John 21:17 – Jesus Knows All

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.” — John 21:17, World English

The claim is often made that John 21:17 shows that Jesus is God Almighty, knowing all things. Usually, it is further claimed that when Jesus spoke the words of Mark 13:32, that he was speaking a man, not as God, and thus by adding all of this to the scriptures, the two scriptures are harmonized with the idea that Jesus is his God.

However, the application of the scriptures as given above would, in effect, mean that Jesus has the omniscient sentiency, but as a man his sentiency is not the same sentiency as his alleged omniscient sentiency. Actually, this would end up making Jesus himself into two persons (two sentiencies — two sentient beings).

Of course, as has been shown before, those who believe that Jesus is his God will take one sentence or scripture in the Bible and with their great imagination apply part that sentence or scripture to Jesus’ humanity and the other part to his alleged “nature” as God Almighty without any contextual reason at all to do so (except to make the scripture fit the dogma that Jesus is Yahweh). So many will take apart what the man Jesus said, sometimes within the same sentence, and say that this part is the alleged God speaking while the other part is only the man speaking.

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. [Greek, panta, Strong’s #3956, a variation of the word “pas”] You know that I have affection for you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus certainly did not know absolutely everything in the universe, since he did not know when the full end was to come. (Matthew 24:36) Additionally, after his exaltation, Jesus was apparently still unaware of many events yet to come until it was revealed to him by his God. (Revelation 1:1; 2:7; 3:2,12)

The Greek word translated “everything” in John 21:17 above is panta (a variation of “pas” – Strong’s #3956), which word we have shown before always takes into consideration the context as well as common evidence for inclusion or exclusion. In this instance, the Greek word “panta”, to make better sense in English, would best be translated “all this” or “all these things”, thus: “Lord, you know all these things”, or “Lord, you know all this.” See Mark 4:11 in the King James Version where the one word “panta” is rendered in the King James Version by three words:  “all these things.” If the same had been done in John 21:17, the matter would have been much clearer. Peter was not saying that Jesus knew absolutely everything in the universe, Peter was replying to what Jesus had just said, stating, “You know all these things.”

For scriptural proof of this, notice that the same word “panta” is used in Ephesians 6:21: “But that you also may know my affairs, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make known to you all things [panta, Strong’s #3956].” Was Paul saying that Tychicus would make known to the Ephesians absolutely “all things” in the universe? Absolutely not! Again, for this to make better sense in English, the word “panta” would better be understood as “all these things”.

Furthermore, the word “panta” is also used in Jude 1:5, although it is missing there in the Textus Receptus. The New American Standard shows this as: “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things [panta, Greek #3956] once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” The Douay-Rheims, based on the Latin Vulgate, reads: “I will therefore admonish you, though ye once knew all things, that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, did afterwards destroy them that believed not.” Jude was not saying that those in Christ know absolutely everything in the universe, and many translations in this verse do render Jude’s words to reflect this. The World English Bible translation, based on the Textus Receptus, renders the scripture like this, which does give the proper thought: “Now I desire to remind you, though you already know this, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who didn’t believe.” [See also the King James Version, Young’s Literal and Webster’s translation] Of course, one should understand that panta refers to all “these” things that Jude was referring to, and that is the way “Holman’s New Christian Standard Bible” translation renders it: “Now I want to remind you, though you know all these things [panta]: the Lord, having first of all saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe.” The “New International” renders it: “Though you already know all this [panta], I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.”

Of course, there are many examples all through the New Testament that show that the various usages of the word “pas” [Strong’s #3956] are limited by the context and/or common evidence of its usage.
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