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the lesson of the 153 great fishes...


Last Edited: December 6, 2008, 12:04 am

It is interesting to me that I found this just today.  Only moments before this post.  I am very excited.  You see, the number 153 found me.  Not I it.  It chose me.  Not the other way around.  I was assigned this number.  It was given to me.  I simply identified with it and held onto it as a username. 

If you know me at all, you will understand why I am both fascinated and excited by this.

Taken in its entirety from this link:



Number in Scripture
Spiritual Significance of Numbers
Meaning of the Number ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY AND THREE (153)



This is a number which has taxed the ingenuity of some of the greatest of Bible students, and that from the earliest times. All have felt there must be something deeply significant and mysterious in this number, from the solemn way in which it is introduced in John 21:11,—"Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty and three."

Other miracles are parables in their lessons, and Augustine* has pointed out the comparison and contrast between the two miraculous draughts of fishes, one at the beginning and the other at the end of Christ's ministry (after His resurrection). He and other Commentators see in this number some connection with the saved, as being definite and particular down even to the last one, making up not a large round number, but a smaller and odd number, 153. They saw in this a proof of the fact that the number of the elect is fixed and pre-ordained.**

* Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John, 122.

** So Trench, Notes on the Miracles, p. 194.

Jerome also sees there is some deeper meaning in the number, and says that there are 153 sorts of fish, i.e., all kinds of men enclosed in the Gospel net.

Other more surprising suggestions have been made, but they are all the outcome of fancy.

The utmost that can be said is that had it been the round number 150, there would have been an absence of all definiteness, but as it goes beyond and gives the three by which the 150 is exceeded, it does seem to convey the impression that we have here, if these fishes are a symbol of the saved, an illustration and confirmation of our Lord's words, recorded in the same Gospel, "of all that He [the Father] hath given Me I should lose nothing" (John 6:39), and "those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost" (John 17:12).

When we come to the way in which the significance of this number has been estimated, we find a variety of modes. Augustine and Gregory the Great both start with the fact that 17 is the sum of 10 and 7. For the significance of the number 17. But they deal with the 17 in different ways.

Gregory simply multiplies 17 by 3 and again by 3 (i.e., 17x32), and thus arrives at 153.

Augustine, on the other hand, employs addition, and takes the sum of all the digits to and including 17 as amounting to exactly 153. He says,* "For if you add 2 to 1, you have 3, of course; if to these you add 3 and 4, the whole number makes 10; and then if you add all the numbers that follow up to 17, the whole amounts to the aforesaid number [153]; that is, if to 10, which you had reached by adding all together from 1 to 4, you add 5, you have 15; to these add 6, and the result is 21; then add 7, and you have 28; to this add 8, and 9, and 10, and you get 55; to this add 11, and 12, and 13, and you have 91; and to this again add 14, and 15, and 16, and it comes to 136; and then add to this the remaining number of which we have been speaking, namely 17, and it will make up the number of fishes."**

* Tractate on John, 122.

** We should express this, now, more scientifically, and say, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 +14 + 15 + 16 + 17 = 153. And Gregory's we should express thus: (10 + 7) x (3 x 3) = 153.

Bishop Wordsworth arrives at his result in a different manner. He uses two numbers, and employs both multiplication and addition. First he takes the square of 12 (which he holds to be the Church number), and then he adds the square of 3 (the number of the Godhead), and points out that 122 + 32 = 153, or (12 x 12) + (3 x 3).

We might give yet another contribution to these various modes as the result of our investigations in numbers, and say that 153 = 9 x 17, and see in this number all judgment (9) exhausted for the people of God (17) in the person of their Surety.

All, however, agree in the great and blessed fact that "Salvation is of the Lord," Divine alike in its source, its agency, and its results.

The same Divine character is stamped upon this miracle and its lessons by the number of disciples who were present when it was wrought. There were seven. And the seven is divided into 3 and 4 as usual—3 being named, and 4 unnamed.

The one lesson that remains is true, namely, that the whole number of the redeemed are saved by the power of the Triune God.

We may condense all this by calling 153 simply,


The expression Myhl)h ynb (Beni Ha-Elohim), "Sons of God," occurs seven times!*

* One of them is slightly different, yh-l) ynb (Beni El-hai), "sons of the living God." Thus the human and divine element is seen in the six and seven (see note on 6 and 7).

Now the gematria of this expression is exactly 153. Thus:

b = 2
n = 50
y = 10
h = 5
) = 1
l = 30
h = 5
y = 10
M = 40

In Greek, the expression exhibits in another form the same phenomena, the gematria being 3213, or 3 x 7 x 153.

It is very remarkable, in connection with this, that in Job 2:1 we have "Beni-ha Elohim with Satan among them." The gematria of this phrase is 1989, and the two factors of this number are 153 and 13 (13x153=1989).

The word sunklhronomoi (sunkleeronomoi), "joint-heirs" (Rom 8:17), amounts to 1071, the factors of which are 153 and 7 (153x7=1071).

The expression suklhronomoi de Cristou (sunkleeronomoi de Christou), "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17), amounts to 2751. Now the factors of 153, as we have seen, are 9 and 17, and the number 2751 is three times the nine hundred, plus seventeen, viz., 3 x (900 + 17) = 2751.

The expression ktisiV qeou (ktisis Theou), "the creation of God," is 1224, or 8 x 153.

In the record of the miracle itself there are some remarkable phenomena:—

The word for "fishes" icqueV (ichthues), is by gematria 1224, or 8 x 153.

The words for "the net" are to diktuon, and by gematria this also amounts to 1224, or 8 x 153, for it is unbroken, and carries the precious freight from "the right side" of the ship safely to the shore, and "not one is lost."

Quite a new thought has recently been given by Lieut.-Col. F. Roberts, who finds that amongst the multitudes who received direct blessing from Christ there are recorded exactly 153 special individual cases! We append his list, with one or two alterations: and if any names appear to be missing, it will be found on examination that there is good reason for omitting them; e.g., Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew; while Matthias, and Barsabas (Acts 1:23), Joses, Barnabas (Acts 4:36), Stephen, though they with many others may have received blessing from Jesus Himself, and probably did, yet it is not so stated. Of course Zacharias, Elisabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna, are not included, as they were all in blessing before the birth of Jesus.

The following is the list:—

  1. The leper, Matt 8:2 (1)
  2. Centurion and servant, Matt 8:5 (2)
  3. Peter's wife's mother, Matt 8:14 (1)
  4. Two possessed with devils, Matt 8:18 (2)
  5. Palsied man and bearers [Mark 2:3], Matt 9:2 (5)
  6. Jairus and his daughter, Matt 9:18 (2)
  7. Woman with issue of blood, Matt 9:21 (1)
  8. Blind men, Matt 9:27 (2)
  9. Dumb man, Matt 9:32 (1)
  10. Eleven Apostles, Matt 10:2 (11)
  11. Man with withered hand, Matt 12:10 (1)
  12. Blind and dumb devil, Matt 12:22 (1)
  13. Brethren of the Lord [Acts 1:14] Matt 13:55 (4)
  14. Syrophoenician woman and daughter, Matt 15:22 (2)
  15. Lunatic child and father, Matt 17:14 (2)
  16. Blind men (leaving Jericho),* Matt 20:30 (2)
  17. Simon the leper, Matt 26:6 (1)
  18. Mary (sister of Lazarus. See Nos 32 and 47), Matt 26:7 (1)
  19. Centurion; Matt 27:54 (1)
  20. Salome (mother of Zebedee's children), Matt 27:56 (1)
  21. Mary (mother of James, and wife of Cleopas), Matt 27:56 (1)
  22. Mary Magdalene, Matt 27:56 (1)
  23. Joseph of Arimathaea, Matt 27:57 (1)
  24. Man with unclean spirit; Mark 1:23 (1)
  25. Man, deaf and dumb, Mark 7:32 (1)
  26. Blind man, Mark 8:22 (1)
  27. Son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7:12 (1)
  28. A woman, a sinner, Luke 7:37 (1)
  29. Joanna and Susanna, Luke 8:3 (2)
  30. A disciple—"follow Me", Luke 9:59 (1)
  31. The seventy disciples, Luke 10:1 (70)
  32. Martha, Luke 10:38 (1)
  33. Woman with infirmity, Luke 13:11 (1)
  34. Man with dropsy, Luke 14:2 (1)
  35. The ten lepers, Luke 17:12 (10)
  36. The blind man (approaching Jericho),** Luke 18:35 (1)
  37. Zaccheus, Luke 19:2 (1)
  38. Malchus [John 18:10], Luke 22:51 (1)
  39. Penitent thief, Luke 23:43 (1)
  40. The two disciples at Emmaus, Luke 24:13 (2)
  41. Nicodemus, John 3:1 (1)
  42. Woman of Samaria, John 4:4 (1)
  43. Nobleman and sick son, John 4:46 (2)
  44. Impotent man (Bethesda), John 5:1 (1)
  45. Woman taken in adultery, John 8:11 (1)
  46. Man born blind, John 9 (1)
  47. Lazarus, John 11 (1)
  48. Mary, mother of Jesus, John 19:25 (1) = (153)
* Bartimeus being one of them (Mark 10:46), these two being healed as Jesus left Jericho.

** The blind man (No. 36) was healed (Luke 18:35) "as He was come nigh unto Jericho," and therefore is additional to the two who were healed as He was leaving Jericho (No. 16). See Matt 20:30; Mark 10:46.

We give the above not as an alternative solution, but as an additional illustration, believing that all may be true; and at any rate, that all contribute to, and increase the cumulative evidence in support of the same great and blessed fact, that it is true of the Lord's people as it is of the stars, "He calleth them all by their names" (Psa 147:4). The book of Exodus is the book in which we first hear of redemption (Exo 15:14), and the Hebrew and divinely canonical name for this book is "THE NAMES," because His people are redeemed by name!

This is the lesson of the 153 great fishes.

Entry #88


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