Truly, truly, I say to you, When you were young, you gird yourself, and walked where you would: but when you shall be old…
The other, who was to lead Peter against his own will, is God with His powerful hand. This leading we trace in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter is forced to give up his ardent desire to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel into the fold of Christ; Israel becomes not Israel; Peter is obliged to leave the holy city, which has only imprisonment and the sword to give to the servants of their King; to Samaria his sovereign Leader leads him, and into the house of the Gentile Cornelius, and at length to Rome, the new Babylon, from whence he strengthened the elect strangers of the dispersion whom Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, had brought into the fold of Israel, strengthened them in the enduring of persecution, and against the seductions of false prophets. From Jerusalem to Babylon — it went against nature. And this offering up of his own life, this becoming free from all will of his own, was to be crowned and to have its perfecting in the martyr's death, by which he should glorify God: then would he stretch out those hands which had been so active in his youth, to be bound to the cross; instead of the girdle of his youth, an executioner's rope would tuck up his garments (cf. Acts 21:11); instead of walking whither he would from one Pentecostal harvest to another, he should be lead whither he would not, to the painful and ignominious death of the cross.
(R. Besser, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don't want to go."