The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 1:35-51 - The First Disciples of Jesus

John, Andrew and Peter
v35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 
v36,37 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 
v38,39 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, 
"What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). 

v40-42 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, 
was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when 
Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. 
You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, a Stone). 

Philip and Nathanael
v43-45 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 
v46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." 
v47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" 
v48 Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." 
v49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 
v50,51 Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Day 3: “Again, the next day (the 3rd day in a sequence- see John 1:26,29) John (the Baptist) stood with two of his disciples (Andrew and John, the gospel-writer, who is giving us his eyewitness testimony, but never refers to himself by name). And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (v35,36). Again John the Baptist points people to Jesus, as the Lamb of God, our Saviour from sin by His own Blood.  John is our example for humble Christ-centred ministry. 

“The two disciples 
(Andrew and John) heard him speak, and they followed Jesus (the first two disciples of Jesus)” (v37). 
This is true success in ministry, when you have pointed men to Jesus 
and they follow after Him as a result. 

Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, 
“What do you seek?” (v38). He is testing their motives. He knows 
they follow Him but why? What’s your purpose in following Jesus? 
What do you want? He asks this searching question of all disciples. 

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher) “where are You staying?” (v38). A good answer. They want Him to be their Teacher. They want to learn about God and life. They don’t want a quick fix but a whole transformation of life. They want to abide with Him, spending time in fellowship with Him. That is why they asked where He was living. They were good discipleship material and Jesus was willing to spend quality time with them and He gave them an invitation: 

“He said to them, “COME and SEE” (v38). 
This is what He says to all who start to follow Him. 
(1) COME with Me, follow Me, spend time with Me, lay down your own agendas and get involved with Me and my work. 
(2) Then if you will come closer to Jesus, you will SEE answers for your life, you will see God working in and through your life. 

“They CAME and SAW where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the 10th hour)” (v39).  So Jesus spent that Sabbath day with them from 10am (John used the Roman system of counting hours from midnight and noon). What a time that must have been!

Day 4
: The Ministry of Andrew - bringing people to Jesus one by one. 
“One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother (the other was surely John, 
the Gospel-writer) He first (or ‘the first thing the next day’, (this is now the 4th day that began in v19) FOUND his own brother Simon (John also found his brother James, for ‘first’ probably also signifies that Andrew found his brother ‘first’, before John found James) and said to him, “We have FOUND the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ - the Anointed One). And he brought him to Jesus” (v40,41). 

Spending time with Jesus convinced them that He was the Messiah. Then they give us a great example for personal evangelism. They started SEEKING and FINDING the lost, starting with their family and friends. When they said: “We have FOUND the Messiah” they were sharing their testimony of how they had been SEEKING God and seeking answers, and how they then FOUND the answer in JESUS (for He who seeks God will find Him). So they shared about they had personally met with Jesus. Then they BROUGHT their brothers to Jesus so they could experience Him themselves. So, here we see how the Church grows: by inviting and bringing people to Jesus and to Church. God’s main way for adding disciples is always by personal invitation and enlistment. If each believer invites and brings others, the Church would grow quickly. 

“And he brought him to Jesus.” This is true ministry - to ‘bring people to Jesus’. Only Jesus has the answers, the life and the power to help, save and transform people. We must teach them not to look for salvation in themselves or in us, but in Christ alone. So we must bring them to Jesus. 

“Now when Jesus looked (intently) at him (Andrew’s brother Simon), He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, a Stone or Rock)” (v42). When Jesus looked at Simon he received a word of knowledge and wisdom from the Holy-Spirit. First He knew his name and ancestry. Then He revealed his destiny and coming change of character through his future change of name from Simon to Peter, indicating his transformation from emotional instability, to rocklike strength and reliability (see also Matthew 16:17,18).

Whenever we see Andrew, he is bringing people to Jesus: 
1. First, he found his brother Peter, gave his testimony and brought him to Jesus (1:41). 
2. Then, he brought the boy with the loaves and fish (John 6:8,9). Although it seemed a hopeless situation, and what the boy
 had to offer was insignificant against the problem, somehow Andrew knew that if he could get him to Jesus there would be answer. People’s situations may seem hopeless and their resources insufficient, 
but if we can get them to Jesus miracles will happen. 
3. Andrew brought Greeks who said: “We would see Jesus” (12:20-22). Andrew later lived in Peter’s shadow, but he brought him to the Lord and so shared in all of Peter’s fruit. You may have a one-on-one ministry to people, but you will bring a Peter to Jesus who will bring many others and you will share in the rewards of his ministry. If you are faithful in personal work your impact will be great for God.

Day 5
: The Call of PHILIP (v43,44): “The following day (it is now a Monday) Jesus wanted to go to Galilee (starting His journey to Cana for the Wedding), and He FOUND PHILIP and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida (in Galilee), the city of Andrew and Peter.” This next disciple Jesus found Himself. When we find Jesus, it is really because He sought us and found us.  Jesus looks for those whose heart is open to Him (Philip was a seeker -see v45). Then He finds them and calls them to follow Him. He says to us also: ‘travel with me through life, spend time with me, learn how I walk with God through life and walk with Me.’ You can’t be a disciple from a distance. You have to be close to catch His every word and observe all he does so you can imitate Him. 

The Call of NATHANAEL
 (v45-51).
“Philip found NATHANAEL (also known as the apostle ‘Bartholemew’) and said to him, “We have FOUND HIM of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (v45,46). This is an example of this man’s lack of guile (deceit, pretence, scheming), to which Jesus refers (v47). He was not a man to be easily impressed, and was not going to pretend a false interest or enthusiasm. He thought the Messiah would come from Bethlehem or certainly a more impressive place than Nazareth! 

“Philip said to him, “COME and SEE” (v46, the same words Jesus had used to invite Andrew in v38). Philip knew the key was to BRING him to Jesus and meet Him personally. By following what Jesus, Andrew and John did, Philip now also becomes a personal evangelist. Again we see that the Church grows by the personal WITNESS of believers to their friends and acquaintances, followed by INVITING and BRINGING them to Jesus and the Church.

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, 
“Behold, an ISRAELITE indeed, in whom is no GUILE!” (v47). 
The key to this remark is that deceit or guile is the meaning of JACOB (‘schemer’), whose name was later changed to ISRAEL (‘God is Prince’). He said: "Here comes an Israel who is not Jacob." This announcement by Jesus was a very unusual welcome, which had the effect of rattling Nathaniel’s cage and breaking through his scepticism. The dramatic effect of this conversation on Nathanael is only explained by the fact that Jesus accurately read his recent inner thoughts as well as his character (a powerful double word of knowledge) Thus he must have been meditating on Jacob’s life and transformation into Israel by God’s dealings.  This is confirmed as the conversation develops: 

“Nathanael said to Him, “HOW do You KNOW ME?” (v48). See his lack of guile. Without any fake modesty, he admits the compliment as accurate. Jesus knew him - but how? Shaken by the accuracy of the word, he tests the source of Jesus’ information (was it supernatural or natural?)  Perhaps Jesus had heard of him and by coincidence Jesus’ words had exactly mirrored his thoughts? All doubts are soon dispelled:

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the Fig Tree (the place of meditation), I SAW YOU”(v48). This had to be Divine knowledge for there was no way Jesus could know that. Jesus knew him, because by the Spirit He had seen him. He did not say ‘He saw him sitting under the tree’, but ‘when under the tree He saw HIM.’ That is: He saw his character and thoughts as well as his body position. Jesus had said enough to let him know that He had not just seen him outwardly, but He had also seen his inward meditations on Jacob (this is further confirmed by what Jesus said next).

“Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (v49). He was convinced by Jesus’ intimate knowledge of him that He had to be the One, and correctly described the unique Person and Work of the Messiah. 

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ you believe. You will see greater things (signs of His Messiahship) than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (v50,51). 

Here Jesus is responding to his faith by confirming that He knew exactly what Nathanael had been thinking about (namely Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28 of a Ladder between heaven and earth with angels going up and down). Jesus talked more about Jacob, because Nathanael had been thinking of Jacob and desired to experience the glory of God also: "If Jacob (the schemer) can see this why not me too?”  Jesus started where Nathanael was at, to teach him more, presenting Himself as the fulfilment of Jacob’s dream and Nathaniel’s meditations. Jesus was claiming that Jacob’s Ladder finds its fulfilment in Himself: “The Greater than Jacob’s Ladder is here.” Jacob had named the place: “Bethel: the house of God and the gate of heaven!” Bethel was a unique location, the focal point for the intersection between God and this earth, for the meeting of God and man. Jesus declared Himself to be the living Bethel: to be with Him is to be in the Presence of God! 

"You believe just because I told you about you and your thoughts under the fig tree. That's nothing! You will see that I am the walking, talking Bethel - the place where God and man meet! Just wait until you see the angels, my friend!" 

God was showing struggling man (Jacob), that although he can’t make it by his own power or righteousness, God would drop a Ladder down from Heaven and establish it on earth. It bridged the huge gap between Heaven and earth, between God and man. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is the Ladder or Bridge (the Mediator) connecting heaven and earth-the only way to God (1Tim 2:3-6, Job 9:32,33, John 14:6). 

Jacob’s Ladder is a Type of Christ. That is why He had to be born as a man. In the incarnation God’s Ladder descended into place on earth, and God’s presence and power flowed through Him. When He died for our sins and rose again, ascending into Heaven for us, He opened up the Ladder, so that we can come to God through Jesus.  He is the WAY to Heaven and the WAY Heaven comes to us - the connecting link.Now anyone who believes in Jesus can cross the gap and immediately belong in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus brings God (in His love, power and glory) to us, and us to God. This prophecy of Jesus will be completely fulfilled when He returns as King of Israel.

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