John 21

Jesus Appears at the Sea of Galilee

1 After these things Jesus 1manifested Himself 2again to the disciples at the 3Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.
2 Simon Peter, and 4Thomas called Didymus, and 5Nathanael of 6Cana in Galilee, and 7the 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 also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and 8that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not 9know that it was Jesus.
5 So Jesus said to them, "Children, 10you do not have any fish, do you?" They answered Him, "No."
6 And He said to them, "11Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch." So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.
7 12Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.
8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.
9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal 13fire already laid and 14fish placed on it, and bread.
10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the 15fish which you have now caught."
11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three *; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus Provides

12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have 16breakfast." None of the disciples ventured to question Him, "Who are You?" knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus came and took 17the bread and gave it to them, and the 18fish likewise.
14 This is now the 19third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.

The Love Motivation

15 So when they had 20finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you 21love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend 22My lambs."
16 He said to him again 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, "23Shepherd My 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 24the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, 25You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "26Tend My sheep.

Our Times Are in His Hand

18 "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go."
19 Now this He said, 27signifying by 28what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "29Follow Me!"
20 Peter, turning around, saw the 30disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had 31leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?"
21 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?"
22 Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain 32until I come, what is that to you? You 33follow Me!"
23 Therefore this saying went out among 34the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, "If I want him to remain 35until I come, what is that to you?"
24 This is the disciple who 36is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also 37many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would 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 37

  • 1. Mark 16:12; John 21:14
  • 2. John 20:19, 26
  • 3. John 6:1
  • 4. John 11:16
  • 5. John 1:45f
  • 6. John 2:1
  • 7. Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19; Luke 5:10
  • 8. Luke 5:5
  • 9. Luke 24:16; John 20:14
  • 10. Luke 24:41
  • 11. Luke 5:4f
  • 12. John 13:23; John 21:20
  • 13. John 18:18
  • 14. John 6:9, 11; John 21:10, 13
  • 15. John 6:9, 11; John 21:9, 13
  • 16. John 21:15
  • 17. John 21:9
  • 18. John 6:9, 11; John 21:9, 10
  • 19. John 20:19, 26
  • 20. John 21:12
  • 21. Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; John 13:37
  • 22. Luke 12:32
  • 23. Matthew 2:6; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2; Revelation 7:17
  • 24. John 13:38
  • 25. John 16:30
  • 26. John 21:15, 16
  • 27. John 12:33; John 18:32
  • 28. 2 Peter 1:14
  • 29. Matthew 8:22; Matthew 16:24; John 21:22
  • 30. John 21:7
  • 31. John 13:25
  • 32. Matthew 16:27; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 11:26; James 5:7; Revelation 2:25
  • 33. Matthew 8:22; Matthew 16:24; John 21:19
  • 34. Acts 1:15
  • 35. Matthew 16:27; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 11:26; James 5:7; Revelation 2:25
  • 36. John 15:27
  • 37. John 20:30

Footnotes 12

John 21 Commentaries