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Dwelling in Capernaum


Call to Become Fishers of Men

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


Canonized Text

Not in this book


Message, Amplified, Young's Literal, King James, Reina-Valera


Epiphany 3A
Epiphany 3B
Epiphany 5C
18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with     Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were     fishers.
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
19 And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land.
And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy  word I will let down the net.
6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they  came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon,  Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
  • Walking along the shore
  • Mending nets
  • Leaving Zebedee

  • Preaching
  • Use of boats
  • Jesus going out to fish with Simon
  • Sea of Galilee
  • Disciples and their vocation
  • Call to follow and become fishers of men
  • Response of forsaking all to follow Jesus


Harmonized Texts



(Tatian, 170)






1 But when Simon Cephas saw this he fell before the feet of Jesus, and said unto him, My Lord, I beseech of thee to depart from me, for I am 2 a sinful man. And amazement took possession of him, and of all who were with him, 3 because of the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And thus also were James and John the sons of Zebedee overtaken, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus said 4 unto Simon, Fear not; henceforth thou shalt be a fisher of men unto life. And they brought the boats to the land; and they left everything, and followed him.




Harmonized Study of the Texts


Fourfold Gospel

(McGarvey & Pendleton, 1914)

Harmony of the Gospels

(Augustine of Hippo, ca 400)


(Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum.)
ATT. IV. 18-22; bMARK I. 16-20; cLUKE V. 1-11.

Chapter 17. Of the Calling of the Apostles as They Were Fishing.


      a18 And walking   b16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee [This lake is a pear-shaped body of water, about twelve and a half miles long and about seven miles across at its widest place. It is 682 feet below sea level; its waters are fresh, clear and abounding in fish, and it is surrounded by hills and mountains, which rise from 600 to 1,000 feet above it. Its greatest depth is about 165 feet], he [Jesus] saw atwo brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, {bthe brother of Simon} casting a net in {ainto} the sea [The New Testament speaks of three kinds of nets, viz.: the amphiblestron, which is only mentioned here; the sagene, mentioned only at Matt. xiii. 47; and the dictua, which is mentioned in all other places. The dictua was a casting-net; the sagene, a seine or dragnet; and the amphiblestron was a drawnet, a circular bell-shaped affair, which was thrown upon the water, so that it spread out and [161] caught, by sinking, whatever was below it]; for they were fishers. [Though Simon and Andrew had been companions of Jesus on at least one journey, they did not as yet understand that his service would require all their time. The facts that Jesus now temporarily resided at Capernaum afforded them an opportunity to return to their old occupation, which they readily embraced. Fishing was then a prosperous trade on the lake of Galilee.]   b17 And Jesus said {ahe saith} bunto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. [It was an invitation to follow, that they might be instructed by hearing his teaching and beholding his work. Jesus called them from a lower to a similar but higher labor. He calls all honest tradesmen in this manner. He invites carpenters to build his temple, servants to serve the great King, physicians to heal immortal souls, merchants to invest in pearls of great price, etc. The fisherman found many points of resemblance between the old and new calling, such as, 1, daily hardships and dangers; 2, earnest desires for the objects sought; 3, skill and wisdom in the use of means, etc. Disciples are fishers, human souls are fish, the world is the sea, the gospel is the net, and eternal life is the shore whither the catch is drawn.]   a21 And going on from thence ba little further, ahe saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, bwho also were in the boat awith Zebedee their father, mending their {bthe} nets. [They also, like Peter and Andrew, were at work when Jesus found them. God calls the busy to his business. For instances where God had called the busy, see cases of Moses (Ex. iii. 1, 2), Gideon (Judg. vi. 11), Saul (I. Sam. x. 1-3), David (I. Sam. xvi. 11-15), Elisha (I. Kings xix. 19-21), Matthew (Matt. ix. 9), Saul (Acts ix. 1-6). Moreover most of these were called from lowly work, for such is God's method (I. Cor. i. 26-29). We should note two reasons why God chose the lowly and unlearned: 1, their minds being free from prejudice were more ready to entertain new truth; 2, the strength of the gospel was made more apparent by the [162] weakness of its ministers (I. Cor. ii. 3-5; II. Cor. iv. 7; Zech. iv. 6). Of these two brothers, James was the first apostolic martyr and John the last survivor of the twelve. James was beheaded about A. D. 44 (Acts xii. 1, 2); and John, after upwards of seventy years of Christian service, died at Ephesus about A. D. 100.]   20 And straightway he called them [From Matthew and Mark we would suppose that Jesus was alone when he called the two sets of brothers, and that with them he immediately left the lake. But we learn from Luke that he taught and worked a miracle before leaving the lake]:   c1 Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret [This body of water bore many names. It was anciently called Chinnereth (Num. xxxiv. 11), or Chinneroth (Judg. xii. 3), from a fortified town (Josh. xix. 35) and district (I. Kings xv. 20) in Naphtali bearing that name. It is here called Gennesaret, from a plain of that name upon its northwestern shore (which may be a corruption of the old name Chinnereth.) It received its name, Galilee, from the district to which it belongs, and in later times it bore the name Tiberias (John vi. 1), from the city of that name on its western shore];   2 and he saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. [We may conceive of the fishermen, in answer to Jesus' call, drawing their boats together to the point where he stood upon the shore. Then, as Jesus stood teaching, they occupied themselves in the shallow water behind by washing their nets while they listened to him.]   3 And he entered into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. [He did this that he might avoid the press, and that the people might be better able both to see and to hear.] And he sat down [the usual attitude or posture of a teacher] and taught the multitudes out of the boat.   4 And when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a [163] draught. ["Put out" is in the singular, being addressed to Simon alone; "let down" is plural, being addressed generally to those in the boat.]   5 And Simon answered and said, Master, we have toiled all the night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets. ["Master" is a broader word than "Rabbi"; it indicates a superior, but does not confine his superiority to matters of instruction. The words of Peter show a willingness to oblige or honor Jesus, but are devoid of hope as to the thing proposed. Night was the time for fishing (John xxi. 3); and the proper place to cast the net was near the shore; but if Jesus wished to fish by daylight in the middle of the lake, Simon was not too weary to humor the wish.]   6 And when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their nets were breaking [that is, the nets began to snap when they tried to lift them out of the water];   7 and they beckoned unto their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. [This indicates that they were well out into the lake, where it was easier to beckon than to shout explanations. Some think the marvel wrought by Jesus made them speechless, but they were so engrossed in the magnitude and value of the catch that the full glory of the miracle had not yet come upon them.] And they came, and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. [They probably ran a second net under the one which enclosed the fishes, and by thus doubling the strength of the net were able to draw the fish up between the boats. A great load thus suddenly dumped in the side of a boat will cause it to list, dip water and threaten to sink. Such appears to have been the case here until the loads were so distributed as to right the ships.]   8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.   9 For he was amazed, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken [This miracle came home to the soul of Peter because it was wrought in his own boat, with his own nets, and concerned his own business. [164] Religion is only powerful as it becomes personal. Peter's request shows how deeply the miracle impressed him. It gave him that sense of the divine presence which never fails to overwhelm the hearts of men. No man can behold God in his glory and live (Ex. xxxiii. 20-23; xx. 18, 19); and though there have been exceptions where men have seen God or his representatives and lived (Ex. xxiv. 9-11; Judg. vi. 21-23; xiii. 22, 23; Isa. vi. 1-5; Dan. x. 16-19; Gen. xxxii. 30); yet no man, not even the purest, has ever stood in the presence of God or his ministers without feeling such a sense of weakness and sinfulness as to almost extinguish life--Rev. i. 17; Job xlii. 5, 6];   10 and so were also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. [Jesus here shows the purpose for which this miracle had been wrought. It was a prophetic type or picture which foreshadowed the triumphs of the day of Pentecost and other seasons when the apostles had great ingatherings of souls through the preaching of the gospel.]   11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they astraightway cleft all [that is to say, Peter and Andrew], bleft the nets [but James and John], aleft the boat and their father, bZebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him. {cfollowed him} [The four partners, boats, different kinds of nets, hired servants, etc., and the fact that Salome, the wife of Zebedee, was one of those who ministered to Christ out of her substance (Matt. xxvii. 55, 56; Luke viii. 3), all indicate a business of respectable proportions: a fact which suggests that the church of Christ would catch more souls if all its parts were in partnership. Evidently when the four men left the boats and nets Zebedee took charge of them. While the four rightly recognized that the divine call was superior to their earthly obligations, there is nothing which leads us to imply that their sudden departure discomfited Zebedee. The call of Christ here marks a change in their relationship to him. Hitherto discipleship had not materially interfered with [165] business, but this present call separated them from their occupation, and prepared them for the call to be apostles which came later, and which required them to be his constant companions--Mark iii. 14.]


34. Matthew's narrative is continued thus: "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee." Mark states the same fact, as also does Luke, only Luke says nothing in the present section as to John being cast into prison. The evangelist John, again, tells us that, before Jesus went into Galilee, Peter and Andrew were with Him one day, and that on that occasion the former had this name, Peter, given him, while before that period he was called Simon. Likewise John tells us, that on the day following, when Jesus was now desirous of going forth unto Galilee, He found Philip, and said to him that he should follow Him. Thus, too, the evangelist comes to give the narrative about Nathanael. Further, he informs us that on the third day, when He was yet in Galilee, Jesus wrought the miracle of the turning of the water into wine at Cana. All these incidents are left unrecorded by the other evangelists, who continue their narratives at once with the statement of the return of Jesus into Galilee. Hence we are to understand that there was an interval here of several days, during which those incidents took place in the history of the disciples which are inserted at this point by John. Neither is there anything contradictory here to that other passage where Matthew tells us how the Lord said to Peter, "You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church." But we are not to understand that that was the time when he first received this name; but we are rather to suppose that this took place on the occasion when it was said to him, as John mentions, "You shall be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, A stone." Thus the Lord could address him at that later period by this very name, when He said, "You are Peter." For He does not say then, "You shall be called Peter," but, "You are Peter;" because on a previous occasion he had already been spoken to in this manner, "You shall be called."

35. After this, Matthew goes on with his narrative in these terms: "And leaving the city of Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capharnaum, which is upon the sea-coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim;" and so forth, until we come to the conclusion of the sermon which He delivered on the mount. In this section of the narrative, Mark agrees with him in attesting the calling of the disciples Peter and Andrew, and a little after that, the calling of James and John. But whereas Matthew introduces in this immediate context his account of that lengthened sermon which He delivered on the mount, after He cured a multitude, and when great crowds followed Him, Mark has inserted other matters at this point, touching His teaching in the synagogue, and the people's amazement at His doctrine. Then, too, he has stated what Matthew also states, although not till after that lengthened sermon has been given, namely, that "He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes." He has likewise given us the account of the man out of whom the unclean spirit was cast; and after that the story of Peter's mother-in-law. In these things, moreover, Luke is in accord with him. But Matthew has given us no notice of the evil spirit here. The story of Peter's mother-in-law, however, he has not omitted, only he brings it in at a later stage.

36. In this paragraph, moreover, which we are at present considering, the same Matthew follows up his account of the calling of those disciples to whom, when they were engaged in fishing, He gave the command to follow Him, by a narrative to the effect that He went about Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the gospel, and healing all manner of sickness; and that when multitudes had gathered about Him, He went up into a mountain, and delivered that lengthened sermon [already alluded to]. Thus the evangelist gives us ground for understanding that those incidents which are recorded by Mark after the election of those same disciples, took place at the period when He was going about Galilee, and teaching in their synagogues. We are at liberty also to suppose that what happened to Peter's mother-in-law came in at this point; and that he has mentioned at a later stage what he has passed over here, although he has not indeed brought up at that later point, for direct recital, everything else which is omitted at the earlier.

37. The question may indeed be raised as to how John gives us this account of the calling of the disciples, which is to the effect that, certainly not in Galilee, but in the vicinity of the Jordan, Andrew first of all became a follower of the Lord, together with another disciple whose name is not declared; that, in the second place, Peter got that name from Him; and thirdly, that Philip was called to follow Him; whereas the other three evangelists, in a satisfactory concord with each other, Matthew and Mark in particular being remarkably at one here, tell us that the men were called when they were engaged in fishing. Luke, it is true, does not mention Andrew by name. Nevertheless, we can gather that he was in that same vessel, from the narrative of Matthew and Mark, who furnish a concise history of the manner in which the affair was gone about. Luke, however, presents us with a fuller and clearer exposition of the circumstances, and gives us also an account of the miracle which was performed there in the haul of fishes, and of the fact that previous to that the Lord spoke to the multitudes when He was seated in the boat. There may also seem to be a discrepancy in this respect, that Luke records the saying, "From henceforth you shall catch men," as if it had been addressed by the Lord to Peter alone, while the others have exhibited it as spoken to both the brothers. But it may very well be the case that these words were spoken first to Peter himself, when he was seized with amazement at the immense multitude of fishes which were caught, and this will then be the incident introduced by Luke; and that they were addressed to the two together somewhat later, which [second utterance] will be the one noticed by the other two evangelists. Therefore the circumstance which we have mentioned with regard to John's narrative deserves to be carefully considered; for it may indeed be supposed to bring before us a contradiction of no slight importance. For if it be the case that in the vicinity of the Jordan, and before Jesus went into Galilee, two men, on hearing the testimony of John the Baptist, followed Jesus; that of these two disciples the one was Andrew, who at once went and brought his own brother Simon to Jesus; and that on this occasion that brother received the name Peter, by which he was thereafter to be called,—how can it be said by the other evangelists that He found them engaged in fishing in Galilee, and called them there to be His disciples? How can these diverse accounts be reconciled, unless it be that we are to understand that those men did not gain such a view of Jesus on the occasion connected with the vicinity of the Jordan as would lead them to attach themselves to Him for ever, but that they simply came to know who He was, and, after their first wonder at His Person, returned to their former engagements?

38. For [it is noticeable that] again in Cana of Galilee, after He had turned the water into wine, this same John tells us how His disciples believed on Him. The narrative of that miracle proceeds thus: "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called and His disciples to the marriage." Now, surely, if it was on this occasion that they believed on Him, as the evangelist tells us a little further on, they were not yet His disciples at the time when they were called to the marriage. This, however, is a mode of speech of the same kind with what is intended when we say that the Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia; for certainly he was not an apostle at that period. In like manner are we told here that the disciples of Christ were invited to the marriage, by which we are to understand, not that they were already disciples, but only that they were to be His disciples. For, at the time when this narrative was prepared and committed to writing, they were the disciples of Christ in fact; and that is the reason why the evangelist, as the historian of past times, has thus spoken of them.

39. But further, as to John's statement, that "after this He went down to Capharnaum, He and His mother, and His brethren and His disciples; and they continued there not many days;" it is uncertain whether by this period these men had already attached themselves to Him, in particular Peter and Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee. For Matthew first of all tells us that He came and dwelt in Capharnaum, and then that He called them from their boats as they were engaged in fishing. On the other hand, John says that His disciples came with Him to Capharnaum. Now it may be the case that Matthew has but gone over here something he had omitted in its proper order. For he does not say, "After this, walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren," but, without any indication of the strict consecution of time, simply, "And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren," and so forth: consequently it is quite possible that he has recorded at this later period not something which took place actually at that later time, but only something which he had omitted to introduce before; so that the men may be understood in this way to have come along with Him to Capharnaum, to which place John states that He did come, He and His mother and His disciples: or should we rather suppose that these were a different body of disciples, as He [may already have] had a follower in Philip, whom He called in this particular manner, by saying to him, "Follow me"? For in what order all the twelve apostles were called is not apparent from the narratives of the evangelists. Indeed, not only is the succession of the various callings left unrecorded; but even the fact of the calling is not mentioned in the case of all of them, the only vocations specified being those of Philip, and Peter and Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee, and Matthew the publican, who was also called Levi. The first and only person, however, who received a separate name from Him was Peter. For He did not give the sons of Zebedee their names individually, but He called them both together the sons of thunder.

40. Besides, we ought certainly to note the fact that the evangelical and apostolical Scriptures do not confine this designation of His "disciples" to those twelve alone, but give the same appellation to all those who believed on Him, and were educated under His instruction for the kingdom of heaven. Out of the whole number of such He chose twelve, whom He also named apostles, as Luke mentions. For a little further on he says: And He came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the concourse of His disciples and a great multitude of people. And surely he would not speak of a "concourse" [or "crowd"] of disciples if he referred only to twelve men. In other passages of the Scriptures also the fact is plainly apparent, that all those were called His disciples who were instructed by Him in what pertained to eternal life.

41. But the question may be asked, how He called the fishermen from their boats two by two, namely, calling Peter and Andrew first, and then going forward a little and calling other two, namely the sons of Zebedee, according to the narratives of Matthew and Mark; whereas Luke's version of the matter is, that both their boats were filled with the immense haul of fishes. And his statement bears further, that Peter's partners, to wit, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were summoned to the men's help when they were unable to drag out their crowded nets, and that all who were there were astonished at the enormous draught of fishes which had been taken; and that when Jesus said to Peter, "Fear not, from henceforth you shall catch men," although the words had been addressed to Peter alone, they all nevertheless followed Him when they had brought their ships to land. Well, we are to understand by this, that what Luke introduces here was what took place first, and that these men were not called by the Lord on this occasion, but only that the prediction was uttered to Peter by himself, that he would be a fisher of men. That saying, moreover, was not intended to convey that they would never thereafter be catchers of fish. For we read that even after the Lord's resurrection they were engaged again in fishing. The words, therefore, imported simply that thereafter he would catch men, and they did not bear that henceforth he would not catch fish. And in this way we are at perfect liberty to suppose that they returned to the catching of fish, according to their habit; so that those incidents which are related by Matthew and Mark might easily take place at a period subsequent to this. I refer to what occurred at the time when He called the disciples two by two, and Himself gave them the command to follow Him, at first addressing Peter and Andrew, and then the others, namely, the two sons of Zebedee. For on that occasion they did not follow Him only after they had drawn up their ships on shore, as with the intention of returning to them, but they went after Him immediately, as after one who summoned and commanded them to follow Him.



Apocrophal &/or  Pseudepigraphal Texts


Magdalene Gospel (Pepys)

(Anonymous, ca 200)








1 After that, Jesus came down to the see of Tiberias, and a lot of people followed him so that they could hear his teachings. 2 And there were two boats at anchor in the water nearby, and the fishers had gone out of them, to wash their nets. 3 And Jesus got into one of the boats, which was Simon's father's (*nc), and he asked him to put out a little from the land. 4 And so he sat down in the boat and taught the people. 5 And when he had finished his sermon, he told him to put out into the deep and let down his nets. 6 And Simon answered him, and said that they had toiled all night and took nothing, but because of his word they will let down the net.

7 And as soon as he had let down the net, he took so much fish that it [was about to] tear the net. 8 And he called James and John, who were sons of Zebedee, and partners with Simon. 9 And they came up to help him, and filled both the boats so full, that they were at the point of sinking. 10 And when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down on his knees before Jesus, and besought him that he (Peter?) may get out of the boat, for he it was that was sinful. 11 And they all were astonished at the catch of fish. 12 And Jesus answered Simon, and said, "Do not be afraid", because he shall fish after men from that time onwards. 13 And right away, they had brought their boats to land, and left everything they had, and followed Jesus for a while. 14 And then they returned again to their affairs, until such time as when Jesus would call them again.+






Selected Quotes & Notes On    Luke 5:1-11   

  • John Wesley,  Notes On the New Testament (1755):

    •  [vs 11] They forsook all and followed him-They had followed him before, Joh 1:43, but not so as to forsake all. Till now, they wrought at their ordinary calling.

  • The Fourfold Gospel:

    • [vs 1]  The lake of Gennesaret. This body of water bore many names. It was anciently called Chinnereth (Nu 34:11), or Chinneroth (Jg 12:3), from a fortified town (Jos 19:35) and district (1Ki 15:20) in Naphtali bearing that name. It is here called Gennesaret, from a plain of that name upon its northwestern shore (which may be a corruption of the old name Chinnereth.) It received its name, Galilee, from the district to which it belongs, and in later times it bore the name Tiberias (Joh 6:1), from the city of that name on its western shore. Also see TFG for Mr 6:53.

    • [vs 8]  Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. Peter's request shows how deeply the miracle impressed him. It gave him that sense of the divine presence which never fails to overwhelm the hearts of men. No man can behold God in his glory and live (Ex 33:20-23; 20:18,19); and though there have been exceptions where men have seen God or his representatives and lived (Ex 24:9-11; Jg 6:21-23; 13:22,23; Isa 6:1-5; Da 10:16-19; Ge 32:30); yet no man, not even the purest, has ever stood in the presence of God or his ministers without feeling such a sense of weakness and sinfulness as to almost extinguish life (Re 1:17; Job 42:5,6).

  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:
    • [vs 11] * they forsook. Lu 18:28-30; Mt 4:20; 10:37; 19:27; Mr 1:18-25; 10:21,29,30; Php 3:7,8

  • Robertson's Word Pictures:

    • [vs 10] Thou shalt catch men (esŕi z˘gr˘n). Periphrastic future indicative, emphasizing the linear idea. The old verb Z˘gre˘ means to catch alive, not to kill. So then Peter is to be a catcher of men, not of fish, and to catch them alive and for life, not dead and for death. The great Pentecost will one day prove that Christ's prophecy will come true. Much must happen before that great day. But Jesus foresees the possibilities in Simon and he joyfully undertakes the task of making a fisher of men out of this poor fisher of fish.

    • [vs 11] They left all, and followed him (aphentes panta ŕkolouthŕsan). Then and there. They had already become his disciples. Now they leave their business for active service of Christ. The conduct of this group of business men should make other business men to pause and see if Jesus is calling them to do likewise.

  • William Burkitt's Notes:

    • [vs 1] Here observe, 1. That our Saviour used the sea as well as the land in his passage from place to place to preach the gospel; and the reasons why he did so might probably be these:

      1. To show Nature's intent in making of the sea: namely, to be sailed upon, as the land to be walked upon.

      2. That Christ might take occasion to manifest his Deity, in working miracles upon the sea: namely, by calming of the waves and stilling of the winds.

      3. It might be to comfort sea-faring men in their distresses, and to encourage them to pray to such a Saviour as had an experiemental knowledge of the dangers of the sea: it were well if sailors would consider this, and instead of inuring themselves to the language of hell when they go down into the deep, would direct their prayer unto Christ, and look up to him; who now in heaven has the remembrance of what he himself endured and underwent here on earth, and on the sea.


  • Family Bible Notes:

    •  [vs 1] The common people are often more eager than their rulers to hear the truths of the gospel. These truths, plainly and kindly exhibited, meet their wants as sinners, and commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

  • 1599 Geneva Bible Notes:

    • Christ reveals to the four disciples whom he had taken unto himself the office of the apostleship, which would be committed unto them in the future. (a) Did as it were lie upon him, so desirous were they both to see him and hear him, and therefore he taught them out of a ship.


  • People's New Testament Commentary:

    • [vs 11] They forsook all. The four just named. Before this all were disciples; henceforth they follow Jesus personally. These all together cast the gospel net on Pentecost and had a mighty draught [Ac 2:14,41].

  • Albert Barnes' Commentary:

    • [vs 1] "Gennesaret was the more ancient name of the lake, taken from a small territory or plain of that name on its western borders. See Nu 34:11; Jos 19:35, where, after the Hebrew orthography, it is called Chinnereth" (Owen).

    • [vs 3] He sat down. This was the common posture of Jewish teachers. They seldom or never spoke to the people standing. Comp. Mt 5:1.

    • [vs 5]  At thy word. At thy command. Though it seemed so improbable that they would take anything after having in vain toiled all night, yet he was willing to trust the word of Jesus and make the trial. This was a remarkable instance of faith. Peter, as it appears, knew little then of Jesus. He was not then a chosen apostle. Jesus came to these fishermen almost a stranger and unknown, and yet at his command Peter resolved to make another trial, and go once more out into the deep. Oh, if all would as readily obey him, all would be in like manner blessed. If sinners would thus obey him, they would find all his promises sure. He never disappoints. He asks only that we have confidence in him, and he will give to us every needful blessing.

  • Jamieson-Faussett Brown:

    •    [vs 1] Not their first call, however, recorded in Joh 1:35-42; nor their second, recorded in Mt 4:18-22; but their third and last before their appointment to the apostleship. That these calls were all distinct and progressive, seems quite plain. (Similar stages are observable in other eminent servants of Christ.)

    • [vs 4]  for a draught--munificent recompense for the use of his boat.

    • [vs 5]  If sinners would thus obey him, they would find all his promises sure. He never disappoints. He asks only that we have confidence in him, and he will give to us every needful blessing.

    • [vs 8]  Did Peter then wish Christ to leave him? Verily no. His all was wrapt up in Him (Joh 6:68). "It was rather, Woe is me, Lord! How shall I abide this blaze of glory? A sinner such as I am is not fit company for Thee." (Compare Isa 6:5.)

    • [vs 11]  forsook all--They did this before (Mt 4:20); now they do it again; and yet after the Crucifixion they are at their boats once more (Joh 21:3). In such a business this is easily conceivable. After pentecost, however, they appear to have finally abandoned their secular calling.

  • Spurgeon Devotional Commentary:

    • [v 5] Whatever may have happened, it is ours to obey, and in obeying we shall meet with a reward.

    • [vs 11] And wonderful man-catchers they became, taking whole nations in their gospel nets. The Lord help all his spiritual fishermen to cast the net on the right side of the ship.

  • Adam Clarke's Commentary:

    •  [vs 1] The people pressed upon him] There was a glorious prospect of a plentiful harvest, but how few of these blades came to full corn in the ear! To hear with diligence and affection is well; but a preacher of the Gospel may expect that, out of crowds of hearers, only a few, comparatively, will fully receive the truth, and hold out to the end.

    • [vs 5]  He who assumes the character of a fisher of men, under any authority that does not proceed from Christ, is sure to catch nothing; but he who labours by the order and under the direction of the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, cannot labour in vain

    • [vs 7]  Were men as zealous to catch souls, as they are to support their particular creeds, and forms of worship, the state of Christianity would be more flourishing than it is at present.

    • [vs 10]  Fear not: these discoveries of God tend to life, not to death; and ye shall become the instruments of life and salvation to a lost world.

    • [vs 11]   They forsook all, and followed him.] God expects this from every person, and especially from those in whose hearts, or in whose behalf, he has wrought a miracle of grace or of providence. Jesus intended to call Peter, James, and John, to become his disciples; and that they might see the propriety and importance of the call, he:-

      1st. TEACHES in their presence, that they may know his doctrine.

      2dly. He WORKS a MIRACLE before their eyes, that they might see and be convinced of his power.

      3dly. He CALLS them to go forth with this doctrine, and through this power, that they might teach the ignorant, and be successful in their work.


  • Matthew Henry Concise Commentary:

     When Christ had done preaching, he told Peter to apply to the business of his calling. Time spent on week days in public exercises of religion, need be but little hinderance in time, and may be great furtherance to us in temper of mind, as to our worldly business. With what cheerfulness may we go about the duties of our calling, when we have been with God, and thus have our worldly employments sanctified to us by the word and prayer!





Quotes & Notes on:     Matthew 4:19   

  • John Wesley's Notes:
     (No comment on this verse).

  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:

    * Follow. Mt 8:22; 9:9; 16:24; 19:21; Mr 2:14; Lu 5:27; 9:59; Joh 1:43; 12:26 Joh 21:22
    * I will. Eze 47:9,10; Mr 1:17,18; Lu 5:10,11; 1Co 9:20-22; 2Co 12:16

  • Adam Clarke's Commentary:

     Follow me] Come after me, . Receive my doctrines, imitate me in my conduct-in every respect be my disciples. We may observe that most of the calls of God to man are expressed in a few solemn words, which alarm, the conscience, and deeply impress the heart.

    I will make you fishers of men.] Ezekiel Eze 47:8-10, casts much light on this place; and to this prophet our Lord probably alludes. To follow Christ, and be admitted into a partnership of his ministry, is a great honour; but those only who are by himself fitted for it, God calls. Miserable are those who do not wait fur this call-who presume to take the name of fishers of men, and know not how to cast the net of the Divine word, because not brought to an acquaintance with the saving power of the God who bought them. Such persons, having only their secular interest in view, study not to catch men, but to catch money: and though, for charity's sake, it may be said of a pastor of this spirit, he does not enter the sheepfold as a thief, yet he certainly lives as a hireling. See Quesnel.

    Some teach to work, but have no hands to row;
    Some will be eyes, but have no light to see;
    Some will be guides, but have no feet to go;
    Some deaf, yet ears, some dumb, yet tongues will be;
    Dumb, deaf, lame, blind, and maimed, yet fishers all!
    Fit for no use but store an hospital.
    Fletcher's Piscatory Eclogues. Ec. iv. 5, 18.

    Following a person, in the Jewish phrase, signifies being his disciple or scholar. See a similar mode of speech, 2Ki 6:19.

  • Family Bible Notes:

    Fishers of men; the means of taking them out of the kingdom of Satan, and bringing them into the kingdom of Christ.

  • 1599 Geneva Bible Notes:
      (No comment on this verse).

  • People's New Testament Commentary:

      Follow me. Already disciples, they were now called to preparation for apostleship.

  • Robertson's Word Pictures:
     Fishers of men (haleeis anthr˘p˘n). Andrew and Simon were fishers by trade. They had already become disciples of Jesus (Joh 1:35-42), but now they are called upon to leave their business and to follow Jesus in his travels and work. These two brothers promptly (euthe˘s) accepted the call and challenge of Jesus.

  • Albert Barnes' Commentary:

    Fishers of men. Ministers or preachers of the gospel, whose business it shall be to win souls to Christ.

  • Jamieson-Faussett Brown:

     And he saith unto them, Follow me--rather, as the same expression is rendered in Mark, "Come ye after Me" (Mr 1:17).

    and I will make you fishers of men--raising them from a lower to a higher fishing, as David was from a lower to a higher feeding (Ps 78:70-72).

  • Spurgeon Devotional Commentary:

    (No comment on this verse).


  • Spurgeon Commentary on Matthew:
    (No comment on this verse).


  • William Burkitt's Notes:

    (No comment on this verse).

  • Matthew Henry's  Commentary:

      (No comment on this verse).


  • Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

     (No comment on this verse).

  • The Fourfold Gospel:

       (No comment on this verse).



Church Teachings

United Methodist Discipline
  • Preamble to UM Constitution, "the people have the right to hear the Word of God preached by persons divinely called"
Catholic Catechism
  • Matthew 4:19, 21

    Part 1, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 9, Paragraph 4, SubSection 1, Heading 1

    878 Finally, it belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a personal character. Although Chnst's ministers act in communion with one another, they also always act in a personal way. Each one is called personally: "You, follow me" 397 in order to be a personal witness within the common mission, to bear personal responsibility before him who gives the mission, acting "in his person" and for other persons: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ..."; "I absolve you...."

  • Mark 1:16-20

    Part 1, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 9, Paragraph 2, SubSection 2, Heading 1

    787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings. 215 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: "Abide in me, and I in you.... I am the vine, you are the branches." 216 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." 217

  • Luke 5:8

    Part 1, Section 2, Chapter 1, Article 1, Paragraph 1, SubSection 2, Heading 2

    208 Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness. 13 Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips." 14 Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." 15 But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst." 16 The apostle John says likewise: "We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." 17









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©1996-2009 William Lawson
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Last Update:  03/06/2013 03:52 AM

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