A true Israelite

One of the Twelve, Nathanael in John is Batholomew in the other gospels, his name always following that of Philip. The literal meaning of Nathanael is “gift of God” and Jesus refers to him as a true Israelite. He is considered worthy of the name Israel (by popular etymology “a man who sees God”) and is told that he shall see greater things.

When Philip tells Nathanael about Jesus as a Moses-like figure and the fulfillment of the prophecies, Nathanael smirks, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” He hails from Cana and looks down on Nazareth as a rival village, either poorer or morally worse than his own.

Nathanael’s opinion changes after Jesus tells him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Jesus’ comment about him suggests that Nathanael has been reading of Jacob’s experience at Bethel (cf Gn 28:10-17). Jacob had cheated his brother over his inheritance yet received revelation from God. Nathanael is free from guile and will receive greater revelation from God.

“Come and see.” With these words Jesus invites his Apostles to join him.

 Gospel • JOHN 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do You believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And He said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2020,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.