18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon
called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they
19. And He saith unto them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers
20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.
21. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the
son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father,
mending their nets; and He called them.
22. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed
Pseudo-Chrys.: Before He spoke or did any thing, Christ called Apostles,
that neither word nor deed of His should be [p. 136] hid from their knowledge,
so that they may afterwards say with confidence, "What we have seen and
heard, that we cannot but speak." [Acts 4:20]
Rabanus: The sea of Galilee, the lake of Gennesaret, the sea of Tiberias,
and the salt lake, are one and the same.
Gloss. ord.: He rightly goes on fishing places, when about to fish for
Remig.: "Saw," that is, not so much with the bodily eye, as spiritually
viewing their hearts.
Chrys.: He calls them while actually working at their employment, to
shew that to follow Him ought to be preferred to all occupations. They
were just then "casting a net into the sea," which agreed with their future
Aug., Serm. 197, 2: He chose not kings, senators, philosophers, or orators,
but he chose common, poor, and untaught fishermen.
Aug., Tract. in Joann. 8, 7: Had one learned been chosen, he might have
attributed the choice to the merit of his learning. But our Lord Jesus
Christ, willing to bow the necks of the proud, sought not to gain fishermen
by orators, but gained an Emperor by a fisherman. Great was Cyprian the
pleader, but Peter the fisherman was before him.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The operations of their secular craft were a prophecy
of their future dignity. As he who casts his net into the water knows not
what fishes he shall take, so the teacher casts the net of the divine word
upon the people, not knowing who among them will come to God. Those whom
God shall stir abide in his doctrine.
Remig.: Of these fishermen the Lord speaks by Jeremiah. "I will send
my fishers among you, and they shall catch you." [Jer 16:16]
Gloss. interlin.: "Follow me," not so much with your feet as in your
hearts and your life.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "Fishers of men," that is, teachers, that with the net
of God's word you may catch men out of this world of storm and danger,
in which men do not walk but are rather borne along, the Devil by pleasure
drawing them into sin where men devour one another as the stronger fishes
do the weaker, withdrawn from hence they may live upon the land, being
made members of Christ's body.
Greg., Hom. in Evan., v. 1: Peter and Andrew had seen Christ work no
miracle, had heard from him no word of the promise of the eternal reward,
yet at this single bidding of the Lord they forgot all that they had seemed
to possess, and "straightway left their nets, and followed Him." In which
deed we ought rather to consider their wills than [p. 137] the amount of
their property. He leaves much who keeps nothing for himself, he parts
with much, who with his possessions renounces his lusts.
Those who followed Christ gave up enough to be coveted by those who
did not follow. Our outward goods, however small, are enough for the Lord;
He does not weight the sacrifice by how much is offered, but out of how
much it is offered. The kingdom of God is not to be valued at a certain
price, but whatever a man has, much or little, is equally available.
Pseudo-Chrys.: These disciples did not follow Christ from desire of
the honour of a doctor, but because they coveted the labour itself; they
knew how precious is the soul of man, how pleasant to God is his salvation,
and how great its reward.
Chrys.: To so great a promise they trusted, and believed that they should
catch others by those same words by which themselves had been caught.
Pseudo-Chrys.: These were their desires, for which they "left all and
followed;" teaching us thereby that none can possess earthly things and
perfectly attain to heavenly things.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: These last disciples were an example to such as leave
their property for the love of Christ; now follows an example of others
who postponed earthly affection to God. Observe how He calls them two and
two, and He afterwards sent them two and two to preach.
Greg., Hom. in Ex., 17, 1: Hereby we are also silently admonished, that
he who wants affection towards others, ought not to take on him the office
of preaching. The precepts of charity are two, and between less than two
there can be no love.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Rightly did He thus build the foundations of the brotherhood
of the Church on love, that from such roots a copious sap of love might
flow to the branches; and that too on natural or human love, that nature
as well as grace might bind their love more firmly. They were moreover
"brothers;" and so did God in the Old Testament lay the foundations of
His building on Moses and Aaron, brothers.
But as the grace of the New Testament is more abundant than that of
the Old, therefore the first people were built upon one pair of brethren,
but the new people upon two.
They were "washing their nets," a proof of the extremest indigence;
they repaired the old because they had not whence they should buy new.
And [p. 138] what shews their great filial piety, in this their great poverty
they deserted not their father, but carried him with them in their vessel,
not that he might aid in their labour, but have the enjoyment of his sons'
Chrys.: It is no small sign of goodness, to bear poverty easily, to
live by honest labour, to be bound together by virtue of affection, to
keep their poor father with them, and to toil in his service.
Pseudo-Chrys.: We may not dare to consider the former disciples as more
quick to preach, because they were "casting their nets;" and these latter
as less active, because they were yet making ready only; for it is Christ
alone that may know their differences.
But, perhaps we may say that the first were "casting their nets," because
Peter preached the Gospel, but committed it not to paper - the others were
making ready their nets, because John composed a Gospel.
He "called them" together, for by their abode they were fellow-townsmen,
in affection attached, in profession agreed, and united by brotherly tenderness.
He called them then at once, that united by so many common blessings they
might not be separated by a separate call.
Chrys.: He made no promise to them when He called them, as He had to
the former, for the obedience of the first had made the way plain for them.
Besides, they had heard many things concerning Him, as being friends and
townsmen of the others.
Pseudo-Chrys.: There are three things which we must leave who would
come to Christ; carnal actions, which are signified in the fishing nets;
worldly substance, in the ship; parents, which are signified in their father.
They left their own vessel, that they might become governors of the vessel
of the Church; they left their nets, as having no longer to draw out fishes
on to the earthly shore, but men to the heavenly; they left their father,
that they might become the spiritual fathers of all.
Hilary: By this that they left their occupation and their father's house
we are taught, that when we would follow Christ we should not be holden
of the cares of secular life, or of the society of the paternal mansion.
Remig.: Mystically, by the sea is figured this world, because of its
bitterness and its tossing waves. Galilee is interpreted, 'rolling,' or
'a wheel,' and shews the changeableness of the world. [p. 139] Jesus "walked
by the sea" when He came to us by incarnation, for He took on Him of the
Virgin not the flesh of sin, but the likeness of the flesh of sin.
By the two brothers, two people are signified born of one God their
Father; He "saw" them when He looked on them in His mercy. In Peter, (which
is interpreted 'owning,') who is called Simon, (i.e. obedient,) is signified
the Jewish nation, who acknowledged God in the Law, and obeyed His commandments;
Andrew, which is interpreted 'manly' or 'graceful,' signifies the Gentiles,
who after they had come to the knowledge of God, manfully abode in the
faith. He called us His people when He sent the preachers into the world,
saying, "Follow me;" that is, leave the deceiver, follow your Creator.
Of both people there were made fishers of men, that is, preachers. Leaving
their ships, that is, carnal desires, and their nets, that is, love of
the world, they followed Christ. By James is understood the Jewish nation,
which through their knowledge of God overthrew the Devil; by John the Gentile
world, which was saved of grace alone. Zebedee whom they leave, (the name
is interpreted flying or falling,) signifies the world which passes away,
and the Devil who fell from Heaven. By Peter and Andrew casting their net
into the sea, are meant those who in their early youth are called by the
Lord, while from the vessel of their body they cast the nets of carnal
concupiscence into the sea of this world. By James and John mending their
nets are signified those who after sin before adversity come to Christ
recovering what they had lost.
Rabanus: The two vessels signify the two Churches; the one was called
out of the circumcision, the other out of the uncircumcision. Any one who
believes becomes Simon, i.e. obedient to God; Peter by acknowledging his
sin, Andrew by enduring labours manfully, James by overcoming vices,
Gloss. ap. Anselm: and John that he may ascribe the whole to God's grace.
The calling of four only is mentioned, as those preachers by whom God will
call the four quarters of the world.
Hilary: Or, the number that was to be of the Evangelists is figured.
Remig.: Also, the four principal virtues are here designed; Prudence,
in Peter, from his [p. 140] confession of God; Justice, we may refer to
Andrew for his manful deeds; Fortitude, to James, for his overthrow of
the Devil; Temperance, to John, for the working in him of divine grace.
Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 17: It might move enquiry, why John relates
that near Jordan, not in Galilee, Andrew followed the Lord with another
whose name he does not mention; and again, that Peter received that name
from the Lord. Whereas the other three Evangelists write that they were
called from their fishing, sufficiently agreeing with one another, especially
Matthew and Mark; Luke not naming Andrew, who is however understood to
have been in the same vessel with him.
There is a further seeming discrepancy, that in Luke it is to Peter
only that it is said, "Henceforth thou shalt catch men;" Matthew and Mark
write that is was said to both. As to the different account in John, it
should be carefully considered, and it will be found that it is a different
time, place, and calling that is there spoken of. For Peter and Andrew
had not so seen Jesus at the Jordan that they adhered inseparably ever
after, but so as only to have known who He was, and wondering at Him to
have gone their way. Perhaps he is returning back to something he had omitted,
for he proceeds without marking any difference of time, "As he walked by
the sea of Galilee."
It may be further asked, how Matthew and Mark relate that He called
them separately two and two, when Luke relates that James and John being
partners of Peter were called as it were to aid him, and bringing their
barks to land followed Christ. We may then understand that the narrative
of Luke relates to a prior time, after which they returned to their fishing
as usual. For it had not been said to Peter that he should no more catch
fish, as he did do so again after the resurrection, but that he "should
catch men." Again, at a time after this happened that call of which Matthew
and Mark speak; for they draw their ships to land to follow Him, not as
careful to return again, but only anxious to follow Him when He bids them.