What does John 21:20 mean?
ESV: Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?”
NIV: Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?')
NASB: Peter turned around and *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them—the one who also had leaned back on His chest at the supper and said, 'Lord, who is the one who is betraying You?'
CSB: So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them, the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, "Lord, who is the one that's going to betray you? "
NLT: Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved — the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, 'Lord, who will betray you?'
KJV: Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
NKJV: Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
Verse Commentary:
After His resurrection, Jesus has met the disciples in Galilee (Matthew 28:9–10). He has performed yet another miracle to prove Himself (John 21:4–8). As He restored Peter to his calling as a disciple (John 21:15–19), Jesus predicted the way in which Peter would die. Using poetic language, He indicated Peter's fate was to by martyred by crucifixion. Tradition says Peter even asked to be nailed upside down, feeling unworthy to die the exact same way as did Christ.

Standing nearby is John (John 13:25), who once again refers to himself in indirect terms (John 13:23; 19:26; 21:24). Here, he confirms that he was the one referred to in the account of the Last Supper when Judas left. Peter, John, and James were the inner circle of Jesus' disciples (Matthew 17:1; Mark 14:33; Luke 8:51). It would be natural for Peter to wonder what would happen to John. That's exactly the question he will ask in the next verse (John 21:21). Jesus won't criticize Peter for asking. He simply reminds Peter there is no need for him to know; Peter can focus on his own faith.
Verse Context:
John 21:20–23 comes immediately after Jesus delivers a prophecy about Peter's death. Peter asks about John, wondering if Jesus will say anything about his fate. Jesus sets the question aside, saying it would have no impact on Peter's need to follow Christ. John recounts this moment to correct a misunderstanding about that response; early believers misstated Jesus' words to imply that John wouldn't die until Jesus returned.
Chapter Summary:
After Jesus' resurrection, a group of disciples goes fishing while they wait in Galilee. From a distance, a figure appears and tells the men to cast again. Despite a fruitless night, they obey, and the net is immediately overflowing with fish. This confirms that the man on the shore is Jesus. As the disciples eat a meal with Christ, He presses Peter to reaffirm His faith. Jesus then predicts the nature of Peter's death; He does not do so for John. The gospel of John ends with an affirmation of its source, and a reminder that no single book could contain every detail of Jesus' ministry.
Chapter Context:
The final chapter of the gospel of John evokes the recent trend of a "post-credits scene" from films. After the main story has been told, John includes one last scene to further add details about what is to come. After Jesus' resurrection and appearances, He meets with the disciples near Galilee. A major outcome of this meeting is Peter's restoration to his former status. No finite work could fully explain Jesus' ministry, so John's eyewitness account is only part of those truths.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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