The Parable of the Dragnet


47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

51 Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?”

They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”

52 Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”Matthew 13:47-52.

The parable of the dragnet is unique to Matthew. Its meaning is similar to the parable of the tares, which is that there will be an end-time separation of the believers and unbelievers (cf. Matt. 25:31-46).

Verse 48 describes the end-time division of people based on their response to Jesus and the gospel (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15).

Verse 49 “at the end of the age” — The Jews viewed reality as two ages: the current evil age and the age to come. They believed that God would empower a human leader to inaugurate the new age by force. Therefore, they rejected Jesus as the Messiah because He was not displaying the characteristics of a king or a great military leader! This verse speaks of end-time judgment (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Revelation 20).

Verse 50 “and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (See Matt. 13:30, 42, 50; 8:12; 25:31ff.) Jesus often spoke of Hell and its serious and severe implications!

A scribe was a legal expert in the oral and written Law. These teachers were frequently castigated by Jesus (23:13–32), not because of their positions as teachers, but because of their hypocrisy.

A believing scribe, trained for the kingdom, will be able to draw truths from the Old Testament as well as see the fulfillment in Jesus’ teachings (cf. Rom. 4:23-24; 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6,11; 2 Tim. 3:16). The disciples were being trained by the Lord for kingdom mission. They were the scribes of the kingdom. They were in the process of receiving “treasures” — an understanding of both the old redemptive history that points to Christ and the new redemptive acts that mark the presence of the kingdom.

Jesus’ final comments indicate that “true teachers of the kingdom display the kingdom’s treasure for all to see.” (Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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