1:43 On the next day Jesus 1 wanted to set out for Galilee. 2 He 3 found Philip and said 4 to him, “Follow me.” 1:44 (Now Philip was from Bethsaida, 5 the town of 6 Andrew and Peter.) 1:45 Philip found Nathanael 7 and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also 8 wrote about – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 1:46 Nathanael 9 replied, 10 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” 11 Philip replied, 12 “Come and see.”
1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and exclaimed, 13 “Look, a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 14 1:48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus replied, 15 “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, 16 I saw you.” 1:49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king 17 of Israel!” 18 1:50 Jesus said to him, 19 “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 20 1:51 He continued, 21 “I tell all of you the solemn truth 22 – you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” 23
[1:43] 1 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Jesus is best taken as the subject of εὑρίσκει (Jeuriskei), since Peter would scarcely have wanted to go to Galilee.
[1:44] 5 sn Although the author thought of the town as in Galilee (12:21), Bethsaida technically was in Gaulanitis (Philip the Tetrarch’s territory) across from Herod’s Galilee. There may have been two places called Bethsaida, or this may merely reflect popular imprecision – locally it was considered part of Galilee, even though it was just east of the Jordan river. This territory was heavily Gentile (which may explain why Andrew and Philip both have Gentile names).
[1:44] 6 tn Probably ἀπό (apo) indicates “originally from” in the sense of birthplace rather than current residence; Mark 1:21, 29 seems to locate the home of Andrew and Peter at Capernaum. The entire remark (v. 44) amounts to a parenthetical comment by the author.
[1:45] 7 sn Nathanael is traditionally identified with Bartholomew (although John never describes him as such). He appears here after Philip, while in all lists of the twelve except in Acts 1:13, Bartholomew follows Philip. Also, the Aramaic Bar-tolmai means “son of Tolmai,” the surname; the man almost certainly had another name.
[1:48] 16 sn Many have speculated about what Nathanael was doing under the fig tree. Meditating on the Messiah who was to come? A good possibility, since the fig tree was used as shade for teaching or studying by the later rabbis (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 5:11). Also, the fig tree was symbolic for messianic peace and plenty (Mic 4:4, Zech 3:10.)
[1:49] 18 sn Nathanael’s confession – You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel – is best understood as a confession of Jesus’ messiahship. It has strong allusions to Ps 2:6-7, a well-known messianic psalm. What Nathanael’s exact understanding was at this point is hard to determine, but “son of God” was a designation for the Davidic king in the OT, and Nathanael parallels it with King of Israel here.
[1:51] 23 sn The title Son of Man appears 13 times in John’s Gospel. It is associated especially with the themes of crucifixion (3:14; 8:28), revelation (6:27; 6:53), and eschatological authority (5:27; 9:35). The title as used in John’s Gospel has for its background the son of man figure who appears in Dan 7:13-14 and is granted universal regal authority. Thus for the author, the emphasis in this title is not on Jesus’ humanity, but on his heavenly origin and divine authority.