John 21
Vincent's Word Studies
After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
Shewed (ἐφανέρωσεν)

This rendering might easily convey merely the sense of appearing; but its meaning is much deeper. Occurring frequently in the New Testament, it is used most frequently of God and Christ, or of men in their relation to these. Thus, of Christ in person while upon earth (Mark 16:12, Mark 16:14; John 1:31; John 2:11; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 1:2). Of the works of Christ (John 2:11; John 9:3; 1 John 3:5). Of Christ in redemption (1 John 3:5). Of Christ in His second coming (1 John 2:28). Of Christ in glory (1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:4). It is used of God. Of His revelation to men of the knowledge of Himself (Romans 1:19). Of His manifestation in Christ (1 Timothy 3:16). Of His righteousness (Romans 3:21). Of His love (1 John 4:9). It is used of men. As epistles manifesting the character and spirit of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:11). In the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10). In all these cases the appearing is not merely an appeal to sense, but is addressed to spiritual perception, and contemplates a moral and spiritual effect. It is the setting forth of the law or will or character of God; of the person or work of Christ; of the character or deeds of men, with a view to the disclosure of their quality and to the producing of a moral impression. Rev., manifested.


See on Matthew 4:18.

Of Tiberias

Not elsewhere in the Gospels. The Synoptists say, Sea of Galilee or Lake of Gennesaret.

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.
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.
A ship (τὸ πλοῖον)

Rev., the boat; restoring the article, which indicates a familiar implement. See on Luke 5:2.



That night

The emphatic pronoun that (ἐκείνῃ) may indicate that their ill success was unusual.

Caught (ἐπίασαν)

So John 21:10. The verb means to lay hold of, and is nowhere else used in the New Testament of taking fish. Elsewhere in this Gospel always of the seizure of Christ by the authorities (John 7:30, John 7:39, John 7:44; John 8:20; John 10:39; John 11:57). Of apprehending Peter and Paul (Acts 12:4; 2 Corinthians 11:32). Of the taking of the beast (Revelation 19:20). Of taking by the hand (Acts 3:7).

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
Was come (γενομένης)

The best texts read the present participle, γινομένης, is coming. Rev., when day was now breaking. The A.V. does not agree so well with the fact that Jesus was not at once recognized by the disciples, owing in part, perhaps, to the imperfect light.

On the shore (εἰς τὸν αἰγιαλόν)

Rev., beach. See on Matthew 13:2. The preposition εἰς, to, makes the phrase equivalent to "Jesus came to the beach and stood there."

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
Children (παιδία)

Or, little children. Used also by John, in address, twice in the First Epistle (1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:18), where, however, the more common word is τεκνία, little children.

Have ye any meat (μή τι προσφάγιον ἔχετε)?

The interrogative μή τι indicates that a negative answer is expected: you have not, I suppose, anything. Προσφάγιον is equivalent to ὀψάριον, what is added to bread at a meal, especially fish. See on John 6:9. Only here in the New Testament. Wyc, any supping-thing.

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.
The net (δίκτυον)

See on Matthew 4:18; see on Matthew 13:47.

Were not able (οὐκ ἴσχυσαν)

See on Luke 14:30; see on Luke 16:3; see on James 5:16.

To draw (ἑλκῦσαι)

Into the boat. Compare σύροντες, John 21:8, dragging the net behind the boat.

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.
Fisher's coat (ἐπενδύτην)

An upper garment or blouse. Only here in the New Testament. In the Septuagint, 1 Samuel 18:4, the robe which Jonathan gave to David. 2 Samuel 13:18, the royal virgin garment of Tamar. The kindred verb, ἐπενδύομαι, occurs twice (2 Corinthians 5:2, 2 Corinthians 5:4), meaning "to be clothed upon," with the house which is from heaven, i.e., clothed as with an upper garment. See on that passage.


Not absolutely, but clothed merely in his undergarment or shirt.

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.
A little ship (τῷ πλοιαρίῳ)

The noun is diminutive. Rev., the little boat. It is hardly probable that this refers to a smaller boat accompanying the vessel. Compare the alternation of πλοῖον and πλοιάριον in John 6:17, John 6:19, John 6:21, John 6:22, John 6:24.

Two hundred cubits

A little over a hundred yards.

With fishes (τῶν ἰχθύων)

Or, the net of the fishes. So Wyc, Rev., full of fishes.

As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
They were come to land (ἀπέβησαν εἰς τὴν γῆν)

Not of the arrival of the boat, but of the going ashore of the boatmen. Rev., therefore, correctly, they got out upon the land.

A fire of coals

Charcoal. See John 18:18.

Fish (ὀψάριον)

See on John 6:9.

Bread (ἄρτον)

Or, a loaf. See on Matthew 4:1; see on Matthew 7:9.

Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
Of the fish (τῶν ὀψαρίων)

As in John 21:9. Emphasizing the fish as food.

Ye hate caught (ἐπιάσατε)

See on John 21:3. Bengel says: "By the Lord's gift they had caught them: and yet, He courteously says, that they have caught them."

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.
Went up

Into the vessel.

To land (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς)

Strictly, upon the land.

Great fishes

All authorities agree as to the abundance of fish in the Lake of Galilee. M. Lortet, cited by Dr. Thomson, says that two castings of the net usually filled his boat. Bethsaida (there were two places of that name on the lake) means House of the Fisheries. The fame of the lake in this particular reached back to very early times; so that, according to the Rabbinical legend, one of the ten fundamental laws laid down by Joshua on the division of the country was, that any one might fish with a hook in the Lake of Galilee, so that they did not interfere with the free passage of boats. The Talmud names certain kinds of fish which might be eaten without being cooked, and designates them as small fishes. So ὀψάρια is rendered in John 6:9. Possibly the expression great fishes may imply a contrast with the small fishes which swarmed in the lake, and the salting and pickling of which was a special industry among its fishermen.

Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
Dine (ἀριστήσατε)

Rather, breakfast. In Attic Greek ἄριστον signified the mid-day meal; the evening meal being known as δεῖπνον. The regular hour for the ἄριστον cannot be fixed with precision. The drift of authority among Greek writers seems to be in favor of noon. The meal described here, however, evidently took place at an earlier hour, and would seem to have answered more nearly to the ἀκρατίσμα, or breakfast of the Greeks, which was taken directly upon rising. Plutarch, however, expressly states that both names were applied to the morning meal, and says of Alexander, "He was accustomed to breakfast (ἠρίστα) at early dawn, sitting, and to sup (ἐδείπνει) late in the evening." In Matthew 22:4, it is an ἄριστον to which the king's wedding-guests are invited.

Ask (ἐξετα.σαι)

Rev., inquire. Implying careful and precise inquiry. It occurs only three times in the New Testament; of Herod's command to search diligently for the infant Christ (Matthew 2:8), and of the apostles' inquiring out the worthy members of a household (Matthew 10:11).

Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
Bread - fish

Both have the article - the loaf, the fish - apparently pointing to the provision which Jesus himself had made.

Giveth them

Nothing is said of His partaking Himself. Compare Luke 24:42, Luke 24:43.

This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
The third time

The two former occasions being recorded in John 20:19, John 20:26. The appearance to Mary Magdalene is not counted, because the Evangelist expressly says to His disciples.

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

Compare Christ's first address to Peter, John 1:43. He never addresses him by the name of Peter, while that name is commonly used, either alone or with Simon, in the narrative of the Gospels, and in the Greek form Peter, not the Aramaic Cephas, which, on the other hand, is always employed by Paul. For Jonas read as Rev., John.

Lovest (ἀγαπᾶς)

Jesus uses the more dignified, really the nobler, but, as it seems to Peter, in the ardor of his affection, the colder word for love. See on John 5:20.

More than these

More than these disciples love me. Compare John 13:37; Matthew 26:33. The question conveys a gentle rebuke for his former extravagant professions.

I love (φιλῶ)

Peter substitutes the warmer, more affectionate word, and omits all comparison with his fellow-disciples.

Feed (βόσκε)

See on 1 Peter 5:2.

Lambs (ἀρνία)

Diminutive: little lambs. Godet remarks: "There is a remarkable resemblance between the present situation and that of the two scenes in the previous life of Peter with which it is related. He had been called to the ministry by Jesus after a miraculous draught of fishes; it is after a similar draught that the ministry is restored to him. He had lost his office by a denial beside a fire of coal; it is beside a fire of coal that he recovers it."

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.
Lovest (ἀγαπᾷς)

Again the colder word, but more than these is omitted.

I love (φιλῶ)

Peter reiterates his former word expressive of personal affection.

Feed (ποίμαινε)

A different word: tend, as Rev. See on 1 Peter 5:2.

Sheep (πρόβατα)

Some of the best texts read προβάτια, diminutive, little sheep.

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.
Lovest (φιλεῖς)

Here Jesus adopts Peter's word. Canon Westcott, however, ascribes Peter's use of φιλέω to his humility, and his hesitation in claiming that higher love which is implied in ἀγαπᾷς. This seems to me to be less natural, and to be refining too much.

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.
Young (νεώτερος)

Literally, younger. Peter was apparently of middle age. See Matthew 8:14.

Thou girdedst thyself (ἐζώννυες σεαυτὸν)

The word may have been suggested by Peter's girding his fisher's coat round him. The imperfect tense signifies something habitual. Thou wast wont to clothe thyself and to come and go at will.

Walkedst (περιεπάτεις)

Literally, walkedst about. Peculiarly appropriate to describe the free activity of vigorous manhood.

Stretch forth thy hands

The allusion to the extending of the hands on the cross, which some interpreters have found here, is fanciful. It is merely an expression for the helplessness of age.

Whither thou wouldest not

According to tradition Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome, and was crucified with his head downward.

This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
By what death (ποίῳ)

Properly, by what manner of death. So Rev.

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?
Leaned (ἀνέπεσεν)

Rev., leaned back. See on John 13:25. The reference is to the special act of John, leaning back to whisper to Jesus, and not to his position at table.

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
And what shall this man do (οὗτος δὲ τί;)?

Literally, and this one what?

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

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

What is that to thee (τί πρός σε;)?

Literally, what as concerns thee?

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?
Should not die (οὐκ ἀποθνήσκει)

Literally, dieth not.

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
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.
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.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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