The third question about love (Jn 21:17-21:17)

“Jesus said to Peter

For a third time.


Son of John!

Do you love me?’

Peter felt hurt

Because he said to him

For the third time.

‘Do you love me?’

Peter said to Jesus.


You know everything!

You know

That I love you.’

Jesus said to him.

‘Feed my sheep!’”

λέγει αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον Σίμων Ἰωάνου, φιλεῖς με; ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον Φιλεῖς με; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Κύριε, πάντα σὺ οἶδας, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ Ἰησοῦς Βόσκε τὰ προβάτιά μου.

John uniquely indicated that Jesus said to Peter (λέγει αὐτῷ) a third time (τὸ τρίτον), once again calling him Simon (Σίμων), son of John (Ἰωάνου).  “Did he love Jesus (φιλεῖς με)?”  This time, Peter (ὁ Πέτρος) felt hurt (ἐλυπήθη) because Jesus had asked him (ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ) for a third time (τὸ τρίτον) about whether he loved him (Φιλεῖς με).  However, on this third time, Jesus used the verb φιλεῖς instead of ἀγαπᾷς that he had used in the first two times he asked this question.  Thus, Peter responded to Jesus (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ), once again calling him Lord (Κύριε).  He said to Jesus that he knew everything (πάντα σὺ οἶδας).  Thus, he should know (σὺ γινώσκεις) that Simon loved him (ὅτι φιλῶ σε).  Once again Jesus (Ἰησοῦς) told him (λέγει αὐτῷ) to feed (Βόσκε) his sheep (τὰ προβάτιά μου).  The same three questions were obviously an attempt to offset the three times that Peter had denied Jesus.  Now, he had three chances to say he loved Jesus, just as he had denied Jesus on three different occasions in chapter 18:15-27.  Jesus told him that he would feed or tend his sheep or little lambs.  Peter was given the authority over this newly forming Christian community, despite his shortcomings and denials.  Do your religious leaders have to be perfect?

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