Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 21:18

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Apostles;   Discipleship;   Jesus Continued;   Minister, Christian;   Peter;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Afflictions Made Beneficial;   Martyrdom;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Peter;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Apostacy;   Mark, gospel of;   Peter;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Jesus Christ;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Peter;   Resurrection of Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - James;   John, the Gospel According to;   Peter;   Peter, the Epistles of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - John, the Gospel of;   Peter;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John, Gospel of;   Matthew, Gospel According to;   Peter;   Peter, Second Epistle of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Character;   Discourse;   Dress (2);   Gestures;   Hand ;   Individuality;   Martyr;   Poet;   Prophet;   Punishment (2);   Walk (2);   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Peter;   Smith Bible Dictionary - John, Gospel of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Chronology of the New Testament;   Cubit;   Love;   Persecution;   Peter, Simon;   Peter, the First Epistle of;   Peter, the Second Epistle of;   Teach;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - New Testament;   Simon Cephas;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands - Wetstein observes that it was a custom at Rome to put the necks of those who were to be crucified into a yoke, and to stretch out their hands and fasten them to the end of it; and having thus led them through the city they were carried out to be crucified. See his note on this place. Thus then Peter was girded, chained, and carried whither he would not - not that he was unwilling to die for Christ; but he was a man - he did not love death; but he loved his life less than he loved his God.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 21:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

When thou wast young - When in early life thou didst gird thyself, etc. The Jews, in walking or running, girded their outer garments around them, that they might not be impeded. See the notes at Matthew 5:38-41.

Thou girdedst - The expression here denotes freedom. He did as he pleased - he girded himself or not he went or remained, as he chose. Perhaps the expression refers rather to that time than to the previous period of Peter‘s life. “Thou being now young or in the vigor of life, hast just girded thyself and come freely to the shore.” In either case the Saviour intimates that at the end of his life he would not be thus free.

When thou shalt be old - Ancient writers say that Peter was put to death about thirty-four years after this. His precise age at that time is not known.

Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands - When Peter was put to death, we are told that he requested that he might be crucified with his head downward, saying that he who had denied his Lord as he had done was not worthy to die as he did. This expression of Christ may intimate the readiness of Peter thus to die. Though he was not at liberty as when he was young, though bound by others, yet he freely stretched out his hands on the cross, and was ready to give up his life.

Another shall gird thee - Another shall bind thee. The limbs of persons crucified were often bound instead of being nailed, and even the body was sometimes girded to the cross. See the notes at Matthew 27:35.

Carry thee … - Shall bear thee, or shall compel thee to go to prison and to death. This is not said to intimate that Peter would be unwilling to suffer martyrdom, but it stands opposed to the freedom of his early life. Though willing when compelled to do it, yet he would not seek it; and though he would not needlessly expose himself to it, yet he would not shrink from it when it was the will of God.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 21:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-21.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. Now this he spake signifying by what manner of death he should glorify God. And when he had thus spoken, he saith unto him, Follow me.

There seems to be more than a hint here that Peter's younger life had been uninhibited. He was a very active man who seems to have done just about as he pleased. Such undisciplined behavior, if that is what was implied, was at an end for Peter. His future responsibilities would require his constant attendance upon spiritual things. Also, there was a prophecy here, already fulfilled when John wrote, of the type of death by which he would glorify God.

To stretch out the hands ... was often used by Greek writers and the early Christians to indicate crucifixion.[11] In view of John's here referring these words to Peter's death, there can be no doubt of their being a prophecy of his crucifixion.

Follow me ... Jesus evidently meant this in a spiritual sense; but Peter, great literalist that he was, immediately walked after Jesus as the Lord departed, John following.

Concerning Peter's death, tradition places it at Rome in the reign of Nero, with the detail that he was crucified head downward after his protest that he was unworthy to be crucified in an upright position like Jesus. As Lanctantius wrote of Nero:

He it was who first persecuted the servants of God. He crucified Peter and slew Paul. St. Peter, as a Jew, could thus be dealt with; St. Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded. Nor did he (Nero) escape with impunity; for God looked on the affliction of his people; and therefore the tyrant, bereaved of his authority, and precipitated from the height of empire, suddenly disappeared, and even the burial place of that noxious wild beast was nowhere to be seen.[12]

[11] Ibid.

[12] Lanctantius, The Manner in which the Persecutors Died (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII, p. 302.

Copyright Statement
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 21:18". "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

Verily, verily, I say unto thee,.... A way of speaking often used by Christ, when about to deliver anything of considerable moment, partly to raise the attention, and partly for the more strong asseveration of what is spoken; and may have reference both to what went before, confirming Peter's declaration of his love, which would be demonstrated by dying for him, and the testimony of his omniscience, by foretelling his death, and the kind of it; and to what follows after, which contains an account of Peter in his younger years, and a prophecy of what should befall him in old age:

when thou wast young; not that he was old now, and capable he was of doing, and he did do but just now, what our Lord ascribes to his younger years:

thou girdest thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldst; that is, he could put on his clothes himself, and gird them about him with a girdle, as was the custom of the eastern nations, who usually wore long garments; and as he, a little before, had girt his fisher's coat about him, and walked where he pleased; denoting the liberty of his will in things natural and civil, which every man is possessed of, though not in things spiritual, without the grace of God; and also his power of doing what was most grateful to him, without being hindered by, or obliged to ask the leave of others:

but when thou shalt be old; implying, that he should live to a good old age, and be continued to be useful and serviceable in the cause of Christ, in preaching his Gospel, and feeding his lambs and sheep, as he did; for he lived to the times of NeroF3Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 25. , under whom he suffered, about forty years after this:

thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee. This refers not so much to an inability through old age to gird himself, and therefore should stretch forth his hands, that another might with more ease do it for him, and which would be the reverse of his former and present case; for the word gird is used in another sense than before, and signifies the binding of him as, a prisoner with cords, or chains; so "girding", with the Jews, is the same as הקשירה והאסירה, "tying and binding"F4R. David Kimchi, Sepher Shorash. rad. חגר : but either to the stretching out of his hands upon the cross, when he should be girt and bound to that; for persons were sometimes fastened to the cross with cords, and not always with nailsF5Lipsius de Cruce, l. 2. c. 8. Bartholinus de Cruce, p. 57. 112. : or, as others think, to his carrying of his cross on his shoulders, with his hands stretched out and bound to the piece of wood which went across; though his being girded or bound may as well be thought to follow the former, as this: indeed, what is added best suits with the latter,

and carry thee whither thou wouldst not; to a painful, cruel, shameful, and accursed death, the death of the cross; not that Peter in spirit would be unwilling to die for Christ, nor was he; but it signifies, that he should die a death disagreeable to the flesh.

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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 21:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(3) The violent death of Peter is foretold.

(c) Those that took long trips, especially in the east and in those places where the people used long garments, needed to be girded and fastened up.

(d) He meant that kind of girding which is used with captives, when they are bound fast with cords and chains, as one would say, "Now you gird yourself as you think best, to go where you want to go, but the time will come when you will not gird yourself with a girdle, but another will bind you with chains, and carry you where you would not."

(e) Not that Peter suffered anything for the truth of God against his will, for we read that he came with joy and gladness when he returned from the council where he was whipped, but because this will comes not from the flesh, but from the gift of the Spirit who is given to us from above, therefore he shows that there should be a certain striving and conflict or repugnancy, which also is in us, in all our sufferings as touching the flesh.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 21:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/john-21.html. 1599-1645.

People's New Testament

When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself. Peter had denied his Master to save his own life. Now that he is reinstated in the old confidence and charged with the Master's work, he is told that he will be called on to die for it. He will be girded, not with a girdle, but with bonds, and he shall be led where he would not, unto death.

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.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 21:18". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-21.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Thou girdest thyself (εζωννυες σεαυτονezōnnues seauton). Imperfect active of customary action of ζωννυωzōnnuō old verb, in N.T. only here and Acts 12:8. So as to περιεπατειςperiepateis (walkedst) and ητελεςētheles (wouldest), two other imperfects of customary action.

When thou shalt be old (οταν γηρασηιςhotan gērasēis). Indefinite temporal clause with οτανhotan and the first aorist active subjunctive of γηρασκωgēraskō old verb to grow old, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 8:13, “whenever thou growest old.”

Copyright Statement
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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 21:18". "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

Young ( νεώτερος )

Literally, younger. Peter was apparently of middle age. See Matthew 8:14.

Thou girdedst thyself ( ἐζώννυες σεαυτὸν )

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

Walkedst ( περιεπάτεις )

Literally, walkedst about. Peculiarly appropriate to describe the free activity of vigorous manhood.

Stretch forth thy hands

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

Whither thou wouldest not

According to tradition Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome, and was crucified with his head downward.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 21:18". "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

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

When thou art old — He lived about thirty-six years after this: another shall gird thee - They were tied to the cross till the nails were driven in; and shall carry thee - With the cross: whither thou wouldest not - According to nature; to the place where the cross was set up.

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 21:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-21.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

Verily, verily1, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest2: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not3.

  1. Verily, verily. See .

  2. When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest. Peter had just shows this freedom by girding himself and plunging into the sea (John 21:7).

  3. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. Thus our Lord, by delicate but unmistakable suggestion, shows Peter that the freedom which he now enjoyed would be taken from him, and that he would lift his hands to permit others to bind him at they might lead him to martyrdom to which his flesh (though not his spirit) would go unwillingly.

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. 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 21:18". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-21.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Истинно, истинно говорю тебе. Христос, воодушевив Петра на управление овцами, вооружает его же для противления предстоящим трудностям. Он не только требует от него веру и прилежание, но и непобедимое мужество в опасностях и постоянство в несении креста. Наконец, Он велит ему быть готовым пойти, когда надо, на смерть. Хотя положение пастырей не одинаково, им всем отчасти подходит это увещевание. Господь щадит многих, воздерживаясь от пролития их крови. Он довольствуется лишь тем, что они живут в доброй вере и полностью посвящают себя Ему. Но поскольку сатана время от времени воздвигает новые козни, всем, принявшим служение пастырей, необходимо готовиться к смерти. Ведь они имеют дело не только с овцами, но и с волками. Что касается Петра, Христос хотел предупредить его о грядущей смерти. Дабы Петр усердно размыслил о том, что учение, служителем которого он был, следует подтверждать собственной кровью. Хотя Христос в этих словах, кажется, имел в виду не только его. Он украсил Петра титулом мученика также в глазах других, как бы говоря: Петр станет много более сильным воином, чем был ранее.

Когда ты был молод. Старость кажется предназначенной для покоя и отдыха. Посему старикам обычно дается отдых от общественных дел. Они обретают заслуги и почет. Итак, Петр мог надеяться, что обретет в этом возрасте спокойную жизнь. Напротив, Христос возвещает, что порядок природы для него извратится. Тот, кто, будучи молодым, жил по собственному уму, стариком будет управляться властью другого. Причем, властью насильственной. Кроме того, в лице Петра мы видим замечательный пример общей всем нам судьбы. Многие наслаждались жизнью, доколе не были призваны Христом. Но как только они стали христианами и были приняты в число учеников, или, по крайней мере, вскоре после этого, им пришлось пережить суровую брань, волнительную жизнь, великие опасности, и даже пойти на саму смерть. Это состояние тяжко, но им не следует тяготиться. Время от времени Господь облегчает крест, коим упражняет Своих слуг. Он немного потакает им, покуда они не возмужают полностью. Ему вполне известна их немощь, и Он не искушает их сверх сил. Так Он прощал Петру, покуда видел его немощным и слабым. Итак, научимся следующему: мы должны служить Ему до последнего вздоха, лишь бы Он давал нам силы. И здесь ясно видна неблагодарность многих. Ведь чем мягче с нами обходится Господь, тем больше привыкаем мы к постоянной изнеженности. Едва ли найдется один из ста, который не возропщет, если после длительного потакания с ним вдруг обойдутся суровее. Однако человечность Господа следует еще выше ценить потому, что Он щадит нас до времени. Так и Христос говорит (Мф.9:15), что, пока Он жил на земле, ученики Его радовались, словно присутствовали на свадьбе. Но затем им предстояли посты и плач.

Другой тебя препояшет. Многие думают, что здесь говорится о том, какой смертью умрет Петр, о том, что он будет повешен с простертыми руками. Однако я понимаю слово «препояшет» проще, как все внешние действия, коими человек обустраивает свою жизнь. «Препоясывался сам», то есть – одевался так, как хотел. Но затем свобода в обустройстве жизни будет у тебя отнята. Кроме того, лучше не знать, какой именно казни повергся Петр, чем верить в сомнительные басни.

Поведет, куда не захочешь. Смысл таков: Петр умрет не естественной смертью, но смертью насильственной. Однако кажется абсурдным, что Христос отрицает добровольность этой смерти. Ведь там, где нет стойкости, нет и славы мученичества. Например, в тех случаях, когда кого-то ведут на смерть насильно. Однако эти слова надо относить к брани между духом и плотью, которую ощущают в себе верующие. Никогда мы не слушаемся Бога столь охотно и решительно, чтобы мир и плоть не склоняли нас к чему-то противоположному. Отсюда жалоба Павла: не делаю то благо, которое хочу. Кроме того, следует отметить: всем по природе врожден страх смерти. Ведь природе противоречит желание быть уничтоженным. Посему даже Христос, будучи всем сердцем предан Богу, все-таки молил избавить Его от смерти. Добавь к этому, что Петру были страшны мучения, вызванные людской жестокостью. Посему нет ничего удивительного, если он так или иначе боялся смерти. Однако он ясно показал, сколь сильно послушен Богу, когда добровольно пошел на смерть, которой сам охотно избежал бы. Ведь он знал, что она угодна Богу. Но без душевных мук не проявилось бы его терпение.

Поучение это весьма полезно. Оно побуждает к молитвам и нас. Ведь нам никогда не победить страх смерти без особой божественной помощи. Посему нам остается лишь смиренно вверить себя Его правлению. Кроме того, это поможет укрепить наши души, дабы те не пали, если нам случится устрашиться трудностей. Те же, кто думает, будто мученики вовсе не боялись смерти, из собственного страха заимствуют повод для отчаяния. Однако немощь наша не должна удерживать нас от следования их примеру. Ведь и они также ее ощущали, и, лишь борясь с собой, смогли восторжествовать над врагами истины.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 21:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-21.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE RENEWAL OF ST. PETER

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

John 21:18

Peter, with all his advantages, fell; he denied his Master. He was forgiven, but he could not forget. Yet he learnt that the pain of that memory had its part to play in the purification, the renewing, the strengthening of his character.

It is a greater evidence of the power of Christianity that Peter should have died a martyr than that Saul, the fierce inquisitor, should have become the St. Paul of the great hymn to charity.

I. The one thing Peter wanted is told him.—At first reading this suggestion that he would die a martyr seems a harsh one, but it was probably the one thing which could have restored his self-respect, He is reassured of his capacity for heroism. For the fears of a good man are not allayed when he has saved his skin, nor is his inner sense of shame wiped out by repentance. Peter knew that he had been a coward, and the more keenly a man repents cowardice, the more terribly is it borne in upon him that he may do the same thing again. Peter had protested that he was ready to die, and having refused to die, he has done with protestations. ‘Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee,’ is all that he will say. Christ makes the protestation for him. He will be ready, Christ assures him, to die any death, and the last terror is lifted from the soul of the man who, tradition tells us, voluntarily increased the sufferings of his own crucifixion. No wonder that when our Lord called to him to follow he was ready to follow both to prison and to death.

II. This, indeed, is forgiveness and renewal.—He does not wish to know that he has been excused the penalty; he is willing, nay, desirous of paying that if he can atone; he has been thwarting the Divine purpose; can he do anything to counteract the past, and so feel that he is now at least in harmony with the Divine will? Yes, he has been a coward, but he may become a martyr. His Lord’s faith in him redeems him from despair, sets him again in self-respect upon his feet, and remains a continual inspiration from which he shall never again fall away.

—Rev. F. Ealand.

Illustration

‘“Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these? Feed My sheep.” Do we love Christ; then does our love drive us to feed sheep or tend lambs? Have we “girded ourselves” to some task in which our own profit is not concerned? have we committed ourselves to any cause, so as to give others a chance to carry us whither we would not? Let us not accept that miserable view of a layman, that he is a mere non-clergyman, a negative thing, a man unfettered by creeds and articles and definitions—that is but a poor idea of a layman. A layman is a member of the laos or people of Christ, and as such he is like his brethren of the clergy, both free and bound, free and yet the servant of Christ, in Whose service alone he can find true freedom.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE TWO GIRDINGS

Sometimes, and not unfrequently, this happens; the scheme on which the hearts of a few wise men are set seems to be gaining ground year by year, and then, who knows how, from beyond the world, as it seems, there comes over the people a wind of some new enthusiasm, and the ideals so sedulously pursued seem by comparison insignificant and the old watchwords cease to attract, and the reformers themselves are carried with more or less reluctance on wider ways not of their own choosing. So it was with St. Peter, and so it is still. How deep an echo must these words of our text find in the hearts of statesmen who have been anything more than opportunists!

The thoughts suggested for our consideration shall be these two simple but none the less important ones—

I. That under Divine Providence we have each a work to do for God, each a station and duties in the Divine society; some sheep to feed, some lambs to tend.

II. That the way in which we can best do this work, while it must task our own utmost capacity in wisdom and power, is yet (because it is under Divine power and wisdom) subject to changes beyond our calculation, which confound the wisdom of the wisest and lay the greatest power in the dust.

—Rev. Canon Beeching.

Illustration

‘The Divine Master is here bringing Himself into personal relations with His great and chief Apostle. It was not, as when He appeared to the ten in the upper chamber, when words of peace and of solemn commission were addressed to all—“Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” These words were spoken to St. Peter amongst the rest, and we are told, too, that there was a special and private interview vouchsafed to him alone: “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon.” And we cannot doubt that then words of reconciliation, words of pardon, words of peace were spoken to the Apostle who had betrayed his Lord. But now, in the eyes of the Divine Master, something more is needed. St. Peter had lost that lawful self-confidence that was necessary to the fulfilment of the apostolic office; he who in the strength of his character, he who in the warmth and sensitiveness of his moral nature had taken, naturally, the foremost place amongst his brother disciples, must needs have lost that position of eminence and of dignity, having thrice denied Him. And so does the Divine Master will to restore, and to reassure him, and so, on the shore of the lake, after the long night had been spent in fruitless endeavour in the fishermen’s craft, and when, in obedience to the Divine Master, the miraculous draught of fishes had taken place, He addresses Himself personally to St. Peter in the presence of the rest.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 21:18". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-21.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 18. Another shall gird thee] That is, cord thee, manacle and pinion thee, carry thee prisoner whither thou wouldst not. Peter would, and he would not, suffer. Every new man is two men, hath two contrary principles in him, flesh and spirit. The spirit is willing, the flesh weak and wayward. This made the martyrs many of them chide themselves, and crave prayers of others. Bishop Ridley said to the smith, as he was knocking in the staple, Good fellow, knock it in hard, for the flesh will have its course. So Rawlins White, martyr, going to the stake, and meeting with his wife and children, the sudden sight of them so pierced his heart, that the very tears trickled down his cheeks. But he soon after, as though he had misliked this infirmity of his flesh, began to be as it were angry with himself, insomuch that in striking his breast with his hand, he used these words, Ah flesh, stayest thou me so? wouldst thou fain prevail? well, I tell thee, do what thou canst, thou shalt not, by God’s grace, have the victory. So Latimer in a letter to Bishop Ridley, Pray for me, I say; pray for me, I say; for I am sometimes so fearful that I would creep into a mouse hole; sometimes God doth visit me again with his comforts; so he cometh and goeth, to teach me to feel and know my infirmity.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 21:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-21.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

In these words our Saviour forewarns Peter of his future sufferings, intimating, that he should prove more stout than in his former trial. When he was young and unexperienced, he enjoyed his liberty; but when he was grown older in years and stronger in grace, he should willingly stretch forth his hands, and quietly suffer himself to be bound to the cross; for Peter (say some) was not nailed, but tied and bound to the cross only, and so as a martyr or witness for the truth of Christ glorified God by his death.

Learn hence, 1. The ministers of Jesus Christ, when they undertake the charge of his flock, must prepare for suffering work, and their lot upon it: therefore is this prediction of Peter's suffering joined with the former injunction, Feed my sheep.

2. That human nature in Christ's ministers, as well as in any other men, reluctates sufferings, has an antipathy against a violent death: they shall carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

3. From the time of St. Peter's sufferings, when he is old; learn, that the timing of the saints' sufferings is in Christ's hands; he can, and when he pleaseth doth, screen them from suffering till old age; and when their work is almost done for God, they close their days with suffering for him: When thou art old, thou shalt stretch forth thine hands, and another shall gird thee.

Learn lastly, that the suffering of the saints in general, and of the ministers of Christ in particular, do redound much to the glory of God; which is a consideration that ought to reconcile them to the cross of Christ, and support them under it: This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 21:18". 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

18.] The end of his pastoral office is announced to him:—a proof of the πάντα οἶδας which he had just confessed;—a contrast to the denial of which he had just been reminded;—a proof to be hereafter given of the here recognized genuineness of that love which he had been professing. There is no implied question, as Lücke thinks:—the futures are prophetic.

ἀμὴν ἀμήν] John’s manner again.

ὅτε ἦς νεώτερος—[may be merely] in contrast to ὅταν δὲ γηρ. [Or] it perhaps includes his life up to the time prophesied of.

ἐζώνν. σ.,—as in John 21:7, he had girt his fisher’s coat to him: but not confined in its reference to that girding alone—‘thou girdedst thyself up for My work, and wentest hither and thither—but hereafter there shall be a service for thee “paullo constrictior”— ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χ. σου, but not as just now, in swimming; in a more painful manner, on the transverse beam of the cross; and another—the executioner—shall gird thee,—with the cords binding to the cross’—(“tunc Petrus ab altero vincitur, cum cruci adstringitur,” Tertull. Scorp. 15, vol. ii. p. 151). Such is the traditionary account of the death of Peter, Euseb. ii. 25; iii. 1, where see notes in Heinichen’s edn. Cf. also Prolegg. to 1 Pet. § ii. 9 ff.

οἴσει, viz. in the lifting up after the fastening to the cross—or perhaps, by a ὕστερον πρότερον, in making thee go the way to death, bearing thy cross.

ὅπου οὐ θέλ.] “Quis enim vult mori? Prorsus nemo: et ita nemo ut B. Petro diceretur, Alter te cinget, et feret quo tu non vis.” Aug(260) Serm. clxxiii. 2.

Prof. Bleek (Beiträge zur Evangelien-kritik, p. 235, note) suggests an interpretation of this prophecy which is surely contrary to John 21:19 :—that the former part, ὅτε ἦς ν.… applies to the life of Peter before his calling,—the latter ἐκτενεῖς … to his life in the service of the Lord, who is the ἄλλος—who was to strengthen him for his work ( ζώσει),—that he was to stretch out his hands in the sense of his own weakness, not merely in the feebleness of old age (in prayer?), and finally this ἄλλος, the Lord whom he served, would carry him whither he would not, i.e. to a death of martyrdom. But this says nothing of ποίῳ θανάτῳ, on which the stress evidently is, and which Bleek, while he recognizes, endeavours to get rid of by strangely supposing the idea to have arisen after the death of Peter.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 21:18". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-21.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

John 21:18. With the thrice-uttered βόσκε τὰ προβάτιά μου Peter is again installed in his vocation, and with solemn earnestness ( ἀμὴν, ἀμὴν, κ. τ. λ.) Jesus now immediately connects the prediction of what he will one day have to endure in this vocation. The prediction is clothed in a symbolic form. Comp. Acts 21:11.

ὅτε ἦς νεώτερος] than now. Peter, who had been already for a considerable time married (Matthew 8:14), was at that time of middle age. In the antithesis of past youth and coming old age ( γηράσῃς) the present condition certainly remains without being characterized; but this, in the vivid delineation of the prophetic picture, must not be pressed. Every expression of prophetic mould is otherwise subject to its “obliquity” (against De Wette). But the objection of the want of a simplicity worthy of Jesus (De Wette) is, considering the entire concrete and illustrative form of the prophecy, perfectly unjust. Note, moreover, that ὅτε ἦς νεώτεροςἤθελες is not designed with the rest for symbolical interpretation (refers perhaps to his self-willedness before his conversion, Euth. Zigabenus, Luthardt, or in the earlier time of youth, Lange; to the autonomic energy in his calling, Hengstenberg), but serves only as a plastic preparation for the prediction beginning with ὅταν δὲ γηράσῃς, as a further background, from which the predictive figure the more vividly stands out in relief.

ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χεῖρ. σου] Feebly stretching them out to the power of strangers, and therewith surrendering thyself to it. Then will another (undefined subject of the hostile power) gird thee, i.e. surround thee with fetters as with a girdle, bind thy body around with bonds, and convey thee away, whither thou wilt not, namely, to the place of execution (comp. Mark 15:22); for with ὅπου οὐ θέλεις: τῆς φύσεως λέγει τὸ συμπαθὲς καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς τὴν ἀνάγκην, καὶ ὅτι ἄκουσα ἀποῤῥήγνυται τοῦ σώματος ψυχή, Chrysostom. Note further, that as with the three clauses of the first half of the verse there is a complete correspondence formed by means of the three clauses of the second, namely (1) by ὅταν δὲ γηρ.; (2) by ἄλλος σε ζώσει; and (3) by οἴσει ὅπου οὐ θέλεις, the words ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χεῖράς σου form no independent point, but only serve for the illustration of the second, graphically describing the surrender into the power of the ἄλλος, who will perform the ζώσει (not the joy at being bound with fetters, Weitzel). All the less were the Fathers, and most of the later expositors (including Tholuck, Maier, De Wette, Brückner, Hilgenfeld, Hengstenberg, Baeumlein), justified in making ἐκτεν. τ. χεῖρ. σ. precisely the characteristic point of the prediction, and in interpreting it of the stretching out on the transverse beam of the cross, in which case we must then, if ἄλλος σε ζώσει is not, as designating passivity, to be volatilized into a general expression (Hengstenberg), refer the ζώσει to the binding to the cross before the nailing thereto (so already Tertullian, Scorp. 15), or again, to the girding round with the loin cloth (which, however, can by no means be historically proved by Ev. Nicod. 10, see Thilo, ad Cod. Apocr. I. p. 582 f.), as also Brückner and Ewald have done. It is decisive against the entire explanation, referring it to the crucifixion, that οἴσει ὅπου οὐ θέλεις would be quite incongruous not before but after the stretching out of the hands and girding,(286) and it must in that case be understood of the bearing to the cross by the executioner’s assistants (Ewald, comp. Bengel), according to which, however, in spite of this very special interpretation, the reference of the stretching out of the hands to the crucifixion must be again given up, and there would remain only the above doubtful binding on of the girdle round the loins as a specific mark of crucifixion. Others (so especially Gurlitt and Paulus) have found nothing more than the prediction of actual weakness of old age, and therewith made of the saying introduced in so weighty a manner something that says nothing. Olshausen refers to youth and old age in the spiritual life;(287) Peter, that is to say, will in his old age be in manifold ways hindered, persecuted, and compelled against his will to be active then and there, of which experiences his cross is the culminating point. In a similar manner Tholuck: the apostle is given to understand how he, who had been still governed in the earlier period of his life more by self-will, will come more and more under a higher power, and will submit himself at last even with resignation to the martyr-death destined by God. Comp. Lange, and even Bleek, p. 235 f., who by the ἄλλος actually understands Jesus; a mistaken view also in Mayerhoff, Petr. Schr. p. 87. All such spiritual allusions fall to the ground in virtue of John 21:19, as, moreover, ὅπου οὐ θέλεις also is not appropriate, the supposed representation of complete surrender, and instead of it probably ὅπου ἄρτι οὐ θέλεις must have been expected. Unsuitable also would be ὅταν γηράσῃς, since in truth that spiritual maturity of the apostle could not first be a subject of expectation in his old age. Beza is correct: “Christus in genere praedicat Petri mortem violentam fore.” Nonnus: ὀψὲ δὲ γηράσκων τανύσεις σέο χεῖρας ἀνάκγῃ· | καί σε περισφίγξουσιν ἀφειδέες ἀνέρες ἄλλοι, | εἴς τινα χῶρον ἄγοντες, ὃν οὐ σέο θυμὸς ἀνώγει. And beyond that point we cannot go without arbitrariness. Comp. also Luthardt and Godet.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 21:18". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/john-21.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 21:18. ἀμὴν, ἀμὴν, verily, verily) Even after the Resurrection the Lord employed this most weighty formula.— νεώτερος, a comparatively young man) The comparative comprises the years of Peter, even as far as to the threshold of old age.— ἐζώννυες σεαυτὸν, thou didst gird thyself) as in John 21:7.— περιεπάτεις, and didst walk about) as in John 21:3, “I go a fishing.”— ὃπου ἤθελες, whither thou wouldest) So he had done in John 21:7.— γηράσῃς, thou shalt be old) Hereby it is indicated, that Peter would reach old age, 1 Peter 5:1, “I who am also an elder;” but not a great old age.— ἐκτενεῖς, thou shalt stretch forth) after the manner of those crucified, thine hands, so as that they may be made fast to the transverse beam of the cross.— σὲ ζώσει, shall gird thee) with a cord.— οἴσει, shall carry thee) to the stock of the cross, so as that thou mayest be fastened to it with thy whole body. They used to be bound to the cross, whilst the nails were fastened in. In antithesis to, thou didst walk about.— ὅπου, whither) namely, to the place where the cross is to be fastened into the ground. This passage must be so explained as not to apply to every kind of punishment [but to crucifixion only].— οὐ θέλεις, thou wouldest not) according to the prompting of nature [as contrasted with grace].

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 21:18". 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

Ver. 18,19. John 21:19 gives us the general scope of John 21:15, viz. that it was a prediction of that particular death by which Peter should die, which was (if we may believe what the ancients have generally reported, and we can have no other proof) by crucifying; in which kind of death the hands of the person crucified are stretched out and nailed to the cross. But which way he died we cannot certainly affirm. The evangelist assures us, that our Saviour spake these words with reference to that kind of death by which Peter as a martyr was to glorify God; nor is it any objection against his martyrdom, that our Saviour here saith, that he should be carried whither he would not; for he was not better than his Lord, whose spirit was willing, and flesh weak. Whether our Saviour by his command, Follow me, intended the imitation of him, his death, or the particular kind of his death, is uncertain; unless we will allow this text to be interpreted by John 13:36 2 Peter 1:14.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 21:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-21.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Girdedst thyself; he was at liberty to go and come at pleasure.

Stretch forth thy hands; in crucifixion.

Gird thee; bind thee for execution. The binding, though coming before crucifixion, is named after it.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 21:18". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-21.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18.Girdedst thyself—The young and athletic man, when about to perform some manly labor, would first tighten the girdle about his waist, so as to fasten his flowing apparel.

Whither thou wouldest—That same young man is able to be his own master, taking what path he pleases.

Stretch forth thy hands—In his second childhood, as in his first, he spreads out his helpless arms, that his girdle may be tightened by other hands round his waist. But this image suggests in the background the spreading of the arms of the apostolic martyr upon the cross; and this secondary, but really final and true meaning, is confirmed by the words that follow.

Another shall gird thee—The girding of the old man by the attendant friend, is still the symbol of the binding with cords by an executioner.

Carry thee—Shall lead thee.

Thou wouldest not—To thy death. The actual order of the transaction thus dimly hinted was to be, however, first, the binding, then the leading, and then the stretching forth of the hands on the cross.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 21:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-21.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 21:18. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast younger, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and bring thee whither thou wouldest not. Our readers may call to mind, before we proceed to the farther examination of this verse, that ‘girding’ was the preliminary to crucifixion. The words, verily, verily,’ with which the verse begins, mark, as always, the importance and solemnity of the declaration made, and thus prepare us to think that we have more in them than a simple announcement of the death which the apostle was to die. Again, the use of the word. ‘girded’—although not the compound of John 21:7, but the simple verb—reminds us so much of the action of this latter verse, where the metaphorical meaning is obviously prominent in the writer’s mind, as to lead here also to the thought of metaphor. Again, the use of the word ‘walkedst’ (comp. chaps, John 6:66, John 8:12, John 11:9-10, John 12:35), which in its literal signification is not well adapted to express the free activity of youth, suggests a figurative interpretation of the passage. Once more, the mention of the stretching out of the hands before the carrying away is spoken of, is fatal to a merely literal meaning; for such stretching out of the hands cannot be looked on as a necessary preliminary to girding, whereas it would be a natural action on the part of those who willingly submitted to their fate, and who were desirous to help rather than hinder officials in the discharge of their duty. We seem, therefore, compelled to adopt a metaphorical interpretation of the words. When we do so all difficulties disappear.

The allusion to the time when Peter girded himself and walked whither he would, becomes the expression of that self-will by which, before his present entire consecration to the service of Jesus, he had been marked. Now, however, his self-will shall be crucified; the old nature which sought only its own gratification shall be as completely powerless as is the body of one nailed to a cross; he will be so truly a partaker of the sufferings of Christ as to find in this fellowship with his dying Lord the very ground and beginning of his apostolic activity. Then he will ‘stretch out his hands,’ will assume the attitude of one who is giving himself up to another’s guidance, and will resign himself entirely to the disposal of that ‘other,’ to whose will his own has been subdued. Then, too, ‘another’ will gird him,—that is, will gird him in the sense in which the word has just been used, will equip him for his task. Finally, another will ‘bring (not carry)’ him whither he would not; will lead him in paths that he would not himself have chosen,—will guide him to fields of activity in which he shall joyfully submit himself to Him who immediately adds, ‘Follow Me.’ The question may be asked, Who then is the ‘other’ spoken of? The only answer seems to be that it is the ‘other’ of chap. John 5:32,—that is, God (comp. also chap. John 4:38).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 21:18". "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 21:18. To this command our Lord unexpectedly adds a reflection and warning emphasised by the usual . It had been with a touch of pity Jesus had seen the impulsive, self-willed Peter gird his coat round him and plunge into the sea. It suggested to Him the severe trials by which this love must be tested, and what it would bring him to: , “when thou wert younger” (the comparative used not in relation to the present, but to the following) “thou girdedst thyself and walkedst whither thou wouldest,” i.e., your own will was your law, and you felt power to carry it out. The “girding,” though suggested by the scene, John 21:7, symbolises all vigorous preparation for arduous work. . The interpretation of these words must be governed by the succeeding clause, which informs us that by them Jesus hinted at the nature of Peter’s death. But this does not prevent us from finding in them, primarily, an intimation of the helplessness of age, and its passiveness in the hands of others, in contrast to the self-regulating activity and confidence of youth. The language is dictated by the contrasted clause, and to find in each particular a detail of crucifixion, is to force a meaning into the words. is not the stretching out of the hands on the cross, but the helpless lifting up of the old man’s hands to let another gird him. . “Magnificus martyrii titulus.” Grotius. “Die conventionelle Sprache der Märtyrerkirche klingt an in . ; weil der Zeugentod zu Ehren Gottes erlitten wird.” Holtzmann. The expression has its root in John 12:23; John 12:28. . It is very tempting to refer this to John 13:36, , and probably there is a latent reference to this, but in the first instance it is a summons to Peter to accompany Jesus as He retires from the rest. This is clear from what follows.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 21:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-21.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands ... signifying by what death he should glorify God; that is, that a cross should be the instrument of his death and martyrdom. --- Whither thou wouldst not: which is no more than to say, that a violent death is against the natural inclination of any man, even though he be ever so willing, and disposed to undergo it. (Witham) --- By this is meant the martyrdom of St. Peter, which took place thirty-four years after this. He was first cast into prison, and then led out to punishment as Christ had foretold him. He stretched out his arms to be chained, and again he stretched them out, when he was crucified; for he died on the cross, as the ancients assure us. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 21:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Verily, verily. Twenty-fifth and last occurance of this double Amen (App-10). See on John 1:51 and p. 1511.

young. Greek. neoteros, younger. The positive neos applied to any one up to thirty. This and John 20:4 gave rise to the tradition that Peter was a middle-aged man. girdedst. Greek. zonnumi. Only here.

wouldest. Greek. thelo. App-102.

carry = lead. Greek. phero. Compare Mark 9:17. Luke 15:23. Acts 14:13.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 21:18". "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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 21:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-21.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

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

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 21:18". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/john-21.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) Verily, verily, I say unto thee.—This phrase is peculiar to St. John. (Comp. Note on John 1:51.) The remainder of the verse contains three pairs of sentences answering to each other:—

“Thou wast young,”. . . . “Thou shalt be old;”

“Thou girdedst thyself,”. . . . “Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee;”

“And walkedst whither thou wouldest,” . . . “And carry thee whither thou wouldest not.”

Thou wast young.—Literally, thou wast younger (than thou art now). Peter must have been at this time (comp. Matthew 8:14) in middle age.

Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee.—Do these words refer to the crucifixion of Peter? Tradition, from Tertullian downwards (Scorp. xv.; De Praescr. xxxv.), states that he was crucified, and, interpreting this prophecy by the event, asserts that they do. Tertullian himself so understood them, for he says, “Then is Peter girded by another when he is bound to the cross.”

But on the other hand, (1) the girding (with chains) would precede, not follow, the crucifixion; (2) it would be more natural to speak of another stretching forth his hands if the nailing them to the cross is intended; (3) the last clause, “carry thee whither thou wouldest not,” could not follow the stretching of the hands on the transverse beam of the cross.

It seems impossible therefore to adopt the traditional reference to crucifixion, and we must take the words, “stretch forth thy hands,” as expressing symbolically the personal surrender previous to being girded by another. To what exact form of death the context does not specify. We have thus in the second pair of sentences, as in the first and third, a complete parallelism, the stretching forth of the hands being a part of the girding by another, and the whole being in contrast to “Thou girdedst thyself.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 21:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
but
13:36; Acts 12:3,4
another
Acts 21:11
thou wouldest not
12:27,28; 2 Corinthians 5:4
Reciprocal: Jeremiah 43:6 - Jeremiah;  Ezekiel 3:25 - GeneralMatthew 5:18 - verily;  Matthew 22:13 - Bind;  Mark 14:18 - Verily;  John 1:51 - Verily;  Acts 3:1 - Peter;  2 Peter 1:14 - even

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 21:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-21.html.

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

Ver. 18. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee. When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not."

The delivery to Peter of his office is followed by a foreannouncement of the sufferings which he would have to endure in the discharge of it, and of the issue which was reserved for him: Luke 9:31; 2 Peter 1:15. The foreknowledge of this departure was part of Peter's preparation for his duty; it served also to still in him all lust of dominion, to extinguish in him all desire to "lord it over God's heritage," 1 Peter 5:3 : moreover, it drove him to seek from above all needful help for so perilous an office. (Grotius: "How difficult an office he received! The matter was one that involved the sacrifice of liberty and life.")— νεώτερος, younger, is the comparative: the point of comparison must be sought only in the γηράσῃς that follows, "became old." Accordingly the whole period is included from the present until old age, and the death of crucifixion to ensue. "Thou wast," ἦς, is to be explained on the ground that Jesus looks back over Peter's life from its end. If we overlook this, and refer the ἦς, not to the ideal, but to the actual past, the whole long and important space between the youth of Peter and his death fails to come into view. The expression would also be somewhat harsh, since it was in this very interval that Peter's girding himself was so momentous for the Church, while the girding of the actual past was not brought into consideration. "Thou girdedst thyself" stands in undeniable relation to the girding of himself in ver. 7. In that act the Lord beheld a symbol of the unrestrained energy with which Peter would strongly and independently execute his vocation. Men gird themselves when they go to labour or travel (Buchner: "We gird ourselves when we prepare and raise ourselves to undertake something difficult"): comp. "Let him gird himself and serve me," Luke 17:8; Exodus 12:11, 2 Kings 4:29; Acts 12:8, where the angel said to Peter, "Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals." In Proverbs 31:17, the girding the loins runs parallel with strengthening the hands.

The opposite of "Thou girdedst thyself, and wentest whither thou wouldest," is, "And another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldest not." The contrast must be simply the general one between independence or unrestrained energy, and dependence or passiveness. To substitute binding for girding is in itself inadmissible, as girding is never used in that sense; and it is further opposed by the antithesis. We then read "shall bring," not "shall lead:" in order to make the passiveness more emphatic, comp. the φέρειν in relation to Christ on His way of suffering, Mark 15:22. The "Other" is not expressly defined. The only point was to express the contrast of autonomy, or self-rule, and heteronomy, or the rule of others. The "not willing" refers to the sensitive flesh, shrinking even in those most advanced in the spiritual life: comp. Matthew 16:22-23.

We have not yet remarked on the ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χεῖράς σου. Were this not there, we should have only the general antithesis of activity and passiveness, self-rule and the rule of others. But "Thou shalt stretch forth thine hands," standing first, points to the special fact in which the heteronomy and the passiveness would be shown. We cannot doubt that his crucifixion is meant; for the Crucified is speaking to Peter, whose feelings had been ineffaceably impressed by the outstretched hands which he had so lately seen. Any other interpretation must tend to embarrassment; no other outstretching of the hands can be safely thought of. The stretching out of the hands is elsewhere noticed as a characteristic of crucifixion: compare the classical passages in Wetstein. Artemidorus mentions, as belonging to crucifixion, τὴν τῶν χειρῶν ἒκτασιν; and Plautus says, Dispessis manibus patibulum cum habebis. Finally, the "Follow Me" points to the cross, vers. 19, 22, compared with ch. John 13:36, where Jesus had said to Peter, "Thou shalt follow Me afterwards:" thus we have here the unfolding of the hint already given there. The Lord makes prominent this particular point in the crucifixion, because in it impotence and restriction were most clearly exhibited. The hands are the instruments of action; they being bound, all action ceases. Passiveness being the state generally indicated, this must also, in the crucifixion, be made prominent.

If "thou shalt stretch forth thine hands" refers to the crucifixion, we have a clue to the meaning of "another." The punishment of the cross was specifically Roman, ch. John 18:32. The Romans inflicted it on Christ; and His servants would have to endure it at their hands.

This utterance is referred to by Peter in his second Epistle, ch. John 1:14. We must not interpret that of any new revelation. Peter combines the event we now dwell upon with the circumstances of time. But still plainer is 1 Peter 5:1, where he, in prospect of martyrdom, terms himself the μάρτυς τῶν τοῦ χριστοῦ παθημάτων. Then had the fulfilment of this present prophecy already begun. The Epistle was written from Babylon—that is, Rome in its capacity as an enemy of the people of God—at a time when Satan already went about as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour, ch. John 5:8. Witness of the sufferings of Christ was the Apostle, inasmuch as he would represent those sufferings in a living image.

The crucifixion of Peter is attested to us by the most trustworthy testimonies; among others by Tertullian, who says, Petrus passioni Dominicae aequatur: compare also Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. ii. 25. Peter was, so far as we know, the only one among the Apostles who suffered the same death as our Lord.

The appearance to James, which Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15, forms the complement to that which here concerns Peter, and presently afterwards John. (Compare, for the chronological position of this appearance, my treatise on the Supposed Contradictions in the Narration of the Resurrection of Jesus and the Appearances of the Risen Lord.) This manifestation to James probably referred to the departure which he also had to expect.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 21:18". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-21.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18.Verily, verily, I tell thee. After having exhorted Peter to feed his sheep, Christ likewise arms him to maintain the warfare which was approaching. Thus he demands from him not only faithfulness and diligence, but invincible courage in the midst of dangers, and firmness in bearing the cross. In short, he bids him be prepared for enduring death whenever it shall be necessary. Now, though the condition of all pastors is not alike, still this admonition applies to all in some degree. The Lord spares many, and abstains from shedding their blood, satisfied with this alone, that they devote themselves to him sincerely and unreservedly as long as they live. But as Satan continually makes new and various attacks, all who undertake the office of feeding must be prepared for death; as they certainly have to do not only with sheep, but also with wolves. So far as relates to Peter, Christ intended to forewarn him of his death, that he might at all times ponder the thought, that the doctrine of which he was a minister must be at length ratified by his own blood. Yet it appears that in these words Christ did not speak with a view to Peter alone, but that he adorned him with the honourable title of Martyr in presence of the others; as if he had said, that Peter would be a very different kind of champion from what he had formerly shown himself to be.

When thou wast younger. Old age appears to be set apart for tranquillity and repose; and, accordingly, old men are usually discharged from public employments, and soldiers are discharged from service. Peter might, therefore, have promised to himself at that age a peaceful life. Christ declares, on the other hand, that the order of nature will be inverted, so that he who had lived at his ease when he was young will be governed by the will of another when he is old, and will even endure violent subjection.

In Peter we have a striking mirror of our ordinary condition. Many have an easy and agreeable life before Christ calls them; but as soon as they have made profession of his name, and have been received as his disciples, or, at least, some time afterwards, they are led to distressing struggles, to a troublesome life, to great dangers, and sometimes to death itself. This condition, though hard, must be patiently endured. Yet the Lord moderates the cross by which he is pleased to try his servants, so that he spares them a little while, until their strength has come to maturity; for he knows well their weakness, and beyond the measure of it he does not press them. Thus he forbore with Peter, so long as he saw him to be as yet tender and weak. Let us therefore learn to devote ourselves to him to the latest breath, provided that he supply us with strength.

In this respect, we behold in many persons base ingratitude; for the more gently the Lord deals with us, the more thoroughly do we habituate ourselves to softness and effeminacy. Thus we scarcely find one person in a hundred who does not murmur if, after having experienced long forbearance, he be treated with some measure of severity. But we ought rather to consider the goodness of God in sparing us for a time. Thus Christ says that, so long as he dwelt on earth, he conversed cheerfully with his disciples, as if he had been present at a marriage, but that fasting and tears afterwards awaited them, (235) (Matthew 9:15.)

Another will gird thee. Many think that this denotes the manner of death which Peter was to die, (236) meaning that he was hanged, with his arms stretched out; but I consider the word gird as simply denoting all the outward actions by which a man regulates himself and his whole life. Thou girdedst thyself; that is, “thou wast accustomed to wear such raiment as thou chosest, but this liberty of choosing thy dress will be taken from thee.” As to the manner in which Peter was put to death, it is better to remain ignorant of it than to place confidence in doubtful fables.

And will lead thee whither thou wouldst not. The meaning is, that Peter did not die a natural death, but by violence and by the sword. It may be thought strange that Christ should say that Peter’s death will not be voluntary; for, when one is hurried unwillingly to death, there is no firmness and none of the praise of martyrdom. But this must be understood as referring to the contest between the flesh and the Spirit, which believers feel within themselves; for we never obey God in a manner so free and unrestrained as not to be drawn, as it were, by ropes, in an opposite direction, by the world and the flesh. Hence that complaint of Paul,

“The good that I would I do not, but the evil that I would not, that I do,”
(
Romans 7:19.)

Besides, it ought to be observed, that the dread of death is naturally implanted in us, for to wish to be separated from the body is revolting to nature. Accordingly, Christ, though he was prepared to obey God with his whole heart, prays that he may be delivered from death. Moreover, Peter dreaded the cross on account of the cruelty of men; and, therefore, we need not wonder if, in some measure, he recoiled from death. But this showed the more clearly the obedience which he rendered to God, that he would willingly have avoided death on its own account, and yet he endured it voluntarily, because he knew that such was the will of God; for if there had not been a struggle of the mind, there would have been no need of patience.

This doctrine is highly useful to be known; for it urges us to prayer, because we would never be able, without extraordinary assistance from God, to conquer the fear of death; and, therefore, nothing remains for us but to present ourselves humbly to God, and to submit to his government. It serves also to sustain our minds, that they may not altogether faint, if it happen at any time that persecutions make us tremble. They who imagine that the martyrs were not moved by any fear make their own fear to yield them a ground of despair. But there is no reason why our weakness should deter us from following their example, since they experienced a fear similar to ours, so that they could not gain a triumph over the enemies of truth but by contending with themselves.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 21:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-21.html. 1840-57.