1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 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.
Chapter 21 is the epilogue to the gospel of John. This chapter clarifies misunderstandings that needed genuine understanding. Jesus reinstated Peter to ministry in this section. He needed to be reestablished as the leader of the apostles. Our Lord also set the record straight about the coming of Christ.
We can divide the chapter into three sections:
Manifestation of Jesus to seven apostles, Jn 21:1-14
Conversation with Peter, Jn 21:15-23
Authentication of the Gospel, Jn 21:24-25
John 21 is the longest account of Jesus appearing in His resurrection in Galilee.
After these things
“These things” refers to the events of the crucifixion and Jesus’ previous appearances after His resurrection. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was now over. The apostles left Jerusalem and went north to Galilee.
Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed [manifested] Himself:
The Sea of Tiberias (Roman name) was the same as the Sea of Galilee. Tiberias was the administrative capital of the Roman government in Galilee. An angel told the apostles that Jesus would meet them up north in Galilee (Mt 28:7, 10; 16:7).
The word “again” means that the Lord had appeared to other people before this event. This points us to the reality of Jesus’ existence in His resurrection body. The word “showed” means more than that He presented Himself; it means He manifested His resurrection glory. The disciples could visibly see His body resurrected.
John mentioned seven apostles who were at the Sea of Galilee. Peter was listed first because he was the leader of the twelve. He denied the Lord three times, just as the Lord had said he would.
Thomas called the Twin,
This was the apostle who doubted the resurrection (Jn 20:24).
Nathanael of Cana in Galilee,
Nathanael affirmed Jesus as the king of Israel (Jn 1:49). Jesus called him a person without guile or deceit (Jn 1:47). Cana of Galilee was a village where Jesus performed His first miracle (Jn 2:1-12).
the sons of Zebedee,
The sons of Zebedee were James and John (Mt 4:21; Mk 3:17). They were partners with Peter before their commitment to Jesus (Lu 5:10).
and two others of His disciples were together.
John did not name two of the disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
Peter returned to his previous occupation as a fisherman. He was uncertain about what to do next. This is ironic in that Jesus had issued a commission for him and the other apostles (Jn 20:22).
They said to him, “We are going with you also.”
Six other apostles decided to go fishing with Peter.
They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.
The seven disciples caught no fish throughout the night. Nighttime was the characteristic time for fishing during this period in Israel.
God has a clear purpose for each believer.
The apostles were uncertain about what they should do next. However, the Lord gave them a clear commission in John 20:21-23. The loss of the continual presence of Jesus in their lives left them without purpose—that is, from their own viewpoint.