Devotional Readings, M'Cheyne Bible Reading Notes

John 1 – In the Beginning…

I’m breaking the blogger rules posting too many times. But I do love the reading of John 1. I was just imagining the apostle John, saying and teaching this history to perhaps the Churches he writes to listed in the second chapter of Revelation we read earlier.

Listen to the audio.

We again have confirmation of just what the Old Testament is about:

John 1:45  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

And the story of Nathanael reminds me the words from Revelation 2:

Revelation 2:2  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience……

Joh 1:47  Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

Joh 1:48  Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

Joh 1:49  Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Joh 1:50  Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

Joh 1:51  And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Ever wonder what Jesus saw Nathanael doing under the fig tree…was he reading, praying or what? Does it have something to do with having “no guile”?

behold an Israelite indeed! a son of Israel, as the Syriac and Persic versions read; a true son of Jacob’s; an honest, plain hearted man, like him; one that was an Israelite at heart; inwardly so; not one after the flesh only, but after the Spirit; see Rom 2:28; and which was a rare thing at that time; and therefore a note of admiration is prefixed to it; for all were not Israel, that were of Israel; and indeed but a very few then: and so, בן ישראל, “a son of Israel”, and ישראל גמור, “a perfect Israelite”, are (s) said of such who have regard to the articles of the Jewish faith, though not even of the seed of Israel: it is added,

in whom there is no guile; not that he was without sin; nor is this said of him; nor was he in such sense without guile, as Christ himself was; but guile was not a governing sin in him: the course of his life, and conversation, was with great integrity, and uprightness, and without any prevailing hypocrisy and deceit, either to God, or men. This Christ said to show how much such a character is approved by him; and that he knew the secrets of men’s hearts, and the inward frames of their minds, (Gill)

John 1:48

Nathanael saith unto him, whence knowest thou me?…. This he said as one surprised, that he, who was a stranger to him, should hit upon his general character, and describe the internal state and frame of his soul: this was more surprising to him, than if he had called him by his name Nathanael, as he did Simon; or had said what was the place, of his abode; Cana of Galilee; since this ordinarily was only to be observed, and learned, from a long and familiar acquaintance and conversation: by Nathanael’s reply, it looks as if he had no doubt, or fears, about the character Christ gave him; but rather, that he believed it, as every good man must be conscious to himself of his own integrity; only it was amazing to him, how he should know it:

Jesus answered and said unto him; in order to satisfy him, how he could know this inward temper of his mind, and to give him some undeniable proofs of his omniscience, which he himself must acknowledge, being such as none but an all seeing eye could discover:

before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee; in which words Christ gives two instances of his omniscience; the one is, that he knew Philip had called him; he was privy to all that passed between them, though they were alone, and the conversation was had in the most private manner. Christ knew what an account Philip had given of him, and what objection Nathanael had made; and what an invitation Philip had given him to go along with him to Christ, and judge for himself; which is here meant by calling him, and with which he complied: and the other is, that he saw him under the fig tree before that: he was sitting under it, as men in those countries used to do; see Mic 4:4, where he might be reading the Scriptures, and meditating upon them; and if, as some observe, he was reading, and thinking upon Jacob’s dream, concerning the ladder which reached from earth to heaven, and on which he saw the angels of God ascending and descending, the words of Christ in Joh 1:51 must strike him with fresh surprise, and give him another convincing proof of his omniscience: or he might be praying here in secret, and so acted a different part from the generality, of religious men of that nation, who chose to pray in synagogues, and corners of the streets, that they might be seen; and likewise proved him to be what Christ had said of him, a true and rare Israelite, without guile and hypocrisy, which were so visible and prevailing among others. It was usual with the doctors to read, and study in the law, under fig trees, and sometimes, though rarely, to pray there. It is said (t),

“R. Jacob, and his companions, were “sitting”, studying in the law, תחות חדא תאינה, “under a certain fig tree”.

And the rule they give about praying, on, or under one, is thus (u):

“he that prays on the top of an olive tree, or on the top of a “fig tree”, or on any other trees, must come down, and “pray below”.

It is said of Nathanael, in the Syriac dictionary (x); that his mother laid him under a fig tree, when the infants were slain, i.e. at Bethlehem; which, if it could be depended upon, must be to Nathanael a surprising and undeniable proof of the deity of Christ, and of his being the true Messiah; since, at that time, he was an infant of days himself, and was the person Herod was seeking to destroy, as the Messiah, and king of the Jews,

(t) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 5. 3. Vid. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 16. 4. (u) Ib col. 1. & T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 16. 1. (x) Bar Bahluli apud Castell. Lexic. Polyglott. col. 8437.

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