Nathanael: an interpretation to the problem Jn 1:43-51 (corrected)


The account goes like this:

"47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Why do you think Nathanael said this astonishing statement to Jesus, just because He saw him under the fig tree and what relation has what Jesus said of him:‘here is an isralite in whom there is no deceit’???

Many thanks for your answers,


I love that mystery. lol What I imagine happened was that Nathanael was praying while in the shade of a fig tree, asking God to send the messiah. He had a revelation of God about Christ the Messiah, that he was the Son of God. Then, the simple statement of Christ saying “I saw you under the fig tree” showed Nathanael that he was standing in the presence of the Son of God. What an awesome moment!!

We get a hint of God revealing the messiah before hand when we read of Simeon and the presentation in the Temple.
Let your servant go in peace according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation which you prepared before all people! A revealing light to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel! Luke 2:29 - 32

The prophetess Anna was at the Temple, a woman who was constantly in the Temple, worshiping day and night in fasting and prayer. She recognized the baby Jesus as well and talked to all about the Child who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36


It had nothing to do with the fig tree; it had to do with the Holy Spirit.


Exactly. Nathanael knows Jesus is the Messiah because he knows Jesus is the Messiah, not because of His seeing Nathanael under the fig tree.


I have sometimes wondered what Jesus saw when he saw Nathanael under the fig tree. It seems obvious that something was left out–that is, what happened to Nathanael then. I presume this was left out because it is none of our concern, and perhaps involves an intimate thing that happened in Nathanael’s soul of which is it better not to brandy about. The important thing is that Jesus saw what occurred then, and it shows a knowing on Jesus’ part that could only have come from God.
The Bible leaves out many things we would like to know, and which are treated as beside the point. We have no idea what Jesus looked like for one thing. The Bible does not attend to such things because they do not concern our salvation or spiritual growth. What Jesus actually saw when Nathanael was under the fig tree seems to be one of these things. I am curious about this myself, but the Bible does not attend to our curiosity.
I never thought that Jesus’ remark that Nathanael has no deceit is connected with Jesus seeing Nathanael under the fig tree.


There are probably countless other people who may have stood under that same fig tree who saw Jesus as just another man or maybe even a “nut-job.”:shrug:


Trees represent nations. The palm tree represents Egypt. The cedar tree represents Lebanon. The fig tree represents Israel/Judah and the authorities.

To be “under the fig tree” was a Jewish figure of speech which meant that you were a student of the Torah, that you were a student of the Law of Moses.

And seeing a fig tree by the wayside he went to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. (Matthew 21:19)

Jesus was about to remove the “fig tree”, about to remove the temple authorities, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and priests. Jesus tells the parable about the gardener asking the owner of the garden to allow him to dig around the fig tree and fertilize it and then, if it does not bear fruit, it can be cut down and burned. That is exactly what happened.

Adam and Eve ate the fruit, their eyes were opened and they knew good from evil and then they sewed fig leaves. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was symbolically a fig tree.

Read Jerimiah 24 about the good figs and bad figs.



No, I do not think you are right because Nathanael will not have asked Jesus “How do you know me?" This means that he did not know him. In fact when Philip tells Nathanael: “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Therefore he was not thinking that he was the Messiah just because they told him, him wanted to test him himself.

Sorry… you did not get it,
In the love of Christ,



Well, it is precisely to do with the Holy Spirit that was in Jesus that he saw Nathanael underneath of the fig tree. In if you do not want to join in find out, still you do not have to come here, but be nice, we all want to work it out.

In the peace of Christ ,



Well yes it is connected seeing Nathanael under the fig tree with what Jesus said to him. But let me be clear. If Jesus really saw Nathanael under the fig tree, Nathanael will never have said to him “you are the Messiah, the King of Israel”. Never will have promt that answer… imagine…no… just because he saw him under the tree…no

In the love of the Word of God,



But this does not answer the question we have in our hands…

In the love of Christ,



Yes Tim, I believe that much of what you said it is right but there is another meaning to the fig tree that the Israelites had… but any way you suddenly jumped from our problem to explain something else. What you said does not answer why Nathanael told Jesus so dramatically He was the Son of God. You missed it…sorry

In the love of God,



I do not understand your statement or your tone. I was replying in a nice manner to to the your question.

We were having a nice discussion on the topic with some interesting observations. But thank you for correcting me as well as the rest oft those who posted here, including the Forum Elder.


The fact is that we are told that when Philip found Nathanael, Jesus was not with him. Also we are told by Jesus that he saw Nathanael under the fig tree before Philip went to call him. Jesus will not have specified this if Nathanael was still under the fig tree when Philip called him. What do you think?

And about Simeon and Anna they were both prophets, not so Nathanael.

In the love of God,



I agree with you, and I do not think Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree with his own eyes. I think he saw Nathanael under the fig tree with divine knowing. I also have always thought that Jesus saw into what was going on in Nathanael’s soul at that time, and this in particular is what caused Nathanael react as he did.
And when Nathanael reacts as he did, Jesus tells Nathanael that Nathanael will see greater things than this. These words of Jesus imply that something great occurred, that has to do with Jesus seeing Nathanael. I think that Jesus revealed a knowledge that could only be from God then.


But do you mean a real fig tree or in Nathanael’s mind?

Any way you can have a look, if you wish, to the answer I gave to this passage in the thread: 'Answer to Nathanael problem" and see if you have objections. I used the word ‘fault’ and should be read ‘decit’ when Jesus saw Nathanael coming and spoke of him. Have a look and let me know. Is just another interpretation…

In the love of God,



Jesus did not know Nathanael, or so Nathanael thought. That is not to say Nathanael did not at least know of Jesus, and it especially does not mean that there was nothing else about Jesus that could possibly have impressed Nathanael enough to convince Nathanael that He was the Messiah.


Believe Jesus saw Nathaniel in a vision with his Divine power.Apparantly people in those days read scripture under shady trees such as fig trees.Perhaps Nathaniel was searching for the truth and reading scripture when Jesus saw him.After Nathaniel acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah he sad"Do you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree?You will see greater things than this" and then he said"The truth is,you will see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down upon the son of man"Perhaps Nathaniel was under the tree reflecting on the passage about Jacobs vision where he saw angels going up and down from Heaven


If you were right and truly Nathanael was under of a fig tree reading, Jesus will not have told him “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

He just will have said ‘I saw you under the fig tree when Philip called you’, without the ‘before’.

If he was reflecting on Jacobs vision and it was seating under a real fig tree this will not have prompted the answer of Nathanael ‘you are the Son of God…’ because this Nathanael said it before Jesus goes on to say about the angels going up and down. Does not make sense to me, sorry, but at least you are seeing some divine vision.

I gave an answer in another forum called: “Answer to Nathanael problem…” you can see what I thought happened and if you have objections because it does not make sense to you, let me know, only please notice that the word **fault **should be deceit . I apologize already for that.

In the love of God,



And so then what??? You did not answer the question at all!!!

See I already propose an interpretation in the forum called “Answer to Nathanael problem…”

Have a look if you have objections to my interpretation let me know, just please notice that the word “fault” is not right should be “deceit”, I have already apologize for that.

Any way many thanks,
In the love of Christ,


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