John 1:34-51

June 11, 1995

Sunday Morning Bible Study


As the gospel has opened, we've spent time looking at what John the Baptist had to say about Jesus.

:34 I saw, and bare record

The word (martureo) means 1) to be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something, or that he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration.

It's like giving testimony before a judge in court.

You simply tell what you've seen and heard.

to testify.

It's a word that's used 47 times in the gospel of John!

It's used six times alone in this chapter.

»John 1:7-AV The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] through him might believe.

»John 1:8-AV He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light.

»John 1:15-AV John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

»John 1:19-AV And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

»John 1:32-AV And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

»John 1:34-AV And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

It's a pretty important issue to John.


What's your testimony?

What do you tell others about concerning Jesus?

What have you seen and heard about Jesus?

We're going to spend some time today talking about the issue of witnessing, of giving your testimony to others about Jesus.



Polycarp (69-155), one of the early church fathers, was put on trial because of his faith in Christ. When the Roman proconsul told him to deny his faith, Polycarp answered, "For 86 years I have served Him, and He has never wronged me. How can I blaspheme my King, who has saved me?"

The proconsul then threatened to cast him in with the wild beasts, but Polycarp answered, "Call them!" He was then warned that he might be burned at the stake. Even that failed to move him. He responded, "You threaten me with fire which burns for only a moment, but you are ignorant of the fire of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly."

These are Polycarp's final words: "O Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son, Jesus Christ! I bless Thee that Thou has counted me worthy of this day, and of this hour, to receive my portion in the number of the martyrs, in the cup of Christ."

Richard Weaver

Richard Weaver, a Christian worker, earned his living in the mines. He had the higher priority, however, of trying to bring his associates in contact with the savior and His soul-restoring Word. While most of the men were indifferent, one became offended by his witness, and finally exclaimed, "I'm sick of your constant preaching. I've a good mind to smack you in the face!" "Go ahead if it will make you feel better," replied Weaver. The man immediately struck him a stinging blow. The Christian did not retaliate but turned the other cheek. Again the unbeliever struck him and then walked away, cursing under his breath. Weaver called after him, "I forgive you, and still pray that the Lord will save you!" The next morning his assailant was waiting for him when he came to work "Oh, Dick," he said, his voice filled with emotion, "do you really forgive me for what I did yesterday?" "Certainly," said Weaver extending his hand. As he told him again the message of salvation, God opened the man's heart, and he received Christ. (Matt. 5:39)

:35-42 John, Andrew, and Peter come to Jesus

:35 the next day

There have been a series of events in John 1.

The first day was when John was confronted by the messengers from the Pharisees who asked him who he was.

The second day was when Jesus showed up.

This is now the third day in this sequence.

:35 John stood, and two of his disciples

Keep in mind the picture.

John the Baptist is standing there along with two of his own followers.

:36 Behold the Lamb of God

How simple can you get?


Witnessing doesn't have to be complicated.

It's basically all about pointing people to Jesus.

:37 the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus

They took their cue from John the Baptist, and followed after the one he was pointing to.

:38 which is to say, being interpreted, Master

This (along with other verses like 1:41) gives us a clue that John is writing his gospel to mostly Gentiles, people who are not familiar with Jewish terminology.

In contrast, when Matthew uses Hebrew terms, he doesn't bother to explain them, since he had in mind a predominantly Jewish audience.

»Matthew 23:7-8 AV And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.

:38 what seek ye?

Jesus wants to know what they're doing following after Him.

Jesus wants to know what you're doing here today.

:38 where dwellest thou?

They reply with a kind of uncommitted question.

They want to follow Jesus, but they don't really know much more than that just yet.

In fact, we believe chronologically, Jesus' call to these particular guys to follow Him and become fishers of men doesn't occur until later than this meeting.

:39 Come and see

Jesus doesn't say, "Get away. Either believe in Me completely or go away"

Instead, He lets them follow after Him, to find out more.


There's room for those who are seeking more.

Don't get discouraged by those who don't want to make a sudden committment to the Lord.

If they are still open to learning more about the Lord, great!

:39 abode with him that day

They at least spent the day with Jesus.

:39 it was about the tenth hour

If John reckoned time according to the Jewish method, it was about 4 P.M.

They start at 6:00 a.m., adding 10 hours to 4:00 p.m.

But John seems to use the Roman method of keeping time (check out John 19:14)

»John 19:14-AV And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

Pilate was sentencing Jesus to death.

Since Matthew records the crucifixion as starting at 9:00 a.m., this must be the Roman time of 6:00 a.m.

If according to the Roman method, it was 10 A.M.

Keep in mind that John is writing to a Gentile audience, both Greeks and Romans.

:40 one of the two

We are told who one of these guys is, Andrew.

But why aren't we told who the other guy it?

I think it's probably John, the writer of the gospel.

:40-42a Andrew, Simon Peter's brother ... brought him to Jesus

Andrew isn't as well known as some of the other disciples.

He was just known as Simon's brother.

But he has a unique distinction, he brought his brother, Simon Peter, to the Lord.

Peter would have a great, large, ministry.

But he wouldn't have had a ministry unless someone had led him to the Lord.


You'll never know just how important your witness is until you give it.


Dwight L. Moody's conversion

As a young man of 18, he found himself placed in a Sunday School class, let by a man named Edward Kimball.

On Saturday morning, April 21, 1855, he

"decided to speak to Moody about Christ and about his soul. I started down town to Holton's shoe store. When I was nearly there I began to wonder whether I ought to go just then during business hours. And I thought maybe my mission might embarrass the boy, that when I went away the other clerks might ask who I was, and when they learned might taunt Moody and ask if I was trying to make a good boy out of him. While I was pondering over it all I passed the store without noticing it. Then, when I found I had gone by the door I determined to make a dash for it and have it over at once."

He found Moody in the back part wrapping up shoes in paper and stacking them on shelves. "I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, and as I leaned over I placed my foot upon a shoe box." Looking down into Moody's eyes he made what he thought afterwards a very weak plea. Neither could ever recall the exact words, but "Kimball asked him to come to Christ, who loved him and who wanted his love and should have it." There were tears in Kimball's eyes.

"It seemed," Kimball recorded, "that the young man was just ready for the light that broke upon him, for there, at once, in the back of that shoe store in Boston, Moody gave himself and his life to Christ."

Kimball slipped from the store a few minutes after he had entered.

from pg 27 of Moody Biography, John Pollock

And so,

A Sunday School teacher, a Mr. Kimball, in 1855, led a Boston shoe clerk to give his life to Christ.

The clerk, Dwight L. Moody, became an evangelist. In England in 1879, he awakened evangelistic zeal in the heart of Fredrick B. Meyer, pastor of a small church.

F. B. Meyer, preaching to an American college campus, brought to Christ a student named J. Wilbur Chapman.

Chapman, engaged in YMCA work, employed a former baseball player, Billy Sunday, to do evangelistic work.

Billy Sunday held a revival in Charlotte, N.C. A group of local men were so enthusiastic afterward that they planned another evangelistic campaign, bringing Mordecai Hamm to town to preach.

During Hamm's revival, a young man named Billy Graham heard the gospel and yielded his life to Christ.

Only eternity will reveal the tremendous impact of that one Sunday School teacher, Mr. Kimball, who invested his life in the lives of others.

When you feel the Lord's prompting to share Jesus with someone, please don't refuse!

:42 Simon ... Cephas

It's not uncommon in the Bible for a person's name to be very significant.

Esau was a "hairy" baby. He was also called Edom, because of his "red" color.

Jacob (heal-catcher, conniver, trickster) was just that.

Sometimes a person had their name changed because after all, things change!


»Ruth 1:20-AV And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Naomi means "my delight"

Mara means "bitterness".

Abram, which means "exalted father"

But after God had firmly promised that his descendants would be as the stars in the heavens, his name was changed to Abraham, which means "father of a multitude".

When Jacob met, wrestled with, and lost to the Lord, his name was changed to Israel ("governed by God")

Simon = name of one of the twelve tribes, Simeon, meaning "heard"

Cephas = stone

This is the Aramaic name for Peter.

The Greek name is Petros, meaning "stone, rock"

He's naming him "Rocky"

Solidity, strength


Jesus will change you.

You may not change your name.

But you'll receive a change in who you are.

That's what it means to be "born again".

We receive a new nature.

»Ephesians 4:21-24 AV If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

We'll start to see things differently.

We'll start to act differently.

There's something new inside of us.

:43-51 Philip and Nathanael

:44 Bethsaida

Name means "house of fish"

A city located on the north of the sea of Galilee, about a mile inland up the Jordan river.

:45 Philip findeth Nathanael

Do you get the sense that when these guys met Jesus, they were so excited that they couldn't wait to bring a friend to meet Jesus for themselves?

:46 Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

Nathanael is a sceptic.

He sounds a little doubtful about this Jesus guy.

Also, Nathanael was from Cana of Galilee, which is about 8 miles (7.72 actually) due north of Nazareth.

»John 21:2-AV There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the [sons] of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

Possibly, there might have been a little community rivalry between Cana and Nazareth.

It's possible that Nazareth just didn't have a very good reputation.

In addition, there was a saying going around in those days:

»John 7:52-AV They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

This was a false saying though,

As a matter of fact Jonah, Hosea, Nahum, possibly also Elijah, Elisha, and Amos were from Galilee.

Also, Nathanael had a point.

The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, according to the prophets:

»Micah 5:2-AV But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting.

:46 ... come and see

I like how Philip handles it.

He doesn't sit down and argue with Nathanael.

He doesn't give him twenty verses to prove him wrong.

I imagine that he himself wasn't yet aware that Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem.

He just brings him to Jesus.


Don't worry about having all the answers, just bring them to Jesus

We feel like we're inadequate to tell people about Jesus because we're afraid they're going to ask us something we won't have the answer for.

It's okay to not have all the answers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that answers are unimportant.

But if you don't know the answer, you can always find out the answer later.

What's important is just to get them to Jesus.

It's easy when you're witnessing to get sidetracked by lots of secondary issues:

TV evangelists

Churches that have hurt people

All the hypocrites that have ever lived.

Where did Cain get his wife?

All those discrepancies in the Bible (you can always ask them to point one out ...)

We're not supposed to make them believe in the church, or join a church.

And salvation doesn't come when intellectual curiousity is satisfied.

Though you will find complete intellectual satisfaction in Him.

We just need to take them to see Jesus.

How do I "just bring them to Jesus"?

Some suggestions:

1. Tell them about what Jesus is doing in your life.

2. Pray with them.

Let them listen in as you talk with the Savior about them.

3. Read the gospel of John with them.

It was written so they would believe in Jesus.

4. Share the simple gospel with them:

You have a need, your sin separates you from God.

God has provided for your need, sending Jesus to die and pay the price for your sins.

You need to repent, and receive God's gift of eternal life, to make it your own.

5. Bring them to a place where they'll hear the gospel.

Hopefully places like this.

Harvest Crusade

6. Expose them to worship.

Give them a taste of what happens when God's people get involved in openly expressing their love and praise to God.

God's presence is pretty strong when God's people are worshipping.

»Psalms 22:3-AV But thou [art] holy, [O thou] that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

:47 an Israelite ... in whom is no guile

A strange thing to say to a stranger who is coming your way on the road.

How did He know Nathanael was an Israelite?

no guile - dolos 1) craft, deceit, guile

How does Jesus know that there isn't any deceit in Nathanael?

:48 Whence knowest thou me?

Nathanael wants to know how Jesus knows all this!

:48 Before that Philip called thee ... under the fig tree, I saw thee

Jesus reaches back in time, before they were even around.

What does this show us about Jesus?

It gives us a glimpse at His omniscience, His knowledge of everything.

It gives us a peek at His deity.

Some want to think that when Jesus came to earth, born in Bethlehem, that He laid aside His deity, and was just a man.

Not so! He is still fully God.

Even before you came to know Jesus, He knew you.

:49 the Son of God

The Greek text uses the definite article.

Jesus is not just "a son of God", one of many.

He's not just by nature a son of God.

He is THE one and only Son of God.

This speaks of His deity. It is the first confession of Jesus' deity chronologically.

:49 King of Israel

The previous title, as well as this are titles for the Messiah that all were waiting for.

They were waiting for a deliverer.

:50 thou shalt see greater things than these

Jesus is commending Nathanael for his belief.

He was able to believe after such a simple demonstration of who Jesus was.

:51 ye shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Jesus is referring to the dream of Jacob

When Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau, he stopped one night and had a dream.

»Genesis 28:12-AV And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Jesus is identifying Himself as the ladder.

He is not only the Son of God, but the Son of Man.

He's at both ends of the ladder.

In doing this, Jesus is also giving Nathanael (and all those with Him at that time, the "you" in vs.51 is plural) two truths:

1. Heaven will be opened

Up to this time, it had been shut because of men's sin.

The way into the Holy of Holies wouldn't be made until the blood was shed on the cross.

2. The bridge into heaven will be Jesus

Jesus has made it possible for there to be communication and movement from earth to heaven.

»John 14:6-AV Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.


Issues in witnessing


We are commanded to tell others about Jesus.

It's not something that just Greg Laurie is to do.

»Matthew 28:19-AV Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

But realistically, knowing I'm commanded still doesn't make me motivated as I should.

To this, Paul writes:

»2Corinthians 5:14-AV For the love of Christ constraineth us ...

Paul's conception of Christ's love for him holds him together to his task whatever men think or say.

The more I grasp the love of Jesus for me, the more I grasp the love of Jesus for others, and the more I let Jesus teach me how to love others like He does, then I'll see the words flowing.


A great truth is beautifully illustrated by a personal incident in the ministry of George Sweeting, president of Moody Bible Institute. He said that a woman once came to him in deep distress. "I have been a Christian for 20 years," she told him, "Yet I'm not aware that I've ever led anyone to the Lord, I've memorized many Scripture verses and know how to meet the objections of the unconverted. But no one has made a decision for Christ. Why hasn't God been using me?"

Wanting to help this believer, he asked her a question, "Have you ever wept for the unsaved and prayed for their conversion? Perhaps your failure hasn't been so much from a lack of knowledge as from a lack of love! When a person has genuine compassion for the lost, he'll weep over them and yearn for salvation."

Sweeting said that the woman went to her room and began to pray earnestly for her sister. Then, with a tender heart, she went to visit her. Putting her arms around her, she said with weeping, "More than anything in this world, I want you to become a Christian!" That evening during the church service her sister publicly received the Savior and asked for His gracious forgiveness. The great transaction was completed, and she was born again.

We need a heart for the lost ...

There are five billion people on this earth. How many of them are lost? It is hard to say. And who really cares how many people are lost? Every time you draw a breath four people go into eternity who have never heard the name of Jesus. That is almost 200,000 people a day! God help us to become concerned. -- R. Tinskey, Pulpit Helps, Jan. 1993, p. 8

Hudson Taylor's anguish: "I am unable to bear the sight of a congregation of a thousand or more Christians rejoicing in their own salvation, while millions are perishing -- lost."

We may not always to it perfectly ...

One day a lady criticized D.L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord.

Moody's reply was, "I agree with you. I don't like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?"

The lady replied, "I don't do it."

Moody retorted, "Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it." -- Focus Quote