The Disciples: Bartholomew Nathanael

Bartholomew is almost always mentioned in connection to being with the disciple Philip.  In the book of John, he is referred to as Nathanael.

The name Bartholomew in Greek meaning son of Talmai or son of the furrows in Aramaic, while the Hebrew name Nathanael means gift of God or God has given.

In the first three gospels, Bartholomew is only mentioned in the list of the twelve disciples, each time as Philip and Bartholomew.  {Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14}

In John, we are told Jesus has just called Philip, who then goes to find Nathanael, whom Biblical scholars all believe is the same person as Bartholomew.

 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  {John 1:45}

From this scripture, we know Philip already knows Nathanael and they are friends.  Also, the men know the scriptures and promise of the coming Messiah.

“And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.”  {John 1:46}

Nazareth is a small town in Galilee, in which Jesus was raised. From Nathanael’s comment we can assume the Galileans despised the people from the area and/or town.

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”  {John 1:47}

Jesus immediately recognizes Nathanael is an Israelite and has no guile or deceit within his heart.

“Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.”  {John 1:48}

We discover Nathanael was sitting under a fig tree when Philip approached him and told him about Jesus.

“Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.”  {John 1:49}

Nathanael has judged Jesus for himself and determined He is the son of God.  Nathanael has examined the claims about Jesus for himself.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.  And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”  {John 1:50-51}

Nathanael and the other disciples will see much greater things in the days, weeks and years to come, as Jesus promises.

After Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, He appears to some of the disciples. Among them we discover “Nathanael of Cana in Galilee”.  {John 21:2}

We discover Nathanael is a Canaanite from Galilee.

Bartholomew is last listed in the list of apostles in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them.  {Acts 1:13}

Tradition states Bartholomew was with Philip, preaching in Greece.  Both men were crucified upside down, but due to Philip’s preaching on the cross Bartholomew was released, although Philip refused to be released.

Philip and Bartholomew Nathanael with Jesus

 Bartholomew went to India and then on to Armenia, where he was accompanied by Thaddeus.  He is said to have left a copy of the book of Matthew in India while there.

According to legends he was skinned alive and beheaded, so is often depicted holding his flayed skin or the curved flensing knife with which he was skinned.:

His relics are scattered at several churches.

Bartholomew is credited with many miracles, considered the patron saint of medicine and there is a statue of him at the Cathedral of Lipari.

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