1. Introduction to the Parable of the Fishing Net

Jesus continued to teach His disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven by comparing it to a fishing net:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net (Sagēnē/G4522), that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13: 47 – 50).

As I read this parable, I heard Gabriel reminding me about the words of the Lord Jesus to Simon Peter and Andrew when He told them to “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4: 19).

2. The fishing net in the parable

Sagēnē/G4522, the Greek word used for net in the parable,  is used once in the King James Version and has no root words.  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament words refers to this particular net as a “a drag-net or seine” (Strongs in blueletterbible.org).The sagēnē was also a weighted net(biblehub.com).

I have seen fishermen fishing with a seine. One of my father’s hobbies was fishing and he used to like to pull in the seine with his fishermen friends at Lowmans Bay, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I pulled in the seine a few times myself as a child, just for fun.

The drag net or seine:

  • was a very long, circular and bell-shaped and spread out when it was thrown into the water (biblehub.com).
  • would be let out  into the water in a semicircle (biblehub.com).
  • it would then be drawn constantly through the water until it was well filled with fish. It would  then be hauled up to the shore, and the fishermen would sit around it, and take out the fish (biblehub.com).

I also recall that the fishermen at Lowmans Bay would sometimes leave the weighted net or seine out in the water in a semicircle for a few hours, then draw it to shore when the fish  filled it. When the seine was filled, it would take several people pulling on each line to pull it to shore.

Fishing in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (http://thewikibible.pbworks.com)


3. The meaning of the net in the Parable

Fishermen would not put out a seine in an area where there is no fish. I remember hearing my father speak about the fishermen throwing out the net/seine whenever the fish were “jumping.”

Jesus revealed that soul winning or drag net fishing is very deliberate, intended to catch fish, uses a variety of  fishing techniques and pulls in all kinds of fish. The net is designed to catch fish with or without their cooperation:

This net is a long one, sometimes hundreds of feet in length and about eight feet broad. Ropes are furnished the ends of the net. Corks are attached along one of the long sides of the net to keep it buoyed up, whereas the other long side has lead sinkers attached to it to make it sink.

Sometimes the net is set between two boats in the sea, being stretched between them. The boats are rowed so as to enclose a circular space and when the boats meet, then the net is hauled into the boats, the circle becoming smaller. The bottom rope is pulled in faster than the top one and thus the fish are enclosed in a bag and are pulled into the boats.

Sometimes the net is set and then drawn from the land. The one end is then taken as far as possible by a boat seaward. Then this boat brings that end of the net around with a sweep to the place of starting, where men use the same method of pulling in the nets and landing the fish.

Again, two boats sometimes stretch the net between them at a distance from shore, and then they will sweep in to the shore, forcing the fish to come with them. There must be no rocky obstructions for this method to be successful [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands as cited in biblehistoryom).

4. Comparison with the net used by Simon Peter and Andrew to catch fish

I stated earlier that Archangel Gabriel reminded me about the words of the Lord Jesus to the Simon Peter and Andrew when He told them to “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4: 19). His prompting caused me to wonder if there was something superior about catching fish with a drag net versus a casting net.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net  (amphiblēstron/G293) into the sea: for they were fishers.

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4: 18 & 19).

Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net G293 into the sea: for they were fishers (Mark 1: 16).

This  net  (amphiblēstron/G293), was a small, weighted, casting net, which the fishermen cast over their shoulders, then threw into the sea so that it spread out in a circle before it sank into the water (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament words, as cited by Strong’s in blueletterbible.com).

Further description reveals that the fishermen worked in isolation, and used a considerable amount of energy, time and effort to make a catch with a casting net:

This sort of net is in circular form about fifteen feet in diameter, with fine meshes. Around the edge it has lead sinkers. A long piece of line is attached to the center of the net.

This line is held by the left hand, and the net is gathered up in the right hand, and is cast with a broad sweep of that arm over shallow water near the shore wherever a shoal of fish is observed to be.

The middle of the net is then drawn by the cord, and the fisherman is able to wade into the water to get what he has caught. (Manners And Customs of Bible Lands, as cited in biblehistory.com).

5.  Jesus endorsed the superior benefits of fishing with the seine or dragnet

  1. the dragnet/seine was much longer and larger and caught more fish.
  2. a fisherman could catch a greater variety of fish in deeper waters – launch out into the deep.
  3. fishermen could use a variety of fishing techniques or methods to catch fish. It was more creative, according to Archangel Gabriel.
  4. group effort was required to place and draw in the net so that no fish would be lost. This is no one man show.
  5. due to the group effort, there was less exhaustion of the human and material resources of a sole individual when the drag net method of soul winning is used.
  6. fishing on the shore speaks of  one’s comfort zone. These are the old methods of soul winning which are no longer applicable – or evangelizing by routine and traditional methods.
  7. Jesus used the dragnet method in His ministry to win souls and it speaks of advanced and updated techniques in each era.

The literature shows that dragnet fishing began in very ancient times. However, with modern techniques, fishermen can go to sea for longer periods, use trawling methods and store and freeze their catches until they return.  Earth’s population would be deprived of fish if the techniques used on the Sea of Galilee were not updated.

7.  The dragnet method could be used for mass evangelism and soul winning.

8.  The cast net could be useful for one to one fishing, as in cases where Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well. The disciples would have obstructed His ministry if they had been present. However, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and had no time to waste as His Ministry had a short expiry date. We too need to fish for souls with the same urgency that He felt.

Jesus endorsed the superiority of the dragnet method over the casting net in the Parable of the Fishing Net. He used its techniques to catch all kinds of fish such as Publicans and sinners, Prostitutes, Tax Collectors, Children, Influential People, Pharisees and Sadducees to name a few.

Scriptures revealed our Lord’s exasperation with the cast net method of fishing for men. Both Apostles Matthew and Mark documented that Lord Jesus saw Simon Peter and Andrew casting a net into the sea. However, Mark clarified that they each had a net when he said that the brothers forsook their nets to follow the Lord.

Archangel Gabriel said that Jesus shook His head in amusement and exasperation when He saw the brothers standing side by side in the water, each with a cast net in his hand. They were each trying to build an individual business or ministry, oblivious to each other, trying not to share the income. They were not willing to merge in a corporate effort even though they were brothers!

Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net  (amphiblēstron/G293) into the sea: for they were fishers.

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men

And straightway they forsook their nets (diktyon/G1350), and followed him (Mark 1: 16 – 18)

Jesus knew that Simon Peter and Andrew were wasting time in fruitless effort, since they ould only fish close to the shore and catch a limited number of fish.  If they had used a seine, they would have been able to collaborate, fish in deeper waters and catch all kinds of fish. Consider this, they  have been able to appeal to varying tastes of fish lovers when selling their fish. In the same way, we need to win people with varied gifts and calling who could in turn build the Kingdom of God. 

Spiritual fisher men need to catch all kinds of people, according to the Lord. Do we apply  His techniques when winning souls?

Blessings, peace, angelic prosperity and protection. Happy Pentecost! Watch Azuza LIVE June 8th 2014 at 9 am. Please click this link.