John 21:25
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.
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(25) And there are also many other things which Jesus did. . . .—The MSS. evidence for this verse is also so conclusive that almost every competent editor inserts it in his text, but it is not found in the famous Sinaitic Codex. The transference from the plural to the singular—“We know” (John 21:24), “I suppose” (in this verse)—has led to the supposition, which is in every way probable, that it is the individual testimony of an amanuensis who, from personal knowledge of the life of Christ, or from knowledge derived from the Apostle John or from others, feels that full beyond all human thought as this Gospel is, it is but a part of the greater fulness. No book could record, no words could tell, what that life was, or what things Jesus did. The disciples saw and believed, and wrote these things that we may believe, and in believing may have life in His name.

The word “Amen” is not found in the better MSS., and in no part of the written text. It is the natural prayer of some copyist, as it is the natural prayer of every devout reader that the writer’s purpose may be fulfilled.

The chief MSS. have a subscription appended to the Gospel. “According to John” (Vatican); “Gospel according to John” (Sinaitic [?], Alexandrine, Paris, Basle); “Gospel according to John is ended;” “Gospel according to Luke begins” (Cambridge).

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John 21:25. And there are also many other things which Jesus did — Many which none of the evangelists have recorded; which, if they should be written every one — Every fact, and all the circumstances thereof; I suppose — This expression, which softens the hyperbole, (if this be one,) shows that John wrote this verse; the world itself could not contain the books that should be written — The construction of this verse, in our present translation, is fully justified by adducing from the Old Testament expressions equally hyperbolical. Thus Exodus 3:8, the land of Canaan is said to flow with milk and honey. Numbers 13:33, the spies, who returned from searching the land of Canaan, say they saw giants there of such a prodigious size, that they were, in their own sight, as grasshoppers. Jdg 7:12, the Midianites, &c., are said to lie along in the valley like grasshoppers, and their camels to be as the sand by the sea-shore for multitude. 1 Kings 10:27, Solomon is said to make silver be in Jerusalem as stones. The reader may find more examples of such hyperboles, both in sacred and profane authors, in a note of Bishop Pearce on this text. Such expressions are not unusual in the magnificent luxuriance of the oriental style, though rarely occurring in the simple, artless narrations of the apostles. Thus understood, the clause simply means, that Jesus performed a prodigious number of miracles. The text may, nevertheless, be considered in a sense somewhat different. This evangelist frequently uses the word world in a general sense, to denote its inhabitants, as John 8:26, and in other places, (see John 15:18,) as signifying the carnal and unbelieving part of mankind. The Greek word χωρεω, here translated contain, is not only used in that sense, but, when applied to the mind, denotes the reception and understanding of any thing, and is rendered to this purpose, Matthew 19:11-12; and Philemon 1:15. By adopting these observations the text may be understood to mean, I am persuaded the world itself would not receive the books that should be written; which is Doddridge’s translation. Whitby, Chandler, and many others, have supported this construction. According to it John informs us, that if all the miracles which Jesus performed were written, the world itself could not receive the books, could not believe them, because they would appear absolutely incredible. But to this interpretation it may be objected, that the phrase, αυτον τον κοσμον, the world itself, cannot mean the men of the world, for which reason the first sense, it seems, is to be preferred.

“I agree perfectly,” says Dr. Campbell, “with those interpreters who think that the hyperbole contained in this verse is much more tolerable than the torture to which some critics have put the words, in order to make them speak a different sense.”

“Perhaps,” says the pious Dr. Doddridge, referring to what St. John here declares respecting the many other things done by Jesus, which have not been recorded, “it may be a most delightful part of the entertainment of the heavenly world, to learn from our blessed Lord himself, or from those who conversed with him on earth, a multitude of such particulars of his life as will be well worthy our everlasting admiration. In the mean time, let us praise God for what is recorded, and let us study the sacred records which contain such authentic and exact accounts of those important facts, in which we are all so nearly concerned; records incomparably more valuable than the writings of our private estates, or the charters of our public liberties. Let us earnestly pray, that their great design may be answered in us; and make it our importunate request to Him, who is the giver of all grace, that through the operations of that Holy Spirit, (without the influence of which, even the Scripture itself, with all our advantages for understanding and improving it, will be but a sealed book, or a dead letter,) our faith may be nourished and confirmed by every portion of it which we read. And let us, above all, be concerned that our hearts may be so influenced by his word, and, as it were, delivered into the mould of it, that, believing in Christ, under all the characters he bears, we may have life through his name, and may at length receive the end of our faith in the complete salvation of our souls.” Amen! So may it be to the author of this work, and to all that do or may peruse it!

21:25 Only a small part of the actions of Jesus had been written. But let us bless God for all that is in the Scriptures, and be thankful that there is so much in so small a space. Enough is recorded to direct our faith, and regulate our practice; more would have been unnecessary. Much of what is written is overlooked, much forgotten, and much made the matter of doubtful disputes. We may, however, look forward to the joy we shall receive in heaven, from a more complete knowledge of all Jesus did and said, as well as of the conduct of his providence and grace in his dealings with each of us. May this be our happiness. These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name, ch. 20:31.Many other things - Many miracles, John 20:30. Many discourses delivered, etc.

I suppose ... - This is evidently the figure of speech called a hyperbole. It is a mode of speech where the words express more or less than is literally true. It is common among all writers; and as the sacred writers, in recording a revelation to men, used human language, it was proper that they should express themselves as men ordinarily do if they wished to be understood. This figure of speech is commonly the effect of surprise, or having the mind full of some object, and not having words to express the ideas: at the same time, the words convey no falsehood. The statement is to be taken as it would be understood among the persons to whom it is addressed; and as no one supposes that the author means to be understood literally, so there is no deception in the case, and consequently no impeachment of his veracity or inspiration. Thus, when Longinus said of a man that "he was the owner of a piece of ground not larger than a Lacedaemonian letter," no one understood him literally. He meant, evidently, a very small piece of land, and no one would be deceived. So Virgil says of a man, "he was so tall as to reach the stars," and means only that he was very tall. So when John says that the world could not contain the books that would be written if all the deeds and sayings of Jesus were recorded, he clearly intends nothing more than that a great many books would be required, or that it would be extremely difficult to record them all; intimating that his life was active, that his discourses were numerous, and that he had not pretended to give them all, but only such as would go to establish the main point for which he wrote that he was the Messiah, John 20:30-31. The figure which John uses here is not uncommon in the Scriptures, Genesis 11:4; Genesis 15:5; Numbers 13:33; Daniel 4:20.

This gospel contains in itself the clearest proof of inspiration. It is the work of a fisherman of Galilee, without any proof that he had any unusual advantages. It is a connected, clear, and satisfactory argument to establish the great truth that Jesus was the Messiah. It was written many years after the ascension of Jesus. It contains the record of the Saviour's profoundest discourses, of his most convincing arguments with the Jews, and of his declarations respecting himself and God. It contains the purest and most elevated views of God to be found anywhere, as far exceeding all the speculations of philosophers as the sun does the blaze of a taper. It is in the highest degree absurd to suppose that an unlettered fisherman could have originated this book. Anyone may be convinced of this by comparing it with what would be the production of a man in that rank of life now. But if John has preserved the record of what has occurred so many years before, then it shows that he was under the divine guidance, and is himself a proof, a full and standing proof, of the fulfillment of the promise which he has recorded that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth, John 14:26. Of this book we may, in conclusion, apply the words spoken by John respecting his vision of the future events of the church: "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this" book, "and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand," Revelation 1:3.

25. And there are many other things which Jesus did—(Compare Joh 20:30, 31).

if … written every one, I suppose—an expression used to show that what follows is not to be pressed too far.

even the world itself would not hold the books, &c.—not a mere hyperbolical expression, unlike the sublime simplicity of this writer, but intended to let his reader know that, even now that he had done, he felt his materials so far from being exhausted, that he was still running over, and could multiply "Gospels" to almost any extent within the strict limits of what "Jesus did." But in the limitation of these matchless histories, in point of number, there is as much of that divine wisdom which has presided over and pervades the living oracles, as in their variety and fulness.

But none must imagine that all Christ’s sermons, or miracles, are recorded in this book, or in any of the other Gospels; the world would have been too much filled with books, if all spoke or done by our Saviour had been written. There is so much written as it pleased God we should know, or was necessary for us to know for the true ends of such revelation; to beget and increase faith in us, and to promote and direct holiness.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did,.... Which refer not to his doctrines and discourses, his sermons and prayers, and the conversation he had with his disciples, and others, on different accounts; but to the signs, and wonders, and miraculous operations, which were done by him, that are neither recorded in this, nor in any of the evangelists:

the which, if they should be written everyone; with all the particular circumstances relating to them:

I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. The Arabic version renders it, "the things written in the books"; and the Syriac, "that the world would not be sufficient for the books that should be written"; and so the Persic, which adds, "and the Scribes of the world would fail, or be deficient"; there would not be Scribes enough in the world to write them; nor could they be read by men, if they were written; the world would be overloaded with them; and therefore the Holy Ghost has not thought fit to lay such a burden on men they could not bear, as to read such numbers of volumes; but has reduced them into a brief compendium, which may be read with ease, delight, and pleasure; and which is abundantly sufficient to attest the truth of Christ's incarnation, miracles, doctrines, obedience, sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension, session at God's right hand, &c. and of the whole of Christianity, and all that appertains to it, or whatever is necessary to be known, for the salvation of men: for this cannot be understood of the carnal and unbelieving part of the world, not receiving and bearing what would be contained in such volumes, were they written; for they are not able to receive and bear what is now written, but reject and despise it as foolishness. Some understand this as an hyperbolical expression; but the sense above given, may be admitted without an hyperbole; though an hyperbole may very well be allowed of; nor, taken literally, will it appear greater than some others used in Scripture; as when the posterity of Abraham are said to be as numerous as the stars of the sky; and especially when said to be as the sand by the sea shore, innumerable, Hebrews 11:12 and when Capernaum is said to be exalted unto heaven, or to reach unto it, Matthew 11:23 and particularly the Jews have no reason to object, as one of them does (g), to such a way of speaking, whose writings abound in hyperbolical expressions, and in some like to this; as when one of their Rabbins says (h),

"if all the seas were ink, and the bulrushes pens, and the heavens and the earth volumes, and all the children of men Scribes, , "they would not be sufficient to write the law", which have learned, &c.''

and it is commonly said (i) by them, if this, or that, or the other thing was done, , "the world would not be able to bear them". And a later writer (k) of theirs, speaking of the different interpretations given by some of their Rabbins of a certain passage, says, they are so many, that an ass is not able to carry their books. And the intention of this expression, supposing it hyperbolical, is to show, that but a few of the wonderful things done by Christ were recorded by the evangelist, in comparison of the many which he every day did, in all places where he came; for he was continually going about doing good, and healing all manner of diseases; but these that were written are sufficient to prove him to be the true Messiah, and to require faith in him as such. To all which the evangelist sets his "Amen", as attesting and confirming the truth of all he had written; and which may be depended upon, and assented to, as truth, by all that read this Gospel. The Alexandrian copy, and Beza's Cambridge copy, have not the word "Amen"; nor have the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions. In some copies the following words are added,

"the Gospel according to John was given out thirty two years after the ascension of Christ;''

which would fall on the year of Christ 66, and so before the destruction of Jerusalem; which is contrary to the common opinion of learned men, some placing it in the year 97, others in the year 99.

(John starts his Gospel by stating: "All things were made by him". If one were to attempt to even summarise the works of creation, there is no way the world could contain the resulting volumes! Editor.)

(g) Jacob Aben ben Amram, porta veritatis, No. 1094. apud Kidder, Demonstration of the Messiah, par. 3. p. 67. Ed. fol. (h) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 4. 2.((i) Zohar in Exod. fol. 106. 4. & in Lev. fol. 26. 2. & 49. 3. & in Num. fol. 52. 2. & 59. 3. & 63. 3. & 64. 4. & 82. 3, 4. (k) R. Abraham Seba in Tzeror Hammor, fol. 79. 1.

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.
John 21:25. Apocryphal conclusion to the entire Gospel (see the critical notes) after the Johannean appendix, John 21:1-24, had been added.—ὅσα] ἅ, which Lachmann, Tischendorf, after B. C.* X. א. Or. read, would give the relative definition simply as to matter (quae fecit); but ὅσα gives it quantitatively (quotquot fecit), as, frequently also in the classics, ὅσος follows after πολύς (Hom. Il. xxii. 380; Xen. Hell. iii. 4. 3). The ἐποίησεν (without σημεῖα, John 20:31) designates the working of Jesus in its entire universality, but as that which took place on earth, not also the Logos activity from the beginning of the world, as, in spite of the name ὁ Ἰησοῦς, comp. John 20:30, Hoelemann, p. 79 ff., assumes, who sees in John 21:25 the completion of the symmetry of the gospel in keeping with the prologue. The pre-human activity of the Logos might be an object of speculation, as John 1:1 ff., but not the contents of the histories, which were still to be written καθʼ ἕν, not the task of a gospel. Hence the composer of John 21:25, moreover, has throughout indicated nothing which points back further than to the activity of the Incarnate One,[1] and not even has he written ὁ Χριστός, or ὁ κύριος, or ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, but ὁ Ἰησοῦς.—ἅτινα] quippe quae, utpote quae. The relative is likewise qualitative (Kühner, II. § 781, 4, 5, and ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 30), namely, in respect of the great multitude; hence not the simple ἅ.—καθʼ ἕν] one by one, point by point. See Bernhardy, p. 240; Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p 639 f.—οὐδὲ αὐτὸν τ. κόσμ.] ne ipsum quidem mundum, much less a space in it.—οἶμαι] Placed in John’s mouth by the composer of the concluding verse.—χωρῆσαι] to contain (comp. John 2:6; Mark 2:2). The infin. aor. after οἶμαι without ἄν, a pure Greek idiom (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 751 ff.), expresses what is believed with certainty and decision. See Bernhardy, p. 383, and on the distinction of the infin. pres. (Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 283) and future, Kühner, II. p. 80 f.—τὰ γραφόμενα] the books, which, if the supposed case occurs, shall be written. The world is too small, then thinks the writer, to include these books within it, not, as Luthardt suggests, to embrace the fulness of such testimonies, to which he inaptly adds, since in truth it is books that are spoken of: “for only an absolutely external circumference is in keeping with the absolute contents of the Person and of the life of Christ.” Hengstenberg also applies the expression of external dimension to the “internal overflowing greatness;” comp. Godet; the object of the history is greater than the world, etc.; Ebrard’s remark is singular: there would be no room in literature for the books. In a manner opposed to the context, Jerome, Augustine, Ruperti (who says: the world is “et ad quaerendum fastidiosus est ad intelligendum obtusus”), Calovius, Bengel, and several others have explained it of the capacitas non loci, sed intellectus (comp. on Matthew 19:11).

Not only is the inharmonious and unspiritual exaggeration in John 21:25 un-Johannean (unsuccessfully defended by Weitzel, loc. cit. p. 632 ff., and softened down by Ewald, with a reference also to Coh xii. 12), it is also apocryphal in character (comp. similar hyperboles in Fabricius, ad Cod. Apocr. I. p. 321 f., and Wetstein in loc.), but also the periodic mode of expression, which does not agree with the Johannean simplicity, as well as the first person (οἶμαι), in which John in the Gospel never speaks; moreover, nowhere else does he use οἴεσθαι, which, however, is found in Paul also only once (Php 1:17). The variations are (see the critical notes) of no importance for a critical judgment.

[1] For that καθʼ ἕν should point back to John 1:3, and τὸν κόσμον to John 1:10, is without any internal justification, and could be discovered by no reader.

25. every one] Literally, one by one.

I suppose] The Greek word (oimai) occurs nowhere else in N.T. excepting Php 1:17; James 1:7. The use of the first person singular is very unlike S. John.

If this verse is an addition by an unknown hand it appears to be almost contemporary. The wording seems to imply that it would still be possible to write a great deal: additional materials still abound.

could not contain] The bold hyperbole (which may be S. John’s, though added by another hand) expresses the yearnings of Christendom throughout all ages. The attempts which century after century continue to be made to write the ‘Life of Christ’ seem to prove that even the fragments that have come down to us of that ‘Life’ have been found in their many sidedness and profundity to be practically inexhaustible. After all that the piety and learning of eighteen hundred years have accomplished, Christians remain still unsatisfied, still unconvinced that the most has been made of the very fragmentary account of scarcely a tenth portion of the Lord’s life on earth. What would be needed to make even this tenth complete? What, therefore, to complete the whole?

Amen] The addition of a copyist.

John 21:25. Ἔστι, there are) The Present. They were present to the mind of John; and there is no doubt but that he was wont to narrate many such things in his conversations.—καὶ ἄλλα, other things also) The interests of Christianity suffer no loss in consequence, because some things which the apostles wrote are not extant in the present day: for not even is this prejudicial to it, that many of those things which Jesus did and said have not even been recorded.—καθʼ ἕν, every one, in detail, particularly) as concerns the facts and their several attendant circumstances.—οἶμαι, I think) By this word the amplification [the largeness of the statement as to the world not being able to contain the books] is softened down. The Singular number shows that John wrote this verse.—τὸν κόσμον, the world) John had a most exalted (august and grand) opinion of the multitude of Christ’s miracles.—χωρῆσαι, contain [comprehend]) This is not to be taken of geometrical, but of moral capability of containing. Believers would be capable of comprehending: for them, however, enough has been written: ch. John 20:31. The world would only perplex itself further [if more had been written]: it is therefore its interest that is consulted by the very fact of the duly regulated brevity which has been adopted. Such books as this which John has written would of themselves be equal to many libraries: (but how much less would the world be capable to comprehend books as to the other things which Jesus did when He was exalted); and very many copies of the books would have existed: and the critics and commentators would have considered that much more trouble was given to them. Already at that time, the officiousness of many in multiplying transcripts, seems to have given John occasion to add this Epiphonema [An Exclamation subjoined after a narration. See Append]: as also the pious admiration of believers, expressed in the 24th verse: so as that he should say, “Your admiration would be much I ‘greater,’ if you knew not only these things which I have written, but also all the other things. I have not told you all.”[410]

[410] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 2: Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (389–509). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Verse 25. - There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written one by one (or, each by itself), I suppose even the world itself would not contain the books which would (then) be written. Some have suggested the idea that χωρήσειν, or χωρῆσαι, means "morally contain," "bear with.... endure." This is unsatisfactory. The writer, by the use of the name "Jesus," is not going back to the pre-existing, premundane activity of the Logos, but is simply conveying his enthusiastic sense of the inexhaustible fullness of the human life of the blessed Lord. The whole redeeming life, word, and work of the Word made flesh had a quality of infinity about it. The entire evangelic narrative has only touched the fringe of this vast manifestation, a few hours or days of the incomparable life. Every moment of it was infinitely rich in its Contents, in its suggestions, in its influence. Every act was a revelation of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit, giving vistas into the eternities, and openings into the heart and bosom of Deity. Let all that thus was done take thought-shape in human minds, and word-shape in human speech, and book-shape or embodiment in human literature, and there are no conceivable limits to its extent. We use such expressions continually, without feeling that we are adopting any unnatural or unhealthy hyperbole. The infinite abundance of the teaching and significance of the blessed life of the Son of God is ample justification of the apostolic enthusiasm.

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