SHORT BIBLE STUDY: Fish in the Bible
What do fish mean in the Bible? In the first account of Creation in Genesis chapter 1:1 through chapter 2:4, fish are mentioned on the fifth day of creation as they are part of the living creatures that are in the sea, and on the sixth-day fish are named in particular as humankind is given responsibility for the creation, for God’s creation. Later, in the Old Testament, we see fish in Leviticus chapter 11:10 as fish with scales and fins or identified as good food, and those with shells, shellfish, are identified as unclean food. Later in the Old Testament, there is the story of Jonah and of God creating a great fish as Jonah, the prophet, refused to go to Nineveh and God created a fish to swallow up Jonah and help change his mind so you’ll go back to Nineveh.
What do fish mean in the Bible? In the New Testament, fish play an important part in the story of Jesus. Jesus calls his first disciples Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him as they are mending their nets and as they are tending to the business of fishing. Then as he calls them, Jesus says follow me and I will make you fish for people. Later, as the disciples were following Jesus, they saw Jesus miraculously multiplying the fish and loaves and feeding the hungry as a sign of God’s compassion. At the end of the 21st chapter of the Gospel of John the resurrected Jesus, the resurrected Christ, instructs the disciples who have been fishing all night long and not catching anything to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, when they do this they catch a large catch, 153 large fish.
Fish are an important part of the Bible. They are part of the ongoing biblical story of faith, of God’s creative power, and God’s Redemptive power. Fish were such an important part of the biblical story and of the story of Jesus that the symbol of a fish became a symbol of the early Christian church and the name for fish and the Greek ‘ichthus’ became a symbol also for Jesus as an anagram for the various letters for the word fish in Greek. Words that stand for Jesus Christ, God, God Son, Savior. What do fish mean in the Bible? Fish is an important part of the Bible, part of the story of God’s creative power, Redemptive power, and ongoing power in our lives.