John 12:21

21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.”

John 12:21 Meaning and Commentary

John 12:21

The same came therefore to Philip
Who might know him; they might have been some of his neighbours formerly, for that Philip's parents, though Jews, dwelt among Greeks, seems probable, from the name given to him, which is a Greek one; some have thought, that these Greeks were Syrophoenicians, who dwelt upon the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and were not far off from Galilee, and from Bethsaida, the native place of Philip, and is therefore mentioned as follows:

which was of Bethsaida of Galilee; (See Gill on John 1:44). This place may be interpreted, "the house of hunting", or "of fishing"; for it is not easy to say which it has its name from, since (adyu) , "saida", signifies both hunting and fishing: and seeing it was in or near the tribe of Naphtali, where was plenty of deer, and a wilderness was near it, where might be wild beasts, it might be so called from hunting: and as it was situated near the lake of Gennesaret, it might have its name from the fishing trade used in it; for Peter and Andrew, who were of it, were both fishermen: but it is yet more difficult to determine, whether this is the same with, or different from the Bethsaida Josephus F19 speaks of, as rebuilt by Philip, and called by him Julius, after the name of Caesar's daughter, as I have observed in (See Gill on Luke 9:10), (See Gill on John 1:44); since this was in Galilee, of which Herod Antipas was tetrarch, and where Philip could have no power to rebuild places, and change their names; and besides, the city, which he repaired, and called Julian, according to Josephus F20 was in lower Gaulonitis, and therefore must be different, unless that, or any part of it, can be thought to be the same with Galilee: wherefore the learned Reland F21 thinks, that there were two Bethsaidas, and which seems very probable; and it is likely, that this is here purposely called Bethsaida of Galilee, to distinguish it from the other, which, by some persons, might still be called Bethsaida, though it had got a new name. Moreover, this Bethsaida is mentioned in other places along with Capernaum and Chorazin, ( Matthew 11:21 Matthew 11:23 ) , which were in Galilee. And Epiphanius says F23, that Bethsaida and Capernaum were not far distant one from another: and according to Jerom F24, Chorazin was but two miles from Capernaum; and who elsewhere says F25, that Capernaum, Tiberias, Bethsaida, and Chorazin, were situated on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret. It is said to be fifty six miles from Jerusalem:

and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus;
that is, they entreated him, that he would introduce them into the company of Jesus; they wanted to be admitted into his presence, to have some discourse and conversation with him; and what might make them the more desirous of it, was the miracle he had lately wrought in raising Lazarus from the dead; as also the uncommon manner of his entering into Jerusalem, which they saw; and which shows, that it was not a bare sight of his person they meant, but the enjoyment of his company, for a while; and this favour they ask of Philip, with great respect to him, and in a very polite way, and yet with great sincerity, and strong affection, and earnest importunity; and was a pledge and presage of the future conversion of the Gentiles, when the Jews would be rejected. And it may be observed, that sensible sinners are very desirous of having a spiritual sight of Christ, of the glories of his person, and the fulness of his grace, and to see their interest in him, and to have communion and fellowship with him: he is all in all to them; no object so delightful, and satisfying to them as he is; and they never see him, but they receive something from him, and are made more like unto him.


F19 Antiqu. l. 18. c. 2. sect. 1. Ed. Hudson.
F20 De Bello. Jud. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 1.
F21 Palestina Illustrata, l. 3. p. 654, 655.
F23 Contra Haeres. l. 2. Haeres. 51.
F24 De locis Hebraicis, fol. 90. 6.
F25 Comment. in Esaiam, c. 9. 1.

John 12:21 In-Context

19 Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”
20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration
21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.”
22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory.
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