Scholars have suggested hundreds of possible
meanings for John’s reference to “153 Fish.” These
suggestions are greatly varied, and tend to be
extremely speculative. How could the Apostle John
have expected his readers to see any of those
This article is based on two key principles.
1. The simplest explanation is the most probable.
2. Context is the key to interpretation.
The Bible points us to a context that holds the key
as to what St. John meant by 153 large fish.
John does not offer any explanation as for the
meaning of 153 fish. This highly suggests that he knew his meaning
would have been so obvious to those whom he was
writing, the first century Greeks, that no explanation was required.
This web site examines all the traditional
it explains how we can see a reasonable proof that
there is only one answer that we know John could
have expected his readers to recognize.
The early church fathers offered different meanings for the
“153 Fish.” They used good theology, however closer
examination shows that it is highly unlikely that
the meanings they chose for “153 Fish” could have
been John’s meaning.
No sustainable argument has been presented that
defends or explains how Saint John could have known
his readers would have made the connections that the
early church fathers did.
When the early church
father’s disagree amongst themselves, we are not
required to agree with them. This is more closely
explained further down on this web site.
First, we need to look at the context to which the
Bible points us.
John is writing his Greek Gospel in the Greek city
of Ephesus in which he lived. Understanding this
cultural context in which John wrote points us to
What meaning did John intend by his reference to
“153 fish” ?
“ … these are written that you may believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that
believing you may have life in his name.”
John was fully engaged at trying to help the Greeks
convert to the Gospel.
The Greeks excelled in natural wisdom. And they
took pride in their great accomplishments.
even looked to mathematical wisdom as the key on how
to live. See more details at this web site below.
However, they had mistakenly thought that their
natural wisdom contradicted and precluded the
possibility of the supernatural wisdom of Jesus'
revelation of being true.
Primary Obstacle For The Greeks
1 Corinthians 1:22-24
“For Jews demand signs and
Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block
to Jews and
to Gentiles, but … Christ the power of God and the
wisdom of God.” NAB
Above all else the Greeks esteemed wisdom. The
greatest mathematical minds of antiquity were all
Greek. There was Archimedes, Euclid and Pythagoras,
and not to mention Plato.
Plato the philosopher had
an inscription carved over the archway of his
Academy: “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter
The Gentile Greeks rejected the Gospel as
foolishness because it seemed to contradict their
natural wisdom, in which they took much pride.
without the gift of faith, the idea of Jesus who is
God, Who dies on a cross for sinners is hard to
accept from a worldly point of view.
So, St. John
as a pastor wants correct this impasse, this
seemingly logical contradiction between the natural
wisdom the Greeks possessed and the wisdom Jesus
came to reveal.
So, John uses the analogy of “153 fish” to represent
The Greeks will recognize “153 fish” to symbolize
first and foremost Archimedes’ work on π, but in a
secondary way all Greek Wisdom including the
Pythagoreans and Euclid.
This is demonstrated at this web site. See
Calculating the Size of the
In the analogy, the Apostles have no fish until
Jesus appears. Jesus is the source (and master) of
the 153 fish. Jesus could command Peter to bring
him some fish because Jesus is the rightful owner,
and the source of all the fish which represents all
The Greek Gentiles had thought that their
own wisdom precluded them from accepting the message
of Jesus which appeared as a contradiction to their
wisdom. They saw the Gospel as foolishness.
according to John’s analogy, the one net contains
all the fish. By analogy it contains both the
wisdom that comes from Jesus as well as the natural
wisdom of the Greeks.
Because there is no inconsistency or conflict
between these two wisdoms the same one net which
contains them both does not tear.