1:45 Philip found Nathanael 1 and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also 2 wrote about – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 1:46 Nathanael 3 replied, 4 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” 5 Philip replied, 6 “Come and see.”
1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and exclaimed, 7 “Look, a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 8 1:48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus replied, 9 “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, 10 I saw you.” 1:49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king 11 of Israel!” 12 1:50 Jesus said to him, 13 “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 14
1 sn Nathanael is traditionally identified with Bartholomew (although John never describes him as such). He appears here after Philip, while in all lists of the twelve except in Acts 1:13, Bartholomew follows Philip. Also, the Aramaic Bar-tolmai means “son of Tolmai,” the surname; the man almost certainly had another name.
2 tn “Also” is not in the Greek text, but is implied.
3 tn Grk “And Nathanael.”
4 tn Grk “said to him.”
5 sn Can anything good come out of Nazareth? may be a local proverb expressing jealousy among the towns.
6 tn Grk “And Philip said to him.”
7 tn Grk “said about him.”
8 tn Or “treachery.”
sn An allusion to Ps 32:2.
9 tn Grk “answered and said to him.” This is somewhat redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation to “replied.”
10 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.)
11 tn Although βασιλεύς (basileus) lacks the article it is definite due to contextual and syntactical considerations. See ExSyn 263.
12 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.
13 tn Grk “answered and said to him.” This has been simplified in the translation to “said to him.”
14 sn What are the greater things Jesus had in mind? In the narrative this forms an excellent foreshadowing of the miraculous signs which began at Cana of Galilee.