John 21:25 New International Version

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Was John being literal here?

  • Sometimes I wonder if John even wrote this...its a strange way to finish off when one considers he wasn't the first gospel.
    – Adam
    Apr 1, 2021 at 13:43

3 Answers 3


Is John 21:25 a hyperbole?

The Study Note at John 21:25 (NWT Study Edition) arrives at the same conclusion of hyperbole and gives an explanation:

many other things that Jesus did: Using hyperbole, John wrote that the world itself would not have room for all the scrolls (the book style then used) needed to record every detail about Jesus’ life and ministry. The Greek term John used for “world” (koʹsmos) could have been understood in the broad sense of the whole human society (with its then existing libraries), though it was sometimes used in secular Greek writings to refer to the whole universe, that is, the greatest space conceivable. (Compare study note on Ac 17:24.) John’s point was that much more could have been written, but there is enough in John’s “scroll” and the other inspired Scriptures to prove beyond doubt that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (Joh 20:30, 31) John’s relatively brief written record reveals a beautiful portrait of God’s Son.

Under the article "World" in the Insight on the Scriptures, a comparison of other possible words that John could have used is presented:

At the close of his Gospel, the apostle John says that if all the things Jesus did were set down in full detail, he supposed “the world [form of koʹsmos] itself could not contain the scrolls written.” (Joh 21:25) He did not use ge (the earth) or oi·kou·meʹne (the inhabited earth) and thereby say that the planet could not contain the scrolls, but he used koʹsmos, evidently meaning that human society (with its then existing library space) was not in position to receive the voluminous records (in the book style then used) that this would have entailed. Compare also such texts as John 7:4; 12:19 for similar uses of koʹsmos.

So, yes, John was using hyperbole but he was also being precise in his words to convey a deeper understanding of why he was writing these particular words.


No, I do not think John was giving us a hyperbole.

The reason is, this is a coda of all that came before, and bookends the opening prologue regarding the Logos, and how everything that was created, exclusively came into being by an act of God through It.

John 1:3 (ESV),

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Then later, the Logos is made flesh and dwelled among us (1:14). This of course is a reference to Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.

So, if you take 1:3 with 1:14 and compare it to 21:25, the comment the author is making is in regard to the Logos, and therefore, Jesus, being involved, from the very beginning of all things, in the creation of ALL things.

And, if one were to consider just how many things exist, known and unknown, and were to attempt an encyclopedic indexing of everything that does exist, you might well suppose, along with the author, that the world itself could not reasonably hold the amount of books that would have to be written in order to succeed at such an undertaking.

  • +1 I like your answer :)
    – user35953
    Apr 1, 2021 at 22:30
  • Upvoted +1 for a very articulate, thinking-outside-the-box insight Apr 3, 2021 at 0:59

St. John who write gospel was not hyperbole, but he is telling us that Our Lord Jesus Christ is God and He does many miracle both written(in a gospel) and not written(but orally convey) to His followers.

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