What Qualities Must We possess to be Fishers of Men?

by: Bill Bratt

Email: info@icogsfg.org


Probably all of us have been fishing at least once in our lives. I remember when we were young my uncle Sonny took my brother and me fishing. I remember as a child, it wasn't much fun, because you had to sit still and couldn't play around.

Fishing was the occupation of at least 4 of the Jesus’ disciples.

Matthew 4:18-22 says: And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. {19} Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." {20} They immediately left their nets and followed Him. {21} Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, {22} and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him."

Three Methods of Fishing

There were three methods of fishing in the days of Christ:

1. There was fishing by line.

2. Fishing with the casting net.

The casting net was circular, and might be as much as nine feet in diameter. It was skillfully cast into the water from the land, or from the shallow water at the edge of the lake. It was weighted with pellets of lead round the circumference. It sank into the sea and surrounded the fish. It was then drawn through the water as if the top of a bell tent were being drawn to land, and in it the fish were caught. Its name was the amphiblestron.

3. The third type was the drag net.

The drag net was used from a boat, or better from two boats. It was cast into the water with ropes at each of the four corners. It was weighted at the foot so that, as it were, it stood upright in the water. When the boats were rowed along with the net behind them, the effect was that the net became a great cone, and in the cone the fish were caught and brought into the boat. Its name was the sagene.

Let"s Look at the Spiritual Side

Line fishing: Today God is practicing spiritual birth control. He calls people very selectively. John 6:44, Jesus said "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Casting nets: In the World Tomorrow there will be many who will be converted. God starts small and His work grows. "Of the increase of God's Government there will be no end." Isaiah 9:7

Drag net: In the second resurrection, the White Throne Judgement, the multiple masses of people will be resurrected and converted. (Request our free article on the White Throne Judgment and learn more about it.)

Let’s read Matthew 4:18-22 again. It is interesting to note what kind of men the disciples were. They were not men of great scholarship, or influence, or wealth, or social background. They were not poor, they were simple hard working people with no great background, and certainly, anyone would have said, with no great future. It was these ordinary men whom Jesus chose to be fishers of men.

What about today? Has God called the noble, the wealthy, the wise? NO!

1 Corinthians 1:27 says: "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty."

Today, God is working with ordinary men, the same as when Jesus walked the earth.

The disciples were fishers of men. Today we, the disciples of Jesus, still have the same commission statement of the original apostles of Jesus to ‘Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world (Matthew 24:14).

Then they were called to be witnesses.

Today we are being called to be witnesses, priests and kings for the World Tomorrow, but if we have the opportunity to witness to others today, we must do so.

The word minister, Strongs

Concordance #1249, means ‘deacon,

minister, servant.’

We all are to be servants of Jesus Christ. We should desire to be Fishers-of-men. God wants us to learn how to be a witness today. Today, we have small opportunities to witness.

We can witness to our families, relatives and friends through helping and serving them. We have opportunities to witness, serve and teach our children God's way of life.

We must at all times set a right example. We should evaluate our lives and the decisions that we make based on the Ten Commandments. If we set the right example in our conduct and our speech, then others will glorify God.

1 Peter 2:12 says: "Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."

We should always be ready to evangelize (to be a fisher of men) if we have the opportunity to do so.1 Peter 3:15 "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."

Let's ask the question: What qualities of good fishermen must we possess to be Fishers of Men?


A fisherman must learn to wait patiently until the fish will take the bait. If he is restless and quick to move he will never make a good fisherman. The good ‘fisher of men’ must have patience.

It is but rarely in preaching or in teaching the gospel that we will see quick results. We must learn to wait. God is patient with us. He has time on his side. He has lived forever. God has given us a lifetime - 70 years - to learn his way of life.

Let's ponder the sign that says: "Please be patient with me - God ain't finished with me yet".


Perseverance is one of the seven laws of success. The fisherman must learn never to be discouraged, but always to try again. Who knows, you might catch a plastic bag with 3 weeks of garbage in it.

The good fisherman or witness must not be discouraged when nothing seems to happen. He must always be ready to try again.

Those of us who have had children know that in childrearing, we have to go over and over the rules. It takes time for little children to learn. It also takes time for people to learn the gospel of the kingdom of God and God's way of life.


In Israel storms can come up quickly on the seas.

Matthew 8:24-26 says: "And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But Jesus was asleep. {25} Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" {26} But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm."

The fisherman must be ready to risk and to face the fury of the sea. The good witness must be well aware that there is always a danger in telling men the truth. The man who tells the truth, more often than not takes his reputation and his life in his hands. We must have courage to preach the gospel and make disciples of all men.

Matthew 28:19-20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."


The wise fisherman knows well that there are times when it is hopeless to fish. He knows when to cast and when not to cast.

In the past there have been boat races on Labor Day weekend in our city of Portsmouth, Ohio. Would you fish on a river or lake where they were having motor boat races going on?

The good witness has to choose his moment. There are times when men will welcome the truth, and times when they will resent the truth. There are times when the truth will move them, and times when the truth will harden them in their opposition to the truth.

The wise witness knows that there is a time to speak and a time not to speak.

Let's repeat 1 Peter 3:15 which says: "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."

It is probably best to talk to someone about the gospel one on one and not with a crowd. I have noticed that when you have a crowd around and a question about the Bible comes up, everyone has their own opinion. Their opinion is good, but it may be biased to their religion and worldly traditions. Keep your comments based on the Bible, use scripture to back up Bible doctrine. Remember when Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights and was confronted with Satan, Jesus countered Satan 3 times with the phrase: "It is Written" (Luke 4:1-13).


When fishing, the fisherman must keep out of sight, and even keep his own shadow out of sight, or the fish will not bite.

The wise witness will always seek to present men, not with himself, but with Jesus Christ. We must present Jesus Christ and not some Church Corporation to a new prospective member. Jesus is our savior, not a Church Corporation. A Church Corporation can become a middle man between a person and Jesus. This should not be. Jesus is head of the spiritual Church and He knows no corporation boundaries. The apostle Paul said "Follow me as I follow Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Our aim should be to fix men's eyes, not on ourselves, but on God and Jesus Christ.


We are in training to be FISHERS-OF-MEN. Let's exercise the traits that we can learn from being FISHERMEN today.


(Footnote: Some comments taken from William Barclay Commentary on The Gospel of Matthew - Volume 1 - page: 78)

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