BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 5: John 1:43-51

Summary of passage:  Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael as disciples in Galilee.  Philip is called first and he tells Nathanael who wonders if anything good can come from Nazareth.  Jesus knows Nathanael instantly and tells all that they will see heaven open and the angels of God ascend and descend on him.


10)  John the Baptist, Andrew, and Philip.  Their faith, their strength of character, their heart for God, their commitment and perseverance for Christ.

11a)  Nathanael upon hearing that Jesus was from Nazareth wondered how anything good could come from Nazareth.  This is an honest and a prejudice response.  Nathanael, however, keeps an open mind and does follow Philip to come and see.  Nathanael asked Jesus how he knew him and we’re told Jesus saw Nathanael meditating on Scripture under the fig tree.  So he knows all about Jesus and asks questions.  And Nathanael declares Jesus truthfully who he is:  The Son of God and the King of Israel.

Thus, Nathanael does not allow prejudice to get in his way.  He investigates until he has his answer.  He thinks for himself.  Imagine if Nathanael hadn’t of followed Philip.  He would have missed Jesus!  Don’t let that happen to you!

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think and question a lot.  I’m pretty honest.  We’re all born prejudiced in terms of making judgments on others.  It’s something we work our whole lives at to overcome.

12)  The stairway that linked heaven and earth was made possible by Jesus, who is the bridge (or the ladder) between heaven and earth.  This is what Jesus is referring to when he declares he’ll be the one in the middle, “the way, the truth the life” (John 14:6).  Heaven open means the disciples will see heaven’s testimony about Jesus as plainly as if they heard an announcement from heaven.

Conclusions:  The testimonies and the different ways people come to Jesus is prominent here.  All of our paths are different and all of our journeys are different.  As long as the path leads to Jesus, none of it matters.

Great example of overcoming prejudice and thinking and investigating for ourselves.  Our minds make unconscious judgements but we can consciously override them and see people for who they truly are.  Great lesson!

End Notes:  Philip, Andrew, and Peter were all from Bethsaida.  Undoubtedly, they all knew each other as 2000 years ago villages were small and close-knit.  This is not the first time Jesus has met Philip.  He’s met them before but here John is recorded the formal invitation by Jesus to Philip to follow him.  This we know from the other gospel accounts of this incident.

Nazareth was a town of ill-repute in the ancient world.  It was small and dinky.  Could anything good come from such a place?  This is how God works.  He takes the unexpected and makes it big.  Great analysis of this scene HERE

The Greek verb follow here has the sense of perpetuity.  “Keep on following….”

Bethsaida means “House of the fisherman” or “Fishertown.”  It’s very close to where the Jordan River enters the Lake of Galilee.  See map of Bethsaida in relation to Nazareth HERE.

Philip declares Jesus the one Moses wrote about in the law.

Rabbi is the Hebrew word for teacher.

Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew.

Jesus compliments Nathanael by saying there is nothing false or no deceit within him.

“Under the fig tree” was a phrase Rabbis used when meditating on Scripture.  Hence, most likely Jesus saw Nathanael in prayer.  He could have been under an actual fig tree as well.

Then Nathanael recognizes Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus says there is greater things to come.  This applies to us today.  Do you believe it?  Do you believe there are much greater things to come with Jesus?

Why does Jesus quote Genesis here and reference Jacob’s dream?  Perhaps this was the very Scripture Nathanael had been meditating on under the fig tree.

Jesus calls himself many times the Son of Man.  This references Daniel 7:13-14 where the King of Glory who will judge the world is called the Son of Man, a messianic title.  It is Jesus’ favorite self-designation.  It is used 81 times in the Gospels and never used by anyone else but Jesus here.

Fun Fact:  “Truly I tell you” occurs more in their Gospel than in any other Gospel and nowhere else in the New Testament.  John is the only one who prefaces the phrase with “very” a total of 25 times.

Conclusions to Lesson 2:  Here we see 4 ways to come to Jesus:

  1. Andrew by the preaching of John the Baptist.
  2. Peter because of his brother.
  3. Philip who was called directly by Jesus
  4. Nathanael who personally encountered Jesus

We also see 4 different testimonies to the identity of Jesus:

  1.  John the Baptist testified Jesus is eternal, the man uniquely anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Lamb of God, and the unique Son of God.
  2. Andrew testified Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.
  3.  Phillip testified Jesus is the One prophesied in the Old Testament.
  4.  Nathaniel testified Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel.

We see all of Jesus’ titles in one chapter in the Bible.  Do you still doubt who Jesus is?


7 thoughts on “BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 5: John 1:43-51

  1. It is very worrisome that this blog is now above the BSF International on Google. The premise of BSF is that our learning would be guided by the Word of God and that we are to seek inspiration from God as we study, Until recently people were instructed to not even use a Bible commentary and to refer only to the scripture as it was presented in BSF.
    I worry about people being indignant and offended that I am addressing this, but looking at someone else’s work and getting answers is the antithesis of what BSF is about. I am not interested that you are having difficulty with the question- that is the nature of doing your lesson in BSF. Do your own work and find out in class what other people have to say.


    1. While it is true that our learning should be guided by the Word of God, I would not be so quick to assume that God’s hand cannot be guiding those who turn to this Blog for moral support and affirmation. Not everyone who participates in BSF is comfortable with the tone of the questions or the collective responses of their group members. In some cases the group is not sufficiently diverse to accommodate responses that are not aligned with the dogma of their respective denomination. In those cases, it is a blessing to have a qualified “outsider” provide answers that may reflect the inspiration from God that the BSF group does not.


  2. Thank you, A to Z Mom, for letting me read your answers to assist me in my lesson at the last minute. We have had an extreme family crisis this week and we were not able to answer the questions each day. At least now I’m caught up and will be able to concentrate on the lecture tomorrow morning. This website was a life-saver!


  3. I use this blog as an internet friend. I have discussed my BSF lesson with friends in the past and this is no different. Yes, there is some deep background notes, but I think they are useful.
    I will put these answers on my lesson sheet if there is some insight I didn’t see, BUT.. I never use these answers to use in class.
    I occasionally go back after the discussion and review these answers, but that is hard to do when I have the current lesson to complete.
    And what a nice resource if you miss class. I live in a part of the country that has 2-3 classes cancelled a year because of weather so this fills in the gaps.
    And a serious question: Is Nathanael the disciple Bartholomew? If so. I never connected those dots!


  4. Hello can you please resend your notes from Day 1 to Day 4? I miss those. I have Day 5 John 1:43-51. Thank you and God bless.



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