Matthew 13:47
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
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(47) The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net.—The net in this case is not the hand-net of Matthew 4:18, but the sagenè, or great drag-net, which drew in a larger haul of fishes. The day’s teaching in the method of parables ends, as it were, in an easy lesson, which the former experience of the disciples would enable them to understand. Still, as in the parable of the Tares, the main thoughts are, (1) the mingling of the evil with the good in the visible kingdom of Christ on earth, and (2) the ultimate separation of the two, that each may receive according to the divine law of retribution. Here, as there, the parable perforce passes over the fact that in the actual work of the kingdom the very casting of the net may change, and is meant to change, the nature of the fish that are taken in its meshes, and, therefore, that those that remain “bad” are so in the end by the result of their own will.

Matthew 13:47-50. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, &c. — The gospel preached to the world may be compared to a net cast into the sea, and gathering fishes of all kinds. For by the preaching of it congregations are gathered, and a visible church is formed, and both good and bad men are brought to profess themselves members of it, and are mingled together in such a manner, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to make a proper distinction between them: Christian discipline, however, and strong, close exhortation, in all well-regulated churches, or properly-constituted Christian societies, begin that separation in this world which shall be accomplished by the angels of God in the world to come. “This parable will appear peculiarly proper, if we consider that it was spoken to fishermen, who had been called from their employments, with a promise that they should catch men, Matthew 4:19. It differs from the parable of the tares in its extent, representing the gathering of wicked men in general into the visible church along with the good, by means of the preaching of the gospel, together with the final judgment and state of the wicked; whereas the parable of the tares represents the introduction and punishment of hypocrites in particular.” — Macknight.

13:44-52 Here are four parables. 1. That of the treasure hid in the field. Many slight the gospel, because they look only upon the surface of the field. But all who search the Scriptures, so as in them to find Christ and eternal life, Joh 5:39, will discover such treasure in this field as makes it unspeakably valuable; they make it their own upon any terms. Though nothing can be given as a price for this salvation, yet much must be given up for the sake of it. 2. All the children of men are busy; one would be rich, another would be honourable, another would be learned; but most are deceived, and take up with counterfeits for pearls. Jesus Christ is a Pearl of great price; in having him, we have enough to make us happy here and for ever. A man may buy gold too dear, but not this Pearl of great price. When the convinced sinner sees Christ as the gracious Saviour, all things else become worthless to his thoughts. 3. The world is a vast sea, and men, in their natural state, are like the fishes. Preaching the gospel is casting a net into this sea, to catch something out of it, for His glory who has the sovereignty of this sea. Hypocrites and true Christians shall be parted: miserable is the condition of those that shall then be cast away. 4. A skilful, faithful minister of the gospel, is a scribe, well versed in the things of the gospel, and able to teach them. Christ compares him to a good householder, who brings forth fruits of last year's growth and this year's gathering, abundance and variety, to entertain his friends. Old experiences and new observations, all have their use. Our place is at Christ's feet, and we must daily learn old lessons over again, and new ones also.The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net ... - This parable does not differ in meaning from that of the tares. The gospel is compared to a net dragging along on the bottom of a lake, and collecting all - good and bad. The gospel may be expected to do the same; but in the end of the world, when the net "is drawn in," the bad will be separated from the good; the one will be cast away, and the other saved. Our Saviour never fails to keep before our minds the great truth that there is to be a day of judgment, and that there will be a separation of the good and the evil. He came to preach salvation; and it is a remarkable fact, also, that the most fearful accounts of hell and of the sufferings of the damned, in the Scriptures, are from his lips. How does this agree with the representations of those who say that all will be saved? 47. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind—The word here rendered "net" signifies a large drag-net, which draws everything after it, suffering nothing to escape, as distinguished from a casting-net (Mr 1:16, 18). The far-reaching efficacy of the Gospel is thus denoted. This Gospel net "gathered of every kind," meaning every variety of character. See Poole on "Matthew 13:50".

Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net,.... By which also is meant, the Gospel, and the ministry of it. This may be compared to a net, for its meanness in the esteem of men; being despicable, and of no account in the eyes of the world: and yet like a net, a piece of curious artifice and workmanship, being the produce of the grace of God; in which his manifold wisdom is displayed, and is what angels desire to look into: it is designed, and purposely contrived, for the gathering in of sinners to Christ, and to his churches, though by accident, it has other uses; such as troubling of the world, as the net does the waters of the sea, and drawing out the corruptions of the men of it, as that does weeds, stones, &c. and which, like a net, can do nothing of itself, unless cast; and not then neither, unless succeeded with a divine blessing:

that was cast into the sea; by "the sea" is meant the world, so called, for the storms and tempests of afflictions, and persecutions the saints meet with, and for the continual troubles that are in it; for the restlessness and instability of all things therein; for the dangers of it; and for its being the proper place and element of fishes, as the world is to the men of it. The casting of it into the sea, designs the opening of the Gospel, and the unfolding the mysteries of it, and the preaching it in all the world; and supposes persons qualified for it; such were the patriarchs and prophets under the Old Testament; and particularly Christ, John the Baptist, and the Apostles of Christ, and succeeding ministers under the New Testament; and requires art, skill, and wisdom, might and strength, industry, diligence, and patience; and which is done at a venture, whether there are fish or not; and sometimes succeeds, and sometimes not:

and gathered of every kind; the Persic version adds, "of animals"; but much more agreeably Munster's Hebrew Gospel, and the Vulgate Latin, add, "of fishes"; and so some copies read. The preaching of the Gospel, is the means of gathering souls to Christ, and into his churches; and those that are gathered into a visible Gospel church state, are of every kind, of all nations in the world; Jews and Gentiles: of all ranks and degrees of men, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free; of all sorts of sinners, and of men good and bad; some who have the truth of grace in them, and others that are only hypocrites: profess in words, and deny in works; have nothing more than a form of godliness, and name to live, and are dead.

{8} Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

(8) There are many in the Church who nevertheless are not of the Church, and therefore at length will be cast out: but the full and perfect cleansing of them is deferred to the last day.

Matthew 13:47 ff. For αἰγιαλός, see note on Acts 27:39.

τὰ καλά and σαπρά] the good, i.e. the good fish, such as were fit for use, and the putrid ones (comp. note on Matthew 7:17), which, already dead and putrefying, are yet enclosed in the σαγήνη (large drag-net, Luc. Pisc. 51, Tim. 22; Plut. de solert. an. p. 977 F) along with the others. The men took them out of the net (ἔξω) and cast them away.

The aorists in Matthew 13:47-48 are to be understood in a historical sense, not as expressing what was the practice, but merely as narrating what took place on the occasion, just as in Matthew 13:44-46.

Observe further, that the net encloses fish of every γένος, i.e. of every species (that is, according to the literal meaning, out of every nation); yet no γένος, as such, is cast away, but only the putrid fish belonging to each γένος, and that not before the end of the world (in answer to the whole Donatist view).

Matthew 13:50. Closing refrain, as in Matthew 13:42.

Matthew 13:47-50. The Net. σαγήνῃ, vide on Matthew 4:21.—ἐκ παντὸς γένους συν.: a matter of course, not intended but inevitable; large movements influence all sorts of people.

47–50. The Parable of the Net, in St Matthew only

47. a net, that was cast into the sea] The reference is to the large drag-net or seine [Greek σαγήνη—the word in the text—hence sagena (Vulgate) and English sean or seine]. One end of the seine is held on the shore, the other is hauled off by a boat and then returned to the land. In this way a large number of fishes of all kinds is enclosed. Seine-fishing is still practised on the coasts of Devonshire and Cornwall.

The teaching of this parable partly coincides with that of the parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). In both are exhibited the mixture of good and evil in the visible Church, and the final separation of them. But here the thought is specially directed to the ingathering of the Church. The ministers of Christ will of necessity draw converts of diverse character, good and evil, and actuated by different motives. From the parable of the Tares we learn not to reject any from within the Church, in the hope of expelling the element of evil. It is a parable of the settled Church. This is a missionary parable. It teaches that as a matter of history or of fact, no barrier or external test will serve to exclude the unworthy convert.

Matthew 13:47. Ἐκ παντὸς γένους, of every hind) See John 21:11, and Gnomon thereon.

Verses 47-50. - The parable of the dragnet. This parable at once recalls that of the tares, but it will be noticed that there our Lord's aim is to inculcate patience and hopefulness on the part of his servants when they realize the close proximity of the ungodly even in districts won over to the faith, while here his aim is rather to warn. To be in the kingdom is not enough; some of those now within it may nevertheless be cast out. It thus greatly resembles the parable of the ten virgins; save that in that parable greater stress is laid on personal preparation and continued watchfulness; in this, on personal worth. Verse 47. - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net (σαγήνῃ: Matthew 4:18, note), that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. (For the thought, cf. Matthew 22:10; and for the word, συνάγειν, ver. 30, note.) Matthew 13:47Net (σαγήνῃ)

See on Matthew 4:18. The only occurrence of the word in the New Testament. A long draw-net, the ends of which are carried out and drawn together. Through the transcription of the word into the Latin sagena comes seine. From the fact of its making a great sweep, the Greeks formed a verb from it, σαγηνέυω, to surround and take with a drag-net. Thus Herodotus (iii., 149) says: "The Persians netted Santos." And again (vi., 31), "Whenever they became masters of an island, the barbarians, in every single instance, netted the inhabitants. Now, the mode in which they practise this netting is the following: Men join hands, so as to form a line across from the north coast to the south, and then march through the island from end to end, and hunt out the inhabitants." Compare Isaiah 19:8 : "Those who spread nets on the face of the waters shall languish." Also, Habakkuk 1:15-17, where the Chaldaean conquests are described under this figure.

Gathered of every kind

Compare the graphic passage in Homer ("Odyssey," xxii., 384-389) of the slain suitors in the halls of Ulysses.

"He saw that all had fallen in blood and dust,

Many as fishes on the shelving beach,

Drawn from the hoary deep by those who tend

The nets with myriad meshes. Poured abroad

Upon the sand, while panting to return

To the salt sea, they lie till the hot sun

Takes their life from them."

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