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

Spoken to: 

Peter

Context: 

Apostles

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Here, after me! And I will make you brighteners of humanity.

KJV : 

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

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

An untranslated adverb before "me" means "back," and "behind," in Greek but can be translated as "after"  in time because in Greek "back" refers to the future. The reason is that the future is hidden and unknown,  and we cannot see what is behind us.

The real gem here is the word translated as "fishers," which in Greek means "of the sun" or "sunners." We can think of this as referring to working in the sun, but I like the symbolism of bringing fish to the sun by pulling them out of the dark depths of the water.

These ideas of a hidden future and bringing people to the light ties to many of Jesus's concepts. "Light" is knowledge." "Darkness" is ignorance. "Truth" is what is "unhidden." Seeing" is knowing and understanding.

NIV : 

Matthew 4:19 Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.

NLT : 

Matthew 4:19 Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

Wordplay: 

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

Related Verses: 

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." The verb form means "to fish,"and "to net."  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.

KJV Analysis: 

Follow -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "follow" is an adverbial command meaning "come here" or simple "here." This is not a verb nor a command as transalted.

untranslated "after"-- (MW) The untranslated word "back" means "behind" in space but "after" in time. 

me, -- "Me" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

will  -- This helping verb "will" indicates the future tense of the following verb.

make -- 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," Jesus usually uses it to mean "to make", "to create," "to perform," and "to produce" as he does here.

you -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.  

fishers -- The Greek term translated as "fisher" here doesn't refer to the Greek word for fish. This word is an adjective that means "in the sun" or "in the warmth." As a noun, the word means "those of the sun" or "sunners." The root of this word is Greek word for "sun." The verb form means "to fish" or "to net," describing bringing the fish out into the sun.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession,

men.  -- The Greek word for "man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples".  

KJV Translation Issues: 

2
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "follow" is not a verb.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "after" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

Come, -- The Greek word translated as "come" is an adverbial command meaning "come here" or simple "here." This is not a verb nor a command as translated.

follow -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "follow"  means "behind" in space and "after" in time.

me, -- "Me" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

will  -- This helping verb "will" indicates the future tense of the following verb.

send -- (WW) The Greek term translated here as "send" means "to make", "to create," "to perform," and "to produce" as he does here. It is almost always translated as "to do." While it can mean "to do," 

you -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.  

out to -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "out to" in the Greek source.

fish-- (WF) The Greek term translated as "fish" here doesn't refer to the Greek word for fish. This word is an adjective that means "in the sun" or "in the warmth." As a noun, the word means "those of the sun" or "sunners." The root of this word is Greek word for "sun." The verb form means "to fish" or "to net," describing bringing the fish out into the sun.  This is not the verb, but the noun.

for  -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

people.  -- The Greek word for "people" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples".  

NIV Translation Issues: 

4
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "follow" is a verbal command but an adverb meaning "back" or "after."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "send" means "make."
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "out to" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "fish" is a noun not a verb.

NLT Analysis: 

Come, -- The Greek word translated as "come" is an adverbial command meaning "come here" or simple "here." This is not a verb nor a command as translated.

follow -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "follow"  means "behind" in space and "after" in time.

me, -- "Me" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

will  -- This helping verb "will" indicates the future tense of the following verb.

show -- (WW) The Greek term translated here as "show" means "to make", "to create," "to perform," and "to produce" as he does here. It is almost always translated as "to do." While it can mean "to do," 

you -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.  

how to -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "out to" in the Greek source.

fish-- (WF) The Greek term translated as "fish" here doesn't refer to the Greek word for fish. This word is an adjective that means "in the sun" or "in the warmth." As a noun, the word means "those of the sun" or "sunners." The root of this word is Greek word for "sun." The verb form means "to fish" or "to net," describing bringing the fish out into the sun.  This is not the verb, but the noun.

for  -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

people.  -- The Greek word for "people" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples".  

NLT Translation Issues: 

4
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "follow" is a verbal command but an adverb meaning "back" or "after."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "show" means "make."
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "how to" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "fish" is a noun not a verb.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

What goes it mean to be a "sailor/sunner of men?" If we go with the "sailor" meaning of the word, "of humanity" describes the ocean or sea on which the apostles will visible work. They will be public, "in the sun."  However, if we think about this word literally, as "bringing to the sun," it could mean "those bringing humanity into the light." Either fits Jesus's thinking.

This idea connects to the meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven discussed in the previous verse (Mat 4:17). In Christ's era, people could work as farmers, sheepherders, 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).

These ideas of a hidden future and bringing people to the light ties to many of Jesus's concepts. "Light" is knowledge." "Darkness" is ignorance. "Truth" is what is "unhidden." Seeing" is knowing and understanding.

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."

Front Page Date: 

Apr 9 2020