Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 2 April 2017; Revised 11 July 2019
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 19:35; 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid–2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Monday‒Wednesday, Nisan 25‒27, A.D. 30; 17‒19 April (Julian)
Seaside Gathering, 21:1-3
Arrival of Yeshua, 21:4-8
Breakfast on the Beach, 21:9-14
Restoration of Peter, 21:15-17
Prophecy of the Future, 21:18-23
Note on Chronology: John's last chapter serves to complement the Synoptic Narratives in which angels announced that Yeshua would be going ahead of his disciples to Galilee (Matt 28:7; Mark 16:7). It's very likely that this appearance recorded by John occurred before the appearance on the mountain where Yeshua delivered the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20). The post-resurrection appearances of Yeshua took place over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3). So much has been left unrecorded of Yeshua's activities during that time. We may assume that he appeared to his family members and other disciples who had followed him. Paul reported that Yeshua appeared to over 500 at one time (1Cor 15:6).
Seaside Gathering, 21:1-3
1 After these things Yeshua manifested himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and he manifested himself in this way.
After: Grk. meta, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of association or accompaniment; 'amid,' among,' 'with,' or 'in company with'; or (2) a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The second usage applies here. these things: Grk. houtos, n. pl., demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; this, these. The plural pronoun points back to the events of the previous chapter and continues the narrative from that point. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning of Yeshua, his identity, and the translation of his name see my web article Who is Yeshua?.
manifested: Grk. phaneroō, aor. (from phōs, "light"), cause to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible; disclose, make clear, make known, manifest, reveal, show. The verb has a particular usage of making known what has been hidden or unknown. The significance of the verb in this context is explained by Paul's comment that the mystery of Messiah hidden for ages and generations has now been revealed to His holy ones, i.e., his apostles (Col 1:26). The manifestation of Yeshua was not accomplished just by verbal explanation, but by a dramatic appearance and physical evidence.
himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. again: Grk. palin, adv. that may focus (1) on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again; or (2) reversion; back. The first meaning applies here. to the disciples: Grk. mathētēs, m. pl., (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher whom the student is obligated to obey. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil), the student of a Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). For more background information on "disciple" see the note on John 1:35.
When John says that Yeshua manifested himself to his disciples again, he does not mean merely that Yeshua showed up again, but that in his appearance, including the ones recorded in the previous chapter, he fulfilled an important purpose in revelation of his identity. In the appearances on the day of his resurrection Yeshua was revealed himself as victor over death and the fulfillment of prophecy. The angels had reminded the women of Yeshua's own words that "the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and to be crucified, and to arise the third day" (Luke 24:6-7 mine). Yeshua then echoed the same message in his first meeting with the disciples when he explained from the Scriptures the prophecies that the Messiah must suffer, die and be raised from the dead (Luke 24:44-46).
In his second appearance to the disciples, including Thomas, the revelation of Yeshua is echoed in the confession of Thomas, "the LORD of me and the God of me" (John 29:28). See my note there. In other words Yeshua is deity, the true God of Israel. This was for Thomas an "ah-ha" moment when he suddenly realized the significance of all the "I AM" sayings. Yeshua was not just "Son of God" as the Messiah sitting on the throne of David acting as God's regent on earth, but he was the divine Son of whom the Scriptures testify (Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).
at: Grk. epi, prep., used primarily as a marker of position or location; 'at, in, on, upon, over.' the Sea: Grk. thalassa (corresponding to Heb. yam) used of both a sea, such as the Mediterranean, and inland bodies of water, i.e., lake. In modern English "sea" normally refers to a body of salt water and "lake" to a body of fresh water, although local convention can override this rule. Some versions translate the term here with "lake" (CJB, CEV, MW, NCV, OJB, TEV). Thalassa (as its Hebrew counterpart) simply refers to a body of water deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. The seas (Heb. yammim) were formed on the third day of creation (Gen 1:10), but the present configuration of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers came about in the aftermath of the Noahic deluge (cf. Job 12:14-15; 14:11-12; 22:15-16; 26:10; 38:8-11; Ps 29:3-10; 65:5-9).
of Tiberias: Grk. Tiberias, the name of a leading Gentile city located about the middle of the west coast of the Sea of Galilee and about ten miles south of Capernaum. For information on the city see my note on John 6:23. John uses the city name as an identifying marker for the Sea of Galilee as he does in 6:1. The Sea is fresh water, situated in the hills of southern Galilee, thirty miles to the west of the Mediterranean. Its surface is nearly 700 feet below sea level, but the surrounding hills reach an altitude of well over 1,000 feet above sea level. Fed chiefly by the Jordan River, the sea is thirteen miles long north to south and eight miles at its widest point. Because of its location, it is subject to sudden and violent storms which are usually of short duration.
In the Tanakh this sea is called Kinneret (Num 34:11, transliterated as Grk. Chinnereth), because it is shaped like a harp (Heb. kinnor). Luke transliterated the Hebrew name as Grk. Gennēsaret and associated it with a town of that name (Luke 5:1). Talmudic literature used Tiberias as an alternate name for the Sea of Galilee (e.g., Baba Kama 81a; Baba Bathra 74b; Bechoroth 55a). Morris comments that while Tiberias was the official name of the city, it's unlikely Jews would have called the Sea of Galilee by that name when these events occurred, so John uses the common name in use when he wrote his book (341).
and: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The third meaning applies here. he manifested: Grk. phaneroō, aor. himself in this way: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. The adverb serves to introduce Yeshua's meeting with some of his apostles in Galilee, recorded in the following verses, as well as hint at the nature of the self-revelation Yeshua provided.
2 They were together, Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.
They were: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, exist; a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). together: Grk. homou, adv. in sharing experience, at the same place and time; together. The narrative here indicates that the apostles obeyed the directive for them to travel to Galilee where Yeshua promised to meet them (Matt 28:10, 16; Mark 16:7). The journey from Jerusalem to Galilee took three days (Josephus, Life §52), so the disciples probably departed the next day after the second appearance (John 20:26). A very likely destination would be Capernaum where Yeshua had based his Galilean ministry and Peter had a home (Mark 1:21, 29).
Simon: Grk. Simōn, which almost transliterates the Hebrew name Shimôn ("Shee-mown"), meaning "he has heard." There are nine men in the Besekh with the name "Simōn," but this name does not occur in the LXX at all. In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shimôn appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33) and then the tribe descended from him (Num 1:22-23). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." The apostle may well have been named in honor of the patriarch. John mentions the apostle's name "Simon" 22 times, 17 of which are in combination with the name Yeshua gave him, four of which are in direct address by Yeshua and one time in reference to identifying the apostle as the brother of Andrew.
Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." The name does not occur at all in the LXX or earlier Jewish literature, which suggests that Simon is the first man to bear the name. Josephus does mention a man named Peter about thirty years later (Ant. XVIII, 6:3). Petros translates the Hebrew name Kêpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495). Peter first met Yeshua in Judea through the introduction of his brother Andrew (John 1:40-41), whereupon Yeshua announced that Simon would in the future be known as Kêpha (John 1:42). See the explanatory note there. We should note that even though Yeshua gave him a new name he only used "Simon" in directly addressing him (Luke 7:40; 22:31; Mark 14:37; John 1:42; and verses 15-17 below).
Peter was married (Mark 1:30; 1Cor 9:5) and together with his brother Andrew engaged in a business of fishing from the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:2-3; John 21:3), including working in partnership with the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10). Peter probably returned to his home and business in Galilee after the marriage celebration in Cana and there Simon later received his call to be a fisher of men. The combination name "Simon Peter" occurs twenty times in the Besekh, all but three (Matt 16:16; Luke 5:8; 1Pet 1:1) in the book of John.
The frequent use by John of the two names together (17 times) is noteworthy and must be significant even though he never explains his purpose. The simple reason is that Simon was a common name, so adding "Peter" became a good way to distinguish him from the others, such as the name of the father of Judas the betrayer (John 6:71; 13:2, 26) and the host of the dinner in Bethany (Matt 26:6; Mark 14:3). Then, Yeshua's choice of naming Simon "Kêpha" indicated confidence in his ability to be a prominent leader and pillar of the Body of Messiah. "Peter" would be the name by which the apostle would be known in the Diaspora. Using the combination name conveyed John's respect for his fellow apostle who would become a powerful spokesman for Yeshua.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek.
Thomas: Grk. Thōmas, a transliteration of Heb. Toma (from Heb. toam, SH-8420, "twin"). This is the only person in the Bible named Thomas. called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The verb is used here to mean "give a name to." Didymus: Grk. Didumos, double, twin; a name or appellation of Thomas. All that is known of Thomas in the Besekh, besides his inclusion in lists of apostles, is found in the book of John where his name appears seven times. Some scholars believe Thomas may have been a twin, possibly of Matthew with whom he is coupled in two of the three lists of the Synoptic narratives, or of Philip with whom he is coupled in Acts 1:13. On the other hand, since "Thomas" is a transliteration of a Hebrew name then "Didymus" may only be a translation of Thomas, much as "Peter" translates "Kêfa" (John 1:42).
and Nathanael: Grk. Nathanaēl, a transliteration of Heb. Natan'el ("God has given"). Nathanael is generally thought to be the same person as Bartholomew, because Bartholomew does not occur at all in the Book of John and Nathanael does not occur at all in the Synoptic Narratives. of Cana: Grk. Kana (for Heb. Qana), a place name meaning, "the nest." Cana is given as Nathanael's place of origin. Its exact location is uncertain, though it was in Galilee. The Oxford Bible Atlas places the village about 8 miles due north of Nazareth (86). In Cana Yeshua turned water into wine (John 2:1) and an unnamed nobleman sought out Yeshua to heal his son in Capernaum (John 4:46).
of Galilee: Grk. Galilaia from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. In the time of Yeshua Galilee was a Roman province bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judaea on the south. In this time, Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. However, to Jews in the first century the Galil included territory on the east side of the Jordan and around the lake ("Galilee," JE; Morris 163). The mention of Galilee is not intended to distinguish Cana from some other town by the same name, but rather to identify Nathanael as a Galilean.
and the sons: Grk. huios, m. pl., a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. of Zebedee: Grk. Zebedaios, transliterates the personal Heb. name Zavdai meaning, "gift," Nothing is known further of Zebedee other than he owned a fishing business and was the father of two apostles. His Capernaum-based business employed several hired servants.
It is generally thought that Salome was the mother of the Zebedee's sons (cf. Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40). In addition, Salome may have been the sister of Yeshua's mother mentioned in John 19:25, and in that case the sons of Zebedee would have been blood cousins of Yeshua. The Bible does not say if Zebedee ever became a believer, but he did not stand in the way of his sons or wife becoming disciples of Yeshua. and two: Grk. duo, the cardinal number two, a primary number. others: Grk. allos, adj., m. pl., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. of his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same.
disciples: Grk. mathētēs, m. pl. See the previous verse. John offers no hint as to the identity of the two unnamed disciples. The meeting is extraordinary since only seven of the eleven disciples were present. The complete membership of the original twelve is listed in the Synoptic Narratives (Matt 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19), but John does not provide a comparable list. The two unnamed disciples might well be Andrew, who as Peter's brother is often mentioned in conjunction with Peter (Matt 4:18; 10:2; John 1:40, 44; 6:8); and Philip, who is usually paired with Nathanael (aka "Bartholomew," Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; John 1:45-46). The missing disciples then would be Matthew, Simon the Zealot, Jacob the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus (aka Judas son of Jacob).
Thursday, Nisan 28, A.D. 30; 20 April (Julian)
3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going to fish." They said to him, "We are coming also with you." They went out, and got into the boat; and in that night they caught nothing.
Given the three-day trip to Galilee the event described in this verse probably occurred on Thursday afternoon. Simon Peter said: Grk. legō, pres. See the previous verse. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. I am going: Grk. hupagō, pres., to proceed from a position, sometimes (1) with the focus on the departure point; go away, leave; or (2) with the focus on an objective or destination; go, be on one's way. The second usage applies here. to fish: Grk. halieuō, pres. inf., to engage in fishing. John offers no clues of the exact location on the Sea where the disciples went. Given Peter's intention they may have been in the same area near Capernaum as when Yeshua first found Peter and performed the same miracle as reported in this chapter (Luke 5:1-7).
Stern, as some interpreters, suggests that Peter's fishing meant he had gone back to his old way of life, unaware of the true meaning of Yeshua's commission (John 20:21). Peter had once derived his livelihood from fishing and had forsaken the security of his business to follow Yeshua (Matt 4:18-20; 19:27). Morris counters this suggestion by saying that whatever Peter's ultimate intentions that it would be reading too much into the meaning of the verb to see in it a proposal to resume his former life as a fisherman. After all, John offers no criticism of Peter's decision. We should consider some mitigating circumstances. Since Yeshua had yet to appear since their arrival in Galilee the disciples could have merely decided to keep themselves busy while they waited on him.
Peter was by upbringing and livelihood a fisherman, so it would only be natural for him to head for the beach at some point. Besides, the apostles could hardly begin their mission into the world without first being empowered by the Holy Spirit (20:22). The purpose of Peter and his fellow disciples fishing may also have been for food for their families, or even the need for financial resources. Rabbinic law forbid charging a fee for teaching Scripture (Avot 4:5; Nedarim 37a, 62a; Derek Eretz Zuta 3:3), so rabbis typically practiced a trade. The apostles followed that same model in their ministry. Paul relied on his trade of tent-making at times to support himself (cf. Acts 18:1-3; 1Cor 9:18; 2Cor 11:7).
They said: Grk. legō, 3p-pl. to him: Grk. autos. We are coming: Grk. erchomai, pres., to come, come back, return or appear and in a few instances, to go. The verb generally depicts physical movement, often in relation to traveling or a journey. The verb may imply a position from which action or movement takes place, but it also may focus on the goal for movement. also: Grk. kai, conj. with: Grk. sūn, prep. used to denote association or connection, used here to denote accompaniment, along with. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. They went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. Perhaps the disciples were sitting on the beach and they got up from that point. and got: Grk. embainō, aor., to go in, step in, get in. The verb occurs 17 times, all in the apostolic narratives and predominately of entry into a boat.
into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, towards. the boat: Grk. ploion in biblical times denoted any vessel that could go out on a body of water, whether lake, inland sea or ocean; used frequently of the fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee. In modern times "ships" are classified as vessels that can traverse oceans, whereas "boats" cannot, and it is this distinction that has probably guided translation of the word in modern Bible versions. In 1986 an ancient Galilee boat, nicknamed "the Jesus Boat," was discovered on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The boat, measuring 27 feet long and 7.5 feet wide, was dated to the first century (Lindsey 1-3). In this story the boat was large enough to accommodate the seven disciples.
and in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position with the root meaning of "within," and may be rendered "in, on, at, among, or within" as appropriate to the context (DM 105). Most versions do not translate the preposition. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. night: Grk. nūx, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. The best time for fishing with nets was during the dark night and the worst time was during the morning with the glistening rays of the sun on the waters (Geldenhuys 181).
they caught: Grk. piazō, aor., to lay hold of or take under control, used here in the sense of catching fish. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; none, nothing, not a thing. For a devoted fisherman nothing can be more frustration to spend such a lengthy time at fishing with no results to show for it. We should note that the only fish Peter would have kept had he been successful would be those classified as clean, that is, possessing fins and scales (Lev 11:9). The most common fish taken from the Sea of Galilee were tilapia, biny and sardine.
Friday, Nisan 29, A.D. 30; 21 April (Julian)
Arrival of Yeshua, 21:4-8
4 But morning already having come, Yeshua stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Yeshua.
But: Grk. de, conj. morning: Grk. prōia, early morning when the sun is breaking on the horizon. The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Matt 27:1). already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. having come: Grk. ginomai, aor. pass. part., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here.
Yeshua stood: Grk. histēmi, aor., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position, used of bodily posture; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The second meaning applies here. The pluperfect tense expresses action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context. The verb was probably not chosen to simply say that Yeshua was physically upright, but that he was standing ready to provide a revelation to his disciples. There is also the implication that his appearance was sudden as his appearance in the room with locked doors. on: Grk. eis, prep. the shore: Grk. aigialos (from aix, a wave) shore or beach. The term denotes the point at which the water meets the land and includes the area where waves break over the land.
yet: Grk. mentoi, conj. with a focus on reaction to a preceding narrative detail; yet, nevertheless. BAG adds 'though, to be sure, despite that.' the disciples: Grk. mathētēs, m. pl. See verse 1 above. did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in denial or negation, typically an unqualified strong denial of an alleged fact; no, not (DM 264f). know: Grk. oida, plperf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395).
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The second usage applies here in relation to the verb "know." it was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. Yeshua: This isn't the first time that someone did not recognize Yeshua in his post-resurrection appearances. However, this time recognition may have been hampered by the distance of the boat to the land and the sun rays shining in their eyes.
5 Therefore Yeshua said to them, "Children, have you not any fish?" They answered him, "No."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, 3p-pl. Children: Grk. paidion, voc., n. pl., child with an age range from new-born to pre-adolescent youth; infant, child. The term normally is used of young children, but a few times it is used in addressing adults with endearment (cf. 1Jn 2:18) and as a term of familiar address. Yeshua addressed his disciples previously at the last supper as "little children" (Grk. teknion; John 13:33). Yeshua's address conveys friendship and comradery, not disappointment that the disciples were fishing. The address is typical in Jewish culture. In terms of relationship a rabbi was regarded as equivalent to a father to his talmidim (cf. Baba Metzia 2:13). Moreover, Isaiah had prophesied that Messiah would be called "eternal father" (Isa 9:6).
have: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. you not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). The particle follows "children" in the Greek text and is in the position to convey interrogative effect, thus making the statement into a question. The question appears to expect a negative answer. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. fish: Grk. prosphagion, n. sing., anything eaten with bread, especially fish or meat. Considering the next verse Yeshua obviously meant fish to eat. This term is found only here in the Besekh.
They answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). him: Grk. autos. No: Grk. ou, adv., negative particle. The negative answer no doubt reflected great disappointment after such lengthy effort.
6 And he said to them, "Cast the net into the parts to the right of the boat, and you will find." So they cast, and they were no longer able to draw it in on account of the great number of fish.
And: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, m. pl. Cast: Grk. ballō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The first usage applies here. the net: Grk. diktuon, a generic term for any kind of fishing net. Four types of nets were used in ancient Israel to catch fish: (1) a cast net thrown from the shore or from a boat, (2) a gill or trammel net, (3) a veranda net and (4) a drag net. (See the illustrations here.) The verb might suggest that Peter was using a cast net.
into: Grk. eis, prep. the parts: Grk. meros, n. pl., may mean (1) a piece or segment of a whole; part; or (2) participation with or share in the circumstances of another; share, destiny, lot. The first meaning applies here in reference to the water, i.e., "the parts of the water" (Danker). to the right: Grk. dexios, adj., n. pl., right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. Here the adj. is a direction. A few versions read "starboard" (CJB, NEB, NJB, VOICE). of the boat: Grk. ploion. See verse 3 above. Many versions attempt to simplify translation of the clause with "Cast the net on the right side of the boat [or ship]" (AMPC, ASV, CEB, ESV, HCSB, KJV, RSV).
However, Yeshua did not tell them to cast the net onto the boat, but into the water. It is noteworthy that Yeshua did not say to "your right," since the men could have been facing different directions. He instructed them to cast to the right of the boat, but his intention is not immediately clear in the circumstances. The nautical terms "port" (left) and "starboard" (right) to denote sides of a vessel in relation to facing the bow originated in the times of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. In this situation the right side might be the side on which rowing took place since most people are right-handed.
and you will find: Grk. heuriskō, fut. pass., 2p-pl., to come upon by seeking; find, locate, discover, acquire, obtain. In other words, "you will find what you're seeking." Telling the disciples to cast to the right does not mean that they had not done so during the night. Yeshua simply means "there are fish now to the right." Morris relates from the personal experience of a scholar in Israel that a person on shore can often see a shoal of fish in clear water easier than the fisherman in a boat on the lake (fn17, 863).
So: Grk. oun, conj. they cast: Grk. ballō, aor., 3p-pl. The disciples apparently understood Yeshua's directions and cast to the right of the boat. and they were no longer: Grk. ouketi, adv. of cessation of an activity or condition; no longer, no more. able: Grk. ischuō, impf., to have the capacity for accomplishing, either to cope with a situation or to achieve an objective; have power or strength, be able. The verb in this context refers to having physical strength. to draw it in: Grk. helkō, aor. inf., cause to move toward, draw, as of a pulling motion. The motion in this instance is into the boat. on account of: Grk. apo, prep. with the root meaning of "off, away from" (DM 101), generally used to denote separation, but used here to denote cause.
the great number: Grk. plēthos, relatively large number of any kind; multitude, great number. The count of the fish is given in verse 11 below. of fish: Grk. ichthus, m. pl., a generic term for fish. In the LXX ichthus renders Heb. dag (SH-1710), first in Genesis 1:26 for the "fish of the sea" God created. Given the type of net Peter used the number of fish likely included a variety of species. The great number of fish presented a real physical challenge for the seven men, and they were not able to draw the net into the boat. Yet, the number of fish apparently did not present a threat to the boat as in the earlier occasion of the miracle catch of fish (Luke 5:6-7).
7 Therefore that disciple whom Yeshua loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." So Simon Peter, having heard that it was the Lord, tied on his outer garment, for he was stripped, and threw himself into the sea.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 3 above. disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to specify or give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. Yeshua loved: Grk. agapaō, impf., may mean (1) to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being; or (2) to take delight in, value, esteem. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which may be used in a variety of ways.
This is the fourth mention of the anonymous "beloved disciple" (first in 13:23), but apparently Yeshua's closest disciple and the eyewitness who wrote this book (cf. 19:26; 20:2; 21:20). While the name of the "beloved disciple" is never stated, the unanimous opinion of commentators is that it refers to John the apostle. There is no implication that Yeshua did not love the rest of his disciples (see 13:1; 15:9, 12; 17:23). There were others of whom it was said that Yeshua loved: Lazarus (11:3) and Miriam and Martha (11:5). said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to Peter: See verse 2 above.
It is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and others addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title. In this personal usage kurios would be the equivalent of the Heb. adōn ("lord, master"). For more information on kurios see the note on John 1:23.
The miracle gave John the clue that the man on the shore was their Master. So: Grk. oun, conj. Simon Peter: See verse 2 above. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; or (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about. The second meaning has relevance here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). that: Grk. hoti, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, pres. the Lord: Grk. kurios. tied on: Grk. diazōnnumi, aor. mid., fasten all the way around; tie around, gird firmly around.
his outer garment: Grk. ependutēs, outer garment, coat or tunic. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Thayer says ependutēs seems to denote a kind of linen blouse or frock which fishermen used to wear at their work. Peter had apparently removed the tunic to have freedom of movement. for: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar often functions to connect statements in narratives with preceding statements and is normally translated "for."
he was: Grk. eimi, impf. stripped: Grk. gumnos may mean (1) naked or bare; or (2) inadequately dressed. The second meaning applies here. A number of versions indicate that Peter was naked (ASV, BRG, CEB, DARBY, DLNT, EXB, HNV, JUB, KJV, LEB, MW, NJB, NRSV, NTE, REV, WEB), but no Jewish man would appear in public totally devoid of clothing. Some versions have "stripped for work" (CJB, ESV, MSG, NASB, NLT, RSV, TLV), which offers the best perspective. He might have been wearing a loincloth for the sake of discretion. and threw: Grk. ballō, aor. See the previous verse. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. into: Grk. eis, prep. the sea: Grk. thalassa. See verse 1 above. Peter obviously knew how to swim. He was anxious to see Yeshua and acted on impulse. Perhaps he thought he could beat the boat to the land.
8 Now the other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from the land, but away about two hundred cubits, dragging the net of the fish.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the other: Grk. allos, adj., m. pl. See verse 2 above. disciples: Grk. mathētēs, m. pl. See verse 1 above. The others would be Thomas, Nathanael, Jacob and John and the two unnamed disciples. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. in the boat: Grk. ploiarion, diminutive of ploion, thus a small vessel or boat. The term here denotes a vessel smaller than the one used on previous occasions for transporting Yeshua and the twelve (Matt 8:23; 14:22; John 6:16-22). for: Grk. gar, conj. they were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. far: Grk. makran, adv. of distance; far off, away. from: Grk. apo, prep. See the previous verse.
the land: Grk. gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The term should be taken in the sense of the beach where Yeshua stood. but: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. away: Grk. apo. The preposition is repeated to give the sense of separation. about: Grk. hōs, adv. that connects narrative components and used generally for comparison purposes ("as" or "just as"), but when occurring before a number it conveys an estimate, used here in reference to distance.
two hundred: Grk. diakosioi, the number two hundred. cubits: Grk. pēchus, a measure of length of about 18 inches; cubit. In the LXX pēchus renders Heb. ammah (SH-520), cubit, first in Genesis 6:15. The cubit was measured from the elbow to the end of the finger. Two hundred cubits would equal about 100 yards, which is used in most modern versions. dragging: Grk. surō, pres. part., cause to move by dragging. the net: Grk. diktuon. See verse 6 above. of the fish: Grk. ixthus, m. pl., so lit. "the fishes." See verse 6 above. Morris notes that "net of fishes" is idiomatic for "net full of fish." Having to pull the net full of fish behind them apparently made traversing the distance to the shore much slower than Peter could swim it.
Breakfast on the Beach, 21:9-14
9 So when they got out to the land, they saw a charcoal fire prepared, and fish placed on it, and bread.
So: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. See the previous verse. The adv. is used here in a temporal sense. they got out: Grk. apobainō, aor., to step off from a place; in relation to a boat, get out, disembark. to: Grk. eis, prep. the land: Grk. gē. See the previous verse. The boat may have had a small sail but was no doubt propelled mainly by rowing. There is no mention of any structure to tie the boat to, so the men row to the point where the boat settles into the sand. they saw: Grk. blepō, pres., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; see, look at, observe; (3) to have inward or mental sight, perceive; or (4) be looking in a certain direction. The second meaning applies here.
a charcoal fire: Grk. anthrakia, a mass or heap of live coals (Mounce). BAG and Danker have "charcoal-fire." The text does not specify who made the fire, but it would presumptively be Yeshua. The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh, and its other use in the scene in the courtyard of Annas where Peter denied Yeshua (John 18:18) hints at the conversation to come. prepared: Grk. keimai, pres. pass. part., to be set in a position; lie, made, place, set. and fish: Grk. opsarion, diminutive of opson, a dish prepared for eating, frequently fish; a small plate of fish. The noun occurs only five times in the Besekh, all in John. Two of those usages are in the narrative of feeding the five thousand (John 6:9, 11) and the other three in this chapter.
placed on it: Grk. epikeimai, pres. pass. part., to lie in superimposed position, lie upon, be placed upon. and: Grk. kai, conj. bread: Grk. artos (for Heb. lechem, SH-3899), bread or food, which refers to a baked product made from cereal grain. The term does not specifically imply the leaven content since the term is also used for manna, the unleavened bread from heaven (John 6:31-32), the unleavened showbread maintained in the Temple (Ex 25:30; 40:23; Lev 8:2, 26; Matt 12:4) and as a synonym for azumos, the unleavened bread used in Passover (Mark 14:1, 12, 22). Since bread was eaten at every meal in biblical lands, the term was often used as a synonym for food and the support of life in general quite apart from its literal meaning (DNTT 1:250). Since the date is after Passover then the bread would have been leavened.
The disciples might well wonder where the fish and bread came from since they had not yet brought the fish they caught to the shore. There is no implication of a miracle here, although the fish and bread might serve as a reminder of the miracle feeding the previous year. Yeshua could have bought items for the breakfast meal in a nearby village.
10 Yeshua said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you caught now."
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, m. pl. The comment is addressed generally to the seven disciples. Bring: Grk. pherō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to move an entity from one position to another by physical transport or guidance; or (2) direct something that is of a cognitive nature. The first meaning applies here. some: Grk. apo, prep., lit. "from." of the fish: Grk. opsarion. See the previous verse. that: Grk. hos, demonstrative pronoun; this, that. you caught: Grk. piazō, aor. See verse 3 above. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' Since nun is at the end of the Greek sentence it modifies "caught" and not "bring." What Yeshua meant was, "I have the fire ready and I have enough bread, but if you want to eat fish you'll need to bring what you caught."
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to the land, full of large fish, a hundred fifty three; yet there being so many, the net had not been torn.
Simon Peter went up: Grk. anabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. The verb implies going up into the boat. and drew: Grk. helkō, aor. See verse 6 above. the net: Grk. diktuon. See verse 6 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. the land: Grk. gē. See verse 8 above. full: Grk. mestos, adj. used of objects filled with a physical substance. of large: Grk. megas, adj., m. pl., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great, large. The common translation of "big" or "large" (which are relative terms) implies individual size of the fish in the net. Thayer says the term as used in this verse refers to the total mass and weight of the combined number. If John intended to describe individual size then a fish larger than the sardine would be implied, such as the tilapia. On the other hand it is not impossible that megas in this context denotes a large quantity, which is a meaning all the lexicons include for megas.
fish: Grk. ixthus, m. pl., lit. "fishes." See verse 6 above. a hundred: Grk. hekaton, the number 100. fifty: Grk. pentēkonta, the cardinal number 50. three: Grk. treis, the cardinal number 3. There is no hidden or symbolic meaning to the number. It is only significant because to the disciples took the time to count the fish, perhaps preparatory to taking the fish to market and sharing the proceeds. yet: Grk. kai, conj., used here for contrast. there being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 2 above. so many: Grk. tosoutos, demonstrative pronoun used to express intensity relative to something mentioned in context, here in terms of quantity of fish. the net: Grk. diktuon. had not: Grk. ou, adv. been torn: Grk. schizō, aor. part., to cause to be in parts through force, to tear or rend. John implies that under normal circumstances this number of fish should have damaged the net.
We should not assume that Peter accomplished the feat of dragging the heavy net full of fish on to the beach alone. Peter is given the credit because he took the lead and likely organized the effort of all the men. Israelite leaders were often given the credit of winning a battle when they had the help of an army (e.g., Deut 1:3-4; Jdg 4:15; 7:14; 11:32; Josh 10:33; 1Sam 18:7; 2Sam 8:1; 2Kgs 13:25).
12 Yeshua said to them, "Come, have breakfast." None of the disciples dared to question him, "Who are you," knowing that it was the Lord.
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to them: Grk. autos, m. pl., personal pronoun. Come: Grk. deute, adv. (2p-pl. of deuro, come now, come here) that conveys immediacy and used here as an imperative; come! The adv. is used when two or more are addressed. have breakfast: Grk. aristaō, aor. imp., to eat a morning meal in contrast to an evening meal. First century Jews normally ate two meals a day, ariston, the morning meal and deipnon, the evening meal. As a rule the morning meal would be eaten before starting the day's work, though on occasion it could be an early luncheon (Morris). None: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 3 above. of the disciples: Grk. mathētēs, m. pl. See verse 1 above. dared: Grk. tolmaō, impf., act with apparent abandonment or audacity, dare. The verb functions in an idiomatic manner to describe what Jews call chutzpah.
to question: Grk. exetazō, aor. inf., seek information, examine thoroughly; inquire, question. The verb has the force of conducting an interrogation and occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Matt 2:8; 10:11). him: Grk. autos. Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. knowing: Grk. oida, perf. part. See verse 4 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, pres. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 7 above. There is no implication here that the disciples had difficulty recognizing him (cf. verse 7 above). While there could have been something different about Yeshua's physical appearance (besides the wounds), the disciples still grappled with the reality that the one that died on the cross and was buried in a tomb was now alive.
13 Yeshua came and took the bread, and gave to them, and the fish likewise.
Yeshua came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 3 above. and took: Grk. lambanō, pres. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take (in the active sense) or receive (in the passive sense). the bread: Grk. artos. See verse 9 above. and gave: Grk. didōmi, pres., to give, used in a wide variety of situations, often with the focus on generosity and the context determining whether the focus is on generosity or some other rationale for the giving. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41).
to them: Grk. autos, m. pl. personal pronoun. There is no implication of miraculous multiplication of bread as in the feeding of the 5,000. and the fish: Grk. opsarion. See verse 9 above. likewise: Grk. homoiōs, adv., likewise, in a similar manner, similarly. Some Christian interpreters want to find Eucharistic symbolism here, but the Lord's Supper does not include fish, and certainly not leavened bread. Yeshua offered his disciples a simple meal, nothing more, but it would demonstrate again that he was real and not a figment of the imagination (cf. Luke 24:41-42).
14 This was now the third way Yeshua was manifested to the disciples, having been raised from the dead.
This was: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. now: Grk. ēdē, adv. See verse 4 above. the third way: Grk. tritos, adj., third in a sequence or serial sense. Yeshua was manifested: Grk. phaneroō, aor. pass. See verse 1 above. to the disciples: Grk. mathētēs, m. pl. See verse 1 above. Bible versions translate the opening clause as "the third time Yeshua was revealed [or manifested]," which could be misleading in this context. John obviously does not intend a total number of appearances. After all, on the day of resurrection, Yeshua made four separate appearances: (1) to Miriam of Magdala (Mark 16:9; John 20:14-18), (2) to the other women (Matt 28:8-9), (3) to the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-35), and (4) to the ten disciples minus Thomas (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-48; John 20:19-24). Then eight days later Yeshua appeared to Thomas with the other disciples (John 20:26-28).
Morris believes that tritos, "third time," is explained by the mention of the disciples, interpreting mathētēs to mean the apostles. However, in John's book the term "disciples" is used to mean other followers of Yeshua besides the eleven (or twelve) (John 4:1; 6:66; 7:3; 9:28). We could interpret tritos to mean the third day on which Yeshua manifested himself to his disciples, because there is no evidence that Yeshua met with his disciples between his resurrection day and the Sunday eight days later. Yet, John most likely meant tritos as the third manner or way in which Yeshua revealed himself as implied in the use of houtōs in verse 1 above. On resurrection day Yeshua manifested himself as having fulfilled Messianic prophecy and gained victory over death. In the second day appearance, Yeshua revealed himself as deity, the true God of Israel. Now on this third occasion Yeshua reveals himself as high priest.
having been raised: Grk. egeirō, aor. pass. part., to move from an inert state or position and is used with a variety of meanings: (1) to arouse from sleep, to awake; (2) to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life; (3) to cause to rise or raise, from a seat or bed; or (4) to raise up, produce, cause to appear, such as appear before the public or a judge, erect a building, or incite opposition. The second meaning applies here. The usual verb to describe being raised from the dead is anistēmi ("to rise, stand up," e.g., John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:23-24), but egeirō is especially suitable in this context because Yeshua's resurrection was unique.
from: Grk. ek, prep. used to indicate separation or derivation; from, out of, from within. the dead: Grk. nekros, adj., without life in the physical sense; dead. John does not mean "from a place," implying that Yeshua was raised from Hades as declared in the Apostles' Creed. After all, God's people presently in heaven are "dead" (no physical life as on earth) until the resurrection on the last day. So, John means "dead" as a state. The Father returned Yeshua's spirit to his body lying in the tomb and transformed that body with immortality so that in that body Yeshua could get up and walk out of the tomb.
The angels and the apostles uniformly and consistently declared that Yeshua had been raised from the dead by God, not he arose from the dead on his own (Matt 28:6; Mark 16:6, 14; Luke 24:6, 34; John 2:22; Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 37; 26:8; Rom 4:24-25; 6:4, 9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1Cor 6:14; 15:4, 15; 2Cor 4:14; 5:15; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1Th 1:10; 2Tim 2:8; 1Pet 1:21). The message of Yeshua's resurrection is echoed throughout the Besekh and any claim that the resurrection of Yeshua was a fabrication (Matt 27:62-65) or a delusion is implicitly denied.
Restoration of Peter, 21:15-17
15 So when they had dined, Yeshua said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
So: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., when, at which time. they had dined: Grk. aristaō, aor. See verse 12 above. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to Simon Peter: See verse 2 above. Simon, son of: Grk. huios. See verse 2 above. John: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan ("the Lord is gracious"). Early English Bible versions shortened Iōannēs to four letters and the Mace New Testament (1729) was the first to use the spelling of "John." The name of Peter's father is also mentioned in John 1:42 as "John." Yet, Yeshua addressed him as "Simon Barjona" (Heb. bar Yona, "son of Yona") (Matt 16:17). However, there is no contradiction since "son of" can denote a more distant relation. Thus, Yeshua meant that Peter's family descended from the prophet Jonah.
do you love: Grk. agapaō, pres. (for Heb. aheb). See verse 7 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. more: Grk. pleiōn, adj., a comparative form of polus ("great in number") with the effect of greater in quality. than these: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, m. pl. The syntax implies a question. The focus of the plural pronoun is not defined, and thus the question might mean either (1) "Do you love me more than these men love me?" (2) "Do you love me more than you love these men?" or (3) "Do you love me more than the things related to fishing?" Morris prefers the third option and believes Yeshua's question should be taken to refer to the fishing equipment and all that it stood for.
However, the third option assumes the question of Yeshua is accusatory, implying Peter had been ready to forsake his Lord and return to his fishing business. Yet there is nothing in the narrative to prove this had been Peter's attitude. The first option is the most likely given the fact that during the last supper Peter had boasted that his devotion exceeded his fellow disciples (Matt 26:33; Mark 14:29; cf. John 13:37). Then, he proved himself a liar by denying Yeshua three times. Since the whole point of Yeshua asking the question and then repeating it two times is to restore Peter after his three denials, then that context must be considered for understanding Yeshua's reasoning. Clarke, Gill, Lightfoot and Tenney prefer this option for interpreting Yeshua's question.
He said: Grk. legō, pres.; i.e., Peter. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. Yes: Grk. nai, particle of affirmation; yes, certainly, even so. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 7 above. you know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 4 above. The perfect tense has the sense of "you've always known." Peter can say this with confidence, because he knew that Yeshua knew the condition of a person's heart (cf. John 2:24). that: Grk. hoti, conj. I love: Grk. phileō, pres., to manifest some act of kindness or affection toward someone, to love or regard with affection, to kiss, to like or be fond of, or to cherish inordinately. The verb conveys an emotional content. In the LXX phileō translates Heb. aheb only about 30 times out of the 209 times the noun occurs, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than phileō (DNTT 2:547).
He said: Grk. legō, pres., i.e., Yeshua. to him: Grk. autos, i.e., Peter. Feed: Grk. boskō, pres. imp., tend to the needs of animals; herd, tend. In the LXX boskō occurs 27 times (ABP) and translates Heb. ra'ah, (SH-7462), pasture, tend, graze, first in Genesis 29:7, to refer to the grazing of flocks. The use of boskō for ra'ah is generally literal of flocks grazing, but figurative uses also appear with prophetic and spiritual application (Isa 11:6-7; 30:23; 34:17; 49:9; 65:25; Jer 31:10; Ezek 34:2-3, 8, 10, 13-16). HELPS suggests that the verb in this context is used figuratively to mean providing spiritual nourishment by feeding people the Word of God.
my: Grk. egō. The pronoun has a possessive character and thus implies ownership. lambs: Grk. arnion, n. pl., diminutive of Grk. arēn, a sheep; thus lamb. The term occurs 30 times in the Besekh, 29 of which are in the book of Revelation where it is consistently used of the resurrected and victorious Messiah. Lambs are the most vulnerable in the flock, so the spiritual responsibility is to care for new believers until they become mature in faithfulness.
Additional Note on Love
Commentators are divided over the degree to which the use of the two different Greek words for "love" (agapaō and phileō) affect the sense of the exchange between Yeshua and Peter. In the Body of Messiah agapaō is generally considered a higher form of love, a selfless and sacrificial love, perhaps influenced by Paul's treatise on love in 1Corinthians 13. To some interpreters Peter's use of phileō implied he was not at the level of devotion Yeshua requires. The AMPC illustrates this supposed difference by defining agapaō as "with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father" and phileō as "a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend." The revised AMP defines agapaō as "total commitment and devotion" and phileō as "a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend."
However, the qualitative difference between agapaō and phileō is not as sharp as generally supposed. In Greek culture agapaō was frequently used as a synonym of phileō (DNTT 2:539). In the LXX agapaō is used consistently for love expressed by God toward the patriarchs (Deut 4:37) and Israel (Deut 7:7-8), and for love of humans expressed toward God (Ex 20:6), toward a neighbor (Lev 19:18), toward a wife (Gen 24:67), toward a husband (Gen 25:28), toward a son (Gen 22:2), toward a master (Ex 21:5), toward a protégé (1Sam 16:21), toward a comrade (1Sam 18:1), toward a champion (1Sam 18:16). The verb is also used of a man's desire of a virgin (Gen 34:3).
The lexicon definition fails to consider that agapaō is also used of a reciprocal love or quid pro quo love (Matt 5:46; Luke 6:32), which Yeshua criticized as falling short of God's will. The love that characterizes a son of the Most High is generosity without expecting repayment (Luke 6:35). In contrast phileō can refer to a personal devotion (Matt 10:37; John 11:3, 36; 20:2). Phileō is used of the love of the Father for the Son (John 5:20) and the love of the Father for Yeshua's disciples (John 16:27). Paul used phileō when he said "If anyone loves not the Lord, let him be accursed" (1Cor 16:22). Phileō is also the love that Yeshua has for his people (Rev 3:19).
With Yeshua and Peter conversing in Hebrew they both would have used aheb. John in recounting the event may have chosen the different Greek words to emphasize that Yeshua's question was straightforward ("are you fully committed to me?") and Peter's response was expressed with some emotion. Peter's first word "yes," could imply "of course I have agapaō for you, but I also have phileō for you. I am passionate in my devotion to you and esteem you above all others."
16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Shepherd my sheep."
He said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. Yeshua is the subject of the verb. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Simon. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 1 above. a second time: Grk. deuteros, second, whether second in a series or as a temporal reference, which is its use here. Simon: See verse 2 above. son of John, do you love me: The direct address and question repeat verbatim the previous verse with the omission of "more than these." He said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos. Yes, Lord; you know that I love you: Peter's reply is a verbatim repetition of his reply in the previous verse." He said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos.
Shepherd: Grk. poimainō, pres. imp., to act as a shepherd, serving as tender of a flock. The verb occurs 11 times in the Besekh, only two of which has the literal meaning (Luke 17:7; 1Cor 9:7). The usage of the verb in Scripture indicates a close association of tending and ruling. In the LXX poimainō occurs 50 times (ABP), and like boskō, translates Heb. ra'ah, (SH-7462), graze, pasture, rule, shepherd, or tend, first in Genesis 30:31 (DNTT 3:564). The use of poimainō for ra'ah occurs first in instances of shepherding or tending flocks of sheep, including in reference to notable figures, as Jacob (Gen 30:36), Moses (Ex 3:1) and David (1Sam 16:11).
Then, the verb is used figuratively of a ruler or teacher and the people of Israel regarded as a flock (2Sam 5:2; 7:7; 1Chr 11:2; 17:6; Ps 78:71-72; Jer 3:15; 23:2, 4; Ezek 34:2, 3, 8, 10, 23; Zech 11:4, 7; 11:9; cf. Acts 20:28; 1Pet 5:2). God Himself is depicted as shepherding His people (Ps 23:1; 28:9; 48:14; Hos 13:5; Mic 7:14). The Messiah is also depicted as acting in the role of a shepherd for Israel (Ps 2:9; Isa 40:11; Mic 5:4; Zech 13:7) and this prophetic understanding is echoed in the Besekh (Matt 2:6; Rev 2:27; 7:17; 12:5; 19:15). Yeshua expected Peter to begin and keep on serving in this role for the rest of his life.
my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The pronoun has a possessive character and thus implies ownership. sheep: Grk. probaton, n. pl., sheep (whether ram, male sheep or ewe), an animal in the care of a shepherd. In Greek antiquity probaton in its widest sense denoted all four-footed animals (especially tame, domestic ones) as opposed to swimming and creeping animals. In the LXX probaton translates Heb. tson (SH-6629), a word for small livestock (sheep, goats, flock) and means primarily the sheep as a useful and gregarious animal (Gen 4:2; 30:38) (DNTT 2:412). Probaton also translates Heb. seh (SH-7716), sheep or lamb (Gen 22:7; Ex 12:3; Isa 53:7).
The term "sheep" is used figuratively in Scripture for the people of Israel, whether gathered, protected, straying or victimized (Ps 44:2; 74:1; 78:52; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Isa 53:6; Jer 23:1; 50:6; Ezek 34:10-31; Matt 10:6; 15:24; Mark 6:34; Rom 8:36; Heb 13:20; 1Pet 2:25), but even more particularly for the Jewish disciples of Yeshua as in chapter 10. The mention of "sheep" in this spiritual sense would also include the "other sheep" of John 10:16. (See my note there.) The word "sheep" contrasts with the use of "lambs" in the previous verse and may allude to adult sheep with its figurative application to mature disciples. However, the term "sheep" also includes lambs, so the instruction pertains to the whole Body of Messiah. The command "shepherd my sheep" in the modern vernacular would be "pastor my followers."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Yeshua said to him, "Feed my sheep.
He said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. the third time: Grk. tritos, third, whether third in a series or as a temporal reference, which is its use here. Simon: See verse 2 above. son of John: See verse 15 above. do you love: Grk. phileō, pres. See verse 15 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Yeshua significantly opted to use the word for love Peter had been using. This does not imply a capitulation to Peter's supposed lower level of loving. Rather, Yeshua likely meant "Do you really esteem me above all others?"
Peter: See verse 2 above. According to Dana and Mantey the use of the definite article (ho Petros) with a proper name marks the name as a designation rather than simply the identity of the individual indicated by the name (DM 142). In other words John means "the one Yeshua called "rock." Peter was rock-like in the steadfastness of his love (i.e., devotion and loyalty) toward Yeshua. was grieved: Grk. lupeō, aor. pass., to experience distress, grief or sorrow. because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. he said: Grk. legō, aor. to him: Grk. autos. the third time: Grk. tritos. Do you love: Grk. phileō, pres. me: Grk. egō. This redundant statement illustrates there was not a great difference in meaning between agapaō and phileō. Simon who was insistent on his faithfulness in affection and commitment was genuinely hurt that Yeshua would question his devotion and in so doing his integrity.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. to him: Grk. autos. Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 7 above. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 4 above. all things: Grk. pas, adj., n. pl., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. you: Grk. su. know: Grk. ginōskō, perf., to know, but it has a variety of meanings, including (1) to be in receipt of information; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value. The second meaning dominates the thought here with a nuance of the third. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada (SH-3045), which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge (DNTT 2:395). The shift from oida in verse 15 to ginōskō here may reflect the difference between an innate knowledge and knowledge derived from months of personal contact.
that: Grk. hoti. I love: Grk. phileō, pres. you: Grk. su. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos. Feed: Grk. boskō, pres. imp. See verse 15 above. my: Grk. egō. sheep: Grk. probaton, n. pl. See the previous verse. The "sheep" would encompass all the current disciples, as well as all those who would be added after Pentecost. Yeshua's three-fold instruction to Peter may be well be a reminder and an extension of the instruction given during the last supper, "when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). Yeshua could issue this charge for ministry because Peter had returned to the "Shepherd and Guardian" of his soul (1Pet 2:25).
The restoration of Peter may be contrasted with the incident of his betrayal in several ways. The most obvious contrast is the three affirmations of love vs. the three denials. In addition, the denials took place at night whereas the restoration took place in the daytime. The nighttime denials reflected darkness of the soul, whereas the daytime restoration reflected returning to the light. In the denial incident Peter was surrounded by the enemies of Yeshua, but here he was surrounded by fellow disciples. The denials were performed in the vicinity of the ruling high priest and the restoration was accomplished by the great high priest. This last element is most significant.
The act of reconciling Peter to fellowship with Yeshua and restoring him to a leadership role served as an acted out parable and manifested Yeshua as the preeminent mediator between God and His people (Heb 2:17; 5:1). Yeshua could not assume this role until after he had been raised from the dead and his resurrection made him the permanent high priest of Israel (cf. Heb 7:23-25). As high priest Yeshua enacted the New Covenant (Heb 8:6), and under the New Covenant all sins may be forgiven. Under the Old Covenant betrayal of the king resulted in death. Yeshua would demonstrate beginning with Peter that the New Covenant offers grace beyond belief. Yet, Yeshua not only demonstrated lavish forgiveness but elevated Peter to a position of high responsibility.
The other disciples witnessing this exchange could hardly mistake Yeshua's intent to firmly establish Simon as a principal leader of the Body of Messiah. Both Luke's narrative of Acts and church tradition confirm his position as a preeminent leader in the apostolic era. Thus, it is no surprise that spiritual shepherding would become a theme in Simon's first letter to congregations in the Diaspora (1Pet 5:1-4). There is symmetry in this encounter on the beach in that it likely occurred on a Friday morning and Peter's denial occurred on a Friday before sunrise.
Prophecy of the Future, 21:18-23
18 "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself, and walked where you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish."
Truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. ’amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The Heb. root aman means "to confirm or support." The word amēn reflects an Hebraic conviction that God’s words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). However, Yeshua sometimes uses "amen" to introduce a declaration (e.g., Matt 8:10; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 19:23; 21:21; 24:2; 25:12, 45; 26:21). Similar usage does occur in the Tanakh (1Kgs 1:36; Jer 28:6). However, Yeshua employs amēn in a different manner here.
truly: Grk. amēn is repeated. In the Besekh the double use of amēn occurs only in the Book of John (25 times). The double "amen" does occur in the Tanakh as a response to a priestly declaration (Num 5:22; Neh 8:6), as well as in the construction "amen and amen" as the appropriate affirmation of a blessing (Ps 41:13; 72:19; 89:52). However, Yeshua uses "amēn amēn" as a prefix to the statement that follows, which is without parallel in Jewish literature (Morris 169). There is no good reason not to accept the grammar as authentic and Yeshua was quite capable of being innovative. The double use of amēn reinforces the complete reliability and truthfulness of Yeshua's prophetic teaching. Moreover, the double "amen," spoken in the presence of God, asserts the character of the Messiah who is the Truth (John 14:6) and implies God's endorsement.
I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. when: Grk. hote, adv. See verse 15 above. you were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. younger: Grk. neōteros, comparative form of neos, adj., in existence for a relatively short time, here referring to a relatively early stage of life. Versions are divided between translating the adj. as "young" or "younger," but Yeshua means "younger than you are now." you girded: Grk. zōnnumi, impf., put a belt on, gird. The verb describes pulling a belt tightly around the waist to assure freedom of movement. yourself: Grk. seautou, reflexive pronoun of the second person.
and walked: Grk. peripateō, impf., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. In the LXX peripateō is found in only 33 passages, of which more than half come from Wisdom literature, and renders Heb. halak (SH-1980) to go, come or walk (DNTT 3:943). where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where. you wished: Grk. thelō, impf., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. The mention of walking reflects the primary means of transport in ancient times. There may be an implication that Peter never owned a donkey for riding. In modern times we are so used to mechanical means of transport that we may not appreciate the fact that Yeshua and his disciples used their feet to traverse the length and breadth of the holy land.
but: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' you grow old: Grk. gēraskō, aor. subj., to become or grow old. Thayer says the verb carries with it the suggestion of waning strength. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Heb 8:13). Yeshua implies that a period of time will pass before Peter would be considered "old," and as it turned out some 30 years later. you will stretch out: Grk. ekteinō, fut., cause an object to extend in space, most often used of hands. your: Grk. su. hands: Grk. cheir, f. pl., hand as an anatomical term. Church tradition saw in this statement a prediction of crucifixion.
and another: Grk. allos, adj., used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. Morris notes that a plural form would be expected in the context of Peter being arrested, but the singular form may represent a personification of the authorities. will gird: Grk. zōnnumi, fut. you: Grk. su. and bring you: Grk. pherō, fut. See verse 10 above. where: Grk. hopou. you do not: Grk. ou, adv. wish: Grk. thelō, pres. The last clause depicts a situation when Peter will lose his freedom to travel when and where he wished.
19 Now he said this explaining, 'by what kind of death will he glorify God?' And having said this, he said to him, "Follow me!"
Now: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. explaining: Grk. sēmainō, pres. part., may mean (1) to make known, report or communicate something to someone; or (2) in relation to the future indicate beforehand, foretell (BAG). In the LXX sēmainō occurs 16 times, translating eight different verbs, and is used five times without Hebrew equivalent. In a few of those passages sēmainō is used of a character explaining something (Ex 18:20; Esth 2:22). The second meaning applies here since it is followed with an indirect question.
by what kind: Grk. poios, interrogative pronoun, used (1) in reference to a class, sort or species, of what kind?; or (2) equivalent to the interrogative pronoun tís, which? what? All Bible versions treat the question posed here as a declarative statement. of death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, extinction of life. will he glorify: Grk. doxazō, fut. (from doxa, "glory"), enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor. In the LXX doxazō renders Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4).
God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination.
According to patristic tradition Peter was crucified upside-down, because he felt he was unworthy to be crucified in the same position as his Lord. Modern Bible scholars are divided over assigning a date for Peter's martyrdom, but patristic sources are definite. Jerome, writing in A.D. 492, said that Peter was put to death in the fourteenth year of Caesar Nero (Lives of Illustrious Men, Chap. V). The 6th century Liber Pontificalis ("Book of Popes") says that Peter "received the crown of martyrdom in the year 38 after the Lord's passion" (The Book of Popes, "I Peter.") This would set Peter's death in the year 67 or 68 since Yeshua died in the year 30.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. this: Grk. houtos. he said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Follow: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. imp., may mean (1) to be in motion in sequence behind someone; (2) to be in close association with someone, especially as a disciple. Mounce adds to imitate in behavior. Both meanings have application within this context. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Given the narrative of the next verse Yeshua apparently got up to leave.
Yeshua may have decided it was time to head for the mountain at which he would deliver the great commission (cf. Matt 28:16). In this sense the command becomes an acted out parable. Peter would follow him now and into the future and have a fruitful ministry for over thirty years. In a spiritual sense Peter followed Yeshua as the Spirit of Yeshua would lead the apostles in various directions to share the good news of the Messiah (cf. Acts 8:29, 39; 10:19; 11:12; 16:7; 19:21; Rom 8:14; 2Cor 2:14). For a summary of Peter's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Fisherman-Apostle.
20 Peter, having turned, saw the disciple whom Yeshua loved following; who also had reclined up to his chest at the Seder, and said, 'Lord, who is the one betraying you?'
Peter having turned: Grk. epistrephō, aor. pass. part., may mean (1) go back to a point, (2) turn about within a space, or (3) change a mode of thinking. The second meaning applies here. saw: Grk. blepō, pres. See verse 9 above. the disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Yeshua loved: Grk. agapaō, impf. See verse 7 above. following: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. part. See the previous verse. The verb has both a literal and spiritual meaning here. Peter well knew that John had never wavered in his loyalty and devotion to Yeshua. The rest of the description seems oddly superfluous for John the narrator to add. Yet, John has often added descriptive information to the mention of someone's name, e.g., Andrew (1:40; 6:8), Philip (1:44; 12:21), Judas (6:71; 12:4, 6; 13:2; 18:2, 5), Nicodemus (7:50; 19:39), and Caiaphas (18:14).
who: Grk. hos. also: Grk. kai, conj. had reclined: Grk. anapiptō, aor., to fall back, then recline, especially at a meal. up to: Grk. epi, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. chest: Grk. stēthos, an anatomical word for the chest, i.e., the thorax, which extends from the neck to the abdomen. at: Grk. en, prep. the Seder: Grk. deipnon normally referred to the daily main meal, generally in the evening or a royal feast or formal banquet. In John's narrative it is also used to refer to the Passover Seder enjoyed by Yeshua and his disciples (13:2, 4) and that is its meaning in this verse. The Passover meal was eaten while reclining. The mention of John reclining against Yeshua alludes to the narrative in 13:25. During the meal John reclined to the right of Yeshua, a coveted position of honor (cf. Mark 10:35-40).
Since persons reclined on the left side in order to eat with the right hand then John's back would have been toward Yeshua's front, but the description is not of physical contact since this would impede eating. and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 2 above. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 7 above. who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. betraying: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. part., to convey from one position to another, in general "to hand over," in this case a reference to subjecting Yeshua to arrest and a judicial process. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. In the narrative of 13:25 the question actually was "Lord, who is it?" The question was offered in response to Yeshua's announcement that he would be betrayed (13:21).
21 Then Peter having seen him said to Yeshua, "Lord, but what about this man?"
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Peter: See verse 2 above. As in verse 17 the name has the definite article. See the note here. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to Yeshua: See verse 1 above. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 7 above. but: Grk. de, conj. what about: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. this man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." Morris suggests that Peter's restoration emboldened him to ask this personal question. Perhaps Peter wondered whether John would also be martyred.
22 Yeshua said to him, "If I should want him to remain until I come, what is that pertaining to you? You follow me!"
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. If: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. I should want: Grk. thelō, pres. subj. See verse 18 above. The subjunctive mood stresses probability, not certainty. Yeshua does not want Peter to assume that the matter has been decided. him: Grk. autos. to remain: Grk. menō, pres. inf., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. The verb implies "remain alive" (i.e., "outlive you") or possibly "remain active in ministry." until: Grk. heōs, conj., a particle marking a limit, here of time; till, until, as far as.
I come: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 3 above. The present tense here denotes an anticipated future event or an action purposed. In addition to its normal usage Yeshua did use the verb as a reference to temporal judgment upon his people (Matt 23:35; Luke 21:6; Rev 2:5, 16) and his second coming at the end of the age (Matt 24:30; 25:31; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:11; Rev 1:7; 22:7, 12), which the apostles expected to occur in their lifetimes. Yeshua is being deliberately ambiguous. This saying of Yeshua is something of a puzzle and commentators have offered different interpretations to explain it. Clarke lists the options offered by interpreters, ancient and modern:
1. Yeshua meant that John would never die.
2. Yeshua intimated that John would live until Messiah came in judgment to destroy Jerusalem. On this opinion it is observed that Peter, who was the oldest of the apostles, died in the year 67, 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 that desolation took place.
3. Some notable church fathers 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 you? Follow me to your crucifixion." All antiquity agrees that John, if he did die, was the only disciple who was taken away by a natural death.
imagine that the 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 Yeshua and Peter
returned to him.
As far as these options, the first contradicts Hebrews 9:7 and is rebutted by the next verse. The second option is possible, but in passages where erchomai occurs in the sense of judgment, the whole context is about judgment. Yeshua has made no comment about judgment in this chapter. The third option seems most viable since the fourth option makes the narrative awkward and fails to explain why a rumor should be spread if that is what John meant.
what is that: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. pertaining to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110). Here the preposition denotes with reference to or in relation to someone. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. Yeshua asks the logical question. "Why is that your business?" Peter offers no answer. Stern comments,
"Yeshua rules out curiosity about matters that do not concern us or help us live a holy life, although he does not rule out scientific inquiry into how the world works. Likewise he excludes unhealthy, jealous competition concerned with comparing our lives, tasks, gifts, accomplishments, interests and calling with those of others."
You: Grk. su. The use of the pronoun is emphatic. follow: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. imp. See verse 19 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The command urges Peter to keep on manifesting his devotion and close relationship to Yeshua. The commitment to be faithful to Yeshua must not be contingent on what happens to family members, friends or colleagues.
23 Therefore this statement went out among the brothers that, "that disciple would not die;" yet Yeshua did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?"
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. statement: Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). Logos is used here of a statement supposedly made by Yeshua. Thus, some versions render the noun as "rumor" (CEV, GW, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, OJB). went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. The verb implies a wide dissemination. among: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The preposition vividly portrays the logos-statement moving into various minds and conversations.
the brothers: Grk. adelphos, m. pl., lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); (2) half-siblings (Gen 20:5); and (3) indefinite of relative, of the same tribe, of the same people (Gen 13:18). A few versions add "and sisters" (CSB, CEB, NET, TLV). Other versions make it gender neutral with either "believers" (NIV, NIRV, NLT), "community" (NLT, NRSV) or "followers" of Yeshua (ERV, GW, NOG, NCV, NLV, TEV). The masculine plural noun does not necessarily exclude women in this context, but neither does it automatically include them. There could even be an implied inside joke that the sisters were more skeptical and did not credit the rumor as true.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a direct quotation and to function as quotation marks. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "that one." disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. would not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres., to die, generally used of physical death of humans without regard to cause. yet: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua did not: Grk. ou. say: Grk. legō, aor., lit. "said not." to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. that: Grk. hoti. The conjunction is used here to introduce a subordinate clause. he would not: Grk. ou. die: apothnēskō, pres. but: Grk. alla, conj. If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you: The quotation repeats verbatim Yeshua's statement in the previous verse and confronts the rumor as a patent falsehood. Nevertheless, Yeshua indirectly prophesied long life for John and according to church tradition he died sometime after Trajan became emperor in AD 98.
This verse illustrates two important principles. First, as a people devoted to the truth, followers of Yeshua must be very careful in repeating things said by third parties. A popular parlor game "Rumor" involving a group of people who whisper something said to one person sequentially to the rest illustrates the danger. At the end of the game the report of the last person is often not what was said in the beginning of the game. Words can easily be misinterpreted and twisted in the transmission and gossip can become slander. It's appropriate for anyone receiving a tale to ask, "how do you know that's true?"
The second principle relates to biblical exegesis. An important question to ask is "What does the text say?" Many people believe the Bible teaches things that it does not. "Elijah went to heaven in a chariot of fire." No, he was taken in a whirlwind (2Kgs 2:11). "Jonah was swallowed by a whale." The text says only that he was swallowed by a great fish (Jon 1:17). "There were three Magi who visited the baby Yeshua." There were three gifts, but no mention of how many Magi (Matt 2:1, 11). "Yeshua was an only child." No, he had half-brothers and half-sisters (Mark 6:3). Followers of Yeshua have the right (and obligation) to ask any teacher, minister, pastor, priest or rabbi, "Where in the Bible is that statement, belief or doctrine found?" (cf. Acts 17:10-11; 18:24-26; 1Cor 14:29).
The last two verses appear to be a conclusion written by a group other than John to authenticate the veracity of the book. Three objections may be advanced against this assumption. First, such a proposition would make verse 23 a very strange ending to the book. Second, if the authentication was written by respected leaders in the Body of Messiah it seems strange they didn't take the opportunity to identify John as "this disciple" who wrote the book. Third, the "we know" verb could well include John and thus explain the lack of naming John as the author. Paul frequently said "we know" in his letters, thereby including himself in the expression.
24 This is the disciple, the one testifying concerning these things, and the one having written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
This: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. the disciple: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. John then reports two important accomplishments. testifying: Grk. martureō, pres. part., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth. The verb declares John's faithful ministry of public proclamation of the good news of Yeshua. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. these things: Grk. houtos, n. pl. The present tense of the two preceding verbs indicate that John was still alive.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the one: Grk. ho. having written: Grk. graphō, aor. part., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. these things: Grk. houtos, n. pl. The pronoun refers to the contents of the entire book, a truly monumental written work. and we know: Grk. oida, perf., 1p-pl. See verse 4 above. The plural number of the verb includes John and may allude to fellow apostles or even to Yeshua. that: Grk. hoti, conj. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. testimony: Grk. marturia, attestation of a fact or truth; testimony, witness, especially in a legal context. Christians typically refer to the apostolic narratives as "Gospels," but John identifies his written work as a testimony (19:35). is: Grk. eimi, pres. true: Grk. alēthēs, adj., unconcealed, and so 'true.' The adjective could be translated as real, genuine, trustworthy, straightforward or honest. There is a saying in the Talmud that "the seal of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, is truth" (Yoma 69b).
25 Moreover there are also many other things that Yeshua did, which if every one should be written, I suppose not even the world itself would have space for the books to be written.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. there are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. many: Grk. polus, adj., n. pl., extensive in scope, here indicating a high number. other things: Grk. allos, adj., n. pl. See verse 18 above. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Yeshua did: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The first meaning applies here. which: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used here to give specific reference to the preceding verb. if: Grk. ean, conj. See verse 22 above.
every: Grk. kata, prep. used in a distributive sense to indicate a succession of things following one another. one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one. should be written: Grk. graphō, pres. pass. subj. See the previous verse. I suppose: Grk. oiomai, pres. mid., to entertain an idea, in the general sense of 'think.' not even: Grk. oude, conj., negative marker used to link a negative statement to a preceding statement in terms of explanation; not even. the world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the earth as the place of habitation; (3) the world as mankind, sometimes in reference to a segment of population; (4) the world as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, cares and sufferings; and (5) representative of people and values opposed to God (BAG). The third meaning is intended here in the sense of the Jewish world.
itself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. would have space for: Grk. chōreō, fut. inf., derived from chōra, 'make use of space for movement;' has two basic meanings, (1) move forward to a position; go, head for; and (2) be in a condition of having space; hold, contain and in imagery have or make room. The second meaning applies here. the books: Grk. biblion, n. pl., means a book, a scroll or a document. The noun is the diminutive form of biblos, derived from an older form bublos, which originally meant the papyrus plant that was exported to Greece through the port of Byblos in Syria where the plant was prepared.
In the LXX biblion translates Heb. sêpher, which was used for anything written, such as a scroll, book, writing, letter, diary, or a legal document. Biblion is also used in the LXX for individual books of Scripture (Dan 9:2), but most importantly as a solemn expression for the Torah (Deut 17:18; 28:58; cf. Heb 9:19). In the Besekh biblion, and its root biblos, is used for Matthew's narrative of Yeshua (Matt 1:1), the book of Isaiah (Luke 3:4; 4:17, 20), the Torah (Mark 12:26; Gal 3:10; Heb 9:19; 10:7), the book of Psalms (Luke 20:42; Acts 1:20), the book of Amos (Acts 7:42), and scrolls, probably Scripture (2Tim 4:13).
to be written: Grk. graphō, pres. pass. inf. Even though John's book was the last apostolic narrative published, more could have easily been written if God so decided. However, the divine prerogative apparently did not see the need for a detailed chronicle of Yeshua's life on earth. God was not interested in turning the greatest story ever told into a type of Facebook publication detailing every boring and irrelevant fact of his life. Certainly more miracles could have been recorded, but John selected what he thought most significant. None of Yeshua's works were greater than the ones presented in this book.
Josephus offers an historical note on Yeshua somewhat parallel in thought to John's statement:
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." (Ant. XVIII, 3:3)
ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot. ed. Charles Van der Pool. Apostolic Press, 2006. An interlinear of the Septuagint with English translation and Strong's numbering. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer (1877-1960), A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
Geldenhuys: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Gill: John Gill (1697–1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. ed. Trent C. Butler. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by James Orr. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Online, 2011.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
JE: Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, 1906. 12 vols., gen. ed. Isidore Singer. Online at JewishEncyclopedia.com, 2002-2011.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602–1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
Lindsey: Robert L. Lindsey, Jesus Rabbi & Lord: The Hebrew Story of Jesus Behind Our Gospels. Cornerstone Publishing, 1990.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell (1811-1898) and Robert Scott (1811-1887), A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. ed. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek–English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
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