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Tag: John 21:25

The Apostle John Tells a Lie in John 21:25

liar liar pants on fire

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (John 21:25)

In John 21, the Apostle John (or whoever wrote the Gospel of John) tells a story about the resurrected Jesus appearing to Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples (one of whom was John). These disciples had gone fishing on the Sea of Tiberias, without success. Off in the distance, they see a man standing on the shore, not knowing it was Jesus.

Jesus shouted out to them, “have you caught any fish?” The disciples replied “no.” Jesus told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat (he was a Republican), promising that they would catch fish if they did. Sure enough, the disciples caught so many fish that they could not drag their net into the boat. John said to Peter, “hey that man on the shore is JESUS! With that, Peter, who was fishing naked, jumped into the water and came to Jesus. Soon the other disciples brought their boat to the shore, dragging their net behind them.

Once the disciples arrived, they noticed that Jesus had started a fire and was cooking fish. Near the fire was bread, perhaps a loaf or two of Wonder Bread. Jesus tells Peter to bring the fish they caught to him, 153 fish. And with that Jesus said, “let’s eat.”

According to John, this was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead.

After dinner, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Evidently, Jesus was lacking self-esteem. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Peter answered in the affirmative each time. Jesus then prophesied how Peter would die. And with that, Jesus said, “follow me.” There was a bit of back and forth between Peter and Jesus, but the gist of their conversation was that Peter (and by extension the other disciples) was to follow him.

John then concludes by saying that there were many other things that Jesus did, and that if they were written down, the world could not contain all the books that would be written. And with that fib, John said AMEN!

Evangelical apologists suggest that John was using hyperbole, yet there’s nothing in the text that suggests this is the case. A literal reading of the text says that if everything that Jesus said and did was written down, the world could not contain all the books that would be written. The famous library in Alexandria, Egypt, in existence during the time of Christ, contained 100,000 to 400,000 books. Yet, according to John, it would take more books than were in all of the world’s libraries to record the mighty works of Jesus. Surely there was a Bruce during that time that said to John, “really?”

I can only conclude that John (or whoever wrote this gospel) was lying. In fact, this verse doesn’t sound like it fits the narrative of John 21. I suspect that an unknown scribe likely inserted this verse, hoping to make Jesus look larger than life. The world knew nothing about Jesus for the first thirty years of his life. Are we expected to believe that the last three years of Jesus’ life require hundreds and hundreds of thousands of books to adequately memorialize his life? Really?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser