Re: Love me more than these?

From: Wes Williams (
Date: Tue Jun 25 1996 - 00:59:52 EDT

Dear Grammarians on the list....

This is an excerpt from a brief article I found addressing the "these" of John
21:15. My grammar question regards point #2. What grammatical difficulties are
involved that the implied verb [do] is absent in the Greek? I realize the
interpretive aspects involved, but here I'm only interested in the grammatical

Wes Williams

Consequently, scholars have suggested three possible meanings for Jesus'
  1. Do you love me more than you love these other disciples?
  2. Do you love me more than these disciples love me?
  3. Do you love me more than these things, such as the fish?

Let us reason on these three to see which is the most probable.

Number 1. <<snip, since this was not debated in this thread>>

Number 2. What about the possibility that Jesus meant, 'Peter, do you have more
love for me than the other disciples have?' Many commentators have espoused this
view, since Peter earlier professed that he was more loyal to Jesus than the
others. (Matthew 26:33-35) Yet, understanding John 21:15 in this way requires
that an unstated verb be implied, such as "Do you love me more than these [do]?"
But such an extra verb is not in Jesus' question, and it presents grammatical
difficulties. Moreover, it would seem out of place for Jesus to ask Peter to
compare the amount of his love to the amount of love that others might have. Did
not Jesus correct the apostles when they fell into rivalry?Mark 9:33-37;
10:35-44; Luke 22:24-27.

Could it be, then, that Number 3 was what Jesus was asking, 'Do you love me more
than these things, such as the fish?' This possibility fits the way the question
is phrased in Greek, for Peter was being asked to choose between two things
(between Jesus and "these"). Such a question would also be appropriate in view
of Peter's past. He had been one of the first disciples to follow Jesus. (John
1:35-42) Apparently, though, Peter did not immediately follow Jesus full-time.
Rather, he returned to his fishing. Thus, some months later Jesus called Peter
away from that substantial business to become a 'fisher of men.' (Matthew
4:18-20; Luke 5:1-11) Nonetheless, after Jesus' death, Peter initiated a return
to this career, telling some of the disciples: "I am going fishing."John 21:2,

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:45 EDT