John 20:1-21:25

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Home > The New Testament > John > Chapters 18-21 > Chapters 20-21
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This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →


• ____ (20:1-31)
a. Peter and John do not find Jesus (20:1-10)
b. Jesus makes himself known to Mary (20:11-18)
c. Ten commissioned (20:19-23)
d. Thomas rebuked for lack of faith (20:24-29)
e. conclusion: post-resurrection encounters (20:30-31)
• ____ (21:1-25)
a. disciples do not find fish (21:1-6)
b. Jesus makes himself know to disciples (21:7-14)
c. Peter again commissioned (21:15-18)
d. Peter taught about lack of shepherding (21:19-23)
e. conclusion (21:24-25)
  • John 20:9. The comment "for as yet they knew not the scriptures" may seem surprising following verse 8. In its place it seems to be an explanation of why it is that "the other disciple" saw and believed. The surprising thing here though is that not knowing the scriptures would seem a better explanation of why someone doesn't believe than why they do. So what do we make of this?
An additional difficulty in reading verse 8 and 9 together is that verse 8 is talking about a singular disciple, "that other disciple" (likely John himself, see John 21:24) is talking about a plural "they."
One way to read both of these oddities together is that verse 9 contrasts Peter's and Mary's reaction with John's. In that reading, verse 9 tells us that Peter and Mary knew not the scripture.
Another reading is that all three, Peter, Mary and John, showed a lack of understanding in the scripture that Christ would rise from the dead. John's lack of understanding is that he didn't believe until he went in and saw the empty tomb.
  • John 20:21. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." It seems that Jesus is saying that in the same way his Father had sent him into the world Jesus is now sending his disciples.
  • John 20:31. In context it is clear that "these" refers to the seven miracles that John has just told about.
  • John 21:24. The phrase "this is the disciple which testifieth of these things and wrote these things" identifies "that disciple" of verse 23 and "the disciple whom Jesus loved" in verse 20 as John. For this reason we assume that throughout John the reference to "the disciple whom Jesus loved" is a reference to John.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • John 20:29. What is the point of this verse here? Is Jesus making a point to Thomas here? or making the point for those who come after who will hear these words? If Jesus' point is to Thomas, why is he telling them that those who don't see and yet believe are blessed? Is this meant as a criticism of Thomas for not previously believing? (It would seem not since Jesus starts by telling him he is blessed.)
  • John 20:31. Does "these" in "these are written" refer just to the previous verses or to the entire book?
  • John 20:31. How does this section or the book help our belief?
  • John 20:31. If the purpose of this book is to help us know that Jesus is the Anointed One (the meaning of the word "Christ") how does that differ from the purpose of other books which record history? If we think of the book as, in essence, a testimony of Jesus versus a history of Jesus, does this change how we should read it? Or how we shouldn't read it?


This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • John 20:12: Mary as high priest? See this post by Julie M. Smith at the T&S blog for parallels between Mary here and the role of the high priest described in the Old Testmament (esp. in Ex 25:19ff).


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

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