From: Jim Lindemann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Feb 19 1997 - 08:20:38 EST
Every time I download the next batch of e-mail from b-greek, not only
have I come to believe in the resurrection, but a second resurrection,
and a third, and a fourth -- there is still yet another post on John
21, AGAPAW et al. that I find! But on the other side, I have
appreciated the depth of the wrestling and have learned lots.
Since we seem to be now be ending up on overviews of the John 21
synonmity (??), I realize that this will be more than a bit of
eisegesis. To begin with, I find myself in agreement with Randy
If I were in Peter's shoes (probably too much, that's why I can relate
to him), after being so boastful and proud throughout his career as
disciple -- and yet being also someone who *does* have insight --,
after Maundy Thursday night, where he RAN AWAY as did every other
disciple (despite his show of bravado), and THEN DENIED his Lord
(which of course he would NEVER do) -- I can imagine such guilt as
one could ever have.
When I read that Jesus turned and looked at him after the denials
(Luke 22:16), had I been in Peter's shoes, I would have hit utter
bottom. Seeing families that never get a chance to "finish business"
before a death and how that can play on their guilt, I can imagine
that despite the bitter tears of Peter, what hurt the most was never
being able to say to Jesus directly, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm
I have long wondered why Peter was slower to the tomb than "John"
(John 20) -- was it merely because he was older (was he?), or because
he lagged because he wasn't sure what to hope for? Should he hope for
the body being stolen or for a resurrection -- because a resurrection
would demand facing Jesus. Is it characteristic that John only
describes "the other disciple" as believing, but not Peter?
When Jesus appeared to the "twelve" later on in the chapter, did Peter
hang back, happy, yet terrified that Jesus was alive? There would be
reason to see it that way, although if we are in a list that just
deals with the given text, it doesn't say. However, is the "context"
of John 21:15-17 just the immediate verses around it, or the whole
picture of Peter as presented throughout the NT?
I have long understood v3 "hUPAGW hALIEUEIN" to be a form of
resignation from the group. I see "hUPAGW" in its alternative sense,
not merely "to go" but "to withdraw" (as per John 6:67) --
idomatically, "I'm going back to fishing." I see Peter as running
along the knife edge of utter despair, afraid to face Jesus, afraid to
face his own faulty self.
The tension of the chapter unfolds further as he is "demonstrated" a
failure even at fishing. To the normal person, a bad night of fishing
is merely a blip on the screen, but to one in despair, it just
"proves" the more his utter ineptness at "anything".
Then when (at Jesus' instruction) they enclose the great number of
fish and "John" realizes that this all happened once before
(significantly, at the call of Peter, John, James, and Andrew --
unfortunately NOT in John, but Luke 5) and ejects, "It is the Lord!",
Peter, I believe, demonstrates the driven nature of his guilt by:
1)flinging himself into the sea to get to the Lord (what I understand
was a dangerous thing to do in a culture that did not swim as a
pasttime); 2)trying to "prove himself" by singlehandedly pulling the
net of fish onshore.
This then is the setting for v15-17, where Jesus has actually three
tasks to accomplish: 1)to remove the enormous guilt burden of Peter
(forgiveness); 2)the reinstatement of Peter in PETER's eyes (Jesus
could still trust him with BOTH the sheep [mature] and even the lambs
[immature]); 3)the reinstatement of Peter in the Church's eyes (that
Jesus sees no reason why Peter could not be a leader within the
I do not see the three questions as "penance" but as fully covering
Peter's lapse by bringing it all out into the open (which is the basis
of confession -- especially if one is guilt-ridden), putting it all
behind, and looking forward to what Peter will now become for his
To me the difference in the "synonyms" merely enhances that Jesus
isn't looking for perfection to a man who feels that he no longer
could be worthy of Jesus' trust (because he doesn't measure up to the
perfection that a braggart usually claims for himself). The Lord is
looking for a person who will give what he's got, rather than to chase
an impossible standard. (Gee, *I* *need* to hear *that* message!)
It is because of what I see of Peter throughout the Gospels and of
his possible state of mind in the opening verses of the chapter that
I find usefulness in maintaining a difference between AGAPAW and
PHILEW, and of ARNION and PROBATON, although I acknowledge that it
is not *essential* to the plot. And I realize that there is
eisegesis involved, as I define Peter's frame of mind based on what
I have seen in people I've dealt with (me, as one of them).
Humbly submitted for your perusal, and I hope this is appropriate for
this list (mercy! mercy!).
(BTW, Russ Davis -- did my e-mail ever get to you? My ISP seems to
have black holes, where it "sees nothing, knows nothing" in certain
Box 964 Pincher Creek Alberta CANADA T0K 1W0
God even uses the mouth of a jackass (Numbers 22) --
BUT there IS a difference between braying and praying! (Luke 18)
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