John 21:5
Then Jesus said to them, Children, have you any meat? They answered him, No.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Children, have ye any meat?—The word rendered “Children” (or, as the margin has it, Sirs), is used in addressing others only by St. John among the New Testament writers (1John 2:13; 1John 2:18). It is not the word used in John 13:33, where we have an expression denoting His affectionate tenderness for the disciples, which would not have been appropriate here, for He does not at once reveal His identity to them. It is a word which, indeed, may express His love for them (comp. John 4:49), but which appears also to have been used as an address to workmen or inferiors, not unlike our own words “boys” or “lads.” They seem to take it in this sense, as though some traveller passing by asked the question because he wished to purchase some of their fish.

The word rendered “meat” occurs here only in the New Testament. It means anything eaten with bread, and was used as equivalent to the fish which was the ordinary relish. (Comp. Note on John 6:9.)

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.Children - A term of affection and friendship, 1 John 2:18.

Any meat - This word (Greek) means anything eaten with bread. It was used by the Greeks especially to denote fish (Schleusner).

5. Children—This term would not necessarily identify Him, being not unusual from any superior; but when they did recognize Him, they would feel it sweetly like Himself.

have ye any meat?—provisions, supplies, meaning fish.

They answered … No—This was in His wonted style, making them tell their case, and so the better prepare them for what was coming.

He asketh them if they had any thing to eat, not because he knew not, but in order to what he intended to do to make them more attentive to the miracle which he by and by intended to work. Then Jesus saith unto them, children,.... And still they knew him not, though he used this endearing and familiar appellation, and which they had been wont to hear from him; and he had called them by a little before his departure from them, John 13:33 and which he uses here as expressive of his tender affection for them, their relation to him, and that he might be known by them:

have ye any meat? that is, as the Syriac renders it, , "anything to eat"; meaning fish that they had caught; and whether they had got a sufficient quantity to make a meal of for him and them.

They answered him no; they had got nothing at all; or at least what they had was far from being enough to make a breakfast of; for so a meal early in a morning may be most properly called, though it is afterwards called dining. Christ's children, true believers, are sometimes without spiritual food; there is always indeed enough in Christ, and he has an heart to give it; but either through prevailing iniquity they feed on something else, or do not go to him for food, or go elsewhere; but he will not suffer them to starve; for as he has made provisions for them in the ministry of the word and ordinances; and he himself is the bread of life; if they do not ask him for food, he will ask them whether they have any; will kindly invite them to the provisions he himself makes; will bid them welcome, and bless them to them.

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 21:5-6. Παιδία] Not un-Johannean (1 John 2:14; 1 John 2:18), although in John 13:33 τεκνία is used.

μή τι προσφάγ. ἔχετε] The emphasis lies, as frequently, on the concluding word: you are not, I suppose, (already) in possession of something to eat? The question presupposes the opinion of the questioner, that they had probably as yet taken nothing, as well as the thought that in the opposite case He need not step in. That, however, He designates fishes exactly by προσφάγιον, is grounded on the fact that He intends to take a breakfast with the disciples on the fishes, after which He inquires. On προσφάγ. itself, which is, like the Attic ὄψον, used especially of fishes (comp. προσφάγημα, Moeris, p. 204. 24; προσόψημα, Athen. iv. p. 162 C, vii. p. 276 E), see Sturz, Dial. Al. p. 191; Fischer, de vitiis, Lex. p. 697 f.

The disciples simply answer: no; they have therefore taken Him for an entire stranger, who perhaps wishes to buy fishes for breakfast. The παιδία, intended by Jesus in the sense of fatherly love, they may have regarded, in the mouth of the unknown, as a friendly designation of the state of service (Nonnus: παῖδες ἁλὸς δρηστῆρες; Euth. Zigabenus: τοὺς ἐργατικούς). Comp. on John 6:6.

εἰς τὰ δεξιὰ μ.] They had the net then in the lake, on quite another side of the boat.

οὐκέτι] no more, as previously, when it was empty and light. Observe the pictorial imperf. ἴσχυον (see the critical notes).

ἑλκῦσαι] draw, draw up the submerged net. On the other hand, σύροντες, John 21:8 : tugging, dragging forth. See Tittmann, Synon. p. 57 f.

ἀπό] on account of. See Bernhardy, p. 224.

To regard the above fruitless toils (on the left, it is thought), and this abundant take on the right, as a figure of the apostolic activity, in relation first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (Grotius, Weitzel, Hengstenberg, Godet, Hilgenfeld, and several others), is too special, and not even conformable to history (Galatians 2:9; Acts 22:20, et al., comp. Luthardt), without prejudice, moreover, to the symbolism of the draught of fishes in itself; see note after John 21:14.John 21:5. λέγει οὖνἔχετε; The οὖν is not merely continuative, but indicates that what Jesus said was in some respect prompted by their ignorance of His identity. This is neglected by Lücke when he says that παιδία is not Johannine, and that τεκνία is the regular term used by Jesus in addressing the disciples. Yes, when He openly addresses them; but here He uses the word any stranger might use, and the rendering “children” retained even in R.V[98] is wrong. It should be “lads”; παιδίον being the common term of address to men at work, see Aristophanes, Clouds, 137, Frogs, 33; Euthymius, ἔθος γὰρ τοὺς ἐργατικὸς οὕτως ὀνομάζειν. Jesus appeared as an intending purchaser and cries, μήτι προσφάγιον ἔχετε; “Have you taken any fish?” (R.V[99]: “have ye anything to eat?” misapprehends both the words and the situation). προσφάγιον, as its composition shows, means anything eaten as seasoning or “kitchen” to bread; being the Hellenistic word used instead of the Attic ὄψον or προσόψημα. Athenaeus and Plutarch both tell us that fish was so commonly used in this way that προσφάγιον came to mean “fish”. ἔχετε has its quasitechnical sense, “have ye caught?” For this sense, see Aristophanes, Clouds, 705 (723, 731), where Socrates asks Strepsiades under the blanket, ἔχεις τι; on which the Scholiast remarks, χαριέντως τὸ ἔχεις τι, τῇ τῶν ἀγρευτῶν λέξει χρώμενος· τοῖς γὰρ ἁλιεῦσιν ἢ ὀρνιθαγρευταῖς οὕτω φασὶν, ἔχεις τι. So that the words of Jesus are: “Lads, have ye caught no fish?” ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ, “Οὔ”. “They answered Him, ‘No,’ ” without any Κύριε or Διδάσκαλε.

[98] Revised Version.

[99] Revised Version.5. Then Jesus] Jesus therefore; because they did not recognise Him.

Children] Perhaps a mere term of friendly address (paidia); not the affectionate term used John 13:33 (teknia). Paidia occurs 1 John 2:14; 1 John 2:18; teknia occurs 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:21.

meat] The Greek word (prosphagion) occurs here only. It appears to mean something eaten with bread, especially fish. Perhaps we should translate, Have ye any fish?John 21:5. Παιδία, Children, Little sons) A name of age [i.e. such as would be used by an aged person]. He addresses them as though He were one unknown, lovingly, from an elevation above them, as being the eternal Wisdom.[400]—προσφάγιον, meat) as for instance a fish.—οὐ, no) Human art is not always consistent with itself [cannot always produce the same results]: but John 21:6, the Divine blessing always is [always can].

[400] Aeterna, referring to the previous “ætatis.” He had used a name applied by age to youth, being indeed Himself the Wisdom, who has existed through all ages.—E. and T.Verses 5, 6. - Jesus therefore saith unto them. They failed to recognize his first appearance, so he permits them to hear the voice which had often poured such music into their ears. Children; not τεκνία, the phrase used in John 13:33, but παιδία, "young people," "lads" - a term of less intimate familiarity, though the apostle himself used it in 1 John 2:13, 18 (in vers. 1 and 12 τρεκνία is used, apparently in interchange with it). The μή τι suggests a negative answer. Προσφάγιον is that which is eaten with bread, and is commonly ὄψον or ὀψάριον, something roasted for the purpose of eating with bread. Since fish was very frequently used for the purpose, the word was often used for "fish" itself (LXX., Numbers 11:22; John 6.9, 11. Other equivalent words are found in Attic Greek, προσφάγημα, προσόψημα). Children (lads, young men yonder), you have nothing, I suppose, to eat? They answered him, No. In all this scene the risen Lord showed himself interested and co-operating with them in their daily toil, as engaged in the same work with them. Their listless manner showed that they had toiled in vain, and, perhaps with tone or gesture of unwillingness to confess their failure, they replied in the negative. Then he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship; the side opposite to that on which they were dragging it along. Moreover, the "right hand," the "right eye," the "right ear," the "right side," are proverbially the more useful, fruitful, or honorable. The imagery is preserved throughout Scripture. And ye shall find. Therefore they cast it. And in order to do this they would probably have had to haul a considerable portion of it into the boat for the necessary transference from left to right. They at once obeyed the summons, remembering what they had previously found to have been their experience (Luke 5.), and no longer were they able, or had they strength, to draw it into the boat. Ἐλκύσαι, is here quite a different process from the σύροντες of ver. 8, which describes the hauling, tugging, of the net to shore. The difficulty arose from (or, because of) the multitude of the fishes. The miracle here is a simple indication of the higher knowledge which the Lord possessed. This huge shoal may, humanly speaking, have been perceived in its approach; so that the event is more impressive in its analogical force than in its supernatural machinery. It suggests the surprising results that would accompany their labor when they should under the Lord's own injunction and inspiration, become veritable fishers of men. The parabolic teaching of this miracle is unusually obvious. Children (παιδία)

Or, little children. Used also by John, in address, twice in the First Epistle (1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:18), where, however, the more common word is τεκνία, little children.

Have ye any meat (μή τι προσφάγιον ἔχετε)?

The interrogative μή τι indicates that a negative answer is expected: you have not, I suppose, anything. Προσφάγιον is equivalent to ὀψάριον, what is added to bread at a meal, especially fish. See on John 6:9. Only here in the New Testament. Wyc, any supping-thing.

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