John 1:35-51

35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

[Two of his disciples] One of them was Andrew, verse 40, and it is very likely that John himself was the other; in every thing which he might receive honor he studiously endeavors to conceal his own name.

[And looking upon Jesus] Attentively beholding, from the greek words for into and to look, - to view with steadfast attention. He who desires to discover the glories and excellencies of this Lamb of God must thus look on him. At first sight he appears only as a man among men, and as dying in testimony to the truth, as many others have died. But, on a more attentive consideration, he appears to be no less than God in the flesh, and, by his death, making an atonement for the sins of the world.

[Behold, the Lamb of God!] By this the Baptist designed to direct the attention of his own desciples to Jesus, not only as the great sacrifice for the sin of the world, but also as the complete teacher of heavenly truth.

37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

[And the two disciples heard him] And they perfectly understood their master's meaning, in consequence of which they followed Jesus. Happy are they who, on hearing of the salvation of Christ, immediately attach themselves to its author. Delays are often dangerous and, in this case, often fatal. Reader! Have you had Christ as a sacrifice for your sin pointed out to you? If so, have you followed him? If not, you are not on the way to the Kingdom of God. Lose not another moment! Eternity is at hand and you are not prepared to meet God. Pray that he may alarm thy conscience and stir up thy soul to seek till you have found.

38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

[What seek ye?] These disciples might have felt some embarrasment in addressing our blessed Lord after hearing the character which the Baptist gave of him. To remove or prevent this he graciously accosts them and gives them an opportunity of explaining themselves to him. Such questions, we may conceive, the blessed Jesus still puts to those who in simplicity of heart desire an acquaintance with him. Questions of this nature we may profitably ask ourselves: What seek ye? In this place? In the company you frequent? In the conversation you engage in? In the affairs with which you are occupied? In the works which you perform? Do you seek the illumination, justification, edification or sanctification of your soul? The edification of your neighbor? The good of the Church or Christ? The glory of God? Questions of this nature often put to our hearts, in the fear of God, would induce us to do many things which we now leave undone, and to leave undone many things which we now perform.

[Rabbi] Teacher. Behold the modesty of these disciples -- we wish to be scholars, we are ignorant -- we desire to be taught; we believe thou art a teacher come from God.

[Where dwellest thou?] That we may come and receive instruction.

39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

[Come and see] If those who know not the salvation of God would come at the command of Christ, they should soon see that with him is the fountain of life, and in his light they should see light. Reader, if thou art seriously inquiring where Christ dwelleth, take the following for answer: He dwells not in the tumult of worldly affairs, nor in profane assemblies, nor in worldly pleasures, nor in the place where drunkards proclaim their shame, not in carelessness and indolence. But he is found in his temple, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, in secret prayer, in self-denial, in fasting, in self-examination. He also dwells in the humble, contrite spirit, and in the spirit of faith, of love, of forgiveness, of universal obedience; in a word, he dwelleth in the heaven of heavens, whither he graciously purposes to bring thee, if thou wilt come and learn of him, and receive the salvation which he bought for thee by his own blood.

40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

[Findeth his own brother Simon] Every discovery of the Gospel of the Son of God produced benevolence, and leads them to whom is it made to communicate it to others. Those who find Jesus find in him a treasure of wisdom and knowledge, through which they may not only become rich themselves, but be instruments in the hand of God, enrighing others. The disciples, having tasted the good word of Christ, were not content to eat their bread alone, but went and invited others to partake with them. Thus the knowledge of Christ became diffused - one invited another to come and see. Every man who has been brought to an acquaintance with God should endeavor to bring, at least, another with him; and his first attention should be fixed upon those of his own household.

42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

[Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone] The Greek version of this word was Petros, a stone or a fragment of a rock. From this day forward Simon was called Peter.

43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

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

[Philip] This apostle was a native of Bethsaida in Galilee. He must not be confounded with Philip, the deacon, spoken of in Acts 6:5.

[Nathanael] This apostle is supposed to be the same as Bartholomew. The names appear to be used interchangably.

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

[Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?] Nathaniel's question seems to imply that, not Nazareth, but Bethlehem was to be the birthplace of the Messiah. See Mattew 2:4-6. True enough, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth.

[Come and see] He who candidly examines the evidences of the religion of Christ will infallibly become a believer. No history ever published among men has so many external and internal proofs of authenticity as this has. A man should judge nothing by first appearances or human prejudices. Who are they who cry out, "The Bible is a fable?" Those who have never read it or those who read it with the fixed purpose to gainsay it.

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

[Behold an Israelite indeed] A worthy descendant of the patriarch Jacob, who not only professes to believe in Israel's God, but who worships him in sincerity and truth according to his light.

[In whom is no guile] To find a man walking in uprightness before his maker was a subject worthy ofthe attention of God himself. Behold this man! While you see and admire, imitate his conduct.

48 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.

[Whence knoweth thou me?] He was not yet acquainted with the divinity of Christ, could not conceive how he could search his heart, and therefore asks how he could acquire this knowledge of him. It is a comfort of the sincere and upright that God knows their hearts, and it should be the terror of the deceitful and of the hypocrite that their false dealing is ever noticed by the all seeing eye of God.

[Under the fig tree] Probably engaged in prayer with God for the speedy appearing of the salvation of Israel; and the shade of this fig tree was perhaps the ordinary place of retreat for this upright man. It was not a fig tree but the fig tree, one particularly distinguished from the others. There are many proofs that the Jewish rabbins chose the shade of trees, and particularly the fig tree, to sit and study under. How true is the saying that the eyes of the Lord are through all the earth beholding the evil and the good. Wheresoever we are, whatsoever we are about, may a deep conviction of this truth rest in our hearts, Thou God seest me!

49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

[Rabbi] Teacher. And so this word should be translated.
[Thou art the Son of God] The promised Messiah.
[Thou art the King of Israel] The real descendent of David, who is to sit on the throne of David at the time of the Kingdom.

50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

[Because I said...I saw thee] As thou hast credited my divine mission on this simple proof, that I saw thee when and where no human eye, placed where mine was, could see thee, thy faith shall not rest merely on this, for thou shalt see greater things than these, more numerous proofs of my eternal power and Godhead.

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 10/18/2006

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