LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Biographical Study of Nathanael
Nathanael, a True Israelite
Submitted to Dr. Woo in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the completion of the course
New Testament Orientation I
John W. Kirby (ID# 26195418)
Thesis Statement 1
The Name 1
Aramaic, son of Tolmai 2
Hebrew Meaning, Godâ€™s Gift 3
The Call 4
Introduction by Philip 4
Nathanael sought out by his friend 4
We have found the Messiah 5
Call by Jesus 5
Compliment from the LORD 6
Greater things to come 6
The Man 7
Skeptical ...view middle of the document...
Nathanaelâ€™s statement in John 1:46, â€œCan anything good come out of Nazareth?â€ may also be an indication that geographical prejudice exists for Nathanael between his hometown of Cana, and Nazareth. Yet Nathanael responds favorably to his friend Philipsâ€™ request in that same verse of â€œCome and see.â€
There was a man in Johnâ€™s Gospel who was from Cana, who had a friend named Philip. This man from Cana was called by the LORD to be one of the twelve apostles. He is called Nathanael in the Johnâ€™s Gospel and is Bartholomew in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In the Gospels the names are paired with Philip in the list of apostles that Jesus called to follow. Most scholars agree that the two names are the same individual.2 Most orthodox Jews of the first century would sit â€œunder a fig tree whenever they wanted to be quiet and pray.â€3 This is where Nathanael was when Philip came to meet him and speaks of the man and his spiritual posture.
The name Bartholomew is referenced only four times in the New Testament. In Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, and Acts 1:13, Bartholomew is listed with the other apostles. In Acts after Jesus ascended into Heaven, Bartholomew is listed with Matthew in the upper room where â€œall continued with one accord in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:14a)â€.
Much of the missionary work that was done by this apostle is attributed to Bartholomew rather than Nathanael. The Armenian Church recognizes Saint Gregory as the one who baptized King Tiridates III, who made Christianity the state religion in Armenia, yet it is Bartholomew who was one of the first apostles to evangelize in the country.4 In England Bartholomew is one of the most popular saints in England, with â€œabbeys, churches and monasteries raised in his honour.â€5
The name Bartholomew in Aramaic is a patronymic name, which means that Bartholomew was the â€œson of Tolmaiâ€6 It was a common practice in Judea to identify a man by combining the name of their father with the city or town where they lived. This did not include a reference to where they were born. Jesus was identified as â€œJesus of Nazareth, the son of Josephâ€ in John 1:45. This use of the name may have contributed to some confusion with the mission work of Bartholomew and Thomas in India.7
Nathanael is referenced in the New Testament only in the Gospel of John. The Old Testament variation of Nathanael is Nethanel and has twice the number of references fourteen to seven. In John 1:48, Jesus tells Nathanael that he saw Nathanael under a fig tree and calls Nathanael a true Israelite. Hosea 9:10b says, â€œI saw your fathers as the first fruits on the fig tree in its first season.â€ This reference has a symbolic side to it. J. Ramsey Michaels writes that â€œJesus finds the new Israel in the way that God his Father found the old.â€8 Nathanael like the other apostles and followers of the LORD are â€œa...