47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him,
Nathanael came to Christ through the testimony of Philip. As soon as Jesus saw Nathanael’s blunt assessment of Nazareth, He knew what kind of person he was. This is what happens when a person comes to a point of conviction.
“Behold, an Israelite indeed [genuine],
“Indeed” means genuine. Nathanael operated with truth orientation.
in whom is no deceit!”
“Deceit” means primarily a bait or snare; hence, it carries ideas such as craft, guile. It is used of deceptive actions: deceit, cunning, treachery. It means to deceive by using trickery and falsehood — to deceive, to trick into, treachery, any cunning contrivance for deceiving or catching.
The word “deceit” was a fishing term meaning fish bait. The Lord used the term in the sense of beguiling someone with a pretext. This is what we do with fish. We throw out a bait with a hook to trick them into thinking that they have a meal waiting. “Deceit” or bait carries the idea of a snare. To trick others for our self-advantage is not consistent with Christianity. “Bethsaida,” the hometown of three of the disciples, means “the house of fishing.”
Nathanael was a person of guileless simplicity. What you saw was what you got. He was honest. He was open to wherever truth led him. Jesus appreciated the honest estimation that Nathanael had of Nazareth. He had no guile and was not a person of duplicity. He did not have double motives when he approached truth. He was willing to examine claims about Christ. Jesus could find no self-deception in this man.
Jacob, to whom the next verses allude, was the opposite of Nathanael. He was a deceiver. Jacob was duplicitous, but Nathanael was open and honest. Jacob was a man of guile; Nathanael was a man of no guile.
Guilelessness toward truth frees the individual to live in an honest way.
The statement by Jesus about Nathanael may be an allusion to Psalm 32:2. This psalm challenged worshipers to confess their sin. The psalm refers to David’s sin with Bathsheba and the confession of his own guilt. Confession of sin leaves us guileless and free to relate to God and others.
A person with guile will lure others into a trap. He damages others with maliciousness. He is two faced and conscious of his deception to achieve his own goals. He adulterates his motives and they are rarely pure. He misleads others to his own advantage. He does not tell the whole truth. This is cunning. He is like a spiritual Trojan horse.
Guile has to do with what you say as well as what you do. This person uses deceit in words, so he uses flattery, falsehood, and delusion. He craftily preys upon the ignorance or weakness of other people to their damage. He intends to deceive and mislead others to their hurt and to his own advantage. The speech of Christians should be guileless. See Matthew 26:4; Mark 7:22; 14:1.
Guilelessness is honesty in our estimation of ourselves and others. In our guile, we do not acknowledge that we just do not like her. Why do we not face this problem? Why do we pretend? If we get right with her, we will get right with God and then personal revival will come. We love to use guile. We use it on ourselves. We use it on others. There are times when we even try using it on God!
It is significant that this word is used in this chapter in another way of the guileless speech of Christ,
“Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pe 2:22).
Jesus Christ would have no part of guile. God wants us to be true blue. A person who operates in deceit is like the used car salesman who plays up many features of the vehicle. He tries to give the impression that the car has everything a person needs. He points out the facts that the car has a radio, power brakes, and power seats. However, he does not say a thing about the car not having a heater. He steers the customer away from what might jeopardize the sale.
Are you two faced? Do you consciously try to deceive to attain your own ends? Do you adulterate your motives in your relationship with others?