John 21:20
Then Peter, turning about, sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrays you?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following.—We must suppose that St. Peter had retired with our Lord, and that St. John seeing this had followed at a distance. He had been the companion and friend of St. Peter (comp. Introduction, p. 371). More than any other—and this is made prominent here—he had entered into close communion with the Lord Himself. He was called the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (comp. John 20:2, and Introduction, p. 375); he had leaned on His breast at supper, and, at a sign from Peter, had asked who was the traitor; he may well think that for him too there was some glimpse into the future, some declaration of what his path should be; or in that mingling of act and thought, of sign and thing signified, which run all through these verses, his following may indicate that he too, though he had never dared to say so, was ready to follow wherever the Master went.

John 21:20-21. Then Peter, turning about — Namely, as he followed Jesus; seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following — Silently, and in humble token of his readiness likewise to suffer the greatest extremities in the service of so gracious a Master. Peter, seeing him follow Jesus in the same manner as he himself did, though he was not called to it, saith to Jesus, Lord, what shall this man do — What is to become of him? must he, who is now following with me, partake of the like sufferings, and in like manner testify his love by dying for thee? “There is a peculiar spirit and tenderness in this plain passage. Christ orders Peter to follow him, in token of his readiness to be crucified in his cause. John stays not for the call, he rises and follows him too; but says not one word of his own love or zeal. He chose that the action only should speak this; and even when he records the circumstance, he tells us not what the action meant, but with great simplicity relates the fact only. If here and there a generous heart sees and emulates it, be it so; but he is not solicitous that men should admire it. It was addressed to his beloved Master, and it was enough that he understood it.” — Doddridge.21:20-24 Sufferings, pains, and death, will appear formidable even to the experienced Christian; but in the hope to glorify God, to leave a sinful world, and to be present with his Lord, he becomes ready to obey the Redeemer's call, and to follow Him through death to glory. It is the will of Christ that his disciples should mind their own duty, and not be curious about future events, either as to themselves or others. Many things we are apt to be anxious about, which are nothing to us. Other people's affairs are nothing to us, to intermeddle in; we must quietly work, and mind our own business. Many curious questions are put about the counsels of God, and the state of the unseen world, as to which we may say, What is this to us? And if we attend to the duty of following Christ, we shall find neither heart nor time to meddle with that which does not belong to us. How little are any unwritten traditions to be relied upon! Let the Scripture be its own interpreter, and explain itself; as it is, in a great measure, its own evidence, and proves itself, for it is light. See the easy setting right such mistakes by the word of Christ. Scripture language is the safest channel for Scripture truth; the words which the Holy Ghost teaches, 1Co 2:13. Those who cannot agree in the same terms of art, and the application of them, may yet agree in the same Scripture terms, and to love one another.Which also leaned ... - See John 13:24-25. 20, 21. Peter, turning about—showing that he followed immediately as directed.

seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on Jesus' breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?—The Evangelist makes these allusions to the peculiar familiarity to which he had been admitted on the most memorable of all occasions, perhaps lovingly to account for Peter's somewhat forward question about him to Jesus; which is the rather probable, as it was at Peter's suggestion that he put the question about the traitor which he here recalls (Joh 13:24, 25).

That is, he saw John, whom we have often before heard so described. Then Peter turning about,.... After he was risen, and was following Christ:

seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following also; by whom is designed John the Evangelist, and writer of this Gospel; who hearing Christ bid Peter follow him, rose up likewise, and went after him, in token of his willingness to serve him, and suffer for him too:

which also leaned on his breast at supper; at the "paschal supper", as the Persic version here reads it: "and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?" This disciple had a peculiar share in the love of Christ, as man, and was admitted to great nearness and freedom with him, signified by his leaning on his breast; and who being so near his person, and allowed to use a liberty with him, everyone did not take, at the motion of Peter, asked our Lord at supper, who the person was he meant that should betray him; all this is said as descriptive of the disciple here spoken of, which leaves it without any doubt, that it was the Apostle John; and who, from John 21:2 appears to be one of this company, and is further confirmed at John 21:24.

{4} Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

(4) We must take heed that while we cast our eyes upon others that we do not neglect that which we are commanded to do.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 21:20-21. From ἀκολουθοῦντα—which here, as belonging to the narrative, is, as a matter of course, not to be taken in the significant sense of the ἀκολούθει belonging to the language of Jesus, John 21:19—it results that Jesus, during the preceding conversation with Peter (not now first, in accordance with ἀκολούθει μοι, John 21:19, as Luthardt assumes; for this ἀκολ. μοι is to be left purely in its higher sense), has gone away with him a little distance from the disciples. Peter, engaged in walking with Jesus, turns round (ἐπιστραφείς, comp. Matthew 9:22) and sees that John is following them.

ὃν ἠγπα ὁ Ἰησοῦς] Not to be connected with ἀκολουθ. (“he knew that Jesus loved his company,” Ewald, loc. cit.), but comp. John 13:23.

ὃς καὶ ἀνέπεσεν, κ.τ.λ.] Retrospect of the special circumstance, John 13:25; hence, however, not: who also lay at table, etc. (Hengstenberg and others), but: who also laid himself down (with the head) at the well-known Supper (ἐν τῷ δείπνῳ) on the breast of Jesus. Ὃςπαραδ. σε is not to be placed within a parenthesis, since with John 21:21 a new sentence begins. The subjoining of this observation is not intended to state the reason for John, as the confidant of Jesus, following Him (Bengel, Luthardt, Lange, Godet); but to prepare the way for the following question of petty jealousy, in which the point of the further narrative lies, while it indicates the consideration which determines Peter to put this question, whether possibly a destiny of suffering might not in like manner be contemplated for the disciple so pre-eminently beloved and distinguished by Jesus, this ἐπιστήθιος of the Lord. According to Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euth. Zigabenus (similarly Olshausen), the intention is to make the reader sensible of how far bolder than at the Last Supper Peter has now become after his restoration. But the subsequent question neither presupposes any special boldness (comp. on John 21:22), nor, considering the peculiar situation of the Last Supper, was a want of boldness the reason why Peter did not himself put the question, John 13:25. The καί after ὅς expresses the relation corresponding to ὃν ἠγάπα; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 152.

οὖτος δὲ τί] sc. ἔσται. See Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 338 [E. T. p. 394]. Nonnus: καὶ τί τελέσσει οὗτος ἐμὸς συνάεθλος; but what will become of this man if the result is to be such for me? Will the issue be otherwise with him? οὐκ ἀκολουθήσει σοι; οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἡμῖν ὁδὸν τοῦ θανάτου βαδιεῖται; Euth. Zigabenus. The rendering: but what shall this man? Shall he then now be with us (Paulus and several others), a part of the false explanation of ἀκολούθει μοι, John 21:19. On the neut. τί, comp. Acts 12:18; Xen. Hell. ii. 3. 17 : ἔσοιτο ἡ πολιτεία; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 332 E.John 21:20. Ἐπιστραφεὶςσε. Peter had already followed Jesus some distance, but hearing steps behind him he turns and sees John following. The elaborate description of John in this verse is, perhaps almost unconsciously, introduced to justify his following without invitation. On the word ἀνέπεσεν, see Origen, in Joan., ii. 191 (Brooke’s edition).20–23. The Misunderstood Saying respecting the Evangelist

20. Peter, turning about, seeth] Omit ‘then.’ The graphic details are those of an eyewitness.

leaned] Better, leaned back. The allusion is to the momentary change of posture (John 13:25) in order to ask who was the traitor, not to the position which he occupied next our Lord throughout the meal (John 13:23).John 21:20. Ἐπιστραφεὶς, turning about) He had therefore begun to follow. No prediction is given to James, who was about to die before Peter and John; from which very fact he might have inferred his speedy consummation.—ὃς καὶ, who also) As before, at the last supper, so now also he was seeking the same place, and was leaning on Jesus’ breast almost with more familiarity than Peter liked.—ἀνέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος, had leaned on the breast) An abbreviated phrase for, He had lain in the bosom of Jesus, and then in this position had turned towards His breast, ch. John 13:23; John 13:25.—ἐν τῷ δείπνῳ, at the supper) that memorable supper on the day before the passover supper.Verses 20-23. -

(3) The revelations made to patient waiting for the coming of the Lord, with correction of a misunderstanding touching the disciple whom Jesus loved. Verse 20. - Having turned himself round, instead of keeping every glance for his Lord, Peter seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following (ἀκολουθοῦντα), obeying the command without offering one suggestion. The writer adds, by way of further identification, he who also leaned back at the supper, upon his breast, and said, Who is he that betrayeth thee? (see notes on John 13:23). The note is here introduced to show the close connection of Peter and the beloved disciple. It was Simon Peter who had beckoned at the supper to the beloved disciple to ask this very question. Leaned (ἀνέπεσεν)

Rev., leaned back. See on John 13:25. The reference is to the special act of John, leaning back to whisper to Jesus, and not to his position at table.

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