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Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted, the Christ.)
This conclusion he had hastily drawn from what John had said to him, and from discoursing with Christ, before he saw his miracles; but he happened to be right in making the conclusion, although it was formed upon insufficient ground. Messiah signifies, in the Hebrew language, what Christ does in the Greek, The Anointed One.
42. And he brought him to Jesus, and when Jesus beheld him he said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation a stone.)
The original name of Peter was Simon ́; but Jesus denominated him Cephas, or a stone, because he regarded him as the stone or rock upon which his church was to be built. Peter is the Greek term for a stone, and therefore appears to be nothing more than the Syriac word Cephas, translated into that language. Matthew represents Jesus as giving Peter this name upon a different occasion, just after he had declared him to be the Messiah; Matt. xvi. 18, “I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” But Christ might repeat at that time the language with which he had addressed him on his first coming to him.
1. In entering upon this new history of Christ, we may observe with pleasure the evidence which it contains of being authentic. It is attributed to John, the companion of Christ, and one of the apostles; and we see, already, traces of its proceeding from his hand, or, at least, from that of a person who was the witness of the facts which he relates: for we find him noting the day on which particular events took place, and even the particular hour of the day: this method of writing would be natural to one who wrote in the circumstances of John, but is not the conduct of a man who writes a fiction. It is his interest to speak of events in general terms, and to avoid the detail of particular circumstances: for the more minutely he enters inta them, the more likely he is to afford evidence of the falsehood of what he writes. But the apostle, writing from memory, states the order and time in which things occur, as is usual with eye-witnesses. In such a writer we want nothing but fidelity in relating what he heard and saw: for, in that case, what he delivers must be true.
2. We have reason to rejoice in the account here given of the excellence of Christ's character, when he is repeatedly spoken of by his predecessor as the lamb of God. It is the testimony whichi John bears to the character of Jesus before he entered upon his public ministry; it is what is proved by every thing related of him, during his appearance in the world, as a prophet, and is ascertained beyond all doubt by the circumstances of his death: it is what is obvious and indisputable to his friends, and what is not denied by his enemies. Well did a person of such eminent virtue deserve to be the messenger of the divine will to mankind; well does he deserve to be trusted by them, for the truth of what he says, when he declares that he is sent of God. To be eminently good, and, at the same time, the inventor of falsehood, are two things absohutely irreconcileable, and which never did exist too gether.
3. In addition to the testimony of John to the excellence of Christ's private character, and to the certainty of his divine mission, we have that of God himseif, manifesting his regard for him, and the import
ance of his office, by a striking miracle at his baptism. if, therefore, we believe not John, or believe not Jesus, yet let us not refuse the testimony of God.
Lastly, with these inethods of announcing Jesus to the world, the testimony of a prophet, and the visible glory which shone round him when baptized, let us rest satisfied, without having recourse to others, which; to say the least of them, are of doubtful origin.
John i. 43. to the end. q. 1-11. 43. The day following Jesus would go forth, or, “ wished to go forth," into Galilee, intending there to begin his ministry, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
Before this invitation was given to Philip, it is pro bable that some other conversation passed between them, although not here related.
44. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
This circunstance is mentioned, to explain the reason why Philip bccomes inclined to follow Jesus; he had been informed of his character by Andrew and Peter, his townsmen, who were before acquainted with him.
These things may appear to some not worthy to be recorded: yet they are of consequence, considered as a proof that the narrative of the evangelist is a true history, which, it has been observed, always abounds with particulars of persons and places.
45. Philip findeth Nathaniel, 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.
The passage in the books of Moses to which Philip is supposed to refer, is Deut. xviii. 18, in which God says, “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I command him.” Some have, however, supposed that the reference is to the prophecy of Jacob, which is also contained in one of the books of Moses, in which the Patriarch declares, that “the sceptre shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come.” The Messiah is often foretold in the prophets, but principally in Malachi, Daniel and Isaiah. It is observable that the evangelist repeats the words of Philip, respecting Jesus being the son of Joseph, without taking any notice of his mistake; whence some have thought it probable that he entertained the same opinion.
46. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?
As Nazareth was a mean place, and the inhabitants a brutish, uncivilized people, Nathanael can not think that any thing excellent, much less so distinguished à personage as the Messiah, can come thence.
Philip saith unto him, Come and see. • Come to him, and judge for yourself; and you will then be quickly convinced of the truth of what I say.
47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile, rather, “ in whom is no fault *.”
Sce Pearce's Commentary, Note. Vol. 2.)
Behold one who is a descendent of Abraham, not only by pedigree, but by excellence of character: for, as Paul says, Rom. ix. 6, “they are not all Israel who are of Israel.” Jesus knew the character of Nathanael not from any personal acquaintance with him, but from that miraculous knowledge of men which he possessed, in common with other prophets. This knowledge was so common, that the Jews regarded it as a test, whereby to judge of a person's having a divine mission : for when a woman of indifferent character came to Jesus, they said, Had this man been a prophet, he would have known that this woman was a sinner.
48. Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me?
As Jesus had never seen him before, he expresses his surprise at his being acquainted with his character.
Jesus answered, and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.
How Nathanael was employed under the fig-tree we are not told: but he was probably engaged in some act of devotion, which he was conscious must be concealed from every human mind, except aided by divine power. This discovery induced him to make the acknowledgment in the next verse.
49. Nathanael answered, and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the king of Israel.
We see here, that son of God, and king of Israel, are synonymous terms, and that they both signify the Messiah. The origin of these appellations will be found 2 Samuel, vii. 14, where God, after promising to David that one of his children should succeed him, says, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” The same language again occurs, Ps. ii. 7,“ The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day