29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."

35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" 39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.

40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).

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 about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." 46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" 48 Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49 Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 50 Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." 51 And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."  Version: NRSV.



  • Notice that a number of times he clarifies potentially unfamiliar terms: Rabbi (v.38); Messiah (v.41); Cephas (v.42); other clarifications will follow (9:7; 20:16; etc). This suggests that the target audience of this gospel are not (primarily) Jewish. And yet there are abundant references to the events and theology of the Old Testament.
  • We continue our study of John 1, picking up on the second day of the narrative. The first was covered in verses 19 to 28.
  • DAY TWO (vv.29-34)
    • John calls Jesus "the Lamb of God."
      • This is a clear reference to the offering of O.T. sacrificial system (Leviticus 9:3; 14:13; Revelation 5:12). Jesus is to bear our sins.
      • It is also a reference to the Messiah, who in Jewish literature is often a Lamb.
      • The dove is reminiscent of the dove returning to the ark in Genesis 9. It's a whole new world, now. In fact, the age to come is breaking into our world. The Kingdom of God has arrived. (Biblically speaking, it has always been there, yet it comes in waves.)
    • John redirects his disciples to Jesus. After all, this was the entire purpose of his ministry.
    • He recognizes Jesus not by his halo, aura, or blond hair and blue eyes (!), but because God gave a sign.
      • Jesus was, and looked like, any ordinary Jewish male of his day.
      • More importantly, the Spirit resting on Jesus showed conclusively that he was the Messiah of prophecy: Isaiah 11:1-2; 42:1.
    • The theme of testimony is strong in John's gospel, the word testimony / testify appearing seven times.
  • DAY THREE (vv.35-42)
    • Again, John directs his disciples to Christ.
    • Jesus receives them and spends time with them. Note: this is not the (later) call to become fishers of men of Matthew 4/Mark 1/Luke 5. Jesus is a relationship builder, not just a preacher.
    • Andrew brings his brother to Christ.
    • Jesus calls Simon (Shim'on, in Hebrew) Cephas, which is Aramaic for "rock." The name has prophetic and descriptive qualities. Jesus sees into both the character of Peter and his future.
  • DAY FOUR (vv.43-51)
    • Jesus goes north, from Judea to Galilee, and meets Philip, who in turn speaks to Nathanael. The first three men are from Bethsaida, a fishing village only discovered in the 1980s, and join Jesus' band. Nathanael is from Cana (21:2), a town we will read about in the next chapter.
    • The interaction with Nathanael is fraught with significance.
      • Nathanael is skeptical, having stereotyped Nazareth and all who come from this backwards town. Philip responds perfectly to the skeptic: "Come and see."
      • Jesus comments on Nathanael's genuineness -- how he spoke his mind. Nathanael agrees with Jesus' summary of his character, amazed at his insight. (See also 2:24-25.)
      • Once Jesus tells Nathanael that he saw him while he was under a fig tree, Nathanael is stunned, and quickly changes his assessment of Jesus to agree with Philip's -- that he is the Messiah. (One wonders, what exactly was Jesus referring to in connection with the fig tree?)
      • Jesus ends this interaction with Nathanael by alluding to Genesis 28:12: "And [Jacob] dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it." In other words, Jesus, the Son of Man, is the "stairway to heaven"!
    • To sum up, the true Israelite ought to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, once initial doubts or objections have been met. This is a far cry from how most Jews -- and especially their leaders -- received Jesus. True worshippers of God must come to him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). "Truth" here means genuineness of faith, not doctrinal truth. (Not that this is unimportant.)
    • Final thought: already in chapter 1 we are seeing exactly how the Word looks when it has become flesh -- how God moves among people. Every interaction of Jesus tells us something about God.


  • For an instance of a Jewish writing that says the Messiah is a Lamb, see the Testament of Joseph, where we read: "All the beasts rushed against [the lamb], and the lamb overcame them, and destroyed them, and trod them underfoot. And because of him the angels and men and all the earth rejoiced... His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away."
  • Philip the apostle is not Philip the Evangelist (Acts 6, 8, 21), though they are often confused. The tomb of Philip was identified in Hierapolis in 2011.
  • Jesus' (seemingly miraculous) view of Nathanael (v.48) may entail powers similar to those of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:8-12, or Ezekiel in Ezekiel 8:1-18; 21:21-23.
  • Nathanael may be the apostle Bartholomew. This is a popular idea. But why would all of Jesus' followers need have been apostles? For more on the 12 apostles, click here. Also be sure to listen to the various podcasts on the apostles in the NT Characters series.
  • Since the fourth day spans verses 43-51, it is not clear how 2:1 takes place "on the third day." Unless, that is, "the next day" (vv.29,35,43) all refers to the same day, in which case 1:19-51 covers two days instead of four.
  • Cephas is an Aramaic name. For an interesting article on the 'Aramaic of Jesus," click here.

Thought questions:

  • Reread John 1:11ff. How does the interaction with Nathanael shed light on this passage? Do you think Nathanael's initial skepticism was justified? (If yes, why?)
  • A number of the apostles were siblings -- perhaps more than just Peter-Andrew and James-John. What advantages do you think there might have been in calling to follow him people who were already friends or family?