Witnesses to the Christ, 1:19-51

iii] We have found the Messiah


The Baptist, having recognized that "Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world", now reveals his discovery to two of his disciples. After spending the day with Jesus, Andrew goes off and finds his brother Simon, announcing to him that "we have found the Messiah." Simon returns with Andrew to Jesus, and, on being greeting by Jesus, is assigned a new name, Cephas, which means Peter.


The disciples of the Baptist testify that Jesus is the messiah.


i] Context: See 1:19-28.


ii] Background: As noted below, John's gospel is not a chronological account of the life of Christ and so it is difficult to place these events in a temporal sequence of Christ's ministry. Jesus is born around 5BC and the Baptist possibly commences his ministry around AD28. The Baptist's handover to Jesus is around AD30, and going by the clues in John's gospel, Jesus' ministry is around three years long, being crucified in AD33 when he was close to 36 years old. The chronology of Christ's life remains unclear and so the dates are but a good guess.


iii] Structure: We have found the Messiah:

The Baptist introduces two disciples to Jesus, v35-36;

Andrew and his friend spend the day with Jesus, v37-39;

Andrew's brother Simon joins the team, v40-42.


iv] Interpretation:

John continues to set the ground for his gospel with a narrative that not only provides testimonies to Jesus' person, but introduces us to the key players, here Jesus' first disciples. John lets us into an interesting face of history, namely that some of Jesus' disciples were originally disciples of the Baptist. The Baptist, having deduced that Jesus is the messiah, points his disciples to Jesus. Was Simon Peter also a disciple of the Baptist? Their deduction that Jesus is the messiah is without reservation, but of course, we know that the full realization of who Jesus is was a gradual process for the disciples; for John, at this point in his gospel, their testimony is what is important. John is also not very interested in timing. If we only had John's account of the call of the disciples we might conclude that it was at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, but this is highly unlikely. Given v43, John has skipped to the commencement of Jesus' public ministry in Galilee, cf., Mk.1:16. It is also worth noting that in this account Jesus doesn't actually "call" these disciples, but rather they come to him - they seek him out. None-the-less, in the following passage Jesus seeks out Philip and calls him with the words "follow me."


v] Synoptics:

In this narrative section of the gospel, John's purpose is to give testimony to Jesus. John is authoring a theological meditation on Christ, not a chronological history, and as such Jesus appears on the scene as radiant light and is recognized as such by those who commit to him - Son of God, Lamb of God. Ridderbos thinks he writes assuming that his readers are aware of the synoptic tradition, of the call of the apostles and of their full number (not just the five or six from John's gospel). John's purpose is to go "back behind the 'call' stories known from elsewhere." John may, or may not have, a copy of a synoptic gospel before him, but he would be fully aware of the oral tradition which served as the foundation for the synoptic gospels. He is not writing an alternate account which seeks to correct that tradition, rather he runs his own argument to achieve his own intended purpose (cf., 20:31), and he does so by drawing on the Johannine source material personally available to him (See introductory notes).

Text - 1:35

We have found the Messiah, 1:35-42: i] The Baptist introduces his disciples to Jesus, v35-36. At face value this incident follows on from the events of the previous day and so presumably take place in Bethany, cf., v28. The Baptist is present with two of his disciples (followers, adherents) whom he directs to Jesus.

th/ dat. "the [next day]" - the [tomorrow again john stood]. The pluperfect eiJsthkei is best translated "was standing", ESV. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the temporal adverb "tomorrow" into a substantive, "the next day." The dative is temporal; "On the next day." "The very next day", Peterson. "On the third day of a rather momentous week ...."

ek + gen. "[two] of [his disciples" - [and] from [two the disciples of him]. The preposition here stands in place of a partitive genitive. John obviously has more than two disciples.


The Baptist repeats his public testimony (v29) to two of his disciples. Verses 35 and 36 make more sense when reworked: "On the following day, John was standing there with two of his disciples when Jesus passed by. John looked at him intently and said, 'Behold the Lamb of God'", Rieu.

embleyaV (emblepw) aor. part. "when he saw" - [and] having looked, seen. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV, or possibly modal.

tw/ Ihsou (oV) dat. "Jesus" - Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "to gaze upon, look at, fix eyes on."

peripatounti (peripatew) dat. pres. part. "passing by" - walking around [he says]. The participle is adjectival, predicative, asserting a fact about "Jesus", dative in agreement with "Jesus".

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the Lamb] of God" - [behold, he exclaimed, the lamb] of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or better with a more idiomatic sense, "the sacrificial Lamb which God provides." As previously noted, it is unclear what image John has in mind here, let alone the Baptist, although it obviously has an OT background. Barrett thinks the image has two primary sources, one the OT and the other the Eucharist. So, Jesus is the Passover lamb, the Paschal lamb which is sacrificed at the Passover. In Judaism this lamb does not take sin away, but when the image is aligned to the Last Supper we have a lamb which does take away sins, a sacrificial lamb offered on behalf of the people.


ii] Andrew and his friend spend the day with Jesus, v37-39: The Baptist's two disciples "followed Jesus", although probably not "followed as a disciple." At this stage they just "followed along", although Barrett thinks John may have both meanings in mind. There is no call to follow, and such is not necessary, although Jesus may have called them earlier.

autou gen. pro. "[when the two disciples heard] him" - [and the two disciples heard] him. Genitive of direct object after to verb "to hear."

lalountoV (lalew) gen. pres. part. "say" - speaking. The participle is best classified as the genitive complement of the direct object "him", of the verb "to hear", standing in a double genitive construction. Of course, in function it is predicative.

kai "-" - and. Possibly with a consecutive sense; "and as a result, followed Jesus", Harris.

tw/ Ihsou (oV) dat. "[they followed] Jesus" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow."


Jesus questions the actions of these disciples of John.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, so possibly, "then Jesus turned ..."

strafeiV (strafw) aor. pas. part. "Turning around" - [and jesus] turning [and beholding]. This attendant circumstance participle, along with "beholding", expresses action accompanying the verb "to say"; "Jesus turned and saw (noticed) them following and said to them", ESV.

akolouqountaV (akolouqew) pres. part. "following" - [them] following. Accusative complement of the direct object "them" of the participle "beholding", standing in a double accusative construction.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [says] to them. Dative of indirect object. "Jesus asked them."

ti pro. "what [do you want]?" - what [do you seek, inquire]? Interrogative pronoun, accusative direct object of the verb "to seek." The question is probably not a significant one, not "what do you seek in life", Fenton, but more like "what are you (blokes) after?", Peterson.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional; indicating a move in the dialogue to a new speaker.

oiJ "they" - Typical use of an article for a pronoun, here autoi.

autw/ dat. pro. "[said]" - [said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

meqermhneuomenon (meqermeneuw) pres. mid./pas. part. "which means [teacher]" - [rabbi (great one), which is said] being translated [teacher]. The participle is adverbial, modifying "is said", probably best treated as temporal; "which means, when translated, 'teacher of the laws of Judaism'".

pou adv. "where [are you staying]?" - Interrogative local adverb. As Schnackenburg observes, this is a request for a private audience; "Is there any chance we can come and have a quiet chat with you at your place?" The Baptist has just stated that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of God and obviously these disciples of John want check Jesus out.


Jesus invites the two disciples of the Baptist to stay with him. It's about 4pm and presumably they stay the night with Jesus and then head off in the morning to tell Simon Peter the news.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [he says] to them. Dative of indirect object. Note how the historic / narrative present tense "he says" indicates the change of speaker from the disciples, v38, to Jesus.

oyesqe (oJraw) fut. "you will see" - [come and] see / you will see. The NIV has taken the future as predictive; "Sure! Come along and you will see where I live." Cassirer takes the future as an imperative, "Come and see for yourselves." The dialogue is not substantial, but if John was the other disciple, we can imagine he well remembers this encounter with Jesus.

oun "so" - therefore [they went and saw where he stays]. Drawing a logical conclusion - they asked, Jesus said yes, and so they went and stayed with him that night. This seems more likely than a short visit after work, before the evening meal, cf., note v41.

par (para) + dat. "with [him]" - [and remained] with [him that day]. Here expressing association / accompaniment. The verb menw, "to abide, continue, remain", may have a double meaning - to abide in Christ = to become a disciple - but it is probably just a factual statement.

wJV "[it was] about [four]" - [hour was] as [tenth]. Here expressing an approximation; "It was already about four o'clock in the afternoon", CEV. The hours of daylight are divided up in approximately 12 units of time making the tenth hour about 4pm.


iii] Andrew's brother Simon joins the team, v40-42: It is rather interesting how John names Andrew, but not the other disciple. This may be because it is Andrew who brings Simon Peter to Jesus, but many commentators are of the view that this is one of those occasions throughout the gospel where the apostle John plays a part in the events, but chooses not to big-note himself.

SimwnoV Petrou (oV) gen. "Simon Peter's [brother]" - [it was andrew the brother] of simon peter. The genitive is adjectival, relational. Note that "the brother of Simon Peter" stands in apposition to "Andrew".

ek + gen. "[one] of" - [one] from. Here serving in the place of a partitive genitive, as NIV.

twn gen. "the [two]" - The article serves as a nominalizer turning the adjective into a substantive.

twn akousantwn (akouw) gen. aor. part. "who heard" - the one having heard [from john and having followed him]. The participle, as with "having followed", is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the two", as NIV. Again "followed as a disciple" may be implied, but probably not; "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who had heard John's testimony about Jesus, and who had accompanied Jesus to where he was staying."

para + gen. "what [John] had said" - from [john]. Here expressing source / origin.

autw/ dat. pro. "[followed] Jesus" - him. Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after."


Note the variant prwi, "Early in the morning"; "In the morning", Moffatt. Andrew finds Peter and tells him "we have found the Messiah." It is interesting to note that only John, out of all the gospel writers, uses the title "Messiah", again also in 4:25. The synoptic gospels stick to the Greek title "Christ" - just another hint that John is writing to Jews. We know from the synoptic gospels that Andrew's understanding of Jesus' messiahship would be limited at this point in time, but John is interested in Andrew's testimony to Christ not the depth of his understanding. Also, in the synoptic gospels, Peter is the first to testify that Jesus is the Christ, and this only occurs midway through Jesus' ministry, cf., Mk.8:27.

prwton adv. "the first thing [Andrew did]" - [this one = he found] first. Variant prwtoV. Possibly as an adjective such that Andrew is the first to find Simon Peter, but better as a temporal adverb such that the first thing Andrew did after staying with Jesus was to go off and find his brother Simon Peter and tell him what had transpired. "The first thing Andrew did in the morning ...."

Simwna (wn wnoV) acc. "Simon" - [the = his own brother] simon. Accusative standing in apposition to "the own brother."

autw/ dat. pro. "[tell] him" - [and says] to him [we have found the messiah (the anointed one)]. Dative of indirect object. For the participle "being translated", see v38.

meqermhneuomenon (meqermhneuw) pres. mid./pas. part. "[that is the Christ]" - [which is] being translated [christ]. The participle with the verb to-be estin forms a present periphrastic construction; "the translation of the word is Christ", Barclay. The Greek term for "the anointed one" is commonly used in the synoptic gospels, but John uses the Semitic term "Messiah" and translates it for his Greek readers. If his gospel was originally composed for Gentiles he would surely just use the word "Christ", but if for Hellenistic Jews, he would likely use the more respectful Semitic title and then translate it. It is though strange how John constantly uses the term "the Jews" for the opponents of Jesus without specifying that they are Israel's disbelieving religious establishment. This is somewhat insulting if John's intended readers are Jews, but then maybe that's the point, they are not believing Jews.


John records an Operation Andrew - leading someone to Christ. John is probably not trying to make the point that Jesus can foretell the future, nor that he is the divine revealer in command of his designated role, so Bultman. The record is factual, rather than theological, but it does serve to remind us that Jesus reads the person behind the mask, the real person, and so he reads in Peter a man who will ultimately become a warrior for the gospel.

hgagen (agw) aor. "he brought [him]" - he led, brought [him to jesus]. The aorist may be classified as constative, expressing the complex action involved in bringing Simon to Jesus. Fanning suggests that the emphasis falls on the completion of the actions, so not "leads him to Jesus", but "brought him to Jesus."

embleyaV (emblepw) aor. part. "[Jesus] looked at [him and said]" - [jesus] having looked at [him and said]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to say."

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "to look at."

Iwnnou (hV ou) gen. "[son of] John" - [you are simon son] of john. The genitive is adjectival, relational. "Son of John" stands in apposition to "Simon".

PetroV (oV) "Peter" - [you will be called cephas, which being translated, interpreted] peter. Nominative complement of the pronoun o}, "which". The future verb "will be called" probably includes a present sense as well, so "from this moment", Barrett. Matthew records the Aramaic version of Simon's name, "Simon Bar-Jona." John gives us the Aramaic name for "Peter", namely "Cephas", meaning "rock", and then translates it for us into Greek, Petros = "Rocky / Rock-man". Peter will play a foundational role in the life of the early church, which role is expanded somewhat in the synoptics, cf., Matt.16:17-18 (although expanded in such a way as to promote a 2000 year old argument!!!). Jesus is playing with words and gives Simon a nickname that suits his role in the New Testament church, and probably his character, although he was anything but rock-like at Christ's crucifixion (a failure that gives hope to all of us in the midst of our own failings!).


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