John 21:24
This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
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(24) This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things.—Comp. John 20:30-31. As we have there the formal close of what seems to have been the original Gospel, we have here the formal close of the epilogue. The words are, however, too wide to be limited to the epilogue, and clearly refer to all that has preceded. They identify the writer with the disciple just mentioned, i.e., the disciple whom Jesus loved, and the form of the sentence implies that he who wrote these things was still living, and bearing witness to their truth. He is still testifying to the things of which he wrote.

And we know that his testimony is true.—Our first and natural thought is that these are not the words of the writer of the Gospel, but the additional witness of persons knowing him and testifying to his writing. It is usual to explain the “we know” by referring to 1John 5:18-20; but the plural of a letter ought not to be quoted to explain the plural in an historic document, and it is probable that the natural thought is the true one. But though the words are an addition, they are a contemporaneous addition present in every important MS. and version, and an undoubted part of the original text. We cannot tell who are the persons whose words we here read—Andrew it may be, or Philip, or some of the seventy disciples who had been witnesses of the work of Christ, or some of the Ephesian Church, as Aristion or John the Presbyter, who felt that the Apostle’s personal character gave the stamp of truth to all he said, and add here the conviction that all these words were true. (Comp. Introduction, p. 377.)

John 21:24. This is the disciple which testifieth these things — Being still alive after he had written them. From this verse Grotius and some others infer, that the Ephesian bishops added this whole chapter to St. John’s gospel, after his death. But, as Dr. Macknight observes, it evidently proves the contrary, for it assures us that John wrote the things contained in this chapter. And we know that his testimony is true — The church probably added these words to this gospel, as Tertius did those to St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, Romans 16:23. Further, though the evangelist seems to conclude his gospel, (John 20:31,) it is no unusual thing with the sacred writers to add new matter after such conclusions. See the epistle to the Romans, and that to the Hebrews, at the end. As to the writer of this gospel being spoken of in the third person, it is agreeable to John’s manner; (see John 19:35;) who likewise speaks of himself in the plural number, 1 John 5:18-20. To conclude, the verse under consideration is shown to be genuine, by a similar passage in the conclusion of the third epistle, John 21:12. In detailing the events subsequent to the crucifixion, the reader may readily observe, that much matter is recorded in a small compass; and that though each evangelist has given his particular and connected narration, much new matter is introduced by each one, unnoticed by the others. To frame a general narrative by a combination of the whole, and to dispose the various circumstances in the order they are supposed to have occurred, have been objects of difficulty to harmonists. On these accounts, the following concise summary of the events, in the order they may rationally be supposed to have happened, is introduced, as arranged by Dr. Benson, and afterward adopted by Archbishop Newcome.

On the morning of the first day of the week, Jesus rises from the dead; a great earthquake happens about the time of his resurrection; and an angel appears, who rolls away the stone that closed the mouth of the sepulchre, sits upon it, and strikes the keepers with great fear; thus causing them to remove to such a distance, as to remain unnoticed by the women and others hereafter, Matthew 28:2-4. After his resurrection, many bodies of the saints rise from their graves, and are seen by many in Jerusalem, Matthew 27:52-53. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, Joanna, and other women, (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,) go very early to the sepulchre, intending to embalm the body of Jesus, (having bought spices the preceding evening for that purpose.) In their way they consult about removing the stone from the door of the sepulchre. Perceiving it already taken away, they enter into the sepulchre, yet find not the body of the Lord Jesus, Mark 16:3-5; Luke 24:2-3; John 20:1. Mary Magdalene, hastily returning to Jerusalem, relates to Peter and John that they had taken the Lord out of the sepulchre, John 20:2. The other women remaining in the sepulchre, two angels appear unto them, and one of them requests the women to inform the disciples, and Peter in particular, that Jesus was risen, &c., Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:4-7; Luke 24:4-8. The women return from the sepulchre, relate these things to the apostles, and are discredited, Matthew 28:8; Mark 16:8; Luke 24:8-11. Peter and John having heard Mary Magdalene’s report of his having been taken away, and the women’s of his having risen, run to the sepulchre, and find the body removed according to their information, and wondering at what was come to pass, return home, Luke 24:12; John 20:3-10. The resurrection having been stated to the disciples at Jerusalem at this period, (Luke 24:22-24,) Cleophas and his companion leave their brethren to go to Emmaus. Mary Magdalene goes again to the sepulchre, tarries there after the apostles, (John 20:11,) and converses with the two angels who had before appeared to the women. Turning herself back, she perceives Jesus, who gradually makes himself known unto her; she consequently hastens to the city, and announces this his first appearance to the disciples, but they believe not, Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18. The other women, having told the disciples of his resurrection, continue in the city, while Peter and John visit, and Mary Magdalene revisits, the sepulchre: they then go back again, and upon finding it deserted, return toward Jerusalem. On their way, Jesus meets and requests them to direct his disciples to depart into Galilee, Matthew 28:9-10. This is his second appearance. The guards about this time leave the neighbourhood of the sepulchre, and inform the Jewish rulers of what had occurred within their knowledge, Matthew 28:11-15. According to Paul, (1 Corinthians 15:5,) the third appearance is to Cephas; and the fourth, to the two who some time prior to this left their brethren to proceed to Emmaus; who, immediately returning to Jerusalem, relate it to the other disciples, and are not credited, Matthew 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-36. The last time of his being seen on the day of his resurrection, being the fifth, was by the apostles as they sat at meat in the absence of Thomas, 1 Corinthians 15:5; Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23. This concludes the great and glorious transactions of the important day on which Jesus rose from the dead. About the eighth day after his resurrection, he again, the sixth time, appears to his disciples, when Thomas was present, John 20:24-29. His seventh appearance occurs between the eighth and fortieth day, at the sea of Tiberias, to his disciples, (21:20-24 Sufferings, pains, and death, will appear formidable even to the experienced Christian; but in the hope to glorify God, to leave a sinful world, and to be present with his Lord, he becomes ready to obey the Redeemer's call, and to follow Him through death to glory. It is the will of Christ that his disciples should mind their own duty, and not be curious about future events, either as to themselves or others. Many things we are apt to be anxious about, which are nothing to us. Other people's affairs are nothing to us, to intermeddle in; we must quietly work, and mind our own business. Many curious questions are put about the counsels of God, and the state of the unseen world, as to which we may say, What is this to us? And if we attend to the duty of following Christ, we shall find neither heart nor time to meddle with that which does not belong to us. How little are any unwritten traditions to be relied upon! Let the Scripture be its own interpreter, and explain itself; as it is, in a great measure, its own evidence, and proves itself, for it is light. See the easy setting right such mistakes by the word of Christ. Scripture language is the safest channel for Scripture truth; the words which the Holy Ghost teaches, 1Co 2:13. Those who cannot agree in the same terms of art, and the application of them, may yet agree in the same Scripture terms, and to love one another.This is the disciple ... - This proves that the beloved disciple was John.

We know - That is, it is known; it is universally admitted. It was so decidedly his character that he always declared the truth, that it had become known and was unquestioned, so that he himself might appeal to the universal testimony in his behalf. In this case, therefore, we have the testimony of a man whose character for nearly a century was that of a man of truth - so much so that it had become, in a manner, proverbial, and was put beyond a doubt. It is impossible to believe that such a man would sit down deliberately to impose on mankind, or to write a book which was false; and if not, then this book is true, and that is the same as saying that Christianity is a religion from heaven.

Joh 21:24, 25. Final Close of This Gospel.

24. This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things—thus identifying the author of this book with all that it says of this disciple.

we know that his testimony is true—(Compare Joh 19:35).

John, who wrote this Gospel, was that disciple whom Jesus loved, who leaned on our Saviour’s breast at supper, and inquired who should betray Christ; of whom Peter spake, John 21:21, and who testifieth these things, both concerning Peter, and concerning himself, and the church: the ancient church knew his testimony was true. This is the disciple which testifieth of these things,.... Recorded in this chapter concerning the appearance of Christ to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias, and what were done by him in their presence, what passed between them; particularly the conversation he had with Peter, both concerning himself, and the disciple John: and also, of all things that are written in this whole Gospel. These are testified to be true by this very disciple John, concerning whom the above report went upon a mistaken sense of Christ's words, and who himself

wrote these things; all that is contained in this book, as well as the particulars relating to this conversation of Christ with Peter:

and we know that his testimony is true. The testimony of one that was an eye and ear-witness, as John was, of all that he testified and wrote, must be known, owned, and allowed by all to be true, firm, and unquestionable; and therefore the apostle speaks in the plural number, as being not only his own sense, but the sense of all men. Though some take this to be the attestation of the Ephesian church, or of the bishops of the Asiatic churches, who put John upon writing this Gospel; of which they give their judgment and testimony, as believing it to be a true and faithful narrative.

{5} This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

(5) The history of Christ is truly and cautiously written: not for the curiosity of men, but for the salvation of the godly.

John 21:24. Conclusion by John to this his supplement, John 21:1-23, which he makes known as his work, and the contents of which he maintains to be true. To his book he had given the conclusion, John 20:31; all the less should the apostolic legitimation be wanting to the appendix added by him at a later time.

περὶ τούτων and ταῦτα refer to the supplementary narrative in John 21:1-23.

Observe the change of participles, pres. μαρτυρῶν (for his witness, i.e. his eye- and ear-witness, still continued a living one in an oral form) and aor. γράψας.[292]

οἴδαμεν] Not οἰδα μὲν (Chrysostom, Theophylact); but John, as he has avoided throughout in the Gospel, in accordance with his delicate peculiarity, the self-designation by I, here speaks out of the consciousness of fellowship with his readers at that time, none of whom the aged apostle justly presupposed would doubt the truth of his testimony. With this good apostolical confidence he utters his οἴδαμεν. He might have written, as in John 19:35, οἶδεν (Beza so conjectured). But his book up to this appendix, chap. 21, had belonged in truth already for a considerable time to the narrower circle of his first readers; they could not therefore but know from it how truly he had testified concerning all that he had written; all the more could he now, when by way of supplement he further added the appendix, conceive what was to be said concerning the truth of the contents in the above form of fellowship, and as he conceived it, so he says it; as he is in so doing certain of the concurrence of his readers (comp. 3 John 1:12) with his own consciousness, so he writes it. According to this, no satisfactory reason is apparent for recognising in οἴδαμεν a composer different from the γράψας (Bleek, Baeumlein), and conceiving of the Ephesian presbyters or friends of the apostle as the subject, whether the chapter be now ascribed to them (or to an individual among them) (Grotius, Lücke, Ewald, Bleek, and several others), or only John 21:24-25 (Tholuck, Luthardt, Godet, and several others), or again merely John 21:24, John 21:25 being rejected (Tischendorf).

[292] Note also how the witness is identical with the γράψας, so that John himself expressly announces himself as the composer of the appendix, and consequently also of the whole Gospel, with which the assumption that the Gospel proceeds from the apostle through a second hand, stands in contradiction.24. which testifieth] Better, which beareth witness. Whether ‘these things’ refers to the whole Gospel, or only to the contents of chap. 21 cannot be determined.

wrote] Note the change from present to aorist. The witness still continues at the present time; the writing took place once for all in the past.

we know] Because S. John uses the singular, ‘he knoweth,’ in John 19:35, it does not follow that he would not use the plural here. It would have been out of place in the middle of his narrative to add the testimony of the Ephesian elders to his own as to details which he saw with his own eyes at the foot of the cross. But it is not unnatural that at the close of his Gospel he should claim them as joint witnesses to the fidelity with which he has committed to writing this last instalment of evangelical and apostolic traditions. Comp. 1 John 5:18-20; 1 John 5:15; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 1:1; 3 John 1:12.

24, 25. Concluding Notes

Again the question of authorship confronts us. Are these last two verses by the writer of the rest of the chapter? Are they both by the same hand? The external evidence, as in the case of the preceding verses, is in favour of their being both by the same hand, and that the writer of the first twenty-three verses, and therefore S. John. No MS. or version is extant without John 21:24, and all except the Sinaitic, have John 21:25 also; nor is there any evidence that a copy was ever in existence lacking either this last chapter or John 21:24.

The internal evidence is the other way. The natural impression produced by John 21:24 is that it is not the writer of the Gospel who here bears witness to his own work, but a plurality of persons who testify to the trustworthiness of the Evangelist’s narrative. So that we possibly have in this verse a note added by the Ephesian elders before the publication of the Gospel. The change to the singular in John 21:25 would seem to imply that this verse is an addition by a third hand of a remark which the writer may have heard from S. John.

But the internal evidence is not conclusive, and the impression naturally produced by the wording of the verses need not be the right one. The aged Apostle in bringing his work a second time (John 20:30-31) to a conclusion may have included that inmost circle of disciples (to whom he had frequently told his narrative by word of mouth) among those who were able to guarantee his accuracy. With a glance of affectionate confidence round the group of devoted hearers, he adds their testimony to his own, and gives them a share in bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel.John 21:24. Οὗτος, this) Therefore at that time, as yet the disciple was remaining, and his remaining showed the truth of the Lord’s words, after so many years had elapsed, and the power of His will [“If I will”].—ὁ μαρτυρῶν) He who was testifying) viz. in his words, as yet surviving. The γράψας, he who wrote, corresponds to this.—καὶ οἴδαμεν, and we know) John himself may have prescribed this clause to the Church, which accordingly would, with no unwillingness, read it in public, and acknowledge it as obligatory with believing assent. But if the Church has added this, it does not derogate from the authority of the work, any more than that little verse which Tertius interwove with the Epistle to the Romans: or, if I may add this, than the little clause added to the Commentaries of Sleidanus concerning his death, and which was perhaps begun by himself and finished by a friend.Verses 24, 25. -

(4) Note of subsequent editors with reference to the authorship and the fullness of unrecorded traditions touching the words and deeds of Jesus. Verse 24. - This is the disciple who testifieth concerning these things - whether those narrated in the twenty-first chapter or in the entire Gospel. He is still testifying. He has not yet departed. He still proclaims his gospel of the love of God, his memories of "the Word made flesh," of "the Light of the world," his doctrine of the "eternal life which was with the Father, and has been manifested unto us." And wrote these things - compare "these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:4) - and we know (as a matter of fact, οϊδαμεν) that his testimony is true (ἀληθής), "veracious." We know him; we believe in his representation; we know without any shadow of doubt upon our mind that what he has said answers to the fact. It does not need that any of the elders should have seen the Lord to justify the use of οϊδαμεν. Meyer supposes that these words, notwithstanding their plural form, simply show that John identifies himself with his readers, and, from the peculiar delicacy of his mind, hides himself and his individuality among them or behind them. Alford compares it with John 1:14, "We have seen his glory," and 1 John 4:14, 16; 1 John 5:18. Chrysostom and Theophylact read, in place of οϊδαμεν οϊδα μέν," I indeed know that his testimony is true." This ingenious method is rejected by modern scholars, on the principle that the writer would not thus have passed from third person to first. This does not seem to be insuperable: Paulus adopted this solution. The chief difficulty of admitting that these words are a note by the Ephesian presbyters, and of ignoring Chrysostom's suggestion, is that ver. 25 contains an unquestionable reintroduction of the first person in the οϊμαι. This difficulty is, however, surmounted by Meyer, on the supposition that the last verse is not Johannine. Meyer and Tischendorf (who excludes it from his text) suppose it to have been a gloss by later hands, one which departs from the gravity and dignity of an apostle by its strong hyperbole. Still no codex but the Sinaitieus omits it, and the omission may be due to the loss of the last folio, on which it may have been written; while every other codex contains it. Godet thinks the writer was one of the elders who had joined in the previous authentication, and refers to "the strange notice which Tischendorf records from a manuscript in the Vatican, that Papias was the secretary to whom John dictated the entire Gospel," and imagines that the hyperbolic style of sores of the extant fragments of Papias might account for the extravagance of the statement it contains. Lange and Alford regard the whole verse, together with ver. 24, as Johannine, and suppose that John here speaks in propria persona when the fullness of his memory baffled all expression. Some treat the οϊμαι, etc., as a possible saying of John's which was added by the authors of both verses. We think that the presence of the οϊμαι (a very unusual word in the New Testament) is possibly accounted for by the recollection which some of those who had often heard the beloved apostle speak may have had of his way of describing the superlative richness of the life of our Lord, and that the brief appendix by those who bore this testimony to the veracity and authenticity and apostolic origin of the whole narrative is of priceless value. Undoubtedly it asserts with perfect clearness that John the son of Zebedee was the author of the Gospel. If, nevertheless, the work be that of a forger, who secured an accomplice in his deed of imposition, he is a moral anomaly; for, while acting so unworthily, he was nevertheless glorifying the doctrine that God is true, and that every lie is of the devil (John 8:44), and has produced a work which turns from end to end on a realization of the truth. The words on which so many speculations have been raised are - Many interpreters think that these two verses were written by some other hand than John's. Some ascribe John 21:24 and John 21:25 to two different writers. The entire chapter, though bearing unmistakable marks of John's authorship in its style and language, was probably composed subsequently to the completion of the Gospel.
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