And it shall come to pass
In Gospel times: what follows had a fulfilment in the first times of the Gospel, and will have a greater in the latter times of it: that the fishers shall stand upon it;
upon the brink of the river, or the shore of the sea, whose waters will be healed by this river running into them. These "fishers" are the apostles of Christ, who, of fishermen, were made fishers of men by him; to whom he gave a call, and a commission, and gifts qualifying them to preach the Gospel; whereby they caught men, and brought them to Christ; and so were the instruments of saving them, even of great numbers, both in Judea, and in the Gentile world; of which some instances of their fishing, after their call to the ministry, were emblematical; ( Matthew 4:18 Matthew 4:19 ) ( Luke 5:4-10 ) ( John 21:3-11 ) , likewise all other ministers of the Gospel are here meant, especially those that will be in the latter day; compared to fishers for the meanness and contemptibleness of their employment in the eyes of the world; for their labouriousness in it, and for their patient waiting for success therein; and for the bad weather, storms, and tempests, they are exposed unto, the reproach and persecution of men; and their being the happy means of drawing souls out of the abyss of sin and misery unto Christ, for life and salvation: and their "standing" upon the brink of the waters to catch fish may denote their constancy their work; their strict attachment to the doctrines of the Gospel, and their waiting for success in it. From Engedi even unto Eneglaim;
two places, which, according to Jerom, lay, the latter one at the entrance of the Dead sea, and the former at the end of it; but Reland F11 observes that this could not be, if Josephus is to be credited, who makes Engedi to be about forty miles from Jerusalem F12; therefore could not be far from the beginning of the Dead sea, and not where it ended; since the Dead sea, or the lake of Asphaltites, was in length seventy three miles, and, consequently, Engedi must be more than seventy five or ninety miles from Jerusalem; but that it was at the beginning of it is still further manifest from the same writer making the lake to be just such a number of miles from Jerusalem F13 as he does Engedi; and whereas Engedi was on the western shore of the lake, as appears from Pliny F14, it is probable there was another city on the eastern shore, opposite to it, called Eneglaim; and there was a city on that side, the name of which was Agallim, which, according to Eusebius, was eight miles from Areopolis: and so it may signify the extent of the Gospel ministry, which, in the latter day, will be from one end of the earth to the other; and which took a large circuit in the times of the apostles, and particularly by the Apostle Paul, ( Romans 15:19 ) . They shall be a place to spread forth nets;
that is, the above said places shall be made use of for that purpose; which design the Gospel, and the ministry of it, compared to a net, for its meanness in the esteem of the world; and yet is a piece of curious artifice and wisdom, even the manifold wisdom of God, and is contrived for the gathering in of sinners to Christ; and, though it may be like a net "per accidens", the means of troubling the world, and drawing out the corruptions of the men of it; yet its principal design, and the use that is made of it, is to draw souls out of the depths of sin unto the grace of Christ; see ( Matthew 13:47 Matthew 13:48 ) , the spreading and casting of nets design the preaching of the Gospel, and the opening and explaining the doctrines of it, which are shut up and hidden to men; and to do which requires wisdom and skill, strength, diligence, and patience, and is done at a venture; and sometimes is cast where fish are, and sometimes not; but here, and at this time, with great success. For their fish shall be according to their kind, as the fish of the
great sea, exceeding many:
that is, there shall be fish of all sorts, small and great, and in large numbers, as in the great ocean, or as in the Mediterranean sea. These signify regenerated persons, who are born of water and the Spirit by the word of God, which is their element; they cannot live but in these waters of the sanctuary, and where the doctrines of grace are preached. Now many of all nations, and men of all ranks, will be called; kings, princes, nobles, as well as peasants; men high and low, rich and poor, and multitudes of them, like the fishes of the sea; which will be the case when the Jews will be converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in.
F11 Palestina Illustrata, I. 2. p. 449. & l. 3. p. 763.
F12 Antiqu. l. 9. c. 1. sect. 2.
F13 Antiqu. l. 15. c. 6. sect 2.
F14 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 17.