The Gospel of John. Chapter 21: The Order in John

John 21  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 7
As to the order in John: there is in the whole gospel a regular order and definite presentation of subjects.
Chapter 1. The Being and Person and excellency of the blessed Lamb is shown, and His relative place also with God, with the world, the Jews, with John, with the Father, and the position of the disciples with Him as manifested, and so with the law; the consequent blessing in us; the whole Being and relationship of Christ. He is the Word. The revelation of the Father by the Son is the way we know God. Then comes the actual address of John to the Jews as to what he was. The previous statement was of what John was relative to Christ's position from what He was in the world; here as Jewishly coming after Him.
29-34. His testimony to what Christ was; Lamb of God, manifest to Israel; Son of God, proved so, not by resurrection here, but anointing.
35. First, John's disciples joining Him as the Lamb of God, and finding Him who is the Messiah.
43. The next day Jesus gathering disciples for Himself; and, lastly, guileless Israelites, found and known under the fig-tree, owning Him as Son of God and King of Israel, and henceforth the glory of the Son of Man; the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man present therefore on earth; the third day [chap. 2] the day of resurrection. This is the association of the Church, a new character; His (Jewish) mother cast aside; the water turned into the wine of the kingdom. It is not introduced consecutively (for Nathanael properly includes the earthly part, and consequences of it), but a separate statement to show the Church, and withal in a certain sense the Jewish marriage of Christ. We belong, as it were, to the third day. Verse 12 seems to show, after the purpose in the Church was manifested or set about, that mother, brethren, Jesus and disciples were all together; which was just His earthly ministry in that place which was exalted (though really in heart His city) and should be brought low.
Then comes His royal, clearing righteousness in His Father's house. His resurrection (for His body was really the temple of God) was the sign of His authority, and thus therefore was the ground of faith. Another point was now opened, the way of entrance into this kingdom. They must have a new life and nature, be born again. Many believed on Him through miracles; but it was not to be trusted, it was only what was in man.
But [chap. 3] there was a remnant wrought upon, hindered where true, and not merely fleshly owning, but in whom fleshly righteousness was good for nothing (and here the real work of the Spirit begins in its truest, yet necessary, work) and with this Jesus coming from heavenly places, having seen and having communion with that which He now revealed from God, and all things of the Father in His hand according to the glory He had seen, and so the Kingdom in two parts: earthly things, for which Jews (for it also hung on resurrection in "the sure mercies," and was really with God) must be born again, as the prophets testified, for the real enjoyment under God of the earthly things. Besides, the Son of Man must be lifted up, not received of the Jews now (His miracles only affected what was in man), and so be the door of heavenly things; fit men for them too, even eternal life; enable them to enjoy them according to the love in which, as Son of God, He was given. Then the judgment. It was the rejection of the Son; but, as He was the Light, it was the proof of all previous and other darkness.
All this passed previous to the Lord's entrance on His public ministry. We have then his public testimony to the Lord's service and ministry, His relationship, not merely His Person as brought out in type in the circumstances. John disclaims blessedly whatever was not given from above. Man can only receive what is thus given him: " I am sent before him; he is the bridegroom, and has the bride." It is Jewish. It was John's joy to see Him; but He came from above, and was above all. What He has seen (with the Father, and heard, the words given Him, see chap. 17) He testifies. No man receives it. He is sent of God; His words are the words of God, and acknowledging them is acknowledging that God is true; a divine revelation of God to the soul. Man does not receive it; for what He speaks as a Man is without measure of the Spirit in testimony to Him; is not Scripture, but the manner of the Holy Ghost's presence. He was present, and whose power He was given. He was the Son with the Father; had all things, as such, at His hand. Life was through faith in Him, eternal life, that is, in the Son. When the Son was not believed, the wrath (not of the Father, but) of God rested on him.
Here [chap. 4] the ministry of the Lord properly begins, connected with life; the previous part, the most important, being prefatory; and therefore the ministry of John is introduced here thus fully again; and consequently it goes forth into the world to sinners, a worthless woman of Samaria learning not at this mountain nor Jerusalem men shall worship the Father, God being dissatisfied with all that is; much not in truth, none in Spirit, yet acknowledging His own. He is the Savior of the world. In this, then, the Spirit, as a living Spirit of communion and sonship under the gospel principle of grace, and a Savior to sinners, is set out the great fundamental principle, yet not forgetting the outcasts of Jacob even; and this, while thus exhibited, proving the non-reception of it by the human, the natural heart, the detection of that heart in all its ways by it, and giving life by a word, at distance, through faith. But I suspect there is more in this last of the nobleman Then [chap. 5] we have the Son of God brought forward in life-giving, and also judicial, power, as contrasted with the impotency of means sent, as the law, because of the very nature of the disease; the ample evidence given, however, to the Son, so as to leave man without excuse; then [chap. 6] to the place of Jesus as Son of Man, owned a Prophet, would be made a King, but taking the place of Priest, while His disciples toiled through the sea, and meanwhile (the sign of God being that He came) therefore faith in His power everything, and effectual love then proved; this by the word, "the words of eternal life"; withal God, there, with Himself; not merely as incarnate, but as slain, and so ascending up to be a Priest till He rejoined them, and they were immediately where they were seeking to be (strictly this is Jewish also).
Chapter 7. His glory, still as' Son of Man; or, rather, postponement of glory, as connected with the Feast of Tabernacles and giving of the Spirit as ascended, the witness of the glory meanwhile; this specially including Gentiles: "If any man thirst." "Every man to his own," etc., Jesus to the mount of Olives, the place whence He was to go and where return, and where He prophesied in Matt. 24 Then Jerusalem; Jews put on test, as a body, by His word (chap. 8); the light of life (condemning all alike, the current of corruption) contrasted with the law ruining sinners in their hands. This was "I AM" before Abraham. They were of their father the devil.
Chapter 9. The power of sight by the work of Christ, removing as contrasted with natural darkness, and so His work of power as exhibited in others rejected, they saying they saw, their sin remaining [Chap. to.] What He was for the sheep, the Shepherd, traced from coming obediently by the door to unity with the Father; finally the question and grounds of faith stated therein. Then [chap. 11] the display of that wherein He was rejected; or which He would have there been, had He been received. First, Son of God, by resurrection in power over evil; but here by restoring the dead to this world, for to this He belonged as yet (on this ground verses 25, 26 would be true, though it will be true on a higher as to resurrection to a heavenly calling; Jesus' presence in either case, for it is the Son who is the resurrection); resolution of death, and that even of Lazarus, the consequence. Then [chap. 12] as King of Israel; then of the Gentiles; but for this death was needed; by which, however, judgment of this world and the prince of this world. Verses 35-50, the comment on this, arising from the statement of the lifting up of the Son of Man, the Christ that was to abide forever.
Chapter 13. The glory of this looked at; that is, what place He took on His going to the Father, His new station, which was what death really led to; girt, not with a golden girdle, but the towel with which He wiped their feet; continuous love, teaching entire humiliation to serve the disciples, on being exalted on the world's rejection; no cooling of the love. Verses 3, 4, washes their feet, does priestly service; then the Spirit by word, etc., for a pattern to them. The power of Satan in the evil of the flesh; the perfectness of Christ's work (vv. 31, 32) looked at in its real light; thus love shown, and so who are disciples. Disciple does not mean merely obedience, but one taught of Jesus, and who is learning, or has learned, and practices Jesus' ways; the utter incompetency of the flesh, to act on these principles. On this His departure, where the flesh could not follow Him; what was their comfort; position and dealing of the Comforter come, and Jesus' presenting them then (with the Church contrasted with the world) to the Father, and the Father to them, as He had and would.
Chapter 14, individually or in relationship as persons; chapter is, more corporately or as incorporated; chapter 16, the Comforter's service to the world, and in the Church; chapter 17, committal to the Father, and place with the Father; that is, Holy Father, for the disciples ("righteous" as between Him and the world) to bring out in them the witness in glory of who He was; chapters 13 and 17 might seem both priesthood; but chapter 13 is priesthood as regards the evil gathered in their walk, and therefore exercised in connection with the water and girded towel; and in chapter 17 we have their presenting in the unity and association with Himself in their new nature, and by the Holy Ghost, to the Father: one regarded service here; the other, position and acceptance there.
Chapter 4, then, the Spirit giving living communion proper to the gospel. The three previous chapters were before the dose of John's ministry, or the commencement of the Lord's public; chapter 5, Sonship, Son of God; chapter 6, Son of Man in all His characters; chapter 7, the Spirit, till the glory of Him as sent manifested to the world; thus complete; chapter 8, life contrasted with the law; chapter 9, light contrasted with natural darkness; or worse, supposed light; chapter 1o, care of the sheep; chapters I I, 12, vindication of Sonship, and Israelitish Kingship to Gentile dominion; death necessary; then, on exaltation, priesthood and service still; comfort by the Father, Son, and Spirit, the Church's portion known; the Church; the Spirit, conviction of the world, and in Church, and connected subjects, as flesh; chapter 17, the Church before the Father. Such is the theology of John.
Then, chapters 18 and 19, His betrayal, accusation, and death; but power and willingness here shown all through; not condemned as Son of God (for this has been in question in the whole book, and a title of power, and the controversy with the Jews sovereignly carried on, on this head, all through), but their guilt in charging Him as making Himself a King, and Son of God before Pilate, and His condemnation by the world, as He even says here, " I came into the world "; slighted as Son of God, though afraid; and condemned and rejected as King of the Jews, as Caesar's friend.
Then, in chapter 20, the Church according to the principle of its foundation, position through Christ's ascension (the kingdom not being entered for His personal owning them); enjoyment of His presence in pledge of resurrection; mission; authority by the Spirit; restoration of the Jews, as a remaining Remnant, by sight. Thus it closes.
Chapter 21, the closing dispensations and history of the Jewish and Gentile Churches in the persons of Peter and John.
To chapters 18-19. His Person and excellency individually. After John's ministry, chapter 4 is an introductory chapter. After chapters 18-19 in connection with the Church; chapters 14, 15, 16 and 17 have an evidently distinct character, because they are the view of Him subsequent to death and exaltation, as viewed in chapters 12 and 13. Up to chapter 10, the place of manifestation had been Jewish; that takes the sheep; chapters 11 and 12, beginning, had been the vindication against the rejecting part.