Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 21:21

So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Curiosity;   Jesus Continued;   Peter;   Presumption;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John the apostle;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Jesus Christ;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Resurrection of Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - James;   John the Apostle;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Beloved Disciple;   John;   John, the Gospel of;   Lazarus;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John, Gospel of;   Peter;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Day of Judgment;   Discourse;   John (the Apostle);   Smith Bible Dictionary - John, Gospel of;  
Encyclopedias:
The Jewish Encyclopedia - New Testament;   Simon Cephas;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

What shall this man do? - This question probably means, “What death shall he die?” But it is impossible to ascertain certainly why Peter asked this question. John was a favorite disciple, and perhaps Peter suspected that he would have a happier lot, and not be put to death in this manner. Peter was grieved at the question of Jesus; he was probably deeply affected with the account of his own approaching sufferings; and, with perhaps a mixture of grief and envy, he asked what would be his lot. But it is possible, also, that it was from kindness to John - a deep solicitude about him, and a wish that he might not die in the same manner as one who had denied his Lord. Whatever the motive was, it was a curiosity which the Lord Jesus did not choose to gratify.

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

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

Peter's natural curiosity led to this question. The Lord had spoken of his becoming old, and of others girding him and stretching out his hands; and it is likely that Peter understood the dark implications of the Master's words. How naturally, therefore, that he should have wondered if a similar fate awaited John. However, the Lord never responded to questions of mere curiosity.

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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 21:21". "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

Peter seeing him, saith to Jesus,.... Peter took a great deal of notice of John, and very likely understood, that he meant by his rising up and following Christ, to signify his readiness for service and suffering in the cause of Christ: and therefore says,

Lord, and what shall this man do? The phrase in the original is very short and concise, "Lord, and this what?" The Arabic version renders it, "and this, of what mind is he?" it looks as if he was of the same mind with me to follow thee; but it is better rendered by us, "what shall this man do?" in what work and service shall he be employed, who seems as willing as I am to serve thee? or it may be rendered thus, "and what shall this man suffer?" shall he suffer at all? and if he shall, what kind of death shall he undergo? what will become of him? what will be his end? how will it fare with him? this he said, partly out of curiosity, and partly out of concern for him, they two being associates and intimates, who had a strong affection for each other.

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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 21:21". "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

Peter … saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? — What of this man? or, How shall it fare with him?

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
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 21:21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-21.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

And what shall this man do? (ουτος δε τιhoutos de ti). Literally, “But this one … what?” The abrupt ellipsis is intelligible.

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

And what shall this man do ( οὗτος δὲ τί ;)?

Literally, and this one what?

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 21:21". "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.

The Fourfold Gospel

Peter therefore seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do1?

  1. Lord, and what shall this man do? Peter and John were near friends (Acts 3:1), and understanding that the Lord had prophesied a violent death for himself, Peter was naturally interested in the fate of his dear companion.

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

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 21. And what shall this man do] When Peter considered that John was dearly beloved and yet not alike forewarned of suffering death, as himself was, he began to doubt whether Christ spake this of love to him or not. Nothing is more ordinary with us than to question God’s affection when we are in affliction; to conceive hard things of God and heavy things of ourselves, as if no children, because chastised. Whereas we should learn to look through the anger of God’s corrections, to the sweetness of his loving countenance, as by a rainbow we see the beautiful image of the sun’s light in the midst of a dark and waterish cloud. (See my "Love Tokens," Doct. 2, Use 1.)

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

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 21:21

It is the language of devout inquiry. A friend is inquiring into a friend's future. To this inquiry he sets no bounds but one, and this is implied rather than expressed. It is implied that the friend is to be a servant of Jesus Christ. Peter has just been shown, as in a mirror, the outline of his own future, and he puts the natural question touching a comrade, whom perhaps he feels to be greater than himself, "Lord, and what shall this man do?"

I. When you ask for your friend, "What shall this man do?" when your heart travels forth with him over the mountain-tops of fame, till you lose sight of him in the mist and the distance; when, in the fulness of a comrade's affection, you strive to help him with your prayers; then covet for him earnestly the better, the supernatural gifts. Pray that he may never lose his love for the poor and simple—never relax the fervency of his prayers—never dream, or, if he cannot wholly avoid the dream, at least never confound it with waking certainties—that either common sense, or moral philosophy, or metaphysics has spoken the last word on the mysteries of Calvary, or the power of the Resurrection.

II. "Lord, what shall this man do?" Take this thought with you till it becomes a rule, a standard, by which you gauge success. Apply it to others, apply it to yourselves. In choosing your life's career will you, even in your conceptions of good, be worldly? Will you weigh everything beforehand but God? Or will your vision of what a man, of what a friend, of what your own life shall do, include as a necessary ingredient the service of the Lord Jesus Christ? Will His mind be your mind, His causes your causes? We ask the question; the future hides the answer.

H. M. Butler, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, Jan. 22nd, 1880.

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

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 21:21. And what shall this man do? And what shall become of him?

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

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

21.] Peter’s question shews that he had rightly understood the Lord’s prophecy respecting him. He now wishes to know what should befall his friend and colleague,— ἀποδιδοὺς αὐτῷ τὴν ἀμοιβὴν (for his similar service in ch. John 13:23 just referred to) καὶ νομίσας αὐτὸν βούλεσθαι ἐρωτᾶν τὰ καθʼ αὑτόν, εἶτα μὴ θαῤῥεῖν, αὐτὸς ἀνεδέξατο τὴν ἐρώτησιν. Chrysost. (Stier vii. 198, edn. 2.) This was not mere idle curiosity, but that longing which we all feel for our friends; of which Bengel says,—“Facilius nos ipsos voluntati divinæ impendimus, quam curiositatem circa alios, æquales præsertim aut suppares, deponimus.” οὐκ ἀκολουθήσει σοι; οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἡμῖν ὁδὸν τοῦ θανάτου βαδιεῖται; Euthym(261)

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

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 21:21. λέγει, saith) He was supposing that he alone has been ordered now to follow the Saviour.— τί, what) We find it easier to devote ourselves to the Divine will, than to lay aside curiosity respecting others, especially our equals, or those nearly so.

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

Do is not in the Greek, nor possibly is so properly added: the sense is, What shall become of this man? What shall be his fate? What shall he suffer?

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

Lord, and what shall this man do? in what way shall he die?

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

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Peter therefore seeing him says to Jesus, “Lord and what shall this man do?” ’

Peter then asked Jesus about John’s future. What caused Peter to do this? The impression given is that he said it on the spur of the moment when his glance happened to fall on John. It may have been his way of ‘softening the blow’ of the preceding words by turning his mind to something else, (the thought could not have been pleasant). Or it may have been because he was impetuously enthused to know what sort of violent death other faithful followers would suffer, that they also may glorify God. But he was firmly told that that had nothing to do with him. What Jesus has told him was for his restoration in his own eyes and the eyes of his fellow-disciples, not just for the sake of knowing the future. That was best to be left in God’s hands.

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

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 21:21. Peter, however, seeks an explanation, ; “Lord, and this man, what of him?”

 

 

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

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Lord, what shall this man do? St. John Chrysostom thinks, it was the love and friendship, that St. Peter had for St. John, that moved him to ask this question. (Witham)

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

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

seeing. Greek. eidon. App-133.

what, &c.: literally " this one, what?

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

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.

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

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(21) Lord, and what shall this man do?—The motive prompting this question was probably that of loving interest in the future of his friend. It may well be that the two friends, in the sadness of the dark days through which they had passed, had talked together of what their Master’s predictions of the future meant, and had wondered what there was in store for themselves. They knew the world was to hate them as it had hated Him, and they never knew what its hatred for Him was. One of them had learnt that he was to follow his Lord in death as in life, and he now sees the other following them as they draw apart from the group, and would fain know the future of his friend as he knew his own.

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

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
Lord
Matthew 24:3,4; Luke 13:23,24; Acts 1:6,7
Reciprocal: Mark 13:4 - GeneralLuke 21:7 - when;  John 13:36 - whither;  John 16:23 - ask;  Acts 10:42 - he commanded;  1 Peter 5:12 - testifying

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

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

Ver. 21. "Peter, seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?"

What will this man receive or suffer? He who stands so near to Thee and me will not surely be separated in death from Thee, or from me: comp. 2 Samuel 1:23. The cautionary and repelling word of Christ throws light upon the question: the blame does not fall upon the curiosity, but upon unauthorized interference.

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