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Jesus Appears at Lake Galilee

21 Later, Jesus appeared once again to a group of his disciples by Lake Galilee.[a] It happened one day while Peter, Thomas (the Twin), Nathanael (from Cana in Galilee), Jacob, John,[b] and two other disciples were all together. Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.” And they all replied, “We’ll go with you.”[c] So they went out and fished through the night, but caught nothing.

Then at dawn, Jesus was standing there on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize that it was him! He called out to them, saying, “Hey guys! Did you catch any fish?”[d]

“Not a thing,” they replied.

Jesus shouted to them, “Throw your net over the starboard side, and you’ll catch some!” And so they did as he said, and they caught so many fish they couldn’t even pull in the net!

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”[e] When Peter heard him say that, he quickly wrapped his outer garment around him, and because he was athletic,[f] he dove right into the lake to go to Jesus! The other disciples then brought the boat to shore, dragging their catch of fish. They weren’t far from land, only about a hundred meters. And when they got to shore, they noticed a charcoal fire with some roasted fish and bread.[g] 10 Then Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”

11 So Peter waded into the water and helped pull the net to shore. It was full of many large fish, exactly one hundred and fifty-three,[h] but even with so many fish, the net was not torn.

12 “Come, let’s have some breakfast,” Jesus said to them.

And not one of the disciples needed to ask who it was, because every one of them knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus came close to them and served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection.

Jesus Restores Peter

15 After they had breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah,[i] do you burn with love[j] for me more than these?”[k]

Peter answered, “Yes, Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”

“Then take care of my lambs,”[l] Jesus said.

16 Jesus repeated his question the second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you burn with love for me?”

Peter answered, “Yes, my Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 Then Jesus asked him again, “Peter, son of Jonah, do you have great affection for me?”

Peter was saddened by being asked the third time[m] and said, “My Lord, you know everything. You know that I burn with love for you!”

Jesus replied, “Then feed my lambs! 18 Peter, listen, when you were younger you made your own choices[n] and you went where you pleased. But one day when you are old,[o] others will tie you up and escort you where you would not choose to go—and you will spread out your arms.”[p] 19 (Jesus said this to Peter as a prophecy of what kind of death he would die, for the glory of God.) And then he said, “Peter, follow me!”

20 Then Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the disciple who sat close to Jesus at the Last Supper and had asked him, “Lord, who is the one that will betray you?”) 21 So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “What’s going to happen to him?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I decide to let him live until I return, what concern is that of yours? You must still keep on following me!”

23 So the rumor started to circulate among the believers that this disciple wasn’t going to die. But Jesus never said that, he only said, “If I let him live until I return, what concern is that of yours?”


24 I, John,[q] am that disciple who has written these things to testify of the truth, and we[r] know that what I’ve documented is accurate. 25 Jesus did countless things that I haven’t included here. And if every one of his works were written down and described one by one,[s] I suppose that the world itself wouldn’t have enough room to contain the books that would have to be written![t]


  1. 21:1 Or “the Sea of Tiberias.”
  2. 21:2 Or in place of Jacob (James) and John, “the sons of Zebedee.”
  3. 21:3 According to Luke 24:49, the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the day they would be clothed with power. These seven apostles were not following what they had been told, and for this reason they caught nothing until Jesus joined them. He became the eighth man.
  4. 21:5 Or “Have you caught anything to eat?”
  5. 21:7 It was John, the one whom Jesus loved, that recognized the voice of Jesus. Perhaps it was Peter’s discouragement that prevented him from recognizing the voice of the Master. Peter’s name was Simon (Hb. Simeon), which means “he who hears.” Our hearing his voice is hindered when we are confused and filled with doubts.
  6. 21:7 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is literally “because he was naked.” This is very strange and most expositors make quite a case for this not being the case, in spite of the Greek saying he was, indeed, naked. The problem is solved by the Aramaic, which says, “because Peter was athletic, he dove into the water.”
  7. 21:9 It was while standing next to a fire that Peter denied Christ; now standing next to a fire, Jesus would restore his beloved friend.
  8. 21:11 This speaks of the great redemption of Christ for all nations and all people. One hundred and fifty-three large fish points to a mighty harvest from among the people groups of the world. This great catch of fish begins the process of inner healing for Peter and the guilt of his denial of Christ. Peter began to follow Jesus because of a great catch of fish (Luke 5:2–10), so Jesus now repeated that miracle, inviting Peter to begin to follow him again. According to the early church father Jerome, there were 153 species of fish in Lake Galilee that would remind Peter of his original call to be a fisher of men.
  9. 21:15 Jesus called Peter “Simon, son of Jonah” because Jonah was the prophet who ran from his calling, but was supernaturally restored. So Peter had followed Jonah’s example, by denying Jesus and running away. Yet Jesus now stood before him to fully restore him and heal his heart. See also vv. 16, 17.
  10. 21:15 The Aramaic word for “love” is hooba, and is taken from a root word that means “to set on fire.” This was the word Jesus would have used to ask Peter, “Do you burn with love for me?” Our love for Jesus must be passionate and kindle a holy flame within our hearts. See Song. 8:6–7.
  11. 21:15 As often is the case, Jesus’ words have more than one meaning. “These” can refer to the fish they had just caught, for Peter was a fisherman and loved to fish. He may have been counting and sorting the fish when Jesus asked him that question. But “these” most likely refers to the other disciples. It was Peter’s boast that he loved Jesus more than the others, and though everyone else would leave him, Peter never would. That boast proved empty, as within hours of making the claim, Peter denied he even knew Jesus three times. So Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. In essence, Jesus knew how to bring healing to Peter and remove the pain of his denial. Three times Peter denied Jesus, but three times he made his confession of his deep love for Christ. By the third time, the “crowing rooster” inside Peter had been silenced, and now he was ready to be a shepherd for Jesus’ flock.
  12. 21:15 The Aramaic is “feed my rams” (male lambs). This may refer to the other disciples. In v. 16 the Aramaic is simply “sheep.” And in v. 17 in Aramaic, Jesus used the third term “ewes” (female lambs). Some see in these that Peter was symbolically given charge of three flocks: Jews, Samaritans, and gentiles. Regardless, men and women need to be cared for and fed by the leadership of Christ’s church among the nations.
  13. 21:17 Three times Peter denied Christ, so Jesus gave him three opportunities to redeem himself.
  14. 21:18 Or “you girded yourself.”
  15. 21:18 The Aramaic is “grayheaded.”
  16. 21:18 Or “stretch out your hands.” This was clearly a hint of the martyrdom Peter would experience in Rome one day, where historians have recorded that Peter was crucified upside down, at his request, because he said that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same way as his Lord. He once said he was willing to die for our Lord Jesus; here Christ promised that would happen.
  17. 21:24 The evidence both internally and externally clearly points to John as the author of this book, thus the explicit reference here.
  18. 21:24 The word we implies that John had conferred with the other disciples, as he has left us an accurate account of the life of Jesus Christ.
  19. 21:25 Implied in the Aramaic.
  20. 21:25 The Aramaic is very poetic: “The world itself would be emptied out into the books that would be written.” An alternate translation of the Aramaic could read “I suppose that forever is still not enough time for all the books to be written!”

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