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DEFENDING  THE  BRIDE

 

 
Print Free Pamphlet - - Brief Summary

Why  153  Fish  in  John  21:11  ?

Sections :

Introduction
Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Fish
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea
Conclusion

 

Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works

Wikipedia also states :

Theologian D. A. Carson discusses this and other interpretations and concludes that
“If the Evangelist has some symbolism in mind connected with the number 153, he has hidden it well,” (Carson, The Gospel According to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary), 673). while other scholars note
“No symbolic significance for the number of 153 fish in John 21:11 has received widespread support.”[13]  (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Fish), InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 290)  …
Wikipedia

However, I disagree with Carson’s statement above that John has hidden his meaning.  John was a most effective communicator and evangelist.  John was giving us clues left and right.  We just do not recognize his clues today because we fail to see his context.

What did John mean by 153 fish? And why did all the church fathers disagree about what it meant? Context holds the key to both answers.

None of the answers given by the early Fathers works as an explanation as to why John specifically included this unique number of 153. So, we need to reexamine his text to find John’s clues. 

 

First Clue

John 21:5
“Jesus said to them,  ‘Children, have you any fish?’”

Jesus calls the Apostles “children.”  The fact that this seems so out place should raise our curiosity and perhaps a red flag or two that John’s (and therefore God’s)  message might not be obvious on the surface level.  Why does John include a detail that does not seem to fit?  He must have done so intentionally since we do not normally think along those lines.  And that is our first big clue.  We just need to dig a little deeper.  Jesus never sinned, so He could not have been being rude.  So, we can ask why does Jesus call them children ?  To answer that we must ask, “What are children?” 

Children are those who lack the wisdom that comes with age.

See  Luke 2:52, Job 12:12, Sirach 25:5-6, and 2 Maccabees 6:21-31  (Jesus calls the disciples children because of their relationship to Him is one of student to Teacher. Also, in John 13:33) 

Father Bob Stine, if memory serves me correctly, told me about 40 years ago that the key to understanding what children are is to see it from a Christian Biblical context.

Second Clue,    Context of the story

In Christian theology Jesus must somehow fulfill His mission.  Therefore, the Apostles, through their encounter with Christ, must somehow acquire all they need to fulfill their role in leading the Church now that Jesus will be shortly ascending into heaven. In this passage they must transition from being like children and without wisdom, symbolized by having empty nets, to acquiring all the wisdom they need.  This is symbolized by having their nets filled to overflowing.  Therefore, the consistency of the analogy leads us to the conclusion that what filled their nets must symbolize this wisdom they needed to acquire.  Therefore, 153 Fish symbolizes wisdom.

However, this logical conclusion leads us to two perplexing questions:

1. Why does John use “153 Fish” to symbolize wisdom ?

2. How did John know that his readers, at his time and place, would recognize that “153 Fish” represents wisdom?

The answers to our questions of why John included this reference to 153 fish will be found by understanding the context of the time and place that John wrote his Gospel. 

 
 
 

Continue ...
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place


 

Sections :

Introduction
Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Fish
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea
Conclusion

Print Free Pamphlet - - Brief Summary

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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