Re: John 21:15

From: Jim Beale (
Date: Fri May 30 1997 - 04:58:47 EDT

At 8:08 AM -0700 5/30/97, T & J Peterson wrote:

>In John 21:15, Jesus asks Peter, "AGAPAiS ME PLEON TOUTWN?" which is
>generally translated, "Do you love me more than these?" Now, I know
>there is debate as to what the antecedent is of TOUTWN, but I don't
>recall any argument that it refers to the other disciples in the sense
>of "Do you love me more than these [love me]?" Is there any way to
>determine grammatically whether TOUTWN refers to the subject or object
>of AGAPAiS? I haven't been able to find anything specific enough on the
>genitive of comparison to tell one way or the other.

The text, I think, is grammatically ambiguous. Check out Raymond
Brown's commentary. He has a good discussion of the possibilities.

I think there are three:

1. Do you love me more than these other men love me.
2. Do you love me more than you love these things.
3. Do you love me more than you love these men.

The normal way to take the text is "Do you love me more than these
other men love me?" That is the way most of the commentators whom
I have read take it. Bernard thinks there are problems with this
approach, but I find his reasons singularly unsatisfying.

Peter's boast in Mt. 26:33 seems to be in view here, and the Lord's
questions do not have the intention of gathering information. Peter
denied the Lord three times by a charcoal fire and so came to realize
that his heart was not the rock he thought it was. Now, by another
charcoal fire he is brought to confess his new-found humility before
his brothers.

In Christ,
Jim Beale

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