The calling of Andrew and Peter in John's Gospel

…is different than in the synoptics. How do you understand this? i read that John talked about a time before the actual calling described in Matthew, Mark and Luke. What are your thoughts?
Thank you

Two passages to compare:

Matt. 4
18 As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. 19 He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they followd him.

John 1

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”[z] 37 The two disciples[aa] heard what he said and followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.[ab] 40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah”[ac] (which is translated Anointed). 42 Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John;[ad] you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter)

By combining the two different accounts, I came away with:

Jesus went to the river and met with John the Baptist, Andrew and Andrew’s friend. Andrew and the friend then left John and followed Jesus to the home where He was staying. They stayed until evening, then Andrew ran and got Peter and brought Peter to meet Jesus, and Jesus told Simon that he would be called “Cephas”. At this point Simon-Peter was probably thinking “What the heck does that mean?” That was on the first day.

The next day, Andrew and Simon were fishing, and Jesus deliberately walks by and now calls Andrew and Cephas to follow Him.

I’ll first consider the two accounts separately. The thing about John’s account is that it’s more ‘natural’. In the version in Mark and Matthew, you might say that the four fishermen seem to engage in a spur of the moment decision: you have a stranger appearing from out of the blue and calling them to leave their jobs and for some apparent reason, they just leave their nets behind. Theologically it makes for a nice portrayal, but historically it’s kind of weird/unnatural.

There are various ways to harmonize the two passages, but one I personally prefer is that John was writing about their first meeting with Jesus, while the version in the synoptics describes the moment they were called (which occurred some time after they first met Jesus). They already know Jesus at that point, which can explain why they can just leave their former lives to follow Him: they’ve already made their decision. In other words, the account in John describes the establishment of a personal relationship (‘Hi, nice to meet you’), while the synoptic version was a call to an official work (‘Hey, why don’t you come along with me?’)

When St. John writes about Andrew, Peter, and the unnamed disciple, is the unnamed disciple actually St. John, the Gospel writer?

Thank you all. This is very similar to what I read. But I never knew how to read this, temporally.

“When St. John writes about Andrew, Peter, and the unnamed disciple, is the unnamed disciple actually St. John, the Gospel writer?”

Probably. It is at least so traditionally.

It’s not a history book. It’s about being called by God. It’s about the sea which represented uncertainty, danger and tribulation. It’s about Jesus asking us, “What are you looking for?” and inviting us to “Come and see.” It is about Israel finding the long awaited Messiah.

Trying to reconcile the timeline between the two is a waste of time. There are historical facts in the narrative but the human writers were not trying to communicate a timeline of events. That’s not how they wrote. The Bible isn’t a newspaper. Matthew and John were not journalists.


Thank you Tim. Surely, there is a lot more thann history in any Gospel. But to say it is not an history book - and it is not technically - may let people think it isn’t historical. And we know it is historical. When I look for history, I don’t intend to undermine the mystical side of a Gospel, but rather I’d like to see and to show how real it is. Surely it is about faith, but it isn’t a faith build on abstraction or symbolism alone. We agree on this.

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