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John 21:22

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If I will that he tarry till I come - There are several opinions concerning this: the following are the principal.

  1. Some have concluded from these words that John should never die. Many eminent men, ancients and moderns, have been and are of this opinion.
  • Others thought that our Lord intimated that John should live till Christ came to judge and destroy Jerusalem. On this opinion it is observed that Peter, who was the oldest of the apostles, died in the year 67, which, says Calmet, was six years before the destruction of Jerusalem; and that John survived the ruin of that city about thirty years, he being the only one of the twelve who was alive when the above desolation took place.
  • St. Augustin, Bede, and others, understood the passage thus: If I will that he remain till I come and take him away by a natural death, what is that to thee? follow thou me to thy crucifixion. On this it may be observed, that all antiquity agrees that John, if he did die, was the only disciple who was taken away by a natural death.
  • 4. Others imagine that our Lord was only now taking Peter aside to speak something to him in private, and that Peter, seeing John following, wished to know whether he should come along with them; and that our Lord's answer stated that John should remain in that place till Christ and Peter returned to him; and to this meaning of the passage many eminent critics incline. For neatly eighteen hundred years, the greatest men in the world have been puzzled with this passage. It mould appear intolerable in me to attempt to decide, where so many eminent doctors have disagreed, and do still disagree. I rather lean to the fourth opinion. See the conclusion of the Preface to this Gospel.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    That he tarry - That he live. The same word is used to express life in Philemon 1:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:6.

    Till I come - Some have supposed this to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem; others to the day of judgment; others to signify that he would not die a violent death; but the plain meaning is, “If I will that he should not die at all, it is nothing to thee.” In this way the apostles evidently understood it, and hence raised a report that he would not die. It is remarkable that John was the last of the apostles; that he lived to nearly the close of the first century, and then died a peaceful death at Ephesus, being the only one, as is supposed, of the apostles who did not suffer martyrdom. The testimony of antiquity is clear on this point; and though there have been many idle conjectures about this passage and about the fate of John, yet no fact of history is better attested than that John died and was buried at Ephesus.

    What is that to thee? - From this passage we learn:

    1.that our main business is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

    2.that there are many subjects of religion on which a vain and impertinent curiosity is exercised. All such curiosity Jesus here reproves.

    3.that Jesus will take care of all his true disciples, and that we should not be unduly solicitous about them.

    4.that we should go forward to whatever he calls us to persecution or death - not envying the lot of any other man, and anxious only to do the will of God.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Sufferings, pains, and death, will appear formidable even to the experienced Christian; but in the hope to glorify God, to leave a sinful world, and to be present with his Lord, he becomes ready to obey the Redeemer's call, and to follow Him through death to glory. It is the will of Christ that his disciples should mind their own duty, and not be curious about future events, either as to themselves or others. Many things we are apt to be anxious about, which are nothing to us. Other people's affairs are nothing to us, to intermeddle in; we must quietly work, and mind our own business. Many curious questions are put about the counsels of God, and the state of the unseen world, as to which we may say, What is this to us? And if we attend to the duty of following Christ, we shall find neither heart nor time to meddle with that which does not belong to us. How little are any unwritten traditions to be relied upon! Let the Scripture be its own interpreter, and explain itself; as it is, in a great measure, its own evidence, and proves itself, for it is light. See the easy setting right such mistakes by the word of Christ. Scripture language is the safest channel for Scripture truth; the words which the Holy Ghost teaches, 1Co 2:13. Those who cannot agree in the same terms of art, and the application of them, may yet agree in the same Scripture terms, and to love one another.
    Ellen G. White
    Education, 90

    He who could not spare His disciple the anguish, left him not alone to its bitterness. His is a love that fails not nor forsakes. Ed 90.1

    Human beings, themselves given to evil, are prone to deal untenderly with the tempted and the erring. They cannot read the heart, they know not its struggle and pain. Of the rebuke that is love, of the blow that wounds to heal, of the warning that speaks hope, they have need to learn. Ed 90.2

    It was not John, the one who watched with Him in the judgment hall, who stood beside His cross, and who of the Twelve was first at the tomb—it was not John, but Peter, that was mentioned by Christ after His resurrection. “Tell His disciples and Peter,” the angel said, “that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him.” Mark 16:7. Ed 90.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Gospel Workers 1915, 314

    When at one time a brother came to me with the message that the world is flat, I was instructed to present the commission that Christ gave His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations: ...and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.” [Matthew 28:19, 20.] In regard to such subjects as the flat-world theory, God says to every soul, “What is that to thee? follow thou Me. I have given you your commission. Dwell upon the great testing truths for this time, not upon matters that have no bearing upon our work.” GW 314.1

    Workers for God should not spend time speculating as to what conditions will prevail in the new earth. It is presumption to indulge in suppositions and theories regarding matters that the Lord has not revealed. He has made every provision for our happiness in the future life, and we are not to speculate regarding His plans for us. Neither are we to measure the conditions of the future life by the conditions of this life. GW 314.2

    To my ministering brethren I would say, Preach the word. Do not bring to the foundation wood, hay, and stubble,—your own surmisings and speculations, which can benefit no one. Subjects of vital importance are revealed in the word of God, and these are worthy of our deepest thought. But we are not to search into matters on which God has been silent. GW 314.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 39

    Christ was a perfect overcomer; and we must be perfect and entire, wanting nothing, without spot or blemish. The redemption which Christ achieved for man was at infinite cost to Himself. The victory we gain over our own evil hearts and over the temptations of Satan will cost us strong effort, constant watchfulness, and persevering prayer; and we shall then not only reap the reward, which is the gift of eternal life, but shall increase our happiness on earth by a consciousness of duty performed, and by the greater respect and love of those about us. 4T 39.1

    I was shown that there is a general lack of devotion, and of sincere, earnest effort in the church. There are many who need to be converted. Brother C is not a stay and strength to the church. He does not advance in the divine life as he advances in years. He has professed the truth many years, yet has been slow to learn and live its principles; therefore he has not been sanctified through the truth. He holds himself in a position to be tempted of Satan. He is still as a child in experience. He is watching others and marking their failings, when he should be diligently searching his own heart. That readiness to question, and to see faults in his brethren and talk of them to others, is reproved by the words of Christ to one who, He saw, was more interested in the course of his brethren than careful to watch and pray lest Satan should overcome him. Said Christ to His disciples: “What is that to thee? follow thou Me.” 4T 39.2

    It is all that Brother C can do, in the weakness of his nature, to guard his own soul and close every avenue whereby Satan can gain access to insinuate doubts in regard to others. He is in great danger of losing his soul by failing to perfect Christian character during probationary time. He is slow to follow Christ. His senses seem to be clouded and almost paralyzed so that he does not place a proper estimate upon sacred things. He may even now correct his errors and overcome his defects, if he will work in the strength of God. 4T 39.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 332

    I was surprised as I saw men who claim to believe the truth for this time all excited in regard to matters—which relate to the Lord Jesus and eternal interests? No; but they seemed to be wonderfully excited in regard to the currency. Some ministers were distinguishing themselves by weaving these subjects into their discourses. They were excitably involving themselves, taking sides in regard to these questions that the Lord did not lay upon them the burden to engage in. These persons seemed to have a large share of self-sufficiency. But they themselves really did not know what they were advocating. They knew not whether they were defending principles that originated in the councils of heaven or in the councils of Satan. TM 332.1

    The voice of one in authority spoke with great decision, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. Read the directions given by the only-begotten Son of God when enshrouded in the cloudy pillar. When that voice is obeyed, ye will not give your voice or influence to any policy to enrich a few, to bring oppression and suffering to the poorer class of humanity. There is in this excitement just what separates those of the same faith. Is this bearing the divine credentials? Beware. See that your arm is not linked in the arm of a personal demon. He is in appearance as a man. He is walking about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and he finds them among Seventh-day Adventists. He can terrify by his roaring; but, when it suits his purposes best, he has the sweet voice of an angel of light and speaks of heavenly things. Does he not know all about heavenly glory? TM 332.2

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