Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 21:2

Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Cana;   Fishermen;   Galilee;   James;   Jesus, the Christ;   John;   Nathanael;   Peter;   Thomas;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bartholomew;   Cana;   Nathanael;   Thomas;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Galilee;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bartholomew;   Cana;   Nathanael;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Bartholemew;   Fish;   Galilee;   Nathanael;   Palestine;   Peter;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Hospitality;   Miracle;   Resurrection;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bartholomew;   Didymus;   Fishing, the Art of;   Nathanael;   Peter;   Resurrection of Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bartholomew;   Cana;   Didymus;   Nathanael;   Philip the Apostle;   Thomas;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Cana;   John;   John, the Gospel of;   Martha;   Nathanael;   Presence of God;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Cana;   John, Gospel of;   Nathanael;   Peter;   Thomas;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Bartholomew ;   Cana ;   Didymus;   Draught of Fishes;   Fish, Fisher, Fishing;   James ;   James and John, the Sons of Zebedee;   John (the Apostle);   Luke, Gospel According to;   Nathanael ;   Numbers (2);   Surname;   Thomas;   Zebedee ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bartholomew ;   Cana of Galilee ;   Miracles;   Nathanael ;   Zebedee ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Bartholomew;   Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Nathanael;   Thomas;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ca'na;   Did'ymus;   John, Gospel of;   Nathan'ael;   Thom'as;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bartholomew;   Thomas;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Andrew;   Cana of Galilee;   James;   Nathanael (2);   Number;   Thomas;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bartholomew;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Christianity in Its Relation to Judaism;   New Testament;   Simon Cephas;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for October 19;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

There were together - Probably residing in the same place. While they were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit, they still found it proper to be usefully employed. Their Master had been taken away by death, and the promised Spirit had not descended on them. In the interval - before the promised Spirit was poured upon them - they chose not to be idle, and therefore returned to their former employment. It is to be remarked, also, that they had no other means of support. While with Jesus, they were commonly supplied by the kindness of the people; but now, when the Saviour had died, they were cut off from this means of support, and returned to the honest labor of their early lives. Moreover, they had been directed by the Saviour to repair to a mountain in Galilee, where he would meet them, Matthew 28:10. This was probably not far from Lake Galilee, so that, until he came to them, they would naturally be engaged in their old employment. Ministers of the gospel should be willing to labor, if necessary, for their own support, and should not esteem such labor dishonorable. God has made employment indispensable to man, and if the field of labor is not open in one way, they should seek it in another. If at any time the people withhold the supply of their needs, they should be able and willing to seek support in some other honest occupation.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 21:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-21.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

It is idle to speculate on the identity of the two not named or on the fact of exactly seven being present.

The sons of Zedebee ... were James and John, the author of this Gospel, their names being omitted because of the reticence this author had for naming himself. It is not surprising that they were in Galilee, for there the Lord had promised to meet them (Matthew 28:7,10).

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 21:2". "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

There were together,.... In one place, in one house, in some town, or city of Galilee, not far from the sea of Tiberias; nor, as very likely, far from the mountain where Christ had promised to meet them. Simon Peter, who though he had denied his Lord, dearly loved him, and truly believed in him, kept with the rest of his disciples, and was waiting for another interview with him:

and Thomas, called Didymus; who, though for a while an unbeliever with respect to the resurrection of Christ, was now fully assured of it, and, for the future, was unwilling to lose any opportunity of meeting with his risen Lord.

And Nathanael of Cana in Galilee; an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile. Dr. Lightfoot thinks he is the same with Bartholomew, and so one of the eleven. The Syriac version reads it, "Cotne", and the Persic, Catneh of Galilee; no doubt the same place is meant, where Jesus turned water into wine, of which Nathanael was an inhabitant:

and the sons of Zebedee; who were James, whom Herod killed with the sword, and John, the writer of this Gospel:

and two other of his disciples; who are thought to be Andrew and Philip; which is very likely, since they were both of Bethsaida, John 1:44 a city in Galilee, and not far from the sea of Tiberias. Andrew is particularly mentioned by Nonnus: so that here were seven of them in all; four of them, according to this account, being wanting; who must be James the less, the brother of our Lord, Judas called Lebbaeus, and surnamed Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite, or Zealot, and Matthew the publican.

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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 21:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-21.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Nathanael — (See on Matthew 10:3).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 21:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-21.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

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

[Simon Peter, and Thomas, &c.] Here are seven of the disciples mentioned, and but five of them named. Those two whose names are not recited probably were Philip and Andrew; as the four that were absent at the time were the sons of Alpheus, Matthew, Judas, Simeon, and James. Compare those that are mentioned, chapter 1; and you may reasonably suppose the person not named there, verses 37, 40, might be Thomas.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on John 21:2". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/john-21.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

There were together. Seven disciples are named, most of whom, if not all, belonged to that very neighborhood. Nathanael is named in John 1:45. The rest were apostles, and many suppose that Nathanael was also; the same as the one called "Bartholomew," which only means "the son of Tholmaius." Nathanael is thought to have been the son of Tholmaius.

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Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 21:2". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-21.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

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

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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 21:2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-21.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

There were together - At home, in one house.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 21:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-21.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

There was together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus1, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee2, and the [sons] of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

  1. Thomas called Didymus. See .

  2. Nathanael of Cana in Galilee. See .

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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.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 21:2". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-21.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 2. There were met together Simon, &c.] When good and godly men meet, when chaste and honest people assemble together, it is not to be called a faction, but a court rather, saith Tertullian. {a} Those are a faction, that conspire against good men. The society of such is like the slime and filth that is congealed where many toads and other vermin join together. God dwells in the assembly of saints; shall we, like stoics, confine ourselves, and not daily run into their company? He that comes when ointments and sweet spices are stirring, doth carry away some of the sweet savour, though he think not of it: so here. See Proverbs 13:10.

{a} Cum boni, cum probi coeunt, cum pii, cum casti congregantur, non est factio dicenda sed curia, et e contrario illis nomen factionis accommodandum. Tert. Apol. adver. Gent. 39.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 21:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-21.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 21:2. Nathanael of Cana There seems to be no doubt that this Nathanael is the person mentioned ch. John 1:45. It is uncertain who the other two disciples were: Dr. Lightfoot conjectures that they were Andrew and Philip; which is not improbable, as they were both inhabitants of Bethsaida, near the sea of Tiberias. See ch. John 1:44.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 21:2". 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, that after Christ was crucified, the disciples returned for a time to their trade and employment of fishing; though they were called to be fishers of men, yet churches not being gathered and constituted at present, nor being able to maintain them, they labour with their hands to supply their present necessities.

Afterwards, when at the feast of Pentecost they had received those visible gifts of the Holy Ghost, which did furnish them for preaching the gospel to all nations, and they went forth to plant and propagate the gospel, we may believe they then gave over the labour of their secular callings, and applied themselves wholly to the work of the ministry. That may be done (Ecclesia constituenda) in a church which is constituting, or about to be constituted.

Observe farther, how Peter, with the rest, toil all night, and catch nothing; but no sooner is Christ come among them, but they inclose a multitude of fishes.

Thereby teaching us, that all human labours and endeavours are in vain, unless Christ by his presence and blessing crown them with success.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on John 21:2". 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

2.] Nathanael is named by John only, see ch. John 1:46 ff.: Thomas also by John only, except in the catalogues of the Apostles.

The junction of ἀπό with a proper name is in John’s style: see ch. John 1:45; John 11:1; John 19:38.

οἱ τοῦ ζεβ. are no where else named by John;—they may however be here mentioned as in reminiscence of the draught of fishes which occurred before: see Luke 5:1 ff.

ἐκ τ. μαθ. αὐτοῦ δύο] The same words occur ch. John 1:35, with reference to John the Baptist. Who these were does not appear. Probably (as Luthardt) some two not named in the Gospel, and therefore not specified in its appendix.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 21:2". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-21.html. 1863-1878.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

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

If the Reader counts over the number here said to be together, he will find it to be seven. No doubt, all upon the lookout for the renewed visits of the Lord Jesus. And as those here spoken of, were now at the borders of the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias, see John 6:1 it is evident that they were come here from Jerusalem in obedience to Christ's commands, and as the Lord had promised, to see him. Matthew 28:10; Mat_28:16.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 21:2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/john-21.html. 1828.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 21:2. ὁμοῦ, together) in the one place, in the house, seven in all.— θωμᾶς, Thomas) who was now the less absent than formerly (ch. John 20:24), and was the more confirmed and to be confirmed.— ναθαναήλ, Nathanael) ch. John 1:46, note. His name here occurring in the midst of names of apostles, makes it likely he was the same as Bartholomew.— οἱ τοῦ ζεβεδαίου, the sons of Zebedee) John therefore wrote this book; for had any one else written it, he would have named John with his brother, immediately after Peter. Also he takes it for granted as a thing known from the other Evangelists, who were the sons of Zebedee, as well as who was Zebedee.— ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν, of the disciples) apostles or others.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 21:2". 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

All the disciples were either there in several places, or going thither, according to Christ’s direction before mentioned: but either these seven were there before the rest; or else they lodged together, or near one another; so as these only are here mentioned as being together at this time, and so witnesses of this miracle which followeth.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 21:2". 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

Симон Петр Во всех перечислениях апостолов он назван первым, указывая на его общее руководство группой (например, в Мф. 10:2).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 21:2". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-21.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Of his disciples; Matthew 4:21; Matthew 10:2-4.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 21:2". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-21.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2.The sons of Zebedee—Some have supposed that it was mainly to give his view of the Lord’s expression, in John 21:22, touching the Evangelist’s own destiny, that John added this chapter. But it is plain, to our own view, from the modest manner in which he here introduces himself, simply as one of the sons of Zebedee, that John had other and less personal reasons.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 21:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-21.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John evidently identified all the disciples who were present on this occasion, five of them by name or patronym and two others anonymously. Simon Peter was the disciples" leader even after his denial of Jesus. Thomas was obviously a believer ( John 20:28) perhaps suggesting that what follows has special importance for believing disciples. John mentioned Nathanael earlier ( John 1:45-51), but here alone he identified this disciple as from Cana in Galilee. Perhaps he did so to remind the reader of Jesus" early signs that happened in Cana ( John 2:1-11; John 4:46-54) since Jesus was about to perform another miracle. Zebedee"s sons were James and John, though John did not identify them this way before. Perhaps this was John"s way of hinting at his own presence as an eyewitness of what follows without drawing too much attention to himself. The two unnamed disciples brought the total to seven.

The exact number may be another detail designed to add credibility to the account, or John may have been hinting that a complete number of disciples was present. Seven was a number that symbolized completeness to the Jews (cf. Genesis 2:2-3; et al.). He may have been implying that the lesson that Jesus taught here was applicable to the full complement of disciples.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 21:2". "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 21:2. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cane of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. It is doubtful whether the seven persons here referred to are arranged, as is often supposed, in two groups, one consisting of three, and the other of four members. There may be significance in the mention of Thomas as now (after chap. 20) completely at one with his brother Apostles, and in the fact that Nathanael (comp. chap. John 1:51) is associated with the miracle.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 21:2". "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 21:2. , seven of the disciples had kept together, Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, further designated as , not to remind us of the miracles wrought there (Reynolds), nor “without any special design” (Meyer), but to emphasise the by showing that even though not belonging to the lake-side Nathanael remained with the rest. John indicates his own presence with his usual reserve, .

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 21:2". 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 21:2. There were together — Namely, in one house; Simon Peter, and Thomas, &c. — Doubtless they often met and conversed together about the great things which they had seen and heard during the three years in which they had attended on Christ as his disciples, and especially concerning the late events of which they had been eye-witnesses, namely, the death and resurrection of their Master. And Christ chose to manifest himself to them when they were assembled; not only to countenance Christian society, but that they might be joint witnesses of the same matters of fact, and so might corroborate one another’s testimony. Here were seven together, to attest what follows. One of these was Thomas, who is named next to Peter, as if he now kept closer to the meetings of the apostles than ever, in consequence of the rebuke and advice he had received from Christ. Another was Nathanael, whom we have not met with since we considered the first chapter of this gospel. Some, however, think he was the same with Bartholomew, one of the twelve. The two not named are supposed to be Philip of Bethsaida, and Andrew of Capernaum.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on John 21:2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/john-21.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

of = from. Greek. apo. App-104.

other. Greek allos. App-124.

of = out of. Greek. ek. App-104.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 21:2". "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

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

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

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

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 21:2". "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

2. Were all together. Seven are mentioned. Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew, and probably all are apostles. They cannot think their apostleship has terminated; so we understand that they are only waiting, until Jesus comes as he promised (Matthew 28:7).

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 21:2". "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

(2) The mistake having been made, the obvious correction after St. John’s death would have been simply to record that event. The correction of the text would place these words within his lifetime.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 21:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
Thomas
20:28
Nathanael
1:45-51
Cana
2:1,11; 4:46; Joshua 19:28
Kanah
the sons.
Matthew 4:21,22
Reciprocal: Matthew 10:2 - James;  Matthew 10:3 - Thomas;  Mark 3:17 - James;  Mark 3:18 - Thomas;  John 1:42 - A stone;  John 11:16 - Thomas;  John 20:24 - Thomas;  Acts 1:13 - Thomas

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 21:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-21.html.

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

Ver. 2. "There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples."

All the names mentioned here are introduced with a definite reason. In the case of Simon, his surname Peter hinted that reason. The first of the Apostles could not be wanting; and it is in keeping with this, that in the entire narrative he has the first place. Hence he necessarily opens the list. Why Thomas was associated with him, is shown by the clause "called Didymus:" comp. on ch. John 11:16. The key to the mention of Nathanael is furnished by the clause "of Cana in Galilee." That could not have been intended to make Nathanael more known; for in ch. 1 it was not said that Nathanael was born in Cana, although immediately after the narrative of the meeting between Christ and him we read of the marriage at Cana. Nathanael of Cana was important to the Evangelist, as a representative of the first miracle by which Jesus manifested forth His glory in Cana: comp. ch. John 2:11. Our present manifestation forms the counterpart of that first Galilean miracle. This end is kept in view by the additional clause, "of Galilee." If it had been intended only to note the origin of Nathanael, that would have been inadequate or needless. There was no Cana out of Galilee; and Cana had been three times mentioned as Cana of Galilee, ch. John 2:1; John 2:11, John 4:46. Considering how economical of repetitions the Evangelist is, we cannot regard this as merely a repeated statement of Nathanael's country. The clause was almost equivalent to an express reference to the earlier passages. Why the presence of John and his brother is expressly mentioned, is explained by their designation as "sons of Zebedee." Zebedee is never elsewhere mentioned in the Gospel of John. With the same appellation of sons of Zebedee (the indefinite expression, οἱ τοῦ ζεβεδαίου, is here designedly used in order to intimate that a more exact definition of their relation is found elsewhere), these two brothers appear in connection with the first fishing at the commencement of our Lord's ministry, the counterpart of which is the fishing in this chapter, deriving its interpretation from the earlier one, and having "I will make you fishers of men" in common with it: comp. Matthew 4:21-22; Mark 1:19-20; Luke 5:10. The two unnamed brethren must at any rate have been Apostles; for μαθηταί stands before and after, ver. 14, of the disciples in a narrower sense, the Apostles; and Apostles were especially concerned in this fishing, which symbolized their future apostolical work. The reasons which are discernible for the mention of the five names lead us to suppose that the silence preserved as to the names of the other two was not a disparaging silence. They were not named, only because there was no particular reason for it; and to have named them would have been to obscure the design in the naming of the five. For the rest, they are as good as named; and the Evangelist might reckon upon their being detected. When Peter went a fishing, his brother Andrew would needs accompany him: comp. Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:29; Luke 6:14; John 6:8. And where Andrew was, there we should expect Philip: comp. ch. John 1:45, John 12:22; Mark 3:18. The latter we might expect with all the more confidence, as he was connected also with Nathanael or Bartholomew by a very close bond: comp. John 1:46; Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14.

The high importance of this event is indicated in the artistic grouping of those concerned in it. The number seven is divided, as commonly in the Apocalypse, into three and four. At the head of the three stands Peter; Thomas, the divided, in the middle; on one side of him the man of rock, on the other Nathanael, the true Israelite without guile, ch. John 1:48. At the head of the four stand the sons of Zebedee, with Peter, the Apostles of the more intimate circle. The seven are moreover divided again: Peter at the head, then three pairs. The number seven is fixed; but that it was not a fortuitous number, is plain from the details of this grouping. Similarly exact is the grouping in Revelation 6:15. Other examples of the significance of number in the Gospel of John have been collected in my Commentary on the Apocalypse (vol. ii. Clark's Trans.).

The seven represented the collective apostolical circle (comp. ver. 14), with Paul included, so far as he was later received with full rights into this circle. They were a majority; only four of the Apostles were wanting; and the more intimate circle was complete. It is remarkable, that in the catalogue of the Apostles, Matthew 10:2-4, the seven here numbered as present take precedence of the absent ones.—"And two other of His disciples" may be compared with "and two of His disciples," ch. John 1:35.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 21:2". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-21.html.