top of page

John 1:43-51

I once was lost but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.

Found and seen. Much of this really interesting passage of Scripture revolves around those two themes.


Jesus found Philip. Philip found Nathanael and said that he had found Jesus – the one that Moses wrote about.


Andrew was skeptical and playfully asked: Can anything good come from Nazareth? Philip’s response: come and see.


Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and described him as a faithful and true Israelite. When Nathanael asks how he knows that Jesus responds by saying he saw him. Nathanael then expresses faith to which Jesus responds with a question and an assurance: do you believe because I told you I saw you…? You will see greater things than these…you will see heaven open…


It seems like any discussion of this section of John should ask how those two themes help us to understand how this sometimes meandering story all fits together.


Let’s start with found. Because there is no subject in the Greek text of verse 43, it is very possible that Peter, from verse 42, is actually the subject. If that is the indeed the case then the theme of being found is strengthened even more. Andrew brings Peter to Jesus; Peter brings Philip; Philip found Nathanael.


The way the story unfolds, the reader’s attention is diverted away from the calling of Andrew to the much longer interaction with Nathanael. Jesus’ interaction with Philip is so sparse that it seems like Philip’s only role is to find Nathanael and to bring him to Jesus. He does so by describing Jesus as the one to whom the entirety of the Old Testament pointed. Philip’s claim is that all of Scripture was being fulfilled in “Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.”


The chain of events that ends in Philip claiming to have found the One that Israel had long hoped for begins with Jesus entering into Galilee and is described by John with the simple phrase “and he found Philip.” While the preacher