John 20:30-21:14

A. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

B. 31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;

                                     C. and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Note: the above looks like a stepwise parallel.

A. 1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

B. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 

C. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

D. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

E. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

F. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

F’. 10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

E’. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three:and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

D’. 12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine.

C’. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

C’. 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them,

B’. and fish likewise.

A’. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

Note: this section seems to be a  generally accepted chiasm. Some see the centre as the statement – “it is the lord”. Here I have suggested a different structure. The emphasis of the Lord himself is on whether the disciples have caught anything to eat; and Jesus invites them to partake of a meal he has already prepared. There is a contrast between the blank fishing night in B and the added detail in B’ that Jesus already had fish prepared. E and E’ draw attention to the net that didn’t break (contrast Luke 5). Verse 9 is the central observation that food was being prepared on a fire even before they had brought in the fish.

Why would this be significant? Jesus (not Peter) is the great fisherman, and it is his work accomplished alone that provides us with the hope of life.  Peter and the others were the first fish to be caught in the gospel net. But Peter (and the others) is to become a net to catch disciples. The same word for “cast” is used of the net and of Peter diving into the sea. . The catch which the apostles will make will be brought to and be accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ.

One thought on “John 20:30-21:14”

  1. It’s interesting that the centre of this section is the partaking of a meal.
    The 153 has been thought about on many occasions and I wonder that the two aren’t related in this way.
    In Genesis 48 Jacob blesses the sons of Joseph. In his blessing he says ‘let them grow into a multitude’. The Hebrew phrase for ‘let them grow’ is very interesting. The AV margin says ‘as fishes do increase’.
    The word ‘multitude’ is the Hebrew word ‘rob’ – meaning abundance. It is used on 153 occasions! On numerous of those occasions it is referring to an innumerable multitude, eg: Gen 16:10, Deut 1:10, 10:22, 1 Sam 13:5, 17:11, 1 Kings 3:8…
    So the significance of the 153 in John 21 is about an innumerable multitude that the gospel message will bring in. This is highlighted for us in Revelation 19 when the great multitude sit down for the marriage supper. The meal in which the Lord brings all those from many waters (all peoples and nations) who have tried to be his disciples to share in a fellowship meal with him:
    “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” (Rev 19:6,7)

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