Section V. Epilogue (John 21:1-25)

James J. Tissot, ‘Jesus Christ Appears on the Shore of Lake Tiberias’ (1884-96), gouache on gray wove paper, 5-7/8” x 9-1/16”, Brooklyn Museum, New York.
James J. Tissot, 'Jesus Christ Appears on the Shore of Lake Tiberias' (1884-96), gouache on gray wove paper, 5-7/8" x 9-1/16", Brooklyn Museum, New York.

The Gospel is almost finished. There remains a scene on the beach at Galilee.

Many commentators believe that this was not part of the Gospel as it was first written, that it was written later -- and surely the final sentences, verses 24 and 25 were written by an editor, not John. The reasons that some see chapter 21 as an addition are two-fold:

  1. John 20:30-31 explaining the purpose of the Gospel, seem like the closing words. They wrap up the Gospel rather neatly.
  2. The reason for the addition, it is suggested, is to correct a misperception that John wouldn't die before Jesus comes (verses 22-23), and thus protect the church when the Apostle John eventually did die.

However, it's not that simple. Many others observe that:

  1. There is no break in style between the first 20 chapters and chapter 21.
  2. No ancient manuscript whosoever contains John's Gospel without chapter 21.
John's Gospel: A Discipleship Journey with Jesus, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Entire study is available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF formats.

My own tentative conclusion is that all of chapter 21 -- except perhaps verses 24 and 25 -- were written by John himself. The reason for the seeming break between the chapters is primarily the time that followed by a few days or weeks the events of Holy Week that occupied chapters 13 through 20 of the Gospel, though they may have been written later.

Copyright © 2020, Ralph F. Wilson. <> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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