Mt Wellington Community Church


For a couple of weeks after Easter, our morning Scripture Union Bible reading notes were leading us through the end of John's gospel.

(Scripture Union provides a very good systematic way for reading your Bible; Marion and I have each been using a progression of levels of Scripture Union notes ever since our primary school years. If you are not systematically reading your Bible every day we would strongly recommend them. Scripture Union New Zealand's address is 9a Oxford Terrace Wellington 6O21 or

In chapter 21 of John, we read of some of the disciples going off fishing and Jesus (whom they did not recognise) calling to them up from the shore (as in the New Living Translation) "Fellows, have you caught any fish?". But I noticed that the translation we were using (New International Version) phrased the question differently:- "Friends, haven't you any fish?" When we compare different translations (see for a couple of dozen alternatives) we find that almost half of them phrase the question negatively. The one I like best (from the New American Standard 1977 is:- "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?"

The Scripture Union notes (in relation to another passage) says that "in Greek, questions expecting the answer 'yes' begin with the word ou and those anticipating 'no' with me." For this question the Greek uses me. Imagine your kids are doing some harebrained experiment or other. When they come home, asking them "Did it work?" is rather different from the sympathetic question that has already been answered by their demeanour, "Didn't it work then?" Jesus didn't need to ask them to find out whether or not they had caught any fish. So why did he ask them? I leave you to ponder the answer - and the application