John 21:15

So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these? He said unto him, Yea, Lord; you know that I love you. He said unto him, Feed my lambs.
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Alcuin of York

AD 804
He is called Simon, son of John, John being his natural father. But mystically, Simon is obedience, John grace, a name well befitting him who was so obedient to God's grace, that he loved our Lord more ardently than any of the others. Such virtue arising from divine gift, not mere human will. To feed the sheep is to support the believers in Christ from falling from the faith, to provide earthly sustenance for those under us, to preach and exemplify withal our preaching by our lives, to resist adversaries, to correct wanderers. ...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Our Lord asked this, knowing it: He knew that Peter not only loved Him, but loved Him more than all the rest. While our Lord was being condemned to death, he feared, and denied Him. But by His resurrection Christ implanted love in his heart, and drove away fear. Peter denied, because he feared to die: but when our Lord was risen from the dead, and by His death destroyed death, what should he fear? He says to Him, Yea, Lord; you know that I love You. On this confession of his love, our Lord commends His sheep to him: He says to him, Feed My lambs. As if there were no way of Peter’s showing his love for Him, but by being a faithful shepherd, under the chief Shepherd. He was grieved because he was asked so often by Him who knew what He asked, and gave the answer. He replies therefore from his inmost heart; you know that I love You. He says no more, He only replies what he knew himself; he knew he loved Him; whether any else loved Him he could not tell, as he could not see into another’s h...

Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter—"Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?" When Christ was about to go away into heaven, He here appoints Peter His vicar upon earth, and creates him Chief Pontiff, that the one church might be ruled by one shepherd. Christ had promised the same thing to Peter—Matt. xvi18—but in this place He confers the gift, and constitutes him prince and ruler of the whole Church, lest any one, on account of Peter"s threefold denial, should say that Christ had changed His decree concerning him. So Cyril. Mystically, Alcuin here says the Hebrew Simon means—obedient. John is grace. Peter is thus spoken of as obeying the grace of God; because, indeed, he embraces Him with a burning love—the effect, not of human merit, but of a Divine gift. Lovest thou Me more than these? First, because this office of feeding and ruling all the faithful which I design to confer upon thee demands the very greatest love of Christ and of the faithful. "...

Cyprian of Carthage

AD 258
And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, "Feed nay sheep."

Cyril of Alexandria

AD 444
Peter started to reach Jesus before the rest, disdaining, as it appears, to go by boat, because of the incomparable fervour and admirable zeal of his love towards Christ. Therefore He comes first to land, and draws up the net; for he was always an impressionable man, easily excited to enthusiasm both in speech and action. Therefore, also, he first made confession of faith when the Saviour put to them the inquiry in the parts of Caesarea Philippi, saying: Who do men say that I the Son of Man am? And of the other disciples some said Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. But when Christ put the further question to them: But Who say ye that I am? Peter took the lead, and becoming spokesman for the rest, hastened to reply: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Moreover, when the band of soldiers came, together with the officers of the Jews, to take Jesus away to the rulers, the rest all left Him and fled, but Peter struck off Malchus' ear with a sword. For he though...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? That is, more than any one of these love me. Christ puts this question thrice to St. Peter, that this triple protestation of love, says St. Augustine, might correspond to his triple denial. St. Peter did not answer that he loved him more than the rest did, which he could not know, but modestly said: yea, Lord, thou knowest I love thee: and the third time, thou knowest all things, and the hearts of all men, thou knowest how much I love thee. At each protestation, Jesus answered, feed my lambs; and the third time, feed my sheep. To feed, in the style of the Scriptures, is to guide, rule, and govern. St. Ambrose and some others take notice, as if by the lambs, might be understood the people, and by the sheep, those placed over them, as bishops, priests but others make no such difference in this place, betwixt lambs and sheep, only as comprehending all the members of Christ's Church, of what condition soever, even the rest of the apostles...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
That which most of all attracts the Divine love is care and love for our neighbor. Our Lord passing by the rest, addresses this command to Peter: he being the chief of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, and head of the college. Our Lord remembers no more his sin in denying Him, or brings that as a charge against him, but commits to him at once the superintendence over his brethren. If you love Me, have rule over your brethren, show forth that love which you have evidenced throughout, and that life which you said you would lay down for Me, lay down for the sheep. A third time He asks the same question, and gives the same command; to show of what importance He esteems the superintendence of His own sheep, and how He regards it as the greatest proof of love to Him. The question asked for the third time disturbed him: Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Love you Me? He was afraid perhaps of receiving a reproof again for professing to love more than he did. So he...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
1. There are indeed many other things which are able to give us boldness towards God, and to show us bright and approved, but that which most of all brings good will from on high, is tender care for our neighbor. Which therefore Christ requires of Peter. For when their eating was ended, Jesus says to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these? He says unto Him, Yea, Lord, You know that I love You. He says unto him, Feed My sheep. And why, having passed by the others, does He speak with Peter on these matters? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the leader of the band; on this account also Paul went up upon a time to enquire of him rather than the others. And at the same time to show him that he must now be of good cheer, since the denial was done away, Jesus puts into his hands the chief authority among the brethren; and He brings not forward the denial, nor reproaches him with what had taken place, but says, If you love Me, pre...

Theophilus of Antioch

AD 184
The dinner being ended, He commits to Peter the superintendence over the sheep of the world, not to the others: So when they had dined, Jesus says to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, Do love you Me more than these do? . Thence is taken the custom of threefold confession in baptism. There is a difference perhaps between lambs and sheep. The lambs are those just initiated, the sheep are the perfected. ...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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