given or gift of God, one of our Lord's disciples, "of Cana in Galilee" ( John 21:2 ). He was "an Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile" ( John 1:47 John 1:48 ). His name occurs only in the Gospel of John, who in his list of the disciples never mentions Bartholomew, with whom he has consequently been identified. He was one of those to whom the Lord showed himself alive after his resurrection, at the Sea of Tiberias.
the gift of God
(gift of God ), a disciple of Jesus Christ, concerning whom, under that name at least, we learn from Scripture little more than his birthplace, Cana of Galilee, ( John 21:2 ) and his simple, truthful character. ( John 1:47 ) The name does not occur in the first three Gospels; but it is commonly believed that Nathanael and Bartholomew are the same person. The evidence for that belief is as follows: St, John who twice mentions Nathanael, never introduces the name of Bartholomew at all. St. Matthew, ( Matthew 10:3 ) St. Mark, ( Mark 3:18 ) and St. Luke, ( Luke 8:14 ) all speak of Bartholomew but never of Nathanael. If was Philip who first brought Nathanael to Jesus, just as Andrew had brought his brother Simon.
(1) One of the "captains over thousands" who furnished the Levites with much cattle for Josiah's Passover (1 Esdras 1:9) equals "Nethanel" of 2 Chronicles 35:9.
(2) (Nathanaelos, Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus omit):
One of the priests who had married a "strange wife" (1 Esdras 9:22) equals "Nethanel" of Ezra 10:22.
(3) An ancestor of Judith (Judith 8:1).
(4) One of the Twelve Apostles. See next article.
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(nethan'el, "God has given"; Nathanael):
Nathanael, who was probably a fisherman, belonged to Cana in Galilee (John 21:2). According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), Nathanael was the same as Simon, the son of Cleopas, and was one of the Twelve. He was among those who met and conversed with Jesus during the preaching of John the Baptist at Bethany beyond Jordan (compare John 1:28). From the manner of the invitation extended to him by Philip (John 1:45), it is evident that Nathanael was well versed in ancient Scripture, and that in him also the preaching of John had aroused a certain expectancy. His reply to Philip, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46), was prompted, not by any ill repute of the place, but by its petty insignificance and familiarity in Nathanael's eyes. To this question Philip made no direct answer, but replied, "Come and see." It was the answer best fitted to the man and the occasion; it appealed to Nathanael's fair-mindedness and sincerity of purpose. He responded nobly to the call, and on approaching Jesus was received with the words: "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (John 1:47). It was a tribute to that singleness of heart which enabled him to overcome his initial prejudice. The same candor and openness distinguished the after-interview of Nathanael with Jesus, as is evident by his question, "Whence knowest thou me?" (John 1:48). The reply of Jesus was not what he expected. It concerned the time he had spent under the fig tree, kneeling, no doubt, in silent prayer and communion with God, and brought to mind all the sacred hopes and aspirations of that hour. It taught him that here was One who read on the instant the inmost secrets of his heart, and was Himself the ideal for whom he was seeking; and it drew from him the confession, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art King of Israel" (John 1:49).
Although Nathanael is mentioned by name only once again in the New Testament, where he is one of the seven who witnessed the appearance of the risen Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:2), it is evident that the connection and companionship of Nathanael with Jesus must have been much closer than those two incidents would lead us to suppose. Accordingly, attempts have been made to identify him with other New Testament characters, the most commonly accepted being Bartholomew (compare BARTHOLOMEW). The principal arguments in support of this identification are:
(2) in the Synoptists, Philip is closely connected with Bartholomew (compare lists of the apostles), and in John with Nathaniel (compare John 1:45);
(3) the fact that most of the other apostles bear two names. Arguments are also adduced to identify him wit h Simon the Cananean (compare SIMON). Nathanael has also been identified with Matthew and Mattbias (based on the similarity of name-meanings), with John the son of Zebedee, with Stephen, and even with Paul.
C. M. Kerr
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