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John 21:1-11

Context
Jesus’ Appearance to the Disciples in Galilee

21:1 After this 1  Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. 2  Now this is how he did so. 3  21:2 Simon Peter, Thomas 4  (called Didymus), 5  Nathanael 6  (who was from Cana 7  in Galilee), the sons 8  of Zebedee, 9  and two other disciples 10  of his were together. 21:3 Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.” “We will go with you,” they replied. 11  They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

21:4 When it was already very early morning, Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 21:5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you don’t have any fish, 12  do you?” 13  They replied, 14  “No.” 21:6 He told them, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” 15  So they threw the net, 16  and were not able to pull it in because of the large number of fish.

21:7 Then the disciple whom 17  Jesus loved 18  said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” So Simon Peter, when he heard that it was the Lord, tucked in his outer garment (for he had nothing on underneath it), 19  and plunged 20  into the sea. 21:8 Meanwhile the other disciples came with the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards. 21 

21:9 When they got out on the beach, 22  they saw a charcoal fire ready 23  with a fish placed on it, and bread. 21:10 Jesus said, 24  “Bring some of the fish you have just now caught.” 21:11 So Simon Peter went aboard and pulled the net to shore. It was 25  full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three, 26  but although there were so many, the net was not torn.

1 tn The time reference indicated by μετὰ ταῦτα (meta tauta) is indefinite, in comparison with the specific “after eight days” (μεθ᾿ ἡμέρας ὀκτώ, meqJhmera" oktw) between the two postresurrection appearances of Jesus in 20:26.

2 sn The Sea of Tiberias is another name for the Sea of Galilee (see 6:1).

3 tn Grk “how he revealed himself.”

4 tn Grk “and Thomas.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements of a series.

5 sn Didymus means “the twin” in Greek.

6 tn Grk “and Nathanael.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements of a series.

7 map For location see Map1 C3; Map2 D2; Map3 C5.

8 tn Grk “and the sons.” The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) has not been translated here in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements of a series.

9 sn The sons of Zebedee were James and John.

10 sn The two other disciples who are not named may have been Andrew and Philip, who are mentioned together in John 6:7-8 and 12:22.

11 tn Grk “they said to him.”

12 tn The word προσφάγιον (prosfagion) is unusual. According to BDAG 886 s.v. in Hellenistic Greek it described a side dish to be eaten with bread, and in some contexts was the equivalent of ὄψον (oyon), “fish.” Used in addressing a group of returning fishermen, however, it is quite clear that the speaker had fish in mind.

13 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here the tag is “do you?”).

14 tn Grk “They answered him.”

15 tn The word “some” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

16 tn The words “the net” are not in the Greek text but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

17 tn Grk “the disciple, that one whom.”

18 sn On the disciple whom Jesus loved see 13:23-26.

19 tn Grk “for he was naked.” Peter’s behavior here has been puzzling to many interpreters. It is usually understood that the Greek word γυμνός (gumnos, usually translated “naked”) does not refer to complete nudity (as it could), since this would have been offensive to Jewish sensibilities in this historical context. It is thus commonly understood to mean “stripped for work” here (cf. NASB, NLT), that is, with one’s outer clothing removed, and Peter was wearing either a loincloth or a loose-fitting tunic (a long shirt-like garment worn under a cloak, cf. NAB, “for he was lightly clad”). Believing himself inadequately dressed to greet the Lord, Peter threw his outer garment around himself and dived into the sea. C. K. Barrett (St. John, 580-81) offered the explanation that a greeting was a religious act and thus could not be performed unless one was clothed. This still leaves the improbable picture of a person with much experience around the water putting on his outer garment before diving in. R. E. Brown’s suggestion (John [AB], 2:1072) seems much more probable here: The Greek verb used (διαζώννυμι, diazwnnumi) does not necessarily mean putting clothing on, but rather tying the clothing around oneself (the same verb is used in 13:4-5 of Jesus tying the towel around himself). The statement that Peter was “naked” could just as well mean that he was naked underneath the outer garment, and thus could not take it off before jumping into the water. But he did pause to tuck it up and tie it with the girdle before jumping in, to allow himself more freedom of movement. Thus the clause that states Peter was naked is explanatory (note the use of for), explaining why Peter girded up his outer garment rather than taking it off – he had nothing on underneath it and so could not remove it.

sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

20 tn Grk “threw himself.”

21 tn Or “about a hundred meters”; Grk “about two hundred cubits.” According to BDAG 812 s.v., a πῆχυς (phcu") was about 18 inches or .462 meters, so two hundred πηχῶν (phcwn) would be about 100 yards (92.4 meters).

22 tn The words “on the beach” are not in the Greek text but are implied.

23 tn Grk “placed,” “laid.”

24 tn Grk “said to them.”

25 tn The words “It was” are not in the Greek text. Here a new sentence was begun in the translation in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences. For this reason the words “It was” had to be supplied.

26 sn Here the author makes two further points about the catch of fish: (1) there were one hundred fifty-three large fish in the net, and (2) even with so many, the net was not torn. Many symbolic interpretations have been proposed for both points (unity, especially, in the case of the second), but the reader is given no explicit clarification in the text itself. It seems better not to speculate here, but to see these details as indicative of an eyewitness account. Both are the sort of thing that would remain in the mind of a person who had witnessed them firsthand. For a summary of the symbolic interpretations proposed for the number of fish in the net, see R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:1074-75), where a number are discussed at length. Perhaps the reader is simply to understand this as the abundance which results from obedience to Jesus, much as with the amount of wine generated in the water jars in Cana at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry (2:6).



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