45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him,
The Baptizer introduced Andrew and John to Christ. They found Peter and led him to Christ. Jesus found Philip and he became a believer. Philip found Nathanael. One contact created another contact after another. A movement was about to begin.
When Philip “found” Nathanael, the disciple used his Master’s pattern of approaching people.
Nathanael was not one of the Twelve. He was from the city of Cana in Galilee.
“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law,
The Mosaic law and the prophets refer to the entire Hebrew Old Testament.
Philip was eager to share his new-found faith. It is characteristic of new believers to share their faith with their network. It is also surprising how quickly Christians dull in their interest to share Christ. Maybe they have lost the stark reality of their trust in Christ.
and also the prophets, wrote—
Philip and Nathanael were Bible believers and knew what the Word had to say about the Messiah. The idea that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture is an argument flowing throughout the gospel of John. It is clear that some people operated on a canon of Scripture during the time of Christ. They anchored their beliefs in the Bible.
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John did not give a genealogy of Jesus. This passage identifies Him with His earthly father. Jesus was the “son of Joseph” in a legal sense. The general public in Jesus’ day knew Him by His parents.
Nazareth was about 15 miles west of the Sea of Galilee.
The essential spread of Christianity is through personal networking.
Disciples of Jesus “found” one person after another. One lighted torch was passed to another. They “found” each other and the finding continues on and on. The personal network was the primary way to do evangelism in the Bible. It is also the primary way we should do evangelism today. People close to us see our integrity and credibility. They are much more likely to be open to what we have to say about the gospel.
Most people who come to Christ are brought to Him by someone they trust—a business associate, a close friend, or a family member.
Hi Dr. Grant, could you please explain why Nathanael was not one of the Twelve? Is he not Bartholomew? Thank you.
Gloria, here is an article from Baker’s Encyclopedia of the Bible: The fact that the only NT references to Nathanael occur in the Gospel of John has led some scholars to identify him with several personalities appearing in the synoptic Gospels. Because his call appears with those of Andrew, Peter, and Philip, some have speculated that he was one of the 12, possibly Bartholomew. Three pieces of evidence are cited in support of this position: (1) the name Bartholomew is patronymic (literally “son of Tolmai”) and would be accompanied by another name; (2) each of the synoptic lists of the 12 apostles place Bartholomew after Philip (Mt 10:2–4; Mk 3:16–19; Lk 6:14–16) paralleling the call of Nathanael after Philip in John’s account; (3) Bartholomew’s name does not appear in the fourth Gospel.
A second position identifies Nathanael as James, the son of Alphaeus. According to this view, Jesus’ comment in John 1:47 should read “Behold, Israel [not “an Israelite”] indeed, in whom is no guile!” Since Israel is the name God gave to Jacob and the NT form of Jacob is James, John addressed James, the son of Alphaeus, as Nathanael in order to distinguish him from others who had become prominent in the early church.
Two less plausible identifications equate Nathanael with either Matthew or Simon the Cananaean. The first is precariously founded on the similar etymologies of the names, Matthew (gift of Yahweh) and Nathanael (Yahweh has given). The second identifies the two on the basis of the common hometown of Cana. Nathanael was most likely a disciple who was not a member of the 12 and was known only to John. This suggestion conforms to early patristic evidence.
Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Nathanael. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1526). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.