New English Translation
Jesus’ Appearance to the Disciples in Galilee
21 After this[a] Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias.[b] Now this is how he did so.[c] 2 Simon Peter, Thomas[d] (called Didymus),[e] Nathanael[f] (who was from Cana in Galilee), the sons[g] of Zebedee,[h] and two other disciples[i] of his were together. 3 Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.” “We will go with you,” they replied.[j] They went out and got into the boat,[k] but that night they caught nothing.
4 When it was already very early morning, Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you don’t have any fish,[l] do you?”[m] They replied,[n] “No.” 6 He told them, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”[o] So they threw the net,[p] and were not able to pull it in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom[q] Jesus loved[r] said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” So Simon Peter, when he heard that it was the Lord, tucked in his outer garment (for he had nothing on underneath it),[s] and plunged[t] into the sea. 8 Meanwhile the other disciples came with the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards.[u]
9 When they got out on the beach,[v] they saw a charcoal fire ready[w] with a fish placed on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said,[x] “Bring some of the fish you have just now caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and pulled the net to shore. It was[y] full of large fish, 153,[z] but although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 “Come, have breakfast,” Jesus said.[aa] But none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 Then when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John,[ab] do you love me more than these do?”[ac] He replied,[ad] “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”[ae] Jesus[af] told him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Jesus[ag] said[ah] a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied,[ai] “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus[aj] told him, “Shepherd my sheep.” 17 Jesus[ak] said[al] a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed[am] that Jesus[an] asked[ao] him a third time, “Do you love me?” and said,[ap] “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus[aq] replied,[ar] “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the solemn truth,[as] when you were young, you tied your clothes around you[at] and went wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up[au] and bring you where you do not want to go.” 19 (Now Jesus[av] said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter[aw] was going to glorify God.)[ax] After he said this, Jesus told Peter,[ay] “Follow me.”
Peter and the Disciple Jesus Loved
20 Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them.[az] (This was the disciple[ba] who had leaned back against Jesus’[bb] chest at the meal and asked,[bc] “Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?”)[bd] 21 So when Peter saw him,[be] he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus replied,[bf] “If I want him to live[bg] until I come back,[bh] what concern is that of yours? You follow me!” 23 So the saying circulated[bi] among the brothers and sisters[bj] that this disciple was not going to die. But Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but rather, “If I want him to live[bk] until I come back,[bl] what concern is that of yours?”
A Final Note
24 This is the disciple who testifies about these things and has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. 25 There are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down,[bm] I suppose the whole world[bn] would not have room for the books that would be written.[bo]
- John 21:1 tn The time reference indicated by μετὰ ταῦτα (meta tauta) is indefinite, in comparison with the specific “after eight days” (μεθ᾿ ἡμέρας ὀκτώ, meth’ hēmeras oktō) between the two postresurrection appearances of Jesus in 20:26.
- John 21:1 sn The Sea of Tiberias is another name for the Sea of Galilee (see 6:1).
- John 21:1 tn Grk “how he revealed himself.”
- John 21:2 tn Grk “and Thomas.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements of a series.
- John 21:2 sn Didymus means “the twin” in Greek.
- John 21:2 tn Grk “and Nathanael.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements of a series.
- John 21:2 tn Grk “and the sons.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements of a series.
- John 21:2 sn The sons of Zebedee were James and John.
- John 21:2 sn The two other disciples who are not named may have been Andrew and Philip, who are mentioned together in John 6:7-8 and 12:22.
- John 21:3 tn Grk “they said to him.”
- John 21:3 sn See the note at John 6:17 for a description of the first-century fishing boat discovered in 1986 near Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
- John 21:5 tn The word προσφάγιον (prosphagion) is unusual. According to BDAG 886 s.v. in Hellenistic Greek it described a side dish to be eaten with bread, and in some contexts was the equivalent of ὄψον (opson), “fish.” Used in addressing a group of returning fishermen, however, it is quite clear that the speaker had fish in mind.
- John 21:5 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mē) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here the tag is “do you?”).
- John 21:5 tn Grk “They answered him.”
- John 21:6 tn The word “some” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
- John 21:6 tn The words “the net” are not in the Greek text but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
- John 21:7 tn Grk “the disciple, that one whom.”
- John 21:7 sn On the disciple whom Jesus loved see 13:23-26.
- John 21:7 tn Grk “for he was naked.” Peter’s behavior here has been puzzling to many interpreters. It is usually understood that the Greek word γυμνός (gumnos, usually translated “naked”) does not refer to complete nudity (as it could), since this would have been offensive to Jewish sensibilities in this historical context. It is thus commonly understood to mean “stripped for work” here (cf. NASB, NLT), that is, with one’s outer clothing removed, and Peter was wearing either a loincloth or a loose-fitting tunic (a long shirt-like garment worn under a cloak, cf. NAB, “for he was lightly clad”). Believing himself inadequately dressed to greet the Lord, Peter threw his outer garment around himself and dived into the sea. C. K. Barrett (St. John, 580-81) offered the explanation that a greeting was a religious act and thus could not be performed unless one was clothed. This still leaves the improbable picture of a person with much experience around the water putting on his outer garment before diving in. R. E. Brown’s suggestion (John [AB], 2:1072) seems much more probable here: The Greek verb used (διαζώννυμι, diazōnnumi) does not necessarily mean putting clothing on, but rather tying the clothing around oneself (the same verb is used in 13:4-5 of Jesus tying the towel around himself). The statement that Peter was “naked” could just as well mean that he was naked underneath the outer garment, and thus could not take it off before jumping into the water. But he did pause to tuck it up and tie it with the girdle before jumping in, to allow himself more freedom of movement. Thus the clause that states Peter was naked is explanatory (note the use of for), explaining why Peter girded up his outer garment rather than taking it off—he had nothing on underneath it and so could not remove it.sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
- John 21:7 tn Grk “threw himself.”
- John 21:8 tn Or “about a hundred meters”; Grk “about 200 cubits.” According to BDAG 812 s.v., a πῆχυς (pēchus) was about 18 inches or .462 meters, so two hundred πηχῶν (pēchōn) would be about 100 yards (92.4 meters).
- John 21:9 tn Grk “land.”
- John 21:9 tn Grk “placed,” “laid.”
- John 21:10 tn Grk “said to them.”
- John 21:11 tn The words “It was” are not in the Greek text. Here a new sentence was begun in the translation in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences. For this reason the words “It was” had to be supplied.
- John 21:11 sn Here the author makes two further points about the catch of fish: (1) there were 153 large fish in the net, and (2) even with so many, the net was not torn. Many symbolic interpretations have been proposed for both points (unity, especially, in the case of the second), but the reader is given no explicit clarification in the text itself. It seems better not to speculate here, but to see these details as indicative of an eyewitness account. Both are the sort of thing that would remain in the mind of a person who had witnessed them firsthand. For a summary of the symbolic interpretations proposed for the number of fish in the net, see R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:1074-75), where a number are discussed at length. Perhaps the reader is simply to understand this as the abundance which results from obedience to Jesus, much as with the amount of wine generated in the water jars in Cana at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry (2:6).
- John 21:12 tn Grk “said to them.” The words “to them” are omitted because it is clear in context to whom Jesus was speaking, and the words are slightly redundant in English.
- John 21:15 tc The majority of mss (A C2 Θ Ψ ƒ1,13 33 M sy) read “Simon, the son of Jonah” here and in vv. 16 and 17, but these are perhaps assimilations to Matt 16:17. The reading “Simon, son of John” is better attested, being found in א1 (א* only has “Simon” without mention of his father) B C* D L W lat co.
- John 21:15 tn To whom (or what) does “these” (τούτων, toutōn) refer? Three possibilities are suggested: (1) τούτων should be understood as neuter, “these things,” referring to the boats, nets, and fishing gear nearby. In light of Peter’s statement in 21:3, “I am going fishing,” some have understood Peter to have renounced his commission in light of his denials of Jesus. Jesus, as he restores Peter and forgives him for his denials, is asking Peter if he really loves his previous vocation more than he loves Jesus. Three things may be said in evaluation of this view: (a) it is not at all necessary to understand Peter’s statement in 21:3 as a renouncement of his discipleship, as this view of the meaning of τούτων would imply; (b) it would probably be more likely that the verb would be repeated in such a construction (see 7:31 for an example where the verb is repeated); and (c) as R. E. Brown has observed (John [AB], 2:1103) by Johannine standards the choice being offered to Peter between material things and the risen Jesus would seem rather ridiculous, especially after the disciples had realized whom it was they were dealing with (the Lord, see v. 12). (2) τούτων refers to the other disciples, meaning “Do you love me more than you love these other disciples?” The same objection mentioned as (c) under (1) would apply here: Could the author, in light of the realization of who Jesus is which has come to the disciples after the resurrection, and which he has just mentioned in 21:12, seriously present Peter as being offered a choice between the other disciples and the risen Jesus? This leaves option (3), that τούτων refers to the other disciples, meaning “Do you love me more than these other disciples do?” It seems likely that there is some irony here: Peter had boasted in 13:37, “I will lay down my life for you,” and the synoptics present Peter as boasting even more explicitly of his loyalty to Jesus (“Even if they all fall away, I will not,” Matt 26:33; Mark 14:29). Thus the semantic force of what Jesus asks Peter here amounts to something like “Now, after you have denied me three times, as I told you you would, can you still affirm that you love me more than these other disciples do?” The addition of the auxiliary verb “do” in the translation is used to suggest to the English reader the third interpretation, which is the preferred one.
- John 21:15 tn Grk “He said to him.”
- John 21:15 tn Is there a significant difference in meaning between the two words for love used in the passage, ἀγαπάω and φιλέω (agapaō and phileō)? Aside from Origen, who saw a distinction in the meaning of the two words, most of the Greek Fathers like Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria, saw no real difference of meaning. Neither did Augustine nor the translators of the Itala (Old Latin). This was also the view of the Reformation Greek scholars Erasmus and Grotius. The suggestion that a distinction in meaning should be seen comes primarily from a number of British scholars of the 19th century, especially Trench, Westcott, and Plummer. It has been picked up by others such as Spicq, Lenski, and Hendriksen. But most modern scholars decline to see a real difference in the meaning of the two words in this context, among them Bernard, Moffatt, Bonsirven, Bultmann, Barrett, Brown, Morris, Haenchen, and Beasley-Murray. There are three significant reasons for seeing no real difference in the meaning of ἀγαπάω and φιλέω in these verses: (1) the author has a habit of introducing slight stylistic variations in repeated material without any significant difference in meaning (compare, for example, 3:3 with 3:5, and 7:34 with 13:33). An examination of the uses of ἀγαπάω and φιλέω in the Fourth Gospel seems to indicate a general interchangeability between the two. Both terms are used of God’s love for man (3:16; 16:27); of the Father’s love for the Son (3:35; 5:20); of Jesus’ love for men (11:3, 5); of the love of men for men (13:34; 15:19); and of the love of men for Jesus (8:42; 16:27). (2) If (as seems probable) the original conversation took place in Aramaic (or possibly Hebrew), there would not have been any difference expressed because both Aramaic and Hebrew have only one basic word for love. In the LXX both ἀγαπάω and φιλέω are used to translate the same Hebrew word for love, although ἀγαπάω is more frequent. It is significant that in the Syriac version of the NT only one verb is used to translate vv. 15-17 (Syriac is very similar linguistically to Palestinian Aramaic). (3) Peter’s answers to the questions asked with ἀγαπάω are ‘yes’ even though he answers using the verb φιλέω. If he is being asked to love Jesus on a higher or more spiritual level his answers give no indication of this, and one would be forced to say (in order to maintain a consistent distinction between the two verbs) that Jesus finally concedes defeat and accepts only the lower form of love which is all that Peter is capable of offering. Thus it seems best to regard the interchange between ἀγαπάω and φιλέω in these verses as a minor stylistic variation of the author, consistent with his use of minor variations in repeated material elsewhere, and not indicative of any real difference in meaning. Thus no attempt has been made to distinguish between the two Greek words in the translation.
- John 21:15 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:16 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:16 tn Grk “said again.” The word “again” (when used in connection with the phrase “a second time”) is redundant and has not been translated.
- John 21:16 tn Grk “He said to him.”
- John 21:16 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:17 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:17 tn Grk “said to him.” The words “to him” are clear from the context and slightly redundant in English.
- John 21:17 tn Or “was sad.”
- John 21:17 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:17 tn Grk “said to.”
- John 21:17 tn Grk “and said to him.” The words “to him” are clear from the context and slightly redundant in English.
- John 21:17 tc ‡ Most witnesses, especially later ones (A Θ Ψ ƒ13 M), read ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς (ho Iēsous, “Jesus”) here, while B C have ᾿Ιησοῦς without the article and א D W ƒ1 33 565 al lat lack both. Because of the rapid verbal exchange in this pericope, “Jesus” is virtually required for clarity, providing a temptation to scribes to add the name. Further, the name normally occurs with the article. Although it is possible that B C accidentally omitted the article with the name, it is just as likely that they added the simple name to the text for clarity’s sake, while other witnesses added the article as well. The omission of ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς thus seems most likely to be authentic. NA28 includes the words in brackets, indicating some doubts as to their authenticity.tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:17 tn Grk “Jesus said to him.”
- John 21:18 tn Grk “Truly, truly, I say to you.”
- John 21:18 tn Or “you girded yourself.”
- John 21:18 tn Grk “others will gird you.”
- John 21:19 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:19 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Peter) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:19 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. The phrase by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God almost certainly indicates martyrdom (cf. 1 Pet 4:16), and it may not predict anything more than that. But the parallelism of this phrase to similar phrases in John 12:33 and 18:32 which describe Jesus’ own death by crucifixion have led many to suggest that the picture Jesus is portraying for Peter looks not just at martyrdom but at death by crucifixion. This seems to be confirmed by the phrase you will stretch out your hands in the preceding verse. There is some evidence that the early church understood this and similar phrases (one of them in Isa 65:2) to refer to crucifixion (for a detailed discussion of the evidence see L. Morris, John [NICNT], 876, n. 52). Some have objected that if this phrase does indeed refer to crucifixion, the order within v. 18 is wrong, because the stretching out of the hands in crucifixion precedes the binding and leading where one does not wish to go. R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:1108) sees this as a deliberate reversal of the normal order (hysteron proteron) intended to emphasize the stretching out of the hands. Another possible explanation for the unusual order is the Roman practice in crucifixions of tying the condemned prisoner’s arms to the crossbeam (patibulum) and forcing him to carry it to the place of execution (W. Bauer as cited by O. Cullmann in Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr [LHD], 88).
- John 21:19 tn Grk “After he said this, he said to him”; the referents (first Jesus, second Peter) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:20 tn The word “them” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
- John 21:20 tn The words “This was the disciple” are not in the Greek text, but are supplied for clarity.
- John 21:20 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- John 21:20 tn Grk “and said.”
- John 21:20 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
- John 21:21 tn Grk “saw this one.”
- John 21:22 tn Grk “Jesus said to him.”
- John 21:22 tn Grk “to stay” or “to remain,” but since longevity is the issue in the context, “to live” conveys the idea more clearly.
- John 21:22 tn The word “back” is supplied to clarify the meaning.
- John 21:23 tn Grk “went out.”
- John 21:23 tn Grk “the brothers,” but here the term refers to more than just the immediate disciples of Jesus (as it does in 20:17). Here, as R. E. Brown notes (John [AB], 2:1110), it refers to Christians of the Johannine community (which would include both men and women).
- John 21:23 tn Grk “to stay” or “to remain,” but since longevity is the issue in the context, “to live” conveys the idea more clearly.
- John 21:23 tn The word “back” is supplied to clarify the meaning.
- John 21:25 tn Grk “written”; the word “down” is supplied in keeping with contemporary English idiom.
- John 21:25 tn Grk “the world itself.”
- John 21:25 tc Although the majority of mss (C2 Θ Ψ ƒ13 M lat) conclude this Gospel with ἀμήν (amēn, “amen”), such a conclusion is routinely added by scribes to NT books because a few of these books originally had such an ending (cf. Rom 16:27; Gal 6:18; Jude 25). A majority of Greek witnesses have the concluding ἀμήν in every NT book except Acts, James, and 3 John (and even in these books, ἀμήν is found in some witnesses). It is thus a predictable variant. Further, excellent and early witnesses, as well as a few others (א A B C*,3 D W 1 33 it), lack the particle, rendering no doubt as to how this Gospel originally ended.sn The author concludes the Gospel with a note concerning his selectivity of material. He makes it plain that he has not attempted to write an exhaustive account of the words and works of Jesus, for if one attempted to do so, “the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” This is clearly hyperbole, and as such bears some similarity to the conclusion of the Book of Ecclesiastes (12:9-12). As it turns out, the statement seems more true of the Fourth Gospel itself, which is the subject of an ever-lengthening bibliography. The statement in v. 25 serves as a final reminder that knowledge of Jesus, no matter how well-attested it may be, is still partial. Everything that Jesus did during his three and one-half years of earthly ministry is not known. This supports the major theme of the Fourth Gospel: Jesus is repeatedly identified as God, and although he may be truly known on the basis of his self-disclosure, he can never be known exhaustively. There is far more to know about Jesus than could ever be written down, or even known. On this appropriate note the Gospel of John ends.