed
Psalms 78:70-72; Jeremiah 3:15; 23:4; Ezekiel 34:2-10,23; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:15,16; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:1-4
lambs
Genesis 33:13; Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 18:10,11; Luke 22:32; Romans 14:1; 15:1; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 8:11; Ephesians 4:14; Hebrews 12:12,13; 1 Peter 2:2
Reciprocal: Genesis 31:40 - GeneralDeuteronomy 33:10 - They shall teach;  Joshua 22:5 - love;  2 Samuel 7:7 - feed;  1 Kings 19:13 - What doest;  2 Kings 10:15 - Is thine heart right;  Psalm 51:13 - Then;  Psalm 78:71 - feed;  Proverbs 10:21 - feed;  Proverbs 27:23 - diligent;  Song of Solomon 1:4 - the upright love thee;  Song of Solomon 1:8 - feed;  Song of Solomon 8:6 - love;  Jeremiah 15:15 - thou;  Jeremiah 31:8 - them the;  Ezekiel 34:15 - GeneralEzekiel 46:24 - GeneralJonah 3:1 - the second;  Zechariah 11:4 - Feed;  Matthew 18:14 - one;  Matthew 24:45 - to give;  Matthew 25:33 - the sheep;  Matthew 25:40 - Inasmuch;  Matthew 26:74 - saying;  Mark 10:16 - GeneralMark 16:19 - after;  Luke 6:14 - Simon;  Luke 7:47 - she;  Luke 9:60 - but;  Luke 12:42 - to give;  Luke 17:2 - one;  John 11:36 - Behold;  John 13:37 - why;  John 15:16 - ordained;  John 18:17 - I am not;  John 20:6 - GeneralJohn 20:21 - as;  Acts 1:13 - Peter;  Acts 1:15 - Peter;  Acts 9:4 - Saul;  Acts 13:6 - whose;  1 Corinthians 9:7 - or;  Ephesians 4:12 - perfecting;  Philippians 1:25 - for;  1 Thessalonians 1:3 - and labour;  1 Thessalonians 2:7 - we;  1 Thessalonians 5:14 - comfort;  2 Timothy 2:15 - rightly;  1 Peter 1:1 - Peter;  1 Peter 5:2 - Feed;  2 Peter 1:1 - Peter;  Revelation 7:17 - feed

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 21:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-21.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 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."

John speaks of Simon Peter: Jesus addresses him as Simon, son of Jonas. The reason lay not in any allusion to Peter's denial, which might be supposed to have tendered him unworthy of his other name. During the whole of this colloquy there does not occur the faintest allusion to the denial of Peter. Such allusions have been introduced and forced upon the text by expositors. Peter's denial—of which too much every way is made—was long over. Even Stier, who holds fast the current notion, is obliged to confess, "There is no trace, in vers. 3, 7, of any timorousness in Peter's entrance into the apostolical circle." The true reason of the address is rather to be sought in a comparison with ch. John 1:43 : "Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Peter." To the second clause there corresponds here, "Feed My sheep." The promotion would have been anticipated, the condition of that promotion would have been lowered in significance, if Simon had at the outset here received the appellation Peter. He is remanded back, as it were, into his natural position, in order that he may be exalted out of it into new dignity. Hitherto he had been only Peter designate. Now he was to be inducted into his office as Peter. The designation is, so to speak, pretermitted, in order to lay all the stress upon the condition of it. So also, in Matthew 16:17, the Lord first addressed Peter as Simon Barjona, and announced to him that He would make him Peter. Those who explain the omission of the name Peter by a reference to his denial, rend our passage violently from its connection with ch. John 1:43 and Matthew 16:17.

Jesus asks Peter if he loved Him more than these, the other disciples. The question about the more takes it for granted that there was conceded to Peter a position excelling that of all the rest (comp. Matthew 16:18),—that he was to be truly Peter, the rock upon which the Church was to be built, the pastor of the flock of Christ.

The Lord might have said, "Thou lovest Me more than these, therefore feed My sheep." That this was the actual fact, is plain from his having the flock committed to him. From the presence of the result, we may argue the presence of the condition on which that result depended. But in naming the condition, the Lord puts it in the form of a question; and that because the loving more was not a fixed and unalterable experience, but something that might at any time be lost, something that must be preserved and increased by watching and praying, something that was always questionable, and therefore matter of earnest self-examination,

Asher, in Deuteronomy 33:24, is spoken of as the most favoured among his brethren, and as blessed before the sons. The same might have been said of every other son of Jacob. Each was such in his own sphere. So also love to Jesus has its various spheres. Which of these spheres comes into notice here, must be estimated by the position which Peter was to assume. Peter had just shown that his love was more energetic in one particular direction than that of the others, inasmuch as he threw himself into the sea while the others followed after in the ship. This constant girding himself in the service of the Lord, comp. ver. 18, was his loving more than the rest. The government of the Church demanded pre-eminently a practically energetic and effective love. In this Peter was superior to John, even as Martha was to Mary.

Peter assures the Lord that he loved Him; he says nothing about "more than others." He knew well that he might, in a certain sense, answer in the affirmative (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:10, where, instead of "I have laboured more than they all," it might have been "I have loved more than they all"); but the affirmation would not pass his lips, because he felt how much in other respects he fell behind his fellow- Apostles, and John especially. But while m one point his answer lagged behind the question, in compensation it went before it in another. Peter substituted for the ἀγαπᾶν the φιλεῖν, which rather denotes the tenderness of love: comp. on ch. John 11:5. Probably he used רחם, diligere ex intimis visceribus, with allusion to the beginning of Psalms 18, "I will love Thee heartily, O Lord, my strength."—"Thou knowest" refers to Psalms 40:10, where the singer, after the assurance of his thankful love, says, "O Lord, Thou knowest," precisely as here. That Peter really meant the Supreme Lord by his κύριε,—to which in the original יהוה corresponds, rendered by the Septuagint here, as commonly, κύριε,—is evident from what follows, "Thou knowest all things," ver. 17: to know all things is the prerogative of the Lord God alone. The design of the appeal to the omniscience of the Lord, was the same as in the psalm. In my commentary there I observed: "‘O Lord, Thou knowest,' intimates how easily we may delude ourselves and others by the semblance of readiness for God's praise. Let us see to it always that we can appeal to the omniscience of God in this matter." "Lord, Thou knowest," occurs also in Ezekiel 37:3; but this passage does not stand in such close relation to our present one. It is the original of the "Lord, Thou knowest," in Revelation 7:14.

Jesus says first, "Feed My lambs:" ἀρνίον, the diminutive of ἀρνή. On occasion of the second and third questions, He substitutes the usual πρόβατα, sheep. The ἀρνίον, occurring elsewhere only in the Apocalypse, points back to Isaiah 40:11, where it is said of Jehovah the Good Shepherd, "He will gather the lambs in His arms." Christ, Jehovah manifest in the flesh, commits His tender lambs, when He leaves the earth, to Peter. The spiritual sheep are at the same time lambs, needing tender and vigilant care;" if overdriven, they may soon die."—"My lambs:" Christ is the "chief Shepherd," 1 Peter 5:4, whose own the sheep are, John 10:12; He commits His sheep to Peter as His chief pastor; He again commits them, 1 Peter 5:1-3, to the presbyters as the under-shepherds, for that is involved in his styling himself their ‘ fellow-elder (comp. my Comm. on the Revelation).

Instead of βόσκω, Jesus the second time uses ποιμαίνω. βόσκω, the Latin pasco, is properly to pasture: care for their own nourishment is one of the first obligations of the good shepherd: compare "shall find pasture," ch. John 10:9. ποιμαίνω is more general, and signifies the whole pastoral care. The third time our Lord recurs to βόσκω, to impress it thoroughly upon Peter, that he must make this portion of his pastoral office his main and first concernment.

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Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

15.When, therefore, they had dined. The Evangelist now relates in what manner Peter was restored to that rank of honor from which he had fallen. That treacherous denial, which has been formerly described, had, undoubtedly, rendered him unworthy of the apostleship; for how could he be capable of instructing others in the faith, who had basely revolted from it? He had been made an Apostle, but it was along with Judas, and from the time when he had abandoned his post, (230) he had likewise been deprived of the honor of apostle-ship. Now, therefore, the liberty, as well as the authority, of teaching is restored to him, both of which he had lost through his own fault. And that the disgrace of his apostacy might not stand in his way, Christ blots out and destroys the remembrance of it. Such a restoration was necessary, both for Peter and for his hearers; for Peter, that he might the more boldly execute his office, being assured of the calling with which Christ had again invested him; for his hearers, that the stain which attached to his person might not be the occasion of despising the Gospel. To us also, in the present day, it is of very great importance, that Peter comes forth to us as a new man, from whom the disgrace that might have lessened his authority has been removed.

Simon (son)of John (231) lovest thou me? By these words Christ means that no man can faithfully serve the Church, and employ himself in feeding the flock, if he do not look higher than to men. First, the office of feeding (232) is in itself laborious and troublesome; since nothing is more difficult than to keep men under the yoke of God, among whom there are many who are weak, others who are wanton and unsteady, others who are dull and sluggish, and others who are slow and unteachable. Satan now brings forward as many causes of offense as he can, that he may destroy or weaken the courage of a good pastor. (233) In addition to this, we must take into account the ingratitude of many and other causes of disgust. No man, therefore, will steadily persevere in the discharge of this office, unless the love of Christ shall reign in his heart, in such a manner that, forgetful of himself and devoting himself entirely to Christ, he overcomes every obstacle. Thus Paul declares this to have been the state of his own feelings, when he says,

The love of Christ constraineth us, judging thus, that if one died for all,
then all must have been dead,
(
2 Corinthians 5:14.)

For, though he means that love with which Christ hath loved us, and of which he hath given us a proof by his death, yet he connects with us that mutual love which springs from the conviction of having received so great a blessing. Ungodly and false teachers, on the other hand, are pointed out by him in another passage by this mark, that they do not love the Lord Jesus, (1 Corinthians 16:22.)

Those who are called to govern the Church ought, therefore, to remember that, if they are desirous to discharge their office properly and faithfully, they must begin with the love of Christ. Meanwhile, Christ openly testifies how highly he values our salvation, when he employs such earnest and striking language in recommending it to Pastors, and when he declares that, if the salvation of their flock be the object of their earnest solicitude, he will reckon it a proof of the ardor of their love to himself. And, indeed, nothing could have been spoken that was better fitted for encouraging the ministers of the Gospel, than to inform them that no service can be more agreeable to Christ than that which is bestowed on feeding his flock. All believers ought to draw from it no ordinary consolation, when they are taught that they are so dear and so precious in the sight of the Son of God, that he substitutes them, as it were, in his own room. But the same doctrine ought greatly to alarm false teachers, who corrupt and overturn the government of the Church; for Christ, who declares that he is insulted by them, will inflict on them dreadful punishment.

Feed my lambs. The word feed is metaphorically applied by Scripture to any kind of government; but as the present subject is the spiritual government of the Church, it is of importance to observe what are the parts of which the office of pastor or shepherd consists. No idle rank is here described to us, nor does Christ bestow on a mortal man any government to be exercised by him in a confused manner according to his own pleasure. In expounding the Tenth Chapter, we have seen that Christ is the only Pastor or Shepherd of the Church. (234) We have seen also why he takes this name to himself. If, is, because he feeds, that is, he governs his sheep, because he is the only true food of the soul. But because he employs the agency of men in preaching doctrine, he conveys to them also his own name, or, at least, shares it with them. Those men, therefore, are reckoned to be Pastors in the sight of God, who govern the Church by the ministry of the word under Christ, who is their Head. Hence we may easily infer what is the burden which Christ lays on Peter, and on what condition he appoints him to govern his flock.

This enables us plainly to refute the wicked adherents of the Church of Rome, who torture this passage to support the tyranny of their Popery. “To Peter” they tell us, “in preference to others, it is said, Feed my sheep ” We have already explained the reason why it was said to him rather than to the others; namely, that being free from every disgraceful stain, he might boldly preach the Gospel; and the reason why Christ thrice appoints him to be a pastor is, that the three denials, by which Peter had brought on himself everlasting shame, may be set aside, and thus may form no barrier to his apostleship, as has been judiciously observed by Chrysostom, Augustine, and Cyril, and most of the other Commentators. Besides, nothing was given to Peter by these words, that is not also given to all the ministers of the Gospel.

In vain, therefore, do the Papists maintain that he holds the highest rank, because he alone is specially addressed; and, granting that some special honor was conferred on him, how, I ask, will they prove from this that he has been elevated to the primacy? Though he were the chief among the apostles, does it thence follow that he was the universal bishop of the whole world? To this it must be added, that all that Peter received does not belong to the Pope any more than to Mahomet; for on what ground does he claim to be Peter’s heir, and what man of sound understanding will admit that Christ here bestows on him any hereditary right? Yet he wishes to be reckoned Peter’s successor: I wish he were so. None of us hinders him from loving Christ, and from taking care to feed his flock; but to take no concern about loving Christ, and to throw aside the office of feeding, and then to boast of being Peter’s successor, is excessively foolish and absurd. Now, as Christ, in assigning to Peter the duty of teaching, did not intend to erect a throne for an idol or for a murderer of souls, that by means of it he might miserably oppress the Church, so he stated in a few words, what kind of government of the Church he approves. This removes the mask from all the mitred bishops, who, satisfied with a mere theatrical display and an empty title, claim for themselves the authority of bishops.

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 21:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-21.html. 1840-57.