Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mark 1:16-20, The Calling of Four Fisherman (The Study of Mark)

Μάρκον 1·16 Καὶ παράγων παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν Σίμωνα καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν Σίμωνος ἀμφιβάλλοντας ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλιεῖς.  17 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων.  18 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.  19 Καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον εἶδεν Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα,  20 καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς. καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν Ζεβεδαῖον ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ μετὰ τῶν μισθωτῶν ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ.
And while passing by along side of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting nets into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you to become fishermen of people.”  And immediately, letting go of the nets, they followed him.  And going on a little further, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, and them in the the boat, mending the nets, and immediately he called them.  And leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired workers, they departed after him. Mark 1:16-20
After verses 14-15, one would be prepared for some dramatic event to take place, but we actually find Jesus walking beside the Sea of Galilee.  We go from “the mighty one” in verse 7, to Jesus being baptized in verse  9,  to Jesus preaching the good news, and to Jesus walking beside the lake.  Jesus goes from “big time” to humble; from preaching to calling common people to his purpose.
ἀμφιβάλλοντας (casting nets)
The participle carries a continual aspect.
δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου (come after me)
In greek, it literally means, “Here! After me!” or “Here! Behind me!”  In ancient time, Jewish Rabbis (teachers) didn’t call students to follow them.  Instead, they taught and students came to be taught if the Rabbi was worthy or good enough.  Prophets did call for followers, but those followers were for the purpose of spreading the message and not just to learn the message.  That was the difference between Jesus and normal Jewish Rabbis.
ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι (I will make you to become)
Most translations leave out “to become”, but that seems to leave out the process that Jesus intends for the disciples.  Jesus doesn’t make them fishermen of people, he gives them the “tools” to become fishermen of people.  The choice is the disciples’ alone.
ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων (fishermen of people)
The literal greek is “fishermen of men”  ἄνθρωπος can mean man, mankind, human, or people.  Since the idea is to catch all human souls, I chose people in my translation.  From ἄνθρωπος (an-thro-pos), we get Anthropology, which is the study of mankind.
ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα (after letting go of the nets)
ἀφίημι means to let go, to leave, to permit, or to forgive.  Since this word has a vast array of meaning, Mark will use it to somewhat tie some of his narratives together.  In this case, I decided to use “after letting go” because that would make more sense as the fishermen were continually casting the nets and would have have the nets in their hands.  I could have used “after leaving the nets”, and that would have been a good translation as well.
ἀφέντες τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν (leaving their father)
Here we see ἀφίημι again.  In the case, the men “left” their father.
Final notes
By using the title, “the son of Zebedee”, Mark suggests that Zebedee was a known person in the area.  This may be suggested by the fact that Zebedee has hired workers.  These workers may indicate that Zebedee was a well known businessman of Capernaum and not just a common fisherman.  Although the text doesn’t state it, Zebedee could be the owner of multiple boats and a large business on the Sea of Galilee.  That would be a good reason to need hired workers.


  1. question:
    Does the word "make" in Matthew 28:19 then imply a process like baking a cake, putting in the ingredients on the recipe card, and the Holy Spirit is the oven, or does it imply a "just add water and nuke it" kind of instantaneous microwaveable package?
    We know that Paul planted and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Are there any clues on this word "make" regarding disciples in the Great Commission (as we call it)?
    Thanks so much for your help!
    Rob Casey

  2. Pastor Rob,

    Thanks for interest in my blog. I'm not sure if I can answer your question correctly, but I can give you my version of the answer.

    Μαθθαῖον 28·19 πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος,

    Therefore, while going, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    μαθητεύσατε (make disciples)

    The verb is in the imperative which is a command. It literal means “to cause them to be disciples”. In this case, “cause them to be my disciples”. A disciple is a student and follower of Christ. A student learns from his master. I don’t think there is a since of time presented here because one must believe in the Master before one can become a student of the Master. When a person believes in Christ and is filled with his Spirit, his journey starts. He then becomes a “student” who tries to learn how to be like his Master. The time it takes to learn from the Master is a life-long endeavor.

    In the end, all we can do it to show who Jesus is to people. It is left up to them to believe and to become disciples.