Page images

times, intimating hereby that there ought to be rea peated asseverations, where there had been repeated denials. Peter was hurt to find that his answers did not afford satisfaction, and that his attachment was called in question.

Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? and he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.

The words, Thou knowest all things, applied by Peter to Jesus, refer to nothing more than his being acquainted with the thoughts of men, as well as with their external conduct, of which he had given several proofs in the course of his ministry, particularly in foretelling the cowardice of Peter. That they are not to be taken in an unlimited sense, as if he knew every thing that was the object of knowledge, is evident hence, that so understood they are inconsistent with the language of Christ himself, who declares that he did not know the time of the day of judgment.

Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

These repeated exhortations seem intended by Jesus to encourage Peter to resume the office of a Christian instructor, which, overwhelmed with grief and shame for his late miscarriage, he might now be inclined to abandon.

18. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest.

Christ is here supposed to allude to what Peter had just done, when he girt on his upper coat, verse the

seventh, and threw himself into the sea, in order that he might be the first to meet his master. Such was the liberty of going where he pleased, which he now enjoyed, while he was young; but a period of severe restraint was approaching.

But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.


This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.

We are told that at Rome, the place where Peter was put to death, it was usual for a malefactor to carry through the streets a yoke upon his neck, to the extremities of which his hands were fastened, and that afterwards he was made to carry his cross to the place of execution. This custom may serve to explain what is meant in this place by stretching out the hands before crucifixion. Being girt by another, refers to being bound as a prisoner, and the being carried whither he would not, to being led to crucifixion; for, however patiently he might submit to it, it was not an event which he wished for. This prediction of a violent death was very properly subjoined to a declaration of attachment on the part of Peter, as what would put his affection to the test. For any one to lay down his life in support of a revelation from God, is to give the highest possible proof of the sense which he entertains of its excellence and value, and therefore to do it honour, and, consequently, to do honour to the Being from whom it comes. In this way did Peter glorify God by his death.

After this, Jesus, in order to give Peter a fuller idea of what he was to expect, rises up and walks, desiring this apostle to follow him; intending, by that symbolical act, to represent to him that he must prepare to follow him to sufferings and death.

And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

20. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following, which also leaned on his breast, "who had also laid himself before his breast," at supper, and said, Master, which is he that betrayeth thee?

These are the terms in which John, the writer of this history, usually describes himself; his motive for following his master was probably to hear what he would say to Peter.

21. Peter, seeing him, saith unto Jesus, Master, what shall this man do?

Some choose to render it "What shall this man suffer?" supposing Peter to refer to his own sufferings, which Jesus had just foretold, and to inquire whether John was to suffer any thing of the same kind.

22. Jesus saith unto him, If I will," if I wish," that he tarry till come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.

If I have a desire that he should continue in life till I come for the destruction of Jerusalem, how does that concern thee? Attend to what is thy own duty, by following me, and not to what respects him. John, we are told, survived the destruction of Jerusalem, and was the only one of the apostles who lived so long.

23. Then went this saying abroad

among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I desire that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

By the coming of Christ many of the early Christians understood the final judgment; they therefore inferred from what he had said of John that he was to live till that event; but he spoke only of his living to a much inferior and earlier event, and of that only conditionally, If I desire that he should tarry; withOn both acout saying that he should desire it. counts, therefore, the inference was without foundation.

24. This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony

is true.

The writer asserts that he is competent to contradict the report, because he was the person respecting whom the declaration was made, and knows it to be what he has stated. From the plural number being used here, we know, it has been inferred by some that this chapter was not written by John himself, but by some members of the church of Ephesus after his death; but there seems to be no foundation for the inference; for it is very common for writers to speak of themselves in the plural number, and the practice has been adopted by this very writer, 3 John 12, Yea, and we also bear record, and ye know that our record is true.

25. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could

not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

These words are considered by many as nothing more than a strong hyperbole, in which more is expressed than is to be literally understood; and they observe that, however harsh it may appear, in European languages, to say that to write a particular account of all the actions of Christ, would fill more books than the world would hold, such strong figures are sufficiently familiar in the language of the East. Others, however, suppose, and I conceive with reason, that the difficulty which appears in this passage may be removed by a more correct translation, thus; And there are also many other things which Jesus did; but if they were written every one, I do not think that the world, even then, would receive the books which had been written *.

According to this translation, the evangelist, at the close of his history, assigns the reason why he has not related more particulars in the life of Jesus, and declares it to be his opinion that if such an enlarged narration had been written, it would not satisfy the doubts and remove the cavils of the unbelieving world; and that therefore he had contented himself with a shorter account, which was sufficient to satisfy all reasonable persons.


1. Let us remember the test of affection which Jesus proposes to Peter, and consider it as addressed to ourselves, no less than to him; Feed my sheep and my lambs. The best method of showing our regard to him is zealously to espouse and promote the object

* See Wakefield's translation and his Silva Critica, P. ii. pp. 46, 47.

« PreviousContinue »