Saint John – Chapter 21

The Bible – New Testament

Saint John

Chapter 21


1 After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way.


Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, 2 and two others of his disciples.


3 Simon Peter said to them, «I am going fishing.» They said to him, «We also will come with you.» So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.


When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.


Jesus said to them, «Children, have you caught anything to eat?» They answered him, «No.»


So he said to them, «Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.» So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.


So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, «It is the Lord.» When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.


The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.


4 When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.


Jesus said to them, «Bring some of the fish you just caught.»


So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three 5 large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.


Jesus said to them, «Come, have breakfast.» And none of the disciples dared to ask him, 6 «Who are you?» because they realized it was the Lord.


Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.


7 This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.


8 9 10 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, «Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?» He said to him, «Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.» He said to him, «Feed my lambs.»


He then 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, «Tend my sheep.»


He said to him the third time, «Simon, son of John, do you love me?» Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, «Do you love me?» and he said to him, «Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.» (Jesus) said to him, «Feed my sheep.


11 Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.»


He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, «Follow me.»


Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, «Master, who is the one who will betray you?»


When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, «Lord, what about him?»


Jesus said to him, «What if I want him to remain until I come? 12 What concern is it of yours? You follow me.»


13 So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just «What if I want him to remain until I come? (What concern is it of yours?)»


It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, 14 and we know that his testimony is true.


There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

1 [1-23 There are many non-Johannine peculiarities in this chapter, some suggesting Lucan Greek style; yet this passage is closer to John than ⇒ John 7:53-⇒ 8:11. There are many Johannine features as well. Its closest parallels in the synoptic gospels are found in ⇒ Luke 5:1-11 and ⇒ Matthew 14:28-31. Perhaps the tradition was ultimately derived from John but preserved by some disciple other than the writer of the rest of the gospel. The appearances narrated seem to be independent of those in John 20. Even if a later addition, the chapter was added before publication of the gospel, for it appears in all manuscripts.
2 [2] Zebedee’s sons: the only reference to James and John in this gospel (but see the note on ⇒ John 1:37). Perhaps the phrase was originally a gloss to identify, among the five, the two others of his disciples. The anonymity of the latter phrase is more Johannine (⇒ John 1:35). The total of seven may suggest the community of the disciples in its fullness.
3 [3-6] This may be a variant of Luke’s account of the catch of fish; see the note on ⇒ Luke 5:1-11.
4 [9,12-13] It is strange that Jesus already has fish since none have yet been brought ashore. This meal may have had eucharistic significance for early Christians since ⇒ John 21:13 recalls ⇒ John 6:11 which uses the vocabulary of Jesus’ action at the Last Supper; but see also the note on ⇒ Matthew 14:19.
5 [11] The exact number 153 is probably meant to have a symbolic meaning in relation to the apostles’ universal mission; Jerome claims that Greek zoologists catalogued 153 species of fish. Or 153 is the sum of the numbers from 1 to 17. Others invoke ⇒ Ezekiel 47:10.
6 [12] None . . . dared to ask him: is Jesus’ appearance strange to them? Cf ⇒ Luke 24:16; ⇒ Mark 16:12; ⇒ John 20:14. The disciples do, however, recognize Jesus before the breaking of the bread (opposed to ⇒ Luke 24:35).
7 [14] This verse connects John 20 and 21; cf ⇒ John 20:19, ⇒ 26.
8 [15-23] This section constitutes Peter’s rehabilitation and emphasizes his role in the church.
9 [15-17] In these three verses there is a remarkable variety of synonyms: two different Greek verbs for love (see the note on ⇒ John 15:13); two verbs for feed/tend; two nouns for sheep; two verbs for know. But apparently there is no difference of meaning. The threefold confession of Peter is meant to counteract his earlier threefold denial (⇒ John 18:17, ⇒ 25, ⇒ 27). The First Vatican Council cited these verses in defining that Jesus after his resurrection gave Peter the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over the whole flock.
10 [15] More than these: probably «more than these disciples do» rather than «more than you love them» or «more than you love these things [fishing, etc.].»
11 [18] Originally probably a proverb about old age, now used as a figurative reference to the crucifixion of Peter.
12 [22] Until I come: a reference to the parousia.
13 [23] This whole scene takes on more significance if the disciple is already dead. The death of the apostolic generation caused problems in the church because of a belief that Jesus was to have returned first. Loss of faith sometimes resulted; cf ⇒ 2 Peter 3:4.
14 [24] Who . . . has written them: this does not necessarily mean he wrote them with his own hand. The same expression is used in ⇒ John 19:22 of Pilate, who certainly would not have written the inscription himself. We know: i.e., the Christian community; cf ⇒ John 1:14, ⇒ 16.