Steven Lo Vullo
themelios at charter.net
Mon Jul 4 16:16:41 EDT 2005
On Jul 4, 2005, at 12:32 PM, thebodyofjesusthenazoraion at juno.com wrote:
> NAU 50Joh 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They
> said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out and got into
> the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
> why use the word fishing? it is not Ichthus or opspran? It is hals or
> salt they were salters. We are called to be salters of men not fishers
> of men. I do not kill and eat the people I bring to Christ. I salt
I will offer the following and let others comment:
(1) LSJ offers two separate entries for hALS: (A) "salt" and (B) "sea."
It seems that related words have to do with one or the other of these
(2) hALIEUW, the verb found in Jn 21.3, means "to fish" or "to be a
fisher." This is verified by a great many contexts in which it is
found, including the surrounding context of Jn 21.3. There should be no
question whatsoever from the context that Simon Peter meant to go and
catch fish. The very verse you cite says this:
LEGEI AUTOIS SIMWN PETROS: hUPAGW hALIEUEIN. LEGOUSIN AUTWi: ERCOMEQA
KAI hHMEIS SUN SOI. EXHLQON KAI ENEBHSAN EIS TO PLOION, KAI EN EKEINHi
THi NUKTI EPIASAN OUDEN.
When Peter says hUPAGW hALIEUEIN, in which I believe the infinitive
hALIEUEIN states his purpose, the others reply that they are going with
him. Then we are told that they caught (EPIASAN) nothing that night.
The clear inference from EPIASAN OUDEN ("they caught nothing") is that
they indeed intended to catch SOMETHING, i.e., fish. So Peter was not
talking about going "salting" (whatever that could possibly mean), but
"fishing." This is confirmed by Jesus' question and command in vv. 5-6.
Note also the metaphors in Jer 16.16 where God is sending fishers and
hunters to catch his enemies:
IDOU EGW APOSTELLW TOUS hALEEIS TOUS POLLOUS, LEGEI KURIOS, KAI
hALIEUSOUSIN AUTOUS. KAI META TAUTA APOSTELLW TOUS POLLOUS QHREUTAS KAI
QHREUSOUSIN AUTOUS EPANW PANTOS OROUS KAI EPANW PANTOS BOUNOU KAI EK
TWN TRUMALIWN TWN PETRWN.
"Behold, I am sending many fishers (hALEEIS), says the Lord, and they
shall catch (hALIEUSOUSIN) them. And after this I shall send many
hunters, and they will hunt them down upon every mountain, and upon
every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks."
Clearly the idea here in both metaphors is going after a "catch". So
the verb hALIEUSOUSIN (the same verb used in Jn 21.3) means "to fish"
or "to catch fish," NOT "to salt." There is a congruity here between
the metaphors of fishing and hunting.
(3) It is the verb hALIZW, not hALIEUW, that means "to salt." You can
find it used in Mt 5.13 and Mk 9.49, but NOT in Jn 21.3.
(4) Metaphors are not only not literal--you yourself presumably do not
throw salt on people--but cannot be stretched beyond the purpose for
which they were intended. The similarity between fishing and
evangelizing is that in both cases there is a drawing in of a
harvest--in one case a harvest of fish, in the other a harvest of
people. To go beyond this basic similarity is to frustrate the purpose
of the metaphor. For example, the "wheat" that God gathers into his
"barn" in Mt 13.30--does he bake it into bread and eat it? If we tried
to make every metaphor "stand on all fours" we would quickly be drowned
It should be noted too that in Jn 21 there is no explicit mention of
the disciples being "fishers of men." This is an interpretive decision
that cannot be derived on the basis of the Greek alone.
Steven Lo Vullo
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
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