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                          "THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

                     The First Disciples (1:35-51)

INTRODUCTION

1. The ministry of John the Baptist was to prepare the way to Jesus...
   a. He came to bear witness of the Light, that all might believe - Jn
      1:6-8
   b. John indeed did bear witness of Jesus
      1) As the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world - Jn
         1:29
      2) As the Son of God who baptizes with the Holy Spirit - Jn 1:
         32-34

2. Due to the testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus began to attract
   disciples...
   a. The first disciples were those who had been disciples of John - Jn
      1:35-36
   b. Because of John's testimony, they began to follow Jesus - Jn 1:
      37-39

[In his gospel, John the apostle describes those who were "The First
Disciples", beginning with...]

I. TWO BROTHERS

   A. ANDREW...
      1. His background
         a. From Bethsaida of Galilee - cf. Jn 1:44
         b. Brother of Simon Peter, sons of Jonah - cf. Jn 1:42
         c. A fisherman - cf. Mt 4:18
      2. His call to discipleship and then apostleship
         a. He was first a disciple of John the Baptist, who pointed him
            to Jesus - Jn 1:35-40
            1) This happened in Bethabara beyond the Jordan - cf. Jn
               1:28
            2) Some think the other disciple was John the apostle
            3) He stayed with Jesus that day and then found his brother
               Simon - Jn 1:39-41
         b.  Later, Jesus officially called them to be His disciples 
             - Mt 4:18-20
            1) This occurred by the Sea of Galilee
            2) After John the Baptist was cast into prison - cf. Mt 4:12
         c. Then he was selected to be one of the twelve apostles - Mt
            10:2
            1) Pointed Jesus to the lad with five loaves and two fish 
               - Jn 6:8-9
            2) Assisted Philip in introducing some Greeks to Jesus - Jn
               12:20-22
            3) Among those who questioned Jesus about the destruction of
               Jerusalem - Mk 13:1-4
            4) Listed among those in Jerusalem after the ascension of
               Christ - Ac 1:12-13
      3. According to apocryphal (doubtful) literature (cf. ISBE)
         a. His mother was Joanna, and was of the tribe of Reuben
         b. Like Thomas, compelled to believe in the resurrection of
            Jesus by touching His feet
         c. Various sources attribute missionary work in Bithynia,
            Scythia, Greece, Ephesus
         d. Thought to have been crucified in Greece, on a cross in the
            form of an X
      -- A disciple first of John the Baptist, then of Jesus, reveals
         his spiritual character as one devoted to serving the will of
         God
         
   B. SIMON...
      1. His background
         a. From Bethsaida of Galilee - cf. Jn 1:44
         b. Brother of Andrew, sons of Jonah - cf. Jn 1:42
         c. A fisherman - cf. Mt 4:18
      2. His call to discipleship and then apostleship
         a. Introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew - Jn 1:40-42
            1) In Bethabara beyond the Jordan - cf. Jn 1:28
            2) Jesus named him "Cephas" (Aramaic), "Peter" (Greek),
               meaning "a rock"
         b. Later, Jesus officially called him to be His disciple
            1) As he was fishing by the Sea of Galilee - Lk 5:1-9
            2) Along with his partners, James and John - Lk 5:10-11
         c. Then he was selected to be one of the twelve apostles - Lk
            6:13-14
            1) His prominence evident by his name mentioned first in the
               lists
            2) Included among the "inner circle" - cf. Mt 17:1-2; 26:37
            3) Known for his denial of Christ, and subsequent
               restoration - cf. Jn 18:25; 21:15
            4) A key figure in the first half of the book of Acts
      3. According to apocryphal (doubtful) literature (cf. ISBE)
         a. Supposedly died a martyr at Rome about 67 AD
         b. Purported to have been crucified by Nero, upside down at his
            own request
      -- The wealth of information about Peter in the Gospels and Acts
         reveal the power of the gospel to transform a simple, flawed
         man into a true rock of discipleship

[With two brothers now as His disciples, Jesus next calls...]

II. TWO FRIENDS

   A. PHILIP...
      1. His background
         a. From Bethsaida of Galilee - Jn 1:44; 12:21
         b. Greek name suggests Greek connections - cf. also Jn 12:20-22
      2. His call to discipleship and then apostleship
         a. Initial call to follow Jesus occurs here in Bethabara beyond
            the Jordan - Jn 1:43-44
         b. He immediately tells Nathanael about Jesus - Jn 1:45-46
            1) That he has found Him of whom Moses and the prophets
               wrote
            2) Inviting skeptical Nathanael to "Come and see"
         c. Selected to be one of the twelve apostles - Lk 6:13-14
            1) Asked by Jesus about bread in feeding the 5,000 - Jn 6:5-7
            2) Approached by Greeks who wished to see Jesus - Jn 12:
               20-22
            3) It was he who asked, "Lord, show us the Father" - Jn 14:8
      3. According to apocryphal (doubtful) literature (cf. ISBE)
         a. Supposedly of the tribe of Zebulun
         b. Some identify him as the one who wanted to first bury his
            father - cf. Mt 8:21
         c. Spent latter part of his life in Phrygia, crucified there
      -- Philip's invitation for Nathanael to "Come and see" is an
         illustration of personal evangelism

   B. NATHANAEL...
      1. His background
         a. Of Cana in Galilee - Jn 21:2
         b. Probably a fisherman also - cf. Jn 21:1-3
      2. His call to discipleship, and (possibly) apostleship
         a. Approached by Philip, who told him of Jesus - Jn 1:45
         b. Nathanael was at first skeptical, because Jesus was of
            Nazareth - Jn 1:46
            1) "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"
            2) Cf. "Will the Christ come out of Galilee?" - Jn 7:41
            3) Cf. "Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of
               Galilee" - Jn 7:52
            -- People were not expecting anything good coming from
               Nazareth of Galilee
         c. Jesus convinces Nathanael - Jn 1:47-51
            1) Identifying him as an Israel in whom is no deceit
            2) Telling how He saw him under the fig tree before Philip
               called him
            -- Perhaps Jesus saw him engaged in private devotion
         d. Prompting Nathanael to proclaim...
            1) "Rabbi, You are the Son of God!" - cf. Mt 14:33
            2) "You are the King of Israel!" - cf. Mt 21:5; 27:11
            -- Nathanael is convinced that this teacher (Rabbi) is the
               Messiah
         e. Jesus Promises Nathanael greater blessings due to his faith
            1) Greater evidences of His Messiahship
            2) E.g., heaven opening and angels of God ascending and
               descending upon Him
               a) An allusion to Jacob's dream? - Gen 28:12
               b) An implication that Jesus was the way (ladder) to
                  heaven? - cf. Jn 14:6
               c) A reference to the day of Judgment, when Jesus comes
                  with His angels? - cf. Mt 16:27; 25:31; 26:64; 2 Th
                  1:7
            -- Note that Jesus refers to Himself as "the Son of Man"
               (which the gospel writers never do), emphasizing His 
               humility and humanity
         f. Nathanael may have been Bartholomew, one of the apostles 
            - cf. Mt 10:3; Lk 6:14
            1) Cf. Bartholomew's connection with Philip in the apostolic
               lists
            2) The synoptists never mention Nathanael, and John never
               mentions Bartholomew
            3) Bartholomew ("son of Ptolemy") is not a proper name;
               perhaps it was Nathanael
            -- Leading many to conclude they are one and the same
      3. According to apocryphal (doubtful) literature
         a. He was Simon, son of Cleopas (not Bartholomew), and one of
            the Twelve (ISBE)
         b. He was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana, to which he
            belonged (Fausett's Bible Dictionary)
      -- The call of Nathanael reveals more about Jesus than Nathanael
         himself (see below)

CONCLUSION

1. "The First Disciples" offered their testimony concerning Jesus...
   a. "We have found the Messiah" - Jn 1:41
   b. "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the
      prophets, wrote" - Jn 1:45
   c. "You are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!" - Jn 1:49
   -- As they continued to follow Jesus, their initial affirmations of
      faith would be confirmed

2. From His initial contacts with these new disciples, we learn...
   a. That Jesus knows the heart of men - cf. Jn 2:25
   b. That if we have faith in Jesus, it will be continually
      strengthened; the evidence will grow brighter and brighter - cf.
      Jn 1:50-51
   c. That if we believe his word, we shall yet see full proof that his
      word is true - cf. Jn 7:17

Does anyone wonder if Jesus is truly the Son of God, and that His words
are true?  Perhaps the best response one can offer to the honest skeptic
is the invitation offered by Philip:  "Come and see." 

Come to Jesus as revealed in the gospels and see who He is...!
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