Holy Bible

A FEAST IN TIBERIA OR THE CROSSING INTO THE COMING AGE As the writer concluded the previous chapter by stating his aim in writing his Gospel, some have assumed that this chapter had been added at a later time. However, there is no strong proof supporting that claim, besides, all other transcripts that have been found of that Gospel do contain this chapter. Indeed, the Church has not separated or made a distinction between this chapter and the rest of the other chapters of this Gospel. Some wonder: what was the need for this chapter after the writer had expressed his aim in writing and seemed to have concluded His Gospel? He began his Gospel by revealing the origin of the eternal Word Who had no beginning. He concluded in the previous chapter by reporting His appearance as the One resurrected from the dead on the eighth day of the Christian Passover and which essentially symbolizes eternity. In this chapter – chapter twenty one- the Evangelist appears to be taking us to the thresh hold of the Coming Age. The beloved St John the Evangelist concludes His Gospel by reporting the meeting of the Lord Jesus Christ with some of His disciples by the lake of Tiberias where He eats with them as though at a banquet. This is like an invitation to enjoy the heavenly banquet. This chapter is considered to be the long report of the Lord’s appearance in Galilee after His resurrection. * It is appropriate to note that the Lord is described as though He was someone setting up a final banquet with seven of His disciples. Why did He do so other than to indicate that these alone were filled with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit- Isaiah 11:2,3- and that they would be with Him in His eternal banquet?...The apostle St Paul correctly declares: “…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom 8:9). What he means is that it will no longer be possible to rejoice upon seeing the Divine glory if a person is not led by God Who lives within him1. Pope Gregory the Great 1 Hom. 25, Forty Gospel Homilies, PL 76:185-6 https://coptic-treasures.com/ 1- The Lord’s appearance by Lake Tiberias 1-14 2- His conversation with Peter 15-19 3- His words about John 20-22 4- Concluding words of St John 24-25 1- The Lord’s appearance by Lake Tiberias After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and in this way He showed Himself. [1] Here St John reports to us one of the instances when the Lord appeared after His resurrection from the dead. It was not a day of worship, nor was the appearance within the Temple, or during a prayer gathering. He appeared on a working day and as they were engaged in their job which was fishing. Our Lord is eager to reveal Himself to mankind even as they perform their work. This is what happened when He sent angels to announce the news of His birth to the shepherds who were staying up all night to guard their sheep. Earlier, the Lord had appeared several times to the women and to the disciples in Jerusalem and at the tomb. He commanded them to go to Galilee, and promised that they would meet with Him (Matt 28:7, Mk 16:7). This promise was fulfilled as St John reports in this chapter. Some believe that this is the seventh time that the Lord appears after His resurrection, and the third time He appears to the disciples [14]. The meeting reported in this passage occurred on the third day after His resurrection. The verb ‘appear’ occurs in the text as ‘genoumenis’ which has been translated into Hebrew as ‘made apparent’ to indicate that ‘He made Himself visible’, or ‘He proclaimed Himself.’ It is as though the natural place for the Lord is to be in the other world after His resurrection; and that these appearances are revelations that He makes to His disciples and to others so that they are assured of His resurrection... This action reveals the sublime state of our Lord Jesus Christ since we can longer meet Him in this world. He is the One who makes Himself present in this world whenever He wishes. He is the One who becomes visible according to the time and place which He chooses. He did not appear on that shore as a person would do by moving from one place to the other: He suddenly stood there and appeared to His disciples in this manner. The verb ‘‘He made Himself visible’ could also indicate what went on in the thoughts of the disciples as a result of that. They had not yet experienced the joy of knowing Him after His resurrection. Consequently, He spoke to them as a stranger would do, and called them by using the general term of ‘children’, [5]. * Do you notice that He neither stayed with them forever, nor in the same manner as before? He appeared suddenly, in the evening, and then vanished. He then appeared another time on the eighth day and also vanished then. After that He made an awesome appearance again by the shore. What does ‘appear’ convey? It is clear that He could not be seen except when He https://coptic-treasures.com/ condescended to do so, for His Body is incorruptible and possesses the inseparable purity of a spiritual Body2. St John Chrysostom * He re-established their hope in Him and which they had not regained. The Lord intended to come to them to remove the despair that filled their minds. He returned to them alive and out of the tomb, He made the great proclamation concerning the reality of the renewal of His Body which He presented before their eyes and hands. He could be seen as well as touched, and held so they could examine the traces of His wounds. He did that so that Thomas, who had refused to believe previously, would declare his faith. Earlier, the Lord had breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and they had heard with their ears the words coming from with His own lips: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you….If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Suddenly, they had become once more fishers of fish and not of men3. St Augustine This scene took place by the shore of Lake Tiberias in Galilee. The disciples had traveled north to the place of their homes and where the Lord met them. The ‘Lake of Tiberias’ was the name used for the ‘Sea of Galilee’ in the Lord’s times. In the Old Testament it was known as the ‘Sea of Chinnereth.’ In Luke 5:1 it is called the ‘Lake of Gennesaret.’ In about the year 20 A.D., a city was founded on its shores and it was called ‘Tiberias’ after the name of the emperor. So the lake became the Lake of Tiberias.’ This change occurred over several years, and the evangelist has used the name that was popular at the time of writing this Gospel. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, The sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples were together [2]. Seven disciples had come to the shore of Lake Tiberias and the Lord appeared to them. He could have done so in compliance with the Roman law which required seven witnesses to testify. The Lord made Himself visible to these seven disciples, among them was Nathaniel whom John had not mentioned after the Lord’s meeting with him in chapter one. Some believe he is the same as Bartholemew, one of the twelve disciples. As for the two disciples whose names are not given, these could be Philip from Bethesda and Andrew from Capernaum. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out, and immediately got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. [3] There is no doubt that the period through which the disciples lived between the time of the Crucifixion and the ascension was filled obscurity. Even though the Lord’s appearances had opened the doors of hope to them, and had revealed many divine mysteries, yet their 2 Homilies on St John, 87:2 3 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 122:2 https://coptic-treasures.com/ psychological condition was unstable. The future was unclear, and they could not comprehend the nature of their new life after being physically separated from the Lord Jesus Christ. They had received the mission of preaching to the whole world, but they had not yet experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit that would guide them in their new task. It is true that the Sunday of the Resurrection had replaced the sadness of the Friday of the Crucifixion; yet what was God’s plan for them? The situation was a most difficult one and therefore Peter called them to go fishing and they responded in order to do any activity. The time had not come to begin preaching about the Lord and His redeeming action. They had to wait until the Lord’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His Church. The disciples did not know how to lead an idle or lazy life. Therefore they went fishing, though not as a form of leisure but in order to work and provide for their physical needs. The apostle Peter called them to go fishing as a source of income to them. Before the Crucifixion, they lived on what others provided in the money box (Lk 8:3). This is the reason why St John the Cassian reports, about monasticism in Egypt, that the monks were committed to work in order to provide for their needs. They had to care for the poor; and they had to consider that their work was a training that developed their spiritual development. The monk was not to be too engaged in these tasks, yet he was not to depend on relatives or others to provide his necessities. * By disdaining all wealth, we choose to obtain our daily needs through the work of our hands and without any dependence on the wealth of our relatives. Our reading and meditation on the Bible will therefore become deeper as we will not tend to remain idle if we do nothing else besides that. It is preferable to belong to the working poor according to the example that the apostles have set, or as we have seen in the laws of our fathers. Then we would find much joy in doing so. It is also worth noting that there is an even greater danger than the previous one; and that is of obtaining your food through the help of others even though you are physically sound and well built. This is appropriate for those who are weak only…Therefore it is necessary for everyone to depend on their daily work and the proceeds of his hands for his livelihood. We need to remember the commandment to love which the apostle teaches when he forbids the wealthy from helping lazy people and says: “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this. If anyone will not work, neither should he eat,” (2 Thes. 3:10). These are the words which the blessed Anthony told a certain person, and he taught by setting him as an example4. Fr Abraham It is so beautiful for brothers to meet together, not only to worship in Church but also to exchange conversation filled with love. Besides, their reciprocal love would increase if they work together as they will find joy in such practical unity. 4 Cassian Conferences, 24:12 https://coptic-treasures.com/ St Peter’s decision was a natural outcome; even though some feel that it was not according to God’s will since he went with his companions without asking God, in prayer, for guidance. That is why they did not catch any fish all night long. Any way it was a practical lesson that demonstrates failure of any human endeavor- whatever the goal- as long as it is not supported by Divine help. This is especially true in the case of fishing for souls for the kingdom of God. * The Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Truth, has said: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God,” (Lk 9:62). Why did Peter return to do what he had left? We know the he was a fisherman while Matthew was a tax collector. Peter resumed his work after he had become a believer, whereas Matthew never returned to be a tax collector. That is because obtaining a livelihood through fishing is one thing, while tax collecting is another. There are many jobs that cannot be partially or wholly done without committing mistakes. It is forbidden to resume such jobs after becoming believers as they are associated with sin5. Pope Gregory the Great St Augustine responds to the following question: ‘Since the Lord has said, “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt6:32), why was no food provided for them and they had to go fishing?’ It was the Lord who had made available the fish in that place so that it could be caught. He made the disciples feel a need which obliged them to go fishing, and consequently, they discovered the miracle which He had prepared for them. Moreover, this incident would strengthen the message proclaimed by the preachers of His Gospel. Indeed, the Bible reinforces itself by the great mystery which makes its imprint on their minds due to the huge amount of fish that was caught6. * The disciples were not forbidden to pray for the needs required by their work as long as that work was intrinsically legal and acceptable; and as long as this did not affect their apostolic mission which they had to continue doing. They had to pray and work whenever they needed to get their daily food. Therefore no one should think or doubt that St Paul did not achieve the stature of those who had abandoned everything and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. St Paul found it necessary to work with his hands in order to provide for his needs and not be a burden on anyone to whom he preached the Gospel. More significantly, he states that he “…labored more abundantly than they all…”, and then he adds: “…yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me,” (1 Cor 15:10)7. St Augustine But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: But the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. [4] 5 Hom. 24: Forty Gospel Homilies, PL 76:1184 6 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 122:4 7 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 122:3 https://coptic-treasures.com/ The disciples did not recognize the Lord Jesus Christ. This could have been to the lack of light and visibility as it was too early in the morning, or because they were too far away, or because He had taken a different form as in Mark 16: 12 (on the road to Emmaus). St John Chrysostom says that the Lord did not reveal Himself to them in order to engage them in conversation. * Before the resurrection the Lord had walked on the water before their eyes (Matt 14:25). What does the sea indicate other than to the present generation that is so disturbed by the conditions and noise of this passing life? What does the stability of the shore indicate other than the continuity of eternal and endless peace? Since the Lord had actually crossed over beyond the limits of this mortal life, He therefore stood on the shore after His resurrection. Through this act, the Lord was as though telling His disciples about the mystery of His resurrection8. Pope Gregory the Great Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have ye any meat? “ They answered him, “No.” [5] The word for ‘children’ in the Greek language is ‘Paidia’ and it is used when a speaker addresses someone with whom he shares strong ties and tender emotions. The Greek word ‘pais’ literally means ‘young children’ or ‘the loving ones.’ St John the evangelist used it when he spoke about the youngest child of one of the nobles (4:49), and he used it again for a new born child (16:21). However, it is possible to use this word for adults, while it may also be used for soldiers. The Lord spoke to the disciples as a father would speak to His dear children. Although He possessed a glorified Body after the resurrection, yet this glory was revealed in the spirit of eternal love and sublime tenderness. Based on their ages, the disciples could not be classified as children, yet they became God’s children and enjoyed His divine adoption. As a father who is filled with tenderness and concerned with providing their physical need for food, the Lord satisfied all their physical and spiritual needs. Our risen Lord continues to pass through each of the homes of believers, especially those of the poor and the needy, and He asks: ‘My children, do you have food?’ He knows they have no food; yet He arouses in them the desire to pray with faith and ask Him to satisfy their need. He does not satisfy their need through a human hand, but He fills them with food provided from stores; and waters them Himself in one way or another by His sources of love. He opens their eyes of their hearts and enables them to see Him and become acquainted with His mysteries. * His manner of speech was more like that of human beings and as though He wanted to buy something from them. However, when they indicated that they had not caught anything, He ordered them to throw their nets to the right side of their boat9. St John Chrysostom 8 Hom. 24: Forty Gospel Homilies, PL 76:1184 9 Homilies on St John, 87:3 https://coptic-treasures.com/ Their answer to Him was a negative one -‘No-’ which expressed their bitter disappointment as they had worked all night and had caught no fish. They did not want tot talk about this not in any detail, for it is hard for a person to speak about His failure. And he said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, And you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in Because of the multitude of fish. [6] It seems that, according to their experience as fisherman, they had to throw their nets to the left of their boat when they fished in that part of the lake. However, without knowing who was the One giving them advice, they humbly obeyed and struggled patiently, without raising any objection or assertion of self confidence gained by their long practice in the fishing industry. The gentle conversation of the Lord and His attitude could have obliged them to obey and submit to His advice. Catching such a great number of fish was a miraculous work. It was made to proclaim the Lord’s care and concern to provide people’s needs; especially for those who had abandoned everything for His sake. It was not done merely to underline the authority the Lord had even over the fish and the seas. This was a symbolic act in which the struggle of the disciples through the night corresponds to the struggle of the prophets and the holy men of the Old Testament. These struggled to catch souls for the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, they caught nothing. Then the Lord came and opened the doors of Paradise with His Cross. He also granted the disciples the authority to catch fish. Consequently, the boat of the Church was filled with fish. The disciples had struggled all through the night, and they felt that they had failed as they had caught nothing. However, the Lord does not disregard or forget the struggle of His children, and in a few moments, He compensated their great fatigue and labor due to a long night’s work. In this manner, the Lord renews the spirit of hope within us. You might be tired as you serve for many long years, yet fruit appears at the last moments of our lives on earth. Indeed, when the Lord directs to serve for His kingdom, and when we obey Him, there will not be any empty nets. He is the only One who knows where to find the souls that are thirsty for the joy of salvation. Even though there may not be any clear signs marking them, He is the One who will lead us to them. He is also the One who will attract them to the net of His holy Church. * We read twice in the Holy Bible that the Lord gave the command to cast the nets. The first time occurred before His passion (Lk 5:4-6). He did not indicate if the nets should be thrown to the right or left side. The disciples caught so many fish that the nets were breaking. The second time occurred after His resurrection, and the Lord commanded the disciples to throw the nets on the right side; and although the number of fish caught was very great, the nets did not get broken. https://coptic-treasures.com/ The righteous are indicated to be on the right side, and the wicked on the left side (Matt 25:33). The first catch indicates the Church at the present time where the righteous and the wicked are gathered. The Church does not choose those who enter her doors as she does not know who she could choose. Look closely at the last catch taken on the right side where the Church of the chosen alone is found, and where there are no wicked deeds. There you will see the fullness of the Lord’s glory. In the first catch, the nets were breaking due to the wicked ones who had entered with the chosen ones. They pierced the nets with their blasphemy. In the second and last catch, many fish were caught and the nets did not get torn. This is because the holy Church, composed of the chosen ones, possesses the peace of her Creator. No obstacles and no divisions exist within her to tear or break Her down10. Pope Gregory the Great Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, He put on his outer garment (for he had removed it,) And plunged into the sea. [7] Peter ‘… put on his outer garment’, or the fisherman’s clothes, or ‘ependuteen’ which is like a man’s coat nowadays. The words ‘…for he had removed it’ are used to indicate a specific person who does not wear the outer clothes. This expression was also used when Saul took off his outer clothes ‘himatra’and lay down naked the whole day and night (1Samuel 19:24). It is reported that David was girded with a linen ephod and then uncovered himself in front of the maids of his servants (2 Samuel6:14, 29). Peter‘… plunged into the sea’: clearly, he was close to the shore- 132 yards approximately- and that the water was shallow, since he put on his outer clothes in order to cross over to the shore. If the water was not shallow, he would not have worn his outer clothes so that he could swim to the shore. John, whom Jesus loved, realized that He was the Lord. Indeed, the Lord reveals His mysteries to His beloved ones. He does not deprive anyone from the joy of knowing Him. Everyone who places his head on the Lord’s chest enjoys the divine mysteries. Moreover, a person who accompanies the Lord to the Cross and shares His passion is blessed by the purity of heart and clarity of vision which enables him to outrun others in comprehending heavenly matters. This is how St John reached out to the Lord, and he could not hide his knowledge and consequently proclaimed it. Even though Peter outran him to meet the Master, John rejoiced that all could enjoy what He saw and experienced. St JohnChrysostom considered the apostle Peter as being characteristically enthusiastic and jealous, while St John had a calm nature. Consequently, although John was the first to 10 Hom. 24. Forty Gospel Homilies, 181-182 https://coptic-treasures.com/ calmly recognize the Lord, Peter was to first to reach the shore as he plunged into the sea and swam to Him. He could not wait to go with the others who were with him in the boat11. * When Peter recognized the Lord, he left the fish and the nets and put on his clothes… he must have been filled with great awe and longing! Although the distance was 100 yards approximately, he could not wait for the boat to reach the shore, and so he plunged and swam12. St JohnChrysostom Although Peter had denied the Lord three times, yet he had shed tears of repentance and experienced a love and friendship that time could never tear away. As soon as he knew that the Lord was standing on the shore, the boat could no longer hold him and he could not wait till it would come to the shore. He threw himself into the water in order to hurry and meet with his Beloved. * While the other disciples did not know, the disciple whom Jesus loved told Peter: “It is the Lord.” Being chaste, John was the first to recognize the chaste Body and that He was ‘Jesus’ Himself. However, the other disciples did not see Him in the same manner13. St Jerome But the other disciples came in a little boat; (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits,) Dragging the net with fish. [8] Two hundred cubits or 100 yards approximately. Then as soon as they had come to land, They saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. [9] Just as the great catch of fish was miraculous, so was the sudden provision of fish placed over the coals and the bread which had been prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ. The disciples had found [9] like those at the house of the high priest (Jn18:18); but this time there was fish over the coals and bread next to them. The scene had a sense of ‘celebration’ to it. Although the Lord asked them if they had any food, and as though He was hungry, yet He offered them food that did not require or depend on weak human efforts. The Lord has truly invited us to work for His account, but the gladdening fruit and heavenly food, which pleases the Father, are the work of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and the act of His Holy Spirit. * The One who desired to grill His Body by pain while He was in the flesh, feeds us with His divinity for He says: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven,” (Jn6:51). Therefore He eats with them grilled fish and bread to reveal to us that He has suffered pain while He was in the flesh, and has offered us food through His Divinity14. 11 Hom. 87. PG 59:522 12 Hom.76. PG59:522 13 To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem,35 14 Hom. 24. Forty Gospel Homilies,184 https://coptic-treasures.com/ St Gregory the Great * He prepared grilled fish on coals in order to be a tangible proof to the doubtful disciples, who did not dare to come close to Him as they thought they were seeing a spirit and not a body15. St Jerome Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” [10] * The Lord commanded the disciples to bring of the fish that they had caught in order to clarify that the miracle before them was not a mere imagination. * Things seemed to evolve counter to nature. What are these things? First: They had caught a lot of fish Second: The nets were not broken Third: Before they came to the shore, the coals were ready and the fish on top, and the bread with them. These were not prepared from materials that were actually present. They were there through a special Providence and in harmony with the Lord’s work before His crucifixion16. St JohnChrysostom Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land full of large fish, One hundred and fifty and three: And although there were so many, the net was not broken. [11] The first time the disciples had gone fishing (Lk 5:11-11), we saw how their nets were getting torn for they were subject to the laws of the world. In this passage, however, ‘the net was not broken’ as it was subject by the laws of eternity. The Evangelist focused on the number of fish, yet in his mind they did not indicate quantity but quality of existence. We note how he indicated that the wedding in Cana took place on ‘the third day’ (Jn2:1). He also wrote about seven miracles, and seven sermons. The word ‘God’ occurs eight times in the introductory chapter of the Gospel, and it occurs eight times throughout it. The word ‘Logos’ occurs four times in the first chapter; and forty times in each of the Gospels. As for the number 153, innumerable thinkers have invested it with different meanings across the years. St Augustine presents to us a symbolic interpretation to this miracle. He states that the disciples who went out fishing were seven which is the number that denotes perfection or fulfillment of the times (seven days in the week). The Lord came to them in the morning which stands for the end of all time. Drawing the nets to the shore symbolizes the coming Judgment at the end of time. As for the attempt to catch fish throughout the night, it indicates the ministry before the Lord’s resurrection when no one enjoyed the blessing of the resurrection or the spread of the holy Word. The act of throwing the net on the right side of the boat points to the great harvest of believers after the resurrection.. In fact, the net contained big and small fish to convey 15 To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem,34 16 Hom.76. PG 59:522 https://coptic-treasures.com/ that there are the good ones as well as the wicked ones within the Church These will be picked and separated from each other on the day of the Lord. The number of big fish were 153 and this corresponds to the righteous men in the Old Testament (ten is a symbol for the law). Add to them the seven disciples in the new Testament (seven being a symbol of perfection), and the total is 17. The number 153 is the result of adding all the numbers from 1-17. Some numbers are designated as being three dimensional or three-sided: for example the number 10 is the tripartite of number 4 (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10). The number 153 is the tripartite of number 17 and it includes 7 and 1 which make 8. The number of disciples who stood on the shore was 7, and the number 8 stands for eternity. St Gregory the Great notes that every act recorded in the Old Testament is associated to the Ten Commandments. Besides, they are completed and fulfilled in the New Testament through the Holy Spirit who grants seven blessings: ‘…the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord….’The two Testaments are referred to as number 17 [7+1]; and all the major events recorded are 17 in number. When this is multiplied by 3, the result is 51. The jubilee is celebrated in the year (50) and we begin with the year 51…this is the year of rest in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we multiply 51 by three (in reference to the Holy Trinity) and the result is 153. This is the number of the chosen ones, from both the Old and New Testaments, who are in the heavenly Church or –in other words-in our heavenly home17. St Augustine presents a wonderful comparison between the two miracles of the fish that are recorded in the Gospel of Luke 5:3-7, and in the Gospel of John21:1-11.Pope Gregory the Great used this in his own writing. It is possible to summarize this comparison in the following points with some changes18: 1- The first miracle (Lk 5) occurred before the Lord’s resurrection, whereas the second miracle occurred after His resurrection. That is why the first miracle is taken to indicate to the Church in the present world which enjoys the blessings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second miracle refers to the Church in the world to come, or the Church that comes after the resurrection. At that time the Church will enjoy the glory of the Lord. 2- In the Gospel of St John, the miracle occurred in the early morning hours and after a very long night. This refers to the appearance of the Church in her full glory with the second coming of the Lord. He will shine upon her with a new morning. 3-In the Gospel of St Luke, the Lord does not ask them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat; but He tells them to go farther into the deep sea. Consequently, their nets were filled with good and bad fish. In the Gospel of St John, the Lord asks them to cast their nets on the right side, and as a result, they caught fish that was all good. The first miracle refers to the Church that is filled with believers; though not all are righteous as the good and the wicked are mixed together and it is impossible to separate them. Inside the Church, there are the true believers who enjoy fellowship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. At the 17 Hom.24. Forty Gospel Homilies,182-183 18 St Augustne: On the Gospel of St John, tractate122:7-9 https://coptic-treasures.com/ same time, there are those who appear to be believers but who are hypocrites and careless about their salvation and that of others. They are wholly preoccupied with satisfying their vanity, or their physical lust and its pleasures, as well as clinging to material matters. In the Gospel of St John, we find the Church, at the onset of the new age, separating the true believers from the wicked ones. The good and righteous will stand at the right hand side of the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s blessed children who are entitled to the eternal inheritance; whereas the wicked will have no place on the right hand side of the Lord. They will stand on His left and as though they do not exist as they have no share with the Savior. 4-In St Luke’s Gospel, the nets were about to break; but in St John’s Gospel they were filled with fish, yet we do not hear this expression. The Church is exposed to so much in this world in the form of attacks of conjurors, heretics, and troublemakers that she seems near breaking point due to such divisions. However, the true Church remains mysteriously covered and without divisions in God’s sight. All her members remain steadfast members in the one Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the heavenly Church- i.e. after the Resurrection- we see one net which will not be exposed to any breaking. Rather, she will glow with the brilliance resulting from her union with the Lord Jesus Christ who is her heavenly Bridegroom. 5-In the first miracle there were two boats: in them were the circumcised people (of the Old Testament, and the uncircumcised (the Gentiles who became believers). In the world, both the Church of the Old Testament and the Church of the New Testament have existed. In both of them, the Messiah has worked in one way or another. However, with the coming of the night, there will not be any distinction, for they will all be found in one boat holding together. 6-St Augustine comments that the boat was about 200 cubits away from the shore. As it contained both the circumcised and the uncircumcised, then the number 100 refers to those standing on the Lord’s right hand, and the number 200 refers to both groups standing together and at the same distance. This implies that both groups enjoy the same rewards and the same glory. 1- Many fathers have presented different interpretations for the 153 fish. They are all symbolic meanings to this number. 2- The fish are described as being big, in reference to believers who are considered to be great in the kingdom of God. Jesus said to them. “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” - knowing that it was the Lord. [12] “Come and eat breakfast”- the word ‘eat’ occurs as a literal translation for the Greek word ‘aristeasate.’ Some believe that the origin of the word has been used to mean ‘breakfast’; as it had been used this way in the writings of Homer, Xenophom, and Plutarch. It was also used to refer to an early meal, or even for lunch. The Lord seemed to be inviting them to ‘come and eat breakfast’ as it was early in the morning. https://coptic-treasures.com/ As a personal friend, Jesus said to them “Come and eat breakfast” [12]. He invites them to the feast He had prepared for them. So they ate and were filled. Nevertheless, a lot of fish was left for them to sell and have the money to buy their daily needs. They recognized the Lord, although neither the disciples nor the Lord had exchanged any words. It is as though He had carried them into the silence of the heavens where only the language of heavenly love is spoken, and where no human language is heard. * ‘…none of the disciples dared ask Him…’, and none began to speak with Him. They just sat down and looked at Him silently and in great fear and awe ‘knowing that it was the Lord.’ That is why they did not ask Him “Who are You?” They could see from His looks that He was changed and they were greatly frightened. Yet in spite of that, they knew He was no one else but the Lord, and this made them control their need to ask. St John Chrysostom Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. [13] The Lord dealt with them as a friend; and offered to them what they needed. However, they felt shy and because they knew He was the Lord, they did not dare ask: Who are You? In order to open for them this door for meeting with Him, and to prove His great love, the Lord came to them, took the bread and the fish and offered it to them. St John the Evangelist does not report whether the Lord shared the food with them or not. Surely His risen Body was not in need for food, however He might have eaten in order to confirm that He possessed a real body and that what they saw was not a shadow or figment of their imagination. * The Lord made it clear that the miracle was not an imaginary one. However, the Evangelist does not say that the Lord ate with them. St Luke is clear as he reports: ‘…He took it and ate in their presence,’ (Lk 24:43). The Lord ate not because the nature of His Body needed the food, but He humbly ate in order to prove His actual resurrection. * He no longer acted as He used to do before…in this incident, the Lord did not look up to the heaven (to bless the food), nor did He do other human actions. This confirmed that the way He had acted before was a sign of His humility. He wanted to make them know that He would neither be staying with them forever, nor in the same manner in which He had been with them before. This explains why St John reports that ‘this was now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples…’19 . St John Chrysostom This is now the third time that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. [14] 19 Homilies on ST John,87:2 https://coptic-treasures.com/ ‘This is now the third time’ that Jesus appeared to His disciples while they were all or partially present together. He had appeared to ten of them (Jn 20: 19); then to eleven of them (Jn 20:27); and then to seven of them (Jn 21:2). Some scholars believe that this was the seventh time that the Lord appeared between the time of His resurrection and the time of His ascension: 1- To Mary Magdalene (Mk 16:19; Jn. 20:15-16). 2- To the women who went to the tomb (matt 28:9). 3- To two of the disciples on their way to Emmaus (Lk 24:13). 4- To Peter only (Lk 24:34). 5- To the ten disciples when Thomas was absent (Jn.20:19). 6- To the eleven disciples on the eighth day when Thomas believed (Jn 21:26). 7- To seven disciples (Jn 21:2), and that was some time between the eighth and fourteenth day after His resurrection. 8- To His disciples on a certain mountain in Galilee (Matt 28:16). 9- To more than 100 brothers at one time (1 Cor 15:6), if that was not the time appearance as the previous one mentioned here. 10- James saw Him (1 Cor 15:7). 11- To all His disciples on the day of His ascension into the heavens (Mk 16:19-20; Lk24:50-53; Acts 1:3-12; 1Cor 15:7). These are the appearances that have been mentioned in the Holy Bible, but we can confirm that there were many other appearances that have not been mentioned. * To clarify that the Lord Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, neither stayed for a continuous time with His disciples nor lived with them as He did before, the Evangelist states that ‘This is now the third time that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples.’ * When you hear about these events, you become aroused and consider how those who were with Him were happy; and how glad they will be on the Day of Judgment. Let us do our best so that we get to behold that amazing Face. If now we get aroused and become eager just by hearing, and thinking what it would have been like if we had lived at the time when the Lord lived on earth. What it must have felt to hear His voice, see His Face, to come close and touch Him, and serve under His leadership! Then think how great it was to see Him in a Body that was no longer corruptible, and no longer doing human acts. Now He possessed a Body that is guarded by the angels; and consequently, we ourselves have put on pure form that has no mingling with our former selves. We see Him and enjoy all other blessings that cannot be expressed by any language. I beg you to use every means that will enable you not to lose such a glorious blessing. There is nothing that is impossible if you have the will; and there is nothing burdensome if you are focused and ‘walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory’ (1 Thes 2:12)20. St John Chrysostom 1- A Dialogue with Peter 20 Homilies on St John,87:3 https://coptic-treasures.com/ The Lord confirmed to His disciples that He is the Creator of both the body and the spirit. He offered them breakfast which He had prepared with His hands in order to provide for their physical needs. Then He became concerned with providing their spiritual food to satisfy their spiritual needs The dialogue between the Lord and Peter took place after the disciples had eaten and were filled. It could have taken place during the meal when the Lord would have turned to Peter and spoken with him. The Lord had previously met with the disciple, after His resurrection, at least twice or three times but He had not spoken to Peter in that manner. It could be that the Lord wished to console Peter and show him that His repentance had been fully accepted, and that what he had done would not affect the relationship between him and the Lord. After giving him this assurance, the Lord opened the topic. Some scholars believe that Peter did not speak about what had happened as he feared that the Lord would declare other weaknesses or failures that he would face. Peter realized that the Lord knew his inner depths more than he knew himself. The apostle Peter was in need of that meeting with the Lord in order to regain confidence in God’s working power in him. So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes Lord, You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” [15] The Lord took this tender and personal initiative towards Peter in order to reinstitute his full fellowship with him. This is a relationship that exists with all those who have become sealed with the seal of the resurrection. The Lord did not use the new name of ‘Peter’ which He had given him, and it was as though He were renewing the promise with him. “…do you love Me more than these?” Some scholars believe that though the Lord asked: Do you love Me more than all the others, He intended to ask if Peter still believed that his love for the Lord was greater than that of the others. Peter had made this declaration when he had said that he would follow to Lord even if he had to die for Him and even if others would deny Him. Peter the son of Jonah did not dare to utter the words:’… more than these’, for he feared he had a weakness of which he was unaware. He had repented for having declared that he would not deny Him even if all others would; therefore he felt embarrassed and in awe. Peter had learned not to depend on himself and to submit himself into the Lord’s caring hands. He therefore said, “You know….” He no longer trusted his own testimony, and it was impossible to ask that others witness for him. He asked for the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who perceives the heart and has the power to sustain the weak. The Lord did not ask him about his repentance for having denied Him three times. He was satisfied to ask about Peters love for Him. Repentance is essentially the practice of loving God. This is what the Lord requires of every sincere repentant. That is why He praised the repentant adulterous woman. He told Simon the Pharisee: “…her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much,” (Lk 7:47). In order to regain Peter to the ministry of saving souls, the Lord Jesus Christ asked him, “Do you love Me?” This reveals that the Lord does not entrust a person with this ministry unless https://coptic-treasures.com/ his heart is filled with love for Him. What that person offers to mankind for its salvation actually consists of offering the Lord Himself. Someone who does not love the Lord cannot minister to souls and cannot be concerned for their salvation since he does not realize their value to Him. The Lord has died for these souls and offered His precious Blood to redeem them. The Lord used the word ‘aghapas’ to express sublime love and its honor, Peter, however, is embarrassed to use the same term and humbly used the word ‘phileo’ which is used to speak about the love for friends. * The Lord asked Peter to “Feed (His) lambs”…, and did not mention his denial or challenge what he had done. It was as though the Lord was telling him: ‘You had said that you would sacrifice yourself for my sake, so now I am asking you to sacrifice yourself for my lambs.’ * Actually, there are so many ways which would endear us to God and would reveal that we belong to the shining chosen ones. One of the most effective ways to win the approval of the Most High is to show a tender concern for our fellow brothers. This is what the Lord asked Peter to do21. St John Chrysostom * When the dead assumes eternal life, and the corruptible assumes the incorruptible and swallows death in the victorious Lord Jesus Christ; then God reigns over all. Consequently, wisdom is not found only in Solomon, or sweetness only in David, or zeal in Elijah and Phineas, or faith in Abraham, or total love in Peter who was asked, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?.” Besides, zeal is not only found in the preaching of the chosen fathers, or virtue in just one or two. Rather, God is wholly perfect in everyone; and the fragrance of fellowship with the saints is evident in every set of virtues while God reigns over all22. St Jerome He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” [16] The first time the Lord asked the question so that Peter would compare himself with his brothers, and find out if his love for the Master was greater than theirs. Now that Simon Peter had learned to be humble, and did not answer with pride and confidence in his own power; the Lord no longer compared him with his brothers when He posed the question for a second and third time. * If we watch the sheep and are fearful, and are concerned about the sheep, then how much are the sheep more concerned about themselves? Our share is to watch the sheep, and your share is to be obedient. Our share is to vigilantly keep watching, and your share is to be humble sheep. If we seem to be speaking from a higher platform, we lay ourselves at your feet in fear, for we know the danger of that sublime position23. St Augustine 21 Homilies on St John. 88:1 22 Against Pelagians, 1:18 23 Sermon on the N.T. Lessons, 96:1 https://coptic-treasures.com/ * Peter’s faith had been shaken due to the suffering of the Lord, and now he shed bitter tears as he heard the Lord’s tender words, “Tend My sheep”24. St Jerome He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things: You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”[17] In the first two times, the Lord Jesus Christ used the word ‘agapas’; and Peter used the word ‘philo’ in his answer which conveys the endearing relationship of love that exists between cherished ones. In the Lord’s question for the third time, the word ‘philo’ occurs and He seems to be asking Peter, ‘Do you love Me, dear friend?’ The distinction between the two expressions has occupied many of those who have studied this Gospel. Many find that the word ‘agapo’ is a general word that denotes love which is based on poised mental thought coupled with practical devotion of one’s life for the loved one. As for the word ‘philo’, they find that it refers to emotional love that involves personal tenderness towards the loved one. Therefore the Lord seems to ask His disciple, ‘Will you devote your life to Me?’; and the disciple answers, ‘I love You with all my feelings.’ William Hendrickson makes a distinction between the two expressions as he says: The word ‘agapo’ is used generally here, as well as in the rest of the other Gospels, to refer to love offered with one’s whole being. It dictates not only the emotions, but the mind too, and plays an outstanding role as it is based on appreciation of the loved one due to obvious reasons. The word ‘phileo’ refers to instinctive natural or spontaneous love in which emotions play a main and greater role than the mind or will. In this manner, we could make a distinction between the two expressions: in the first two questions, the Lord asked Peter if he felt a sort of sublime love and richness in his emotions, mind, and active will. Peter’s response conveyed that he could not claim to have love that matched such a wonderful standard; but that he was sure that he carried strong genuine feelings of love towards the Lord… even though this was less than the love that the Lord asked for25. C.H.C.MacGregor finds that the first verb denotes the presence of appreciation and respect between the two parties; while the second denotes the presence of personal emotions between two members of the same family26. St Peter was saddened as the third question reminded him of his denial for three times. It is painful to remember our sins even though we have been forgiven. He might have been saddened through fear that the Lord perceived a weakness in his depths of which he was unaware. That is what had happened before when he declared himself ready to die with the Lord. 24 Letter 35:1 25 Cf. Leon Morris: Reflections on the Gospel of St John, Hendrickon Publishers, 2000, p.737. 26 Ibid, p. 737 https://coptic-treasures.com/ The Lord invited Peter three times to watch His sheep and care for them through his love for the Owner of the sheep. The Lord had claimed Himself to be like a good shepherd who lays down his life (Jn 10:11). Isaiah accordingly says: ‘He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young’ (Is 40:11). * May the role of love be the factor that feeds the sheep of God. ..those who aim at watching over the Lord’s sheep as though they were not the Lord’s, but rather owned by them, will be condemned since they love themselves and not the Lord. Such shepherds desire to boast, to possess power, or to make money. Seeking to be obedient, to serve and to please God…what do these indicate other than that you love Me and therefore neglect to feed yourself while you feed My sheep because they are Mine and not yours? Seek My authority and not yours, seek My profit and not yours. In doing so, you will avoid following the path of those who belong to the dangerous times- who love themselves and all the consequences that come along with the onset of these evil ways27. St Augustine * As surely as he had denied the Lord three times, he proclaimed Him three times. It was night time when Peter had denied the Lord, and now it was daylight when He proclaimed Him28. St Ambrose “…Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself And walked where you wished; But now you are old, you will stretch out your hands, And another will gird you And carry you where you do not wish.” [18] Having restored to Peter his status as an apostle, the Lord went on to inform him concerning his martyrdom. In using the words ‘Most assuredly’ the Lord wanted to confirm that what He was saying was greatly important and serious, and that it would surely be fulfilled. In his youth, he was free to gird himself whenever he wanted, and to go wherever he wished. Because of this freedom, he submitted himself into the hands of his Savior so that He would gird him and carry him according to His divine will. It would not be according to Simon’s plans or those of other believers. He submitted his will to the Lord so that He might be glorified even at his death. For this reason, Peter will be glad to suffer. Even at his death, which would glorify God, he will be glad as he witnesses to the divine Truth. Wetstein finds that the expression ‘you will stretch out your hands’ refers to the custom practiced in Rome when a person was crucified. The head of the person was placed on the cross and his hands would be stretched out to the extreme. Then he would be led through the streets of the city where he would be crucified. 27 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 123:5 28 Exposition on St Luke 10:90 https://coptic-treasures.com/ Another person would gird him with iron chains and he would be carried to a place against his will. He does not wish to be crucified for having loved the Lord, but because he wishes to live to preach and serve Him. * The Lord clearly told Peter about the manner of his death for Peter the apostle always desired to go through dangers and difficulties for the Lord’s sake. Therefore He was telling him: ‘Rest assured that I will fulfill your desire in that matter, and even in your old age you will meet troubles which you have not experienced in your youth.’ * What is intended by the expression ‘where you do not wish’? Here the Lord is speaking about natural feelings, the needs of the body, and how the spirit leaves the body involuntarily. Even when the will is steadfast, nature is weak…therefore the expression ‘where you do not wish’ refers to natural human feelings29. St John Chrysostom * Love was the end result achieved by this person who had denied his Master. He had lost his path through his own boldness, and fell through his denial. He was washed by his tears, was forgiven by his confession, and crowned by tolerating suffering. This is where he ended: by dying with complete love for the sake of the One to whom he had boldly promised he would die for Him. He did so when he was strengthened by the Lord’s resurrection…the object of his promise which he vowed when he was still immature. The ultimate order of things was that the Lord should die first, and then Peter would die as a result of preaching the Lord Jesus Christ30. St Augustine This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” [19] Denying the Lord three times had shaken Peter deeply. Therefore the Lord sought to grant him the joyful spirit of hope, and assured him that he would glorify God. He would do so not only through his preaching but also to the very last breath of his life when he would glorify Him in his death. In this manner, he could sing and proclaim: “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom 14:8). Thirty four years later, after this dialogue, Peter’s martyrdom took place and it was for the glory of God. He had considered himself unworthy to die in the manner of his Master and therefore requested to be hung with his head downwards. This has been recorded by Josephus, Prudentius, St John Chrysostom, and St Augustine. 29 Homilies on St John, 88:1 30 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 123:4 https://coptic-treasures.com/ * There is no longer a reason to fear crossing over from our present life, since we have come to possess a strong example of the life to come through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, Peter you do not have to fear death any more, for He is alive whom you sorrowed over when He died. The One whom you tried to prevent, driven by your mortal love (Matt 16:21-22), from dying for our sake is alive31! St Augustine * He did not say ‘you are expected to die’ but he said: ‘…by what death he would glorify God.’ This is intended to teach us that suffering for the sake of the Lord constitutes glory and honor for the suffering one32. St John Chrysostom It seems that when the Lord told Peter ‘Follow Me’, He began to walk and Peter followed Him. However, when he looked behind him, he found that John was also following him. He probably was tested by some kind of curiosity as he wished to know whether John too would be martyred with him. 2- The Lord’s Words about John Then Peter turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, Who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”[20] St John does not write his name as he probably felt he was worthy to have his name mentioned in the Holy Bible. At the same time, it was impossible to ignore the special love the Lord expressed towards him. St Augustine comments that John was the one who enjoyed the Lord’s love more than any of the disciples because he was a celibate, and had led a pure life since his childhood33. St Augustine Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”[21] Some scholars find that Peter was a curious person, and was concerned with matters that concerned others rather than focusing on his obligations as the Lord’s disciple. He might have felt jealous of John who had practically leaned and put his head on the Lord’s chest, even though he had not proclaimed never to deny the Lord. Moreover, John had followed the Lord to the Cross, and the relationship between him and the Lord and had not been hurt in the way it had with Peter. 31 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 123:4 32 Homilies on St John, 88:1 33 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate https://coptic-treasures.com/ * This is one of the great mysteries of divine love. Even in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, there was no exception concerning the death of the flesh. Although He is Lord over nature, He did not refuse the Law governing the body He had put on. It is necessary for me to die, but in His sight this does not have any importance34. St Ambrose * Peter asked the Lord a question concerning someone other than himself; and John was silent, while Peter talked. This illustrates Peter’s love and loyalty towards John. He loved him greatly, and expressed it in many instances later on. There are many references to their mutual affection and close fellowship in the Gospels and in the Book of the Acts. He wished to have John as his partner and so he asked the Lord, “what about this man?” In other words, ‘Is he going to have the same path as mine?’ St John Chrysostom Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” [22] Some scholars explain that the Lord wished to clearly tell Peter that John would not die as a martyr. Ancient historians state that John was the only disciple out of the twelve who did not die in this manner. The Lord’s words ‘…till I come’ do not mean that John would not die until His second coming. Rather, they are intended as a reproach to Peter for his curiosity and preoccupation with the future and with his missionary work. Some other thinkers consider that it is an indirect way of stating that John will not die until the destruction of Jerusalem occurs at the hands of Titus the Roman. Many have interpreted the Lord’s words as an indication that John would live to see the Lord’s coming to judge Jerusalem and pronounce its destruction. St Peter was martyred in the year 67 A.D. – that is seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem, while St John continued to live for about thirty years after that. St Augustine and other writers believe that the Lord’s words mean the following: If I wanted John to live to the Day of My coming, and then took him with Me after being subject to a natural death, how does that concern you? Follow Me so that you might carry your cross. Indeed, history reports and confirms that John is the only disciple who did not die as a martyr but died a natural death. He remained alive when all the others had died as martyrs. Some seem to believe that the apostle Peter was alone with the Lord when they were talking together. Peter knew how much John loved the Lord and so he thought that he would join them as they walked; but the Lord indicated His wish to leave matters I His hands. He might leave John, and return later to him after He had ended His conversation with Peter. * Peter spoke these words as he paid a lot of attention to John. He did not want to be separated from him. Therefore the Lord wished to show him that His love for John was much greater than his. Therefore He said, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” Peter had 34 On the Decease of His Brother Saytrus, Book 1:4 https://coptic-treasures.com/ always been fiery and rash in these matters, so the Lord wished to restrain him and teach him not to go beyond his limits by uttering these words. * The Lord teaches us not to mourn, or be upset, or curious. We should not ask questions that seem to be outside the scope of matters directly affecting us35. St John Chrysostom Then this saying went out among the brethren That this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, But, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”[23] Because John lived long after all the disciples had been martyred, many believers thought that he would not die and that he would live to see the Lord’s second coming. However, St John corrects them as they had really misinterpreted the Lord’s words, and he confirms that the Lord did not say any such thing. Some thinkers find that the two apostles mentioned here refer to two ways of life within the Church: the meditative and the active. A person who practices a meditative life is not subject to death like the one who leads an active life. Death in the case of a meditative person leads to perfection. This is especially true when the Lord comes. At that time, there will be no need for missionary or charity work, for it will be a time for offering praise and meditating on Him. * Nothing should frighten us of death, and nothing should make us sorrowful because the natural life we have accepted has been taken away from us, or we have sacrificed it for His sake and as an obligation to which we have committed ourselves. Who of us wishes to let things continue to be as they are whether for religious reasons or to practice a certain virtue? This is what they thought was the promise given to John. But this was contrary to the truth…he himself denies in his writings that there was any promise that he would not die. We learn from this example that it is inappropriate to hold on to empty hopes36. St Ambrose St Augustine writes that what is reported here concerning the two disciples has a symbolic significance. St Peter represents the believer who struggles on earth and witnesses to the Lord through his great love. That is why Peter is considered to be the one who loved the Lord the most; and the Lord had asked him, “Peter, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” St John, on the other hand, represents the believer who has enjoyed eternal glory in the life to come. He was not asked the question, “Do you love Me?” for his whole being was absorbed in his love for the Lord. Whereas Peter was the one who loved the Lord the most, John was the one whom the Lord loved the most and therefore he named himself ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ The Lord invited Peter ‘to follow’ Him as a loving believer is committed to translate his love into willingness to share in the Lord’s pain and to follow Him to the cross. The Lord said about John: “If I will that he remain till I come” where death cannot creep into a believer who enjoys 35 Hom. 88 PG 59:527 36 On the Decease of His Brother Saytrus, Book 2:49 https://coptic-treasures.com/ eternal glory. Believers like Peter follow in faith, while those like John enjoy the glory of the resurrection while they live37. 3- Concluding Words of St John This is the disciple who testifies of these things, And wrote these things, And we know that his testimony is true. [24] Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the writer records that he is the disciple of the Lord. Moreover, he states that he gives a true testimony of what he saw and heard himself from the Lord; and that his testimony proclaims the truth. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, Which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. [25] Some scholars believe that the last two verses have been added by those to whom St John hand delivered the Gospel. They might have done so in order to confirm that the Gospel is a testimony of that trusted disciple. As we noted in the introduction, this Gospel often repeats the term ‘the world’ in order to underline that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world and not just the Jews. The miracles and deeds done by the Lord are more than can be counted. Besides being innumerable, they are greatly varied. Consequently, some scholars believe that this verse could be interpreted literally. It is impossible for the world to record fully all the acts of our infinite Lord. His works are unlimited, some are apparent while others are invisible. The goal of the Gospel is not to include all the work and words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, the purpose is to reveal His character, features, and effect in the life of the believer. The other evangelists have used expressions that reveal the many miraculous deeds of the Lord (Matt 4:23-24; 9:35; 11:1; 14:14, 36;15: 30; 19:2;etc). For example, St Paul uses an expression from the Lord’s sayings, yet it does not appear in any of the four Gospels (Acts 20:35). What has been recorded in the New Testament about the Lord’s person, and Hid deeds and words have been food enough for the Church Therefore she has enjoyed knowing Him, as well as and His teachings and His deeds. Some critics have misunderstood this concluding verse. However, many scholars have recorded similar expressions which have not been criticized. They appear in the works of Eastern as well as Western writers. Such statements involve a certain degree of exaggeration and are a form of expression which also appears in the different books of the Holy Bible. An example of this is what the spy says, in Numbers 13:33: “…all the people whom we saw in it 37 cf. St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 124:6-7 https://coptic-treasures.com/ are men of great stature…there we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” In Daniel 4:11, we read: ‘The tree grew, and became strong. Its height reached to the heavens. And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.’ In Deuteronomy 1:28, we read: ‘The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven.’ Josephus, the historian, reports that Jacob was given the promise that Canaan would belong to him and his children who would fill all the land where the sun shines- whether it be on earth or in the seas38. In the West, Cicero writes that the splendor of the Roman people can barely be surpassed by the glory of the heavens, while the planet earth can scarcely contain it39. * We do not assume that the writer is specifically referring to the actual area of the earth which cannot contain Roman splendor. Otherwise, how is it possible to write about it if the world could not contain it at the time of writing? It probably could be that it is impossible to understand these writings due to the readers’ capacity.40 St Augustine Amen: This word is used to conclude all the Gospels. It means ‘Let it be so.’ It would be correct to use it to mean ‘May we have faith in what has been written here, and obedience to what He has commanded us, and may we enjoy His promises to us.’ +++ 38 Antiques lib. 10 ch.20 39 Phil. 2:44 40 St Augustine: On the Gospel of St John, tractate 124;8 https://coptic-treasures.com/ Meditations Inspired by the Gospel of St John Chapter Twenty One * My spirit moans with your disciples, and shouts out: I have worked hard all night and have caught nothing. My experience, potentials, and energy seem useless! May You carry me over, O Lord, For by Your word I could catch many fish in the nets of the Church. Say one word, for souls are lost in waters of the world. Not to me, not to me, But to You many are attracted by Your Word. * Grant me the love and purity of John so that I may know You With the peace of a strong heart, he proclaimed: ‘It is the Lord!’ Grant me Peter’s jealousy, So that I may run towards you and worship at your feet. * Prepare for me grilled fish, Grant me food for my soul, So that she would not hunger nor thirst for the world. * I know that You long that I spend time with You. You reproach Me in a spirit of love, And without hurting my feelings with any word! With Peter, who denied You, I proclaim: ‘You know that I love You’ Yes, I love You. Even though my soul moans on account of my sins; According to Your words I will tend Your sheep You carry me in the palm of Your hand, Therefore I will carry my brothers in mine. Who can carry the burdens of Your people, If You would not carry them all! * I join myself with Peter and here You whisper to me: ‘Do you love Me more than these?’ You ask if I love You, With all my heart, mind, and will I devote all my energy to You and to Your children O most beloved One And I reciprocate your appreciation and pride in me O amazing One, who am I to be loved? You have made me a member of the divine family! https://coptic-treasures.com/ Therefore I shout with Peter: ‘You know that I love You!’ Your are wholly mine, And I am wholly yours, O beloved of my heart! What do you wish me to do? * I have been spoiled throughout my life! Now I stretch out my hands as on the cross That I may be crucified with You Just as Your disciple Peter, and with my head downwards. My life is in Your hands For You are the amazing Shepherd of my soul. * You astounding acts are so many, If I were to write them, the world would not be able to contain these books. Rather than record them in books, Let Your Spirit engrave them in my heart! Then I will become – through Your Holy Spirit An open Bible that people may read. Amen

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