“You Will Appear as Fishers” (Mark 1:17): Disciples as Agents of Judgment

Bibliographic Information: 

Anderson, Chip M. “'You Will Appear as Fishers' (Mark 1:17): Disciples as Agents of Judgment," Africanus Journal 5 (2013), 21-36.


Jesus’ call to make those who follow Him fishers of men in Mark 1:17 is often subject to a metaphor mis-match, drawing on contemporary forms of fishing rather than identifying antecedent use in the Old Testament to define the self-evident metaphor. Although most apply fishers of men to Christian witnessing and evangelism, some commentators recognize a reasonable correlation to an Old Testament theme of judgment: the use of fish, fishers, fishermen, and fishing yield evidence of an antecedent background that fits the Markan introductory context. The concept of fishing carries an Old Testament denotation of God’s judgment—fishers of men are God’s agents of judgment. With this call and promise, Mark blends this Old Testament thread (cf. Jer 16:16; Amos 4:1-2; Hab 1:14-15; Ez 29:4-5; 38:4; Isa 37:29) into his narrative, first as a capstone to his summary of the Gospel and, then, introducing characters in his summary who are eschatological agents of the presence of the Kingdom (Mark 1:4, 8, 11, 17). The fishers metaphor is used by Mark to shape his concept of discipleship, i.e., disciples as agents of God’s judgment. Special attention is given to how discipleship addresses the issues justice and poverty, both of which are found in the fishers OT thread.

Africanus Guild