Matthew 4:18
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee.—In no part of the Gospel history is it more necessary to remember St. John’s record as we read that of the Three, than in this call of the disciples. Here, everything seems sudden and abrupt. There we learn that those who were now called had some months before accepted Him as the Christ (John 1:35-43), and had, some or all of them, been with Him during His visit to Jerusalem. Simon had already received the surname of Cephas or Peter or the Rock. Putting these facts together, we have something like a clear outline picture of their previous life. The sons of Jona and the sons of Zebedee had grown up in Bethsaida (probably on the north-west shore of the Lake of Galilee), and were partners in their work as fishermen. The movement of Judas of Galilee, in his assertion of national independence, had probably served to quicken their expectations of a good time coming, when they should be free from their oppressors. When they heard of the preaching of the Baptist, they joined the crowds that flocked to hear him, and received his baptism of repentance. Then they were pointed to the Lamb of God, and received Him as the Christ. Then for a short time they were His companions in His journeyings. When He began the first circuit of His Galilean ministry He was alone, and left them to return to their old calling. They could not tell whether He would ever care to use their services again, and it was under these circumstances that the new call came. St. Matthew’s narrative and St. Mark’s (Mark 1:16-20) agree almost verbally; St. Luke’s presents more difficulty. Is it another and fuller version of the same facts? or, if different, did what he records precede or follow the call which they relate? The first view seems the most probable, but see Notes on Luke 5:1-11.

Matthew 4:18. And Jesus, walking, &c., saw two brethren — One of the two, at least, namely, Andrew, had been a disciple of the Baptist. And the Apostle John “informs us, John 1:40; John 1:42, that they had both before been called to the knowledge of Christ, upon the banks of Jordan, and that the name of Peter had been given to Simon. And it is probable that, from their first acquaintance with him, they followed Jesus for some time, and went with him to Cana and Capernaum, John 2:3; John 2:12; and afterward to Jerusalem, John 2:13; John 2:17; and tarried with him while he continued in Judea, John 3:22. But when the Pharisees grew jealous of the number of his followers, and Herod was offended at the popularity of John, we may suppose that Jesus, at his return to Galilee, might think it prudent to dismiss his disciples for a time, till he himself had gone about from place to place to preach the gospel, and had informed the people more particularly of the character of his person, and the nature of his doctrine: or, possibly, they might leave him at the time when the Samaritans prevailed upon him to go with them to their city, John 4:40. Be this as it may, we read no more of his disciples being with him, till he now found them at the sea of Galilee. For they no sooner were gone home, but they returned again to their old employment, and continued in it till they were now taken off from any further regard to their worldly business, and were particularly called by Christ to a constant attendance upon him.” — Doddridge. Casting a net into the sea. — Namely, to wash it, for, according to Luke 5:2, they were washing their nets, when he called them. For they were fishers — He called such mean persons to show, 1st, the freedom of his grace, in choosing such weak instruments; 2d, his power, in that by such men he could subdue the world; 3d, the depth of his wisdom, in providing thus for his own honour, that the instruments might not carry away the glory of the work.4:18-22 When Christ began to preach, he began to gather disciples, who should be hearers, and afterwards preachers of his doctrine, who should be witnesses of his miracles, and afterwards testify concerning them. He went not to Herod's court, not to Jerusalem, among the chief priests and the elders, but to the sea of Galilee, among the fishermen. The same power which called Peter and Andrew, could have wrought upon Annas and Caiaphas, for with God nothing is impossible. But Christ chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Diligence in an honest calling is pleasing to Christ, and it is no hinderance to a holy life. Idle people are more open to the temptations of Satan than to the calls of God. It is a happy and hopeful thing to see children careful of their parents, and dutiful. When Christ comes, it is good to be found doing. Am I in Christ? is a very needful question to ask ourselves; and, next to that, Am I in my calling? They had followed Christ before, as common disciples, Joh 1:37; now they must leave their calling. Those who would follow Christ aright, must, at his command, leave all things to follow him, must be ready to part with them. This instance of the power of the Lord Jesus encourages us to depend upon his grace. He speaks, and it is done.Sea of Galilee - This was also called the Sea of Tiberias and the Lake of Gennesareth, and also the Sea of Chinnereth, Numbers 34:11; Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 12:3. Its form is an irregular oval, with the large end to the north. It is about 14 miles in length, and from 6 miles to 9 miles in width. It is about 600 feet lower than the Mediterranean, and this great depression accounts for some of its special phenomena. There is no part of Palestine, it is said, which can be compared in beauty with the environs of this lake. Many populous cities once stood on its shores, such as Tiberias, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin, Hippo, etc. The shores are described by Josephus as a perfect paradise, producing every luxury under heaven at all seasons of the year, and its remarkable beauty is still noticed by the traveler. "Seen from any point of the surrounding heights, it is a fine sheet of water a burnished mirror set in a framework of surrounding hills and rugged mountains, which rise and roll backward and upward to where hoary Hermon hangs the picture on the blue vault of heaven." The lake is fed mainly by the Jordan; but besides this there are several great fountains and streams emptying into it during the rainy seasons, which pour an immense amount of water into it, raising its level several feet above the ordinary mark. See The Land and the Book (Thomson), vol. ii. p. 77. Lieutenant Lynch reports its greatest ascertained depth at 165 feet. The waters of the lake are sweet and pleasant to the taste, and clear. The lake still abounds with fish, and gives employment, as it did in the time of our Saviour, to those who live on its shores. It is, however, stormy, probably due to the high hills by which it is surrounded.

Simon called Peter - The name "Peter" means a rock, and is the same as "Cephas." See the Matthew 16:18 note; also John 1:42 note; 1 Corinthians 15:5 note.

18. And Jesus, walking—The word "Jesus" here appears not to belong to the text, but to have been introduced from those portions of it which were transcribed to be used as church lessons; where it was naturally introduced as a connecting word at the commencement of a lesson.

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—"called Peter" for the reason mentioned in Mt 16:18.

Whether by the sea he here meant the lake of Gennesaret, or the ocean, is not worth the arguing, for the Jews called all great collections of waters the seas, according to Genesis 1:10.

He saw two brethren,

Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, whether natural brethren, or called so because of their joint employment,

casting a net into the sea, either for the catching of fish, or for the washing of their nets: see Luke 5:2.

For they were fishers: sea men (as the word seems to signify) used to fish in the sea. Simon had a ship of his own, Luke 5:3. The evangelists’ differing relation of the call of Simon and Andrew hath made a great deal of work for interpreters. The greatest difference seemeth to be betwixt Matthew, in this text, and John, John 1:35-38. But certainly John speaketh of one call in those verses, the other evangelists of another. According to John, they were called to the knowledge of and first acquaintance with Christ while John was in the public exercise of his ministry, for they were his disciples, John 1:35,36,39, they are said at that time to have abode with him that day. Probably they again returned to their old employment, and when John was imprisoned, Christ, walking by the sea, saw them, and then called them to the apostleship. There are other differences in their call observed betwixt Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but such as may be easily answered by those who observe, that there is nothing more ordinary, than for the evangelists, in reporting the same history, one of them to supply more largely what the other had recorded more summarily. And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee,.... Not for his recreation and diversion, or by accident: but on purpose to look out for, and call some, whom he had chosen to be his disciples. And as he was walking about, to and fro, he "saw two" persons; and as soon as he saw them, he knew them to be those he had determined to make his apostles: and these are described by their relation to each other, "brethren"; not merely because they were of the same nation, or of the same religion, or of the same employ and business of life, but because they were of the same blood; and by their names, "Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother". Simon is the same name with "Simeon"; and so he is called, Acts 15:14 and which, in the Jerusalem dialect, is read "Simon". His surname "Peter", which was afterwards given him by Christ, Matthew 16:18 is Greek, and answers to "Cephas", signifying a "rock": though this name is to be met with in the Talmudic (d) writings, where we read of R. Jose, , "bar Petros". This his surname is added here, to distinguish him from Simon, the Canaanite. The name of his brother Andrew is generally thought to be Greek; though some have derived it from "to vow", and is also to be observed in the writings of the Jews (e); where mention is made of R. Chanina, bar Andrei. They are further described by the work they were at, or business they were employed in,

casting a net into the sea; either in order to catch fish in it, or to wash it, Luke 5:2 and the reason of their so doing is added; "for they were fishers". Of this mean employment were the very first persons Christ was pleased to call to the work of the ministry; men of no education, who made no figure in life, but were despicable and contemptible: this he did, to make it appear, that they were not qualified for such service of themselves; that all their gifts and qualifications were from him; to show his own power; to confound the wisdom of the wise; and to let men see, that none ought to glory in themselves, but in him. The Jews have a notion of the word of God and prophecy being received and embraced only by such sort of persons: says R. Isaac Arama (f),

"his word came to heal all, but some particular persons only receive it; and who of all men are of a dull under standing, , "fishermen, who do business in the sea": this is what is written; "they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord": these seem not indeed fit to receive anything that belongs to the understanding, because of their dulness; and yet these receive the truth of prophecy and vision, because they believe his word.''

I cannot but think, that some respect is had to these fishers, in Ezekiel 47:10 "it shall come to pass that fishers shall stand upon it": that is, upon, or by the river of waters, said in Ezekiel 47:8 to "issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert": which both R. Jarchi and Kimchi understand of the sea of Tiberias; the same with the sea of Galilee, by which Christ walked; and where he found these fishers at work, and called them. See also Jeremiah 16:16

(d) T. Hieros. Moed Katon, fol 82. 4. Avoda Zara, fol 42. 3.((e) T. Hieros. Megilla, fol. 75. 2. & Geracot, fol. 2. 3. (f) Apud Galatin. de Arcan. Cathol. ver. l. 3. c. 5. p. 119. & Crocium de Messia Thes. 213. p. 62, 63.

{3} 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.

(3) Christ, thinking that he would eventually depart from us, even at the beginning of his preaching gets himself disciples of a heavenly sort, poor and unlearned, and therefore such as might be left as honest witnesses of the truth of those things which they heard and saw.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 4:18. Comp. Luke 5:1 ff.

θάλασς. τῆς Γαλιλ.] Lake of Gennesareth or Tiberias (see on John 6:1) is 140 stadia long and 40 broad, with romantic environs, and abounding in fish (Josephus, Bell. iii. 10. 7), about 500 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. See Robinson, Pal. III. pp. 499, 509; Ritter, Erdk. XV. 1, p. 284 ff.; Rüetschi in Herzog’s Encykl. V.; Keim, Gesch. J. I. p. 599 ff.

τὸν λεγόμ. Πέτρον] not a ὕστεριν πρότερον, but see on Matthew 16:18. That the evangelists always have (with the exception of the diplomatic passage, John 1:43) the name Peter, which in Paul is certainly found only in Galatians 2:7 f., not Cephas, is explained in the case of Matthew by the circumstance that his Gospel is only a translation, and that at the time of its composition the Greek name had become the common one.Matthew 4:18-22. Call of four disciples. The preceding very general statement is followed by a more specific narrative relating to a very important department of Christ’s work, the gathering of disciples. Disciples are referred to in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1), therefore it is meet that it be shown how Jesus came by them. Here we have simply a sample, a hint at a process always going on, and which had probably advanced a considerable way before the sermon was delivered.—περιπατῶν δὲ: δὲ simply introduces a new topic, the time is indefinite. One day when Jesus was walking along the seashore He saw two men, brothers, names given, by occupation fishers, the main industry of the locality, that tropical sea (800 feet below level of Mediterranean) abounding in fish. He saw them, may have seen them before, and they Him, and thought them likely men, and He said to them, Matthew 4:19 : Δεῦτεἀνθρώπων. From the most critical point of view a genuine saying of Jesus; the first distinctively individual word of the Galilean ministry as recorded by Matthew and Mark. Full of significance as a self-revelation of the speaker. Authoritative yet genial, indicating a poetic idealistic temperament and a tendency to figurative speech; betraying the rudiments of a plan for winning men by select men. Δεῦτε plural form of δεῦρο = δεῦρʼ ἵτε, δεῦρο. being an adverb of place with the force of command, a verb of commanding being understood: here! after me; imperial yet kindly, used again in Matthew 11:28 with reference to the labouring and heavy-laden. δεῦτε and ἁλιεῖς (= sea-people) are samples of old poetic words revived and introduced into prose by later Greek writers.18. a net] a casting-net; the Greek word is used only here and Mark 1:16. Cp. Verg. Georg. I. 141, Alius latum funda jam verberat amnem.

fishers] The fisheries on the Sea of Galilee, once so productive, are now deserted. It seems that the Bedawin have an invincible dislike and dread of the sea. Consequently there is scarcely a boat to be seen, and the Lake yields no harvest. See Land and Book, 401.Matthew 4:18. Θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλαλαίας, Sea of Galilee) See verses 15, 23.—Σίμωνα, Simon) Simon, the first who followed on this occasion, was the first to remain.Verses 18-22. - The summons to help in his work: his first formal adherents. (Parallel passage: Mark 1:16-20 Luke 5:1, 2, 9-11, very doubtful, but cf. Godet].) On the relation of this call to the meeting with Andrew and Peter, recorded in John 1:40-42, vide especially Bishop Westcott there. That was "the establishment of a personal relationship;" this "a call to an official work." Verse 18. - And Jesus, walking. Revised Version rightly omits "Jesus," and inserts "he" before "saw." The right reading does not detract so much from the emphatic statement of ver. 17. By the Sea of Galilee. His walk lay along the lake. Socin ('Baedeker,' p. 372) speaks of "the probability that there was a frequented road from the mouth of the Jordan skirting the bank of the lake." Two brethren, Simon... and Andrew his brother; the addition, "his brother," emphasizing the relationship. Christ's coming would divide households (Matthew 10:21). He would, therefore, be the more glad when members of one family united in following him. Simon, etc. (vide Matthew 10:2, note). Called; Revised Version, who is called; i.e. not specially by Christ, but in common usage among Christians (Matthew 10:2). Casting a net; βάλλοντας ἀμφίβληστρον (no var. lect.). Probably later than and explanatory of the form found in the parallel passage, Mark 1:16, ἀμφιβάλλοντας (alone). A net; i.e. a casting-net of circular, bell-like shape, "which, when skilfully cast from over the shoulder by one standing on the shore or in a boat, spreads out into a circle (ἀμφιβάλλεται) as it falls upon the water, and then, sinking swiftly by the weight of the leads attached to it, encloses whatever is below it" (Trench, 'Syn.,' § 64.). It specializes δίκτυον (any net, ver 20), and differs from σαγήνη (the long draw-net, Matthew 13:47). The sea (τήν θάλασσαν)

The small lake of Gennesaret, only thirteen miles long and six wide in its broadest part, is called the sea, by the same kind of popular usage by which Swiss and German lakes are called See; as the Knigsee, the Trauensee. So, also, in Holland we have the Zuyder Zee. The Latin mare (the sea) likewise becomes meet in Holland, and is used of a lake, as Haarlemmer Meer; and in England, mere, as appears in Windermere, Grasmere, etc.

A net (ἀμφίβληστρον)

From ἀμφὶ, around, and Βάλλω, to throw. Hence the casting-net, which, being east over the shoulder, spreads into a circle (ἀμφὶ). The word is sometimes used by classical Greek writers to denote a garment which encompasses the wearer. In Matthew 4:20, the word net again occurs, but representing a different Greek word (δίκτυον) which is the general name for all kinds of nets, whether for taking fish or fowl. Still another word occurs at Matthew 13:47, σαγήνη, the draw-net. See farther on that passage.

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