Calling of Philip and Nathanael

John 1:43-48  The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and find Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip find Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence know thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee. 

Philip was one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mar. 3:18; Lk. 6:14; Acts 1:13), a brother of Nathanael, who brings him also to Jesus. Nathanael (means gift of God) is Bartholomew, which is a patronymic of Nathaniel, also one of the twelve.

The question he asked “can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” was because they were expecting the Messiah from Bethlehem, and not Nazareth. Never a better person came from any place on earth than Jesus Christ!

Jesus knew Nathanael’s heart through the Holy Spirit’s gift of knowledge (John 3:34; 1Cor. 12:4-11) and said that he was an Israelite in whom is no guile – he was without deceit.

Christ’s statement of seeing him by the Spirit before He could see him with His eyes convinced Nathaniel of Christ’s Sonship.

Calling of the First Disciples

John 1:35-42  Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek you? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwell thou? 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. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first finds his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 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. 

Two of John the Baptist’s disciples, the one was Andrew (Peter’s brother), the other probably John the Apostle, as he never mentions himself in this book. They looked upon (Jesus) the Greek word emblepo, which means to look with fixed eyes upon or look intently as they heard John the Baptist say: “Behold the Lamb of God!” A symbol of Christ used thirty-two times in the Bible.

Andrew and John asked Jesus “Rabbi, (which means Master) where dwell thou?” Jesus told them, “Come and see.” So, they came and saw where He stayed and stayed with Him for that day because it was already the tenth hour – 4 pm.

‘found the Messias’ Finding Jesus changes one’s life (2Cor. 5:17-18). Messias is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Mashiyach, meaning anointed (John 4:25; 1Sam. 2:10, 35; Psa. 2:2; Dan. 9:25-26). The equivalent of mashiyach in the Greek is Christos, used of Jesus 569 times in the New Testament.

‘Cephas’ is the Aramaic word for stone (1Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal. 2:9). And ‘stone’ is the Greek word petros which means little stone, rock and 161 other places translated “Peter”. This shows how Jesus could judge a man at the first look. He knew Peter to be firm and strong in soul, and hard and unyielding in purpose.

Behold, the Lamb of God

John 1:29-34  The next day John see Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptize with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 

John the Baptist saw Christ and proclaimed “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” This is the first New Testament prophecy fulfilled in John. Lamb of God is a symbol of Christ, mentioned thirty-two times (Isa. 53:7; John 1:36; Acts 8:32; 1Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-17; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1-10; 15:3; Rev. 17:14; 19:7-9; 21:9-27; 22:1-3). The Greek word for taketh away is airo, which means to bear in the sense of removing sin; doing away with the guilt and punishment (1Pet. 2:24; Psa. 103:12; 1Jn. 3:5). The Greek word for sin is hamartia, which means missing the mark; always in a moral sense – a sin, whether by omission or commission, in thought, word, or deed. Christ came to teach men how to shoot straight – to hit the moral bull’s eye every time (Tit. 2:11-14; 1Jn. 2:1-2, 29; 3:9; 5:1-4, 5:18).

‘For he was before me’ – Christ lived before John as the second person of the Trinity “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” Micah 5:2 (See also Isa. 9:6-7; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8.) John did not know Jesus, but he did know the Father who sent Jesus (v33). The Greek word for manifest is phaneroo, which means to bring to light. Here, it means to introduce the Messiah to Israel (John 1:11; Matt. 15:24).

John bare record, the Greek word martureo means bearing witness. There was seven witnesses to the Messiah: The Father (John 5:30-38; 8:13-18); the Son (John 5:17-27; 8:14; 18:37); the Holy Spirit (John 15:26; 16:13-15); the written Word (John 1:45; 5:38, 46); Divine works (John 5:17, 36; 10:25; 14:11; 15:24); John the Baptist (John 1:7,32-34; 5:33-35); and the Disciples (John 15:27; 19:35; 21:24).

The Greek word for abode is meno which means abide, dwell, remain. Occurs 41 times in John and only 12 times in the other gospels.

‘He that sent me’ is a clear reference to the Trinity. The Son he did not know; the Father he did know; and the Spirit he saw coming from the Father upon the Son (Matt. 3:16-17; Lk.3:22). The Greek word for see is eidon which means to see; not only the mere act of looking but the actual perception of the object. Thus, not only have the Father and Son been seen with human eyes as separate and distinct persons at the same time and place (Dan. 7:9-14; Acts 7:55; Rev. 5:7; 7:10), but the Holy Spirit as a separate person from both the Father and the Son has been seen.

‘Spirit descending, and remaining on him’ is a fulfilment of Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1 and recorded in Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:10 and Luke 3:22. Christ is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16; 24:49; John 7:37-39; 15:16-17, 26; Acts 1:4-8; 11:16).

Baptism

John 1:25-28  And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptize thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stand one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 

Jews were accustomed to making converts by ceremonial cleansing, but never without an order from the Sanhedrin or before three magistrates or doctors of the law. They, therefore, felt jealous of John, who not only baptized without Jewish authority but baptized Jews contrary to the practice of the Pharisees.

John’s reason for baptizing was that the Messiah should be made manifest (known) to Israel (John 1:26-31).  There are seven baptisms in Scripture: John’s baptism in water to introduce Christ to Israel (Matt. 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-45; Lk. 3:1-38; 7:29-30; John 1:31-33; 3:23-26; 10:40; Acts1:5; 11:16; 19:3); Christ’s baptism in water (John 3:22; 4:1-2) which announced the beginning of His three year ministry and showed His purpose as the one without sin that will clean the world with water (washing in the Word) and by shedding His blood at His crucifixion (1Jn 5:7-8); Baptism in suffering (Lk. 12:50); Baptism in the cloud and in the sea (1Cor. 10:2) refers to Moses and the nation Israel going through the Red Sea that was a type of the washing that we have to go through for salvation as we are called out of the bondage of sin (Egypt); and the last three that is relevant and necessary for today’s Christians:  Baptism into Christ and into His body (Rom. 6:3-7; 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12) at repentance and the new birth; Christian baptism in water (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; 8:12-16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; 1Cor. 1:13-17; 1Pet. 3:21) this is for testifying of dying to one’s old nature after being reborn; Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11, 14; 20:22-23; Mark 1:810:38-39; Lk. 3:16; John 1:33; 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:2-3) which is the enduement of power for service.

The Holy Spirit is the agent to baptize into Christ and into His body; Christ is the agent to baptize in the Holy Spirit, and the minister is the agent to baptize into water (Matt. 28:19).

The Testimony of John the Baptist

John 1:19-24  And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 

John the Baptist was not the Christ, Elijah, or anyone else who had lived in the past. He was the natural son of Zacharias and Elizabeth (Lk. 1:24, 1:57). He came in the spirit and power of Elijah to do for Israel before the first coming, what Elijah will do before the second coming (Mal. 4:5-6; Lk. 1:17). This explains Matthew 11:14 and 17:10-13.

He was the prophet that Moses predicted would come (Deu. 18:15-18; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37).

‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias’ is the first Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the gospel of John.

Malachi 3:1 predicted of John “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Grace for Grace

John 1:15-18  John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spoke, He that come after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 

Christ was in existence before John, but after John in public earthly ministry (Matt. 3:11; Lk. 3:17; John 1:31-33) “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” Micah 5:2 (See also Isa. 9:6-7; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8.)

The Greek word for fullness is pleroma which means abundance, completeness. All needs and lawful wants are promised by the gospel (2Cor. 1:20; Mat. 7:7-11; 17:20; 21:22; Mark 9:23; 11:22-24; John 14:12-17; 15:7, 16; 16:23-26).

Grace upon grace means full grace, according to our needs and wants (Heb. 4:14-16; 10:19-38; Jas. 1:5-8).

The law that condemns in the moral life, and only typifies in the religious life is the law of Moses. First of 13 times Moses is mentioned in John (John 1:17, 45; 3:14; 5:45-46; 6:32; 7:19-23; 8:5; 9:28-29). Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ – this does not mean that there was no law before Moses, or no grace and truth before Jesus Christ. The law itself is truth, and the New Testament is law. There are 1,050 commands in the New Testament. The idea here is that the fullness of grace came by Jesus Christ. One can get today in fullness what men received only in part in Old Testament times.

The Greek word for seen is horao which means to see with the eyes and also see with the mind. That it means here to comprehend fully or understand is clear from the fact that many men have seen God with the eyes (Gen. 18:2, 33; 32:24-30; Exo. 24:10; 33:11; Jos. 5:13; Isa. 6:1-13; Ezek. 1:26-28; Dan. 7:9-14; 10:5-6; Acts 7:56-59; Rev. 4:2-5; 5:1-7). The verse could read, “No man has ever comprehended or experienced God at any time in all His fulness, save the only begotten Son . . . . He hath declared Him.” That Christ is the first to experience God in the fullness of the Holy Spirit is clear from John 3:34; Acts 10:38; Isaiah 11:1-2; 61:1-2 and Luke 4:16-18.

The Greek word for declared is exegeomai which means revealed, expounded; where we get our word exegesis.

Believe on His Name

John 1:12-14  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 

The gospel benefits only the individual (Mar. 16:16; John 3:16; 6:37) – as many as received him – and to them did He delegated power; the liberty and right to use power. It is the liberty and right for every man to be saved if he wills (1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17) for they that believe on His name (Acts 2:21; 3:16; 4:12).

The Greek word for born is gennao which means a bringing forth. A word used of people who are adopted into the family of God (John 3:3; 1Jn. 2:29; 3:9; 5:1, 5:18). It does not mean in either of these uses that a new body, soul, and spirit have come into existence, as when used of Christ who is the only begotten Son of God and the first begotten of Mary (John 1:14, 18; 3:16). Not of blood, that is, not by right of natural descent from man. Not by right of the flesh merely to escape punishment. Not by right of man’s theories and religions, but of God who took man’s place to save him (John 3:16; Rom. 3:20-30; 2Cor. 5:14-21).

Christ was made flesh, not spirit; but man, not God; and earthly, not heavenly. This made Him God’s Son, for sonship in connection with Jesus Christ always refers to humanity, never to deity (Lk. 1:35; Acts 13:33).

Jesus is and was and always will be the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14,18; 3:16, 18; 1Jn. 4:9). Men never will be begotten or born in the same sense as Jesus was (Matt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:34-35), for their sonship is on a different basis – that of adoption, not an actual begetting and coming into existence (Rom. 8:15; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).

Full of the grace by which we are saved and not an excuse to continue in sin (Rom. 6:1-3; Heb. 10:26-31) and the truth which is the Gospel – the life of Jesus Christ that was set as an example for us to live accordingly (1Pet. 2:21-23).

To Bear Witness

John 1:6-11  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which light every man that come into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 

This John refers to John the Baptist, used 20 times in this gospel and never by the title ‘Baptist’ as in the other gospels; he is not to be confused with John the Apostle who is the author of this gospel as well as 1,2,3 John and Revelation. John the Baptist was not the light but came to witness of the Light – the true Light that is Jesus Christ the Messiah (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-46) so that men can believe through Him (John 14:6) and be reconciled with the Father.

Jesus Christ became flesh – He came into the world – the same world (earth) He created (Col. 1:15-17) and they (people) knew Him not – most people chose not to have a relationship with God and when Christ came, He did not come as they would have preferred: as a king and to set them free from earthy rulers, but instead He came as a pauper and came to free us of sin, so the people rejected Him. Even His own nation, the Jews (or Israel) through whom He could demonstrate to other nations what God purposed for mankind.

The Word

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shine in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 

‘In the beginning’ refers to the dateless past (Pro. 8:23) and the Word refers to Christ (John 1:14; Rev. 19:13) and proves His pre-existence (Mic. 5:1-2; Rev. 1:8, 11; 2:8). He is an eternal Being as are also the Father and the Holy Spirit (Ps. 90:1-2; Heb. 9:14). They are the Divine Trinity as described in 1John 5:7. Not only was the Word with God, but He was God and always will be as much divine as the other two members of the Trinity (Isa. 9:6-7; Heb. 1:8-12; Rev. 22:13-16). God created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:15-18; Heb. 1:1-2). Not only were all things created by Him, but redemption of creation is by Him (John 17:2; Col. 1:20). As all creation came by the Son, through the Holy Spirit, so all redemption comes the same way. It was what Christ did on the cross that made it possible for God to redeem through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-5; Tit. 3:5). When we walk in Christ (1Pet. 2:21-23) who is life and the light of men, we can begin to shine as the light of the world, as a city that is set on a hill that cannot be hid. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16).

The Greek word for comprehended is katalambano which means to seize upon; to keep down or under; stop; to catch up within the sense of to discover or detect. It means that the satanic powers of darkness (Eph. 6:12) did not overcome the Word, but that the Word spoiled (conquered) them on the cross (Col. 2:14-17). In John 8:12 Jesus states “I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Conversion

James 5:17-20  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which convert the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. 

Elijah – Elias’s case is given to show that all men are alike in constitution and to encourage others to pray even for miracles (1Kin. 17:1; 18:1, 41-46).

“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth…” here seven facts are given about backsliders: It is possible for brethren or Christians to err from the truth and become unconverted (see Peter as an example in Luke 22:32). An erring Christian can be converted again. An erring Christian becomes a sinner again, if he sins (Rom. 6:14-23). An erring Christian incurs the death penalty again when he sins (Ezek. 18:24; Rom. 8:12-13; Gal. 5:19-21). If the erring Christian is saved from his error, his soul will be saved again from death (1Jn. 1:9; 5:16; Rev. 2:5). If he repents and is saved again from death, his sins will be forgiven and hidden. If he does not repent, he will be lost and will have to pay the penalty for sin (2Tim. 2:12; Heb. 6:4-6,10:26-29, 2Pet. 2:20-21).

Conversion means a change of direction, a new walk with God and is explained in Acts 3:19 “Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord,” thus for us to convert a sinner is to get someone to turn back to God, to change direction, and to walk anew with Him. It is not, however, to save others from their sins, for that is Christ Jesus’ salvation work as our Saviour (Rom. 1:16; Php. 1:28-29; 1Thes. 5:9; Heb. 9:28; 1Pet. 1:10-11).