What does Mark 1:16 mean?
ESV: Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
NIV: As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
NASB: As He was going along the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.
CSB: As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea —for they were fishermen.
NLT: One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.
KJV: Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
NKJV: And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
Verse Commentary:
Mark 1:16–20 records the calling of the disciples, but it's unclear exactly when this happened. Like other ancient writings, the Gospels are not as chronological as modern readers would prefer. The events related in Mark 1:16–20 occur later in the book of Luke. By comparison, Luke describes this event after the details Mark offers in Mark 1:35–39. That being said, most of the specific events in Jesus' years of ministry don't need to be placed in precise chronological order.

Simon and Andrew were originally from Bethsaida, on the far north end of the Sea of Galilee where the river fills the lake, but they now live in Capernaum, farther west. The details of the encounter, that Jesus meets them as they are casting a net, supports the idea that Mark received the information for his gospel directly from Peter—"Peter" is the name that Jesus gives Simon (John 1:42).

This is not the first time the two brothers had met Jesus. John 1:35–41 says that while John the Baptist was still alive, Andrew witnessed him declaring that Jesus, who was walking by, was "the Lamb of God." Andrew and another friend followed Jesus and spent the day with Him. Andrew later found Simon Peter and told him, "We have found the Messiah" (John 1:41).

This account shows us one of the characteristics of God which is clear both in the Bible and in His dealings with us. He rarely asks us to do something out of the blue. Instead, God spends time preparing us for what is coming. It is our responsibility to take advantage of that preparation. In the case of Andrew and Simon Peter, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. Then both he and Simon Peter meet Jesus. Sometime after this, after John the Baptist has been imprisoned, Jesus approaches the brothers.

The preparation has just begun, however. Andrew and Simon Peter were competent enough to own their own business, but they were fishermen. They were likely from a working-class family and did not enjoy a high degree of wealth or education. And yet Peter would become one of the most important figures in the establishment of the new church. After Jesus' ascension, Peter and his fellow fisherman, John, would meet the Jewish council to defend their faith in Jesus. The council was amazed that such "uneducated, common men" could speak so eloquently (Acts 4:1–22). The combination of the three years spent with Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their hearts turned uneducated fishermen into potent communicators.

Simon Peter went on to write the New Testament epistles of 1 and 2 Peter, and would inspire the very words recorded here in the Gospel of Mark. John went on to write five books of the New Testament: The Gospel of John; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation. The James mentioned here will be the first of the disciples to be martyred (Acts 12:1–2). Little else is known of Andrew
Verse Context:
Mark 1:14–20 describes Jesus' call of the first disciples. First, Jesus approaches Simon—later named Peter—and Andrew, and then speaks to James and John. Both pairs of men choose to leave their fishing businesses behind, in order to follow Jesus. As the following passage shows, this means abandoning everything, as Jesus' ministry will take Him away from this region. Other Gospels give additional details on these encounters (Matthew 4:18–22; Luke 5:1–11; John 1:35–42).
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist is introduced as a figure preparing the world for the arrival of the Messiah. John's baptism teaches people about their need for repentance. When Jesus arrives, and is baptized, it signals the coming of God's fulfillment and the need of people to recognize their Savior. Mark briefly notes Jesus' baptism, desert temptation, and the calling of the first four disciples. After this, Jesus begins teaching in the synagogue and performs miraculous healings which spread His fame around the region.
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of the Gospel of Mark sets the tone for the rest of the story. Mark's writing is concise, action-packed, and short on details. Within a few verses, Mark establishes the transition from the wilderness ministry of John the Baptist to the healing and preaching of Jesus Christ. This first chapter includes the calling of Jesus' earliest disciples, His early miracles, and His early teaching. This establishes the pattern shown throughout the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus mingles His teaching with miraculous signs.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
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