separating fact from speculation

John 21


Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee?

What went on here is a common occurrence in Christian beliefs and teaching, and it's important to point out so we can understand it. Jesus said one thing, but "the brethren" (the Christians) read between the lines, and assumed it meant something more than Jesus actually said. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. The important point is to separate what He actually said, from our own ideas about it.

This is true for interpreting the Old Testament and New Testaments, and for studying what the Bible has to say about what's going to happen in the future and at the end of the world. Some of our own speculations can be really good and useful... but only if we remember to make the distinction between those speculations, and sure facts. That's what the writer of the book of John did here. He did not say He shall not die. He did not say He shall die. He just pointed out that what the brethren thought wasn't necessarily the case, because it wasn't exactly what Jesus actually said.

For example, many people believe "that disciple" this book refers to, was John. It very well may have been John. But, for some reason, the author of the book did not see fit to say who it was, only that it was "that disciple." So it may have been John, or it may not. If we refer to him being John, I think that's fine as long as we're clear that it's what we think, and not what the Bible says, so it's not absolutely for sure.

I seem to remember that for the person that this gospel referred to as "that disciple," there are passages in the other books of the Bible that referred to the person in the same position and situations, as John. Do I remember right? If you know or can find one of those passages, leave a comment that tells it.

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