on John 21 :25
Many other things - Before his disciples, is added by two MSS. The Scholia in several MSS. intimate that this verse is an addition; but it is found in every ancient version, and in Origen, Cyril, and Chrysostom.
Could not contain, etc. - Origen's signification of the word χωρειν is to admit of, or receive favourably. As if he had said, the miracles of Christ are so many, and so astonishing, that if the whole were to be detailed, the world would not receive the account with proper faith; but enough is recorded that men may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that in believing they may have life through his name: John 20:31.
We have already seen that this apostle often uses the term world to designate the Jewish people only; and if it have this sense here, which is possible, it will at once vindicate the above exposition of the word χωρειν. As if he had said, Were I to detail all the signs and miracles which Jesus did among his disciples, and in the private families where he sojourned, the Jewish people themselves would not receive nor credit these accounts; but enough is written to prove that this Christ was the promised Messiah.
Bishop Pearce has a very judicious note here, of which what follows is an abstract, with a few additions.
Even the world itself, etc. This is a very strong eastern expression, to represent the number of miracles which Jesus wrought. But, however strong and strange this expression may seem to us of the western world, we find sacred and other authors using hyperboles of the like kind and signification. In Numbers 13:33, the spies who returned from the search of the land of Canaan say that they saw giants there of such a prodigious size that they were in their own sight as grasshoppers. In Daniel 4:11, mention is made of a tree, whereof the height reached unto the heaven; and the sight thereof unto the end of all the earth. And the author of Ecclesiasticus, in 47:15, speaking of Solomon's wisdom, says, Thy soul covered the whole earth, and thou filledst it with parables: so here, by one degree more of hyperbole, it is said that the world would not contain all the books which should be written concerning Jesus's miracles, if the particular account of every one of them were given. In Josephus, Antiq. lib. xix. c. 20, God is mentioned as promising to Jacob that he would give the land of Canaan to him and his seed; and then it is added, οἱ πληρουσι πασαν, ὁσην ἡλιος ὁρᾳ, και γην και θαλασσαν. They shall fill all, whatsoever the sun illuminates, whether earth or sea. Philo in his tract De Ebriet, T. i. p. 362, 10, is observed to speak after the same manner, ουδε γαρ των δωρεων ἱκανος ουδεις χωρησαι το αφθονον πληθος, ισως δ' ουδ' ὁ κοσμος. Neither is any one able to contain the vast abundance of gifts; nor is the world capable of it. And in his tract De Posterit. Caini, T. i. p. 253, l. 38, he says, speaking of the fullness of God, Ουδε γαρ εις (ει) πλουτον επιδεικνυσθαι βουληθειη τον ἑαυτου, χωρησαι αν, ηπειρωθεισης και θαλαττης, ἡ συμπασα γη. And should he will to draw out his fullness, the whole compass of sea and land could not contain it."
Homer, who, if not born in Asia Minor, had undoubtedly lived there, has sometimes followed the hyperbolic manner of speaking which prevailed so much in the east, as in Iliad, b. xx. he makes Aeneas say to Achilles: -
Αλλ' αγε μηκετι ταυτα λεγωμεθα, νηπυτιοι ὡς,
ἙϚαοτ' εν μεσσῃ ὑσμινῃ δηΐοτητος.
ΕϚι γαρ αμφοτεροισιν ονειδεα μυθησασθαι
Πολλα μαλ'· ουδ' αν νηυς ἑκατονζυγος αχθος αροιτο.
Στρεπτη δε γλωσς' εϚι βροτων, πολεες δ' ενι μυθοι,
Παντοιοι· επεων δε πολυς νομος ενθα και ενθα.
Ὁπποιον κ' ειπῃσθα επος, τοιον κ' επακουσαις.
Iliad, xx. v. 244-250.
on John 21 :25
Many other things - Many miracles, John 20:30. Many discourses delivered, etc.
I suppose ... - This is evidently the figure of speech called a hyperbole. It is a mode of speech where the words express more or less than is literally true. It is common among all writers; and as the sacred writers, in recording a revelation to men, used human language, it was proper that they should express themselves as men ordinarily do if they wished to be understood. This figure of speech is commonly the effect of surprise, or having the mind full of some object, and not having words to express the ideas: at the same time, the words convey no falsehood. The statement is to be taken as it would be understood among the persons to whom it is addressed; and as no one supposes that the author means to be understood literally, so there is no deception in the case, and consequently no impeachment of his veracity or inspiration. Thus, when Longinus said of a man that "he was the owner of a piece of ground not larger than a Lacedaemonian letter," no one understood him literally. He meant, evidently, a very small piece of land, and no one would be deceived. So Virgil says of a man, "he was so tall as to reach the stars," and means only that he was very tall. So when John says that the world could not contain the books that would be written if all the deeds and sayings of Jesus were recorded, he clearly intends nothing more than that a great many books would be required, or that it would be extremely difficult to record them all; intimating that his life was active, that his discourses were numerous, and that he had not pretended to give them all, but only such as would go to establish the main point for which he wrote that he was the Messiah, John 20:30-31. The figure which John uses here is not uncommon in the Scriptures, Genesis 11:4; Genesis 15:5; Numbers 13:33; Daniel 4:20.
This gospel contains in itself the clearest proof of inspiration. It is the work of a fisherman of Galilee, without any proof that he had any unusual advantages. It is a connected, clear, and satisfactory argument to establish the great truth that Jesus was the Messiah. It was written many years after the ascension of Jesus. It contains the record of the Saviour's profoundest discourses, of his most convincing arguments with the Jews, and of his declarations respecting himself and God. It contains the purest and most elevated views of God to be found anywhere, as far exceeding all the speculations of philosophers as the sun does the blaze of a taper. It is in the highest degree absurd to suppose that an unlettered fisherman could have originated this book. Anyone may be convinced of this by comparing it with what would be the production of a man in that rank of life now. But if John has preserved the record of what has occurred so many years before, then it shows that he was under the divine guidance, and is himself a proof, a full and standing proof, of the fulfillment of the promise which he has recorded that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth, John 14:26. Of this book we may, in conclusion, apply the words spoken by John respecting his vision of the future events of the church: "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this" book, "and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand," Revelation 1:3.
on John 21 :25
21:25 If they were to be written particularly - Every fact, and all the circumstances of it. I suppose - This expression, which softens the hyperbole, shows that St. John wrote this verse .