John Chapter 21: Apostles meet the Risen Lord on the Shore

Dec 10th, 2009 | By | Category: John, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

John Chapter 21: Apostles meet the Risen Lord on the Shore

John 21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself.

After his resurrection, Jesus had previously shown himself to the apostles on two occasions, one where Thomas was absent and one where he was present, suddenly appearing in their midst through a locked door (John 20:19-29).

John 21:2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

On this occasion, at least seven were gathered, of whom at least five were apostles: Peter, Thomas, Nathanael (Bartholomew), and James and John Zebedee. John probably specifically mentioned Thomas, Peter, and Nathanael by name because elsewhere in his Gospel, he wrote about discussions and incidents with them. John told about Nathanael on multiple occasions, and Thomas too. He also recorded the interview with Nicodemus and then what Nicodemus did at the Cross. And details about Mary Magdalene were given. Thus John followed through on the personalities and characters of various individuals.

John 21:3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a-fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

Two weeks, and possibly three, had passed since Jesus’ last appearance. The length of time was one reason Peter suggested returning to their former business pursuit. Although Jesus appeared on and off during the 40 days, many of the appearances occurred on the first day.

After the eighth day, there was a gap of time, during which the apostles left Jerusalem and went up to Galilee, called the “sea of Tiberias” in verse 1.

We get a clue about Peter’s personality here. As a man of action, he was prone to be impatient and not sit around. This trait is a good one if properly channeled; it is the opposite of being slothful. Moreover, this trait showed that Peter was a leader—a highly respected leader. Hence the others joined him in the suggestion to go fishing.

No time was wasted. Peter was quick and impulsive. He got into the ship immediately, and the others followed. The “ship” was large enough to easily hold seven or more fishermen. They fished all night and caught nothing. This was a psychological downer, for the Sea of Galilee was teeming with fish in those days and it was unusual not to catch any.

They caught nothing on their own, but when Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the ship, they caught MUCH (verse 6). This is a lesson about God’s providence. When the disciples caught nothing, some may have been a little conscience-stricken. They might have associated the lack of fish with Jesus’ instruction to go to Galilee where he would appear to them. Instead of being in an attitude to receive him, they were out fishing. The incident would seem to represent a lack of faith, but actually, that is not the case.

John 21:4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

John 21:5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

John 21:6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

Jesus’ posture—he “stood on the shore”—must have been very striking for John to mention it.

The disciples were in the boat, going to shore, when they noticed Jesus. They were 200 cubits (300 feet or 100 yards, a little less than the length of a football field) from shore (verse 8). Jesus would have had a very powerful voice to talk to them from that distance.

Picture the scene. The apostles had fished all night and caught nothing. Now it was morning, and they were weaving their way back. Then they observed an individual standing on the shore, and he called to them, “Children, have ye any meat?” Next Jesus told them to cast their net on the right side of the ship and they would catch fish, “right” being the favorable side. Jesus was teaching the disciples that they had to do things in his way. In addition, a general lesson would be for Christians to expend their energy in the most profitable direction in harmony with the Bible.

When the apostles tried to pull the net out of the water, there was a great deal of resistance, for the net was FULL of fish—153 fish, we are told later.

Q: When Jesus called to the disciples, “Children, have ye any meat?” was that a common form of address back there?

A: For one to use that manner of address, he would have to be a superior. We know from details recorded and from John’s use of the expressions “children” and “little children” that he was extremely observant of Jesus’ last days and his resurrection (John 13:33; 1 John 2:1,28; 3:7,18; 4:4; 5:21). Of course we know too that John was older when he used these terms.

The apostles and disciples were strong characters and yet childlike in some respects. Their humility and naiveness show forth. For example, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see the Lord because he was short. If we had fished all night and caught nothing and then someone told us  to cast the net on the right side of the boat, it would take humility to obey. As already mentioned, for the apostles to notice Jesus at a distance of 300 feet, his appearance must have been unusual and impressive. They were not told the one on the shore was Jesus, but they knew his identity once they started to pull in the net. And John announced, “It is the Lord!” (verse 7). Jesus would have had an authoritative posture or appearance.

John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

John 21:8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

John 21:9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

John 21:10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

When the great numbers of fish were caught, John said, “It is the Lord.” John recognized Jesus based on what the Master had done very early in his ministry (Luke 5:4-11).

Once again we get insight into Peter’s character and striking personality. He was “naked” (the account does not say how naked), for he did not want to be encumbered by clothing. He was ready for work and activity.

Verses 3 and 8 contrast a “ship” with a “little ship.” The apostles had two boats, a larger one from which they fished, and a smaller one to haul the net.

Even prior to John’s announcing, “It is the Lord,” it is possible the apostles were getting a little nervous. When they fished all night and caught nothing, their consciences may have bothered them. Things were strange. And then they saw the stranger on the shore. If they did not recognize Jesus right away, at least they were getting very close, and of course John was sharp in his observations. Later, at and after Pentecost, Peter and John were companions in declaring the gospel message. The two apostles were regarded by the others as the leading lights, but John never mentioned his own name directly. After all, John was a “son of thunder,” so we know he was a strong personality (Mark 3:17). That strength was channeled into courage for the truth and for expounding it.

When the disciples got to shore, they observed a fire already burning, with coals glowing, and then fish and bread. This tells us that Jesus produced the food miraculously (for he had not been fishing), similar to the feeding of the 5,000 with fish and bread earlier. Jesus did not need the  apostles. And that is a good lesson for us to remember too; namely, the Lord does not need us, but we need him. Hence we should not regard ourselves or our ministry higher than we should.

The bread and fish were already prepared for the disciples by the Lord, yet he said, “Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” Why did Jesus do this? The entire incident is a spiritual lesson to show that the Lord can perform his work—whatever is necessary—without the apostles and us. While he impresses upon us our own lack of importance, yet he will accept our services. He shows us our proper place but, nevertheless, invites us. He will accept of our fish and bread—he condescends to accept the sacrifices of his people. And even though the disciples caught fish, they did so only after he instructed them what to do.

John 21:11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

John 21:12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him,  Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

John 21:13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

John 21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

When Jesus told them to “bring of the fish,” Simon Peter was again the first. He was impulsive and also strong physically, as shown by his drawing the “net to land full of great fishes.” The account does not say that Jesus ate of the apostles’ fish, but he wanted them to realize the importance of their work and thus asked for some of their fish.

It is miraculous that the net did not break. In the earlier incident of Luke 5:1-11, the net did break. Only John wrote of this later incident. The things he observed are very significant.

What does the catch of 153 “great fishes” represent? To count out the fish was unusual, and the exact number is given, not an approximate one. Since we are living in between two ages, certain things may be happening of which we are unaware, for example, possibly a preparatory harvest with Israel.

Comment: The fact the fish are called “great” seems to imply that they represent part of the Little Flock. Perhaps 153 of the feet members will come out of Babylon at the very end of the age, as opposed to those who have had dispensational truth right along.

Reply: That suggestion cannot be denied, for 153 is a strange number.

When the net broke in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the disciples were untaught, immature, and inexperienced in the work he had in mind for them. That was the beginning of their call, and they were babes at that time. But now, after 3 1/2 years of instruction, they were much further advanced in understanding about Jesus, even without the Holy Spirit, for they had lived and talked with him during that time. Thus Jesus had accomplished in them what he wanted to. His prayer in John 17:12 contained the words “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” The eleven he did not lose were instructed, and they were now ready to proceed into the ministry once they got the Holy Spirit. (Of course Jesus still had to deal with Peter, as will be seen in the next few verses.) When Jesus said, “Come and dine,” the apostles obeyed. All of them knew Jesus was the “stranger,” but no one wanted to say anything. That is human nature, and their reaction gives a stamp of authenticity to the narrative.

“This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples”; that is, it was the third time he showed himself to a group of apostles, as opposed to Mary, the women, the two going to Emmaus, Peter alone, etc. Incidentally, it was characteristic of John to count days, incidents, number of Passovers, and so forth. He observed things and kept them in remembrance like a library. This talent is what urged him to write a Gospel.

The number 153 is very important. If we add 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5, etc., up to 17, the total is 153.

Also, 153 is a multiple of 17 (17 x 9 = 153). Moreover, the multiple of 17 is in the Great Pyramid but in a modified sense. Hence 153 is a mystical number. These “great fishes” may be true ones, that is, individuals, or souls, that are drawn in and make the Little Flock. The fish were all larger than normal. Usually there is a mixture and a variety of fish in the net, so this uniform catch was unusual. Each of the 153 was large. This incident contrasts with the Parable of the Dragnet, for that net contained good and bad fish and required sorting (Matt. 13:47,48). Here all of the fish were salvable, for whatever purpose.

John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” According to a Reprint article, the word “these” could refer to either the other apostles or the fishing business. Probably the reference was to the other apostles. However, the Pastor gives the other view, the thought about the fishing business, for which there is merit. For one thing, Peter is the one who said, “I go a fishing,” and the others followed. They followed his leadership because they respected him. But it is more likely that the word “these” refers to the apostles. Peter had said, “If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise” (Mark 14:31), yet the denial occurred three times. Peter also said, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matt. 26:33). Because of these boastful statements, Peter was singled out in regard to his love for Jesus versus his love for the apostles. Peter responded, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

This was the first of three times that Peter was asked to reaffirm his love, based on his previous three denials of Jesus. All three times Jesus addressed Peter as “Simon, son of Jonas.” Some have felt this address was a form of coolness, but other Scriptures seem to indicate that that was not the case. For example, earlier, during his ministry, when Jesus asked, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter responded quickly with “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona [son of Jonas]: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16:15-17). Hence the use of that phrase here in John 21:15-17 is not a sign of coolness but a sign of directness. Jesus singled out Peter and addressed him.

Q: Why did Jesus use agape love (“Lovest thou me more than these?”) and Peter respond with phileo love (“Thou knowest that I love thee”)?

A: Bible Students have been taught from the platform that agape love is a higher form than phileo love. That is a correct view under certain circumstances. Agape love is a detached love predicated on principle. But with those who are already in the family—those who are consecrated—there is a tender, more affectionate type of love, phileo love, as well as a principled agape love. Thus there are times when phileo love is a better expression than agape love. God and Jesus exercise agape love to the world. They are so principled that they will give the world a chance, even though mankind has not listened to them in this age. The very fact God has the mercy to resuscitate the human race and give them an opportunity for life is agape love, a higher form of principled love. But Christians, who have come into the family, are loved even more. The context must be considered.

Hence Peter was saying, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I dearly love thee.” Yet there are other phileo love texts where the insertion of “dearly” would not fit either the mood or the context.

Peter was reaffirming his love: “Yes, I love you. I affectionately love you.” Peter’s response was more intense, for Jesus had merely asked, “Do you love me?” using the thought of plain love.

Jesus then told Peter, “Feed my lambs.” What does this instruction suggest? Upon denying Jesus, Peter lost his discipleship, so now Jesus was beginning to reinstate him as an apostle, starting with “Feed my baby Christians.” Peter knew he had denied the Lord. When Jesus was resurrected, it was only natural that Peter would question where he now stood with him.

Before, Peter had boasted he would never forsake Jesus—the old Peter was prone to be a little boastful. After his resurrection, Jesus reaffirmed his interest in Peter both in a private appearance and with these remarks about “feeding.” Jesus was reinstating Peter as an apostle to be used in a teaching capacity, but with a little reserve at first—hence the words “Feed my lambs.” It would be like saying to one who was previously an elder, “You can now teach Sunday school.”

Verse 15, then, was a limited reinstatement—after Peter said, “I dearly love thee.” Jesus was now free to give Peter a limited acknowledgment and reinstatement. Just as with Peter, the Lord sometimes helps us with our lack of understanding of a particular principle. By initiating a situation, God can extract certain statements from us. The Lord wanted to reinstate Peter, but it had to be predicated upon repentance. The leader Peter had denied the Lord three times, and now, as a form of repentance, it was necessary for him to be humiliated three times in front of the other apostles.

Of course Jesus knew Peter loved him, for Peter was the first to jump into the water when the  Lord was recognized on the shore. Nevertheless, the confession had to be made publicly andaudibly because the denials had been so given. And Jesus knew Peter (and John) had run to the tomb. In other words, Peter’s confession was a necessary form of decorum in view of what had previously happened. Peter’s weeping bitterly was not enough—public retraction and reaffirmation were essential.

A principle is involved here. Private sin can be privately confessed to the Lord because it has not harmed others. But to the extent that sin reaches out and touches others, it incurs correspondingly more responsibility.

John 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

At this point, Peter probably did not realize what was happening, namely, that Jesus would ask him three times as an offset to the three denials. Jesus used the same question, form, and words. And Peter gave the same response. Jesus again used agape and Peter phileo. The only difference was Jesus’ “feeding” instruction, which this time was, “Feed my sheep.” With the word “sheep,” Jesus went up another rung of reinstatement for Peter. He now gave Peter a little larger custodianship. “Shepherd my sheep” is the thought. This is the second of a cumulative, progressive reinstatement. Instead of little lambs, now the older, more mature sheep were to be fed. “Shepherding” and what it involves will be considered when the third response is discussed.

Jesus’ emphasis the second time could have been on himself: “Lovest thou me?” This would tie in with his caution to the Church of Ephesus about leaving their “first [personal] love” for him (Rev. 2:4). The phrase “more than these” was omitted the second time, suggesting Jesus’ emphasis was now on Peter’s love for him. This emphasis was a little more embarrassing and humiliating to Peter. Like a surgeon, Jesus was probing deeper. Each subsequent question, although essentially a repeat, went deeper.

When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you [agape] love me?” Peter purposely replied with phileo love because he felt that phileo love was more intense. The point is that depending on context, either agape or phileo love can be superior. Here phileo love is higher.

Jesus so (agape) loved the world that he gave his life on their behalf. To have concern for others besides yourself is a better quality of love, but where the consecrated “family” is concerned, phileo love is more important, for it is a personal love, not a cold, detached love. Jesus did not personally love each individual in the world. No, those in the world are astray—they do not know Jesus and do not want to. The personal love Jesus has for a Christian is far superior to his love for the world. Hence Peter felt he was reaffirming his love in a more intense way with phileo. Agape love is the usual word for love. Phileo contains the thought of brotherly or sisterly love.

Jesus did not just carte blanche forgive Peter. His words and method were carefully thought out. The caution to us is that we should not be more loving than the Father or Jesus. If someone does a real injury to another, the injured party should not just brush off the matter, thinking he is being so magnanimous.

John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Even though the questioning was a form of rebuke to Peter, it was also an encouragement, for it reinstated him as an apostle—and in front of the other apostles.

Here, the third time, Jesus used phileo love. He took Peter’s remarks—Peter’s own words—to phrase the question “Do you affectionately love me?” Jesus now pressed the matter deeper and made it a little more searching. “Do you really affectionately love me as you stated?” At this point, Peter would realize the question was being asked three times because he had denied Jesus three times. Peter was grieved to be asked the third time, and this time in his reply, he added, “Thou knowest all things.” Peter knew Jesus could search his heart.

Many mistakenly think that even if the sin was grievous, the grander love is to forgive as soon as one says, “I am sorry.” Should Jesus have forgiven Peter because he knew Peter wept, ran to the tomb, and jumped out of the boat? No! The three denials had to be publicly countermanded. However, Jesus did this in a gentle manner, for each time he asked if Peter loved him, Jesus gave added assurance in regard to feeding or shepherding lambs or sheep. Compare: Verse 15: “Feed my lambs.”

Verse 16: “Shepherd my sheep.”

Verse 17: “Feed my sheep.”

In verse 17, the thought of “feed” is more important than “shepherd,” and the instruction about sheep transcends that of lambs. In other words, the advice in these instructions is cumulative. To “shepherd” means to give counsel as a leader in the sense of technical advice.

Elders may have a lot of common sense along practical lines but not be deep thinkers along spiritual lines. In other words, some today who guide and influence Christians—and not just in the Truth movement—may not be the deepest, spiritually speaking, yet they have needed capabilities (for example, evangelizing or how to get things done). Giving advice and providing leadership (“shepherding” the sheep) are one thing, but in addition, Peter was to “feedadvanced Christians.

This last instruction reinstated Peter in the minds of the other apostles, and until Paul came on the scene, they looked to Peter as a leader in more advanced thinking. When Paul began to teach, Peter humbly acknowledged Paul’s superiority. In fact, Peter’s humility was outstanding. Roman Catholics have used Peter’s commission to feed lambs and sheep to support his being the first pope. However, they ignore Paul’s reprimand to Peter and Peter’s acknowledgment of Paul’s superiority.

John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

John 21:19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Verse 18, as proved by verse 19, indicated Peter would die by crucifixion. Tradition says he asked to be crucified upside down when the time came.

The entire incident showed Peter that he needed to be more humble because he was accustomed to being impetuous and impulsive, doing what he wanted in a macho way. Jesus was giving Peter a reflective view of his own nature as it had been, but now Peter realized he must be on his guard and do things Jesus’ way. Jesus’ words “Follow me” suggest, “Peter, now you have to control yourself.”

Regardless of the reasons Peter denied Jesus earlier, the fact that he would be crucified would be a form of retribution, and it would remind Peter of both Jesus’ experience and his own failure. But Jesus’ words here were also an encouragement to Peter in that they indicated he would be faithful. Jesus’ words were like a little chiding. He was saying, “In the past, you did things in your own way, but in the future, you must watch that tendency and hearken unto me.

You will be faithful, but you will meet with a fate of crucifixion.” When that time came, Peter would be encouraged by remembering Jesus’ words. He would also remember his three denials and his progressive reinstatement—the whole incident.

In 2 Peter 1:14, Peter referred back to John 21:18,19. “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shown me.” Peter was probably crucified shortly before Paul’s death—maybe a year earlier.

John 21:20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

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

Peter turned around and saw John. Then he asked Jesus what John’s fate would be.

This observation by John about Peter’s “turning about” is helpful. A very focused conversation had just taken place between Jesus and Peter, culminating with the Master’s prediction that Peter’s life would end with crucifixion. Now Peter saw John and changed the subject to John’s fate. Peter wondered, “Would John meet with the same fate? Would John be crucified?” Peter was interested to know John’s fate.

After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter and John were paired for quite a while, so it was natural for Peter to be concerned about his “partner.” There was a growing affinity between these two. At the Memorial supper, Peter had asked John to inquire who would betray Jesus. As time went on, Peter became more attached to John than to Andrew, his brother. Hence Peter was more concerned about John’s fate than about the fate of the other nine apostles.

Notice how in verse 20, John used almost an entire verse to avoid giving his name. The term “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” which John used several places, is here definitely pinned down as referring to John by the added description about the Memorial supper.

John 21:22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

This was a prophetic statement that the John class would tarry until the Lord’s Second Presence. Then when John personally tarried, he became a good picture that the John class are the feet (or latter) members of the body of Christ.

The following is a paraphrase of Jesus’ reply: “If it is my purpose or my Father’s purpose that John should tarry, it really is no concern [or no business] of yours. Follow thou me.” Jesus’ reply is a lesson for all of us to be careful that we are following the Lord. Regardless of any dealings, trials, etc., that others have, we are to follow the Lord through our own experiences and not to compare our trials to the trials of others. “Follow the Lord’s instruction” is the rule.

Thus Jesus inculcated a principle and also manifested a little reserve—just as he did with his statement “Touch me not” when Mary Magdalene wanted to embrace him (John 20:17).

It seems reasonable to assume Jesus knew that John would have the privilege of recording the Book of Revelation and that through that book and by the Holy Spirit, the John class would be carried down to the end of the age.

John 21:23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

From the natural standpoint, John did tarry, for he outlived the other apostles by a considerable length of time. In fact, John did not even write his Gospel until a fairly late date.

However, once his Gospel was written and other brethren became aware of this private conversation of Peter, John, and Jesus and then observed that John was living into his nineties, they began to think maybe he would live until Jesus’ return. Thus John had to squelch the false rumor circulating that he would live on into Jesus’ return, that Jesus would return in his lifetime.

In his epistles to the Thessalonians, Paul had to combat the erroneous thought that the resurrection was past and that the invisible Second Presence had already occurred. Of course the Thessalonians understood that the Second Presence would be invisible. Otherwise, Paul would have used the argument “You do not see him, so of course he is not here.” Instead he had to use the argument about the man of sin, etc.

When Paul wrote his first epistle to the Thessalonians, they thought he was hinting that Jesus had returned. He later said (paraphrased), “By word of doctrine from my mouth or by my pen, do not get the thought that I meant in my first letter Jesus is here. No, he cannot come until, first, there is a falling away and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:1-3). Some erroneously thought Jesus had already come. The Greek word used does not mean “nigh” in the sense that the Second Advent was near, but it means that Jesus was present, that he was actually here.

The Matthew account about sleeping saints arising in the earthquake at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion is true (Matt. 27:51-53). Some falsely concluded that the resuscitation of the sleeping saints was an evidence the resurrection was past. And the apostles thought Jesus would restore the Kingdom after his resurrection. The theme of the Second Advent was so exciting that many overread certain statements. In their zeal, they misread providences.

John 21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

These two verses were appended to the Gospel of John in some of the ancient manuscripts. It is possible that verse 24 is authentic, but internal evidence proves that verse 25 was an interpolation and is thus spurious. One internal evidence is the change of pronoun from “we” in verse 24 to “I” in verse 25. The word “I” does not harmonize with John’s characteristic manner of always referring to himself indirectly.

John’s Gospel was finished while he was yet alive, but in the transcription of the original document and its incorporation with the other books of the New Testament, this exaggeration was added. Some try to justify verse 25 by saying it was Hebrew hyperbole (see the Diaglott footnote). Although the Scriptures do contain such hyperboles—for example, “The cities are great and walled up to heaven” (Deut. 1:28) and “There we saw the giants, … and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers” (Num. 13:33)—the pronoun “I” proves the verse is not authentic. The Berean Manual says that verse 25 is not in the Sinaitic manuscript. Certainly John did not write it.

(1986–1987 Study)

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