Wow – this is a big One. I spent some time yesterday just dwelling on this parable. I hope I can transfer some of the message!
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
The audience Jesus is teaching are the disciples, and not the crowds. See Parable Surprises – Growing Seed. Now we have a group of folk hearing a message that are allowed to “get it”. Did they get it? I think the best way to describe their reception of the truth is that they were introduced to it!
If you consider yourself to be one who “get’s it”, that is great. But remember, there will be a test coming up. (See Matthew 13:51)
When did the Lord give this parable?
Where did the Lord teach the parable?
He left the crowd and entered “the” house. This is no geographical adjustment, other than being within four walls without the crowds being present. See Parable Surprises – The Sower of the Seed, for the geographical location if interested
Why did the Lord give this message?
The Lord is teaching about the Kingdom of God. It is His message.
He is reiterating the coming judgement, the safety of those which are righteous (v 49) and the judgement of those who cause sin, the law breakers and all those that are bad (vs 48). The angels will throw away the bad (fish).
“Bad” is an interesting word, where a number of times the Greek word is translated as corrupt, rotten, putrefied, of poor quality, unfit for use and worthless. “Bad” seems to have a scent of “no value” as opposed to “of evil character”.
(Should I have used the term scent when relating to rotten fish? You get me point!)
Whether this discussion on “bad” is of any consequence in this parable is left for the reader to consider.
No matter – Jesus is speaking of the end of the age and the coming judgement. Two times He brings this subject up, with two parables sandwiched in between, speaking of the value of a treasure in a field or a great pearl. The concept of value seems to be a theme through this passage, don’t ya know?
What was the message for the original audience?
The last two parables (The Treasure and the Pearl) were somewhat similar in theme, that is the purchasing of something valuable. This parable has a twin to it also, in the first parable explained, (Parable Surprises – Tares among the Wheat) which hails back to Matthew 13:24-30.
As a quick refresher, it had to do with an enemy sowing weeds in the wheat field, and the owners method of harvesting the good product.
This parable, as in the Tares parable, speaks of the end of the age, separation of the evil from the righteous, servants/angels doing the harvesting, of burning fire, and and finally, of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
A bunch of parallels, but for the sake of our edification today, I would like to consider some of the differences between the two parables.
But first, I got something gnawing at my thinking.
What is the “end of the age”?
Is the Lord speaking of next month? Next year? Could it be in 2195?
When is this “end of the age”?
Could it be, might it be, a time that the disciples would experience?
This is a very difficult question since I have spent most of my Christian life considering the end of the age as referring to the culmination of the church age. You know, when the rapture hits and we abandon this old world to watch it go up in flames.
The general thought is that we get taken out of the world for our judgement and the world waits a period of time until their judgement comes. But even within this parable, the Lord seems to be directing His disciples to a time when the “bad” will be judged at or before the righteous are rewarded.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Notice the “then” there. Golly I never noticed it before. The righteous continue on after the “bad” are destroyed.
The next parable implys the same order of judgement
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It seems the pile of fish have the “bad” removed from the “righteous” and are destroyed. No mention of the circumstances of the righteous in between. It just doesn’t seem to be important – The fish will simply wait for the evil fish to be taken care of.
But I digress on the relative timing of the judgement between the “bad” and the “righteous”. I started down this rabbit path questioning “the end of the age” concept. So lets get back to the original question.
A couple years ago, I ventured into the topic of eternal and everlasting within the Word and coming up with some interesting finds ( See A Study of Eternal / Everlasting) Two of the Greek words studied in that post is aion (G165), and aionios (G166). Aion (G165) is the word we find in this parable, that is translated as “age”.
If Jesus, before the resurrection speaks of “this age” could He be referring to the Jewish Theocratic kingdom, established at Sinai, and existing (at least in part) through His life, and beyond. Could the Roman annihilation of the nation of Israel in AD 70 be the end of the age Jesus refers to in His message to the disciples? It would allow the disciples to not only understand the message somewhat, but also some may experience the end of the age in AD 70. (At least a few of the disciples made it to AD 70!)
This begs the question as to what the next age would describe, and if “this age” is properly defined as the Jewish age, then the church age may be considered the age to come. Does that ruffle your feathers? It sure did mine when I first studied it out and came to this tentative conclusion.
So the message for the disciples in this parable is that the Jewish age is coming to a close. Later the Lord mentions “another age”, and extending for many many days (Any one want to venture how many days?)
Well, if you are still with me after this rabbit trail, thank you. You are a most tenacious reader!
What was the message for the original audience? Judgement is coming and the bad/worthless will be destroyed. The righteous will be saved. Destruction of the current (Jewish) age is sure to come. Don’t be a part of it!
What is the message for us today?
Eschatology is so interesting. At times I have used it to beat people into submission to my way of thinking. So foolish! I have spent bunches of my time trying to figger it out and I make no claim that any eschatological system is the pure message.
I simply want to remember that the Lord Jesus is the saving God, that He is coming back, that there is a judgement coming and that He is the One who took my sin penalty away.
He is so good!
If you have a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, repent and believe the gospel. Follow the Messiah and listen for His voice. His death was not to be in vain, but your rejection of His life giving grace will leave you without any answer.
Remember, if a man could save his soul any other way than through the suffering, sacrificial death of the Messiah, God the Father is a fool for giving up His beloved Son.
But if you think you can save yourself without the suffering sacrificial death of the Messiah, you are the fool.
One way or the other, someone is a fool. Wanna take bets who may be the fool? Don’t be a worthless fool!
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.