John 21:17 – Jesus Knows Everything?

John 21:17 – He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?” Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, “Do you have affection for me?” He said to him, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

According to the way some trinitarian believers interpret this verse, Peter was saying that Jesus in the flesh has the same sentiency as his Father, supposedly knowing absolutely everything to know about absolutely everything in the whole universe; if so, the logical conclusion would be that there would be no need for Jesus in the flesh to receive or learn anything at all in the flesh, since he already knew it all. (Deuteronomy 18:15,18; 1S Samuel 2:6; Psalm 36:9; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; John 3:2,17; 5:19,21-23,25-30,43; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; Hebrews 1:1,2; Revelation 1:1)

Of course, Peter was not saying that Jesus knew absolutely everything in the universe; such an idea has to be read into what he said. The scriptures tell us over and over that the knowledge that Jesus has he received from Yahweh, or from experiences. — Deuteronomy 18:15,18; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; John 3:2,17; 5:19,43; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; Hebrews 1:1,2; Revelation 1:1.

The word translated “everything” in the text as rendered above is the Greek word often transliterated as “panta”. The Greek word panta (a variation of the Greek word, pas – Strong’s #3956), is always used relative to the context of which it is being used. (Many translators add qualifying nouns to the word, as the word “things” is added by most translators here.*) Thus Peter was not saying that Jesus was God Almighty, having all knowledge of absolutely everything there is, but rather that Jesus knew all these things concerning Peter’s affection for Jesus.
*Some examples of qualifying nouns being added to the Greek word pas in the translation of the KJV: Matthew 1:23; 10:1; 12:31; Luke 11:42; Acts 10:12 – “manner of”; Matthew 24:6 – “these things”; Mark 1:37; 13:13; Luke 21:17; John 1:7; 2:24; 5:23; 11:48; 12:32; 13:35; Acts 1:24; 2:45; 4:21; 19:19; 21:28 – “men”; Mark 4:11 – “things”; Mark 12:44 – “they”; Luke 1:66; 9:23 – “them”; Luke 13:27 – “ye”; John 15:2(2nd) – “branch”; Acts 9:32 – “quarters”
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We find a similar usage in 2 Corinthians 6:10: “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

Taken out of context, and applying the same kind reasoning many apply to Peter’s words to Jesus, one could make an argument that Paul is telling the Corinthians that the Christians in Corinth were in possession of absolutely everything that exists in the whole universe, and thus they must be God Almighty.

Another similar passage is found in Jude 5.

Jude 5
hupomneesai de humas boulomai eidotas
5279 1161 4771_7 1014 1492_5
hapax panta hoti kurios laon ek gees
0530 3956 3754 2962 2992 1537 1093
aiguptou swsas to deuteron tous mee
0125 4982 3588 1208 3588 3361
pisteusantas apwlesen
4100 0622

Of course, Jude is not saying that believers have once for all come to know absolutely everything there is to know about everything in the universe, but panta is used relative to what is being spoken of, as Peter uses it in John 21:17.

In reality, Jesus is not omniscient. If he is, then it would mean that he has one sentiency as a human being and another sentiency as the omniscient being. This, in effect, would mean that Jesus himself is two separate persons.

We would also wonder how he could be a separate sentient person from the Father. In other words, if both the Father and the Son are ominiscient, then they must share the same exact sentiency, and in reality be the same sentient being, not separate sentient “persons”, as the trinity dogma calls for.

We know that Jesus is not omniscient, because there are things that he does not know, or he has to receive knowledge concerning from the only true God. — Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; John 7:17; 8:26,28; 12:49,50; 14:10; Hebrews 1:1,2; 5:8; Revelation 1:1,2.

Jesus had questioned Peter three times concerning his love and affection for Jesus. Was Peter truly interested in feeding the sheep, or in the fishing business to which he had returned? Jesus wanted to emphasize the work that he was giving to Peter to do. Peter was feeling grief at heart for these three questions, and probably thought back to when he had denied his lord three times. Peter answered, “You know all these things; you know that I love you”.

Does the fact that God has given this power to know things concerning others mean that Jesus is ominiscient, knowing absolutely everything in the universe? Absolutely not!

Does the fact that God has given to Jesus power to know things, even to know the hearts of men, mean that Jesus is Yahweh? Absolutely not, for all the power that Jesus has is given to him by Yahweh. In the power and authority given to Jesus as judge, Jesus would need to be able to read the hearts of men in order to judge by the heart rather than by what is seen.

Does this contradict scriptures such as 2 Chronicles 6:30; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 7:9; 44:21; and Jeremiah 17:9-10? We don’t think so. All of these scriptures were written to and concerning those under the law before Jesus was actually anointed, so even if these scriptures mean what our trinitarian neighbors read into them, that is, that out of the whole universe, no one can read the thoughts or hearts of men, but Yahweh, their application could have been only before such power was given to Jesus.

Nevertheless, in 2 Chronicles 6:30 and 1 Kings 8:39, Solomon is stating a prayer of dedication for the temple, in which the elders and priests as well as the whole assembly of Israel was gathered. While it was given to Solomon to judge Israel, Solomon is expressing that he — himself — can’t read the hearts of men, and thus in his prayer to Yahweh expresses that only Yahweh can do this. The word “only” [or “alone” in many translations] is translated from the Hebrew word transliterated as “bad”. [Strong’s #905] It is a word that is used in comparison, and does not necessarily mean totally alone, but rather alone in relation to what is being spoken of. (Genesis 2:18; 32:24; Judges 6:40) Thus, the thought of comparison is between Yahweh and Solomon, and perhaps any other human who has the work of judging those in the land of Israel.

Psalm 7:9; 44:21 simply affirm that Yahweh can know the minds and hearts of humans. Jeremiah 17:9-10 is speaking of man’s lack of ability to know his own heart, but that Yahweh does search the mind and try the heart of men. Nothing is said in these verses that would mean that Yahweh cannot give this power to another.

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