The Lord told Peter that when he was young he dressed himself and went wherever he wanted, but that would change when he was old (v.18). But the word “gird” doesn’t always dress. The first definition of the word means to tie or bind with a “girdle,” which is defined as a man’s belt (Acts 21:10,11). So the Lord was telling Peter about how he’d die (21:19), he’d be arrested, bound, and executed.
While this might sound like bad news for Peter, he may have appreciated a second chance to prove he’d die for the Lord like he’d boasted (Mt.26:35) yet denied Him instead. If it be objected that the Lord said he’d be carried where he didn’t want to go, he was willing to die, not foolhardy!
All this goes along with what we know about this chapter, that the Lord is assuring the twelve He wasn’t upset that they forsook Him by repeating the miracle He performed when He called them. Peter is being given a second chance to die for the Lord, making him a type of the nation Israel. Peter denied the Lord thrice, and Israel denied the Father in the Old Testament through the prophets, they denied the Son when He came to them, and they denied the Spirit at Pentecost. But God will give all the Jews a second chance to die for the Lord in the Tribulation. They had the chance to die for Him by accepting Him and suffering the wrath of emperor who would have snuffed out the nation that dared worship a rival king (John 11:47-50). It was the will of God that the whole nation accept Him and die with him to be saved (Mt.16:24,25). Most of the Jews blew it and denied Him the first time, as Peter did, but now like Peter they will get a second chance to die for Him in the Tribulation.
When the Lord told Peter “follow me” (21:19), this also fits the new start God gave the apostles. Remember, He told them to follow Him when He first called them (Mt.4:18,19). This typifies the Jews who will be given a second chance to follow the Lord in the Tribulation (Rev.14:4). Now, being told to follow the Lord, you’d think Peter would watch Him, but he turned his eyes to John (21:20). Instead he should have been “looking unto Jesus” for the Lord was faithful to death (Heb.12:2), while John might not be.
The Lord had just predicted that Peter would be faithful to death, so when Peter asked the Lord what John would do (21:21), he was asking if he would be faithful to death too. The Lord told him to mind his own business (21:22) because they were heading into the Tribulation when it would be important not to love family members more than the Lord (Mt.10:37). Hadn’t the Lord just asked Peter if he loved the Lord more than “these” brethren (21:15)? If your brother takes the mark of the beast you have to quit looking at him or you might follow him, you have to look to Jesus.
The Lord answered Peter, in effect, “Who says John will die?” (v.22). He knew that there would be a whole genera-tion of Jews who’d live to see the Lord come without dy-ing, and was saying to Peter, “What if John is one of them?”John symbolized that generation the way Peter sym-bolized those who would die and rise to enter the kingdom.
A rumor arose that the Lord said John wouldn’t die (v.23), but the Lord was a prophet, and the Spirit prompted Him to choose His words carefully, allowing that he might not die. Those who started the rumor probably thought John might be one of the ones the Lord said would live to see His coming (Mt.16:28). The way to correct misunderstandings like this is to just repeat what God says, as John did (v.23).
John never names himself because he is a type of how Jews will have to be tightlipped in the Tribulation (Micah 7:5,6), but confess Christ if put on the spot (Mt.10:33), just as Peter would be willing to die but not in a hurry to die!
We know John’s testimony was true (v.24) because Mat-thew, Mark and Luke testified the same things (cf.Jo.8:17).
More books like this could have been written (21:25) but just as Solomon wrote enough to get men to fear God (Eccl.12:12,13), John wrote enough to get men to believe that Jesus was the Christ (20:31).