John 1:48
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."

New Living Translation
"How do you know about me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, "I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you."

English Standard Version
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

New American Standard Bible
Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."

King James Bible
Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you," Jesus answered."

International Standard Version
Nathaniel asked him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you."

NET Bible
Nathanael asked him, "How do you know me?" Jesus replied, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Nathaniel said to him: “From where do you know me?” Yeshua said to him: “Before Phillipus called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Nathanael asked Jesus, "How do you know anything about me?" Jesus answered him, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you."

Jubilee Bible 2000
Nathanael said unto him, From where dost thou know me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

King James 2000 Bible
Nathanael said unto him, Where do you know me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.

American King James Version
Nathanael said to him, From where know you me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.

American Standard Version
Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

Douay-Rheims Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
Nathanael says 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.

English Revised Version
Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

Webster's Bible Translation
Nathanael saith to him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.

Weymouth New Testament
"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. "Before Philip called you," said Jesus, "when you were under the fig-tree I saw you."

World English Bible
Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."

Young's Literal Translation
Nathanael saith to him, 'Whence me dost thou know?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Before Philip's calling thee -- thou being under the fig-tree -- I saw thee.'
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

1:43-51 See the nature of true Christianity, it is following Jesus; devoting ourselves to him, and treading in his steps. Observe the objection Nathanael made. All who desire to profit by the word of God, must beware of prejudices against places, or denominations of men. They should examine for themselves, and they will sometimes find good where they looked for none. Many people are kept from the ways of religion by the unreasonable prejudices they conceive. The best way to remove false notions of religion, is to make trial of it. In Nathanael there was no guile. His profession was not hypocritical. He was not a dissembler, nor dishonest; he was a sound character, a really upright, godly man. Christ knows what men are indeed. Does He know us? Let us desire to know him. Let us seek and pray to be Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile; truly Christians, approved of Christ himself. Some things weak, imperfect, and sinful, are found in all, but hypocrisy belongs not to a believer's character. Jesus witnessed what passed when Nathanael was under the fig-tree. Probably he was then in fervent prayer, seeking direction as to the Hope and Consolation of Israel, where no human eye observed him. This showed him that our Lord knew the secrets of his heart. Through Christ we commune with, and benefit by the holy angels; and things in heaven and things on earth are reconciled and united together.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 48. - Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Without any title of respect, or admission as yet of any claims or right in him of whom Philip had spoken. There is, in this query, an abruptness of blunt sincerity which to some extent justifies the eulogium upon his innermost life. Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee - irrespective altogether of the excitement he has stirred within thee - when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. "The fig tree" was the type of the Israelite home (1 Kings 4:25; Zechariah 3:10). There, not in the corners of the street, was he accustomed to meditate and pray. The ὄντα clause is in apposition with σε, and (though another translation is grammatical) suggests that Christ saw him under conditions which had nothing whatever to do with those under which Philip called him. Αἰδόν is used for the most part of simple sight, and need not necessarily connote miraculous penetration and recognition of all that was passing in his mind. And yet the obvious intention of the evangelist is to convey more than casual observation. As Weiss says, "What is mentioned is not one isolated glance into the depths of the soul, but past events, along with their outward circumstances, are known to Jesus." "I saw thee" - I have not been ignorant of thee; I watched and thought of thee. The astonishing effect produced by this saying of the Lord has been variously conceived. Some have surmised preternatural optical powers exercised from a distance; others a simple observation without comment at the time when our Lord watched him in one of the places of retirement sacred to solemn meditations and instructions. It seems to me that the occasion to which our Lord referred must have been one of extreme spiritual interest and memorableness to Nathanael; some hour had passed of commanding influence upon his mind - one of those periods of visitation from the living God, when lives are recommenced, when an old world passes away and a new one has been made, of which the lips have never spoken, and which are among the deepest secrets of the soul. It was the conviction that his secret meditation had been surprised, that the unknown Stranger had fathomed the depth of his consciousness, which wrought and wrung the great confession of which we have here a crisp outline. I saw thee; and by this implication I can sympathize in all thy longings, [It is interesting to remember that Rabbi Akiba is described as studying the Law under a fig tree; and Augustine heard the voice which ruled his subsequent life "under a fig tree" ('Conf.,' 8:12, 28); and Buddha's most wonderful convictions and resolves occurred under the bo tree.]

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Nathanael saith unto him, whence knowest thou me?.... This he said as one surprised, that he, who was a stranger to him, should hit upon his general character, and describe the internal state and frame of his soul: this was more surprising to him, than if he had called him by his name Nathanael, as he did Simon; or had said what was the place, of his abode; Cana of Galilee; since this ordinarily was only to be observed, and learned, from a long and familiar acquaintance and conversation: by Nathanael's reply, it looks as if he had no doubt, or fears, about the character Christ gave him; but rather, that he believed it, as every good man must be conscious to himself of his own integrity; only it was amazing to him, how he should know it:

Jesus answered and said unto him; in order to satisfy him, how he could know this inward temper of his mind, and to give him some undeniable proofs of his omniscience, which he himself must acknowledge, being such as none but an all seeing eye could discover:

before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee; in which words Christ gives two instances of his omniscience; the one is, that he knew Philip had called him; he was privy to all that passed between them, though they were alone, and the conversation was had in the most private manner. Christ knew what an account Philip had given of him, and what objection Nathanael had made; and what an invitation Philip had given him to go along with him to Christ, and judge for himself; which is here meant by calling him, and with which he complied: and the other is, that he saw him under the fig tree before that: he was sitting under it, as men in those countries used to do; see Micah 4:4, where he might be reading the Scriptures, and meditating upon them; and if, as some observe, he was reading, and thinking upon Jacob's dream, concerning the ladder which reached from earth to heaven, and on which he saw the angels of God ascending and descending, the words of Christ in John 1:51 must strike him with fresh surprise, and give him another convincing proof of his omniscience: or he might be praying here in secret, and so acted a different part from the generality, of religious men of that nation, who chose to pray in synagogues, and corners of the streets, that they might be seen; and likewise proved him to be what Christ had said of him, a true and rare Israelite, without guile and hypocrisy, which were so visible and prevailing among others. It was usual with the doctors to read, and study in the law, under fig trees, and sometimes, though rarely, to pray there. It is said (t),

"R. Jacob, and his companions, were "sitting", studying in the law, , "under a certain fig tree".

And the rule they give about praying, on, or under one, is thus (u):

"he that prays on the top of an olive tree, or on the top of a "fig tree", or on any other trees, must come down, and "pray below".

It is said of Nathanael, in the Syriac dictionary (x); that his mother laid him under a fig tree, when the infants were slain, i.e. at Bethlehem; which, if it could be depended upon, must be to Nathanael a surprising and undeniable proof of the deity of Christ, and of his being the true Messiah; since, at that time, he was an infant of days himself, and was the person Herod was seeking to destroy, as the Messiah, and king of the Jews,

(t) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 5. 3. Vid. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 16. 4. (u) Ib Colossians 1. & T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 16. 1.((x) Bar Bahluli apud Castell. Lexic. Polyglott. col. 8437.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

48. Whence knowest thou me—conscious that his very heart had been read, and at this critical moment more than ever before.

Before Philip called thee—showing He knew all that passed between Philip and him at a distance.

when … under the fig tree, &c.—where retirement for meditation and prayer was not uncommon [Lightfoot]. Thither, probably—hearing that his master's Master had at length appeared, and heaving with mingled eagerness to behold Him and dread of deception—he had retired to pour out his guileless heart for light and guidance, ending with such a prayer as this, "Show me a token for good!" (See on [1766]Lu 2:8). Now he has it, "Thou guileless one, that fig tree scene, with all its heaving anxieties, deep pleadings and tremulous hopes—I saw it all." The first words of Jesus had astonished, but this quite overpowered and won him.

John 1:48 Additional Commentaries
Context
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" 48Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." 49Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel."…
Cross References
Matthew 10:3
Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;

John 1:44
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.

John 6:5
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"

John 6:7
Philip answered him, "It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"

John 12:21
They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."

John 14:8
Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."
Treasury of Scripture

Nathanael said to him, From where know you me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.

when.

John 2:25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

Genesis 32:24-30 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until …

Psalm 139:1,2 O lord, you have searched me, and known me…

Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; …

Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have …

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who …

1 Corinthians 14:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling …

Revelation 2:18,19 And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things said …

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