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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to John 21:1-25

21  After this Jesus manifested himself* again to the disciples, at the Sea of Ti·beʹri·as. He made the manifestation in this way.  There were together Simon Peter, Thomas (who was called the Twin),+ Na·thanʹa·el+ from Caʹna of Galʹi·lee, the sons of Zebʹe·dee,+ and two others of his disciples.  Simon Peter said to them: “I am going fishing.” They said to him: “We are coming with you.” They went out and got aboard the boat, but during that night they caught nothing.+  However, just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.+  Then Jesus said to them: “Children, you do not have anything to eat, do you?” They answered: “No!”  He said to them: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they cast it, but they were not able to haul it in because of the large number of fish.+  Then the disciple whom Jesus loved+ said to Peter: “It is the Lord!” Now Simon Peter, on hearing that it was the Lord, put on* his outer garment, for he was naked, and plunged into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the small boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not a long way from land, only about 300 feet away.  When they came ashore, they saw there a charcoal fire with fish lying on it and bread. 10  Jesus said to them: “Bring some of the fish you just now caught.” 11  So Simon Peter went on board and hauled the net ashore full of big fish, 153 of them. And though there were so many, the net did not burst. 12  Jesus said to them: “Come, have your breakfast.”+ Not one of the disciples had the courage 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 the same with the fish. 14  This was now the third time+ that Jesus appeared to the disciples after being raised up from the dead. 15  When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He replied to him: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Feed my lambs.”+ 16  Again he said to him a second time: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He replied: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Shepherd my little sheep.”+ 17  He said to him a third time: “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?” Peter became grieved that he asked him the third time: “Do you have affection for me?” So he said to him: “Lord, you are aware of all things; you know that I have affection for you.” Jesus said to him: “Feed my little sheep.+ 18  Most truly I say to you, when you were younger, you used to clothe yourself and walk about where you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another man will clothe you and carry you where you do not wish.”+ 19  He said this to indicate by what sort of death he would glorify God. After he said this, he said to him: “Continue following me.”+ 20  Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved+ following, the one who at the evening meal had also leaned back on his chest and said: “Lord, who is the one betraying you?” 21  So when he caught sight of him, Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, what about this man?” 22  Jesus said to him: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you? You continue following me.” 23  So the saying went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. However, Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but he said: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” 24  This is the disciple+ who gives this witness about these things and who wrote these things, and we know that his witness is true.+ 25  There are also, in fact, many other things that Jesus did, which if ever they were written in full detail, I suppose the world itself could not contain the scrolls written.+

Footnotes

Or “appeared.”
Or “wrapped around himself; girded about himself.”

Study Notes

Children: Or “Young children.” The Greek word pai·diʹon (diminutive of pais, “child”) is an endearing form of address that may indicate a fatherly interest. Here it is used as an affectionate expression of friendship.

anything to eat: Or “any fish.” The Greek word pro·sphaʹgi·on occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. In non-Biblical texts, it describes something that can be eaten with bread. In this context, used in a question addressed to a group of fishermen, it obviously refers to fish.

the one whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the first of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple is the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10) One reason for this identification is that the apostle John is not referred to by name in this Gospel, except for the mention of “the sons of Zebedee” at Joh 21:2. Another indication is found at Joh 21:20-24, where the expression “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is used with reference to the writer of this Gospel. Also, Jesus said of that apostle: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” This suggests that the one referred to would long survive Peter and the other apostles, a description that fits the apostle John.—See study notes on Joh Title and Joh 1:6; 21:20.

the disciple whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the last of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple was the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10; Joh 21:2) As the context of Joh 21:20-24 shows, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was also “the disciple who . . . wrote these things,” that is, the writer of the Gospel of John.—See study notes on Joh Title; 1:6; 13:23.

naked: Or “not sufficiently dressed.” The Greek word gy·mnosʹ can have the meaning “lightly clad; in the undergarment only.”Jas 2:15, ftn.

the disciple whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the fourth of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple was the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James.—Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10; Joh 21:2; the reasons for this identification are given in the study notes on Joh 13:23; 21:20.

naked: Or “lightly clad.” The Greek word gy·mnosʹ can have the meaning “lightly clad; in the undergarment only.”—Jas 2:15, ftn.; see study note on Mt 25:36.

about 300 feet: About 90 m. Lit., “about 200 cubits.” The Greek word peʹkhys (rendered “cubit(s)” at Mt 6:27; Lu 12:25; Re 21:17) refers to a short measure that is roughly the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. The Israelites commonly used a cubit of about 44.5 cm (17.5 in.).—See Glossary, “Cubit,” and App. B14.

son of Jonah: Or “Bar-jonah.” Many Hebrew names included the Hebrew word ben or the Aramaic word bar, both meaning “son,” followed by the name of the father as a surname. The use of the Aramaic loanword bar in several proper names, such as Bartholomew, Bartimaeus, Barnabas, and Bar-Jesus, is evidence of the influence of Aramaic on the Hebrew spoken in Jesus’ day.

Jesus said to Simon Peter: This conversation between Jesus and Peter took place shortly after Peter had denied Jesus three times. Jesus asked three probing questions about Peter’s feelings for him, to the point that “Peter became grieved.” (Joh 21:17) John’s account recorded at Joh 21:15-17 uses two different Greek verbs: a·ga·paʹo, rendered love, and phi·leʹo, rendered have affection. Twice Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love me?” Both times Peter earnestly affirmed that he had “affection” for Jesus. Finally, Jesus asked: “Do you have affection for me?” Again Peter asserted that he did. Each time Peter affirmed his love, Jesus emphasized that this love and affection should motivate Peter to feed and “shepherd” Jesus’ disciples spiritually, here referred to as his lambs, or “little sheep.” (Joh 21:16, 17; 1Pe 5:1-3) Jesus allowed Peter to confirm his love three times and then entrusted him with the responsibility to care for the sheep. In this way, Jesus dispelled any doubts that he had forgiven Peter for denying him three times.

John: According to some ancient manuscripts, the father of the apostle Peter is here called John. In other ancient manuscripts, he is called Jona. At Mt 16:17, Jesus addresses Peter as “Simon son of Jonah.” (See study note on Mt 16:17.) According to some scholars, the Greek forms of the names John and Jona(h) may be different spellings of the same Hebrew name.

do you love me more than these?: Grammatically, the phrase “more than these” can be understood in more than one way. Some scholars prefer such a meaning as “do you love me more than you love these other disciples?” or “do you love me more than these disciples love me?” However, the likely meaning is “do you love me more than these things?” that is, the fish they caught or the things connected with the fishing business. So the overall idea of the verse seems to be: ‘Do you love me more than material things or pursuits? If so, feed my lambs.’ The question would be appropriate in view of Peter’s past. Although Peter was one of Jesus’ first disciples (Joh 1:35-42), he did not immediately follow Jesus full-time. Rather, he returned to his fishing. Some months later, Jesus called Peter away from that substantial business to become a ‘fisher of men.’ (Mt 4:18-20; Lu 5:1-11) Again, shortly after Jesus’ death, Peter announced that he was going fishing, and other apostles joined him. (Joh 21:2, 3) So it seems likely that Jesus is here driving home to Peter the need for making a decisive choice: Would he put first in his life a career in the fishing business, represented by the fish piled before them, or would he give priority to the work of spiritually feeding Jesus’ lambs, or followers?—Joh 21:4-8.

Jesus said to Simon Peter: This conversation between Jesus and Peter took place shortly after Peter had denied Jesus three times. Jesus asked three probing questions about Peter’s feelings for him, to the point that “Peter became grieved.” (Joh 21:17) John’s account recorded at Joh 21:15-17 uses two different Greek verbs: a·ga·paʹo, rendered love, and phi·leʹo, rendered have affection. Twice Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love me?” Both times Peter earnestly affirmed that he had “affection” for Jesus. Finally, Jesus asked: “Do you have affection for me?” Again Peter asserted that he did. Each time Peter affirmed his love, Jesus emphasized that this love and affection should motivate Peter to feed and “shepherd” Jesus’ disciples spiritually, here referred to as his lambs, or “little sheep.” (Joh 21:16, 17; 1Pe 5:1-3) Jesus allowed Peter to confirm his love three times and then entrusted him with the responsibility to care for the sheep. In this way, Jesus dispelled any doubts that he had forgiven Peter for denying him three times.

love . . . have affection: See study note on Joh 21:15.

little sheep: The Greek word pro·baʹti·on, here and in verse 17 rendered “little sheep,” is the diminutive form of the Greek word for “sheep.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, diminutives are often used to indicate affection and familiarity.—See Glossary, “Diminutive.”

a third time: Peter had denied his Lord three times; Jesus now gave him the opportunity to affirm his feelings three times. As Peter did so, Jesus told him to show that love and affection by putting sacred service ahead of all else. Along with other responsible brothers, Peter would feed, strengthen, and shepherd Christ’s flock of faithful followers. These ones were anointed but still needed to be fed spiritually.—Lu 22:32.

John: The English equivalent of the Hebrew name Jehohanan or Johanan, meaning “Jehovah Has Shown Favor; Jehovah Has Been Gracious.” The writer of this Gospel is not identified by name. However, by the second and third centuries C.E., the book was widely attributed to the apostle John. Whenever the name John is mentioned in this Gospel, it refers to John the Baptist. Although the apostle John is never mentioned by name, he and his brother James are referred to as “the sons of Zebedee.” (Joh 21:2; Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10; see study note on Joh 1:6.) In the closing verses of the Gospel, the writer refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (Joh 21:20-24), and there are good reasons for linking this expression with the apostle John.—See study note on Joh 13:23.

John: That is, John the Baptist. The writer of this Gospel, the apostle John, refers to John the Baptist 19 times but, unlike the other Gospel writers, never uses the designation “the Baptist” or “the Baptizer.” (See study notes on Mt 3:1; Mr 1:4.) The apostle John does distinguish between the three Marys. (Joh 11:1, 2; 19:25; 20:1) However, he did not need to make such a distinction when referring to John the Baptist, since the apostle never refers to himself by name and no one would misunderstand which John was meant. This is another confirmation that the apostle John wrote this Gospel.—See “Introduction to John” and study note on John Title.

the one whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the first of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple is the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10) One reason for this identification is that the apostle John is not referred to by name in this Gospel, except for the mention of “the sons of Zebedee” at Joh 21:2. Another indication is found at Joh 21:20-24, where the expression “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is used with reference to the writer of this Gospel. Also, Jesus said of that apostle: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” This suggests that the one referred to would long survive Peter and the other apostles, a description that fits the apostle John.—See study notes on Joh Title and Joh 1:6; 21:20.

close to: Lit., “in the bosom of.” This expression refers to the way people were positioned at a dining table in Jesus’ day. Guests reclined on their left side with a cushion supporting their left elbow. A guest could lean back on the bosom, or chest, of a friend reclining next to him and engage in a confidential conversation. (Joh 13:25) Being “close to,” or “in the bosom of,” someone meant being in a special relationship of favor and close fellowship with that person. This custom was apparently the background for the expressions used in Lu and Joh.—See study notes on Lu 16:22, 23; Joh 1:18.

the disciple whom Jesus loved: That is, the one whom Jesus especially loved. This is the last of five occurrences mentioning a certain disciple “whom Jesus [or “he”] loved” or “for whom Jesus had affection.” (Joh 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) It is generally believed that this disciple was the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James. (Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19; Lu 5:10; Joh 21:2) As the context of Joh 21:20-24 shows, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was also “the disciple who . . . wrote these things,” that is, the writer of the Gospel of John.—See study notes on Joh Title; 1:6; 13:23.

the one who . . . leaned back on his chest: See study note on Joh 13:23.

until I come: These words may have given the other apostles the impression that the apostle John would outlive them. In fact, he served faithfully for almost another 70 years and was likely the last apostle to die. Also, the expression “until I come” may have reminded Jesus’ disciples of his reference to “the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.” (Mt 16:28) In a sense, John did remain until Jesus came. Near the end of John’s life, while in exile on the isle of Patmos, he received the Revelation with all its amazing prophetic signs of events that were to occur during “the Lord’s day” when Jesus would come in Kingdom power. John was so deeply moved by these spectacular visions that when Jesus said: “Yes; I am coming quickly,” John exclaimed: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.”—Re 1:1, 9, 10; 22:20.

many other things that Jesus did: Using hyperbole, John wrote that the world itself would not have room for all the scrolls (the book style then used) needed to record every detail about Jesus’ life and ministry. The Greek term John used for world (koʹsmos) could have been understood in the broad sense of the whole human society (with its then existing libraries), though it was sometimes used in secular Greek writings to refer to the whole universe, that is, the greatest space conceivable. (Compare study note on Ac 17:24.) John’s point was that much more could have been written, but there is enough in John’s “scroll” and the other inspired Scriptures to prove beyond doubt that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (Joh 20:30, 31) John’s relatively brief written record reveals a beautiful portrait of God’s Son.

Media

First-Century Fishing Boat
First-Century Fishing Boat

This rendering is based on the remains of a first-century fishing boat found buried in mud near the shores of the Sea of Galilee and on a mosaic discovered in a first-century home in the seaside town of Migdal. This kind of boat may have been rigged with a mast and sail(s) and may have had a crew of five—four oarsmen and one helmsman, who stood on a small deck at the stern. The boat was approximately 8 m (26.5 ft) long and at midpoint was about 2.5 m (8 ft) wide and 1.25 m (4 ft) deep. It seems that it could carry 13 or more men.

Remains of a Galilean Fishing Boat
Remains of a Galilean Fishing Boat

A 1985/1986 drought caused the water level in the Sea of Galilee to fall, exposing part of the hull of an ancient boat that was buried in the mud. The remains of the boat are 8.2 m (27 ft) long and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) wide and have a maximum height of 1.3 m (4.3 ft). Archaeologists say that the boat was built sometime between the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E. This video animation reconstructs the boat, which is now displayed in a museum in Israel, showing what it may have looked like as it traversed the waters some 2,000 years ago.

Fish of the Sea of Galilee
Fish of the Sea of Galilee

The Bible contains many references to fish, fishing, and fishermen in connection with the Sea of Galilee. About 18 species of fish live in the Sea of Galilee. Of that number, only about ten have been sought by fishermen. These ten can be divided into three commercially important groups. One group is the binny, also known as the barbel (Barbus longiceps is shown) (1). Its three species display barbs at the corners of the mouth; hence, its Semitic name biny, meaning “hair.” It feeds on mollusks, snails, and small fish. The longheaded barbel reaches a length of 75 cm (30 in.) and can weigh over 7 kg (15 lb). The second group is called musht (Tilapia galilea is shown) (2), which means “comb” in Arabic, because its five species display a comblike dorsal fin. One variety of musht reaches a length of about 45 cm (18 in.) and can weigh some 2 kg (4.5 lb). The third group is the Kinneret sardine (Acanthobrama terrae sanctae is shown) (3), which resembles a small herring. From ancient times, this fish has been preserved by pickling.