John 21

Listen to John 21

Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

1 After this Jesus 1revealed himself 2again to the disciples by 3the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.
2 Simon Peter, 4Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of 5Cana in Galilee, 6the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.
3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but 7that night they caught nothing.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples 8did not know that it was Jesus.
5 9Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No."
6 10He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
7 That disciple 11whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, 12he put on his outer garment, for he was 13stripped for work, and 14threw himself into the sea.
8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards[a] off.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.
10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."
11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.
12 Jesus said to them, 15"Come and 16have breakfast." Now 17none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord.
13 Jesus came and 18took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.
14 19This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had 20finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 21"Simon, 22son of John, 23do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed 24my lambs."
16 He said to him 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, 25"Tend 26my sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him 27the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, 28you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed 29my sheep.
18 30Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, 31you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go."
19 (This he said to show 32by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, 33"Follow me."

Jesus and the Beloved Apostle

20 Peter turned and saw 34the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, 35the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?"
21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?"
22 Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain 36until 37I come, what is that to you? 38You follow me!"
23 So the saying spread abroad among 39the brothers[b] that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?"
24 This is the disciple 40who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and 41we know 42that his testimony is true.
25 Now 43there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that 44the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

John 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

Christ appears to his disciples. (1-14) His discourse with Peter. (15-19) Christ's declaration concerning John. (20-24) The conclusion. (25)

Verses 1-14 Christ makes himself known to his people, usually in his ordinances; but sometimes by his Spirit he visits them when employed in their business. It is good for the disciples of Christ to be together in common conversation, and common business. The hour for their entering upon action was not come. They would help to maintain themselves, and not be burdensome to any. Christ's time of making himself known to his people, is when they are most at a loss. He knows the temporal wants of his people, and has promised them not only grace sufficient, but food convenient. Divine Providence extends itself to things most minute, and those are happy who acknowledge God in all their ways. Those who are humble, diligent, and patient, though their labours may be crossed, shall be crowned; they sometimes live to see their affairs take a happy turn, after many struggles. And there is nothing lost by observing Christ's orders; it is casting the net on the right side of the ship. Jesus manifests himself to his people by doing that for them which none else can do, and things which they looked not for. He would take care that those who left all for him, should not want any good thing. And latter favours are to bring to mind former favours, that eaten bread may not be forgotten. He whom Jesus loved was the first that said, It is the Lord. John had cleaved most closely to his Master in his sufferings, and knew him soonest. Peter was the most zealous, and reached Christ the first. How variously God dispenses his gifts, and what difference there may be between some believers and others in the way of their honouring Christ, yet they all may be accepted of him! Others continue in the ship, drag the net, and bring the fish to shore, and such persons ought not to be blamed as worldly; for they, in their places, are as truly serving Christ as the others. The Lord Jesus had provision ready for them. We need not be curious in inquiring whence this came; but we may be comforted at Christ's care for his disciples. Although there were so many, and such great fishes, yet they lost none, nor damaged their net. The net of the gospel has enclosed multitudes, yet it is as strong as ever to bring souls to God.

Verses 15-19 Our Lord addressed Peter by his original name, as if he had forfeited that of Peter through his denying him. He now answered, Thou knowest that I love thee; but without professing to love Jesus more than others. We must not be surprised to have our sincerity called into question, when we ourselves have done that which makes it doubtful. Every remembrance of past sins, even pardoned sins, renews the sorrow of a true penitent. Conscious of integrity, Peter solemnly appealed to Christ, as knowing all things, even the secrets of his heart. It is well when our falls and mistakes make us more humble and watchful. The sincerity of our love to God must be brought to the test; and it behoves us to inquire with earnest, preserving prayer to the heart-searching God, to examine and prove us, whether we are able to stand this test. No one can be qualified to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ, who does not love the good Shepherd more than any earthly advantage or object. It is the great concern of every good man, whatever death he dies, to glorify God in it; for what is our chief end but this, to die to the Lord, at the word of the Lord?

Verses 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.

Verse 25 Only a small part of the actions of Jesus had been written. But let us bless God for all that is in the Scriptures, and be thankful that there is so much in so small a space. Enough is recorded to direct our faith, and regulate our practice; more would have been unnecessary. Much of what is written is overlooked, much forgotten, and much made the matter of doubtful disputes. We may, however, look forward to the joy we shall receive in heaven, from a more complete knowledge of all Jesus did and said, as well as of the conduct of his providence and grace in his dealings with each of us. May this be our happiness. These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name, ch. 20:31 .

Cross References 44

  • 1. ver. 14; [Mark 16:12, 14]; See John 7:4
  • 2. John 20:19, 26
  • 3. John 6:1
  • 4. See John 11:16
  • 5. John 2:1; John 4:46
  • 6. Matthew 4:21; Luke 5:10
  • 7. [Luke 5:5]
  • 8. John 20:14
  • 9. Luke 24:41
  • 10. [Luke 5:4, 6, 7]
  • 11. See John 13:23
  • 12. ver. 18; [John 13:4]
  • 13. 1 Samuel 19:24; Isaiah 20:2; Micah 1:8
  • 14. [Matthew 14:29]
  • 15. Acts 10:41
  • 16. ver. 15
  • 17. [John 4:27]
  • 18. ver. 9
  • 19. ver. 1; John 20:19, 26
  • 20. ver. 12
  • 21. [Matthew 16:17; Luke 22:31]
  • 22. John 1:42
  • 23. [Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29]
  • 24. John 10:11-16; [Isaiah 40:11]
  • 25. Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2; Revelation 7:17(Gk.)
  • 26. [See ver. 15 above]
  • 27. [John 13:38]
  • 28. See John 2:25
  • 29. ver. 16
  • 30. [John 13:36]
  • 31. ver. 7
  • 32. 2 Peter 1:14
  • 33. ver. 22; Matthew 16:24; [John 13:36]; See John 8:12
  • 34. ver. 7
  • 35. John 13:25
  • 36. Matthew 10:23; Matthew 16:28; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 11:26; James 5:7; Revelation 2:25
  • 37. [John 14:3, 18, 28; Hebrews 10:37; Revelation 2:5, 16; Revelation 3:3, 11; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 22:7, 12, 20]; See Matthew 16:27
  • 38. ver. 19
  • 39. Acts 1:15; Acts 9:30; Acts 11:1; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:1; Acts 16:2, 40; Acts 21:7, 17; 1 John 3:14, 16
  • 40. See John 15:27
  • 41. 1 John 3:2, 14; 1 John 5:15, 18-20; [John 19:35]
  • 42. 3 John 12
  • 43. John 20:30
  • 44. [Amos 7:10]

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
  • [b]. Or brothers and sisters

John 21 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.