The Dragnet: Matthew 13:47-50
““47) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48) and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49) So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50) and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew‬ ‭13‬:‭47‬-‭50‬ ‭
This parable now pictures the end of the age. Jesus was using a parable about fishing. When the nets are drawn in, the workers sit down and sort fish. The good fish were put in containers, the bad fish are thrown away.
What an appropriate illustration to conclude his teaching in parables at the seashore in a fishing village along the Sea of Galilee. This scene unfolded daily. The people could relate. When the nets are drawn in there is always a sorting.
Years ago, I spent time in the commercial fishing industry in Alaska. When the nets were pulled in it was time to sort fish. I have also watched this ritual in fishing villages in India, along the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, on the Amazon River in Peru, South America and even with the DNR in Iowa as they sample various lakes. When the nets are drawn in, it triggers a time of sorting.
The end of the age is coming when the nets will be drawn in and a different kind sorting will take place. This time it will involve people. Notice that angels will do the sorting. The wicked will be separated from the righteous and they will be sent to judgement.
The picture of judgement for the wicked is consistent throughout the New Testament. According to this text in Matthew 13:50; the wicked “will be cast into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Jesus returned to this theme in Matthew 25:41, but simply calls it “the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” Revelation 19:20 and 20:10 refers to this as “the lake of fire.” According to the Bible, all who reject Jesus Christ and the gospel face eternity in hell.
Some place emphasis on Matthew13:49 that says the angels shall “take out the wicked from among the righteous.” They see the next age being the millennial kingdom where according to Revelation 20:1-6 Jesus will reign on earth for a thousand years. In their view, the righteous will be left to repopulated the earth during this one thousand year reign of Christ. At the beginning of this age, the wicked will be taken away from among the righteous.
Though I agree with the teaching of a millennial kingdom, I think they are reading to much into this parable. Good Bible interpretation pulls meaning from a text and does not force outside meaning into a text. I believe Jesus was simply emphasizing that two very different eternal destinies await the righteous and the unrighteous. This warning is stressed throughout the New Testament.
The New Testament consistently uses the warning of judgement to point people to the gospel. 2 Corinthians 5:10-21 is a good example. We will all one day appear before the judgement seat of Christ. Because of this truth, Paul spent his life preaching the gospel. He urged people to be reconciled to God through personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Don’t take this warning lightly. Hebrews 9:27 warns that “… it is appointed to man to die once and after that comes judgement.” Every day people die around the world. Some are young and some are old, but for them the nets are drawn in and the sorting begins. Are you ready? I entreat you to turn to Jesus Christ and put your faith in the gospel. Believe in Him and His death, burial and resurrection.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global