What Does A Fish Hook Symbolize In The Bible?

Spiritually, a fish hook represents the ‘fishing’ of souls for God. In some instances, however, it can also represent the leading of christians away from faith and into sin. 

In this post, we discuss what a fish hook symbolizes in the Bible and spiritually in general. We also look at the meaning behind other related symbols like a fish net and fish. 

What Does A Fish Hook Symbolize In The Bible?

what does a fish hook symbolize in the bible

As you already know, a fish hook is a tool for catching fish. Fishermen attach a piece of bait to the hook to attract fish. 

They lower the hook, which is attached to a line, into the water. When a fish tries to eat the bait, it gets caught in the hook. 

In the Bible, a fish hook represents catching people or souls and leading them either to salvation or in the opposite direction, to sin and death. 

The most popular reference to fishing doesn’t actually mention a fish hook. Jesus tells his first disciples that he will make them fishers of men, essentially handing them the task of catching people’s souls and leading to Christ.

Matthew 4:19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

In this case, the fish hook or net is a good thing; it’s a tool of salvation. But that’s not always the case. In the Old Testament, God says through Amos that the people of Israel will be carried away as captives if they do not turn away from their wrongdoing. 

Amos 4:2 The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks.

Spiritually, this symbolizes the leading of believers into sin and destruction, and away from God’s grace and salvation.  

As with the Israelites in the Old Testament, this happens when we live in sin and fail to repent. The devil takes captive our souls, taking us away with metaphorical fish hooks.

Of course, unlike fish, we have the ability to untangle ourselves from these fish hooks (with God’s help), repent our sins and swim back to the safety of God’s grace. 

What Is The Spiritual Meaning Of A Fish Hook?

Beyond the Bible, a fish hook has different symbolisms in various cultures. 

It’s a common symbol in Polynesian cultures in Hawaii and other places. A fish hook represents the connection between the communities and water as a source of sustenance. 

A fish hook also symbolizes strength, prosperity, good luck and protection. Fish hook tattoos can represent any of these things. 

What Does A Fish Net Symbolize In The Bible?

When Jesus calls his first disciples, Simon and Andrew, and tells them they will be fishers of men, they were using nets to fish. 

Matthew 4:18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

In the Bible, fish nets have the same symbolism as fish hooks. They are both tools for drawing souls to salvation. 

Similar to a fish hook, fish nets can also symbolize the opposite – the capture of souls by sin. 

What Do Fish Symbolize In The Bible?

What Do Fish Symbolize In The Bible

If fish hooks and nets represent the capturing of souls (either for salvation or for sin), then the fish themselves symbolize the souls of people. 

When Jesus tells his disciples that they are going to be ‘fishers of men’, he is sending them to catch fish, which stands for people. 

Jesus uses this symbolism again in the parable of the net. He describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a net that catches everyone in it. 

Matthew 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.

Notably, not every fish gathered by the net is good. Jesus continues to say how fishermen sort the fish, keeping the good and throwing away the bird. He then explains how this applies to people. 

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous.

So fish in the Bible don’t symbolize just the believers, but every living soul, regardless of their faith. On judgment day is when the good and bad fish are separated. 

In the Old Testament, Habakkuk uses fish to talk about people as he complains that God has abandoned them.

Habakkuk 1:14 You make mankind like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler.

In verse 15, the prophet uses the terms hook and net to symbolize how the wicked take captive the people and rejoice in their suffering as they live in luxury. 

He brings all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net; he gathers them in his dragnet; so he rejoices and is glad.

Fish As A Sign of Abundance 

Several times, the Bible also uses fish to symbolize God’s blessings and abundance. The best known example of this is when Jesus feeds a large crowd with five loaves of bread and two fishes. 

This story shows how God can create abundance out of what we think is too little. 

Another story that comes to mind is when Jesus appears to his disciples after he has risen from the dead. A few of the disciples go fishing but can’t catch anything.

Jesus appears to them and tells them the following: 

John 21:6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

Final Thoughts

These symbolisms of fish hooks, fish nets and fish still apply today. There are apostles (clergy, missionaries and true believers) still at work being fishers of men.

There are also evil people and false prophets also busy capturing fish (people’s souls) and leading them to sin. 

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