The Son of God among the Sons of Men Part 4: Jesus and Nathaniel -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 102:408 (Oct 1945)
Article: The Son of God among the Sons of Men Part 4: Jesus and Nathaniel
Author: Everett F. Harrison

The Son of God among the Sons of Men
Part 4: Jesus and Nathaniel

Everett F. Harrison

IV. Jesus And Nathaniel

The latter half of the first chapter of John reports a series of meetings between Jesus and various individuals who later took their place in the company of apostles. These meetings were in the nature of discoveries, as the word “findeth” or “found” recurs in connection with them. Andrew, having found Christ, found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. Then Jesus Himself found Philip, and Philip in turn found Nathaniel.

From John 21:2 comes the information that this man belonged to Cana in Galilee. It was to this place that Jesus proceeded with His friends immediately after the interview with Nathaniel (John 2). One is not a little puzzled, in view of the length of the narrative involving Nathaniel, at the absence of his name from the lists of the apostles given to us in the New Testament. All the others mentioned here in John 1 attained to that place. Furthermore, the only other time Nathaniel is mentioned, in John 21:2, he is found in company with apostles. The conjecture that he is to be identified with Bartholomew has merit, for the reason that Bartholomew’s name follows immediately that of Philip in the lists of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and in the Acts is one removed, with Thomas coming between. Since Bartholomew means son of Tolmai, nothing prevents the assumption that Nathaniel (gift of God) was his given name. He becomes symbolic of all true followers of Chris—”those whom thou hast given me.”

We have had in the case of Andrew and Simon Peter one

who brought his own brother to Jesus. Now that good office is performed by a friend. Apparently Philip and Nathaniel had been stirred by the ministry of John, as had these other Galilean disciples. At any rate, when Philip was drawn into the fellowship of the Master, his first act was to locate his friend, and he found him in meditation and prayer under a fig tree. He may have been pondering the meaning of John’s words of testimony to Jesus so recently given, trying to relate them to the passages of Scripture in which the coming of the Messiah was predicted. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by the bold assertion of Philip that this very One of whom Moses and the prophets had written had now been located. Nathaniel’s kindling enthusiasm, mounting at once to match that of his friend, was momentarily chilled by Philip’s description of the “find” as the son of Joseph, emanating from Nazareth. We need not ...

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