Matthew 13:47
Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and caught fish of every kind.
Separating Good and BadW. Arnot.Matthew 13:47-50
The DragnetW.F. Adeney Matthew 13:47-50
The DragnetJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 13:47-50
The Drag-NetExpository OutlinesMatthew 13:47-50
The DrawnetW. Arnot.Matthew 13:47-50
The Gathering Together in Order to the SeparatingP.C. Barker Matthew 13:47-50
The NetM. Dods, D. D.Matthew 13:47-50
The Parable of the NetMarcus Dods Matthew 13:47-50
The Parable of the Net Cast into the SeaB. Keach.Matthew 13:47-50
This parable may be compared with the parables of the soils and the tares. All three show different results following the teaching of Christ according to the characters of those whom he teaches. The parable of the soils draws attention to the varying degrees of success or failure dependent on the condition of the hearers; the tares illustrate evil influences side by side with the work of Christ; the dragnet disregards these two causes of failure, and deals only with results - it carries us on to the final judgment. Nevertheless, we should bear the lessons of the earlier parables in mind, in order to avoid drawing conclusions of fatalism and injustice from this one.

I. THE GOSPEL NET. Our Lord compares his method to the casting of a great net and the drawing it through the waters.

1. Christ seeks men. He spoke to fishers, who knew the sea and its commerce, and he compared his work to theirs. While the parable of the pearl of great price shows us a man seeking the kingdom, this parable presents to us the sight of the kingdom seeking men. Here is the grace of the gospel. It is further suggested by the woman sweeping for her lost coin, and the shepherd going after his wandering sheep (Luke 15.).

2. Christ uses means to gather disciples. The net may represent the preaching of the gospel, or all the agencies, first of Christ and his apostles, then of his missionary Church. We are not to wait till the world comes to Christ. We must mend our nets lest any slip through the broken meshes, and cast and drag them, using all means to gain some.

3. Christ aims at a large gathering of souls. The fisher does not angle with a line; he casts a net, and that net, the dragnet, is of the largest kind. Plainly his aim is large. Christ does not seek one here and there. He is the Saviour of the world. His love embraces all; his work is for the people.


1. The net gathers in many fishes. At first the popularity of Christ won a multitude of adherents. Most of these fell away; but after Pentecost a larger host was brought in. Subsequently great numbers pressed in, till the balance of policy in the Roman empire swayed from heathenism to Christianity. "Like a sunbeam," says Eusebius, "it streamed over the face of the earth."

2. The fishes are of various kinds. The members of the Christian Church are not all of one class or type. Socially they differ, belonging to all grades and ranks; intellectually they differ, from a Newton to a simple ploughboy. But these differences are slight compared to the moral distinctions that are seen throughout Christendom. The Church includes a St. Francis and a Caesar Borgia. Church membership is no proof of Christianity.

III. THE SIFTING AND SORTING. Christ calls all kinds of people; but he does not accept all. "Many are called, but few are chosen." It is even possible to be a guest seated at the king's banquet, and yet to be cast out, if the wedding garment is not worn. Nevertheless, there is no unfairness or partiality; much less is there fickleness or unfaithfulness in Christ. He desires to accept all. If he must reject any, it is against his will, a pain to him. The rejection is not because of his caprice, but wholly because of the characters of those whom he cannot receive. But how are we to reconcile this with Christ's express declaration that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:13)? The explanation is that the fish are found to be worthless when they are brought to land. If men remain sinners after entering the Church, they must be rejected by Christ. But Christ can change the sinner into a holy man, and he will do this with the truly penitent who trust him. Then they will not be like the worthless fish. - W.F.A.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea.
1. We of this generation, a miscellaneous multitude of old and young, good and evil, move about at liberty in the wide expanse of life, as fishes move about in the deep broad sea; but certain mysterious, invisible lines, have been let down into the water, and are silently, slowly creeping near, and winding round us.

2. Good and bad alike are drawn in company towards the shore, but the good and bad are separated when they reach it.

(W. Arnot.)

There is a machine in the Bank of England which receives sovereigns, as a mill receives grain, for the purpose of determining wholesale whether all are of full weight. As they pass through, the machinery, by unerring laws, throws all that axe light to one side, and all that are of full weight to another. That process is a silent but solemn parable for me. Founded as it is upon the laws of nature, it affords the most vivid similitude of the certainty which characterizes the judgment of the great day.

(W. Arnot.)

Here the mixture of good and bad is not attributed to an enemy, but is exhibited as resulting from the nature of the case. In fishing no selection is possible. We are here reminded that we are all advancing through life towards its final issue. This suggests —

1. Enclosure.

2. Enlargement. But the main points of the parable are —

I. The TRUTH THAT THE NET GATHERS "OF EVERY KIND." The Church embraces every variety. This mixture arises from the manner in which the kingdom of heaven is proclaimed among men; publicly to all. But this mixture is at length to give place. On the shore a real and final distinction will be made and acted on. The test will be our value to God.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Expository Outlines.
I. THE OCCUPATION IMPLIED. Ministers of the gospel are set forth under various similitudes.

II. THE RESULT DECLARED. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that... gathered of every kind;" so the Christian Church is at present in a mixed condition. There are two important uses to which this truth may be applied.

1. To refute a common objection. When religious professors bring scandal on the cause with which they are identified, the enemies of Christianity should remember that in this respect things turn out just as the great Founder of our religion foretold.

2. Inasmuch as the visible Church is thus mixed, all who name the name of Christ should be jealous over themselves with a godly jealousy, and not rest without seeking to ascertain what is their true character.

III. THE EXPLANATION GIVEN — "So shall it be at the end of the world." Notice.

1. The period when the separation will take place.

2. The agents by whom it will be accomplished.

3. The solemn issue in which it will terminate.

(Expository Outlines.)

The gospel preached may fully be compared to a net.

1. A net is a proper engine or instrument to catch or gather fish; so the gospel, or the Word of God preached, is a proper instrument to gather sinners out of the world into the Church, both visible and invisible (1 Corinthians 1:2).

2. A net is cast into the river or sea before it can take fish, so the word of the gospel must be preached that sinners may be converted.

3. A net takes fish (when they are caught) out of their proper element, and they die immediately; so those sinners who are indeed taken, or spiritually and savingly wrought upon by preaching the Word, are taken out of that element where they lived, and loved to live before — i.e., out of a course of sin and wickedness; and such die presently to sin and to all the vanities of the sea of this world.

4. A net must be cast into the sea or river with judgment by a skilful fisherman; it requires wisdom to use it to answer the end appointed. So ministers, Christ's spiritual fishermen, ought to be men of great skill, knowledge, wisdom, and experience (2 Corinthians 12:16).

5. A net is cast where a fisherman hath ground to hope he may take store of fish; so a minister should preach where multitudes of people are gathered together, when an opportunity doth present; thus did our Lord (Matthew 5:1).

6. Sometimes fishermen labour all night (as Peter and John did) and take nothing; it is God that blesses their labour when they succeed well.

7. A net takes fish of every kind, some great ones, some small ones; some good, and some bad. So the gospel net gathers of every sort, some rich, some poor, some great ones (but not many of that kind), some little ones, who are despised in the eyes of the world.

8. A fisherman's work is very hard, and he is exposed oftentimes to be tossed on the tempestuous sea; so is the work of Christ's ministers.

(B. Keach.)

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