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Do You Love Me?
John 21.15-19
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me
more than these?

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.

He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  

(16)  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.

He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

(17)  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?

Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?

And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.

Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  

(18)  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and
walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy
hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  (19)  This
spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.

And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Greek – Textus Receptus (John 21:15-19)  οτε ουν ηριστησαν λεγει τω σιμωνι πετρω ο ιησους
σιμων ιωνα αγαπας με πλειον τουτων λεγει αυτω ναι κυριε συ οιδας οτι φιλω σε λεγει αυτω βοσκε τα
αρνια μου  (16)  λεγει αυτω παλιν δευτερον σιμων ιωνα αγαπας με λεγει αυτω ναι κυριε συ οιδας οτι
φιλω σε λεγει αυτω ποιμαινε τα προβατα μου  (17)  λεγει αυτω το τριτον σιμων ιωνα φιλεις με
ελυπηθη ο πετρος οτι ειπεν αυτω το τριτον φιλεις με και ειπεν αυτω κυριε συ παντα οιδας συ
γινωσκεις οτι φιλω σε λεγει αυτω ο ιησους βοσκε τα προβατα μου  (18)  αμην αμην λεγω σοι οτε ης
νεωτερος εζωννυες σεαυτον και περιεπατεις οπου ηθελες οταν δε γηρασης εκτενεις τας χειρας σου
και αλλος σε ζωσει και οισει οπου ου θελεις  (19)  τουτο δε ειπεν σημαινων ποιω θανατω δοξασει τον
θεον και τουτο ειπων λεγει αυτω ακολουθει μοι



luv (אהב, 'āhēbh, אהבה, 'ahăbhāh, noun; φιλέω, philéō, ἀγαπάω, agapáō, verb; ἀγάπη, agápē,
noun): Love to both God and man is fundamental to true religion, whether as expressed in the Old
Testament or the New Testament. Jesus Himself declared that all the law and the prophets hang
upon love (Mat_22:40; Mar_12:28-34). Paul, in his matchless ode on love (1Co_13:1-13), makes
it the greatest of the graces of the Christian life - greater than speaking with tongues, or the gift of
prophecy, or the possession of a faith of superior excellence; for without love all these gifts and
graces, desirable and useful as they are in themselves, are as nothing, certainly of no permanent
value in the sight of God. Not that either Jesus or Paul underestimates the faith from which all the
graces proceed, for this grace is recognized as fundamental in all God's dealings with man and
man's dealings with God (Joh_6:28 f; Heb_11:6); but both alike count that faith as but idle and
worthless belief that does not manifest itself in love to both God and man. As love is the highest
expression of God and His relation to mankind, so it must be the highest expression of man's
relation to his Maker and to his fellow-man.

I. Definition.

While the Hebrew and Greek words for “love” have various shades and intensities of meaning,
they may be summed up in some such definition as this: Love, whether used of God or man, is an
earnest and anxious desire for and an active and beneficent interest in the well-being of the one
loved. Different degrees and manifestations of this affection are recognized in the Scriptures
according to the circumstances and relations of life, e.g. the expression of love as between
husband and wife, parent and child, brethren according to the flesh, and according to grace;
between friend and enemy, and, finally, between God and man. It must not be overlooked,
however, that the fundamental idea of love as expressed in the definition of it is never absent in
any one of these relations of life, even though the manifestation thereof may differ according to the
circumstances and relations. Christ's interview with the apostle Peter on the shore of the Sea of
Tiberias (Joh_21:15-18) sets before us in a most beautiful way the different shades of meaning as
found in the New Testament words φιλέω, philéō, and ἀγαπάω, agapáō. In the question of Christ,
“Lovest thou me more than these?” the Greek verb ἀαπᾶς, agapás, denotes the highest, most
perfect kind of love (Latin, diligere), implying a clear determination of will and judgment, and
belonging particularly to the sphere of Divine revelation. In his answer Peter substitutes the word
φιλῶ, philṓ, which means the natural human affection, with its strong feeling, or sentiment, and is
never used in Scripture language to designate man's love to God. While the answer of Peter, then,
claims only an inferior kind of love, as compared to the one contained in Christ's question, he
nevertheless is confident of possessing at least such love for his Lord.

        The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

While they eat breakfast, Jesus asks a series of questions of Simon Peter.  The only
difference between Peter and the other disciples was his being entrusted with the keys of the
kingdom (Matthew 16:16-18), which he used in unlocking the kingdom to the world in Acts 2.
Each of the apostles had been given the same responsibility to forgive and retain sin (Matthew
18:18). This they would do by the preaching of the gospel as they received instruction by the
Holy Spirit. This same responsibility was given to Peter and then later repeated to the other

Peter became the example in speaking of the forgiveness and retention of sins – and now he
is the example in feeding the lambs.

1)        Do you a
gape me?

The first time Jesus asks Peter, Do you love me?  He adds the words, more than these. The
question is not merely one of affection. The question is one of devotion. There must be a
devotion to Christ that surpasses our affection to others – no matter who they may be – friend
or relative.

Luke 14:25-27  And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,  
(26)  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and
brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  (27)  And
whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Jesus uses the Greek word a
gape – that higher form of love and devotion which describes
more than affection; it describes a disposition of will.

However, Peter answers with p
hileo – brotherly affection. He answers with a love that would
be the same as he would have for his fellow apostles and fishermen. Peter responds, but he
fails to indicate that he loved Jesus more than the others.

Is our devotion to Jesus more than our affection for our friends and relatives?

2)        Do you a
gape me?

The second time Jesus again asks Peter, using the word
agape. Does his affection,
disposition of will and devotion to Jesus supersede that feeling he had for his fellow apostles
and fishermen? He is not asking for the dedication of comradery – He is asking for the
devotion that belongs to He who is the Son of God. He is asking Peter – he who denied Him
three times after declaring Him to be the Son of God – does He now believe?

Peter again answers with p
hileo – brotherly affection. Perhaps Peter has learned from his
earlier experience to not be so brash in his declarations. Perhaps he lacks confidence, fearing
that he will fail again as he has in the past. Whatever the reasons, Peter still fails to answer
Jesus in kind.

Can we say, by our words and actions, that we have a devotion for Jesus that supersedes our
devotion others, or do we show a greater faithfulness and commitment to our friend and

3)        Do you p
hileo me?

The third time, Jesus asks Peter, using the word p
hileo. No longer does He ask if Peter is truly
devoted to Him. No longer does He ask of the greatest love, devotion and disposition of will. He
asks if He truly loves Him like a brother, or friend.

Peter is now disappointed. Jesus has lowered the bar, and it pangs Peter’s conscience.
Perhaps it brings to mind the look in Jesus’ eye when he denied him. This time Peter answers
with Jesus in kind with p
hileo. Peter answered emphatically, stating Jesus already knew the

Feed My Lambs, Sheep

The responsibility to teach and preach was laid upon Peter and the other apostles. That was
their primary purpose as the eye-witnesses of the resurrection.

Acts 20:27-28  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.  (28)  Take
heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made
you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

1 Peter 5:1-3  The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness
of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  (2)  Feed
the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but
willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  (3)  Neither as being lords over God's
heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

By What Death He Should Glorify God

Peter would stretch out his hands in death.

When Peter was put to death, we are told that he requested that he might be crucified with his
head downward, saying that he who had denied his Lord as he had done was not worthy to
die as he did. This expression of Christ may intimate the readiness of Peter thus to die.
Though he was not at liberty as when he was young, though bound by others, yet he freely
stretched out his hands on the cross, and was ready to give up his life. – Albert Barnes