Matthew 4:19 "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

KJV Verse: 

Mat 4:19 Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Come after me [in the future] and I am going to make you light workers of humanity.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The Greek word translated as "follow" is an adverbial command meaning "come here" or simple "here."

It is followed by another adverb used as a preposition. It means primarily "back," and "behind," in Greek but can be translated as "after" when referring to time because in Greek "back" refers to the future. "Back to the future" is exactly how the Greeks thought about the future. The reason is future is hidden and unknown, therefore it is behind us. We can see what is ahead of us and we cannot see the future. This idea of a hidden future ties to many of Christ's concepts. "Seeing" is knowing and understanding. "Truth" is what is "unhidden." "Light" is knowledge. "Darkness" is ignorance. These ideas lead us toward understanding the key phrase at the end of this verse, "fishers of men."

The Greek term translated here as "make" is correctly translated here, but it is confused in most of the Gospels. It is almost always translated as "to do." While it can mean "to do," Christ usually uses it to mean "to make", "to create," and "to produce" as he does here.

This brings use to the phrase, "fishers of men." English, this phrase initially appears to be a synonym for our word "fishermen," but the Greek has a lot of other connotations that this missed

The Greek term translated as "fisher" here doesn't refer to fish at all. There are other Greek word for those who collect fish or net fish. This word is a more general term for one who works at sea. It is an adjective that means "in the sun" or "in the warmth." Used as a noun, a common usage in Koine, the word literally means "those working in the heat of the sun." It does mean "fishermen" but only because they are the most common sailors in Galilee. However, it's literal meaning is "workers in in the light" is consistent with Christ's used of light imagery.

The final term, "of men" can mean many things. It might mean, as in the KJV, comparing people to fish and the apostle's job is catching them. However, if we go with the "sailor" meaning of the word, "of humanity" describes the ocean or sea on which the apostles will work. However, if we think about this word literally, as "workers in the sun," it could mean "humanity's light worker" or "those bringing humanity into the light."

This idea connects use back to the meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven discussed in the previous verse (Mat 4:17). In Christ's era, people could worked as farmers, sheep herders, or fishermen, supporting themselves off the land. Christ is heralding a time when we would all find our purpose working together, creating values from our work with each other. That is, making our living as sailors on the sea of humanity instead of sailors upon the natural seas. One of Christ's analogies for the kingdom heaven is a net put down into the sea taking in both good fish and bad (discussed here).

Greek Vocabulary: 

Δεῦτε (adv) "Follow" is from deute, which is an adverb, not a verb, that means "come here" and "come hither."

ὀπίσω (adv) Untranslated is opiso, which means (of place) "backwards", "back side [papyrus]," (of movement) "back", "back again", ""behind," (of time) "hereafter."

μου, (pron 1st sg masc gen) "Me" is from mou, which mean "me", "my," or "mine."

καὶ "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

ποιήσω (1st sg fut ind act ) "I will make" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

ὑμᾶς (pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is from humas and humon, which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ἁλεεῖς (adj pl masc nom) "Fishers" is from halieus, which is an adjective that means "in the sun" and "in the warmth." Used as a noun, it also means "one who has to do with the sea", "seaman", "sailor," and "fisher." It is also the second person verb form of the Greek verb meaning "to have mercy" and "to have pity."

ἀνθρώπων. (noun pl masc gen) "Of men" is from anthropos, which "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.


 A pun on "workers in the sun" and "workers of the light". 

The Spoken Version: 

He beckoned to a group of fishermen, gesturing them to follow.

"Come aong with me," he said with a smile. "And I am going to remake you."

He gestured toward the general, and said, "Into light workers of humanity."

Related Verses: 

Front Page Date: 

Dec 21 2016