The First Disciples vv35-51
(Matt 4:18-22: Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11)
¶1:35-42 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (ch 1:29). 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ (ch 4:25). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone (Matt 16:18; Mark 3:16).
v35 Two of his disciples. One is named (v40) as Andrew, the other is traditionally recognized as the apostle John, the author of this Gospel. v36 Behold the Lamb of God! See notes on v29. v39 Tenth hour. Four o-clock in the afternoon. vv40-41 He first findeth his own brother Simon. The heart of the soul winner. Before our eyes look upon foreign field let us look to our own. Andrew “first” finds his brother. Andrew is always seen as the accomplice to greatness: Here, he brings his brother Simon (Peter) to Jesus, later, he will bring to Jesus a lad with five loaves and two fish (ch 6:8-9). v41 The Messias. Messiah: the “anointed one.” This title used but twice in the Fourth Gospel: here, and 4:25 - both times spoken by others. Elsewhere the Grk Christos (Christ) is used of Jesus. Messiah is a title that designated the descendent of David who would establish political freedom for Israel. Thus, we have Nathaniel's declaration, “thou art the King of Israel” (v49). v42 Cephas. Cephas is the Aramaic word for “Stone.” the Grk word is Petros (Peter). A stone. The Grk form is Petros (Peter). Petros is masculine because it could show aggression: e.g. a stone could be thrown. Peter demonstrates such attributes. Perhaps there is a covert application (message) that can be made here between Peter (the Stone) who was given the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 16:19) and the “stone” of Daniel 2:34-35 that “smote the image” and became a great mountain that “filled the whole earth.” If the “stone” of Daniel's prophecy represents Christ in His Church, and Peter, as the Key-Holder, represents the Church, then the connection is made.
¶1:43-51 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me (Mark 2:14 ; Matt 8:22; Matt 9:21; Matt 19:21; Luke 9:59; John 21:19). 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter (ch 12:2). 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him (ch 21:2), We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write (Gen 3:15;49:10; Deut 18:18; see Luke 243:27), Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph (Matt 2:4; 10:44). 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (ch 7:41-42.) Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! (Ps 32:2; 73:1; ch 8:39; Rom 2:28’; 9:6.) 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree (Mic 43:4), I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God (vv14, 18, 34, 3:16; 20:31); thou art the King of Israel (Ex 4:22; Deut 14:1; 2 Sam 7:14; Job 1;6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps 2:7; 29:1; 89:27; Dan 3:25; Hos 11:1; Matt 14:33; 16:16; Mark 13:32; ch 12:13; 18:37). 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man (Gen 28:10-17; Dan 7:13-14; Matt 4:11; Luke 2:9, 13. 22:43; Acts 1:10).
v43 Philip. Grk: Philippos; means: fond of horses. His character traits are seen in that he finds Nathanael (thus, a soul winner), and he shows himself the practical one at the feeding of the 5,000 (ch 6:7). He was approachable (ch 12:21) by Gentiles, but recognized an order of honor within the group of disciples for he went through Andrew to introduce the Gentiles to Christ (ch12:22). Follow me. Ἀκολούθει μοι (Akolouthei moi). Present active imperative, a direct challenge to Philip. Often Jesus uses this verb to win disciples ( Mark 2:14 ; Matt 8:22; Matt 9:21 ; Matt 19:21; Luke 9:59 ; John 21:19 ). Here, this is spoken to Philip; and, then, in Matt 9:9 the same is spoken to Matthew. The words are both an invitation and a command. v44 Bethsaida. Located on the Northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. Philip the tetrarch rebuilt Bethsaida and renamed it “Julias,” after Julia, daughter of Caesar. v45 Nathanael. Also called Bartholomew (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6;14; Acts 1:13). Bartholomew means Son of Tolmai. Tolmai means to accumulate, to bank or terrance: -furrow, ridged. John is the only N.T. writer to use the name Nathanael (ch: here, vv46, 47, 48, 49; and 21:2). The name Nathanael means “given to god” which may be the reason the Evangelist used it. When John references Jesus as “the son of Joseph” he is not declaring against the virgin birth of Christ. He is only reporting Philip’s words. Most supposed Jesus to have been the son of Joseph (Luke 3:23). The disciples would have no reason to believe otherwise this early in Christ’s ministry. However, it was a very true statement from the legal viewpoint, for Jesus was the legal son of Joseph (see the genealogy of Matt 1:1-16). v46 Nazareth. Nathanael had doubts about Nazareth. See Matthew 2:23 and ch 7:52. Nazareth was an unimportant town of Galilee set about 3 miles off the main road and home to a Roman garrison. The reputation of Nazareth would have been what one would except of a military town. The name of the town was used to discredit the Christian movement (Acts 24:5). v47 Israelite ... no guile. Grk dolos (St’s #G1388) lit duplicity. Jesus is contrasting Nathanael with Jacob, the first Israelite in whom was deceit. This statement, along with the fig tree (v48) signaled a new beginning for Israel. Christ had come to establish a new Israel based upon a new character - thus, Nathanael is contrast with Jacob. Christ chose 12 disciples whom He name apostles (of which Nathanael stood as a representative) the number of government. If this observation was lost on the common people, the Sanhedrin saw it clearly - they killed Him for it. v48 Under the fig tree. The intention of Jesus here is to call attention to the Messianic peace that He was ushering in, in that the fig tree is a type of that peace for the true Israel. I saw thee. This speaks to the omniscience of Jesus (ch21:17). v49 Thou art the Son of God. This confession was first made by Nathanael; later, Peter was to confess the same (see Matt 16:16 and ch 6:69 where Peter confesses on behalf of all the disciples.). Although the title would also be used in mockery (Matt 27:40, cf 19:7) it is employed here by Nathanael in the Messianic sense of the Son of David, who would be chosen by God to be King. Thus, Nathanael connects this title with the King of Israel (see Ps 2:7; 89:27, also see ch 12:13 and note). In Mark 15:32 the religious leaders equated the title Christ (Messiah) with the “King of Israel:” “Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” v51 You ... ye. Both “you” and “ye” are plural. Jesus is no longer speaking to Nathanael alone. In the KJV “ye” is always the plural “you all.” Angels ascending and descending. This is a allusion to Jacob’s vision of the ladder and Bethel (the house of God, Gen 28:12-22). Since Bethel means “House of God” or “Dwelling Place of God,” this is a reference to v14 where John tells his readers that the Word (i.e. God, see v1) pitched His tent among men.
☩ David Ignatius
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