Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 21:22

Jesus *said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Curiosity;   Jesus Continued;   Peter;   Presumption;   Thompson Chain Reference - Discipleship;   Followers;   I Will's of Christ;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John the apostle;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Jesus Christ;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Care;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Resurrection of Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - James;   Tradition;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Beloved Disciple;   John;   John, the Gospel of;   Lazarus;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Peter;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Call, Calling;   Day of Judgment;   Discourse;   Example;   Guide;   John (the Apostle);   Parousia;   Prophet;   Smith Bible Dictionary - John, Gospel of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Christ, the Exaltation of;   Chronology of the New Testament;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - New Testament;   Simon Cephas;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If I will that he tarry till I come - There are several opinions concerning this: the following are the principal.

  1. Some have concluded from these words that John should never die. Many eminent men, ancients and moderns, have been and are of this opinion.
  • Others thought that our Lord intimated that John should live till Christ came to judge and destroy Jerusalem. On this opinion it is observed that Peter, who was the oldest of the apostles, died in the year 67, which, says Calmet, was six years before the destruction of Jerusalem; and that John survived the ruin of that city about thirty years, he being the only one of the twelve who was alive when the above desolation took place.
  • St. Augustin, Bede, and others, understood the passage thus: If I will that he remain till I come and take him away by a natural death, what is that to thee? follow thou me to thy crucifixion. On this it may be observed, that all antiquity agrees that John, if he did die, was the only disciple who was taken away by a natural death.
  • 4. Others imagine that our Lord was only now taking Peter aside to speak something to him in private, and that Peter, seeing John following, wished to know whether he should come along with them; and that our Lord's answer stated that John should remain in that place till Christ and Peter returned to him; and to this meaning of the passage many eminent critics incline. For neatly eighteen hundred years, the greatest men in the world have been puzzled with this passage. It mould appear intolerable in me to attempt to decide, where so many eminent doctors have disagreed, and do still disagree. I rather lean to the fourth opinion. See the conclusion of the Preface to this Gospel.

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    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 21:22". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-21.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    That he tarry - That he live. The same word is used to express life in Philemon 1:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:6.

    Till I come - Some have supposed this to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem; others to the day of judgment; others to signify that he would not die a violent death; but the plain meaning is, “If I will that he should not die at all, it is nothing to thee.” In this way the apostles evidently understood it, and hence raised a report that he would not die. It is remarkable that John was the last of the apostles; that he lived to nearly the close of the first century, and then died a peaceful death at Ephesus, being the only one, as is supposed, of the apostles who did not suffer martyrdom. The testimony of antiquity is clear on this point; and though there have been many idle conjectures about this passage and about the fate of John, yet no fact of history is better attested than that John died and was buried at Ephesus.

    What is that to thee? - From this passage we learn:

    1.that our main business is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

    2.that there are many subjects of religion on which a vain and impertinent curiosity is exercised. All such curiosity Jesus here reproves.

    3.that Jesus will take care of all his true disciples, and that we should not be unduly solicitous about them.

    4.that we should go forward to whatever he calls us to persecution or death - not envying the lot of any other man, and anxious only to do the will of God.

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    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-21.html. 1870.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

    Jesus' reply seemed to some brethren to be an implication that John would survive until the second coming of the Lord.

    Follow me ... In this repetition of the command, Peter probably understood that the Lord meant the imperative spiritually.

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    Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
    Bibliographical Information
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 21:22". "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

    Jesus saith unto him,.... Christ vouchsafes an answer to Peter, but not a very clear one, nor such an one as he wished for, and not without a rebuke to him:

    if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? meaning, that if it was his pleasure that he should live, not till his second coming to judge the quick and dead at the last day, but till he should come in his power and take vengeance on the Jewish nation, in the destruction of their city and temple by the Romans, and in dispersing them through the nations of the world; till which time John did live, and many years after; and was the only one of the disciples that lived till that time, and who did not die a violent death; what was that to Peter? it was no concern of his. The question was too curious, improper, and impertinent; it became him to attend only to what concerned himself, and he was bid to do:

    follow thou me; whence it may be observed, that it becomes the saints to mind their duty in following Christ, and not concern themselves in things that do not belong to them. Christ is to be followed by his people as their leader and commander; as the shepherd of the flock; as a guide in the way, and the forerunner that is gone before; as the light of the world; as the pattern and example of the saints, and as their Lord and master; and that in the exercise of every grace, as humility and meekness, love, zeal, patience, and resignation to the will of God; and also in the discharge of duty, both with respect to moral life and conversation, and instituted worship, as attendance on public service, and submission to ordinances; and likewise in enduring sufferings patiently and cheerfully for his sake. Saints are under obligation to follow Christ; it is their interest so to do; it is honourable, safe, comfortable, and pleasant, and ends in happiness here and hereafter.

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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 21:22". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-21.html. 1999.

    People's New Testament

    If I will that he tarry till I come. This is spoken of John, and the words have caused much discussion. They surely convey the idea that John would remain on the earth, after the other apostles depart, until the Lord came once more. He did linger long after all the other apostles were gone. It is the testimony of church history that he did not die until about the close of the first century, many years after the other apostles were at rest. He {tarried;} did the Lord come to him? At least sixty years after the Lord spoke these words John was an exile on the isle of Patmos. There on the Lord's day he writes: "I heard a great voice," and "I saw one like the Son of man," blazing in such glory that, filled with awe, he "fell at his feet as dead." Then follow these words of the Savior, the seven letters, and the visions of Revelation. Here was a visible coming and John tarried until that coming. He alone of the Twelve saw the Lord, after his ascension, once more on the earth.

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    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
    Bibliographical Information
    Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 21:22". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-21.html. 1891.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    If I will (εαν τελωean thelō). Condition of the third class with εανean and the present active subjunctive of τελωthelō

    Till I come (εως ερχομαιheōs erchomai). Literally, “while I am coming” (εωςheōs and the present indicative, not εως ελτωheōs elthō (second aorist active subjunctive).

    What is that to thee?
    (τι προς σεti pros se). A sharp rebuke to Peter‘s keen curiosity.

    Follow thou me
    (συ μοι ακολουτειsu moi akolouthei). “Do thou me keep on following.” That lesson Peter needed.

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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 21:22". "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

    Till I come ( ἕως ἔρχομαι )

    Rather, while I am coming. Compare John 9:4; John 12:35, John 12:36; 1 Timothy 4:13.

    What is that to thee ( τί πρός σε ;)?

    Literally, what as concerns thee?

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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 21:22". "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

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

    If I will that he tarry — Without dying, till I come - To judgment. Certainly he did tarry, till Christ came to destroy Jerusalem. And who can tell, when or how he died? What is that to thee? - Who art to follow me long before.

    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 21:22". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-21.html. 1765.

    The Fourfold Gospel

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

    1. If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee? follow thou me. It was none of Peter's business whether John's earthly lot was easier or harder than his own; his business was to be faithful in the pathway whither the Lord led him.

    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 21:22". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-21.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    Если Я хочу, чтобы он пребыл. То, что это предложение было разорвано, и первую Его часть читали в утвердительном смысле: Я хочу, чтобы он пребыл, – относится к невежеству ученых, а не к ошибке переводчика. В греческом тексте ошибиться невозможно, но у латинян легко может влезть одна буква, изменяющая смысл сказанного. Итак, вся эта речь вопросительна и должна читаться в одном контексте. Христос хотел одернуть ученика, удерживая его в рамках собственного призвания. Тебе нет дела, – говорит Христос, – и тебе не следует выведывать, что произойдет с твоим товарищем. Оставь это на Мое усмотрение. Думай только о себе и следуй тому, к чему ты призван. Не то, чтобы забота о братьях была излишней. Она должна иметь некие рамки, чтобы быть заботой, а не мешающим любопытством. Пусть каждый следит за своими ближними, чтобы, если возможно, привлечь их ко Христу. Но не для того, чтобы претыкаться о создаваемые ими помехи.

     

     

     

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-21.html. 1840-57.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

    Ver. 22. If I will that he tarry] Si eum volo manere. This the Vulgate corruptly reads, Sic eum volo manere. Ambrose, Austin, Bede, Lyra, Rupert, &c., retain this reading. Trapezuntius defends it, Bessarion opposeth it, the Greek text refutes it. Yet is the Vulgate translation so extolled and idolized by the Papists, that if the originals differ from it anywhere, they must be corrected by it, and not it by the originals. Sed Hebraei bibunt fontes, Graeci rivos, Latini paludes, saith Reuchlin.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 21:22". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-21.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    John 21:22

    I. It is not to be supposed for a moment that our Lord meant in these words to pronounce any distinct intention concerning John. The very force of the sentence lies in its indistinctness. One of two meanings, however, He must have had: either that He might, if He chose, prolong St. John's life to the Second Advent; or that St. John should, as indeed he did, survive that event which, because it was both such a manifestation of Christ's power, and such an earnest and type of His last Advent, was often called Christ's coming—the taking of Jerusalem and the setting up of the Christian Church. But, under either aspect, the Lord's reproof will alike apply to those, whoever they be, who are drawn into speculative views of unfulfilled prophecy. The thought of our Lord's coming must always be the real horizon in every believer's prospect. Is it not the bright, the redeeming point, in all the future, for the sake of which we may begin to lift up our heads, "because we know that our redemption draweth nigh?"

    II. On former occasions, when our Lord had said, "Follow Me," He had always prefixed the words, "Take up thy cross." It did not need it now. For Christ had taken up His cross before all men, and no one could think of following Him without taking up a cross. Indeed, the whole command was one that suited well to the time when it was spoken—when Jesus was just about to leave the earth. He could point back from where He stood to that whole life, and say of every step, what no one else could ever say of every step of any life—"Follow Me." We hear His words, like the last accent of a dying saint. We hear them, like the challenge of a departed conqueror. "Follow thou Me." Begin, begin at once. Lay some foundation deep. Live more in communion with God. Cast blessings as you go. Live dyingly, that you may die livingly. Keep the valley, that you may ascend the height. "Follow thou Me."

    J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 5th series, p. 182.


    I. What is to be understood by following Christ? In this is manifestly summed up the whole character of a Christian; and perhaps it would be impossible to find any language so well fitted to convey a clear and practical impression of what a Christian ought to be as these words do. The follower of Christ must (1) be of one spirit with his Master; (2) he must make Christ's work his work; (3) he must habitually endeavour to imitate Him or to be like Him; (4) he must separate himself from the sinful pursuits of the world; (5) he must bear the cross.

    II. What is the frame of spirit in which Christ is to be followed? (1) He must be followed with the most implicit faith; (2) with the most submissive humility.

    A. D. Davidson, Lectures and Sermons, p. 41.


    Misplaced Anxiety

    Look—

    I. At the mysteries which lie outside of revelation altogether. We cannot unravel the perplexities of Providence, but we can see the way of life, which Christ has made so plain that no one can mistake it. Shall we, then, turn away from the pressing duty of the present state, and the open gate which Jesus has set before us, and give up our energies to such futile guests as Solomon has described in the Book of Ecclesiastes? Do not brood over mysteries. Follow rather in the footsteps of Him who came to earth, not to make all perplexities plain, but to mitigate the miseries, and soothe the sorrows, and remove the sin of men.

    II. The mysteries which spring out of revelation. Mystery is inseparable from a revelation given by a higher to a lower intelligence. It is not required of us to understand the infinite. Only God can comprehend God. What we are commanded to do is to follow Christ. That is within our power; that is on the plane of our daily finite existence. That, therefore, we ought to do at once, and with all our hearts. Leave off questioning about these matters which are too high for you, these things which God has kept in His own power. They are of no practical importance to you. Follow Christ, and very soon to you also will come that repose of spirit which lies upon the height of faith.

    III. The contingencies of the future. We are all prone to pry into the years that are to come, and many are the misplaced anxieties we cherish regarding them. Sometimes we are solicitous about ourselves. We cannot see what is to become of us amid the losses and crosses that have come upon us. And if we have no such cause for apprehension, we torment ourselves about others; or we fear for the future of the Church or of the nation. Now, to all these misgivings about the future, we have but one answer, and that is furnished by the principle of my text. The future is not ours; the present is. We are responsible for the present, and not for the future, except only as it shall be affected by the present. Nay, we shall best serve the future, and secure it from those evils which we fear, by doing with our might the work of the present, and leaving the issue with our God. Your individual duty is to follow Christ in every matter that comes before you, and let no carking care for what is merely problematical unfit you for going whole-heartedly into that which is clearly the work of the hour.

    W. M. Taylor, Limitations of Life, p. 63.


    References: John 21:22.—Contemporary Pulpit, vol. x., p. 365; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 271; J. Vaughan, Three Hundred Outlines from the New Testament, p. 105; Ibid., Sermons, 1869, p. 220; Tyng, American Pulpit of the Day, vol. i., p. 448. John 21:25.—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 241; G. Dawson, The Authentic Gospel, p. 1.

    John 21

    We Learn from this Chapter—

    I. The wide range of the pastoral office. Whenever the minister is exclusively a fisherman and neglects the labour of the shepherd, he is only doing half his work. He is like a man in a boat who seeks to propel it with one oar, and who succeeds only in making it spin round in a ceaseless circle. He will make no progress, and his people will lack intelligence.

    II. The true motive for Christian work, "Lovest thou Me?" The most potent principle in the Christian heart is love to Christ.

    III. Difficulties about those things with which we have nothing to do ought not to keep us from performing the plain duty of following Christ. The practical, which lies before us, and for the accomplishment of which we shall be held responsible—that is for us the important thing.

    W. M. Taylor, Peter the Apostle, p. 153.


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    Bibliographical Information
    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-21.html.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    22.] The words τί πρὸς σέ; imply a rebuke;—not perhaps however so sharp a one as has been sometimes seen in them. They remind Peter of the distinctness of each man’s position and duty before the Lord; and the σύ μοι ἀκ., which follows, directs his view along that course of duty and suffering, which was appointed for him by his Divine Master. Notice the emphatic expression of σύ, and the emphatic position of μοι: q. d. ‘His appointed lot is no element in thy onward course: it is ME that thou must follow.’

    On the ἐὰν θέλω …, three opinions have been held (for that which refers the words to John’s remaining where he then was, on the shore, till the Lord returned from His colloquy with Peter, is not worth more than cursory mention): (1) that of Aug(262), Maldon., Grot., Lampe, Olsh., &c. (it being allowed on all hands, that μένειν means to remain in this life: see reff. and ch. John 12:34), “If I will that he remain till I fetch him,” i.e. by a natural death. But this is frigid, and besides inapplicable here. Peter’s death, although by the hands of an ἄλλος, was just as much the Lord’s ‘coming for him,’ as John’s, and there would thus be no contrast. (2) That that ‘coming of the Lord’ is meant which is so often in the three Gospels alluded to (see especially notes on Matthew 24.), viz. the establishment in full of the dispensation of the Kingdom by the destruction of the nation and temple of the Jews. This is the view of some mentioned by Theophyl., of Bengel (see below), Stier, Dräseke, Jacobi, &c.—and is upheld by the similar place, Matthew 16:28. (3) That the Lord here only puts a case,—“Even should I will that he remain upon earth till My last coming—what would that be to thee?” This view is upheld by Trench, Miracles, p. 466, edn. 2; but I think must be rejected on maturer consideration of the character of the words of our Lord, in whose mouth such a mere hypothetical saying would be strangely incongruous, especially in these last solemn days of his presence on earth.

    The second view seems then to remain, and I adopt it with some qualification.

    At the destruction of Jerusalem began that mighty series of events of which the Apocalypse is the prophetic record, and which is in the complex known as the ‘COMING OF THE LORD,’ ending, as it shall, with His glorious and personal Advent. This the beloved Apostle alone lived to see, according to ancient and undoubted tradition (Euseb. H. E. iii. 23). When De Wette (whom Lücke in the main follows: see also Mr. Elliott, Apocal. Alf. p. 160) calls this interpretation ganz nichtig, and would interpret this answer by the current idea in apostolic times, that His coming was very near, he is assuming (1) that this was the idea of the Apostles themselves (see 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3; 2 Peter 3:3-4; 2 Peter 3:8-9); (2) that this answer is not that of our Lord, but apocryphal. If all that he says about the early expectations of the Church were granted, it would not follow that the view above taken is erroneous. And as to the chapter having been written after the death of John and the destruction of Jerusalem, see below.

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 21:22". 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 21:22. Jesus gives, in virtue of His personal sovereignty over the life and death of His own (comp. Romans 14:9), to the unwarranted question, put by Peter, too, not merely out of curiosity, but even from a certain jealousy (Chrysostom, Erasmus, Wetstein, and several others import: out of particular love to John),(289) the answer: that it does not at all concern him, if He have possibly allotted to John a more distant and happier goal, and leads him, who had again so soon turned away his gaze from himself, immediately back to the task of ἀκολούθει ΄οι imposed upon him, John 21:19.

    ΄ένειν] Opposite of the ἀκολουθεῖν, to be fulfilled by the death of martyrdom; hence: be preserved in life. Comp. John 12:34; Philippians 1:25; 1 Corinthians 15:6; Kypke, I. p. 415 f. Olshausen (and so substantially even Ewald) arbitrarily adds, after Augustine, the sense: “to tarry in quiet and peaceful life.”(290)

    ἕως ἔρχομαι] By this Jesus means, as the solemn and absolute ἔρχο΄αι itself renders undoubted, His final historical Parousia, which He, according to the apprehension of all evangelists and apostles, has promised will take place even before the passing away of the generation (see note 3 after Matthew 24), not the destruction of Jerusalem, which, moreover, John far outlived ( τινὲς in Theophylact, Wetstein, Lange, and several others, including Luthardt, who sees in this destruction the beginning of the Parousia, in opposition to the view of the N. T. generally, and to John 21:23); not the world historical conflict between Christ and Rome, which began under Domitian (Hengstenberg); not the carrying away by a gentle death (Olshausen, Lange, Ewald, after the older expositors, as Ruperti, Clarius, Zeger, Grotius, and several others); not the leading out from Galilee (where John in the meanwhile was to remain) to the scene of Apostolic activity (Theophylact); not the apocalyptic coming in the visions of John’s revelation (Ebrard); not the coming at any place, where John was to wait (Paulus)! See rather John 14:3; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:2. On ἕως ἔρχομαι (as 1 Timothy 4:13), as long as until I come, see Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 199 [E. T. p. 231]. In σύ μοι ἀκολ., σύ bears the emphasis, in opposition to the other disciples.

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 21:22". 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 21:22. λέγει, saith) The Divine counsels respecting believers are more concealed than respecting the ungodly. Comp. John 21:20, as to the traitor.— ἐὰν, if) Never did the Lord give an unmixed repulse to His friends, however unseasonable their question might be. For which reason, not even in this instance does He repress Peter with unmixed sternness, but intimates, under the exterior repulse, something of kindness: even as also the αὐτὸν, he or him, which is relative, is more gentle than if He had used τοῦτον, this person, which is demonstrative, in His reply to him. Therefore there is an ambiguity both weighty, and at the same time pleasing, in effect: For the conditional if does not affirm, if Jesus’ words are to be taken of the full completion of His second advent: His words hold good, even absolutely, if they are taken of the first beginnings of His advent. And, indeed, the brethren felt that the if was not altogether, in its rigid strictness, employed by the Lord: although they ought not to have set it aside wholly: John 21:23.— αὐτὸν, that He) So indicative of what was about to happen to Him is given to John, who was less forward to ask the question (for even on the former occasion he had not asked until he was prompted [by Peter] to do so [ch. John 13:24], John 21:20), but who, notwithstanding, wished to ask it. More is revealed to those who are less disposed to pry curiously.— θέλω, I will) Implying the power of Jesus as to the life or death of His people: Romans 14:9, “To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.— μένειν, remain, tarry) ‘remain’ on earth. 1 Corinthians 15:6, “The greater part remain unto this present.” On the contrary, the dead are termed ἀπελθόντες, those who have departed. Augustine interprets it expectare, “to await:” expectation or awaiting no doubt follows as the consequence of remaining: but the notion of remaining continues without sacrifice of truth.— ἕως ἔρχομαι, until I come) i.e. until I shall in very deed be coming in glory, and so John will be able to testify of Me in this Present, Behold He cometh [Revelation 1:7]. The time of the Lord’s coming succeeds immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem: Matthew 23:39; Matthew 24:29, note: which advent John obtained the privilege of describing in the Apocalypse. The principal apostles of the twelve were the two, Peter and John: the former, laid the foundation; the latter, the crowning topstone: if a third is to be added, it is James, the first martyr of them, who, moreover, was present also at this feast, rather than at the conversation. The cross was promised in this place, to Peter; to John was promised in an enigmatical manner, that great Apocalypse. And as it were the middle point between this discourse of the Lord and the death of John, was the martyrdom of Peter: the years 30, 67, and 98 of the received era, claiming to themselves respectively these three important events. It is only in this point of view that the antithesis is more fully to be perceived: Peter by death follows Jesus in His departure out of the world: John 21:19, note: but John remains in the world, until He, the same, comes. In truth, the ministry of John, in writing and sending the Apocalypse, is equal [in point of patient suffering] to the cross endured by Peter, by reason of the very severe ordeal of trials to be endured by the former in the meanwhile: Revelation 1:17; Revelation 10:9-10. Nor was the writing of the Apocalypse less profitable to the Church, than Peter’s martyrdom. John, according to the prophecy, was about to remain in life, after having outlived all dangers, until the fit time should arrive, when, almost all his colleagues being long ago dead, the Jewish state overthrown, and the Christian Church established, he was to be the minister of the Apocalypse, the beginning and ending of which is that constantly recurring and solemn expression, He cometh, I come, Come, ch. Revelation 1:7, Revelation 22:20, etc. For it was becoming that the Apocalypse should not be published sooner, and yet that it should be published by an apostle. Wherefore the promise which was formerly given to John, in conjunction with others, Matthew 16:28, (where see the note on the different succession steps of the coming), is now in this passage confined to John alone, in a remarkable, preeminent, and unprecedented manner. Often a thing is said then to come to pass, when it is vividly presented before us as about to be: see note on Acts 13:33. [God said this at the time that the Psalm was composed, speaking of it as a thing then present, because it was then represented as about to be]: for which reason the Lord is said to come in that most vivid, prophetical, and apocalyptical representation. And not only in vision, but in the eyes and feeling of John, and thenceforward after that most solemn denunciation, and most especially at the actual time of John’s death, and subsequently, He is in actual fact rather coming, than about to come. For whilst John remained, the fulfilment began to come to pass, the trumpet having been given even to the seventh angel himself, Revelation 11:15, note. And just as all the forty days after the Resurrection were days of Ascension (John 20:17, note), so at a very brief interval after the Ascension is the time of the Coming to judgment, inasmuch as no other step interposed between, Acts 1:11 [wherein the second coming is joined immediately with the Ascension]: For the sitting at God’s right hand does not differ from the Ascension, except in so far as the actual state differs from the act. Therefore Christ expects, and is ready, Hebrews 10:13; 1 Peter 4:5. In the mention of His coming, all the events on this side of it which the Apocalypse contains, are included. There is one last hour, upon which also the coming of Antichrist falls, 1 John 2:18. Immediately after the Apocalypse, John departed and died (Comp. Luke 2:26; Luke 2:29, Simeon), after great afflictions, by a natural death; as Daniel did, ch. John 12:13; with whom John had much in common. In fine, that sentiment, until John shall write the Apocalypse, could be put forward in these words with as much truth and literal strictness as characterized John at the time when, in writing the Apocalypse, he wrote that the Lord comes. Thus both the forerunners and messengers of the coming of the Lord, His first and His second, were of the one name, John the Baptist and John the Apostle. The history of the Old Testament is arranged by the lives of the patriarchs and kings, and by the weeks of Daniel: whilst the Apocalypse has predicted the periods of the New Testament history, which was about to follow after. The whole of the golden chain is completed in the middle, first by the life of Jesus Christ, then next by the remaining of John, who also alone of the Evangelists has recorded all the Passovers and the years intervening between the baptism of Christ and the time of this discourse: He alone of all has acted the part of a chronologer of all the times of the New Testament. See how great was the dignity conferred on the beloved disciple.— τί πρός σε; what is that to thee?) This brings back the curiosity of Peter to order; but at the same time it much more intimates, that his course would be already ended, whilst John was still doing his work, and was subserving the advent of the Lord. The martyrdom of Peter was consummated several years before the destruction of Jerusalem: that destruction had the Lord’s advent subsequent to it.— σὺ, thou) A weighty and merciful command.— ἀκολούθει μοι, follow Me) The future is contained in the Imperative: Give all thy attention to that which belongs to thee: leave to him (that disciple) what belongs to him. Similarly the Lord’s words concerning John, intimated not only what the Lord wishes to be done, but what is about to be.

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 21:22". 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

    Our Lord only checks the curiosity of Peter, and minds him to attend things which himself was concerned in; telling him, he was not concerned what became of John, whether he should die, or abide upon the earth until Christ’s second coming: it was Peter’s concern, without regarding what others did, or what became of them, himself to execute his Master’s command, and follow his example.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 21:22". 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

    That he tarry; that he stay on the earth and not die.

    Till I come; words designedly left indefinite. Our Lord’s providential coming in the destruction of Jerusalem seems to have been referred to.

    What is that to thee? it is none of thy business, nothing about which you should concern yourself. Every man should mind his own proper business; while he should be careful not to neglect his appropriate concerns, he should be equally careful not to intermeddle with the concerns of others.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-21.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    22.If I will—Our Lord here assumes to be Lord of man’s destiny. Though he permit, yet nothing can take place without his permissive will. Now the Lord’s answer to Peter’s question is purposely pregnant with two or three admissible meanings; nevertheless of the two or three possible meanings but one is the true one. Tarry [on earth] till I come–That is, remain living to the judgment day, be the same a longer or shorter period. If that were Christ’s will, what is that to Peter? Commentators of all ages falter and vibrate around, and then from, this plain meaning. Jesus does not say that John will live to the Second Advent; but he does most truly say that it is none of Peter’s business if he does. At the same time he intimates that if John’s future be not this, it is something so much like it that it may be shadowed under these words. If, firstly, the word come be taken in the sense of John 14:3, then the sentence is that John shall not, like Peter, be bound and violently slain; but shall quietly and peacefully tarry until the Lord shall please to come at the hour of death and take him to himself. Or, secondly, if the Lord shall in his own time vouchsafe to John individually a Christophany, that is, a special parousia or coming to him alone what had Peter to say to it? John did tarry until the Lord in that Christophany did come. Revelation 1:12-20. And this last was, perhaps, the true meaning at which the Lord so enigmatically hinted, and which justifies the indicative I will in the Greek.

    Follow thou me—In token of that future spiritual or historical following which the bodily act represented, Peter now follows his departing Lord. To what direction and result? No one knows; for John there leaves them; and the whole scene seems to vanish like a morning dream. But even at this late age of the world let us venture, from the nature of the symbol, to conjecture how our Lord finished this interview. If we may suppose, then, that, as Peter followed, Jesus suddenly vanished in an upward splendour, the symbolic action would then express a complete and required meaning. Follow me, Peter during thy whole future earthly life without swerving, historically as now corporeally, even through suffering and death, and thy path shall end, as mine now merges, in ascending GLORY. It will be seen by this view, that the rebuke of Peter’s sidelong question about John is less severe than commentators generally make it. It was a rebuke, in symbol, which signified that Peter’s future following his Lord ought to be unvarying, regardless of all incidental considerations.

     

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-21.html. 1874-1909.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘Jesus says to him, “If I will that he tarry until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.”

    Jesus told Peter that what would happen to others was of no concern of his. He must concentrate on following Jesus, not be looking at the futures of others. Their lives were under God’s control. There is here the firm indication that Jesus controls the destiny of His own. If Jesus wills that John will stay alive until His return that is Jesus’ business, not Peter’s. He must not get above himself.

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-21.html. 2013.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    Jesus essentially told Peter that John"s future was none of his business. Rather than concerning himself with God"s will for other people, even those closest to him, he should concentrate on following Jesus faithfully himself. The "you" in the Greek text is emphatic. Even if it was Jesus" will for John to remain alive until He returned, that was not to be Peter"s concern.

    The reference to Jesus" return is probably a reference to the Rapture rather than the Second Coming in view of what Jesus had promised these disciples in John 14:1-3.

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-21.html. 2012.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    John 21:22. To which Jesus replies with a shade of rebuke, . Peter, in seeking even to know the future of another disciple, was stepping beyond his province, ; . Your business is to follow me, not to intermeddle with others. Cf. A Kempis’ description of the man who “neglects his duty, musing on all that other men are bound to do”. De Imit. Christi, ii. 3. Over-anxiety about any part of Christ’s Church is to forget that there is a chief Shepherd who arranges for all. This part of the conversation might not have been recorded, but for a misunderstanding which arose out of it.

     

     

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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 21:22". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-21.html. 1897-1910.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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    [BIBLIOGRAPHY]

    Sic eum volo manere, Greek: ean auton thelo menein.

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 21:22". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-21.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    If. App-118.

    tarry. Greek meno, translated abide, remain, &c. See book comments for John.

    what, &c. Peter"s curiosity rebuked. Compare Matthew 17:4.

    to = with reference to. Greek. pros. App-104.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 21:22". "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

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

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

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 21:22". "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

    22. If I want him to live until I come? Jesus is saying: “It’s none of your business what the future holds for others. You follow me, and let the others take care of themselves!” Johnson sees in “until I come, “ a reference to John staying on earth longer than the others, and “Christ coming” to give John the Revelation message. John died about 100 A.D.

     

     

     

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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 21:22". "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

    (22) If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?—The answer must be taken as reproving the spirit which would inquire into another’s life and work, with the effect of weakening the force of its own. Here, as in all the earlier details of St. Peter’s life, his character is emotional, earnest, loving, but wanting in depth, and not without self-confidence. The words “Follow Me,” the meaning of which he has not missed, may well have led him to thoughts and questions of what that path should be, and the truth may well have sunk into the depth of his heart, there to germinate and burst forth in principle and act. But he is at once taken up with other thoughts. He is told to follow, but is ready to lead. He would know and guide his friend’s life rather than his own. To him, and to all, there comes the truth that the Father is the husbandman, and it is He who trains every branch of the vine. There is a spiritual companionship which strengthens and helps all who join in it; there is a spiritual guidance which is not without danger to the true strength of him that is led, nor yet to that of him who leads.

    The word rendered “tarry” is that which we have before had for “abide” (see John 12:34, and comp. Philippians 1:25 and 1 Corinthians 15:6). It is here opposed to “Follow Me” (in the martyrdom), and means to abide in life.

    The phrase, “If I will that he tarry till I come,” is one of those the meaning of which cannot be ascertained with certainty, and to which, therefore, every variety of meaning has been given. We have already seen that the Coming of the Lord was thought of in more than one sense. (Comp. especially Notes on Matthew 16:28 and Matthew 24; and see also in this Gospel, Note on John 14:3.) The interpretation which has found most support is that which takes the “coming of the Lord” to mean the destruction of Jerusalem, which St. John, and perhaps he only of the Apostles, lived to see. But the context seems to exclude this meaning, for the mistake of John 21:23 would surely have been corrected by a reference to the fact that St. John had survived, and wrote the Gospel after, the “coming of the Lord.” The interpretation which the next verse itself suggests is that our Lord made no statement, but expressed a supposition, “If I will,” “If it even be that I will;” and this both gives the exact meaning of the Greek, and corresponds with the remainder of our Lord’s answer. He is directing St. Peter to think of his own future. and not of his friend’s; and He puts a supposition which, even if it were true, would not make that friend’s life a subject for him then to think of. Had our Lord told him that St. John should remain on earth until His coming, in any sense of the word, then He would have given an answer, which He clearly declined to give.

    Follow thou me.—The pronoun “thou” is strongly emphatic. “Thy brother’s life is no matter for thy care. Thy work is for thyself to follow Me.”

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-21.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
    If
    Matthew 16:27,28; 24:3,27,44; 25:31; Mark 9:1; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 11:26; Revelation 1:7; 2:25; Revelation 3:11; 22:7,20
    follow
    Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 29:29 - secret;  Matthew 4:19 - Follow;  Mark 13:4 - GeneralMark 16:19 - after;  Luke 9:27 - some;  Luke 13:23 - And;  Luke 21:7 - when;  John 10:27 - and they;  John 12:26 - let;  John 13:36 - thou;  Acts 10:42 - he commanded

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 21:22". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-21.html.

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

    Ver. 22. "Jesus saith unto him. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me."

    Jesus gives His express utterance concerning the end of John's life; and beneath "If I will," etc., lies concealed "I will." The conditional form was introduced simply because Peter, who had ventured to prescribe laws to Christ, was not worthy to receive His utterance in the direct form. The language is that of majesty, which "suffers no invasion of prerogative, even from those standing nearest: comp. ch. John 2:4; Matthew 12:48. But the repulse was only formal. Jesus, who always entered so kindly into the wishes of His disciples (Bengel: "The Lord never inflicted a pure repulse upon His friends, however unreasonably they might ask"), did in fact respond to Simon's request for a declaration as to the future of his fellow-disciple. His utterance was interpreted as such not only by the "brethren," ver. 23, but also by John himself. To the same conclusion we are led by its correspondence with the utterance concerning Peter. On θέλω, Bengel says: The power of Jesus over the life and death of His people. ΄ένειν, remain, could in this connection only have referred to abiding in this life: comp. 1 Corinthians 15:6; Philippians 1:24-25. The coming of Jesus could not have had an individual meaning in relation to John; not the coming to take him in the hour of death, ch. John 14:3, for in this sense the Lord came even to Peter. But we must find a sense in which John remained, and Peter did not, until Christ came. If the coming was one of universal import, we must needs think at once of the Lord's coming in judgment upon Jerusalem, concerning which He had said, Matthew 16:28, "Verily I say unto you. There be some standing here who shall not taste of death until they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom:" comp. Mark 9:1; Matthew 24:34, which teaches that that generation was not to pass before the sign of the Son of man would be seen in heaven. Peter fulfilled his course in martyrdom some few years before that catastrophe: John, on the other hand, survived that great and solemn coming of Jesus. Meanwhile, we must not limit ourselves to this first phase of the historical coming of Jesus. When the Lord spoke of John's remaining until He should come. He seems to have intimated that soon after His coming John should depart. But that will not suit the coming in judgment on Jerusalem; for John survived that event nearly thirty years. Further, it appears that the link between the abiding of John and the coming of Jesus was not a merely external one; but that before his departure John was to do his own part in connection with the coming of Christ. Now there was nothing of this sort in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem.But it is altogether decisive, that John actually survived a second coming of the Lord, which could not therefore be excluded. In his lifetime fell the beginning of the great conflict between Christ and Rome. With the Roman persecution, as it, under Domitian, partook of an ecumenical character, followed simultaneously the coming of the Lord. This is one of the fundamental principles of the Apocalypse. That book is occupied, after its first verse, with that "which should shortly come to pass." According to ch. Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 22:10, the time was near. "I come quickly," the Lord declares, ch. Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20,Revelation 3:11, Revelation 2:5; Revelation 2:16. On Revelation 1:1 it was observed: "‘The keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.' ‘I am with you always unto the end of the world.' Of these truths, the ‘shortly coming to pass' and the ‘I come quickly' of this book are the necessary consequence. The boundless energy of the Divine nature admits here of no delay. There is nothing of quiescence or indolent repose in God. His appearing often to linger is merely on account of our shortsightedness. He is secretly working for salvation and destruction when He seems to us to be standing aloof" (Com. on Rev. vol. i. p. 47, Clark's Transl.). At the same crisis, when the world came with its prince, the Lord came. In this second historical coming of Christ, John was himself pars aliqua. He was the herald of His coming; and that he might be such, was the reason that the Lord willed that he should tarry. Yet not that alone: the Apocalypse is included in the coming of the Lord. In it He came with His consolation to His people, groaning under the oppression of the world's power. That was the specific purport of the Apocalypse. Hence Ben gel says, with perfect propriety: "To Peter the cross, to John that great Apocalypse, were in mystery promised here."

    Bengel also says on "Follow Me:" "The future is involved in the imperative. Do thy part: leave to the survivor his." It is only a following in the most pregnant sense that is here assigned to Peter: the following of Christ in the way of the cross, in the more general sense, pertains to all Christians; and that John's desire, as expressed in his following with Peter, was satisfied, and that he was also a partaker of the cross of his Lord, is evident from Revelation 1:9-10. With "Follow thou Me" the colloquy ends. Here, as in Luke 24:31, it might be said, "And He vanished out of their sight."

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    Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 21:22". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-21.html.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    22.If I will that he remain. It has been customary to take this sentence as detached, and to read the former clause affirmatively, I will that he tarry till I come; but this has been done through the ignorance of transcribers, not through the mistake of the translator; for he could not have been mistaken about the Greek word, but a single letter might easily creep into the Latin version, so as to alter the whole meaning. (237) The whole sentence, therefore, is a question, and ought to be read in immediate connection; for Christ intended to put his hand on his disciple, in order to keep him within the limits of his calling. “It is no concern of yours,” says he, “and you have no right to inquire what becomes of your companion; leave that to my disposal; think only about yourself, and prepare to follow where you are called.” Not that all anxiety about brethren is uncalled for but it ought to have some limit, so that it may be anxiety, and not curiosity, that occupies our attention. Let every man, therefore, look to his neighbours, if by any means he may succeed in drawing them along with him to Christ, and let not the offenses of others retard his own progress.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 21:22". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-21.html. 1840-57.