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Matthew 4:18-20

Context
The Call of the Disciples

4:18 As 1  he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). 2  4:19 He said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 3  4:20 They 4  left their nets immediately and followed him. 5 

1 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

2 tn The two phrases in this verse placed in parentheses are explanatory comments by the author, parenthetical in nature.

3 tn The Greek term ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpos) is used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women, thus “people.”

sn The kind of fishing envisioned was net – not line – fishing (cf. v. 18; cf. also BDAG 55 s.v. ἀμφιβάλλω, ἀμφίβληστρον) which involved a circular net that had heavy weights around its perimeter. The occupation of fisherman was labor-intensive. The imagery of using a lure and a line (and waiting for the fish to strike) is thus foreign to this text. Rather, the imagery of a fisherman involved much strain, long hours, and often little results. Jesus’ point may have been one or more of the following: the strenuousness of evangelism, the work ethic that it required, persistence and dedication to the task (often in spite of minimal results), the infinite value of the new “catch” (viz., people), and perhaps an eschatological theme of snatching people from judgment (cf. W. L. Lane, Mark [NICNT], 67). If this last motif is in view, then catching people is the opposite of catching fish: The fish would be caught, killed, cooked, and eaten; people would be caught so as to remove them from eternal destruction and to give them new life.

4 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

5 sn The expression followed him pictures discipleship, which means that to learn from Jesus is to follow him as the guiding priority of one’s life.



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