John 1:46
And Nathanael said to him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(46) The question is not, “Can the Messiah come out of Nazareth,” but “Can there any good thing come?” The question is asked by an inhabitant of a neighbouring village who looks upon the familiar town with something of local jealousy and scorn; but the form of the question would seem to point to an ill repute in reference to its people. The place is unknown to earlier history, and is not mentioned even in Josephus; but what we find in Mark 6:6 and Luke 4:29 agrees with Nathanael’s opinion. (For account of the town, comp. Note on Luke 1:26.)

Come and see expresses the fulness of his own conviction. An interview had brought certainty to his own mind. It would do so likewise to that of his friend.

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.Can any good thing ... - The character of Nazareth was proverbially bad. To be a Galilean or a Nazarene was an expression of decided contempt, John 7:52. See the notes at Matthew 2:23. Nathanael asked, therefore, whether it was possible that the Messiah should come from a place proverbially wicked. This was a mode of judging in the case not uncommon. It is not by examining evidence, but by prejudice. Many persons suffer their minds to be filled with prejudice against religion, and then pronounce at once without examination. They refuse to examine the subject, for they have set it down that it cannot be true. It matters not where a teacher comes from, or what is the place of his birth, provided he be authorized of God and qualified for his work.

Come and see - This was the best way to answer Nathanael. He did not sit down to reason with him, or speculate about the possibility that a good thing could come from Nazareth; but he asked him to go and examine for himself, to see the Lord Jesus, to hear him converse, to lay aside his prejudice, and to judge from a fair and candid personal inquiry. So we should beseech sinners to lay aside their prejudices against religion, and "to be Christians," and thus make trial for themselves. If men can be persuaded to come to Jesus, all their petty and foolish objections against religion will vanish. They will be satisfied from their own experience that it is true, and in this way only will they ever be satisfied.

46. any good out of Nazareth—remembering Bethlehem, perhaps, as Messiah's predicted birthplace, and Nazareth having no express prophetic place at all, besides being in no repute. The question sprang from mere dread of mistake in a matter so vital.

Come and see—Noble remedy against preconceived opinions [Bengel]. Philip, though he could not perhaps solve his difficulty, could show him how to get rid of it. (See on [1765]Joh 6:68).

The words of Philip begat a prejudice in Nathanael, as to what he said. It was prophesied, Micah 5:2, that the Messiah should come out of Bethlehem. So, John 7:41,42, some of the people said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? Nazareth was not only a poor little place, (for so Bethlehem also was), but a place which the Scripture never mentioned as the place from whence the Messiah should arise; a place that God had not honoured with the production of a prophet. By

any good thing seems to be meant, the Messiah, or any prophet, or (more generally) any thing which is noble and excellent, and of any remark. So prone are we to think that the kingdom of God comes with observation, that we know not how to fancy how great things should be done by little means, and great persons should arise out of little, contemptible places. Whereas God chooseth the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things to confound the mighty; and base things of the world, to confound the wise, 1 Corinthians 1:25-28.

Philip saith unto him, Come and see; Philip, not knowing how to answer Nathanael’s objection, and to remove his prejudice, wishes him himself to go, and make up a judgment. Wise men ought to do this, and not to take up prejudices from reports and common vogue. And Nathanael said unto him,.... Taking notice of, and laying hold on what Philip said, that he was of Nazareth, which at once stumbled, and prejudiced him against Jesus being the Messiah; knowing very well that Bethlehem was to be the place of his birth:

can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? The whole country of Galilee was had in contempt with the Jews; but Nazareth was so mean a place, that it seems it was even despised by its neighbours, by the Galilaeans themselves; for Nathanael was a Galilean, that said these words. It was so miserable a place that he could hardly think that any sort of good thing, even any worldly good thing, could come from thence; and it was so wicked, as appears from their murderous designs upon our Lord, that he thought no good man could arise from hence; and still less, any prophet, any person of great note; and still least of all, that that good thing, or person, the Messiah, should spring from it: so that his objection, and prejudice, proceeded not only upon the oracle in Micah 5:2, which points out Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah; but upon the wickedness, and meanness, and obscurity of Nazareth,

Philip saith unto him, come and see; who though he might not be master of this point, and knew not how to solve this difficulty, and remove this prejudice from Nathanael's mind, yet persuades him to go with him to Jesus; who, he doubted not, would give him full satisfaction in this, and all other points; and then it would most clearly appear to him, as it had done to him, that he was the true Messiah. The phrase, , "come, see", is often used in the book of Zohar (q): so it is, and likewise, , "come and see", in the Talmudic writings (r),

(q) In Gen. fol. 13. 1. & 14. 3. & 16. 1, 2. & in Exod. fol. 83. 4. & passim. (r) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 8. 1. & 23. 2. & 24. 1. Kiddushin, fol. 20. 1. & 33. 1. & Sota, fol. 5. 1, 2. & passim.

{19} And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

(19) We must especially take heed of false presumptions, which prevent us from entrance to Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 1:46. Εὑρίσκει] when and where in the course of the journey we are not told,—perhaps at some distance from the road, so that Philip, observing him, quitted the road, and went towards him. According to Ewald, “not till after their arrival in the village of Cana, which nevertheless is named for the first time in John 2:1, and to which Nathanael belonged” (John 21:2). The supposition, however, that Nathanael was on his way to John’s baptism (Godet) is quite groundless.

Ναθαναήλ, נְתַנְאֵל, i.e. Theodorus (Numbers 1:8; 1 Chronicles 2:14), is identical with Bartholomaeus. For, according to this passage, in the midst of calls to the apostleship, comp. John 21:2, he appears as one of the twelve; while in the lists of the apostles (Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14; Mark 1:18; Acts 1:13), where his name is wanting, we find Bartholomaeus, and placed, moreover, side by side with Philip (only in Acts 1:13 with Matthew;[124] comp. Constitt. Apol. vi. 14. 1). This identity is all the more probable, because Bartholomew is only a patronymic, and must have become the ordinary name of the individual, and that in most frequent use; and thus it came to pass that his own distinctive name does not appear in the synoptic narrative.

ὃν ἔγραψε] of whom, etc. See on Romans 10:5Μωϋσῆς] Deuteronomy 18:15, and generally in his Messianic references and types. See on John 1:46.

ΤῸΝ ἈΠῸ ΝΑΖΑΡΈΤ] for Nazareth, where Jesus had lived with His parents from infancy upwards, passed for His birth-place. Philip may have obtained his knowledge from Andrew and Peter, or even from Jesus Himself, who had no occasion at this time to state more fully and minutely his relation to Nazareth; while the τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Ἰωσήφ, which must rest upon a communication from Jesus, leaves His divine Sonship undisturbed. To attribute to Philip knowledge of the facts of the case with regard to both points (Hengstenberg) is in itself improbable, and is not in keeping with the simplicity of his words. But it is a groundless assumption to suppose that John knew nothing of the birth at Bethlehem; for it is Philip’s own words that he records (against Strauss, De Wette). See on John 7:41.

[124] Hilgenfeld regarded him as identical with Matthew; but how much opposed is this view to the history of Matthew’s call! though the meaning of his name is not different from that of Matthew’s. Very recently, however, Hilgenfeld has supposed that the name answers to the Matthias who was appointed in the place of Judas (N. T. extra canon. IV. p. 105). Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 368, considers it very doubtful whether Nathanael belonged to the twelve at all. Chrysostom, Augustine, and others, long ago denied that he did, but this is already assumed in the “duae viae” (Hilgenfeld, N. T. extra canon. IV.). According to Spaeth, in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschrift, 1868, p. 168 ff., Nathanael is to be taken as a symbolical name, invented by the writer, under which the Apostle John himself is said to be represented. The author of the Appendix, chap. John 21:2, where Nathanael is expressly distinguished from the sons of Zebedee, is said to have made a mistake.John 1:46. εὑρίσκειΝαζαρέτ. Philip in turn finds Nathanael, probably on the road from the Bethany ford homewards. Nathanael is probably the same person as is spoken of in the Synoptical Gospels as Bartholomew, i.e., Bar Tolmai, son of Ptolemy. This is usually inferred from the following: (1) Both here and in chap. John 21:2 he is classed with apostles; (2) in the lists of apostles given in the Synoptical Gospels Bartholomew is coupled with Philip; (3) while Nathanael is never mentioned by the Synoptists, Bartholomew is not mentioned by John. The two names might quite well belong to one man, Bartholomew being a patronymic. Nathanael means “God’s gift,” Theodore, or, like Augustine’s son, Adeodatus. Philip announces the discovery in the words ὃν ἔγραψενΝαζαρέτ. On which Calvin remarks: “Quam tenuis fuerit modulus fidei in Philippo hinc patet, quod de Christo quatuor verba profari nequit, quin duos crassos errores permisceat. Facit ilium filium Joseph, et patriam Nazareth falso illi assignat.” This is too stringent. He draws the conclusion that where there is a sincere purpose to do good and to proclaim Christ, success will follow even where there is error. Nazareth lies due west from the south end of the Sea of Galilee, and about midway between it and the Mediterranean.46. Can there any good thing, &c.] All Galileans were despised for their want of culture, their rude dialect, and contact with Gentiles. They were to the Jews what Bœotians were to the Athenians. But here it is a Galilean who reproaches Nazareth in particular. Apart from the Gospels we know nothing to the discredit of Nazareth; neither in O.T. nor in Josephus is it mentioned; but what we are told of the people by the Evangelists is mostly bad. Christ left them and preferred to dwell at Capernaum (Matthew 4:13); He could do very little among them, ‘because of their unbelief’ (Matthew 13:58), which was such as to make Him marvel (Mark 6:6); and once they tried to kill Him (Luke 4:29). S. Augustine would omit the question. Nathanael ‘who knew the Scriptures excellently well, when he heard the name Nazareth, was filled with hope, and said, From Nazareth something good can come.’ But this is not probable. Possibly he meant no more than ‘Can any good thing come out of despised Galilee?’ Nazareth being in Galilee.

Come and see] The best cure for ill-founded prejudice. Philip shews the depth of his own conviction in suggesting this test, which seems to have been in harmony with the practical bent of his own mind. See on John 12:21 and John 14:8.John 1:46. Δύναταί τι) can anything? Therefore there were many worthless characters. Comp. as to that whole region, ch. John 7:52, “Search and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” [the Pharisees to Nicodemus]. Nathanael’s question is however more modest and cautious, than if he categorically denied [that anything good could come from Galilee]. Christ did not owe His excellency to His native land on earth [His excellency was not to be set down to the account of His earthly country]. He came from heaven.—ἀγαθόν, good) But how great a Good, Christ! ch. John 7:12, “Some said, He is a good man.”—ἔρχου καὶ ἴδε, come and see) The best remedy against preconceived opinions. What Jesus the day before had replied to the disciples [John 1:39], “Come and see”: that now Philip replies to others, Ἴδε, see, i.e. you will see. Often an imperative after an imperative has the force of a future; Genesis 17:1, “Walk before Me, and be thou perfect”= and thus thou shall be, Amos 5:4, “Seek ye Me and ye shall live.” See Glass. Phil. Can. xliii, de Verbo.Verses 46-49. -

(c) The Son of God and King of Israel. Verse 46. - And Nathanael said to him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? The ordinary interpretations of the meaning of this question are not satisfactory.

(1) The prejudice against Nazareth as being a Galilean town cannot have weighed with Nathanael of Cana in Galilee (John 21:2), even though he may have shared the ignorant opinion that "out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John 7:52). He might have known that Jonah, Hosea, Nahum, probably Elijah, Elisha, and Amos, were Galileans.

(2) That Nazareth was a secluded and contemptible village seems disproved by the interesting papers of Dr. Selah Merrill, on "Galilee in the Time of our Lord," Amer. Bibl. Sacra., January and April, 1874.

(3) That the character of its people should have been jealous, turbulent, capricious, and led to our Lord's subsequent preference for Capernaum, does not explain the force of the inquiry. The "good thing" may, however, be the contrast between the unimportance of the place in the political or religious history of the people, as compared with Jerusalem, Tiberias, Jericho, Bethlehem. It is never mentioned in the Old Testament or in Josephus. Nathanael may have known its mediocrity, and have been startled by the possibility of a carpenter's son, in a spot utterly undistinguished, being the Messiah of whom their sacred writers spoke. "Despised Nazareth" is a phrase rather due to the splendour of the flower that grew upon its barren soil, and became contrasted afterwards with the unlooked for glory and claims of the Nazarene. Philip saith unto him, Come and see. This was his strongest argument. To look upon him is to believe. He had much more to learn in after days (John 14:8, 9). At this moment he and Nathanael stood on ground consecrated by ancient history, and thrilling with the thunder peals of the Baptist, mazed and wistful from much longing, thinking of the union between heaven and earth which had been revealed in the experience of ancient prophets, dwelling on the careers of Israel, Moses, and Elijah in their rapt transports, musing under fig trees or the like, and longing for the great King. He may naturally have reasoned on this wise: "Can it be true that the Christ, the King of Israel, the Lord of the temple, the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, is indistinguishable from the rest of mankind in this very crowd? Would that I too might see in him, as John has done, some vision of the opened heaven, that I too might hear some unmistakable voice!" If these were the musings of Nathanael - and surely there is not a trace of unreason in such meditations in the breast of a disciple of the Baptist - the conversation which follows is more easy to understand. Come out of Nazareth (ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ εἶναι)

Literally, "be out of;" a characteristic expression of John. See John 3:31; John 4:22; John 7:17, John 7:22; John 8:23; John 15:19; John 18:36, John 18:38, etc. It means more than to come out of: rather to come out of as that which is of; to be identified with something so as to come forth bearing its impress, moral or otherwise. See especially John 3:31 : "He that is of the earth is of the earth;" i.e., partakes of its quality. Compare Christ's words to Nicodemus (John 3:6), and 1 Corinthians 15:47.

In the Greek order, out of Nazareth stands first in the sentence as expressing the prominent thought in Nathanael's mind, surprise that Jesus should have come from Nazareth, a poor village, even the name of which does not occur in the Old Testament. Contrary to the popular explanation, there is no evidence that Nazareth was worse than other places, beyond the fact of the violence offered to Jesus by its people (Luke 4:28, Luke 4:29), and their obstinate unbelief in Him (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6). It was a proverb, however, that no prophet was to come from Galilee (John 7:52).

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