John 1:47
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit."
A High EulogiumJohn Brown, D. D., Lange.John 1:47
An Israelite IndeedA. Fletcher, D. D.John 1:47
An Israelite IndeedJohn Wesley John 1:47
Christian SimplicityJohn Wesly.John 1:47
NathanaelE. Paxton Hood.John 1:47
Of Sincerity Toward God and ManAbp. Tillotson.John 1:47
The Israelite Indeed IsJohn Wesly.John 1:47
The True Israelite IsJ. A. Alexander, D. D.John 1:47
Andrew and JohnT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 1:35-51
John and JesusJohn 1:35-51
Small BeginningsA. F. Schauffler.John 1:35-51
The Apostle AndrewD. Thomas, D. D.John 1:35-51
The Beginnings of the Christian ChurchBishop Ryle.John 1:35-51
The Early DisciplesSermons by the Monday ClubJohn 1:35-51
The First DiscipleA. Raleigh, D. D.John 1:35-51
The First Disciples, or Sons of the LightT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 1:35-51
The First Five DisciplesC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:35-51
The First Five DisciplesJ. Spence, D. D.John 1:35-51
The First Utterances of the WordJ. W. Burn.John 1:35-51
The Law of Christian IncreaseP. H. Hoge.John 1:35-51
The Redeemer Choosing DisciplesSchleiermacher.John 1:35-51
The Soul Sought by Christ, and Seeking HimBp. Huntington.John 1:35-51
Three Ways to the LordK. Gerok, D. D.John 1:35-51
Bringing Companions to ChristJohn 1:44-51
Finding Christ the Great TreasureT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.John 1:44-51
How to Learn the Excellence of ChristT. Islip.John 1:44-51
Judge not a Man by His SurroundingsG. F. Green.John 1:44-51
NathanaelD. Thomas, D. D.John 1:44-51
NathanaelJ. Hambleton, M. A.John 1:44-51
NathanaelW. Jay.John 1:44-51
Nathanael and BartholomewJohn N. Norton.John 1:44-51
Nathanael's PrejudiceA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:44-51
Nathanael's Prejudice and ConfirmationA. Beith, D. D.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelA. Maclaren, D. D.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelC. H. Spurgeon.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelBp. Ryle.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelA. Beith, D. D.John 1:44-51
Philip and NathanaelH. Melvill, B. D.John 1:44-51
Testimony BearingH. O. Mackey.John 1:44-51
The Character of NathanaelJ. Leifchild, D. D.John 1:44-51
The Communicativeness of the GospelDr. Lake.John 1:44-51
The Power of PrejudiceJohn N. Norton.John 1:44-51
The Power of PrejudiceH. G. Trumbull, D. D.John 1:44-51
The Preaching of PhilipLange.John 1:44-51
The Proverbial Disrepute of NazarethS. S. TimesJohn 1:44-51
We have FoundPascal.John 1:44-51
Jesus and NathanaelD. Young John 1:45-51
The Candid DiscipleJ.R. Thomson John 1:45-51
The Guileless InquirerB. Thomas John 1:45-51
This was the proper counsel for Philip to give to Nathanael, and forevery true friend to give to the man whose mind is possessed with incredulity or with prejudice regarding Christ and his claims. Reasoning is very well; but an appeal to personal experience is in many cases far better. Many a man will draw a just inference for himself, which he will not allow another man to draw for him. In giving this advice Philip showed his knowledge of human nature.

I. COME AND SEE WHAT CHRIST IS. There are many persons who are indifferent to the Saviour only because they do not know him - because he is to them nothing but a name.

1. Study the record of his earthly ministry, and you will find that his character and life possess a peerless interest. Few have really read and studied the four Gospels without feeling themselves brought into contact with a Being altogether unrivalled in human history for qualities of the spiritual nature, for profundity of moral teaching, for self-sacrificing benevolence. And many have, by such study, been brought under a spell for which no ordinary principles could account, and have felt, not only that no personage in human history can rank with Christ, but that none cart even be compared with him.

2. Ponder the character, the claims, the acknowledged work, of Christ, and you will be convinced of his Divine nature and authority. Men who judge of him by hearsay, or by their own preconceptions, may think of Jesus as of an ordinary man; but this is not the case with those who "come and see," who allow him to make his own impression upon their minds. Such are found exclaiming, with the officers, "Never man spake like this Man!" with the disciples, "What manner of Man is this!" with Peter, "Thou art the Christ!" with this very Nathanael, to whom the words of the text were addressed, "Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel!" with the centurion at the Crucifixion, "Truly this was a righteous Man, this was the Son of God!"


1. This test - a very reasonable one - may be applied in individual cases. What did Christ effect for Saul of Tarsus? Did he not change him from a zealous and narrow formalist into a man whose name has become the synonym for spirituality of religion, for breadth and catholicity of doctrine, for grandeur of plan and of hope with regard to this ransomed humanity? Did he not find Augustine a wilful and pleasure-seeking young man, who almost broke a pious mother's heart? and did he not transform him into a penitent, a saint, a mighty theologian, a holy power in the realm of human thought? What did Christ do for Luther? He visited him when he was depressed and hopeless because of the conscience of sin, spoke to him the word of peace, called and strengthened him to become the Reformer of half Christendom, the founder of an epoch of light and liberty for mankind. Such instances, to be found in the annals of the illustrious and influential among men, might be multiplied. But it is not only over the great and famous that the Divine Jesus has exercised his power. Among the poorest, the meanest, the feeblest, nay, the vilest, he has proved himself to be the Friend of sinners and the Brother of man. There is no circle of society in any Christian land where evidences of this kind do not abound. You need not go far to see what the Lord Christ can do; this you may learn at your own doors, and every day.

2. But the educated and well informed have within their reach a wider range of proof. The history of Christendom is written in a vast, an open book - a book which the intelligent, and those capable of taking a wide survey of human affairs, are at liberty to read. Secular historians have traced the influence of Christianity upon society, upon the code of morals, upon slavery, upon war, upon the position of woman in society, upon the education of the young, upon the treatment of the poor, the sick, the afflicted. No doubt, exaggeration has often distinguished the treatment of these matters by Christian advocates. Yet, in all fairness and candour, it must be admitted that a contrast between unchristian and Christian society yields results immensely in favour of our religion. Christ has been the chief Benefactor of the human race, has done more than any beside to ameliorate and to improve the conditions and to brighten the prospects of mankind.

III. COME AND SEE WHAT CHRIST WILL DO FOR YOU. This is not a matter of speculation, but of practical moment and interest. It is well to form a just estimate of the character, the mission, the work, of the Son of God. But it is better to take the benefit which he offers to every believing hearer of his gospel.

1. See whether he can give you peace of conscience, by securing to you the pardon of sin, and acceptance with the God against whom you have sinned. This he professes to do; this multitudes will assure you he has done for them. If this is with you an urgent need, will it not be reasonable to put Christ to that test of experience to which he invites you?

2. See whether he can supply you with the highest law and the most sacred motive for the moral life. All human standards are imperfect, and no human principle is sufficient to ensure obedience. What no other can offer, the Saviour claims to impart, and it is reasonable to test his ability and his willingness to fulfil his promises.

3. See whether his fellowship and friendship can uphold and cheer you amidst the sorrows, temptations, and uncertainties of this earthly life. He says, "My grace is sufficient for you." Verify the assertion in your own experience. If he cannot supply this want, certain it is that none else can do so.

4. See whether the Lord Christ can vanquish death for you, and give you the assurance of a blessed immortality. Apart from him, the future is very dark; try his power to illumine that darkness with rays of heavenly light.


1. Defenders and promulgators of Christianity will do well to address to their fellow men the invitation Philip addressed to Nathanael. If they cannot always answer men's cavils and objections, and satisfy men's intellectual difficulties, they can bring men face to face with Christ himself, and leave the interview to produce its own effects. Let men be encouraged to come, to see, and to judge for themselves.

2. The undecided hearers of the gospel may well accept the challenge here given. Why should they shrink from it? It is an opportunity which should not be neglected, an invitation which should not he refused. - T.

Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.
A professor of religion who is what he appears to be, and appears to be what he is.


1. Regeneracy; newness of heart. This its foundation.

2. An earnest desire and endeavour to know the truth: at first-hand; not through a priest.

3. A deliberate purpose and steady intention to please God in everything. The Pharisee prays to get popular applause; Nathanael retires under a fig-tree.

4. Uniformity and consistency. The heart answers to the life, the life to the heart.


1. It is estimable, and is held in esteem. Without it a man is a worthless character, however otherwise distinguished.

2. It is pleasing to God.

3. It brings peace to its possessor.

4. It secures hereafter its great and everlasting reward.

(John Brown, D. D.)One of the rare commendatory words of Christ spoken on a most rare occasion.

1. Bestowed upon a man who spoke contemptuously of his birthplace; was prepossessed against himself; had, immediately after an hour of earnest devotion, fallen again under a prejudice.

2. Was bestowed for the very reason that He was without guile.


I. A MAN WHOSE HEART IS TRUE TO GOD. Our hearts are so —

1. When we seek our happiness in Him, and not in the gratification of the "desire of the flesh," etc.

2. When we find our happiness in Him, i.e, when the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.

3. When this love is persistent and permanent.

II. A MAN WHOSE WORDS ARE SUITABLE THERETO. When there is no guile in the heart there is none on the lips. In this is implied —

1. Veracity — speaking the truth from the heart; the putting away of all wilful lying in every kind and degree. Roman casuists distinguish lies into —(1) Malicious — such as are told with a desire to hurt. These no one defends.(2) Harmless — such as are supposed to do neither good nor harm. Men excuse these; but no Nathanael can speak them, and Paul condemns them (Ephesians 4:25).(3) Officious — those spoken with a design to do good. About these there has been much controversy. Some maintain them to be innocent, and even meritorious. But Paul teaches (Romans 3:7, 8) —

(a)That the good effect of a lie is no excuse for it.

(b)That it is a mere slander upon Christians to say they teach men to do evil that good may come.

(c)That if any teach this or do it their damnation is just: which is all applicable to this kind of lies.

2. Sincerity. As veracity is opposite to lying, so is sincerity to cunning. Cunning is confounded with wisdom. But wisdom is the faculty of discerning the best ends and the fittest means of attaining them. The two great means of cunning are —(1) Simulation — the seeming to be what we are not;(2) dissimulatlon — the seeming not to be what we are. It we are engaged with artful men, we may use silence and reserve without cunning; but we may not speak the truth in order to deceive. This is perhaps not inconsistent with veracity, but it is with sincerity. When we speak at all, we should speak the naked truth from the heart.

3. This is properly termed simplicity, which implies —(1) Not only the speaking no known falsehood;(2) not on!y designedly deceiving no one; but(3) speaking plainly and artlessly to every one m a childlike though not in a childish manner. This excludes the using of empty compliments.

4. This sincerity and simplicity has an influence on the whole behaviour which, though it be far enough remote from clownishness, ill-breeding, roughness, and surliness, is plain and free from disguise. Conclusion: This, then, is real solid virtue. Not truth alone, nor conformity with truth; not love alone, but truth and love united.

(John Wesly.)

Several bishops once asked Bishop Atterbury: "Why will you not suffer your servants to deny you when you do not care to see company? It is not a lie for them to say your lordship is not at home; for it deceives no one: every one knows it means only, your lordship is busy." He replied: "My lords, if it is (which I doubt) consistent with sincerity, yet I am sure it is not consistent with that simplicity which becomes a Christian bishop.

(John Wesly.)


1. He is a converted character.

2. His profession and his conduct agree.

3. His words and his heart harmonize.

4. He is known by his zeal for God's glory.

5. He is distinguished by his compassion for souls.


1. To his family.

2. To the sphere in which he moves, whether high or low.

3. To the Church of Christ.

4. To himself.


1. "Behold an Israelite indeed." "Mark the perfect man," etc.

2. Admire him — admire Christ in him.

3. Be thankful for him.

4. Imitate him in life.

5. Rejoice in his blessedness in heaven.

(A. Fletcher, D. D.)

I. A TRUE SON OF ABRAHAM. Nathanael was so called not because he was a descendant of Abraham, but because he resembled the patriarch in his faith and piety. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed." "They who are of faith are the children of Abraham." Faith, then, is the characteristic of the true Israelite. Nathanael was ready to believe. Faith is the primary virtue of the Christian life.

II. IN COVENANT WITH GOD. The Jews were ever ready to boast of this, but the Baptist and our Lord corrected them. Whoever cordially and unreservedly takes God for his God, Christ for his Redeemer, the Holy Spirit for his Sanctifier, is in covenant with God.

III. A WORSHIPPER OF THE TRUE GOD. All other nations worshipped idols. Every true Israelite is a temple of God. From the altar of his heart he offers the incense of sincerity and affection. To God he gives the best of his services. The worship of God is not formal and burdensome, but delightful. He shows his sincerity also by his secret worship.


V. HAS THE PROMISE OF AN INHERITANCE, only not an earthly, but a heavenly. Conclusion:

1. The conduct of Philip must be highly approved, and should be imitated.

2. Although good men are subject to be prejudiced, when they have the opportunity of being better instructed the prejudices give way to cordial attachment.

3. Our Lord is the witness of every action of our lives, and especially of every exercise of devotion.

4. Sincerity in religion is essential.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

I. TOWARD GOD. Our piety is, then, sincere —

1. When the chief reasons and predominant motives are religious. A religious or rational motive is that which regards God and another world in opposition to men and present temporal advantages.

2. When it is rooted in the heart, and is a living principle within us.

3. When men are religious in secret as well as in public.

4. When there is a constant tenor of goodness in the general course of fife.

5. When our obedience to God is uniform and universal.

6. When it holds out against persecution and the fiery trial.

II. TOWARDS MAN; and so it signifies a simplicity of mind and manners in our conversation and carriage towards each other; singleness of heart discovering itself in honest openness; speaking as we think, performing what we promise, and being what we seem to be.

III. Conclusion. Let us be sincere in our religion, never making use of it to serve any base or unworthy ends; and be straightforward in speech and conduct in our intercourse with men. To this end the following considerations are offered: —

1. That sincerity is the highest commendation and the very best character that can be given of any man (Joshua 24:14; 1 Chronicles 19:17; Psalm 15:1, 2; Psalm 32:2).

2. That this virtue is rare.

3. That the want of it will quite spoil the virtue and acceptance of our piety and deprive us of its reward.

4. Insincerity is a vain and foolish thing. It is designed to cheat others; it really deceives ourselves.

5. Truth and reality have all the advantages of appearance, and many more. It is hard to act a part long. A dissembler must be always on his guard. Insincerity is very troublesome to manage.

6. That it is not worth while to dissemble, considering the shortness and uncertainty of our lives.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

Finest paintings or portraits are those which fill the eye and fix it by their natural unadorned simplicity; in which there is nothing superfluous, nothing to call the attention away from the distinctly defined character marked in the features. Inferior courtly artists, such as Lawrence, spend much time in haberdashery, in dress, in attitude, in the studious introduction of the scenery in the background. Vandyke, Velasquez, Reynolds, care usually only for feature, form, character. We have such a portrait here. It arrests us. "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" one of the first and foremost of the little group in which the human manifestation of the Church had its origin.

I. I would make some preliminary remarks on the first impressions given to us by this story and character of Nathanael.

1. In spite of the high eulogy of our Lord, I cannot but say what a bad impression in fact he makes upon us at first. He seems to come before us as a narrow mind, a mind influenced by prejudices. Qualities are mixed in all, even as a beech has beautiful qualities and grave defects — it is very graceful, but it is more subject to the worm, it has little strength, and it shrinks. Let us do justice, even often, to the narrow mind. If it cannot receive us, let us receive it; if it will not contain us, let us retain it. Let us, whenever we can, form affectionate sentiments of nations, of communities, of men; if they are true, you only do them justice; and, if they are false, though your opinion does not alter and make them lovely, at least you are the more lovely for holding such sentiments. Being with Jesus ought to enlarge the most narrow mind: it enlarged Nathanael's, he was certainly narrow.

2. Preliminary remark. It is obvious that Christ knows some who do not know Him. "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee."

II. But it is time we turn from these merely negative, from what some may regard as, at best, these doubtful aspects of the character of Nathanael, to the positive encomium of our Lord, I may even say the splendid designation of our Lord. That designation, I need not say, comprehends two developments of the man. An Israelite indeed — his Church character. That narrow suspiciousness which proclaimed the Jew, does not prevent his right here — an Israelite indeed; "for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly."

1. In the first place he was one, as we have in some measure already seen, who was not merely by birth a Jew; his heart was interested in the destiny of Israel; he had entered into the mystery of the Divine separation. Israel led a separated life, and that is the idea of consecrated life; "Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned amongst the nations"; that is the first idea of Israel — sequestration, separation.

2. The life beneath the fig-tree, whatever it might be, justifies the idea that he was an earnestly holy man. Our Lord's designation implies that he had some divinely secluded life, in which he realized the origin of the term Israel. That term is indeed somewhat dark, but it no doubt speaks of one who had seen God face to face — it had its origin when the name of Jacob was changed, and he was called Israel, in the night of Penieh Nathanael itself was a fine name; like so many of the Hebrew names it spoke of God. The affix, El — the hallowing, consecrating name of God — how often we find it in the Hebrew names! Eliab, God of my Father; Elizur, God my Rock; Shelumiel, God my Peace; Eliasaph, God will increase; Elishama, God will hear; Gamaliel, God will recompense; Pagiel, Son of God my Interceder; Nathanael, God hath given. So the Israelites, we may believe in no light spirit, honoured God in conferring names; and Peniel, or the Face of God, was the place where the old patriarch believed he had seen God face to face; and Nathanael had his Peniel.

3. Once more, this Israelite indeed was such, not only by his isolation, his sacred sequestration, his earnest wrestling, his Divine communions, but by his hopes. As I have said, promises can only avail to those who can use them. No Israelite indeed can rest in his heart without the fulfilment of the Divine promise that the Son shall have the "uttermost parts of the earth for His possession." Let us turn to the foundation of all this in his personal individual character. He was pure in heart, he was a guileless man, "in whom is no guile." He solved his prejudices against Christ by immediately going to Him. Oh that all hearts prejudiced against Christ would do so! This is magnanimity, this is conduct of which only a great and pure and guileless mind is capable. I think it was also to this temper of mind the splendid designation of our Lord was addressed. Behold he comes — the man incapable of doubting, and turning, and duplicity, and sophistry; incapable of attempting to make the white appear black, or the black white, or the worst best, or the best worst. Here is a man who can dare to be true. We are to believe that it was beneath the fig-tree's shade that such Divine purity and guilelessness were attained and studied.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

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