Q. What is the significance of the 153 fish mentioned in John 21:11?
A. No one knows with certainty whether that number has a symbolic significance. But we can be sure that St. Peter and the other professional fishermen would have counted their astonishing catch.
St. Jerome (c. 342–420), known as the “father of biblical studies,” wrote that 153 species of fish had been identified by Greek zoologists at that time. If that was true, or if, as others have suggested, there were 153 known countries at that time, we can see symbolic significance in the number.
Jesus had called the Apostles to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), and He had given them a commission to take the Gospel to the entire world (see Matthew 28:18–20). So the number 153 would symbolize, as St. Jerome suggested, the universal mission of the Apostles, and under their leadership, the universal membership of the Church. PT