John 1:40-51

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 40-41) One of the two disciples of John, which heard him speak of Christ, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. The other we believe to be John, the author of this book (John ever seeks to hide himself, never once mentioning himself by name). Andrew heard John, then he followed and listened to the Lord Jesus; and, being convinced that Jesus was the Christ, he immediately ran to share the good news with his brother, Peter. He did not become a preacher of the gospel at this time; for that he needed to be taught and trained by the Master. But he set out to bear a simple and clear witness of the Saviour he had found.

(Vs. 42) When the Lord beheld Simon, He said, "Thou art Simon the Son of John." The Lord showed that He was already thoroughly acquainted with Simon. But He adds, "Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation A STONE." By natural temperament Simon was fiery, impetuous, rash, and unstable, How blessed was the promise of the Lord! "I know all about you, but you shall have a new name – A ROCK," fixed and stable. Also every believer becomes "a stone." "Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house" (I Peter 2:5).

(Vs. 43-44) These verses are an illustration of the Good Shepherd going after His sheep (Luke 19:10). Whether the Lord uses a human instrument or not, it is Christ, Himself, Who seeks and finds each one given to Him by the Father. Our seeking Christ is only our response to His seeking us, just as we love Him because He first loved us.

(Vs. 45) Here we find again the effect that a revelation of Christ has upon a true believer. He cannot remain silent nor indifferent. He must tell others of the Redeemer. Note the EMPHASIS in the witness of Andrew and Phillip–"we have found THE MESSIAH; we have THE CHRIST of Whom Moses and the prophets did write." None of this "do you want to go to heaven?" or emotional soul-winning pleas – simply the good news that the Christ, the Redeemer promised and prophesied in the Scriptures, had come; and they had seen Him and believed on Him!

(Vs. 46) Nathanael asked, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" The Saviour's lowly birth, beginning, and surroundings were a stumbling block to those who expected a great and glorious Messiah Who would restore the kingdom to Israel. Many looked for a lion, not a lamb. They did not understand the types and sacrifices of the Old Testament. Phillip did not argue; he simply said, "Come and see for yourself."

(Vs. 47-48) The Lord Jesus saw Nathanael coming and said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Christ was not saying that Nathanael was not a sinner, but that he was a man of sincerity, a true seeker with an honest and open attitude, not a hypocrite. Such shall be given more light. Nathanael replied, "How do you know all about me?" Our Lord replied, "Before Phillip called thee, I saw thee under the fig tree." Our Lord is omniscient; He sees and knows all things and all people. Evidently this particular reference to his being under the fig tree carried more significance than his simply being there, for Nathanael was astounded and awed before Him.

(Vs. 49) Nathanael's eyes were opened to behold the Divine glory and power of Christ Jesus, and he promptly confessed Him to be the "Son of God." As we stated, the theme of John's book is Christ, the Son of God. There are seven who bear witness to His deity in this book–John the Baptist (1:34), Nathanael (1:49), Peter (6:69), the Lord Himself (10:36), Martha (11:27), Thomas (20:28), and John (20:31).

(Vs. 50-51) Nathanael was deeply impressed by the Lord's omniscience, but the Lord told him that he would see greater things. Yea, the time would come when he would see an open heaven and the Son of God directly connected with the Throne of God. Christ may have referred to the vision of Jacob (Gen. 28:10-17).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.


To top of page: click here.