What is the meaning of John 1:48-51? What is the significance of the fig tree?

I don't understand the meaning. What was great about Jesus seeing Nathanael under a fig tree?


11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Jhn 1:41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

    Jhn 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

    Jhn 1:43 ¶ The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

    Jhn 1:44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

    Jhn 1:45 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.

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

    Jhn 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

    Jhn 1:48 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.

    Jhn 1:49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

    Jhn 1:50 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.

    Jhn 1:51 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.

    Below is an article excerpted from this Web site:


    Our approach to this passage will hinge our understanding of Jesus' words to Nathaniel. In the past some scholars have distorted this story by presenting Jesus ability to see Nathaniel sitting under a fig tree as the exercise of omniscience of his deity. That is he literally saw Nathaniel, even through the man was physically hidden from sight. This may have been true but I would like us to consider another more likely scenario. Rather than exercising his divine attributes Jesus was demonstrating his human ability to read people and draw conclusions about them based on his observations.


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I'm thinking that Jesus said this to Nathanael to impress on him the fact that Jesus was the real thing--something good HAD finally come out of Nazareth.

    Earlier Jesus had called Phillip to be a disciple. From what I've read Phillip was overjoyed to have found Jesus. He wanted to share his good news, and while the Bible doesn't actually say so, I've always assumed the Phillip found Nathanael sitting underneath a fig tree. What he was doing there, I haven't a clue. Was he resting, eating his lunch, taking a break? I don't know. But Phillip ran up to Nathanael and told him to come with him--he'd found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

    Evidently Nazareth was a pretty tough neighborhood because Nathanael replied to Phillip--"Nazareth? What good thing can come out of Nazareth?" Phillip replied "Come and see for yourself".

    As they approached Jesus, Jesus said in greeting to Nathanael, "Here is an Israelite indeed in whom there is no deceit."

    Evidently this was a compliment to Nathanael and it piqued his curiosity. He asked Jesus "How do you know me?"

    And then Jesus answered "Before Phillip talked to you, I saw you sitting underneath the fig tree."

    How could Jesus have known that Phillip was the one who had talked to Nathanael? How could Jesus have known that when Phillip talked with him Nathanael was sitting under a fig tree?

    I'm thinking Jesus used this to impress upon Nathanael that he was the Messiah that had been written of by the prophets. Maybe also to rub it in a little that indeed something good had come from Nazareth.

  • 1 decade ago

    Jesus was not physically with Nathanael when he was under the fig tree - so Nathanael believed immediately, because Jesus told him something Jesus could not have known.

  • 1 decade ago

    I believe the fig tree was a literal fig tree that Nathaniel was sitting under when Phillip called him, and Jesus saw him under that tree with the eyes of His spirit. That explains Nathaniel's surprise that Jesus could have such knowledge of him. The latter reference is more significant, where Jesus says "Hereafter you shall see angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" - He was referring to an incident in the Old Testament in the life of Jacob where God spoke to him in a dream and showed him a ladder extending into heaven (Genesis 29:10-22) Jesus was in effect saying to Nathaniel that "I am that ladder extending into heaven and bridging the gulf between heaven and earth". Jacob called that place Bethel, meaning House of God. Jesus was saying He was the true House of God. There is further symbolism here but I will leave you with that.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The fig tree was the people's tree. Eating the fruit of it was not stealing, even if on someone's property.

    God revealed to Jesus that Nathaniel was a good man, one who would believe.

    Jesus is called the branch, and Nathaniel was (figuratively) under THE BRANCH, the saviour of the world.

    Jesus refers to this minor "miracle" of knowing Nathaniel, but that Nathaniel would see greater things later on.

    We have seen Jesus through scripture and the disciples saw him in the flesh, but when we see him again he will be the SON OF GOD WITH POWER!


  • 1 decade ago

    Jesus wasn't present when Phillip approached Nathaniel. It was after Phillip told Nathaniel about Jesus, they both went to Jesus. Nathaniel was astonished that Jesus had known where he was before he came to Him.

    But I imagine there is a deeper meaning here, don't you?

    Whenever a "fig tree" is mentioned, I think of Israel because it is referred to as a fig tree often.

    Maybe Jesus was was cryptically saying the same things as God has said, "I knew you while you were still in your mother's womb."

    Jesus may have been stating that He knew Nathaniel before he was born, during while he was raised in a Jewish household under the law. Like all of us, He knew us before He called us.

    Just conjecture, but there usually is always a message below the message, I think.

  • 1 decade ago

    There is alot more to it, befor Jesus told Nathanael that.

    When you are in the Presence of GOD, HIS Power affects your Mind.

    Jesus was GOD made man, but the Power Still came out of Jesus's Spirit, through the Holy Spirit.

    It affected Nathanaels Mind too.

  • 1 decade ago

    (Sitting under one’s own,) of prosperity and peace

    1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4 FRUIT OF, ILLUSTRATIVE

    Of good works Matthew 7:16

    It is said of Nathanael, in the Syriac dictionary that his mother laid him under a fig tree, when the infants were slain, i.e. at Bethlehem; which, if it could be depended upon, must be to Nathanael a surprising and undeniable proof of the deity of Christ

    before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree,

    I saw thee;

    in which words Christ gives two instances of his omniscience; the one is, that he knew Philip had called him; he was privy to all that passed between them, though they were alone, and the conversation was had in the most private manner. Christ knew what an account Philip had given of him, and what objection Nathanael had made; and what an invitation Philip had given him to go along with him to Christ, and judge for himself; which is here meant by calling him, and with which he complied: and the other is, that he saw him under the fig tree before that: he was sitting under it, as men in those countries used to do; see (Micah 4:4) , where he might be reading the Scriptures, and meditating upon them; and if, as some observe, he was reading, and thinking upon Jacob's dream, concerning the ladder which reached from earth to heaven, and on which he saw the angels of God ascending and descending, the words of Christ in (John 1:51) must strike him with fresh surprise, and give him another convincing proof of his omniscience: or he might be praying here in secret, and so acted a different part from the generality, of religious men of that nation, who chose to pray in synagogues, and corners of the streets, that they might be seen; and likewise proved him to be what Christ had said of him, a true and rare Israelite, without guile and hypocrisy, which were so visible and prevailing among others. It was usual with the doctors to read, and study in the law, under fig trees, and sometimes, though rarely, to pray there. It is said.

    Hope this helps? Stay blessed & continue to seek!

  • 1 decade ago

    The fig tree is a symbol of messianic peace.

    Every man shall sit under his own vine or under his own fig tree, undisturbed; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. - Micah 4: 4

    On that day, says the LORD of hosts, you will invite one another under your vines and fig trees.

    Zechariah 3: 10

    Source(s): Footnote found in New American Bible - http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/john/john1.htm#f...
  • 1 decade ago

    It here was just talking about the shade under the fig tree..They have broad leaves and give much shade...and the place where they were was hot and they needed refreshment..He said I approached and saw you under the fig tree....getting shade.

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