Parable of the Net and Sea Matthew 13:47
Posted by adventbiblestudy on February 10, 2009
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.
When looking at this text one would assume Jesus is talking about catching fish in the net. Since the word fish is absent we cannot take the liberty of inserting it.
First we will write the physical aspects of the text.
The kingdom of Heaven is like a net cast into the sea. When it is taken to shore the good are separated from the bad. This illustrates the end of the world when the angels come and separate the good from the bad.
The key words are net and sea.
KJV Micah 7:2
2. The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
KJV Job 18:8
8. For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.
KJV Psalms 9:15
15. The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
The Bible contain the physical meaning of the word net. A net is used to trap something or someone.
KJV Psalms 57:6
6. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.
A net is used in a spiritual context to capture a soul.
KJV Proverbs 29:5
5. A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.
A net can also represent flattering words.
KJV Ecclesiastes 9:12
12. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
A net can represent an evil time, a trial.
KJV Ezekiel 32:3
3. Thus saith the Lord God; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net.
A net can represent many people or an army.
Net = flattering words, an evil time, a trial, people or an army.
All of these words seem to have a negative aspect, which makes them difficult to use in Matthew 13:47. We need to consider these facts when we paraphrase any text. There is one other text we can use as a guide when interpreting Matthew 13:47.
KJV Mark 1:16-17
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.
Mark 1:16-17 is a parallel text we can use to ensure we are not straying away from the unity of the Bible. While interpreting text we need to ensure each and every rendering is in full agreement with the teachings of the scriptures. Each point must be tested.
KJV Isaiah 17:12
12. Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
KJV Isaiah 57:20
20. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
KJV Jeremiah 6:23
23. They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.
Sea = people
Now that we have the spiritual meaning of the key words we can paraphrase Matthew 13:47-50.
The kingdom of Heaven is like a net (flattering words, an evil time, a trial, people or an army) that is cast unto the people (sea) and gathered every kind. When it was full they separated the good from the bad. This is the way it will be at the end of the world when the angel will come and separate the good from the bad.
When we take into consideration the net is compared to the kingdom of Heaven, the spiritual words we have found will not fit the context, but would drastically alter it. Therefore, the word net must stand as it is stated, with no spiritual interpretation. To check the accuracy of the paraphrase we can test it against other texts describing the end of the world.
KJV Matthew 25:31-33
31. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
God uses the illustration of goats to represent the lost and sheep to represent those that are saved. When Christ returns they will be separated.
KJV Revelation 13:15-16
15. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
KJV Revelation 7:2-3
2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
These two texts show two classes of people, those with a mark set upon them by Satan or the beast and those sealed by the angels of God.
KJV Matthew 3:12
12. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
KJV Matthew 13:30
30. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
A separation of the good and bad is also illustrated by the wheat and the tares or chaff.
KJV Revelation 20:7-10
7. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
We have seen a number of key words used to illustrate a separation between God’s people and Satan’s followers. This separation is explained in detail in Revelation 20:7-10. The saints are gathered together while Satan and his army make one last attempt at overcoming them. Their efforts are futile as the final judgment of sin comes to a climax. Satan and his followers are cast into the lake of fire.
Now that we have identified the key words and studied the subject at hand by comparing other texts dealing with the same subject, we can now paraphrase the text.
The kingdom of Heaven is like a net that is cast onto all the people of the world. When they are all gathered the good and bad are separated. This is the way it will be at the end of the world when the angels come to separate the wicked from the just. The wicked will be cast into the furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The following lessons of interpretation are taught in this parable. Not all words appearing to have a spiritual meaning will actually have a spiritual meaning supplied by the Bible. The context of the lesson taught in a parable should be studied and compared with parallel texts discussing the same subject.
When just one word reveals a spiritual meaning, it can change the entire understanding of the text. The physical and spiritual meaning of the text must agree. The spiritual meaning must reveal a deeper understanding without changing the context of the parable.