John 21:15 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 21:15, NIV: When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.'

John 21:15, ESV: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

John 21:15, KJV: So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

John 21:15, NASB: Now when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do youlove Me more than these?' He *said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' He *said to him, 'Tend My lambs.'

John 21:15, NLT: After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' Peter replied, 'you know I love you.' 'Then feed my lambs,' Jesus told him.

John 21:15, CSB: When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? ""Yes, Lord," he said to him, "you know that I love you.""Feed my lambs," he told him.

What does John 21:15 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Peter, John, and five other disciples are eating with a resurrected Jesus on the shores of Galilee. Jesus has just performed a miracle, resulting in a huge catch of fish (John 21:6, 11). That echoed an earlier miracle where Jesus had first called Peter to become a disciple (Luke 5:5–11). Only a few days earlier, Peter had stood by a fire and denied even knowing Jesus (John 13:36–38; 18:25–27). Now Peter stands by another fire, and Jesus will make him repeat his loyalty three times (John 21:16–17).

Jesus' question about whether Peter loves Him "more than these" is probably a reference to the other disciples. Jesus is asking "do you really love Me more than they love Me?" That speaks to Peter's self-assured bragging shortly before Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:29). Three times, Peter denied Jesus. Three times, Jesus will make Peter confess His faith.

Greek vocabulary has more than one word for the English term "love." As in English, however, words can have nuanced and overlapping meanings. Jesus will use two root words, agapaō and phileō, in His questions. Peter will only use phileō. While these words can have separate meanings, in their own contexts, their use here is essentially identical. The same is true of Jesus' three commands, which mix terms like "feed" and "tend" with references to "sheep" and "lambs."