The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

My Notes on Today’s Gospel John 1:45-51

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 23, 2011

Joh 1:45  Philip findeth Nathanael and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.

Philip findeth Nathanael. Concerning these two you can profitably read the Catholic Encyclopedia article on both: Philip; Nathanael. Many identify Nathanael with Bartholomew whose feast day we celebrate today. The Catholic Encyclopedia on St Bartholomew gives some reasons why.

Philip findeth…and saith to him: We have found… The words find and found are key here. Earlier in the chapter (verse 41) we read this concerning Andrew: He findeth first his brother Simon and saith to him: We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. Father Moloney, in his Commentary on John, calls Andrew’s and Philip’s claim to have found the Messiahhim of whom Moses…and the prophets wrote (vss. 41, 45) a “a blatant untruth”. Andrew didn’t “find” the Messiah, St john the Baptist pointed him out (vss 35-37); and as the Gospel notes several times, the Apostles, including Nathanael, didn’t really understand the Scripture (Moses and the Prophets) and its/there testimony concerning the Messiah (Jn 2:22; 12:16, etc.). They have indeed found the Messiah, Him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets did write (vss 41, 45); but the implication of the title Messiah and the testimony of the Old Testament is at this point unknown to them. What they mean by these terms at this point is very different from the reality.

The fact that Philip finds Nathanael and brings him to Jesus (as Andrew had earlier done with Simon Peter, vs 41) foreshadows the future mission of the Church. In order to accomplish this mission the Church must know who Jesus is and what it means that he is the Messiah, Him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophet did write (vss 41, 45). It is no accident that the Gospel of John ends with the story of a fishing expedition, an image of the missionary Church (Matt 4:18; Mark 1:16; Luke 5:1-11). But when the morning was come, Jesus stood on the shore: yet the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus therefore said to them: Children, have you any meat? They answered him: No.  He saith to them: Cast the net on the right side of the ship; and you shall find. They cast therefore: and now they were not able to draw it, for the multitude of fishes (John 21:4-6). It is only in virtue of this last appearance of the risen Messiah, Him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets did write, that none of the apostle durst (dared) ask him: Who art thou? Knowing that it was the Lord (John 21:12). Simply put, Andrew did not find the Messiah, nor did he bring Simon Peter to him.  Philip didn’t find Him of whom Moses, in the Law and the Prophets wrote, neither did he bring Nathanael to him.  Jesus found them: You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you. And the missionary initiative foreshadowed in John 1:41, 45 did not come from Andrew or Philip: I…have appointed you, that you should go and should bring forth fruit (John 15:16).

Joh 1:46  And Nathanael said to him: Can any thing of good come from Nazareth? Philip saith to him: Come and see.

Can anything good come from Nazareth? The question of Jesus origin will be a major excuse for people rejecting him (John 6:42; John 7:27; John 7:41). See notes on the next verse

Joh 1:47  Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.

Jesus’ seemingly earthly, time conditioned origin was-as indicated above-used as an excuse to object to this claims (beside the verses given in the previous note, see John 7:51; John 8:57-59). Nathanael (Bartholomew) was a true Israelite with no duplicity in him (NAB) because, in spite of hearing that Jesus was from Nazareth, a hick town in a backwater province like Galilee, he came and saw.

Joh 1:48  Nathanael saith to him: Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him: Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Jesus response calls to mind a verse I quoted above: You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go and should bring forth fruit (John 15:16). The same theme occurred earlier when Andrew brought Simon to Jesus: Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona. Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter (John 1:42). Jesus wasn’t meeting Andrew and Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael (Bartholomew) by mere accident or happenstance. He knew who they were and what he was getting (Matt 26:31, 35; Mark 14:27, 30; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:37-38). A purely human initiative to deal with today’s “priest shortage” is doomed to failure. It will end like the Apostle’s fishing expedition ante the Risen Christ.

Joh 1:49  Nathanael answered him and said: Rabbi: Thou art the Son of God. Thou art the King of Israel.

Son of God…King of Israel (vs 49). Like the titles Messiah and Him of whom Moses, in the Law and the prophets wrote (vss 41, 45), these titles are misguided; a fact brought out in Jesus’ response.

Joh 1:50  Jesus answered and said to him: Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, thou believest: greater things than these shalt thou see.


Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, thou believest? This question is used to introduce a promise by Jesus which implies the superficiality of Nathanael’s (and by implication Andrew’s, Peter’s, and Philip’s) understanding of Him.

Greater things than these thou shalt see. Often interpreted as the so-called seven signs of John’s Gospel, but this strikes me as superficial. The greater things Nathanael (Bartholomew) will see is the full implication of what it means that Jesus is the Messiah (vs 41), Him of whom Moses, in the law, and the prophets wrote (vs 45).

Joh 1:51  And he saith to him: Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man

Notice that the Douay-Rheims translation I’m using employs the word “thou” in verse 50, but “you” in verse 51. In old English “thou” was used in addressing an individual, “you” in addressing several people or a multitude. The Greek language in which the New Testament was written did the same. Verse 50, addressed to Nathanael alone, employs the Greek σοι (soi, “thou”, singular), while verse 51 uses υμιν (humin, “you”, plural). Nathanael’s status of belief (vs 50), based on the miraculous “signs” of John’s gospel ,   is no different from that of others we will meet latter in the Gospel (e.g., John 2:23-25; John 4:48; ).  However, Nathanael (Bartholomew), like Andrew, Simon Peter and Philip (the  people indicated by the plural υμιν, humin, “you”), will receive revelation, symbolized the the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

The reference to the angels of God ascending and descending calls to mind the encounter of Jacob with God in Genesis 28:12-17. Will finish commenting on this verse later today.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “My Notes on Today’s Gospel John 1:45-51”

  1. […] UPDATE: My Notes on Today’s Gospel (John 1:45-51). […]

  2. […] My Notes on Today’s Gospel (John 1:45-51). […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: