Biblical People

Biblical People: Nathanael

We’ve covered thirteen of Jesus’s twelve disciples. Though not listed as one of the twelve, there is another follower of Jesus and a disciple. His name is Nathanael. 

When Jesus invites Philip to “follow me,” Philip goes and finds his good buddy, Nathanael.

“We found the one the prophets wrote about,” Philip says. “His name is Jesus. He’s from Nazareth.”

“Nazareth!” Nathanael scoffs. “There’s nothing good there.”

“Come and check it out,” Philip says. And they head off to find Jesus.

As they approach, Jesus says, “Now here’s a true and honest Israelite.”

“How can you possibly know me?” Nathanael asks.

“I saw you standing under the fig tree, before Philip came to tell you about me,” Jesus says.

Nathanael’s in awe. “Rabbi,” he says, “surely you’re the son of God, our king.”

I imagine Jesus smiling as he replies. “You believe in me simply because I saw you under the fig tree? You’ll see much more than that. Later, you’ll see heaven open. Angels will descend and ascend from the Son of Man.”

Nathanael follows Jesus and believes in him. Jesus promises that Nathanael will see amazing things. For this to happen, Nathanael will need to stick around. Though Nathanael may not be one of the twelve disciples, as Philip is, Nathanael is a follower of Jesus and witness to what he does.

How often do we wish we had a higher standing in church or ministry? Do we let that disappointment discourage us? Or do we push it aside and press on?

[Discover more about Nathanael in John 1:43–51.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at