Matthew 13:48 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 13:48, NIV: When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.

Matthew 13:48, ESV: When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.

Matthew 13:48, KJV: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

Matthew 13:48, NASB: and when it was filled, they pulled it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.

Matthew 13:48, NLT: When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away.

Matthew 13:48, CSB: and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones.

What does Matthew 13:48 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In one of the final parables included in this chapter, Jesus once again compares the kingdom of heaven to something His listeners in and around Capernaum would have known well. In this case, the symbolism comes from fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Specifically, Jesus describes fishing with a net. This style of fishing takes many forms. Sometimes a net is stretched between two boats, or between a boat and the shore, and then dragged along the bottom of the lake. In other cases, a circular net is thrown flat onto the water and pulled down by weights. Either method results in a variety of animals being captured; not everything caught in the net is something the fishermen want or need.

What happens next is common sense, but in the context of the parable it carries an important lesson (Matthew 13:49). The contents of the net are sorted. Some are considered good, meaning they're worth eating or selling. Others are bad, meaning unusable for anything at all. The fishermen do the work of sorting through all the different kinds of fish and throwing the bad ones away while saving out the good in special containers.

Every Israelite had likely observed this process. This would have amplified the impression the parable made on those who understood the idea behind it.