Summary: This is a study of Nathanael based on 12 Ordinary Men. It has a lot of added notes and scripture.

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Note: This is a study from the book 12 Ordinary Men by John McArthur an excellent book. There is also a fill in the blank outline from Adult Bible Fellowships of First Baptist Church Orion that I have posted in the series. This is not original but worth posting for study.

Twelve Ordinary Men

Nathanael – the Guileless One

Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel.” - John 1:49

I. Some general observations about Nathanael

a. In the four biblical lists of the Twelve, he is always called Bartholomew which is Hebrew for “

Son of Tolmai. John refers to him as Nathanael which is Hebrew for “God has given.” So he is

Nathanael, son of Tolmai.

What a name "God has given". Maybe this is what drove Nathanael to study and research God's purpose, he knew that he was a gift of God.

b. Other than the four lists, Nathanael is only mentioned twice in the Bible: in John 1 and in John 21:2.

According to the latter passage, Nathanael was from Cana, the town in Galilee where Jesus turned

water into wine.

He may have been the one that invited Jesus to the wedding.

c. Virtually all we know about him, comes from John 1:35-51 which describes his first encounter

with Christ.

John 1:43-51 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and 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 of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (46) And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (47) Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" (48) 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." (49) Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (50) Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." (51) And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter [10] you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

II. His Love of Scripture

Phillip and Nathanael must have been close friends because in each of the scripture listings of the names of the apostles they were linked in scripture.

a. Philip’s appeal to Nathanael to come and see Jesus, implies that he knew him and the


b. It is interesting that Philip did not seek to sell Nathanael on the idea of going to meet Jesus on the

basis of how Jesus might make his life better (fix your marriage or problems). Instead, he spoke of

Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, because he knew that would pique Nathanael’s


c. Incidentally, it appears that all the apostles, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, were to some

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