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On the Gospel of John, Part 5: The Focus of the Disciple
All four of our Christian gospels are written in a very simple and forthright manner, and they describe very little outside of the interactions of Yahshua Christ with His disciples and the people who He had encountered directly, along with some of His teachings and the miracles which He had done, and, of course, His final clash with the authorities. While sometimes they mention a few significant historical figures or events which relate to the birth and life of Christ or the beginning of His ministry, little is described of the world outside of the immediate Gospel narrative. So there are no deep explanations or descriptions of history or current events, nor is there much concern for the political, economic or social conditions in Judaea or the greater part of the Roman empire.
The disciples of Christ are focused upon Yahweh their God and their own immediate circumstances, putting their trust in God, and evidently they did not care if the king was bombing Syria, or invading Arabia. Now, that may seem like a sarcastic allusion to today’s circumstances, and it certainly is, but there were similar things happening at the time of John the Baptist, and the writers of the gospels and the portrayals of the characters involved in the ministry of Christ had no concern for them at all.
Before continuing, we must have a digression. Herod the Tetrarch, or Herod Antipas, appears often in all of the gospel accounts of the ministry of Christ. He is a son of the first Herod known from Matthew chapter 2 at the birth of Christ. He is also mentioned in Luke 3:1 as “tetrarch of Galilee”, where we also find another Herod, called Philip, who is called the tetrarch “of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis”. Herod Agrippa I is the Herod of Acts chapter 12. His son Herod Agrippa II is the Agrippa of Acts chapters 25 and 26, and the Bernice mentioned there is the younger Agrippa’s sister, and she is also alleged to have been his wife. The elder Herod Agrippa’s sister is the Herodias of the accounts of the slaying of John the Baptist in the synoptic gospels, and the Herod mentioned there is Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas and Herod Philip were half-brothers, and they had another half-brother, Artistobulus IV, who was the father of the elder Herod Agrippa. All three of the half-brothers had different mothers. Not all writers used the same names consistently for each Herod, so they are very difficult to follow through Scripture and history.
In antiquities, Book 18, chapter 5, Flavius Josephus describes how Herod the Tetrarch, called Antipas, had made arrangements to take to wife Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod, called Philip. This Herodias was the sister of yet another Herod, called Agrippa I. The Herods certainly kept it all in the family. Herod Agrippa I and Herodias were grandchildren of the first Herod (called ‘the Great’) with Mariamne the daughter of Alexandros the Hasmonaean, who was a nephew of the high priest Hyrcanus II. They were the children of their son Aristobulus IV and his wife Berenice, who was also his own first cousin. Herod Antipas and his half-brother Herod Philip were sons of that first Herod through two of his later wives, so they were also half-brothers to Aristobulus IV, the father of the wife they shared.
So Aristobulus IV was the son of Herod’s first wife, Mariamne (I). Herod Antipas was the son of Malthace, a Samaritan woman, and Herod Philip was the son of another Mariamne (II), a later wife of the first Herod, who was the daughter of Simon, an Alexandrian who was appointed by Herod as the high priest about 25 BC, some time after he slew the last of the surviving members of the dynasty of the Hasmonaeans.
[These Edomite rulers were the antecedents of the Jews in New York, not of the simple country folk in West Virginia. The Jews love to project these stereotypes, which should belong to themselves, onto simple and honest White Christians.]
So we read in Mark chapter 6, in reference to John the Baptist: “18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him [John], and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”
Returning to our sarcastic allusion to the bombing of Syria and the invasion of Arabia: at the same time that John the Baptist was publicly criticizing Herod Antipas for taking his brother Philip’s wife, Antipas was engaged in a war with Aretas, the king of Arabia Petraea, of which Petra was the principal city of the Nabataeans, but which was formerly known as the land of Edom in our Old Testament. There had been enmity between the two families, those of Herod and Aretas, since the days of the first Herod who had coveted that land for himself. Even Julius Caesar once sought to gain Arabia for Herod, but he could not, as Josephus recorded in Antiquities Book 16. However an agreement was reached between Herod Antipas and a later Aretas, which did not last long due to Herod’s incontinence. So we read in Antiquities, Book 18 (18.5.1 or 18:109):
109 About this time Aretas (the king of Arabia Petrea) and Herod had a quarrel, on the account following:– Herod the tetrarch [Antipas - WRF] had married the daughter of Aretas, and had lived with her a great while; but when he was once at Rome, he lodged with Herod [Philip - WRF], who was his brother, indeed, but not by the same mother; for this Herod was the son of the high priest Simon's daughter. 110 However, he fell in love with Herodias, this last Herod's wife, who was the daughter of Aristobulus their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great. This man ventured to talk to her about a marriage between them; which address, when she admitted, an agreement was made for her to change her habitation, and come to him as soon as he should return from Rome: one article of this marriage also was this, that he should divorce Aretas' daughter.
So the daughter of Aretas was jilted by Herod Antipas, who had taken to wife a woman who was already the wife of one half-brother, and who was also his niece by another half-brother. But then Josephus also mentions border disputes between the men, a few lines later where he wrote (18.5.1 or 18:113):
113 So Aretas made this the first occasion of his enmity between him and Herod, who had also some quarrel with him about their borders of the country of Gamalitis. So they raised armies on both sides, and prepared for war, and sent their generals to fight instead of themselves; 114 and, when they had joined battle, all Herod's army was destroyed by the treachery of some fugitives, who, though they were of the tetrarchy of Philip, joined with Aretas' army.
It is relatively clear in Josephus’ Antiquities that the Edomite Jews had lusted for control of all of the Middle East even in the days of Herod, and even while they were under the Roman Empire. Vitellius, who was a Roman consul and a later governor of Syria, had organized a retaliatory campaign against Aretas, but Josephus was unclear as to why it was called off, citing only some religious superstitions and an omen favorable to Aretas. It was not until 106 AD that Arabia Petrea was conquered by Rome and reduced to the status of a province.
Now Vitellius, who is Vitellius the Elder, the father of the later and short-lived emperor of that name, was consul in 34 AD, and governor of Syria in 35. Herod Philip died in 34 AD. However Herod Antipas had taken his brother Philip’s wife at least several years before the war with Aretas and the consulship of Vitellius. So when Herod Antipas is defeated by the Arabian, and loses his army, Flavius Josephus informs us of how that was viewed by the Judaeans, where he wrote in Antiquities of the Judaeans, Book 18 (18.5.2 or 18:116-119):
116 Now some of the Judaeans thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; 117 for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Judaeans to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness toward one another, and piety toward God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him [to God - WRF], if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. 118 Now, when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. 119 Accordingly he was sent as prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the citadel I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Judaeans had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him. [Brackets belong to the original unless noted.]
In the first century AD and throughout the century there were seditions and rebellions and much political instability in Judah. For examples, there was the tax rebellion of Judas the Galilean, whose followers endured for some decades, and the Sicarii, or robbers, were marauding through the countryside. Barabbas, known to us from the gospels, was said by Luke to have led a sedition. So Herod had reason to fear John as the possible leader of yet another sedition.
Here we see Josephus describe the ministry of John from his own perspective as a Pharisee. It is also telling, that Josephus was not an eye-witness to any of this, since he was not even born until about 37 AD. He is working from older histories and extant accounts. He was also, by his own reports, a good friend of Herod Agrippa II, and evidently had inside information on Herod’s family through that friendship. He even named one of his sons after Agrippa. With the view that these paragraphs from Josephus certainly are authentic, while it is not apparent that Josephus was a Christian even though elsewhere he had made sympathetic comments concerning Christ, his testimony here shows that John the Baptist must have remained of good report among the sect of the Pharisees long after his death since long after his death he was remembered in this fashion.
We mention all of this not only to elucidate the testimony of Josephus concerning John the Baptist, but also to help put the Gospel accounts into a greater historical perspective. The family of Herod was corrupt, and they were the instigators of many wars and other nefarious deeds, while they themselves were also always consistently transgressing the law. Of course, being Edomites the law was never meant for them in the first place, however claiming to be Judaeans, accepted by the Judaeans, and being of the so-called circumcision, they should have been expected to keep the law. So in spite of all of their other sins, when John the Baptist rebuked Herod Antipas he did not do it on the basis of politics or the economic or social condition in Judaea. Rather, he rebuked him on the basis of his signal manifest transgression, that he took his own brother’s wife.
The disciples of Christ displayed no care for politics or international relations, even if their own rulers were engaged in war with the surrounding countries, or if the political state of Judaea was unstable. The worldly Josephus described the death of John the Baptist in relation to these worldly things, but the apostles ignored them, focusing only on their own affairs. Furthermore, the apostles must have heard of the antics of Caligula, or the Roman wars of conquest in Britain under Claudius, which were raging all throughout the time of the events which are recorded in the Book of Acts. But Luke wrote not a word about them. This should be an example to us today, to focus on our own affairs, and not really care whether our evil government is invading Arabia or bombing Syria.
On the other hand, it is difficult to truly understand Scripture without an understanding of the broader historical context in which the gospel and ministry of Christ are set. So for that reason we are simply told to watch. And even watching, we will not really know what is about to happen, so we must be told to watch for a witness, rather than because we can possibly control our futures. Therefore we read in Mark chapter 13: “32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
We can have no control over what our rulers do, so why should we be concerned with their politics? If we think we have control, then we are obviously caught up in the satanic deception called democracy, and we have abandoned the knowledge of God. Yahweh is in control, and government is a punishment from God. Rather, White men need to repent and seek the things of Christ, which must come in the regulation of their own lives, being concerned with their own affairs, and their relationships with their own brethren. As Christ had said in John chapter 14 “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments”, and then in John chapter 15, “12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” and “17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.” Only through obedience to this shall we prevail, as Paul had said in his second epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 10: “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” The operative phrase there is “when your obedience is fulfilled.” But if we care more about what the President is doing, or about the bombing of Syria, then we have already lost the real war.
However there is even greater value in the testimony of Josephus concerning John the Baptist. Notice that Josephus had said of him that “others came in crowds about him”, that “they were very greatly moved by hearing his words”, that “Herod… feared… the great influence John had over the people”, and that the people “seemed ready to do anything he should advise”. This helps to corroborate the testimony of Matthew, Mark and Luke, who all attested similarly to what Luke wrote in chapter 20 of his gospel, where the high priests and scribes had challenged Christ and He answered them by asking: “4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?” So Luke explains: “5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? 6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.”
So John had great influence over the people, enough to strike fear in the hearts of their rulers, but he never used that influence to start a rebellion, and he himself was not consumed by what was going on in the world around him. Rather, he was isolated from the world around him, and he held to the mission which Scripture prophesied for him: to announce the coming of the Messiah, to “prepare ye the way of Yahweh”, as it says in Isaiah. For this, among other reasons, he was called by Christ the greatest of prophets.
This is another consideration which must be an example for us today, when we assess the fulfillment of the Elijah ministry. For Christ had said, concerning some future time as well as the time of John the Baptist, that “11… Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. [Christ said this after John was killed, speaking of the future] 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed…” The apostles recognized that He said this last part concerning John the Baptist. If we believe that we are in that last time when “Elias truly shall first come”, then we also must seek to adhere to and to fulfill what the scriptures say about that time, where Malachi prophesied that “he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”, something which can only be done through love for one’s brethren and this Christian Identity message. Christian Identity is the only sect of Christianity seeking to honestly fulfill that ministry. This we explained recently, in our commentary on the Prophecy of Malachi in Part 5, which was titled The Spirit of Elijah.
The first manifestation of the spirit of Elijah which was prophesied by Malachi, which is John the Baptist, prepared the way for the Lord in the manner which Malachi had prophesied for him, through baptism. The second manifestation of the spirit of Elijah is the Identity message, as that is the only message which can “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”. This must be the focus of the disciple. John’s great influence among the people was, ostensibly, an asset to his mission of announcing the coming of the Messiah, but he did so in very humble terms. He never tried to overthrow the ruling authorities. He challenged them based on their fruits and told them what he thought of them, but he did not challenge their rule.
So we last read in this first chapter of John’s gospel:
32 And Iohannes testified, saying that: “I observed the Spirit descending as a dove from heaven and it abode upon Him. 33 And I did not know Him, but He who has sent me to immerse in water, He said to me: ‘Upon whom you should see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, it is He who immerses in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have testified that He is the Son of Yahweh!” 35 The next day Iohannes again stood, and two from among the students, 36 and looking at Yahshua walking about he says: “Look, the Lamb of Yahweh!” 37 And his two students heard the saying and followed Yahshua.
Where we have already discussed these verses and the exclamation of John that Yahshua is the “Lamb of Yahweh”, we cited Isaiah chapter 53 and the prophesied healing of the people of Israel and forgiveness for their iniquities by a man “brought as a lamb to the slaughter”. We also cited the Passover lamb as a type for Christ in that same respect. Another Biblical parallel is the sacrifice of Isaac. Isaac, being the ancestor of the children of Israel, the entire people are in his loins. He was the heir to the promises, which were to be fulfilled through him. He being sacrificed, about to face certain death, was relieved and granted life when Yahweh provided a substitute on his behalf, the ram caught in the thicket. So we read in Genesis chapter 22: “13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” This too is a type for the coming of the Messiah, when all of Israel was once again facing death, being subject to death for their transgression of the law, and Yahweh provided Himself as a lamb, in the body of Christ, to die in their place.
John testified on several occasions that Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit, as Christ Himself also said in the first chapter of Acts. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is also a subject of prophecy. This we see in Joel chapter 2, in a Messianic prophecy cited by Peter in relation to the gift of the spirit, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 2, at the first Pentecost of the apostolic era. So we read from Joel: “27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh [meaning all the flesh of Israel]; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
Likewise we read in Isaiah chapter 44: “1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: 2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. 3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring…” So if Yahweh promised that “I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed”, and according to John, Yahshua Christ is “He who immerses in the Holy Spirit”, then Yahshua Christ is Yahweh, the Word made Flesh, who had made that promise in both Isaiah and Joel. Then in John chapter 14 He said, speaking of that Spirit which He called the Comforter, “18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you”, where we see that He is also one and the same with that Spirit.
With this we shall commence with our presentation of John chapter 1, where two of the students of John had heard his testimony and followed after Yahshua. The focus of these disciples was certainly on the message of John, since they actually acted on what he had proclaimed:
38 Then [א wants “Then”] Yahshua turning and looking at them following [P66 and C add “Him”] says to them “What do you seek?” And they said to Him “Rabbi,” (which is spoken, being translated, “Teacher”), “where do You abide?”
The Codex Sinaiticus (א) and the Majority Text have interpreted rather than translated, as we may distinguish ἑρμηνεύω (Strong’s # 2059) from μεθερμηνεύω (Strong’s # 3177). John used each of these words later in this passage.
The language throughout John, where he occasionally uses Hebrew words and then supplies Greek interpretations in parenthetical remarks, helps to prove that his gospel was originally written in Greek. If this gospel were based on some Hebrew original which was later translated into Greek, then phrases such as “which is spoken being translated” or “which is translated” would not appear at all, and Hebrew terms such as “rabbi”, “kephas” and “Messiah” would not be found in the Greek text. They would only have been translated naturally along with the rest of such an original text. Instead, John’s writing shows that the common speech of the original disciples may have been Hebrew, but his gospel was originally written in Greek.
While modern scholars argue that the people of Judaea spoke Aramaic rather than Hebrew, they contend with the apostles themselves, who explicitly referred to their language as Hebrew. Six times in his writing John called their language Hebrew, in John chapters 5 and 19 and in Revelation chapters 9 and 16. Likewise, Luke in chapter 23 of his gospel, and three times in Acts, in chapters 21, 22 and 26, had referred to the language of the Judaeans as the Hebrew tongue. Aramaic is mentioned in Ezra chapter 4 and in chapter 2 of the book of Daniel, where the King James Version calls it Syrian or Syriack. It may be true, as it is evident in Nehemiah chapter 8, that the sayings of the law had to be interpreted for the people, which by itself can indicate that their dialect had changed, but the apostles nevertheless referred to their language as Hebrew, and we should trust that they themselves knew better of the language that they were speaking than scholars now know today.
The disciples of John had asked Yahshua where He lived, and now He responds:
39 He says to them “you come and see.” Therefore [the MT wants “therefore”; the text follows P66, P75, א, A, B and C] they came and saw where He stays and they remained with Him that day. It was about the tenth hour.
The Codex Alexandrinus has “It was about the sixth hour”, or about noon. The tenth hour is about 4:00 PM. The counting of the hours began at sunrise.
The words stay and remain are from different tenses of the same verb, μένω (Strong’s # 3306). The first occurence is in the Present tense, and the second in the Aorist. As I have already explained earlier in this commentary, my translation endeavored to show the tense of verbs which John himself had used, even if we often see Present tense verbs where a past tense would be expected. So we have stay rather than stayed, and at the beginning of the verse He says rather than He said. I hope to have done this consistently throughout my translations, in spite of any consternation it may cause among English readers.
40 Andreas the brother of Simon Petros was one of the two of those hearing Iohannes and following Him. 41 He finds his own older brother Simon and says to him “We have found the Messiah!” (which is translated “Christ”.)
As we stated before, where John wrote “Messiah which is translated Christ”, he shows us that his gospel was originally written in Greek. Where the text says of Andrew that “he finds his own older brother”, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Majority Text have the word πρῶτος (Strong’s #’s 4412 & 4413) in the Nominative case, where the phrase would be read “first he finds his own brother”, which is the way that the King James Version has it. But our text follows the 3rd century papyri P66 and P75, and the Codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus, which all have the word πρῶτος in the Accusative case, πρῶτον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τὸν ἴδιον, making it part of the object of the verb and compelling us to read it as we also read ἴδιος, as an adjective modifying the noun for brother, since it agrees in case with the noun for brother. So here it is older, as Liddell & Scott explain in their definition for πρότερος at part B., I., describing such use as an adjective.
As we have already explained, the Israelites of Judaea, some of the Israelite Samaritans, and even Israelites of the ancient dispersions such as the Magi of Matthew chapter 2 were all anticipating the coming of the Messiah of Israel at this very time. So Andrew attests here that Yahshua is that Messiah, certainly understanding the implications of the proclamation of the Baptist, that He was the “Lamb of God”.
Here in verse 40, John the apostle informs us that Andrew was one of the two disciples who heard the testimony of John the Baptist and followed Christ, but he does not name the other of those two. That leads us to conclude that the other of the two was John himself. While John mentioned his own name five times in the Revelation, he never mentioned his own name in his gospel or his epistles, which I believe were written earlier than the Revelation. Otherwise, if the second of these men is not John himself, then John does not at all account for his own introduction to Christ, even though he is one of the sons of Zebedee, and the sons of Zebedee are already counted among the disciples of Christ in the opening verses of chapter 2. So with this we are confident in our conclusion, that the first two disciples of Christ were Andrew and John, the author of this gospel. John never named the second man because he was that second man. That is also how John can write an accurate first-hand account of these events. Now, still speaking of Andrew and Simon:
42 He led [A and the MT have “And he led”; the text follows P66, P75, א and B] him to Yahshua. Looking [P75 has “Then looking”; the text follows P66, א, A and B] at him Yahshua said: “You are Simon the son of Iohannes [A and the MT have “Ionas”, or “Jonah”; the text follows P66, P75, א and B]. You shall be called Kephas” (which is interpreted “a stone”).
Simon was called kephas, which is said to be from an Aramaic word for stone, and appears in the Old Testament only in Habbakuk 2:11 where it apparently relates to some part or feature of a timber, and is translated as beam in the King James Version. In the sense which it appears in Habbakuk, Gesenius says that kephas is equivalent to the Greek κάνθαρος, which is literally a dung-beetle but could also possibly refer to a knot in the wood. A verb which is spelled with the same letters as those of the noun in Habbakuk, כפס (or kphs, kephas), is said to mean to tie on page 678, in column A of a Dictionary of the Targums, Talmuds and Midrash, volume 1, which was published in New York and London in 1903. In any event, the New Testament writers equated kephas with πέτρος, which is in all certainty a stone. [CLICK HERE for links to both volumes of the cited dictionary.]
In our opinion, Simon was called this right from the beginning because Yahshua certainly knew beforehand just how stubborn he was going to be. The name Peter is merely a transliteration from a Greek word for stone, which is πέτρος. Many other versions write “Peter” here, which is ridiculous. however it is certain that the Roman Catholic Church favors the obfuscation of the difference between The Greek words πέτρος and πέτρα, stone and bedrock, which all those versions help to facilitate. It is also certain that John intended that πέτρος be understood literally, so we did not translate it as a name. To their credit, neither did the King James translators do that here. Paul refers to Simon in Greek as Kephas several times in his epistles, in both 1 Corinthians and Galatians, writing the Hebrew word in Greek letters. It seems to me that Paul used the Hebrew word affectionately, where more often in Galatians he called him Peter. However using Kephas, Paul also informs us with certainty that Christ meant to refer to him as a stone.
As for Peter’s stubborn nature, there were several times that he had to experience something three times before he understood or accepted it. First, after boasting that he would never forsake Christ, he was destined to deny Christ three times before realizing his own sinful nature, as it is recorded in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 26, Mark 13, Luke 22). Then after the resurrection, Peter was told three times by Christ to feed His sheep, and he seemed to become agitated with the repetition, as it is recorded in the final chapter of John. With this, Christ expressly elucidated Peter’s stubborn nature by telling him, in John chapter 21: “18 Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you girt yourself and walked about wherever you wished. But when you should grow old, you shall extend your hand, and another shall gird and bring you where you do not wish.” Finally, in Joppa at the home of Simon the Tanner, Peter received the vision of the sheet, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 10, and he was shown the same vision three times and still we read that “Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean”. Then when the men for whom the vision came to him had appeared, finally the Spirit instructed him explicitly to “get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” Another manifestation of his stubborn nature is found where Yahshua told Peter as they traveled in Galilee what things were to befall him, and Peter began to deny them, for which Yahshua called him “satan”, because he was speaking contrary to the will of God, imagining that he knew better. So it is apparent, that for this aspect of his nature, Simon was called Petros, or stone.
As another digression, to me there are few more obvious examples of the absolute incompetence of the pastors and commentators of the denominational churches than their descriptions of the selection of the apostles. For example, one judeotard organization, which calls itself Unity.org, wrote the following concerning Matthew 4:18-20: “How did Jesus know to call these particular fishermen? What did he see in these (apparent) strangers that told him they were ready to respond to his message? And why did Peter and Andrew leave the security of their lives so readily to follow a mysterious stranger?” This was apparently written by a clown who calls himself “Reverend Ed”, who could not really answer the questions that he posed.
Apparently Mr. Ed, as I would rather call him, because he is dumber than Balaam’s ass, has followed thousands, or even tens of thousands, of pastors before him, who read Matthew chapter 4 and have interpreted it without first processing any of what John informs us here in this chapter. The fishermen on the shores of Galilee knew to follow Christ because some of them, if not all of them, had already known Him, having heard the testimony of John where he announced Him as the Lamb of God, and those who heard it excitedly announced it to the others, who accepted their testimony – especially after the interaction between Yahshua and Nathanael, which is here in the passage that follows. These men were with Christ as he was in Judaea and before He returned to Galilee, immediately after He was baptized by John, and then we see here that He returned to Galilee with them and met their companions. So these things happened before Christ decided to begin his mission when He asked these same men to accompany Him. So now, after He becomes known to Andrew, John, and Simon Peter, we read:
43 The next day He desired to depart for Galilaia. Then he finds Philippos, and Yahshua says to him “Follow Me.” 44 And Philippos was from Bethsaida, from the city of Andreas and Petros.
The name Philip is a Greek name which means lover of horses. The name Andreas is also a Greek name, and means manly, being derived from the Greek word ἀνδρός, or man. Simon is derived from an old Hebrew name, Simeon. The name John, or Iohannes, is also Hebrew, meaning Yahweh gives graciously. Bethsaida is from a Hebrew term which means house of fish. While not all of these names are Greek, enough of them are to show that the families of the disciples had a heavy Greek influence on their culture.
Here we are amending the Christogenea New Testament to reflect the idea that it is much more likely to be Andrew who had found Philip. The text is ambiguous, and currently reads in a manner which portrays Christ as having found Philip, which we distinguished by capitalizing the pronouns. While that is possible, it is much more likely that Andrew, or perhaps Peter, had found Philip because he was from their own town and they already knew him. This is also more plausible, since there is no sentence division in the Greek where it says “he finds Philip”, but then immediately after it says “and Yahshua says to him...” and the fact that John provides a proper name at this point, Yahshua, indicates to us that the subject changes from the preceding verb. For this we have changed the punctuation of the entire sentence, departing from the punctuation found in the Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) which we had followed in our old reading.
The next verse also supports our change of opinion on this verse, as it becomes apparent that not only did Andrew, and perhaps also Peter, find Philip, but they also must have explained to him everything that had happened with John the Baptist, enough to make Philip understand who Yahshua was. While that is not explained here by John, it is nevertheless evident, since Christ asserts later on that He did not testify concerning Himself, and that is the pattern which is also evident throughout Scripture. So after Philip meets Yahshua:
45 Philippos finds Nathanael and says to him: “He whom Moses and the prophets had written about in the law we have found: Yahshua the son of Ioseph from Nazaret.”
So as we have asserted, Philip must have gotten that information from Andrew and Peter. It could not have been Yahshua who told him this, because as Yahshua is recorded as having said in John chapter 5: “31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” And as we have also already stated, the apostle John is present with them throughout these events. Although he does not mention himself here, he must be that second, unnamed, disciple who was with John the Baptist along with Andrew. So Nathanael, who bears a name which means gift of God (the Hebrew equivalent to Theodore), learns from Philip what Philip had learned from Andrew, John and Simon.
46 And [א wants “And”] Nathanael said to him: “Can anything good be from Nazaret?” Philippos says to him: “Come and see!”
Now we can only wonder about Nathanael’s skepticism concerning Nazareth. There is no mention of Nazareth in any of the profane literature until the writings of Julius Africanus in the early third century AD. While the town is mentioned in the writings of Justin Martyr and Origen before that, there is nothing which is descriptive enough to lead us to understand what it is that Nathanael means here.
But in writings attributed to Christian bishop Gregory Thaumaturgus or Gregory the Miracle-Worker, who was also known as Gregory of Neocaesarea, which was the capital of Pontus in Anatolia, writings which are deemed to be spurious, or at least dubious, in a work titled Twelve Topics on the Faith we find a line concerning Christ which reads: “He was brought up in Nazareth; but in divine fashion He sat among the doctors, and astonished them by a wisdom beyond His years, in respect of the capacities of His bodily life, as is recorded in the Gospel narrative.” This reference is to Christ as a youth, and what is marvelous to the author is the implication that Christ as a youth could have attained such an education in a place such as Nazareth. This leads us to believe that Nazareth may have been despised simply because it was rural, and perhaps its citizens were therefore seen as uncultured. This is the manner in which urban Jews look upon rural White Americans in places such as Appalachia today.
Most popular references cross-reference Matthew to Judges chapter 13 and an explicit statement concerning Samson, where he wrote concerning Joseph and the Christ child in chapter 2 of his gospel: “23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Some references also cross-reference that passage of Matthew to Isaiah 11:1 where it says “there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”, a Messianic prophecy which we shall discuss shortly. Those references to Isaiah 11:1 we consider to be correct. Whether the cross-reference to Judges is appropriate or not, and we think not, there always seems to have been confusion between the Judges-period sect of the Nazirites, to which Samson belonged, and the label Nazarene, as a person who lived in the much later town of Nazareth was called.
But regardless of whether or not we think Matthew was citing Judges chapter 13, or only Isaiah chapter 11, the confusion between the two meanings, if indeed it is confusion, is not at all new. The early 3rd century Christian writer and bishop of Carthage, Tertullian, said the following in Book IV, Chapter VIII of his work Against Marcion: “The Christ of the Creator had to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, on that very account, Nazerenes after Him. For we are they of whom it is written, ‘Her Nazarites were whiter than snow;’ even they who were once defiled with the stains of sin, and darkened with the clouds of ignorance. But to Christ the title Nazarene was destined to become a suitable one, from the hiding-place of His infancy, for which He went down and dwelt at Nazareth, to escape from Archelaus the son of Herod….” Tertullian was applying the famous line from chapter 4 (4:7) of Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations to Christians, something which we would also do. But he nevertheless confounded Nazirites and Nazarenes.
So where Paul of Tarsus was said to be “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes”, we made the following comments several years ago in our commentary on chapter 24 of the Book of Acts, although we will amend them slightly here:
These are the words of the orator brought to Paul’s trial by the Judaeans, where Paul is called “a leader of the sect of the Nazoraians”. This is nearly the same Greek word which appears in Josephus' account of Herod Agrippa I, where some years earlier, as Whiston translates it, he had “ordained that many of the Nazirites should have their heads shorn” (Antiquities 19:294 [19.6.1]). Agrippa I was king of Judaea from 41 to 44 AD, and the dominions were split up again after his death.
There are two different Greek words which are both said by Strong in his dictionary to mean “of Nazareth”: Ναζαρηνός (Strong’s # 3479), which is always Nazarene in the Christogenea New Testament, and Ναζωραῖος (Strong’s # 3480), which is always Nazoraian. While the two Greek forms of the word have the same meaning, the distinction between them was purposely maintained in our translation. The King James Version often translates either word as “of Nazareth”, and Ναζαρηνός may be the more proper of the two forms for that purpose. Thayer does not put “of Nazareth” in his definition for Ναζωραῖος. According to the Moulton-Geden Concordance to the Greek Testament, from which some manuscripts may differ, Ναζαρηνός is found in Mark 1:24, 10:47, 14:67, 16:6 and Luke 4:34 and 24:19, while Ναζωραῖος is found in Matthew 2:23 and 26:71, Luke 18:37, John 18:5 and 7, and 19:19 and Acts 2:22, 3:6, 4:10, 6:14, 22:8, 24:5, and 26:9. However as they are used throughout the New Testament, the two forms are clearly synonymous.
But in the manuscripts of Josephus, we find a third form, where the word is evidently spelled Ναζιραῖος. It is this form which is used in the Septuagint of the Old Testament Nazirites, the special priesthood ordained by Yahweh in Numbers chapter 6. However [according to both the Hatch and Redpath Concordance to the Septuagint and the BibleWorks version 8 software program] in the Septuagint Greek it only appears in the books of Judges, 1 Maccabees and Lamentations. In Numbers chapter 6 and elsewhere in the Septuagint the translators rendered the original Hebrew term literally, as he who has vowed or he taking a vow or even as consecrated ones, referring to one who has taken a vow of separation, or in other phrases similar to these.
Here it is evident that the sect of Christians was called Nazoraians by the Judaeans of the first century, as Josephus also referred to them in that one place describing the acts of Herod Agrippa I, which can only be a reference to Christians in Judaea. This usage does not refer to the Old Testament Nazirites, as the followers of Christ had little to do with the sort of vow taken by them, which is described in Numbers chapter 6. Rather, Christians were called Nazarenes (or Nazoraians) because they were followers of Yahshua the Nazoraian, or Jesus of Nazareth…
The first century Judaeans, those who rejected Christ, had apparently shunned the words for Christ and Christian, because if they had used them, then by that very use they would have been admitting that Yahshua was indeed the Anointed One, the expected Hebrew Messiah, as the Greek word for christ is the equivalent of the meaning of the Hebrew word for messiah.… So a Jew, if he was being true to his own beliefs – in spite of their error – cannot use the terms Chirst or Christian without admitting that Yahshua is the Messiah. First century Jews knew this, but modern Jews inform on themselves simply by using the terms.
The word Nazareth is derived from one of the Hebrew words for branch. Therefore the use of it in the New Testament, and the fact that Christ had lived there in His youth in order to properly acquire the name, certainly seems to be an allusion to the fulfillment in Christ of the Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah chapter 11 where we read: “1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”
The word branch in Isaiah 11:1 is the Hebrew word netser (Strong’s # 5342), from which the name of the town, Nazareth, was apparently derived. Other prophecies of Christ are found in Jeremiah and Zechariah, which refer to Him as The Branch, although they use a different Hebrew word, tsemach (Strong’s # 6780). But even with the use of a different word, the prophecies have the same force of meaning, and Christ, being called a Nazarene, indicates the fulfillment of those prophecies in Him.
So we read in Jeremiah chapter 23: “5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”
Then in Jeremiah chapter 33: “14 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.”
And again in Zechariah chapter 3: “8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.” And again in chapter 6: “12 And speak unto him [meaning Joshua], saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” The reference to the temple of the Lord has a double meaning, first as Joshua was high priest at the time the second temple was being built, and ultimately as another Joshua, Yahshua Christ, is the temple of Yahweh in the flesh. The high priest Joshua was a prophetic type for Christ in several respects.
Now we shall read a little further on in that prophecy of Isaiah, from where in chapter 11 in verse 1 we saw the first prophecy which said “there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”, we see that the theme continues in verse 10: “10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.”
Finally, we see once again in reference to Christ in the Revelation, first in chapter 5: “5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” And then in chapter 22: “16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”
Now from Isaiah 11:1 where it says “there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”, and from Isaiah 11:10 where it says “in that day there shall be a root of Jesse”, and from Jeremiah 23:5 where it says “I will raise unto David a righteous Branch”, and from Revelation 5:5 where Christ is called “the Root of David”, and finally, from Revelation 22:16 where Christ declares that “I am the root and the offspring of David”, we see that He must be God the Father as well as God the Son, because only the father of Adam could be the root of David and Jesse. This is yet another proof that Yahshua Christ is the incarnation of Yahweh God Himself.
Now Nathanael, informed of the coming of the Messiah by Philip, follows Philip’s beckoning to “Come and see”:
47 Yahshua saw Nathanael coming towards Him and He says about him: “Look! An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!” 48 Nathanael says to Him: “From where do You know me?” Yahshua replied and said to him: “Before Philippos called you, being under the fig tree I saw you.” 49 Nathanael replied [א adds “and said”, A and the MT “and says”; the text follows P66, P75, and B] to Him: “Rabbi! You are [P66 has “You are truly”, or “Indeed You are”] the Son of Yahweh! You are King of Israel!”
The word called is from an Aorist Infinitive form of the verb, so here is one example where it seemed quite difficult in English to maintain precisely the tense of the verb as John had written it. The word rendered as guile here is δόλος (Strong’s # 1388), which is most literally, according to Liddell & Scott, bait for catching fish, and therefore, any cunning contrivance for deceiving or catching, and generally, any trick or stratagem, or in the abstract, craft, cunning, or treachery.
Israelites can have guile, as Peter warned in chapters 2 and 3 of his first epistle, and as David warned in the 34th Psalm. Paul also used it in reference to Israelites, where it is translated as deceit in the King James Version at Romans 1:29. There it is evident that guile is a characteristic acquired by the sinful. However every Israelite has a promise of attaining to what David had described in the 32nd Psalm: “1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” The spirit of God within the Adamic man cannot have guile, but men being in their fleshly nature often neglect the spirit to pursue the sinful ways of the flesh. Only the children of Israel have this promise, so the apostle Paul cited that Psalm in Romans chapter 8 and said “6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” For this same reason the apostle John wrote in chapter 2 of his first epistle: “1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”, and again in chapter 3: “9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” So long as one is racially pure, in the end sin will not be imputed to him.
Nathanael is convinced that Yahshua is the Christ simply because of the prescience which Christ had displayed to him with that single statement, which is also a sign of a pure heart, and Christ responds:
50 Yahshua replied and said to him: “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, you believe? Greater than these things you shall see.” 51 And He says to him: “Truly, truly I say to you: You shall see the heaven having been opened and the messengers of Yahweh ascending and descending before the Son of Man.”
The language invokes the experience of Jacob at Bethel: “12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” So we see that this too is tied to the immutable promises of God which were made to the patriarchs of the people of Israel, which Christ had come to fulfill.
Later, we see in the famous “last days” prophecy of Matthew chapter 24: “30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. ”
This is the day for which Nathanael waits, the prophecy of the end is the same as that which was made at the beginning, and we must wait with him. Until then, we must have that same focus which John the Baptist had, a man who could have easily been led off course, but who did not waver from his own purpose. So our purpose must also be placed in order before any carnal concerns relating to what is going on in the rest of the world, just as John the Baptist did not care to overthrow Herod, did not care to lead a rebellion, and as the apostles did not care for the wars of the Jews or the Romans.