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John 1:48-49

Context
1:48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus replied, 1  “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, 2  I saw you.” 1:49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king 3  of Israel!” 4 

1 tn Grk “answered and said to him.” This is somewhat redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation to “replied.”

2 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.)

3 tn Although βασιλεύς (basileus) lacks the article it is definite due to contextual and syntactical considerations. See ExSyn 263.

4 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.



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