New Defender's Study Bible Notes
21:17 lovest thou me. Jesus had twice asked Peter if he loved Him with agape love (true self-less devotion to the one loved). Peter had answered that he did love Him, but with phileo love (brotherly kindness). This third time, Jesus also used phileo, and Peter was grieved. He finally recognized that the thrice-repeated question was intended to remind him of His thrice-repeated denial of the Lord (John 18:17, 25, 27). Further, the Lord had not addressed him as Peter (“the rock”) but by his old name Simon. Jesus wanted to bring him back to the point where he would henceforth not just go fishing (John 21:3) but would “Feed my lambs,” “feed my sheep” and “tend my sheep” (John 21:15,17,16). The converts must be fed and tended with God’s Word (see I Peter 5:2-3), and this must be done through love for Christ.