Matthew 4:21

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Call of the Sons of Zebedee by Marco Basaiti, 1510

Matthew 4:21 is the twenty-first verse of the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Jesus has just recruited Simon Peter and Andrew as disciples. in this verse he encounters the brothers James and John.

The original Koine Greek, according to Westcott and Hort, reads:

και προβας εκειθεν ειδεν αλλους δυο αδελφους ιακωβον τον του ζεβεδαιου και ιωαννην τον αδελφον αυτου
εν τω πλοιω μετα ζεβεδαιου του πατρος αυτων καταρτιζοντας τα δικτυα αυτων και εκαλεσεν αυτους

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John
his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and
John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them.

For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 4:21

This verse introduces two more of Jesus' disciples, James and John. They are the last disciples introduced in the Gospel other than Matthew himself in Matthew 9:9. This verse is very similar to Mark 1:21, with the major difference being that Matthew makes clear that Zebedee was in the ship with his sons. Like Simon and Andrew, James and John are fishers see Matthew 4:18 for a discussion of fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Luke's very different description of the calling of the disciples notes that James and John were partners with Simon and Andrew, the Gospel of Matthew never mentions any link between the two pairs.[1]

Repairing nets was an important part of fishing at the time. McNamer notes that the general practice was to spread the nets on shore to mend them, repairing the nets on ship was something only done in an emergency.[2] Albright and Mann see much importance in the use of the word mending, a term that appears eight times in the New Testament. They feel that the act of restoring and making perfect may symbolically represent the mission of the disciples.[3] Nolland notes that mending might not be the full meaning of the word, and that it could instead refer simply to gathering the nets and preparing them for use.[4]


  1. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  2. ^ McNamer, Elizabeth. Fishing at the Time of Jesus
  3. ^ Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  4. ^ Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary on the Greek text. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 pg. 166

Preceded by
Matthew 4:20
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 4
Succeeded by
Matthew 4:22