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Source: (consider it) Thread: John 21.23a
pimple

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Old problem. Still confused. Surely there must be some simple answer?

quote:
Went forth therefore this word to the brethren that that disciple does not die
When? When did the so-called 'rumour' start? Who started it? Remember who was there - Jesus, Peter, the disciple Jesus loved, and possibly a companion of the last-named, the other unnamed one of the seven original sailors (perhaps his amanuensis?)

How would the word initially have gone forth? As the original words of Jesus, or as a misunderstood command? I presume that at the time the second coming was not expected to be that far off.

John is keen to tell us - or indicate to us - what Jesus couldn't have meant because he didn't say it! Imitating John, could we not say "But he didn't say anything about death - he said "what if it be my will that he
remain?

So it could have been no more than an injunction against banishment, rather than about death - naturally or otherwise.

In the whole of this passage isn't John doing exactly what we are told not to - reading a hell of a lot more into the actual words than are really there?

[ 02. September 2017, 13:33: Message edited by: pimple ]

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Nigel M
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# 11256

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The passage about John seems to be set off against the previous passage about Peter. Peter’s destiny was (NET version in this post):
quote:
“…when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go.” Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God. After he said this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me.”
Peter wasn’t the only one following; trotting along behind was this disciple whom Jesus loved. His destiny was different:
quote:
“If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!”
Two different destinies. The one (Peter) would be a struggle – to remain a focused follower and bring upon himself a violent death; the other disciple would never seem to have to struggle to be a focused follower. He would be the “Always in the right place at the right time, destiny falls into his lap without his having to break sweat…”

This episode must have been needed to address a live situation at the time of writing, or it would not have been written (or later retained, I assume). For some followers of Jesus it must have been a point of real concern to know that Peter would need encouragement to remain a follower, to keep him on the straight and narrow. The narrative is focussed on Peter, rather than the other disciple, so the issue must have been about Peter.

Is this because there was a sense of competition between different leaders in the early Christian community? Is there a link here with Paul’s experience of human nature, e.g., 1 Cor. 3:3f?
quote:
“…you are still influenced by the flesh. For since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like unregenerate people? For whenever someone says, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” are you not merely human?!
Or Gal. 2:11
quote:
“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong.”
Human nature is not left at the doors of the church, it seems; neither then nor since!

I’ve been struck over time with how much common ground there is between John’s Gospel and Paul’s teachings. So perhaps there is an overlap here, too; John encountering clashes over whose word carried weight and where – just as Paul had to contend with the same issue.

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BroJames
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# 9636

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quote:
Originally posted by pimple:
Old problem. Still confused. Surely there must be some simple answer?

quote:
Went forth therefore this word to the brethren that that disciple does not die
When? When did the so-called 'rumour' start? Who started it? Remember who was there - Jesus, Peter, the disciple Jesus loved, and possibly a companion of the last-named, the other unnamed one of the seven original sailors (perhaps his amanuensis?)

No evidence as to when the rumour started - except before the Gospel was a written, and presumably before the beloved disciple died. Who was there:
  • Simon Peter
  • Thomas called the Twin
  • Nathanael of Cana in Galilee
  • the sons of Zebedee (James and
  • John), and
  • two
  • others of his disciples.
So the possibilities for who started it are anyone except Simon Peter or the beloved disciple. Indeed, even an accurate report of Jesus words may have later been misinterpreted as meaning much more than it did
quote:


How would the word initially have gone forth? As the original words of Jesus, or as a misunderstood command?)


One or more of the disciples present probably shared the story of breakfast by the lake. At some point one of them or someone else gets the idea that Jesus' words implied that the beloved disciple was not going to die - presumably within the lifetime of the beloved disciple. Jesus words were, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" - not a command.
quote:
I presume that at the time the second coming was not expected to be that far off.

John is keen to tell us - or indicate to us - what Jesus couldn't have meant because he didn't say it! Imitating John, could we not say "But he didn't say anything about death - he said "what if it be my will that he remain?

John's words on the subject are, "Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”"

i.e the ἀδελφοὺς (the "brethren" or the "community") were saying that the disciple Jesus loved would not die. The gospel doesn't say whether he would die or not. It merely denies that Jesus had said he would not die, and corrects it with what Jesus did say.
quote:


So it could have been no more than an injunction against banishment, rather than about death - naturally or otherwise.

The only injunctions/commands are to Peter: Feed my sheep! Feed my lambs! Follow me! I don't quite see where banishment (or an injunction against it) comes into this passage
quote:


In the whole of this passage isn't John doing exactly what we are told not to - reading a hell of a lot more into the actual words than are really there?

I don't quite see how. The Gospel, in this passage merely asserts that Jesus did not say the beloved disciple would not die.
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Eutychus
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quote:
“If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!”

It has always seemed quite obvious to me that either John or someone else within earshot misunderstood this and that the incorrect rumour became grist to the mill of speculation amongst the first disciples that Christ's return was imminent. Here, at a later date, and perhaps with his own death imminent, John sets the record straight. What's the problem?

(Long ago, I spoke from this passage at a pastors' fraternal about the dangers of rumours and not checking sources, especially for those speaking before a congregation. It did not go down very well).

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Nigel M:
Two different destinies. The one (Peter) would be a struggle – to remain a focused follower and bring upon himself a violent death; the other disciple would never seem to have to struggle to be a focused follower. He would be the “Always in the right place at the right time, destiny falls into his lap without his having to break sweat…”

This episode must have been needed to address a live situation at the time of writing, or it would not have been written (or later retained, I assume). For some followers of Jesus it must have been a point of real concern to know that Peter would need encouragement to remain a follower, to keep him on the straight and narrow. The narrative is focussed on Peter, rather than the other disciple, so the issue must have been about Peter.

I think I agree about the focus on Peter, and certainly that there was a live issue that this little story addressed. Though, I can think of some other scenarios which could potentially have resulted in an issue that needed addressing.

Perhaps there were people elevating Peter because he had experienced such extreme persecution, that this was a mark of especial holiness. And, others might have been pointing to the other disciple and remarking that he'd followed a very different path, and that this marks a blessing, the protection of God. In which case we get this story as a reminder that neither persecution nor lack thereof marks anyone as particularly special - a specific calling from Christ to feed His lambs is another matter.

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
# 10635

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Thank you all for taking so much trouble over this. I still need further clarification.

Did Jesus say what John said he did?

If so, did he mean what he said?

Forget the weaselling ("but he did not say...")
Is it clear, or not clear, what Jesus' will in the matter was?

Or was Jesus just sounding Peter out with a hypothetical suggestion?

--------------------
In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Nigel M
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I suspect Jesus did indeed say something very similar to the words included in chapter 21, because otherwise the inclusion of the chapter in the work doesn’t make sense. Why spend time heading off a misconception if there had been no saying beforehand that was capable of such a misconception?

The chapter is about more than just a correction, though. The whole passage deals with the question of Peter’s loyalty and the need to emphasise the “Follow me!” imperative. I get the feeling that the rumour about the disciple loved by Jesus not dying had been associated with Peter. Had there been some people saying often and loudly enough: “But Peter said that this disciple wouldn’t die!”?

The author, in response, wanted to emphasise that Jesus was not letting slip a prediction about that disciple. He was rather engaged in conversation with Peter about focussing on discipleship. Anything else was frankly none of Peter’s business.

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BroJames
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# 9636

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I agree with the focus being on Peter in the event. Peter says what about this other guy, and Jesus says, in effect, "What's that to you? it doesn't matter if he never dies. You're to follow me" (sc. to the destiny I have foretold for you - "you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go… the kind of death by which [Peter] would glorify God.")
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pimple

Ship's Irruption
# 10635

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The problem I have with that is that whereas the story sounds as though it's being told in "real time" , the glosses of the evangelist are patently added later. So we have Peter saying "what about him?" and John's explanation, written some time after Peter's death, has Peter responding to Jesus' foretelling of his (Peter's)
death but that piece of clairvoyance is entirely the invention of the evangelist. Take out the (in my view, unhelpful) glosses, and "what about him?" could well mean "what about that guy I keep telling you about? Why don't you listen to me?"

I'm fairy sure that the three demands on Peter to declare his love for his master are interruptions to some unheard diatribe (this would explain the strange "opening" of the dialogue - a question answering a question (Jesus often did this).

A small correction here - when I mentioned who was present in an earlier post, I meant who was present at the argument, not at the picnic. When John says "after the breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter..." He not being disingenuous - he's just cutting to the chase. But it becomes clear later in the passage that Jesus and Peter are holding their conversation a little way off from the in the rest of the company. I have my own theory about who buttonholed whom, but YMMV. So you see, there's quite a lot going on between "after breakfast" and "Jesus said. Since most of the disciples were petrified, it's not unreasonable to suppose that some of them went aside after the meal.

--------------------
In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Sarah G
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# 11669

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quote:
Originally posted by pimple:
that piece of clairvoyance is entirely the invention of the evangelist.

Those of us who take the view that Jesus was God-with-humanity, might well incline to the idea that at times He had some access to information about the future, especially in His post-resurrection period. A sizeable assumption may not be necessary before accepting your statement, but it would certainly help.

quote:
the three demands on Peter to declare his love for his master are interruptions to some unheard diatribe (this would explain the strange "opening" of the dialogue - a question answering a question (Jesus often did this).

Although familiar to many, the symmetry with Peter's three denials of Jesus may be helpful to point out here.
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pimple

Ship's Irruption
# 10635

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God or not, Jesus could certainly have intuited the manner of Peter's death, I grant you that. But "Never mind him, follow me - while you can, because when you are old you will certainly follow me in a way you don't want - to your own cross." That doesn't sound to me like the sort of encouragement Jesus - God or man - would give. This whole episode in my view is a genuine story turned into a fabulous castle built on sand. It all sticks together, but the smallest slick of reason undermines it.

Or I might be totally wrong and "John" is right.
If only he had accepted the rest of his source's offering - or even part of it, instead of sighing "Enough! Too much information already!"

--------------------
In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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BroJames
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Well first my take on what's going on here.

Peter when he encounters the risen Jesus knows that they have some 'unfinished business' as does Jesus. Viz what about Peter's denial. The "more than these" in Jesus' question harks back to Peter's assertion that even if everyone else abandoned Jesus, he, Peter, would remain faithful. The threefold question and response between Jesus echo Peter's threefold denial in John 18.

Imaginatively this could either have been a conversation aside, or in the full face of the other six disciples by the lake. Jesus then highlights the cost of discipleship for Peter, and renews the call for Peter to follow him.

Then Peter, turning, becomes aware of "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and asks "What about him?" Jesus replies, in effect, that it doesn't matter "what about" anyone else, and reiterates the call on Peter to follow him.

The glosses added by the evangelist after the event clarify that Jesus' enigmatic words to Peter were about Peter's death, and that Jesus did not say that the other disciple would not die, but that his words had been the starting point of the rumour in the community (lit. among the brethren) that that disciple would not die.

The problem with your reading, pimple, from my POV is that imports things into the story which may not be inconsistent with the text, but which are not required or justified by it.

quote:
Originally posted by pimple:
"what about that guy I keep telling you about? Why don't you listen to me?"

I'm fairy sure that the three demands on Peter to declare his love for his master are interruptions to some unheard diatribe (this would explain the strange "opening" of the dialogue…
[I don't find the "opening" of the dialogue strange]

<snip>it becomes clear later in the passage that Jesus and Peter are holding their conversation a little way off from the in the rest of the company.
[It is natural to think they might be, but the text doesn't offer evidence for this]

<snip>it's not unreasonable to suppose that some of them went aside after the meal.
[I agree that it's not unreasonable, but it's not actually stated in the text nor is there any necessary implication that this was the case]


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pimple

Ship's Irruption
# 10635

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Points taken, Sir; but I think that it does state towards the end of the conversation that Peter sees the "Beloved Disciple" following them. That and the fact that Peter seems specifically to refer to the BD without naming him, suggests that there weren't that many chaps privy to the conversation.

My take, admittedly, is highly conjectural. But the conversation on its own must have been potentially ambiguous to John's readers, or he wouldn't have offered his helpful observations.
It is important to John, here and elsewhere in the gospel (especially in the Lazarus story), that there be no bridges left uncrossed before the reader has time to get confused. Who can blame him? He's perfectly honest about his agenda, and the constraints it lays upon him.

--------------------
In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Golden Key
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ISTM that Peter or the others maybe had some personal issues with/about John, and unconsciously/consciously twisted the words, and passed them on.

John seems to have his head on straight about it, at least by the time he wrote this account. Reading between the lines, I'm guessing he'd been made to suffer a lot over this, and really, really didn't want it to start up again.

So, IMHO, no great mystery, other than human relationships and fallibility.

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
# 10635

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That sounds very plausible. John had already done his job, and along comes somebody with yet more witnessed material. Where do you stop? Did he really need that final (in this gospel) resurrection appearance, do you think?

It has, for me, the same worrying sort of conclusion as the short ending to Mark. It leaves me asking. "And then...?"

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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quote:
Originally posted by Sarah G:
quote:
the three demands on Peter to declare his love for his master are interruptions to some unheard diatribe (this would explain the strange "opening" of the dialogue - a question answering a question (Jesus often did this).

Although familiar to many, the symmetry with Peter's three denials of Jesus may be helpful to point out here.
Somewhere along the line, I was taught that Jesus purposely did it that way, so as to help Peter heal from his 3 denials.

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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Gee D
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It's a pretty standard interpretation - I can't recall how many sermons I've heard that take that approach.

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BroJames
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# 9636

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I agree about the "following them" comment in the verse. It does suggest to me that Jesus might have taken Peter aside for the conversation. OTOH it might just be that the disciples were on the move at that point (walking back to their boats, maybe?). Either the f those seems to me to be quite natural and consistent with the text. (I have in mind that John 3 is easily read as a private conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, whereas there are historico-cultural and some textual indications that both would have had disciples with them.)
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pimple

Ship's Irruption
# 10635

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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
quote:
Originally posted by Sarah G:
quote:
the three demands on Peter to declare his love for his master are interruptions to some unheard diatribe (this would explain the strange "opening" of the dialogue - a question answering a question (Jesus often did this).

Although familiar to many, the symmetry with Peter's three denials of Jesus may be helpful to point out here.
Somewhere along the line, I was taught that Jesus purposely did it that way, so as to help Peter heal from his 3 denials.
It's certainly an interesting parallel, though the story of the denial reads more convincingly than the three expressions of love, dragged out of a still recalcitrant (that's not quite the word I'm looking for) disciple. But if the parallel is deliberate, there's an interesting point I haven't heard explored. At the denial, Peter gets increasingly flustered by the repeated accusations of discipleship. And after the picnic, the same embarrassment , the same unwillingness to be completely open seems to be at work. Peter is annoyed by Jesus' repeated question. "You know I love you, (for goodness sake!) doesn't sound like any sort of willingness to admit either his former cowardice or his current wish to be reconciled. And the rebuke it earns is miles away from a pat on the head and a "There, there, then, never mind, have your toy/your old job back!"

--------------------
In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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