43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 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.”
JOHN 1: 43-44 ESV
43 Τῇ ἐπαύριον ἠθέλησεν ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. καὶ εὑρίσκει Φίλιππον καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἀκολούθει μοι. 44 ἦν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἀπὸ Βηθσαϊδά, ἐκ τῆς πόλεως Ἀνδρέου καὶ Πέτρου. 45 εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Ὃν ἔγραψεν Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ καὶ οἱ προφῆται εὑρήκαμεν, Ἰησοῦν υἱὸν τοῦ Ἰωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ.
JOHN 1: 43-45 SBLGNT
Therefore, this is the last of four successive days commented on in the first chapter of the Fourth Gospel. Jesus, still at Bethany beyond the Jordan, decided to cross over to the western shores of the Jordan and proceed from there to Galilee. Perhaps while he was busy preparing for this journey, he found Philip, which is not surprising because Philip came from the town of Andrew and Peter; namely, Bethsaida (House of Fishing), located, it would seem, not far from Capernaum. However, the exact site is unknown, and whether there was more than one place by that name is still being debated. We may probably assume that Andrew and Peter had told their friend and townsman about Jesus. Jesus said to Philip, “Follow me.” It is implied that this command was obeyed so that Philip became a disciple of the Lord. Of all the apostles, only Andrew and Philip have Greek names. When the Greeks desired to see Jesus long afterwards, they made known their wish to Philip. He and Andrew brought the request of the Greeks to Jesus, 12:20–22.
Returning now to the present paragraph (1:43): the new disciple, Philip, in turn, “found Nathaniel”, who was from Cana (21:2). In all probability, Nathaniel of the Fourth Gospel is Bartholomew of the Synoptics. Bartholomew is a patronymic (Bar Tholmai, meaning Son of Tholmai). Nathaniel is a Hebrew name, meaning God has given, like the Greek Theodore, which means Gift of God.
“And said to him” (What Philip said to Nathaniel is recorded in verse 45). It is important to preserve the word order of the original. When this is done, it becomes apparent that in his great enthusiasm, Philip begins the sentence with reference to the Messiah and that the very last word Nathaniel hears is Nazareth. These two concepts (Messiah—Nazareth) seemed to Nathaniel to be utterly self-contradictory.
Filled with enthusiasm, Philip exclaims, “The one about whom Moses wrote in the law and about whom the prophets wrote, we have found.….” Up to this point, Philip is expressing a great truth, for Moses and the Prophets (i.e., the entire Old Testament) can never be understood unless the Christ is seen in them. As long as one does not perceive this, the Old Testament remains a closed book. As soon as this idea is grasped, the scriptures are opened, as the following passages clearly indicate: Luke 24:32, 44; John 5:39, 46; Acts 3:18, 24; 7:52; 10:43; 13:29; 26:22, 23; 28:23; and 1 Peter 1:10. When Philip added, “Jesus, son of Joseph, the one from Nazareth”, he was not uttering a falsehood, for Jesus was, indeed, the Son of Joseph (cf. Matt. 1:16).
Moreover, by adding that he was the one from Nazareth, Philip indicated that Jesus had spent nearly all of his days in that town. Philip says nothing about the Savior’s place of birth, and it is not fair to accuse him of errors he did not make. On the other hand, at this early stage, Philip had probably not yet arrived at the exalted view of Christ’s divine sonship, which the Fourth Gospel author expressed so beautifully in the Prologue (1:1–18), nor at the mountain-peak of Nathaniel’s confession (1:49).
Through this commentary, we see how Philip pronounces the Messiah to Nathanael. “The one about whom Moses wrote in the law and about whom the prophets wrote, we have found.….” and compare it to how Andrew declares it to his brother Simon, Son of John. “We have found the Messiah.” The contrast speaks volumes to the manner Andrew viewed the Messiah since he could not even provide Jesus with an answer to the question in verse 38 “….What are you seeking? The author John makes this distinctive difference in the narrative as a contrast in the objective reasoning between Andrew and Philip. Philip provides the basis of declaring that they had found the Messiah, whereas Andrew declaration provides truth apart from his own subjective declaration without any objective truth and was only based on the witnessing of The Baptist.
Why is this important? As Christians, we are called in the great commission to make disciples of all nations, in Matthew 28:18 –
“18 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
More importantly, is the manner in which we are to undertake this commission. Numerous verses throughout the New Testament provide us with instruction in how we proclaim God’s Word.
1 Peter 3: 15-16 “15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Jude 3 – “3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. “
Titus 1:9 – 9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. “
2 Timothy 2: 24-26 – “24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. “
Jude 22 – “22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment7 stained by the flesh.”
And many more. We must never be complacent in the manner in which we reveal the Word of God, and more specifically, the person in Jesus Christ.
If Jesus Christ is the truth revealed, which is part of our inherent belief and our faith is based on, the manner we reveal the Lord must reflect the truth and the reality of his divine being. Only through our spiritual transformation and our objectivity and reasoning is anchored in the divine absolutes and by the Holy Spirit are we able to reflect the true nature of our Messiah.