Matthew 13 - IVP New Testament Commentaries
The Coming Separation
Jesus closed the last parable section (vv. 24-43) with the coming separation, a theme that recurs here. Only the final judgment will reveal who was truly committed to the kingdom and how wise the committed were to invest their lives in it. Fruits often reveal true and false disciples in the present (7:15-23), but some who seem to be genuine today may not persevere to the end, and some who will become believers may not have yet heard the gospel (13:23).
Of at least twenty-four species of fish counted in the Lake of Galilee, many were unclean or inedible, and the net would not discriminate in its catch. Until the final day, Jesus will continue eating with sinners to seek and save the lost (vv. 28-29, 48-50). The kingdom had not consumed the wicked with fire (3:10-12) or come "with signs to be observed" (compare Lk 17:20); it had invaded the world in a hidden way and would remain hidden until the end. But while the parable probably applies primarily to the world, those who apply the parable to the church are not wholly amiss: the same line between righteous and wicked will ultimately divide Jesus' professing disciples (13:20-23).