Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers.Acts 13:46-48
I received a number of emails to the effect that even what I summarized for you was too overwhelming for some of you. I do apologize for making it unnecessarily complicated by giving you the chart of the meaning of Icthus (fish) in Indonesian and not English. (It was not intentional). You will see below I have corrected that and made it simple. Others of you were confused as to where I got the number values for the Hebrew letters from. Again simply put it is a feature called Gematria where each Hebrew letter has a number value because in Hebrew there is no separate system for symbolizing numbers, so each letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is given a number value. You can check the system on the Internet for yourself.
Fish are a standard symbol for Christians, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour”.
Ichthus is the Greek word for fish. It was used as a symbol of the Christian. It is a Mnemonic where each letter is the first letter of the Greek words
The interesting thing is that the Sons of God is a term John uses for the people of God in John 1:12.
Bene Ha Elohim is the Hebrew equivalent for the Sons of God in which the value of each letter adds up to 153 by virtue of the fact that every Hebrew letter has a numeric value as outlined in Gem 1635.
Then note carefully what John is saying in these verses:
He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.John 1:10-13
- When you add the series of numbers from 1 to 17 ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17) they come to 153.
- Where 17 is the combination of divine perfection (7) and ordinal or human perfection (10)
I further confused you all I am sure by giving you a list of all the opinions that you can get from the Internet. The Internet is often not helpful because you can read things that either confuse you or have no relevance to the message of the Bible.
There are two links which maybe significant:
- Oppian linked 153 to 157, believe to be the species of fish at the time. Jerome then changed the figure of 157 to 153 to make it match the biblical number. Some think this symbolizes the species of mankind – ie. Races, people groups. We could debate that one for a long time. Suffice to say it appeals to my mission heart. God wants people from every tribe and tongue and people group to be standing before the throne in heaven.
- Lt. Colonel Roberts (20th Century) noted that there were 153 people in Scripture who had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Has that got something significant to do with it? Is Roberts’ calculation correct and does this have some connection with people having a personal encounter with Jesus Christ? I will leave you to decide that one.
Whichever way you look at it, the fact that John recorded the number of fish caught on the day as being 153 must be more than just a chance number; it is a symbolic number. The symbolism is that the final number of the redeemed will be both human and divine perfection. Those who have taken God at His word and have fulfilled their part in their salvation and He will do the rest and none will be lost. This is a symbolic number and not an absolute number. I am not saying the final number of the redeemed will be 153. That would exclude you and me. Neither does 144,000 represent the final number of the redeemed. That too is a symbolic number, despite what the Jehovah’s Witness tell you. God alone knows the final number of those who will be redeemed. None will be lost who ought to be saved. God is the One who judges justly and all who have positioned (destined, appointed) themselves for salvation will be saved. If there is any element of pre-destination involved then it is because of God’s Omniscience that He knows who will choose to trust in Jesus for their salvation before they make that decision because He knows how you will decide before you know yourself. But it is most certainly not because He arbitrarily makes a choice of granting you or anyone else salvation on some whim of the Divine. No, God makes it very clear how you become a child of His! It is on the basis of trusting Jesus Christ to save you because there is no other way to salvation. Only Christ can save you because you have no righteousness (or right standing with God) on your own. God says you have no righteousness of your own, here have My Righteousness because you have put your faith and trust in Christ to save you.
You can spend the rest of your life looking into the matter at a deeper level if you wish. I will leave it here. If you are not saved and you know it then read the Gospel of John and ask God to show you how to believe and keep on believing in Jesus Christ to save you. As I have said many times before, the Bible is the only book on planet earth that you can read with the author present. Read John’s Gospel now and ask the Creator of the Universe to guide you. It will be life changing for you if you haven’t already done so and made a decision to become a Christ follower. God doesn’t preselect people. He makes the way to salvation clear and the rest is up to you to work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.
To all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. () [NLT]John 1:12
For God loved the world so much that He gave His One of a kind Son, so that everyone who puts their trust in Him to save them will not perish but have the kind of life that God intended. [Ian’s translation]John 3:16
But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s One of a kind Son. [Ian’s Translation]John 3:18
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” [NLT]Acts 4:12