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Bible Commentary / Bible Study

Second Sunday After Denaho

B.W. Johnson Commentary on John 1:43-51

From The People's New Testament, B.W. Johnson, 1891.

43. Findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. This is the first recorded instance of the Savior calling a disciple to follow him. Philip, it must be borne in mind, is not Philip, "one of the seven," but "one of the Twelve," a citizen of Bethsaida of Galilee, and a fellow-townsman of Andrew and Peter.

45. Philip findeth Nathanael. As we learn from John 21:2, Nathanael was a Galilean, his home being at "Cana in Galilee." His name only occurs in these two places. He is supposed to have been one of the Twelve, the same one mentioned in the other Gospels as Bartholomew, which means "son of Tolmai." The use of the name in John 21:2 favors this hypothesis. We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write. There was only one to whom this could refer, "The prophet like unto Moses," the Messiah; and when Philip names Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael is at once skeptical whether the Messiah could come out of Nazareth, an insignificant and despised place.

46. Come and see. That is the best answer to the skeptic. Bring him to Christ, let him consider him, and what he has done for mankind. The strongest proof that Jesus is the Christ is Jesus himself. [328]

48. Whence knowest thou me? Nathanael, who had never met Jesus before, was surprised to hear himself spoken of as one known. When thou wast under the fig tree. There was something about this answer that filled Nathanael with astonishment. Under the shade and shelter of the fig tree he had some rare experience that is not recorded, and that he supposed unknown to man. That Jesus knew of it and read his soul startled him and dissipated his unbelief.

49. Thou art the Son of God; the King of Israel. Philip had said, "Jesus, the son of Joseph," as he supposed, but Nathanael, convinced, declared him the Son of God. This is the first confession of the divinity of Jesus.

51. Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending. Jacob, old Israel, in his dream at Bethel, saw the ladder that reached to heaven with the angels upon it (Gen. 28:12). Christ is that ladder, the way from earth to heaven, the way heaven sends messages to the world and the way we must go to reach it. Nathanael would be permitted to see that Jesus was the Mediator, that through him the Father speaks to man; that through him there is intercommunication between earth and heaven.

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