John 21

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John 21
Acts 1 →
P. Oxy. 208 (J 16,14-22).jpg
John 16:14–22 on the recto side of Papyrus 5, written about AD 250
Book Gospel of John
Bible part New Testament
Order in the Bible part 4
Category Gospel

John 21 is the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It contains an account of the resurrection appearance in Galilee, which the text describes as the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples. In the course of this chapter, there is a miraculous catch of 153 fish, the confirmation of Peter's love for Jesus, a foretelling of Peter's death in old age, and a comment about the beloved disciple's future. New Testament scholars are largely agreed that it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of John.[1]


John 21:11–14, 22–24 in Papyrus 122 (4th/5th century)


In the previous chapter of John's Gospel, the text summarizes the many signs which Jesus performed for his followers, not all of which could be recorded in the Gospel. John 21 begins with the Johannine transition, After these things... (Greek: Μετὰ ταῦτα, translit. meta tauta) which is used frequently in the Fourth Gospel,[2] leading some scholars to suggest that John 21 was appended in the same way as Mark 16:9–20. Peter's ecclesiastical role is emphasized, but this is similar to Peter's commissioning in John 1.[3] The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (27th ed.) as well as major translations of the New Testament (e.g. KJV, NASB, NIV, RSV, NRSV) retain this chapter in their editions as original, and just one fragmentary manuscript has been discovered that may end at John 20 without John 21.[citation needed]

One theory is that the author simply decided to add an additional incident at some time after writing the book, but before final publication. Westcott stated,

It is impossible to suppose that it was the original design of the Evangelist to add the incidents of chapter 21 after the verses which form a solemn close of his record of the great history of the conflict of faith and unbelief in the life of Christ.[citation needed]

But Donald Guthrie writes:

It is unlikely that another author wrote this section since there are several points of contact in it with the style and language of previous chapters...(IVP New Bible Commentary)

The Church Father Tertullian wrote, "And wherefore does this conclusion of the gospel affirm that these things were written unless it is that you might believe, it says, that Jesus Christ is the son of God?", which describes the end of Chapter 20, not Chapter 21. However, no existing manuscript of the Gospel omits this chapter.[4][5]

The description of the "beloved disciple's" (normally assumed to be John) fate is presented as an aside to Peter. Jesus says that it is not Peter's concern, even if Jesus should wish that that disciple remain alive until the end of time. The following verse clarifies that Jesus did not say "This disciple will not die", but that it was not for Peter to know.

Verses 24–25[edit]

The chapter is closed by two verses referring to the author of the gospel (whoever it might be) in the third person ("We know that his testimony is true").

Manuscript evidence[edit]

In an essay, contributed on behalf of scholars unconvinced of any decisive sense of "originality" to John 21 (published in 2007), Felix Just wrote: "We (unfortunately!) do not possess any ancient manuscript of John that actually ends at 20:31."[6] In other words, ancient manuscripts that contain the end of John 20 also contain text from John 21. So if John 21 is an addition, it was so early (which is not in doubt: part of John 21 appears in P66) and so widespread, that no evidence of the prior form has survived. This should however be balanced against the tendency for the first and last pages of codices to be lost: there are just four papyrus witnesses to John 20–21, only three of which date from the 4th century or earlier.[7]

Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28) and the United Bible Societies (UBS5) provide the critical text for John 21.[8]

In 2006 one 4th-century Sahidic papyrus manuscript (Bodleian MS. Copt.e.150(P)) came to light that may end at 20:31.[9] One side of this single-leaf fragment consists of John 20:30–31 with a large space under it, having no subscription.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ehrman, Bart (13 February 2012). "Debate "Is the Original New Testament Lost?" (from around 23:40)". The Ehrman Project. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  2. ^ John 2:12, 3:22, 5:1, 6:1, 6:66, 7:1, 11:7, 19:28, 21:1
  3. ^ John 1:42
  4. ^ Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament (Walter de Gruyter 2000 ISBN 978-3-11014970-8) vol. 2, p. 192
  5. ^ Chris Keith, The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus (Brill 2009 ISBN 978-9-00417394-1), p. 258
  6. ^ Felix Just, 'Combining Key Methodologies in Johannine Studies', in Tom Thatcher (ed), What We Have Heard from the Beginning: The Past, Present, and Future of Johannine Studies, (Baylor University Press, 2007), p. 356.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, Jn 21
  9. ^ Gesa Schenke, 'Das Erscheinen Jesu vor den Jüngern und der ungläubige Thomas: Johannes 20, 19–31' in Louis Painchaud and Paul-Hubert Poirier, eds, Coptica – Gnostica – Manichaica: Mélanges offerts à Wolf-Peter Funk (Les presses de l'Université Laval / Peeters, 2006) pp. 893–904.

Preceded by
John 20
Chapters of the Bible
Gospel of John
Succeeded by
Acts of the Apostles 1