The Meaning of John 1:46 Explained

John 1:46

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

YLT: and Nathanael said to him, 'Out of Nazareth is any good thing able to be?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.'

Darby: And Nathanael said to him, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip says to him, Come and see.

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

What does John 1:46 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Nazareth had an insignificant reputation, at least for Nathanael, who came from Cana, a neighboring town ( John 21:2). Nathanael doubted that the Messiah could come from such a lowly place as that. He did not yet understand Jesus" condescension. Philip wisely did not argue with him. He just invited him to "come and see" Jesus (cf. John 1:39). John doubtless intended that the repetition of this invitation would encourage his readers to witness similarly. People just need to consider Jesus. Many who do will conclude that He is the Son of God (cf. John 1:12).
"Honest inquiry is a sovereign cure for prejudice." [1]

Context Summary

John 1:43-51 - The Doubter Becomes A Disciple
The Apostles were attracted to the Master in different ways. Some came to Him through preaching, as when John proclaimed His rank and sacrifice. Others were brought through human relationships. The record does not say how many Andrew brought to Jesus, but we are told that he at least brought his own brother. Others were brought by the Master's direct personal influence-he findeth Philip. Still others were brought by the call and ties of friendship, following on a long course of previous preparation. Philip had often crossed the hills that separated the Lake from Cana, where Nathanael dwelt, and the two would earnestly discuss the signs of the time: the desperate straits of their country, the preaching of the Baptist, and the Messiah's advent. The guileless Israelite would sit beneath his favorite fig-tree, pondering over the things which Moses and the prophets had written. It was not difficult to win such a man, when Philip broke in on him with the news of their discovery.
Jesus is always showing us greater things, John 1:50. He leads His disciples onward and upward, for He is Himself the ladder of ascent to God. [source]

Chapter Summary: John 1

1  The divinity, humanity, office, and incarnation of Jesus Christ
15  The testimony of John
39  The calling of Simon and Andrew, Philip and Nathanael

Greek Commentary for John 1:46

Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? [Εκ Ναζαρετ δυναται τι αγατον ειναι]
Literally, “Out of Nazareth can anything good be.” There is a tinge of scorn in the question as if Nazareth (note position at beginning of sentence) had a bad name. Town rivalry may account to some extent for it since Cana (home of Nathanael) was near Nazareth. Clearly he had never heard of Jesus. The best thing in all the world came out of Nazareth, but Philip does not argue the point. A saying had arisen that no prophet comes out of Galilee (John 7:52), untrue like many such sayings. Come and see Present middle imperative (come on) and second active imperative (and see at once). Philip followed the method of Jesus with Andrew and John (John 1:39), probably without knowing it. Wise is the one who knows how to deal with the sceptic. [source]
Come out of Nazareth [ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ εἶναι]
Literally, “be out of;” a characteristic expression of John. See John 3:31; John 4:22; John 7:17, John 7:22; John 8:23; John 15:19; John 18:36, John 18:38, etc. It means more than to come out of: rather to come out of as that which is of; to be identified with something so as to come forth bearing its impress, moral or otherwise. See especially John 3:31: “He that is of the earth is of the earth;” i.e., partakes of its quality. Compare Christ's words to Nicodemus (John 3:6), and 1 Corinthians 15:47. In the Greek order, out of Nazareth stands first in the sentence as expressing the prominent thought in Nathanael's mind, surprise that Jesus should have come from Nazareth, a poor village, even the name of which does not occur in the Old Testament. Contrary to the popular explanation, there is no evidence that Nazareth was worse than other places, beyond the fact of the violence offered to Jesus by its people (Luke 4:28, Luke 4:29), and their obstinate unbelief in Him (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6). It was a proverb, however, that no prophet was to come from Galilee (John 7:52). -DIVIDER-

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 1:46

Matthew 2:23 Should be called a Nazarene [Ναζωραιος κλητησεται]
Matthew says “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets” It is the plural and no single prophecy exists which says that the Messiah was to be called a Nazarene. It may be that this term of contempt (John 1:46; John 7:52) is what is meant, and that several prophecies are to be combined like Psalm 22:6, Psalm 22:8; Psalm 69:11, Psalm 69:19; Isaiah 53:2, Isaiah 53:3, Isaiah 53:4. The name Nazareth means a shoot or branch, but it is by no means certain that Matthew has this in mind. It is best to confess that we do not know. See Broadus on Matthew for the various theories. But, despised as Nazareth was at that time, Jesus has exalted its fame. The lowly Nazarene he was at first, but it is our glory to be the followers of the Nazarene. Bruce says that “in this case, therefore, we certainly know that the historic fact suggested the prophetic reference, instead of the prophecy creating the history.” The parallels drawn by Matthew between the history of Israel and the birth and infancy of Jesus are not mere fancy. History repeats itself and writers of history find frequent parallels. Surely Matthew is not beyond the bounds of reason or of fact in illustrating in his own way the birth and infancy of Jesus by the Providence of God in the history of Israel. [source]
John 8:47 He that is of [ὁ ὣν ἐκ]
The familiar construction. See on John 1:46. [source]
John 8:23 From above [ἐκ τῶν ἄνω]
Also peculiar to John's Gospel. Compare Colossians 3:1. On the phrase to be of ( εἶναι ἐκ ) see on John 1:46. [source]
John 4:22 Is of the Jews []
Rev., rightly, from the Jews ( ἐκ ). Not therefore belongs to, but proceeds from. See Isaiah href="/desk/?q=isa+2:3&sr=1">Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2. Even the Old Testament idea of salvation is bound up with Christ. See Romans 9:4, Romans 9:5. The salvation is from the Jews, even from that people which has rejected it. See on John 1:19. On the characteristic is from, see on John 1:46. The passage illustrates John's habit of confirming the divine authority of the Old Testament revelation, and of showing its fulfillment in Christ. [source]
John 3:31 Is earthly []
The same phrase, out of the earth, is repeated, signifying of earthly nature. On the characteristic phrase εἶναι ἐκ , to be of, see on John 1:46. [source]
John 14:9 Sayest thou [σὺ]
Emphatic. Thou who didst say, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write” (John 1:46). Omit and before how sayest thou. [source]
John 1:7 For a witness [εἰς μαρτυρίαν]
Revised version of the New Testament, more correctly, for witness: a witness would be, μάρτυρα as Acts 1:8. The sense is for witness-bearing or to bear witness. On the word, see Acts 1:22; 1 Peter 5:1. It is one of John's characteristic words, occurring nearly fifty times in various forms in his Gospel, and thirty or forty times in the Epistles and Revelation. The emphatic development of the idea of witness is peculiar to this Gospel. “It evidently belongs to a time when men had begun to reason about the faith, and to analyze the grounds on which it rested” (Westcott). He develops the idea under the following forms: The witness of the Father (John 5:31, John 5:34, John 5:37); the witness of Christ himself (John 8:14; John 18:37); the witness of works (John 5:17, John 5:36; John 10:25; John 14:11; John 15:24); the witness of Scripture (John 5:39, John 5:40, John 5:46; John 1:46); the witness of the forerunner (John 1:7; John 5:33, John 5:35); the witness of the disciples (John 15:27; John 19:35; John 21:24; 1 John 1:2; 1 John 4:14); the witness of the Spirit (John 15:26; John 16:13, John 16:14; 1 John 5:6). Note the emphasis attached to the idea here, by the twofold form in which it is put: first, generally, for witness, and then by giving the subject of the testimony. [source]
John 1:21 Art thou that prophet? []
Rev., “the prophet.” According to the Greek order, the prophet art thou. See Deuteronomy 18:15, and compare Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37; John 1:46; John 6:14. [source]
John 11:34 Where have ye laid him? [Που τετεικατε αυτον]
Perfect active indicative of τιτημι — tithēmi A simple question for information. The only other like it in John is in John 6:6 where it is expressly stated that Jesus knew what he was going to do. So it was here, only he politely asked for direction to the tomb of Lazarus. The people invite him to come and see, the very language used by Philip to Nathanael (John 1:46). It was a natural and polite reply as they would show Jesus the way, but they had no idea of his purpose. [source]
John 3:31 Is above all [επανω παντων]
Ablative case with the compound preposition επανω — epanō See the same idea in Romans 9:5. Here we have the comments of Evangelist (John) concerning the last words of John in John 3:30 which place Jesus above himself. He is above all men, not alone above the Baptist. Bernard follows those who treat John 3:31-36 as dislocated and put them after John 3:21 (the interview with Nicodemus), but they suit better here. Of the earth John is fond of this use of εκ — ek for origin and source of character as in John 1:46; 1 John 4:5. Jesus is the one that comes out of heaven (ο εκ του ουρανου ερχομενος — ho ek tou ouranou erchomenos) as he has shown in 1:1-18. Hence he is “above all.” [source]
1 John 5:19 We are of God [ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐσμέν]
For the phrase εἷναι ἐκ tobe from, see on John 1:46. For ἐσμέν weare, see on 1 John 3:1. John expresses the relation of believers to God by the following phrases: To be born or begotten of God, γεννηθῆναι ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ (1 John 5:1; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 4:7): denoting the initial communication of the new life. To be of God, εἷναι ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ (John 8:47; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 4:6): denoting the essential connection in virtue of the new life. Child of God, τέκνον Θεοῦ (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:10): denoting the relation established by the new life. [source]
1 John 2:19 Were not of []
See on John 1:46. [source]
1 John 2:16 Of the Father [ἐκ τοῦ πατρός]
Do not spring forth from the Father. On the expression εἶναι ἐκ tobe of, see on John 1:46. “He, therefore, who is always occupied with the cravings of desire and ambition, and is eagerly striving after them, must have all his opinions mortal, and, as far as man can be, must be all of him mortal, because he has cherished his mortal part. But he who has been earnest in the love of knowledge and true wisdom, and has been trained to think that these are the immortal and divine things of a man, if he attain truth, must of necessity, as far as human nature is capable of attaining immortality, be all immortal, for he is ever attending on the divine power, and having the divinity within him in perfect order, he has a life perfect and divine” (Plato, “Timsaeus,” 90). [source]

What do the individual words in John 1:46 mean?

And said to him Nathanael Out of Nazareth is able any good thing to be Says - Philip Come see
Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ Ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ δύναταί τι ἀγαθὸν εἶναι Λέγει Φίλιππος Ἔρχου ἴδε

εἶπεν  said 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
αὐτῷ  to  him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
Ναθαναήλ  Nathanael 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Ναθαναήλ  
Sense: an intimate disciple of Jesus Christ, he is commonly thought to be the same person as Bartholomew.
Ἐκ  Out  of 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἐκ 
Sense: out of, from, by, away from.
Ναζαρὲτ  Nazareth 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: Ναζαρά 
Sense: the ordinary residence and home town of Christ.
δύναταί  is  able 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: δύναμαι  
Sense: to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom.
τι  any 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Nominative Neuter Singular
Root: τὶς  
Sense: a certain, a certain one.
ἀγαθὸν  good  thing 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Singular
Root: ἀγαθός 
Sense: of good constitution or nature.
εἶναι  to  be 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Active
Root: εἰμί  
Sense: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.
Λέγει  Says 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Φίλιππος  Philip 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Φίλιππος  
Sense: an apostle of Christ.
Ἔρχου  Come 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Middle or Passive, 2nd Person Singular
Root: ἔρχομαι  
Sense: to come.
ἴδε  see 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Singular
Root: ἰδού  
Sense: behold, see, lo.