John 21: This chapter appears to be an epilogue to the book of John. It seems to be something John added later after he had written His gospel. It was written to further show us that the resurrected Messiah is a physical manifestation of the Father.
(John 21:1 NASB) After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.
(John 21:2 NASB) There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples.
John 21:2: This is an interesting group. We have Peter, who is so impetuous and warm-hearted, but one who fails a lot. There was Thomas, who doubted the others when they said Yeshua had resurrected, and we have Nathaniel, who was the first doubter early on in the ministry of Yeshua (John 1:45-49). We also have the sons of Zebedee, James and John and two others disciples. We really have kind of a motley crew here. Notice there are seven of them (which stands for completeness in Scripture). This probably means that the testimony of these seven is for all of His people.
(John 21:3 NASB) 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 that night they caught nothing.
John 21:3: They were standing out by a beautiful shore and thought they would go fishing. I’m sure it was a beautiful evening for it because they all wanted to go. These men were fishermen for a living and they got skunked. Fishing is always fun when the fish are biting. But it’s also frustrating when you spend hours doing it and don’t catch anything.
(John 21:4 NASB) But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
John 21:4: Yeshua was in His resurrected and glorified body and was recognizable, but they were probably 300 feet or so from shore and it was still dark. They could see Him, but couldn’t yet tell who it was.
(John 21:5 NASB) Jesus therefore said^ to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.”
John 21:5: His term for “children” was not really an endearing term. It is an informal term and is also translated as “boys.” He was saying something more like “You boys caught anything yet?”
(John 21:6 NASB) And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.” They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.
John 21:6: This is similar to the incident in Luke 5:3-10. Only this time, their nets were not breaking. This definitely told them who was standing at the shore.
(John 21:7 NASB) That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said^ to Peter, “It is the Lord.” And 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.
John 21:7: John told Peter this was Yeshua standing out by the shore. Peter never had the discernment that John had. Peter had taken his outer garment, or vest off previously because they were out in the boat and it was probably warm.
(John 21:8 NASB) 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.
John 21:8: The normal fishing boats in that day were about 15 feet long. These seven men were in a little boat that size and had a huge catch of fish. Peter was going to get there a lot faster than the bogged down boat would.
(John 21:9 NASB) And so when they got out upon the land, they saw^ a charcoal fire already laid, and fish placed on it, and bread.
(John 21:10 NASB) Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.”
(John 21:11 NASB) 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.
John 21:11: This may sound like an insignificant number that is thrown on the table, but it isn’t. It has been calculated that there were 153 distinct nations in the world at the time of Messiah and the number is not much different at present.
The number is significance since it actually represents Israel coming out of all the nations (Ezek. 37:21-22, Micah 5:7-8).
(John 21:12 NASB) Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord.
(John 21:13 NASB) Jesus came and took the bread, and gave them, and the fish likewise.
(John 21:14 NASB) This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.
John 21:14: Yeshua proved Himself real to them once again. He had resurrected and now He is going to eat with them.
(John 21:15 NASB) So 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, “Tend My lambs.”
John 21:15: These verses lose a lot during the English translations. A normal reading of verses 15-17 show us that maybe Yeshua is giving Peter a chance to proclaim his love for Yeshua three times to offset his denial of Yeshua three times. If you remember, the last time we are told about Peter gathering around coals was when he did his denial of Yeshua. But there is more to this scene than just that.
The English language is a beggar for words in many instances. We have only one word to describe the word “love.” The Greek language has three words for the one term that we have. First there is the Greek word “eros.” This seems to be the only type of love Hollywood knows. It is where we get our word “erotic” and it refers to sexual love. The world tends to confusing copulation, immorality, lust, and sex for actual love. This is the weakest term for what we call “love.”
The second most powerful term for “love” in the Greek language is the word “phileo.” At best, it stands for affections and emotions in human relationships. You could say it stands for “brotherly love.” It is where we get the name for the city of Philadelphia. It is often called “the city of brotherly love,” although one would be hard-pressed to see evidence of that by visiting there today. However, that nickname comes from that Greek word.
The third term for “love” in the Greek language is the word “agapao.” This is the most powerful of the three terms and it means “unconditional love.” It is the word applied to the way Elohim feels for His children. It is the word used to describe how Elohim so “loved” the world in John 3:16. This is the highest, truest, and most powerful form of love and it means that you are willing to die for that person or persons.
The words used in verses 15-17 are very important. In verse 15, Yeshua says “Do you agapao (have unconditional love for and are willing to die for) me?” And Peters answer is “Yes Lord, I phileo (have brotherly love) for you.” Peter actually didn’t answer the question.
Perhaps Peter was hesitant to shout out how he will never be the one to deny Yeshua again. He has already shown that he is capable of failure. He might be thinking of how he has failed at commitment at this time.
Yeshua was actually asking Peter, “Do you love “agapao” me? because that is what is commanded in Torah (Luke 10:27). If so, then Peter is told to feed His sheep. This is the description given to how David took care of Israel (Psalm 78:70-72).
(John 21:16 NASB) 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, “Shepherd My sheep.”
John 21:16: Yeshua asks him again, “Peter, do you really love me?” Peter answers again, “Yes Master, I have a very strong affection for you.” Once again, he doesn’t answer the question. Yeshua is trying to lift Simon Pater to a higher level, but Peter will have no part of it.
Yeshua then tells him, “Poimaino” (be a supervisor and tend over).my older sheep.” He says to feed the lambs in the previous verse and to discipline the older sheep in this verse. We tend to want to discipline the lambs and feed the older sheep. But Yeshua tells Peter to do it the other way around. The reason being is that the lambs will follow the older sheep.
(John 21:17 NASB) He said^ to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.
John 21:17: This time Yeshua stoops down to Peter’s level and asks him using Peter’s term phileo. He asks him, “Do you really have a kindness and affection for me?” This grieves Peter because he knows that Yeshua had to lower His question in order to get Peter to answer it.
Peter says, “Yes, Lord. You know that I have a strong affection for you.” He isn’t grieved because Yeshua asked him three times. He is grieved because he knew Yeshua had to come down to his level in order to accommodate him. It is interesting that Peter uses the word translated as “love” seven times in his letters to describe the love for Elohim and the love for our brothers we are supposed to have and he always uses the term “agapao.”
Yeshua then tells Peter “Bosko” (feed) my older sheep.” Us older sheep need feeding also, not just whippings. Why did Yeshua tell Peter to do this? Because it was prophesied this would happen (Jer. 3:15, 23:3-4).
(John 21:18 NASB) “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.”
John 21:18: This is a prophecy of the death, or martyrdom, of Peter. Yeshua tells him that when he was younger, he used to do whatever he wanted. But the time will come when he will be taken away forcibly and be killed.
Tradition, as early as 210 A.D. by Tertullian, tells us that Peter was taken and killed by Nero somewhere between 64-68 A.D. Tradition says that he was going to be crucified, but he stated that he did not deserve to be crucified in the same way as Yeshua Messiah. So they crucified him upside down.
(John 21:19 NASB) Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said^ to him, “Follow Me!”
John 21:19: Peter had previously said that he would lay his life down for Yeshua. Yeshua just told him that he will get his chance.
(John 21:20 NASB) Peter, turning around, saw^ the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
(John 21:21 NASB) Peter therefore seeing him said^ to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”
John 21:21: Peter, never at a loss for words, says, “What about John? How is he gonna die?”
(John 21:22 NASB) Jesus said^ to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
John 21:22: I think this is the origin of the term “What’s it to you?” Yeshua tells Peter, “it just doesn’t matter about John. John might just hang around until I return, but that is not important to you, Peter.”
Peter himself said that Yeshua was speaking of his death here (2 Peter 1:13-14). Tradition has it that all the disciples died a martyrs death except John.
Well, in a sense, John did hang around until Yeshua returned. Yeshua returned and revealed Himself to John when he was exiled on the Island of Patmos. This is when John wrote the Revelation.
(John 21:23 NASB) This saying therefore went out among the 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 until I come, what is that to you?”
John 21:23: John said that many misinterpreted this phrase. He is clarifying it for us.
(John 21:24 NASB) This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true.
John 21:24: We have four different writings that attest to the truthfulness of the life of Yeshua. This is more than enough witnesses to establish the matter.
(John 21:25 NASB) And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were^ written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would^ not contain the books which were^ written.
John 21:25: John is telling us that there are many many other things Yeshua did that were not recorded. John uses hyperbole to express his thoughts on how his mind boggles at the greatness of Yeshua’s signs and works.
Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly
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Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly
Fort Smith, Arkansas