Nathanael also known as Bartholomew was one of Jesus Christ's twelve original apostles[1]. He appears as Bartholomew in the lists of the twelve apostles given in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts. Usually, his name is paired off with Philip. Though he does not appear in John's Gospel, the association of Philip with a disciple named Nathanael[2] suggests that Nathanael was Bartholomew's given name.


Early Life

Nathanael was born in Cana, Galilee[3] to his father Talmai. Perhaps because his father was prominent in the community, Nathaniel was usually referred to as Bartholomew, that is, "son of Talmai". In fact, all the lists of the Apostles had him named as Bartholomew rather than Nathanael. At one point he became closely associated with a man named Philip.

A Disciple and Apostle

Jesus began to recruit his select disciples that would one day become the Apostles. He was in Galilee when he had Phillip come and follow him. Phillip went and told Nathanael, who was sitting under a fig tree that he had found the prophesied Messiah. At first, Nathanael was unbelieving, citing that the Messiah could not come from Nazareth, the popular teaching of the Jewish leadership against Jesus[4]. Nathanael's belief was misled though, as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, thus fulfilled the requirements.

Nathanael went to see Jesus with Philip to see if He was truly the Messiah. When Jesus saw him he proclaimed that Nathanael was true Israelite, without deceit. Nathanael was troubled on how Jesus knew him and was told that He had seen him sitting under the fig tree. After this Nathanael exclaimed Jesus as "Rabbi" and knew he was the Messiah.


  1. Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13 (Link)
  2. John 1:45-51, 21:2 (Link)
  3. John 21:2 (Link)
  4. John 1:46 (Link)

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