John 21.10-11 cont.
10 Jesus said (says) to them: “Now bring some of the fish that you caught”.
11 Simon Peter went on up (on to the boat) and dragged the net onto the land. It was full of large fish, one hundred and fifty three. Though there were so many the net was not torn.
Various things have been written about the precise number of fish that were caught – one hundred and fifty three. In one sense it doesn’t seem such a great haul of fish, but that would depend on the size of the fish, and the normal amount of fish that would be caught in one session of fishing.
One thing that is clear is that John, who was a fisherman himself, considered this to be an abnormal amount of fish to be caught. He also considered it unusual for such a large catch not to tear the nets.
It is suggested that in most catches the fish would be quite small and many would be thrown back into the water to continue their growth and development. On this occasion the unusual thing was that these fish were all large causing the fishermen to count them to ascertain the exact number.
There have been a number of suggestions about the spiritual significance of the number 153.
1 the number represents the different kinds of fish that were known about at that time.
2 it represents 100 Gentile nations, 50 represents the Jews, and 3 represents the Trinity.
3 Others point to the number of foreigners that were counted during Solomon’s reign:
Solomon took a census of all foreigners in the land of Israel, like the census his father had taken, and he counted 153,600 – 2 Chronicles 2.17 (NLT).
4 Also it us suggested that the number symbolically represents Simon Peter’s name.
All of these are bizarre explanations; they are an attempt to read into this number something that is not there. It would seem strange that John would record this number intending it to be symbolic of something else. This is contrary to everything else that he had recorded in his gospel.
It is a number that is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. Therefore, the various attempts at trying to bring a spiritual significance to them appear to be from the realms of man’s imagination, and should be seen as false.
The simple and straight forward answer is that John recorded a miraculous catch of large fish; plain and simple.