RPM, Volume 18, Number 2, January 3 to January 9, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 36

By Albert Barnes



Verses 1-12. For an account of the resurrection of Christ, See Barnes Notes on Matthew 27.

{a} "first day of week"

Mt 28:1; Mr 16:1; Lu 24:1


Verse 2. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{b} "other disciple"

Joh 13:23; 19:26; 21:7,24


Verse 3. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{c} "Peter"

Lu 24:12


Verse 4. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{d} "did outrun"

Lu 13:30


Verse 5. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{e} "the linen clothes"

Joh 19:40


Verse 6. No notes from Barnes on this verse.


Verse 7. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{f} "napkin"

Joh 11:44


Verse 8. No notes from Barnes on this verse.


Verse 9. The scripture. See Lu 24:26,46. The sense or meaning of the various predictions that foretold his death, as, for example, Ps 2:7, compare Ac 13:33; Ps 16:9,10, compare Ac 2:25-32; Ps 110:1 compare Ac 2:34,35.

{g} "the scripture" Ps 16:10; Ac 2:25-31; 13:34,35

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 10

Verse 10. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 11

Verse 11. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{h} "and looked"

Mr 16:5

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 12

Verse 12. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 13

Verse 13. They have taken away. That is, the disciples or friends of Jesus who had laid him there. Perhaps it was understood that the body was deposited there only to remain over the Sabbath, with an intention then of removing it to some other place of burial. Hence they hastened early in the morning to make preparation, and Mary supposed they had arrived before her and had taken him away.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 14

Verse 14. Knew not that it was Jesus. She was not expecting to see him. It was yet also twilight, and she could not see distinctly.

{i} "saw Jesus standing" Mt 28:9; Mr 16:9

{k} "knew not that" Lu 24:16,31; Joh 21:4

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 15

Verse 15. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{l} "and I will take him away"

So 3:2

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. This was spoken, doubtless, in a tone of voice that at once recalled him to her recollection.

Rabboni. This is a Hebrew word denoting, literally,my great master. It was one of the titles given to Jewish teachers. This title was given under three forms: (a) Rab, or master—the lowest degree of honour. (b) Rabbi, my master—a title of higher dignity. (c) Rabboni, my great master —the most honourable of all. This title, among the Jews, was only given to seven persons, all persons of great eminence. As given by Mary to the Saviour, it was at once an expression of her joy, and an acknowledgment of him as her Lord and Master. It is not improbable that she, filled with joy, was about to cast herself at his feet.

{m} "Mary" Is 43:1; Joh 10:3

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Touch me not, &c. This passage has given rise to a variety of interpretations. Jesus required Thomas to touch him (Joh 20:27), and it has been difficult to ascertain why he forbade this now to Mary. The reason why he directed Thomas to do this was, that he doubted whether he had been restored to life. Mary did not doubt that. The reason why he forbade her to touch him now is to be sought in the circumstances of the case. Mary, filled with joy and gratitude, was about to prostrate herself at his feet, disposed to remain with him, and offer him there her homage as her risen Lord. This is probably included in the word touch in this place; and the language of Jesus may mean this: "Do not approach me now for this purpose. Do not delay here. Other opportunities will yet be afforded to see me. I have not yet ascended— that is, I am not about to ascend immediately, but shall remain yet on earth to afford opportunity to my disciples to enjoy my presence." From Mt 28:9, it appears that the women, when they met Jesus, held him by the feet and worshipped him. This species of adoration it was probably the intention of Mary to offer, and this, at that time, Jesus forbade, and directed her to go at once and give his disciples notice that he had risen.

My brethren. See Joh 15:15.

My Father and your Father, &c. Nothing was better fitted to afford them consolation than this assurance that his God was theirs, and that, though he had been slain, they were still indissolubly united in attachment to the same Father and God.

{o} "my brethren" Ps 22:22; Ro 8:29; Heb 2:11

{p} "I ascend" Joh 16:28

{q} "your Father" Ro 8:14,15; 2 Co 6:18; Ga 3:26; 4:6,7

{r} "my God" Eph 1:17

{s} "your God" Ge 17:7,8; Ps 43:4,5; 48:14; Isa 41:10; Jer 31:33

Eze 36:28; Zec 13:9; Heb 11:16; Re 21:3

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 18

Verse 18. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{t} "Mary Magdalene"

Mt 28:10

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 19

Verse 19. The same day at evening. On the first day of the week, the day of the resurrection of Christ.

When the doors were shut. This does not mean that the doors were fastened, though that might have been the case, but only that they were closed. Jesus had been taken from them, and it was natural that they should apprehend that the Jews would next attempt to wreak their vengeance on his followers. Hence they met in the evening, and with closed doors, lest the Jews should bring against them the same charge of sedition that they had against the Lord Jesus. It is not certainly said what was the object of their assembling, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that it was to talk over the events which had just occurred, to deliberate about their condition, and to engage in acts of worship. Their minds were doubtless much agitated. They had seen their Master taken away and put to death; but a part of their number also had affirmed that they had seen him alive. In this state of things they naturally came together in a time and place of safety. It was not uncommon for the early Christians to hold their meetings for worship in the night. In times of persecution they were forbidden to assemble during the day, and hence they were compelled to meet in the night. Pliny the younger, writing to Trajan, the Roman emperor, and giving an account of Christians, says that "they were wont to meet together on a stated day before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God." True Christians will love to meet together for worship. Nothing will prevent this; and one of the evidences of piety is a desire to assemble to hear the Word of God, and to offer to him prayer and praise. It is worthy of remark that this is the first assembly that was convened for worship on the Lord's day, and in that assembly Jesus was present. Since that time, the day has been observed in the church as the Christian Sabbath, particularly to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.

Came Jesus, &c. There is no evidence that he came into their assembly in any miraculous manner. For anything that appears to the contrary, Jesus entered in the usual way and manner, though his sudden appearance alarmed them.

Peace be unto you. The sudden manner of his appearance, and the fact that most of them had not before seen him since his resurrection, tended to alarm them. Hence he addressed them in the usual form of salutation to allay their fears, and to assure them that it was their own Saviour and Friend.

{u} "The same day at evening" Mr 16:14; Lu 24:36; 1 Co 15:5

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 20

Verse 20. He showed unto them his hands, &c. In this manner he gave them indubitable proofs of his identity. He showed them that he was the same Being who had suffered; that he had truly risen from the dead, and had come forth with the same body. That body had not yet put on its glorified form. It was necessary first to establish the proof of his resurrection, and that could be done only by his appearing as he was when he died.

{v} "Then were his disciples" Joh 16:22

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 21

Verse 21. As my Father hath sent me. As God sent me to preach, to be persecuted, and to suffer; to make known his will, and to offer pardon to men, so I send you. This is the design and the extent of the commission of the ministers of the Lord Jesus. He is their model; and they will be successful only as they study HIS character and imitate his example. This commission he proceeds to confirm by endowing them all with the gift of the Holy Ghost.

{w} "Peace be unto you" Joh 14:27

{x} "so send I you" Mt 28:19; Joh 17:18; 2 Ti 2:2; Heb 3:1

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 22

Verse 22. He breathed on them. It was customary for the prophets to use some significant act to represent the nature of their message. See Jeremiah chapters 13 and 18, etc. In this case the act of breathing was used to represent the nature of the influence that would come upon them, and the source of that influence. When man was created, God breathed into him the breath of life, Ge 2:7. The word rendered spirit in the Scriptures denotes wind, air, breath, as well as Spirit. Hence the operations of the Holy Spirit are compared to the wind, Joh 3:8; Ac 2:2.

Receive ye the Holy Ghost. His breathing on them was a certain sign or pledge that they would be endowed with the influences of the Holy Spirit. Comp. Ac 1:4, John chapter 2.

{y} "Receive ye" Ac 2:4,33

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 23

Verse 23. Whose soever sins, &c. See Barnes "Mt 16:19"

See Barnes "Mt 18:18".

It is worthy of remark here that Jesus confers the same power on all the apostles. He gives to no one of them any peculiar authority. If Peter, as the Papists pretend, had been appointed to any peculiar authority, it is wonderful that the Saviour did not here hint at any such pre-eminence. This passage conclusively proves that they were invested with equal power in organizing and governing the church. The authority which he had given Peter to preach the gospel first to the Jews and the Gentiles, does not militate against this. See Barnes "Mt 16:18, See Barnes "Mt 16:19".

This authority given them was full proof that they were inspired. The meaning of the passage is not that man can forgive sins—that belongs only to God (Isa 43:23), but that they should be inspired; that in founding the church, and in declaring the will of God, they should be taught by the Holy Ghost to declare on what terms, to what characters, and to what temper of mind God would extend forgiveness of sins. It was not authority to forgive individuals, but to establish in all the churches the terms and conditions on which men might be pardoned, with a promise that God would confirm all that they taught; that all might have assurance of forgiveness who would comply with those terms; and that those who did not comply should not be forgiven, but that their sins should be retained. This commission is as far as possible from the authority which the Roman Catholic claims of remitting sin and of pronouncing pardon.

{z} "Whose soever" Mt 16:19; 18:18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 24

Verse 24. No Barnes text on this verse.

{a} "Thomas"

Joh 11:16

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 25

Verse 25. Except I shall see, &c. It is not known what was the ground of the incredulity of Thomas. It is probable, however, that it was, in part, at least, the effect of deep grief, and of that despondency which fills the mind when a long-cherished hope is taken away. In such a case it requires proof of uncommon clearness and strength to over- come the despondency, and to convince us that we may obtain the object of our desires. Thomas has been much blamed by expositors, but he asked only for proof that would be satisfactory in his circumstances. The testimony of ten disciples should have been indeed sufficient, but an opportunity was thus given to the Saviour to convince the last of them of the truth of his resurrection. This incident shows, what all the conduct of the apostles proves, that they had not conspired together to impose on the world. Even they were slow to believe, and one of them refused to rely even on the testimony of ten of his brethren. How unlike this to the conduct of men who agree to impose a story on mankind! Many are like Thomas. Many now are unwilling to believe because they do not see the Lord Jesus, and with just as little reason as Thomas had. The testimony of those eleven men—including Thomas— who saw him alive after he was crucified; who were willing to lay down their lives to attest that they had seen him alive; who had nothing to gain by imposture, and whose conduct was removed as far as possible from the appearance of imposture, should be regarded as ample proof of the fact that he rose from the dead.

{b} "But he said unto them" Ps 78:11,32

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 26

Verse 26. And after eight days again. That is, on the return of the first day of the week. From this it appears that they thus early set apart this day for assembling together, and Jesus countenanced it by appearing twice with them. It was natural that the apostles should observe this day, but not probable that they would do it without the sanction of the Lord Jesus. His repeated presence gave such a sanction, and the historical fact is indisputable that from this time this day was observed as the Christian Sabbath. See Ac 20:7; 1 Co 16:2; Re 1:10.

{c} "Peace be unto you" Isa 26:12

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 27

Verse 27. No Barnes text on this verse.

{d} "hand"

1 Jo 1:1

{e} "be not faithless" 1 Ti 1:14

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 28

Verse 28. My Lord and my God. In this passage the name God is expressly given to Christ, in his own presence and by one of his own apostles. This declaration has been considered as a clear proof of the divinity of Christ, for the following reasons:

1st. There is no evidence that this was a mere expression, as some have supposed, of surprise or astonishment.

2nd. The language was addressed to Jesus himself— "Thomas— said UNTO HIM."

3rd. The Saviour did not reprove him or check him as using any improper language. If he had not been divine, it is impossible to reconcile it with his honesty that he did not rebuke the disciple. No pious man would have allowed such language to be ad dressed to him. Comp. Ac 14:13-15; Re 22:8,9.

4th. The Saviour proceeds immediately to commend Thomas for believing; but what was the evidence of his believing? It was this declaration, and this only. If this was a mere exclamation of surprise, what proof was it that Thomas believed? Before this he doubted. Now he believed, and gave utterance to his belief, that Jesus was his Lord and his God.

5th. If this was not the meaning of Thomas, then his exclamation was a mere act of profaneness, and the Saviour would not have commended him for taking the name of the Lord his God in vain. The passage proves, therefore, that it is proper to apply to Christ the name Lord and GOD, and thus accords with what John affirmed in Joh 1:1, and which is established throughout this gospel.

{f} "My Lord and my God." Ps 118:28; Joh 5:23; 1 Ti 3:16

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Because thou hast seen me. Because you have looked upon my body, and seen the proofs that I am the same Saviour that was crucified. Jesus here approves the faith of Thomas, but more highly commends the faith of those who should believe without having seen.

Blessed. Happy, or worthy of the divine approbation. The word has here the force of the comparative degree, signifying that they would be in some respects more blessed than Thomas. They would evince higher faith.

That have not seen, &c. Those who should be convinced by the testimony of the apostles, and by the influences of the Spirit. They would evince stronger faith. All faith is of things not seen; and God blesses those most who most implicitly rely on his word.

{g} "blessed are they" 1 Pe 1:8

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 30

Verse 30. Other signs. Other miracles. Many were recorded by the other evangelists, and many which he performed were never recorded. Joh 21:25,

{h} "And many other signs" Joh 21:25

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 20 - Verse 31

Verse 31. These are written. Those recorded in this gospel.

That ye might believe, &c. This is a clue to the design which John had in view in writing this gospel. The whole scope or end of the book is to accomplish two objects:

1st. To prove that Jesus was the Messiah; and,

2nd. That they who looked at the proof might be convinced and have eternal life. This design is kept in view throughout the book. The miracles, facts, arguments, instructions, and conversations of our Lord all tend to this. This point had not been kept in view so directly by either of the other evangelists, and it was reserved for the last of the apostles to collect those arguments, and make out a connected demonstration that Jesus was the Messiah. If this design of John is kept steadily in view, it will throw much light on the book, and the argument is unanswerable, framed after the strictest rules of reasoning, infinitely beyond the skill of man, and having throughout the clearest evidence of demonstration.

{i} "But these are written" Lu 1:4



Verse 1. The sea of Tiberias. Called also the Sea of Galilee, being situated in Galilee. See Barnes "Mt 4:18".

In this place Jesus had promised to meet them, Mr 14:28; 16:7; Mt 26:32; 28:10.

This interview of Jesus is but just mentioned by Matthew (Mt 28:16), and is omitted by both Mark and Luke. This is the reason why John relates so particularly what occurred there. Galilee was a retired place where they would be free from danger, and was therefore a safe and convenient situation for Jesus to meet them, in order to give them his last instructions.

On this wise. Thus. In this manner.


Verse 2. There were together. Probably residing in the same place. While they were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit, they still found it proper to be usefully employed. Their Master had been taken away by death, and the promised Spirit had not descended on them. In the interval—-before the promised Spirit was poured upon them— they chose not to be idle, and therefore returned to their former employment. It is to be remarked, also, that they had no other means of support. While with Jesus, they were commonly supplied by the kindness of the people; but now, when the Saviour had died, they were cut off from this means of support, and returned to the honest labour of their early lives. Moreover, they had been directed by the Saviour to repair to a mountain in Galilee, where he would meet them, Mt 28:10. This was probably not far from the Sea of Galilee, so that, until he came to them, they would naturally be engaged in their old employment. Ministers of the gospel should be willing to labour, if necessary, for their own support, and should not esteem such labour dishonourable. God has made employment indispensable to man, and if the field of labour is not open in one way, they should seek it in another. If at any time the people withhold the supply of their wants, they should be able and willing to seek support in some other honest occupation.

{a} "Nathanael of Cana" Joh 1:45

{b} "the sons of Zebedee" Mt 4:21


Verse 3. That night they caught nothing. This was so ordered in the providence of God that the miracle which was wrought might appear more remarkable.


Verse 4. Knew not that it was Jesus. Probably it was yet twilight, and in the distance they could not distinctly recognize him.

{c} "knew not that it was Jesus" Joh 20:14


Verse 5. Children. A term of affection and friendship, 1 Jo 2:18.

Any meat. This word (Greek) means anything eaten with bread. It was used by the Greeks especially to denote fish (Schleusner)

{d} "Jesus saith unto them" Lu 24:41

{1} "Children" or, "Sirs"


Verse 6. On the right side. Why the right side is mentioned is not known. Grotius supposes that it was the side nearest the shore, where there was less probability of taking fish. It does not appear that they yet recognized the Lord Jesus but from some cause they had sufficient confidence in him to make another trial. Perhaps they judged that he was one skilled in that employment, and knew where there was the greatest probability of success.

{e} "Cast the net on the right" Lu 5:4-7


Verse 7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved. Joh 13:23.

It is the Lord. He was convinced, perhaps, by the apparent miracle, and by looking more attentively on the person of one who had been the means of such unexpected and remarkable success.

His fisher's coat. His upper or outer garment or tunic, in distinction from the inner garment or tunic which was worn next the skin. In the case of Peter it may have been made of coarse materials such as fishermen commonly wore, or such as Peter usually wore when he was engaged in this employment. Such garments are common with men of this occupation. This outer garment he probably had laid aside.

He was naked. He was undressed, with nothing on but the under garment or tunic. The word does not require us to suppose a greater degree of nakedness than this. See Barnes "Mr 14:51, See Barnes "1 Sa 19:24".

Did cast himself into the sea. With characteristic ardour, desirous of meeting again his Lord, and showing his affection for him.


Verse 8. Two hundred cubits. About 350 feet, or a little more than 20 rods.


Verse 9. They saw a fire, &c. We have no knowledge whence this was produced— whether it was, as Grotius supposes, by a miracle, or whether it was a place occupied by other fishermen, where they also might cook the fish which they had caught. As no miracle is mentioned, however, there is no reason for supposing that any existed in the case.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 10

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 11

Verse 11. An hundred and fifty and three. The number is mentioned because it seems to have been a very unusual draught, and it was particularly gratifying and striking to them after they had spent the whole night and had caught nothing. This convinced them that it was no other than the same Saviour who had so often worked wonders before them that was now with them.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Come and dine. The word in the original means the meal which is taken in the morning, or breakfast.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, &c. It is not said that Jesus himself ate with them, but he gave them food. The design of this interview seems to have been to convince them that he had truly risen from the dead. Hence he performed a miracle before they suspected that it was he, that there might be no room to say that they had ascribed to him the power of the miracle through friendship and collusion with him. The miracle was such as to satisfy them of its truth, and was, in accordance with all his works, not for mere display, but for utility. He remained with them, was with them at their meal, conversed with them, and thus convinced them that he was the same Friend who had died.

{f} "Jesus then cometh" Ac 10:41

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 14

Verse 14. The third time. See the "Harmony of the Accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus" at the end of Matthew.

{g} "This is now the third time" Joh 20:19,26

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 15

Verse 15. Lovest thou me more than these? There is a slight ambiguity here in the original, as there is in our translation. The word these may be in the neuter gender, and refer to these things—his boat, his fishing utensils, and his employments; or it may be in the masculine, and refer to the apostles. In the former sense it would mean, "Lovest thou me more than thou lovest these objects? Art thou now willing, from love to me, to forsake all these, and go and preach my gospel to the nations of the earth?" In the other sense, which is probably the true sense, it would mean, "Lovest thou me more than these other apostles love me?" In this question Jesus refers to the profession of superior attachment to him which Peter had made before his death (Mt 26:33): "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." Comp. Joh 13:37. Jesus here slightly reproves him for that confident assertion, reminds him of his sad and painful denial, and now puts this direct and pointed question to him to know what was the present state of his feelings. After all that Peter had had to humble him, the Saviour inquired of him what had been the effect on his mind, and whether it had tended to prepare him for the arduous toils in which he was about to engage. This question we should all put to ourselves. It is a matter of much importance that we should ourselves know what is the effect of the dealings of divine Providence on our hearts, and what is our present state of feeling toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thou knowest that I love thee. Peter now made no pretensions to love superior to his brethren. His sad denial had convinced him of the folly of that claim; but still he could appeal to the Searcher of the heart, and say that he knew that he loved him. Here is the expression of a humbled soul—a soul made sensible of its weakness and need of strength, yet with evidence of true attachment to the Saviour. It is not the most confident pretensions that constitute the highest proof of love to Christ; and the happiest and best state of feeling is when we can with humility, yet with confidence, look to the Lord Jesus and say, "Thou knowest that I love thee."

Feed my lambs. The word here rendered feed means the care afforded by furnishing nutriment for the flock. In the next verse there is a change in the Greek, and the word rendered feed denotes rather the care, guidance, and protection which a shepherd extends to his flock. By the use of both these words, it is supposed that our Saviour intended that a shepherd was both to offer the proper food for his flock and to govern it; or, as we express it, to exercise the office of a pastor. The expression is taken from the office of a shepherd, with which the office of a minister of the gospel is frequently compared. It means, as a good shepherd provides for the wants of his flock, so the pastor in the church is to furnish food for the soul, or so to exhibit truth that the faith of believers may be strengthened and their hope confirmed.

My lambs. The church is often compared to a flock. See Joh 10:1-16. Here the expression my lambs undoubtedly refers to the tender and the young in the Christian church; to those who are young in years and in Christian experience. The Lord Jesus saw, what has been confirmed in the experience of the church, that the success of the gospel among men depended on the care which the ministry would extend to those in early life. It is in obedience to this command that Sunday-schools have been established, and no means of fulfilling this command of the Saviour have been found so effectual as to extend patronage to those schools. It is not merely, therefore, the privilege, it is the solemn duty of ministers of the gospel to countenance and patronize those schools.

{h} "more than these" Mt 26:33,35

{i} "Feed my lambs" Isa 40:11; Jer 3:15; Eze 34:2-10; Ac 20:28

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Feed my sheep. The word here rendered feed, as has been remarked, is different from the word in the previous verse. It has the sense of governing, caring for, guiding, protecting —the kind of faithful vigilance which a shepherd uses to guide his flock, and to make provision against their wants and dangers. It may be implied here that the care needed for the young in the church is to instruct them, and for those in advanced years both to instruct and govern them.

My sheep. This term commonly denotes the church in general, without respect to age, John, chapter 10.

{k} "Feed my sheep" Heb 13:20; 1 Pe 2:25

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 17

Verse 17. .The third time. It is probable that Jesus proposed this question three times because Peter had thrice denied him. Thus he tenderly admonished him of his fault and reminded him of his sin, while he solemnly charged him to be faithful and vigilant in the discharge of the duties of the pastoral office. The reason why the Saviour addressed Peter in this manner was doubtless because he had just denied him—had given a most melancholy instance of the instability and weakness of his faith, and of his liability to fall. As he had thus been prominent in forsaking him, he took this occasion to give to him a special charge, and to secure his future obedience. Hence he so administered the charge as to remind him of his fault; and he made him so prominent as to show the solicitude of the Saviour that henceforward he might not be left to dishonour his high calling. This same charge, in substance, he had on other occasions given to the apostles (Mt 18:18), and there is not the slightest evidence here that Christ intended, as the Papists pretend, to give Peter any peculiar primacy or eminence in the church. The charge to Peter arose, manifestly, from his prominent and melancholy act in denying him, and was the kind and tender means used by a faithful Saviour to keep him from similar acts in the future dangers and trials of life. It is worthy of remark that the admonition was effectual. Henceforward Peter was one of the most firm and unwavering of all the apostles, and thus fully justified the appellation of a rock, which the Saviour by anticipation had given him. See Barnes "Joh 1:42".

{m} "thou knowest all things" Joh 16:30

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 18

Verse 18. When thou wast young. When in early life thou didst gird thyself &c. The Jews, in walking or running, girded their outer garments around them, that they might not be impeded. See Barnes "Mt 5:38-41".

Thou girdedst. The expression here denotes freedom. He did as he pleased—he girded himself or not—he went or remained, as he chose. Perhaps the expression refers rather to that time than to the previous period of Peter's life. "Thou being young or in the rigour of life, hast just girded thyself and come freely to the shore." In either case the Saviour intimates that at the end of his life he would not be thus free.

When thou shalt be old. Ancient writers say that Peter was put to death about thirty-four years after this. His precise age at that time is not known.

Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands. When Peter was put to death, we are told that he requested that he might be crucified with his head downward, saying that he who had denied his Lord as he had done was not worthy to die as he did. This expression of Christ may intimate the readiness of Peter thus to die. Though he was not at liberty as when he was young, though bound by others, yet he freely stretched out his hands on the cross, and was ready to give up his life.

Another shall gird thee. Another shall bind thee. The limbs of persons crucified were often bound instead of being nailed, and even the body was sometimes girded to the cross, See Barnes "Mt 27:35".

Carry thee, &c. Shall bear thee, or shall compel thee to go to prison and to death, This is not said to intimate that Peter would be unwilling to suffer martyrdom, but it stands opposed to the freedom of his early life. Though willing when compelled to do it, yet he would not seek it; and though he would not needlessly expose himself to it, yet he would not shrink from it when it was the will of God.

{n} "When thou was young" Joh 13:36; Ac 12:3,4

{o} "shall gird thee" Ac 21:11

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 19

Verse 19. By what death, &c. In these words two things are implied:

1st. That Peter would die a violent death; and,

2nd. That his death would be such as to honour God.

The ancients say that Peter was crucified at Rome, about thirty-four years after this, with his head downward. Clemens says that he was led to the crucifixion with his wife, and sustained her in her sufferings by exhorting her to remember the example of her Lord. He also adds that he died, not as the philosophers did, but with a firm hope of heaven, and patiently endured the pangs of the cross (Strom. vii.). This declaration of the Saviour was doubtless continually before the mind of Peter, and to the hour of his death he maintained the utmost constancy and fidelity in his cause, thus justifying the appellation which the Lord Jesus gave him—a rock.

{p} "what death" 2 Pe 1:14

{q} "Follow me" Nu 14:24; 1 Sa 12:20; Mt 19:28; Joh 12:26

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Which also leaned, &c. See Joh 13:24,25

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 21

Verse 21. What shall this man do? This question probably means, "What death shall he die?" But it is impossible to ascertain certainly why Peter asked this question. John was a favourite disciple, and perhaps Peter suspected that he would have a happier lot, and not be put to death in this manner. Peter was grievedperhaps a mixture of grief and envy, he asked what would be his lot. But it is possible, also, that it was from kindness to John—a deep solicitude about him, and a wish that he might not die in the same manner as one who had denied his Lord. Whatever the motive was, it was a curiosity which the Lord Jesus did not choose to gratify.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 22

Verse 22. That he tarry. That he live. The same word is used to express life in Php 1:24,25; 1 Co 15:6.

Till I come. Some have supposed this to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem; others to the day of judgment; others to signify that he would not die a violent death; but the plain meaning is, "If I will that he should not die at all, it is nothing to thee." In this way the apostles evidently understood it, and hence raised a report that he would not die. It is remarkable that John was the last of the apostles; that he lived to nearly the close of the first century, and then died a peaceful death at Ephesus, being the only one, as is supposed, of the apostles who did not suffer martyrdom. The testimony of antiquity is clear on this point; and though there have been many idle conjectures about this passage and about the fate of John, yet no fact of history is better attested than that John died and was buried at Ephesus.

What is that to thee? From this passage we learn,

1st. That our main business is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

2nd. That there are many subjects of religion on which a vain and impertinent curiosity is exercised. All such curiosity Jesus here reproves.

3rd. That Jesus will take care of all his true disciples, and that we should not be unduly solicitous about them.

4th. That we should go forward to whatever he calls us—to persecution or death—not envying the lot of any other man, and anxious only to do the will of God.

{r} "till I come" Mt 25:31; Re 1:7; 22:20

{s} "Follow thou me" Joh 21:19

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 23

Verse 23. Then went this saying, &c. This mistake arose very naturally—

1st. From the words of Jesus, which might be easily misunderstood to mean that he should not die; and,

2nd. It was probably confirmed when it was seen that John survived all the other apostles, had escaped all the dangers of persecution, and was leading a peaceful life at Ephesus. This mistake John deemed it proper to correct before he died, and has thus left on record what Jesus said and what he meant.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 24

Verse 24. This is the disciple, &c. This proves that the beloved disciple was John.

We know. That is, it is known; it is universally admitted. It was so decidedly his character that he always declared the truth, that it had become known, and was unquestioned, so that he himself might appeal to the universal testimony in his behalf. In this case, therefore, we have the testimony of a man whose character for nearly a century was that of a man of truth—-so much so that it had become, in a manner, proverbial, and was put beyond a doubt. It is impossible to believe that such a man would sit down deliberately to impose on mankind, or to write a book which was false; and if not, then this book is true, and that is the same as saying that Christianity is a religion from heaven.

{t} "and we know" Joh 19:35; 3 Jo 1:12

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 21 - Verse 25

Verse 25. Many other things. Many miracles, Joh 20:30. Many discourses delivered, &c.

I suppose, &c. This is evidently the figure of speech called a hyperbole. It is a mode of speech where the words express more or less than is literally true. It is common among all writers; and as the sacred writers, in recording a revelation to men, used human language, it was proper that they should express themselves as men ordinarily do if they wished to be understood. This figure of speech is commonly the effect of surprise, or having the mind full of some object, and not having words to express the ideas: at the same time, the words convey no falsehood. The statement is to be taken as it would be understood among the persons to whom it is addressed; and as no one supposes that the author means to be understood literally, so there is no deception in the case, and consequently no impeachment of his veracity or inspiration. Thus, when Longinus said of a man that "he was the owner of a piece of ground not larger than a Lacedaemonian letter," no one understood him literally. He meant, evidently, a very small piece of land, and no one would be deceived. So Virgil says of a man, "he was so tall as to reach the stars," and means only that he was very tall. So when John says that the world could not contain the books that would be written if all the deeds and sayings of Jesus were recorded, he clearly intends nothing more than that a great many books would be required, or that it would be extremely difficult to record them all; intimating that his life was active, that his discourses were numerous, and that he had not pretended to give them all, but only such as would go to establish the main point for which he wrote—that he was the Messiah, Joh 20:30,31. The figure which John uses here is not uncommon in the Scriptures, Ge 11:4; 15:5; Nu 13:33; Da 4:20.

This gospel contains in itself the clearest proof of inspiration. It is the work of a fisherman of Galilee, without any proof that he had any unusual advantages. It is a connected, clear, and satisfactory argument to establish the great truth that Jesus was the Messiah. It was written many years after the ascension of Jesus. It contains the record of the Saviour's profoundest discourses, of his most convincing arguments with the Jews, and of his declarations respecting himself and God. It contains the purest and most elevated views of God to be found anywhere, as far exceeding all the speculations of philosophers as the sun does the blaze of a taper. It is in the highest degree absurd to suppose that an unlettered fisherman could have originated this book. Anyone may be convinced of this by comparing it with what would be the production of a man in that rank of life now. But if John has preserved the record of what has occurred so many years before, then it shows that he was under the divine guidance, and is himself a proof, a full and standing proof, of the fulfillment of the promise which he has recorded— that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth, Joh 14:26. Of this book we may, in conclusion, apply the words spoken by John respecting his vision of the future events of the church: "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this book, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand," Re 1:3.

{u} "And there are also" Joh 20:30

{v} "the world could not contain" Am 7:10

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