Bible Prophecy Research
Misc Study: John 21: The 153 Fish and the Net
Submitted by: DELPHICK@msn.sprint.sa.gov.au
Date: May, 1999
John 21: The 153 Fish and the Net
During March I attempted to try to bring the South Australian Moderator of the Uniting
Church to realise that the Bible is an inspired book, that Genesis and everything else in
it is true, and that the genealogies provided in the Gospels (Matthew and Luke) are
accurate. I did this by writing him a letter that suggested that it is science that needs
to be correlated with the Bible, not the other way around, and also by providing him with
a number of web sites where he could find work by gifted Christians that would help him to
realise that there were two sides to the coin.
As a result of my efforts I received back a letter that evidenced he would never
countenance such an opinion, and two photocopies of standing letters that he sends out to
fundamentalists. A fundamentalist being a person who believes that the bible is true and
written by God using people, rather than a group of writings that speak about God written
by men and therefore bound to contain errors.
Amongst these (blasphemous) writings, was a castigation of the Gospel
genealogies, claiming that they were proven by theologians to be wrong. I knew that not
all theologians thought this, so I printed out the work on this by the late Arthur
intending to send it to him. After a few days I decided that I would be wasting my time.
This man didn't want to change his mind, and although I felt (and feel) sorry for him,
there would be people more worthy of this gem than he. This particular work is the
genealogy of Christ from Adam. Arthur Custance is a very wise and intelligent man, with a
list of degrees as long as my arm, covering fields such as languages and psychology. He
shows, as others have also shown and said, that Jesus was the 77th generation from Adam.
This number of generations remained in my mind, and it was while contemplating the meaning
of the 153 fish in John 21:11, that the Holy Spirit enlightened me as to the meaning, not
only of the 153 fish, but also the chapter itself. I have the Moderator of the Uniting
Church to thank for this!
It is dawn, the sky painted with the colours of the sunrise. A new day. On the Sea of
Galilee seven fishermen, disciples of Jesus Christ, are returning to shore after having
fished the night through. They are despondent because they caught nothing. On the beach
stands a man. Behind him is a small fire, the smoke rising upwards in the still morning
John 21: 4-12a: Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples
did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any
fish?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net on the
right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were
not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved [John]
said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he
put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.
But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were
not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw
a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."
So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred
and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said
to them, "Come and have breakfast."
Wouldn't you love to have been there? Our Lord cooking us a breakfast of freshly
caught fish and bread. What an honour! What an occasion!
I want to show you the symbolism evident to me and necessary for you to
understand the meaning of the 153 fish and the net.
The use of fish in the Bible to represent mankind is common. In Mark 1:17 we read, And
Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." In
Matthew 13:47-50 we read of Jesus talking to His disciples in a house after having
addressed thousands by the Sea of Galilee: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a
net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men
drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it
will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the
righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their
We read in Luke 5:6-7: And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of
fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat
to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to
sink. . In the case of John 21, the net does not break, and John, the author, expresses
Not only is the large catch of 153 fish significant, so is the matter that the net does
Further examples of fish are that a fish was a symbol for Christianity used by the
early church, it is to be seen today as a bumper-sticker, we have the Sea of humanity, and
the church is thought to be represented by the constellation Pisces.
If the 153 fish is to mean anything at all, it must be to do with mankind. It is here
that I will tie in my opening discussion about Jesus being the 77th generation from Adam.
We can rewrite these 77 generations as 76 + 1, meaning 76 generations, then 1 generation
of which Jesus was a member.
If we subtract 77 from 153 (fish) we find: 153 - 77 = 76. Interesting? Can you see
where this leads?
This number (153) can thus be interpreted to symbolise this: Jesus came following
the first 76 generations of man and will return following the next 76 generations of
man: at the 77th and 154th.
Do you put it down to something quaint or coincidental, even in view of the symbolism
already discussed, or do you accept that this is the case? Even the number of Jesus two
generations is perfect considering the way that God the Father does good things in sevens:
every 77th generation!
It has already been pointed out that the net that lifted these 153 fish out of the
water did not break and it has been shown that this was not always the case. If the 153
fish represent 153 generations of man and that Jesus was the one who directed that net to
be put in the water, what must the unbroken net holding the fish, be a symbol of? The
church; the body of Christ! If a painting were to be done of a net containing 153 fish,
with water dripping of their skins and everything, it could be called the body of
Christ and I m sure that Jesus would approve.
The picture could also be called, the removal of the body of Christ from the sea of
humanity , or, to put it into eschatological terminology, the rapture of the body of
Christ from the earth .
There is a little more that can be said about these 153 fish: they are all described as
large. This we can take to mean that they are fully-grown and that this implies that the
rapture will not occur until the 153rd generation of the church is fully-grown or has
reached adult-hood. This is why Jesus didn't know when He would return. This is why nobody
will know. Perhaps it means waiting until person number 106,241,205 has her 21st birthday.
Jesus knew the generation he would follow, but because of humanity s variability in its
generation rates, the when of His return is literally in the Father s hands. If you read
John 21 further, you will find Peter receiving instruction about nurturing the church as
it matures: love me: feed my lambs, love me: tend my sheep, love me: feed my sheep; and is
told that when the church is old, others will carry it where it does not want to go.
(I realise that Jesus questioning of Peter's love for Him can also be related to
Peter's disobedience, where he three times denied Jesus, and that Jesus is offering Peter
an antidote for those denials (pardon the brevity of that explanation), but Jesus is also
stressing the need for love for Him to be a prerequisite to being a shepherd of His sheep;
the church. After each "Do you love me?", Jesus responds to Peter's responses
with instructions about His flock.)
The church today is tottering under the weight of a multi-religious doctrine. The
World Council of Churches uses and embraces religions that do not embrace Christ.
The WCC is not about Christ. They embrace the Aboriginal Dreamtime, Smoke rituals, Spirits
of the dead, and it has been suggested that the Bible should be interpreted also from the
perspective of birds, water, air, trees, and mountains.
We see, as the article opened, that churches are questioning the inerrancy of the
Bible. Other examples are (of many): in some churches homosexuality is not considered a
sin; some British ministers openly doubt that Christ rose again; and the Bible is being
rewritten replacing Father with Mother.
Indeed Peter is old and being taken where he does not want to go.
As a warning to those who think that this article will enable the determining of
the Lord's return, note this: for the three generations still living in our family, the
ages of people when first becoming parents ranges from 19 to 34, the Biblical generation
is 40 years, and current dictionary definitions for a generation vary from 25 years to
1/3rd of a life span. Attempting to determine a date from this information without
reference to other scripture, will be without basis.
Jesus will return one day, and whether we are dead or not, the best thing you can
do is to make sure that you haven't wasted the gifts that God has given you.