Church Write-Up: Peter Is Re-Commissioned

Here are some items from Wednesday’s LCMS Bible study. The text was John 21. I will be saying what the pastor said, without always saying “the pastor said” or “according to the pastor.” Occasionally, I will add my own thoughts.

A. John 21 was probably added later to the Gospel of John, since John 20:30-31 appears to end the book neatly. John’s pupil may have written John 21. He was trained by John, since his writing style is the same as John’s. His purpose in writing the chapter is to correct the misconception that Jesus said John would never die, after John indeed had died.

B. To quote from the handout, “For Matthew, Mark and Luke—-and even John—-the marking of the passing of time becomes less important following Jesus’ resurrection.” Prior to the part about Jesus’s resurrection, the Gospels are sticklers for chronology and time. After the part about Jesus’s resurrection, they are not. We do not know if the events in the resurrection stories took place over several days, or over a shorter period of time. There are some exceptions: John 20 says that the disciples gathered on the first day of the week, then eight days later. Why this change? According to the pastor, it is because the Gospel writers believed that Jesus inaugurated a new day: the eighth day, a time of new creation, the Day of the Lord, the day that will precede Christ’s second coming. Time is irrelevant in this new day that Christ inaugurated. In Acts, though, time clearly does continue to pass. I typed in “days,” “months,” and “years” in my BibleWorks and saw that Acts frequently uses those words in a chronological sense.

C. Peter and other disciples are going fishing in John 21. They may have forgotten that Jesus had commissioned them to spread divine forgiveness in John 20. Jesus was re-calling and re-commissioning them in John 21.

D. The Gospel of John was written decades after the synoptic Gospels and appears to draw from them. John 21 has parallels with Luke 5:1-11, the story in which Jesus initially called Peter. A common element in both stories is that Jesus enables the disciples to catch an incredible amount of fish. There is a difference, though. In John 21, rather than asking Jesus to depart from him, as occurs in Luke 5, Peter runs towards Jesus.

E. Jesus addresses Peter as “Simon son of Jonas” in John 21. According to the pastor, this may echo other times that Jesus called Peter “Simon son of Jonas.” Jesus did so in John 1, when he initially called Peter; here in John 21, Jesus is re-commissioning Peter. Jesus also called Peter “Simon son of Jonas” in Matthew 16:17, after Peter had confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus in John 21 is reminding Peter that Peter knows who Jesus is.

F. Jesus was gently challenging three character flaws that Peter had: the temptation to be important, to be accepted, and to be powerful. Peter had wanted to be important. Even if other disciples forsake Jesus, Peter declared in Mark 14:29, Peter will not. Then Peter denies Jesus three times. The risen Jesus in John 21 asks Peter if Peter loves him more than “these.” The “these” may be the other disciples: Jesus is asking Peter if Peter loves Jesus more than the other disciples love Jesus. Peter replies that he has affection for Jesus, perhaps recognizing that he fell short of the exalted agape form of love. Jesus is willing to work with Peter’s affection, however, and exhorts Peter to feed Jesus’s sheep: to feed them with teaching and to care for them personally. Peter is encouraging Jesus to stop being full of himself and to follow Jesus, which includes service to Jesus’s sheep.

G. Peter is tempted to be accepted. Peter denied Jesus because he wanted to fit in rather than be disliked or arrested. Jesus in John 21 tells Peter, however, that Peter will die to glorify God.

H. Peter was tempted to power: he cut off the ear of the priest’s servant when Jesus was arrested (John 18:10). Jesus in John 21 tells Peter that someone else will lead Peter to where he does not want to go. Peter will be powerless.

I will stop here, even though there were other interesting items.


About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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