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John 1:19-4:54, Part 2

by Karl Kemp  
11/28/2012 / Bible Studies

We continue this verse-by-verse study of John 1:19-4:54 here in Part 2, starting with John 1:43.

(43) The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me.' [[It sounds like Jesus found Philip and called him to follow Him before He left that region to go back to Galilee. Apparently Philip was a disciple of John the Baptist too. As the next verse shows, he was from the same city (Bethsaida) as Andrew and Peter (and James and John). Philip also became one of the twelve apostles (cf. Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; and Acts 1:13). He is listed fifth in each of these lists.]] (44) Now Philip [cf. John 6:5, 7; 12:21, 22; and 14:8, 9] was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter [and of John and his brother James (cf. Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; and Luke 5:1-11; Luke 5:10 mentions that "James and John...were partners with Simon [Peter]")]. (45) Philip found Nathanael [[Apparently Nathanael, who was from Cana in Galilee (John 21:2), also was a disciple of John the Baptist. He became one of the twelve apostles; there is widespread agreement that he is the one called Bartholomew (I had a footnote: F. F. Bruce ("Gospel of John," page 59) points out that "Bartholomew" (an Aramaic word) means "son of Tholomai or Ptolemy") in Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; and Acts 1:13. Bartholomew is listed sixth, right after Philip, in the first three lists and seventh in the listing in Acts 1:13.]] and said to him, 'We have found Him [the Messiah/Christ (cf. verse 41)] of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote [cf. Luke 24:27, 44-47; John 5:46] - Jesus of Nazareth [cf. Matt. 2:23; Luke 1:26; 2:39; and John 1:46], the son of Joseph [Compare Matt. 1:16, 18-25; Luke 2:48; 3:23; 4:22; and John 6:42. John's readers would have known that Joseph had not fathered Jesus in a physical sense (cf., e.g., Luke 1:26-56; John 1:1-18).].' (46) Nathanael said to him, 'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?' [Compare John 7:41, 52. John's readers (many/most of them) would have known that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (cf. Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:1-12; and Luke 2:1-20).] Philip said to him, 'Come and see.' (47) Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, 'Behold, an Israelite [cf. Rom. 9:4] indeed, in whom there is no deceit ["nothing false" NIV]!' (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.' [By revealing these things concerning Nathanael, Jesus manifested supernatural knowledge. Apparently the Spirit revealed these things to Jesus, but it could have been an angel (cf. verse 51).] (49) Nathanael answered Him, 'Rabbi [cf. John 1:38], you are the Son of God [[Compare, for example, John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; and 1 John 4:10. In John 1:34 John the Baptist testified that Jesus "is the Son of God." At that early date Nathanael would not have known the fullness of what the words Son of God mean. It isn't clear how much John the Baptist knew about the Person of Jesus Christ, but he knew a lot. (See under verse 34.) Israel didn't realize that the Messiah was to be deity, and they didn't believe in the Person of God the Son or in the Trinity.]]; you are the King of Israel [cf. Matt. 2:2; 27:42; Mark 15:32; John 6:15; 12:13; and 18:33-37].' (50) Jesus answered and said to him, 'Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these [cf., e.g., John 2:7-11, 23; 3:2; 20:30, 31; and 21:24, 25].' (51) And He said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you [The "you" in verse 50 is singular in the Greek (three times), referring to Nathaniel. Here in verse 51 the "you" is plural (twice), including the other disciples.] will see the heavens opened [cf. Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:21] and the angels of God ascending and descending [cf. Gen. 28:12] on the Son of Man [[Compare Dan. 7:13, 14; Matt. 8:20; 9:6; 12:8, 32, 40; 13:41; 16:13, 27; 17:9; 19:28; 26:64; Mark 8:38; Luke 12:8; 18:8; 21:36; John 3:13, 14; 6:27; 12:34; and Acts 7:56. As these references show, the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ is included in the title "Son of Man," but the Son of Man also forgives sins, etc. (I had a footnote: On the Son of Man see under John 5:27 in my paper on John chapters 5-8.) The emphasis is on this Person's reigning at the Father's right hand and coming with great glory to reign on the earth at the end of this age (His reign includes saving and judging). John 3:13 shows that He came from heaven (to become a man, the God-man); John 3:14 speaks of His atoning death.]].' " [The ascending and descending of the angels of God on the Son of Man includes the angels bringing (from God the Father) supernatural knowledge and miraculous works. On God the Father and God the Son, see my articles "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son"; "Who Do We Worship?"; "Who Do We Pray To?"; and "More on the Trinity" on this Christian article site.]


"On the third day [[Apparently the third day was counted from the day Jesus called Philip and Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus; it seems that Nathanael came to Jesus the same day that Philip was called (see John 1:43-51). (I had a footnote: Based on what John said in 1:43-51, we don't know for sure when or where Jesus was when Phillip brought Nathanael to Him.) Nathanael was from Cana of Galilee (John 21:2).]] there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee [Some believe Cana was located some four miles northeast of Nazareth, but the most common view is that it was located some nine miles north of Nazareth.], and the mother of Jesus was there; (2) and both Jesus and His disciples [It isn't clear how many disciples were with Jesus at that wedding, which was very early in the ministry of Jesus. It could have included Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael, who were specifically mentioned in John 1:35-51, and John and his brother James.] were invited to the wedding. (3) When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine.' [Many commentators point out that running out of wine at a wedding in that society was considered a big deal.] (4) And Jesus said to her, 'Woman [John 19:26 demonstrates that there was no disrespect intended in addressing Mary as "Woman" (cf. Matt. 15:28; Luke 13:12; John 4:21; and 8:10).], what does that have to do with us? [["What does your concern have to do with Me?" NKJV; "why do you involve me?" NIV. In the margin the NASB has, "Lit[erally] what to Me and to you (a Hebrew idiom)." I'll quote what David J. Ellis says here ("New Layman's Bible Commentary" [Zondervan, 1979], page 1304). "(Greek ti emoi kai soi): This is a translation of an idiom, both in classical Greek and Hebrew, meaning, 'leave me to follow my own course.' No one has any right of access to the Lord in this manner (cf. Mark 1:24; Matt. 8:29)."

There is widespread agreement that these words contain a mild rebuke and forcefully make the point that Jesus must be led by His Father, not by Mary, and especially when it involved manifesting His first sign/miracle (cf. John 2:11) and beginning His public messianic ministry (His ministry as the Messiah/Christ/the Anointed One). When Jesus was twelve He informed His parents that "[He] must be about [His] Father's business" (Luke 2:49 NKJV); how much more so now (His being about thirty) at the time He is about ready to begin His public messianic ministry?]] My hour has not yet come.' [[His hour to publicly begin His messianic ministry had not fully arrived (I had a footnote: Compare John 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20. When Jesus spoke of His time/hour not having yet come in those verses, He was speaking of the time/hour of His crucifixion and glorification), but it was on the verge of breaking forth at that moment. Jesus had already been baptized by John the Baptist and received the all-important Holy Spirit; the Father had testified of Him audibly from heaven; John the Baptist had testified of Him (see Matt. 3:1-17; Mark 1:7-11; Luke 3:16-22; and John 1:26-36), and He had victoriously completed His forty-day temptation in the wilderness. ((I had a footnote: John (the writer of the Gospel) didn't mention that the Father spoke audibly from heaven regarding His beloved Son. Furthermore, he didn't mention the forty-day temptation of Jesus that followed His receiving the Spirit that is spoken of in Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; and Luke 4:1-13. John, who wrote his Gospel late (probably about AD 85-90), apparently wrote from the point of view that Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the so-called Synoptic Gospels) had been widely distributed and were known to most of his readers, so he didn't have to repeat everything they had reported.)) Jesus had already manifested miraculous insight (apparently by the Spirit) regarding Nathanael (John 1:47, 48), and He had just told Nathanael that "[the disciples] will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (John 1:51). It is also significant that Jesus had begun to gather disciples to Himself.

Christ Jesus manifested His glory through the miracle at Cana (John 2:11), but the hour of His spectacular public manifestation did not take place until a short while afterwards when He went to Jerusalem for Passover (see John 2:13-3:2). That manifestation included His cleansing the temple (John 2:14-22) and the working of many miracles (John 2:23; 3:2; and 4:45). Why did Jesus work that miracle when He had just told Mary that His hour had not yet come? I assume the Father directed Him to go ahead and work that miracle (see, for example, John 5:19, 30; 6:38; and 8:28, 29). The Father probably even instructed Him how to do it.] (5) His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." [After what Jesus had just told His mother, I assume that He indicated to her, one way or another, that He would meet the need for more wine, but it was now clearly understood that He was being led by the Father (not by His earthly mother), as He must be. It is quite possible that this particular miracle would not have taken place if Mary had not interceded. God takes the requests of His people (that includes us) into account in His governance of the universe.] (6) Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification [I'll quote a sentence from what F. F. Bruce says here ("Gospel of John" (Eerdmans, 1983), page 70), "[The stone jars] stood there to supply water for rinsing the guest's hands and for washing the various vessels required for the feast, in accordance with the old-established tradition mentioned in Mark 7:3f."], containing twenty or thirty gallons each. (7) Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." So they filled them up to the brim. [That yielded a total of 120 to 180 gallons of water that Jesus turned into high-quality wine.] (8) And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it to him. (9) When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine [cf. John 4:46], and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew [Presumably it wasn't long before the other people at the wedding (and many other people who weren't at the wedding) learned the source of this better wine. John only mentioned the effect this sign had on the disciples (John 2:11), but it surely effected quite a few others in a positive way.]), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, (10) and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." (11) This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. [There is widespread agreement that this was Jesus' first miraculous sign. It manifested His glory (cf. John 1:14). Many Jews saw Jesus' miracles but didn't see them as signs that demonstrated who He was, the Christ of God and the only Savior from sin. As I mentioned, Jesus manifested many more miraculous signs several days later at Jerusalem at the Passover (John 2:23; 3:2; 4:45), and His messianic ministry was packed with miraculous signs (cf., e.g., John 20:30, 31; 21:24, 25).] (12) After this He went down to Capernaum [This was a city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee was some 700 feet below sea level. The name means "village of Nahum." Matthew 4:12, 13 indicate that Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum after John the Baptist was arrested. John hadn't been arrested yet at this time (see John 3:22-24).], He and His mother and His brothers [Mark 6:3 shows that Jesus had four brothers and some sisters. There is no good reason to doubt that these were children of Joseph and Mary, all born after Jesus was born (cf. Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7).] and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days. (13) The Passover of the Jews was near [[See John 2:23. The Passovers mentioned in the Gospel of John help give some chronological perspective to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Two subsequent Passovers are mentioned in this Gospel, the next being in John 6:4, and the last being the occasion of His crucifixion (cf. John 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; and 18:28). Based on this information, we can say that His ministry lasted at least two years if we start counting at that first Passover. (His being baptized in water and His being anointed with the Spirit, His forty-day temptation, His calling some disciples, His first sign at the wedding at Cana, and His going down to Capernaum with His mother and brothers and staying there a few days all preceded that first Passover.) Jesus probably was crucified in AD 30. Some say AD 33.

Many scholars assume that there was another Passover that wasn't specifically mentioned by John and that Jesus' ministry lasted an extra year. ((I had a footnote: Some speculate that the "feast of the Jews" mentioned in John 5:1 was another Passover. The NASB, for example, refers to John 5:1 in the margin here at John 2:13. Jesus' ministry may have lasted three years (apparently it was either two or three years, if we start counting at the Passover mentioned in John 2:13), but it is doubtful that the feast mentioned in John 5:1 was a Passover. It is common for Christian scholars to say that Jesus ministry started when He was anointed with the Spirit (right after He was baptized in water by John the Baptist) and that His ministry lasted some two and one-half years or three and one-half years. I haven't spent enough time on this question to have much of an opinion as to whether Jesus' ministry lasted two or three years after that first Passover when Jesus cleansed the temple, etc., but if we limit ourselves to the obvious information contained in the Gospel of John it would be two years.))]], and Jesus went up [Jerusalem is some three thousand feet above sea level.] to Jerusalem. (14) And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables (15) And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; (16) and to those who were selling the doves He said, 'Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business ["into a market" NIV]." [[Those selling animals for use in the sacrificial offerings and the money changers ((I had a footnote: For one thing, the money changers enabled the Jewish males over twenty to convert their coins to the Tyrian (from Tyre) coinage that was required (because of the high silver content of those coins) to pay the annual half-shekel tax for the maintenance of the temple (cf. Ex. 30:11-16).)) were conducting their business in the outer court of the temple at that time. (At other times they were located on the Mount of Olives, near the temple.) Apparently Jesus didn't object to their providing these services, but He certainly objected to where they were providing them (selling animals in the outer court and changing money would have led to a noisy, unclean, irreverent, improper environment in the house of prayer and worship). He apparently also objected to the way they were conducting their business (things like overcharging and other ungodly practices). Matthew 21:13 says, "And He said to them, 'It is written,"MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER," but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN" [quoting from Isa. 56:7; Jer. 7:11]. Mark 11:16 says, "and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple."

Matthew 21:12, 13; Mark 11:15-18; and Luke 19:45, 46 speak of Jesus cleansing the temple a few years later at the time of Passover, a few days before He was crucified, on the day after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Mark 11:11 informs us that after Jesus' triumphal entry, He went into the temple and looked around at everything. He undoubtedly headed for the temple the next morning knowing that He must cleanse it.

This first cleansing of the temple reported in John 2:14-17 (in combination with the signs that followed [see John 2:23]) can be considered the initial public manifestation of Jesus as the promised Messiah. Some few days earlier Jesus had said (at the wedding in Cana of Galilee), "My hour has not yet come" (John 2:4); now His hour had come. It was appropriate that His ministry begin in Jerusalem and at the temple (cf., e.g., Mal. 3:1 [I had a footnote: Malachi 3:1 prophesies (in part) of the ministry of John the Baptist, who would prepare/clear the way for the Lord's coming (cf. John 1:6-8, 15, 19-37). Then it says, "And the Lord [speaking of God the Son/the Messiah] who you seek will suddenly come to His temple." Malachi 3:1 is discussed in some detail in my paper that includes Mal. 2:17-4:6 on my internet site.]), and all the more so at a time the city was filled with worshippers (at Passover).]] (17) His disciples remembered that it was written, 'ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME [[quoting from Psalm 69:9. ((I had a footnote: I'll quote a paragraph from what William Hendricksen says here ("Gospel of John" [Baker, 1953], page 123). "Now, in expressing this thought use is made of Ps. 69, which is one of six Psalms most often referred to in the New Testament (the others being Pss. 2, 22, 89, 110, and 118). Other echoes of various passages of this Psalm are heard in Matt. 27:34, 48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 15:25; 19:28; Rom. 11:9, 10; 15:3; Heb. 11:26; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 16:1; 17:8; 20:12, 15; and 21:27. While some of these are quotations, others are allusions, references more or less indirect. Jesus himself ([John] 15:25) cites Ps. 69:4, 'They hated me without a cause,' and refers it to his own experience. In fulfilment of Ps. 69:21 he uttered the word from the cross, 'I thirst.' ")) For one thing, this cleansing of the temple stirred up substantial opposition from some of the religious authorities in Jerusalem. ((I had a footnote: For one thing, Jesus was challenging their leadership for allowing those selling animals and the money changers to function as they were in the temple. Also, apparently some of the authorities were benefiting financially by allowing those practices in the temple.))]].' (18) The Jews then said to Him, 'What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things [cf. Matt. 12:38-45; 16:1-4; Mark 8:11, 12; Luke 11:16; John 6:30; and 1 Cor. 1:22]?' (19) Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' [[Compare Matt. 26:61; 27:40; Mark 14:58; 15:29; and Acts 6:14. As John 2:21, 22 show, Jesus was speaking of His being raised up (resurrected) on the third day. His resurrection (two or three years later) certainly served to demonstrate His authority to cleanse the temple and to do a lot of other things, including judge the world (including all mankind, along with the devil and his evil hosts) at the end of this age.]] (20) The Jews then said, 'It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?' [["The reconstruction of the temple...was begun by Herod the Great early in 19 BC. The main part of the work was completed and consecrated in ten years, but other parts were still being carried out; in fact, the finishing touches were not put to the whole enterprise until AD 63, only seven years before its destruction. The forty-six years...are reckoned from the beginning of the reconstruction" (F. F. Bruce, "Gospel of John," page 76). "Forty-six years brings us to AD 27/28" (D. A. Carson, "Gospel According to John," page 184).]] (21) But He was speaking of the temple of His body [cf. 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19]. (22) So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this [cf. Luke 24:6-8; John 12:16; and 14:26]; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken [cf. Psalm 16:10; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; John 20:9; and Acts 13:30-37]. (23) Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover [cf. John 2:13], during the feast, many believed in His name [To believe in His name (cf. John 1:12) in the full sense includes believing in Him, believing all that is revealed about Him, and believing all that He says.], observing His signs which He was doing. [[It's somewhat surprising that John doesn't give any more information about these miraculous signs (cf. John 20:30, 31; 21:25). They were quite important, being the first miracles that Jesus worked in Jerusalem after He was anointed by the Spirit (cf. John 1:33; 2:11). Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not mention Jesus' early ministry in Jerusalem, His early ministry in Judea (John 3:22-4:3), or His successful ministry among the Samaritans (John 4:3-42). Thank God for the Gospel of John (and for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke)!

As the following verses show, Jesus wasn't always impressed when people "believed in His name" after "observing the signs He was doing" (or for other reasons). The faith of many was very shallow; some of them weren't true believers, and some of them never became true believers. Some didn't become disciples; others became disciples but didn't continue with Christ (cf., e.g., John 6:60-66; 8:31-36; and Matt. 13:1-23). Many saw the miraculous signs, but they didn't get the message of the signs; the signs were intended to point people to Christ and to the salvation that only He can give (cf., e.g., John 6:26). Jesus said that people should believe in Him because of the works (signs) that He did, works that the Father had given Him to do, works that had been prophesied in the Old Testament (cf. John 5:36; 10:37, 38; and 14:11), but He clearly required something more than a shallow, superficial, temporary faith - He required repentance and a total, abiding faith-commitment from the heart.]] (24) But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, (25) and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man [cf., e.g., John 6:64; Acts 1:24; and 15:8]." [[The way these two verses are worded we could understand John to say that Jesus knew that none of these Jews who believed in His name would press on to really become true believers/disciples. It seems much more likely, however, that Jesus knew that some/many of them were in that category. Such people were contrasted with Jesus' disciples, who were believers (cf., e.g., John 2:11). Apparently Jesus could have said to this group that believed in His name after seeing the signs that He did what He said to another group of Jews on a later occasion that had come to believe in Him (John 8:30). John 8:31, 32 record what He said to them, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free." The next verse (John 3:1) and the following verses go on to speak of Nicodemus. As 3:2 shows he is an example of a Jew who had been convinced by the signs that Jesus was a man of God. John 19:29 seems sufficient to show that Nicodemus did press on to become a true Christian.]]

We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John 1:19-4:54 in Part 3, starting with John chapter 3.

Copyright by Karl Kemp Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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