I need to know what John 1:28 symbolizes, and what it actually means.
ESV - 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.
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This question (and this verse) exemplifies the importance of context in understanding scripture. Here Jesus is speaking directly and specifically to Peter, giving prophetic insight into the manner of his future demise (John 21:19). In verse 18 Jesus uses a linguistic device called parallelism which is very common to Hebrew poetry as well as prophetic and apocalyptic oration and literature. The particular type of parallelism used in this verse is called antithetical parallelism which generally contrasts two or more opposing ideas. A great example is found in Isaiah 45:7. In the first line of the verse it is says that God forms light and creates darkness, two polar opposites. The next (parallel) line tells us that He makes well-being and creates calamity, again two exact opposite conditions. In a similar way John 21:18 compares and contrasts Peter’s condition during his youth with his prophesied condition in his old age. The comparison reveals that his conditions are diametrically opposed. Instead of getting himself dressed and going where ever he wishes as he did in his youth, he will be dressed by others and taken where ever they want him to go in his twilight. Although we don’t have a detailed and totally reliable church history of Peter’s condition in his later years, church tradition generally holds that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome during the senior years of his life, ending his earthly ministry by martyrdom. The manner of Peter’s death is attested to by Tertullian at the end of the second century, and by Origen in Eusebius, Church History II.1. Origen says: "Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer." Also, according to the noncanonical Acts of Peter, he was crucified upside down. Although these ancient sources are not part of God’s Word and are not considered inspired, inerrant, or infallible they are certainly numerous, consistent, and trustworthy enough to be accepted as true. Therefore, many believe that Jesus’ prophesy of Peter stretching out his hands in a place he doesn’t want to be (vs. 18) is a direct reference to Peter’s crucifixion as an older man. Verse 19 parenthetically confirms that hypothesis and the somewhat cryptic words of Jesus at the end of the verse, “Follow me” may be an inference that Peter is to follow Jesus even in His manner of death. So, in response to your desire to know what the passage symbolizes, it does not appear that the words of Jesus to Peter in these verses are intended to be particularly symbolic of anything, but rather prophetic in nature. Jesus gave Peter insight into how his life would end. As we read those words in the light of available historical information, the fulfilled prophesy strengthens our faith and adds to the hope of the glory of God in store for us when we reach the end of our earthly lives (Romans 5:2).
Peace of Christ everyone. As the others have answered, I too embraced that same insight for almost 25 years. Just now I have received some deeper revelation during my studies. And to be clear, this revelation was confirmed by Smith Wigglesworth, in his book “The Anointing”. It was revealed that Jesus, though talking to Peter, this truth He was sharing was expressed through the lives of many others, including Peter. Before Peter and the disciples had that great encounter on the day of Pentecost, they had freedom to go and do as they saw fit, using their own judgment, dictating who to speak to, what to do and where to go. Once they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that all ceased. They had to have their footsteps ordered by the Lord. Even going to places they didn’t want to go, doing things they didn’t want to do and speaking to people they didn’t want to. The Apostle Paul attested to this by confirming that He was a slave to Christ and in chains for the gospel. Once the Holy Spirit is fully in you, Emmanuel (God with us) is fully living in you. Your life is over. You don’t get a say on where you go or who to speak to. Your life mission becomes a life of a servant with complete obedience towards the will of God. No one can do this unless the Holy Spirit is in charge. The first step in achieving this is to embrace and pray what The Apostle decreed: Crucifying the flesh, affections and lusts of the world! Only then can you cease to exist and the Holy Spirit can live freely in you, causing you to become a fellowship towards your suffering just as Jesus our Lord did. Hallelujah. Help us Holy Spirit. He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit is saying. I know this is very different, and it was for me and still is. I’m just growing into these new shoes that the Lord gave me. I still have to learn how to tie them. Lol.... I pray all who read this is truly in love with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is Lord. Be blessed everyone. Brother Eric
Jesus was telling Peter that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-22).
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