Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The First Disciples of Jesus

The gospel of John records several short conversations Jesus had as He began to attract disciples at the beginning His ministry. These conversations are contained in verse 35-51 of John 1.


One of John the Baptist’s disciples was Andrew. Two things led him to begin following Jesus. First, John proclaimed Jesus as “the Lamb of God.” Then, as Andrew heard Jesus speak, he became convinced that he had found “the Messiah.”

We do not have the words Jesus used that convinced Andrew that He was the anointed One. However, we do have words of Jesus available to us, that clearly show the truthfulness of Andrew’s conclusion.

Simon Peter

We know that Andrew believed that Jesus was the Christ because John records that statement in Andrew’s conversation with his brother Simon. “We have found the Messiah.” Andrew brought Simon to Jesus, who renamed him Peter (Cephas). The name Cephas is Aramic, and literally means “a stone.” The Greek equivalent to the name is Petros, or in the English, Peter.

The name is certainly appropriate for Peter, as the man showed himself to be a steadfast and preeminent apostle of Jesus. Though little is said of Andrew after this point, other than naming him as one of the twelve in the lists of the apostles, Peter has a large part to play in the preaching of the gospel and in the establishment of the Lord’s church as revealed in the New Testament.

Peter’s new name gave rise to a play on words by Jesus later in His ministry. In Matthew 16 the gospel records Peter’s confession that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vs. 16). In response, Jesus said, “you are Peter (Petros, defined by W.E. Vine as a “detached stone or boulder, or a stone that might be thrown or easily moved), and on this rock (Petra, defined by Vine as a “mass of rock… a type of sure foundation”) I will build My church…” (vs. 18). Here a contrast is made, revealing that the church is established upon the firm foundation that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God.

Philip and Nathanael

The day after His conversation with Peter, Jesus came across Philip, and said to him, “Follow Me.” In the same manner as Andrew, Philip was convinced of Jesus’ standing as God’s Son, and likewise sought to enlarge Jesus’ influence by recruiting others to the cause. He found Nathanael, and proclaimed to him Jesus, as “Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote…” (vs. 45).

Nathanael was initially skeptical, as the region Jesus came from, Nazareth, was not well respected by the Jews. But, at Philip’s insistence, the two went to Jesus.

Jesus wasted little time in convincing Nathanael of His divinity. Without introduction, He indicated a personal knowledge of Nathanael by proclaiming him as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (vs. 47). Of course, Nathanael was taken aback, as he knew that he had not met Jesus before. How could this man know his character, when the two had never met?

Nathanael asked Jesus, “How do you know me?” Jesus’ answer again established His divine nature. He said, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

This may seem to be an innocuous statement, but Nathanael’s response indicated that it was an amazing thing. From his response, we can postulate that Jesus could not have naturally seen Nathaneal. Further, physical sight does not sufficiently explain Jesus’ ability to discern the character of Nathanel. No, Jesus was showing in a divine and miraculous way that He was who Philip claimed that He was.

At Nathaneal’s confession that “Rabbi, You are the Son of God!”, Jesus assured him that greater signs were coming, “You will see greater things than these” (vs. 50).

It is difficult to establish with certainty the meaning of Jesus’ final words, “Hereafter you shall se heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (vs. 51). It may be Jesus was referring to the care of God and the deliverance of Jesus in doing God’s will. It may be that Jesus was referencing His final ascension into Heaven after his resurrection (cf. Acts. 1: 9-11). Whatever the case, Jesus certainly had the testimony of God, through signs, wonders and various miracles, that He was God’s son. (cf. Hebrews 2:4).