Christian Churches of God
One Hundred and FiftyThree Fish
(Edition 1.0 20150509-20150509)
Here we discuss the significance of the miracle of 153 fish in John 21.
One Hundred and Fifty Three Fish
We will look at a great puzzle in the NT texts where Christ forces a miracle on the disciples. Many have been puzzled by the text and not understood the meaning or the miracle. No one who believes in heaven or hell or fails to understand the plan of salvation can understand it or even guess at the implications (see the paper Heaven, Hell or the First Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143A)).
The text in John 21:11 shows that after Christ had been resurrected and accepted as the Wave Sheaf and returned to the earth he appeared on the shore and spoke to the disciples who were fishing.
1After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tibe'ri-as; and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan'a-el of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zeb'edee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. 4Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any fish?" They answered him, "No." 6He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. 9When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.”
The symbolism of these 153 Great Fish is tied into the plan of Salvation and the texts show that it is concerning the gathering of the faith and the fate of the disciples. The second part of the text deals with the death of Peter and the fate of John signifying that Peter was to be killed and John was to die after he had waited for Christ in old age to come to him in the vision and write the text of Revelation that God gave to Christ for providing to John for the faith. The fate of the disciples and the seventy is examined in the paper The Fate of the Twelve Apostles (122B).
18Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." 19(This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me." 20Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" 22Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" 23The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" 24This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
The significance of the number of fish is that they were gathered under command of Christ and were not an accidental number or the efforts of the disciples who themselves of their own volition were trying to catch fish and caught nothing but when they were guided to the right side of the boat they caught as many as they could possibly handle. This was to signify the gathering of mankind under the plan of God. The meaning can be extracted from the plan of salvation. We know for a fact that there are 120 jubilees from the closure of Eden to the end of Satan’s rule and the establishment of the Millennium from 2027/8. We also know that there are a further 20 jubilees in the Millennium from 2028 to 3027. This is the morning sacrificial system of the Millennial Temple as foretold by Ezekiel. That gives us 140 jubilees of the harvest. Then we are faced with the Second Resurrection and the Great White Throne Judgment (No. 143B). This period is two jubilees or 100 years. Thus we are faced with the fact that the harvest is over 142 jubilees. But Adam was created in the jubilee before the closure of Eden and so there is a third jubilee totalling 143.
How then do we get to the 153 is the unknown. The remainder is ten and that number sequence in the Temple is the number of lampstands of the seven lamps per lampstand numbering 70 which represented the council of the Host and Elders of Israel and then the Churches of God. These Councils drawn out over the two thousand years of the church in the wilderness numbered 144,000 as we see from Revelation chapter 7. This is also accompanied by the Great Multitude which is drawn from the Evening sacrifice in the period up to the First Resurrection and then from the Morning sacrifice up to the Second Resurrection.
However we know from the structure of the Temple system that there were 12 divisions numbering 24,000 per month which numbered 288,000 for the year. To get to the 288,000 we are forced to go to and study the City of God (No. 180). The City of God is comprised of both Angels and men as we will be equal unto the Angels as sons of God and the measurement of the City of God will be according to the cubit of the angels and of men which will be the same as detailed in the paper. Also Christ tells us in Luke that we will be isos anggellos or equal unto the angels (Lk. 20:36).
We may thus deduce that the factor of ten refers equally to the Seven Churches with the Seven Spirits of God and the Two Lampstands and the Messiah spread over the entire creation of the Harvest of God, and also the combination of the Heavenly Host and the Human Host in the City of God. That sequence then continues on for eternity as the Heavenly Host in charge of the Universe which is then ruled from the earth.
There is thus a sequence of leadership of the harvests under the patriarchs and prophets. The composite nature of the harvest and the blessings are also indicated by Christ in his sequence of blessing and salvation to 153 people, which includes the leadership of the faith, and thus shows the harvests are also appointed leaders. It is done in the sequence in 48 separate acts as follows:
Matthew writes that on 23 occasions Jesus blessed a total of 47 people, including a leper (Mat. 8:2), a non-Israelite woman and her daughter (Mat.15:22), Mary Magdalene (Mat. 27:56) and Joseph of Arimathaea (Ramah) (Mat. 27:57).
Mark records Christ, on three occasions, personally blessed three people. These were the healing of a man with an unclean spirit (Mk. 1:23), healing a man who was deaf (Mk. 7:32) and another who was blind (Mk. 8:22).
Luke writes that on 14 occasions 94 people were blessed. They include the seventy disciples sent out to preach and heal (Lk. 10:1, 17), ten lepers cleansed at the same time (Lk. 17:12) and Zaccheus (Lk. 19:2).
The apostle John bears record of eight incidents where nine people were helped by Jesus. Of these people Nicodemus (Jn. 3:1), the woman accused of adultery (Jn. 8:11) and Lazarus (Jn. 11) are among those personally touched by Messiah.
The records indicate that the Lord directly blessed a grand total of 153 people in 48 separate incidents. These cumulative totals show that it is by the activities of Messiah in the Holy Spirit that the number 153 refers to the blessings of the harvests of God and the leaders of the faith. There are thus a number of instances that stand as multiple witnesses to the structure. It also reveals that salvation is of sinners and the Gentiles.
If there is another sequence then it has not been revealed to the Churches of God.