Jesus's Words

The Parable of the Net of Fish

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Matthew 13:47-50

Synopsis of Parable:

A net was cast from a boat into the sea and gathered all kinds of fish. They went to shore and kept the good fish, but tossed away the bad.

Parable Given in Response to:

A parable given by the sea side(Matthew 13:1.) directly after the Parable of the Tares.

Symbolism Chart

Symbol Meaning Verse Found Notes
↓Net Net Matthew 13:47
↓Sea Earth Matthew 13:47
↓Fish People Matthew 13:47 "Gathered of every kind."

The Parable of the Net of Fish

As presented in the King James Version of Matthew 13:47-50

Matthew 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols

The Net is the Kingdom of God Back to Top ↑

Jesus says it best. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net. Matthew 13:47 And just like the kingdom of God, many people are called,(Matthew 22:14.) everyone that is in the net!

There is not a vast variety of commentary on this parable, but that is because it is so simple and the concept is repeated many times by Jesus. Even the previous parable, the Parable of the Tares, referenced this subject.

The Sea is Earth Back to Top ↑

Here, we see that when the net is cast into the sea it comes out with two groups of fish. One group of bad, and one group of good. And just as Jesus brought the kingdom of God to Earth, so too did the net go into the sea, because here, the sea represents earth. And it is on earth that you can find the two groups of people, those fit and chosen for the kingdom, and those unfit and cast away.

As people are only found on earth, and the interpretation of fish are humans,(See the next section for this explanation.) it is logical and easy to conclude that the sea is Earth. This interpretation, while perhaps not common as most denominations ignore the symbol of the sea, agrees with most denominations' interpretation of this parable.

The Fish are People Back to Top ↑

The fish are people. That much is plainly obvious, however it would be good to go into just how often it is that bad people are let into the kingdom of God, only to be separated.

In this parable, we see the net, representing the Kingdom, go into the sea, and pull out fish. Then the fish are separated. The direct analogue to real life is given by the verses 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 13:49, 50 This directly implies, through analogy, that the kingdom of God will need some "sorting out" at the end, to separate the good from the bad.

The same thing happens in the Parable of the Wedding Feast. At the end, the King notices a man who he invited to the feast not wearing wedding clothes,(Matthew 22:11.) and throws him out.(Matthew 22:13.) However, the feast itself is the wedding. And the feast represents the kingdom of God. So here, we have a bad man already inside the kingdom of God, who is then removed, taken away, and cast into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 22:13 Jesus explains this by saying For many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14

In the Parable of the Tares, we have a field, which Jesus explicitly says is the world.Matthew 13:38 In this field, there are wheat and tares growing together, the wheat being good and the tares being bad. Jesus says regarding these tares, As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:40-42 Notice where the tares are being gathered from, they are being gathered from the kingdom of God!

In the Parable of the Minas/Talents, the unprofitable servant that does nothing with the money he is given is already within the King's employ. The King already knows him and has trusted and provided for these men. It is only after the King thinks about their actions that he kicks them out of his kingdom.

The idea that "once you are in the kingdom of God, you cannot leave it" is a teaching that Jesus does not teach. We should be wary of anyone who believes such a common lie, lest we be led astray by a wolf in sheep's clothing.(A sentiment Jesus echoes. Matthew 7:15.)

In Conclusion Back to Top ↑

This is another simple parable. When the time comes, God will have the bad separated from the good, and give each their just rewards.

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