|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-11 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! Though they had taken nothing, yet Christ told them to let down their nets again. We must not abruptly quit our callings because we have not the success in them we desire. We are likely to speed well, when we follow the guidance of Christ's word. The draught of fishes was by a miracle. We must all, like Peter, own ourselves to be sinful men, therefore Jesus Christ might justly depart from us. But we must beseech him that he would not depart; for woe unto us if the Saviour depart from sinners! Rather let us entreat him to come and dwell in our hearts by faith, that he may transform and cleanse them. These fishermen forsook all, and followed Jesus, when their calling prospered. When riches increase, and we are tempted to set our hearts upon them, then to quit them for Christ is thankworthy.
Verse 10. - Fear not. A feeling of intense overpowering awe on a sudden came on Simon after listening to the words and seeing this last act of power which so closely affected him. The very fish of his native lake, then, were subject to this strange holy Man! This was no mortal, thought the fisherman, and he fell at the Master's feet. "Finding as it does its parallel in almost all manifestations of a Divine or even an angelic presence, it (this awful fear) must be owned to contain a mighty, because an instructive, witness for the sinfulness of man's nature, out of which it comes to pass that any near revelation from the heavenly world fills the children of men, even the holiest among them, with terror and amazement, yea, sometimes with the expectation of death itself" (Archbishop Trench, 'Introduction to the Epistles to the Seven Churches'). The same "Fear not" ("Be not afraid") was uttered on like occasions to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:7), to Daniel (Daniel 10:12), and several times during the earthly ministry was said to the disciples, and for the last time the reassuring words were spoken by the Redeemer after the Ascension to his own dear follower, John, who could not bear the sight of the glorious majesty of his risen Lord. Thou shalt catch men. The imagery contained in these words of the Master to his fishermen-followers was, of course, drawn from the late scene. Their failure in catching fish, their Teacher's marvellous success, the net bursting with the great catch of silvery fish; the Lord's strange prophetic words which accompanied their call to his service, - all would in after-years often come up before the disciples in their hours of alternating failure and success in the mighty task he had set them to do. The great Fisherman, Christ; his imitators and servants, fishers; the world of men pictured as fish, - were ever favourite images for the pencil, the graving tool, and the pen of the Christian artist and writer of the first ages of the faith. One of the earliest extant hymns, for instance, of the Church, by Clement of Alexandria, dwells on the image. The words are addressed to Christ -
"Fisher of men, the blest,
Out of the world's unrest,
Out of sin's troubled sea,
Taking us, Lord, to thee;
Out of the waves of strife
With bait of blissful life;
Drawing thy nets to shore,
With choicest fish, good store."
(Hymn of Clement of Alexandria.) The favourite Christian monogram of the fish, carved on so many tombs in the Catacombs, belongs to the same imagery - the ιχθυς
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And so was also James and John, the sons of Zebedee,.... Who were in the other ship, and had been beckoned to them to come and help them, and did come, and were witnesses of the miracle:
which were partners with Simon; were sharers with him in loss and gain in the fishing trade; these were equally astonished at the miracle, as Simon and his brother, and the men that were in the boat with them, where Jesus was:
and Jesus said unto Simon; who was at his knees, and expressed his dread of his majesty, and the consternation of mind he was in particularly:
fear not; do not be afraid of me, I shall do thee no harm, nor shall the boats sink, or any damage come to any person, or to the vessels, nor be so much amazed and affrighted, at the multitude of the fish taken:
from henceforth thou shalt catch men; alive, as the word signifies, or "unto life", as the Syriac and Persic versions render it; thou shalt cast the net of the Gospel, and be the happy instrument of drawing many persons out of the depths of sin and misery, in which they are plunged, into the way of life and salvation; and which was greatly verified, in the conversion of three thousand at one cast, under one sermon of his,
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Simon, fear not—This shows how the Lord read Peter's speech. The more highly they deemed Him, ever the more grateful it was to the Redeemer's spirit. Never did they pain Him by manifesting too lofty conceptions of Him.
from henceforth—marking a new stage of their connection with Christ. The last was simply, "I will make you fishers."
fishers of men—"What wilt thou think, Simon, overwhelmed by this draught of fishes, when I shall bring to thy net what will beggar all this glory?" (See on Mt 4:18.)
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