What does Matthew 13:49 mean?
ESV: So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous
NIV: This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous
NASB: So it will be at the end of the age: the angels will come forth and remove the wicked from among the righteous,
CSB: So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous,
NLT: That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous,
KJV: So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
Jesus explains the meaning behind His parable about the fishermen sorting out their catch of every kind of fish (Matthew 13:47–48). He is making the same point He did in the earlier parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24–30; 36–43), only this time with fishing instead of farming.
The fishermen who sit on the beach throwing out the bad fish and saving the good ones represent the work of the angels at the "end of the age." Jesus is describing the judgment that will come when He returns to set up His political kingdom on the earth. That judgment will begin with the angels sorting and separating the righteous from the evil on the earth. As the rest of Matthew's gospel and the New Testament will show, those who are with Jesus, saved by faith in Him and His death for their sin on the cross, will be declared righteous. Those who have rejected Jesus will remain in their sin and their status as "evil."
In the following verse, Jesus once more declares that the work of the angels will be to throw the "bad fish," those who are evil, into hell.
Matthew 13:47–50 contains a parable about fisherman. This is closely related to the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24–30). Fishermen use a dragnet to bring up a large catch, which includes many kinds of fish, good and bad. The workers sort the fish, discarding those which are "bad." Jesus immediately explains that this is like the angels who will come and separate the evil from the righteous at the end of the age. They will throw those who reject faith in Christ into the fiery furnace where there is anguish and misery.
Matthew 13 focuses mainly on a series of parables. Jesus first describes these to a large crowd along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Later, in a house, He explains to the disciples the meanings of the parables of the sower, the weeds, and the fish caught in the net. Jesus then travels to Nazareth, teaches in the synagogue, and is rejected by the people of His original hometown.
Matthew 13 follows Jesus from the overcrowded house at the end of the previous chapter to a crowded beach on the Sea of Galilee. He teaches a large crowd in a series of parables, which He doesn't fully explain. However, He reveals their meaning to His disciples inside a nearby house. Jesus pictures the kingdom of heaven as a sower, a sabotaged field of wheat, a mustard seed, and a pearl dealer, among other things. He then travels to His original hometown of Nazareth where He is rejected by the people He grew up with. This leads Matthew back to depictions of Jesus' miracles, after sadly recording John the Baptist's death.
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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