John 21:14
This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
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(14) This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples.—Better, . . . that Jesus was manifested . . .—Comp. Note on John 21:1. The writer is giving his own witness. He passes over, therefore, the appearances to Mary Magdalene and others, and counting only those “to the disciples”—to the Ten on the first Easter day, and to the Eleven on its octave—gives this appearance as the third. (Comp. Note on 1Corinthians 15:5-7.)

21:1-14 Christ makes himself known to his people, usually in his ordinances; but sometimes by his Spirit he visits them when employed in their business. It is good for the disciples of Christ to be together in common conversation, and common business. The hour for their entering upon action was not come. They would help to maintain themselves, and not be burdensome to any. Christ's time of making himself known to his people, is when they are most at a loss. He knows the temporal wants of his people, and has promised them not only grace sufficient, but food convenient. Divine Providence extends itself to things most minute, and those are happy who acknowledge God in all their ways. Those who are humble, diligent, and patient, though their labours may be crossed, shall be crowned; they sometimes live to see their affairs take a happy turn, after many struggles. And there is nothing lost by observing Christ's orders; it is casting the net on the right side of the ship. Jesus manifests himself to his people by doing that for them which none else can do, and things which they looked not for. He would take care that those who left all for him, should not want any good thing. And latter favours are to bring to mind former favours, that eaten bread may not be forgotten. He whom Jesus loved was the first that said, It is the Lord. John had cleaved most closely to his Master in his sufferings, and knew him soonest. Peter was the most zealous, and reached Christ the first. How variously God dispenses his gifts, and what difference there may be between some believers and others in the way of their honouring Christ, yet they all may be accepted of him! Others continue in the ship, drag the net, and bring the fish to shore, and such persons ought not to be blamed as worldly; for they, in their places, are as truly serving Christ as the others. The Lord Jesus had provision ready for them. We need not be curious in inquiring whence this came; but we may be comforted at Christ's care for his disciples. Although there were so many, and such great fishes, yet they lost none, nor damaged their net. The net of the gospel has enclosed multitudes, yet it is as strong as ever to bring souls to God.The third time - See the "Harmony of the Accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus." 14. This is the third time that Jesus showed himself—was manifested.

to his disciples—His assembled disciples; for if we reckon His appearances to individual disciples, they were more.

The third time; that is, the third day, for upon his resurrection day he showed himself,

1. To Mary Magdalene, John 20:14.

2. To the two disciples going to Emmaus, Luke 24:15,31.

3. To the women going to tell his disciples, Matthew 28:9.

4. In the evening to his disciples, met, John 20:19.

All these are by John counted for one time, because they were upon one and the same day. That day seven night he appeared to them again, John 20:26. After this at the sea of Tiberias, mentioned in this chapter.

This is now the third time,.... Or day of Christ's appearance to his disciples: he appeared to them first on the same day he rose, and then a second time eight days after, or that day a week later, and now at the sea of Tiberias; for within this compass of time he had made more appearances than three, though to particular persons, and not to such a number of the disciples as at these three times:

that Jesus showed himself to his disciples after that he was risen from the dead: and thus, as by the mouth of two or three witnesses, everything is established; so by these three principal appearances of Christ to his disciples, his resurrection from the dead was confirmed.

This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
John 21:14. Τοῦτο ἤδη τρίτον] This time already for the third time. See on 2 Corinthians 13:1.

ἤδη presupposes, on the one hand, that, according to John, until now any other appearances before the disciples had not taken place, with the exception of the three related (John 20:19 ff., John 20:26 ff., John 21:1 ff.); but, on the other hand, that at a later date several other appearances occurred. Since he, moreover, refers his τρίτον only to the appearances that were made to the circle of disciples (not to individual persons), a wider scope is thereby given to harmonists; in no case, however, can they succeed in reconciling the three appearances with the statements of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:5 ff., especially as there εἶτα and ἔπειτα (in opposition to Wieseler) denote chronological sequence. The Apostle Paul is charged, on the supposition that his account is to be understood in an internal way, with a great arbitrariness, when it is asserted that the three appearances related by John are comprized in εἶτα τοῖς δώδεκα in Paul (Luthardt, Lange). Not even can ὤφθη Κηφᾷ in Paul be reconciled with John. To John, however, must be accorded the preference over the tradition followed by Paul, so far as the latter does not agree with the former.


To the draught of fishes, to contest the historical truth of which, in a manner which evinced arbitrariness, and in part even malice, the similarity of the earlier history, Luke 5:2 ff., afforded a welcome opportunity (Strauss, Weisse, Schenkel, and several others), a symbolical destination has, since the most ancient times (Chrysostom and his followers, Cyril, Augustine, and many others), been ascribed, and in general justly, since the word of Jesus, Matthew 4:19, parall., gives, naturally enough, the psychological solution why He, as the Risen One, performs, precisely in this fashion, a miraculous work in the presence of His disciples. The tradition in which, from the above word, the draught of fishes, Luke 5, took shape (see on Luke 5:1 ff.), has, although pushing forward the later occurrence, nevertheless apprehended with right feeling the idea which it contained. The disciples themselves could not but find in the words of that first call, Matt. loc. cit., the key to the symbolical significance of the miraculous fact, in which that word, which Jesus had spoken at the beginning, was now, on the boundary of their earthly intercourse with Him, and before the restoration (a renewed calling, as it were) of Peter, set forth and sealed as a fact with the highest appropriateness. Only in respect of the interpretation of this symbolism, we have no right to go beyond Matthew 4:14, and read more therein than the rich blessing of the apostolical office, of which the men fishers of Jesus were to be the possessors. To go further, and, with Augustine, to expound all the individual features of the history allegorically (so recently, especially Weitzel in the Stud. u. Krit. 1849, p. 618 f., Luthardt, Lange, Hengstenberg), is groundless and arbitrary, and without any definable limits. Especially is an interpretation of the fish meal, which refers it to the heavenly supper,[282] “which the Lord prepares for His own with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God” (Olshausen, after Augustine), all the less authorized, since this supper of the kingdom does not concern the apostles as such, and consequently something that is remote would be mixed up with the reference. It is certainly in the present passage only an ἄριστον, a breakfast, which was merely to serve as a handle for the appearance, and for the draught of fishes, as well as for the further scene with Peter. In a manner which serves as a special warning have the allegorical tendencies of the Fathers, in respect of the number of fishes, displayed themselves, as, e.g., Severus, Ammonius, Theophylact (also τινές in Euth. Zigabenus) see depicted in the 100 fishes the Gentiles, in the 50 the Jews, and in the 3 the Trinity; whilst Jerome, who is followed by Köstlin in the Theol. Jahrb. 1851, p. 195, and Hilgenfeld recognises in the 153 fishes, in spite of the fact that they were large ones only, all genera piscium, and thereby the universality of the apostolic activity,[283] which Ruperti derives from the text even by an arithmetical analysis[284] of the number; whilst Hengstenberg, on the other hand (after Grotius), thinks to find the key in the 153,600 strangers, 2 Chronicles 2:17, so that John counts a fish for every thousand (with which the surplus of 600 falls away)!

That John says nothing regarding the symbolical determination of the draught of fishes, is sufficiently explained from the fact that Jesus Himself does not expressly declare it, but allows the thing to speak its silent symbolic language for itself, as He also has not Himself interpreted the symbolism of the withered fig-tree (Matthew 21:21).

[282] Even the Lord’s Supper was found by Augustine to be signified, and he went so far as to say: “piscis assus Christus est passus.”

[283] Hilgenfeld in his ZeitsChr. 1868, p. 446: “The copious take …, i.e. the spiritual harvest from the Gentile world, is now added to the provision of fish and bread already lying ready, I think, for the feeding of the Jewish people (comp. John 6:12).” The fundamental thought is, he thinks, in John 10:16.

[284] Recently enigmatic numeration has been attempted in the case of these fishes, so that according to the Hebrew numerical letters, 118 + 35 =שמען יובה is = Σίμων ʼΙωνᾶ. See Theol. Jahrb. 1854, p. 135; on the other hand: Ewald, Jahrb. vi. p. 161. Volkmar also (Mos. Prophetie, p. 61 f.) gives the enigmatic solution of the number as “Simeon Bar Jona Kepha.”—Calvin already correctly observes: “quantum ad piscium numerum spectat, non est sublime aliquod in eo quaerendum mysterium.”

John 21:14. A note is added, perhaps indicating no more than John’s orderliness of mind, explaining that this was the third manifestation given by Jesus to His disciples after rising from the dead. For the form of expression, τοῦτο ἤδη τρίτον, see 2 Corinthians 13:1.

14. This is now the third time] We have a similar construction 2 Peter 3:1. The two previous manifestations are probably those related John 20:19-23; John 20:26-29 : but we have not sufficient knowledge to arrange the different appearances in chronological order. See on Luke 24:49.

shewed himself] Manifested Himself: see on John 21:1.

John 21:14. Τρίτον, the third time) He is speaking of the more solemn appearances, viz. those here recorded, which were vouchsafed to the disciples conjointly. [In fact, already in ch. John 20:14; John 20:19; John 20:26, John had recorded three appearances of the Saviour, if that which was vouchsafed to Mary Magdalene be taken into account. But in this ch. 21, when he thought it advisable to subjoin some particulars concerning Peter and John by way of an Appendix, he adds one appearance also, in order that of those appearances which were vouchsafed to a number of the apostles together, there might be three in all on record in this Gospel.—Harm., p. 609.] Thomas also was present on two of these occasions.

Verse 14. - This is now - or, as Meyer puts it, this time already is - the third time that Jesus was manifested (passive, not active, as in ver. 1) to the disciples, after that he was risen from the dead; or, when he had been raised from the dead. The implication is that there had up to this time been no other manifestation to groups of his disciples than those which John had related. Therefore those other occurrences mentioned by Luke, Matthew, and Paul must be supposed to lie still in the future. That there were other manifestations is not obscurely hinted by the word ἤδη. The appearances to the women, to Cephas and James, are not of the class so carefully described by John. The εϊτα τοῖς δώδεκα of 1 Corinthians 15:5, etc., might be regarded as this third manifestation to the disciples (Luthardt). Godet agrees that the two appearances in Luke (Emmaus and Peter) are not reckoned by John, any more than that made to Mary Magdalene. The statement, "to the disciples," is clearly the explanation. Paul mentions the appearance

(1) to Simon Peter;

(2) then to the twelve (John 20:19, 26);

(3) to the five hundred, at the head of whom may have been the eleven of Matthew 28:16-20;

(4) James;

(5) the twelve (the ascension not described by John).

Since Luke and Paul (Godet) omitted the narrative before us, John is here repairing the omissions of tradition. It seems quite as reasonable to place this third revelation to a group of apostles as the third of Paul's enumerations. John is explicit in recording appearances to the special, combined, and chosen witnesses, while he not only implies, but mentions, other manifestations. Paul recites the special manifestations of various kinds, and gives most important details dropped by other traditions. The apocryphal ' Gospel according to the Hebrews,' as related by Jerome ('Cat. Script. Eccl. "Jacobus"'), quotes the passage which refers to the interview between James and the risen Lord. Gregory of Tours ('Hist. Francorum,' 1:21) refers to the tradition as though he had taken it from some analogous but not identical source (see a full discussion of the passage in Nicholson's 'Gospel according to the Hebrews,' pp. 62-68). If the previous manifestations of the risen Lord were made to love, to thought, to earnest though trembling inquiry, to spiritual vision only, so here we find that, amid the ordinary duties of life and the activities and disappointments of daily service, the Lord manifests himself. The eye of love and the heart of rock are made ready for special assurances of the Master's presence and power to help and guide disciples throughout that mysterious future in which they are to feel and realize his words, "Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world." John 21:14The third time

The two former occasions being recorded in John 20:19, John 20:26. The appearance to Mary Magdalene is not counted, because the Evangelist expressly says to His disciples.

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