I can’t find a direct answer to this anywhere. In John 1:38, the two disciples of John ask Jesus, " Rabbi, where are you staying?", or translated literally, “where dwellest thou?”. What is the significance of them asking this? I know that there is more to this question than the disciples simply wondering where Jesus lives. Does anyone know what was behind their question? I might just have to call in when Jimmy Akin is on.
Jesus had just been pointed out to them as the Lamb of God, and they started following Him. Jesus then asked them what they wanted, and they responded, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” It seems to be a strange answer. I would not have answered that way; nevertheless, it is a beautiful response. Reading between the lines: “Teacher, you are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; we desire to learn from you, live with you, follow you wherever you go.” You can fill in the rest.
The perhaps the author of the Gospel creates this scene in relation to scripture references such as Psalm 91 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and abides in the shade of the Almighty” And latter Jesus talks about abiding in Him as he abides in the Father.
I prefer not only “where dwellest thou” (or “where do you dwell)” to “where are you staying”, but I also like “What do you seek” more than “What are you looking for”.
However, both work, once I get beyond the literal (and literary) sense of the reading, and focus on the anagogical.
I see Christ’s question, regardless of the turn of the phrase, as “Are you searching for the real meaning of life?” and the question of the disciples seems to be asking “Will you take us to where you are spiritually?”
The questions, no matter how worded, are truly beautiful and meaningful.
Right. To me, it’s their roundabout way of asking, “We’ve heard You’re the Messiah. We’d like to learn from You. You care to have us over for lunch?” Jesus, of course, knew what they meant (St. John mentions that Jesus knew what the disciples wanted as soon as they started shadowing Him).
Perhaps the meaning is less practical than spiritual. Not what house Jesus is staying in, but what spiritual plane He is on. As a teacher and perhaps prophet, what will we learn from you?
And Jesus says to come along and find out, not to thereby find a physical location but to discover what Jesus and the Reign of God is all about.
Modesty and devotion.
St. John Chrysostom (via the Catena Aurea) writes:
…see with what modesty their zeal was accompanied. They did not straightway go and interrogate Jesus on great and necessary doctrines, nor in public, but sought private converse with Him…
Alcuin of York (ibid) states:
They do not wish to be under His teaching for a time only, but inquire where He abides; wishing an immediate initiation in the secrets of His word, and afterwards meaning often to visit Him, and obtain fuller instruction. And, in a mystical sense too, they wish to know in whom Christ dwells, that profiting by their example they may themselves become fit to be His dwelling. Or, their seeing Jesus walking, and straightway inquiring where He resides, is an intimation to us, that we should, remembering His Incarnation, earnestly entreat Him to show us our eternal habitation. The request being so good a one, Christ promises a free and full disclosure. He said to them, Come and see: that is to say, My dwelling is not to be understood by words, but by works; come, therefore, by believing and working, and then see by understanding.
Yet another question that, initially, wasn’t one for me, but it has been interesting to search it out. (I assumed that you had already read the commentaries at Bible Hub and still felt something was missing.)
The most provocative prospect had to do with the ‘glorious countenance’ of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That the meaning behind, “Where dwellest thou?” was really saying, “What planet are you from?” Jesus had appeared other-worldly.
It was also news to me to find that “Nazareth” has no OT reference in Jewish thought. Abarim Publications gives several attempts that have been made to explain Jesus of Nazareth.
I’ve found that it is often beneficial to trust the ‘gut nudges’ (possible Holy Spirit promptings) of others; this was one of those times.
Of course, I don’t know if the line of thinking of these men will advance your query or not.
All the best,