John 21:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 21:17, NIV: The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.

John 21:17, ESV: He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:17, KJV: He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John 21:17, NASB: He *said to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do youlove Me?' Peter was hurt because He said to him the third time, 'Do youlove Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus *said to him, 'Tend My sheep.

John 21:17, NLT: A third time he asked him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, 'Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Then feed my sheep.

John 21:17, CSB: He asked him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me? "Peter was grieved that he asked him the third time, "Do you love me? " He said, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.""Feed my sheep," Jesus said.

What does John 21:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

If Peter did not understand what Jesus meant by repeating His questions about love, he certainly understands now.

Jesus miraculously provided fish when He called Peter to be a disciple (Luke 5:5–11). He recently repeated that act, reminding Peter of his initial calling (John 21:4–8).

Peter once bragged that he would be loyal to Jesus even when others were not (Mark 14:29). Jesus started this conversation by pointedly asking if Peter loved Him more than the other disciples (John 21:15).

Only a few days prior, Peter had denied—three times, with great emphasis—that he did not know Jesus (John 13:35–38; Luke 22:61–62). Jesus has already repeated His question: "do you love Me?" twice, and now asks for a third time. This last question is even more piercing. In the first two questions, Jesus' reference to love used the Greek term agapaō. Both of Peter's answers used the closely related term phileō. Now, Jesus uses the exact same word as Peter. For this third question, Jesus is asking Peter "do you [phileō] me," after Peter has just said, twice, "I [phileō] you."

The implication is clear: Peter has said this very thing, twice, using those exact words, but Jesus wants to hear it a third time. Peter's response is to be "grieved," the same term used to describe Jesus' emotion in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37). He understands that Jesus is not asking because He does not know; He is asking to prove a point. Three denials are being countered with three affirmations. Peter's betrayal of his own promises is being challenged.

Jesus will not leave Peter in sorrow, however. This is a moment of repentance and restoration. His next words predict that Peter's reaffirmed faith (John 21:19) will be permanent—in fact, it will lead to martyrdom (John 21:18).