John 21

John 21:2

Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.

Didymus means “the Twin.” Thomas had a sibling about whom we know nothing.

Cana of Galilee; see entry for John 2:1.

John 21:7

Therefore 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.

The disciple Jesus loved was John; see entry for John 13:23.

John 21:15

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.”

Do you love Me? Scholars make much of the different words for love that appear in this exchange. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him with agapao-love and Peter replies that he loves him with phileo-love and this happens twice, in verses 15 and 16. Then on the third occasion, in verse 17, Jesus changes his word to phileo-love. The lesson, apparently, is that Peter was only able to love Jesus with a lesser love and Jesus accepted this. The problem with this is that Jesus and Peter weren’t speaking Greek but were conversing in Aramaic. The subtle difference was added later by John.

If Jesus was an old covenant preacher, he would have rebuked Peter for his sin. “You betrayed me, Peter. Three times!” He would have drawn attention to Peter’s failure before demanding a better effort next time. But Jesus is a new covenant preacher, so he gives him grace. He is gentle with Peter. He takes care of Peter’s needs, and then he talks about love.

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