The biblical Nathanael depicted in stained glass in the transept of St. John's Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales

Nathanael (Hebrew נתנאל, Greek: ναθαναηλ, "God has given"), or Nathaniel,[1] of Cana in Galilee was a follower or disciple of Jesus, mentioned only in Chapters 1 and 21 of the Gospel of John.


In John's Gospel, Nathanael is introduced as a friend of Philip, from Bethsaida.[2] The first disciples called by Jesus are all portrayed as reaching out immediately to family or friends: thus, Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph”.[3]

Nathanael is described as initially being skeptical about whether the Messiah could come from Nazareth, saying: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?",[4] but nonetheless, he accepts Philip's invitation to find out. Jesus immediately characterizes him as "an Israelite in whom is no deceit".[5] Some scholars hold that Jesus' quote "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you", is based on a Jewish figure of speech, referring to studying the Torah. Nathanael recognizes Jesus as "the Son of God" and "the King of Israel".

He reappears (as "Nathanael of Cana") at the end of John's Gospel, as one of the disciples to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection.[2][6]

Nathanael has often been identified with Bartholomew the Apostle mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts 1:13.[2][7]


  1. ^ John 21:2 in the International Standard Version
  2. ^ a b c Driscoll, James F. (1911). "Nathanael" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ John 1:45
  4. ^ John 1:46
  5. ^ John 1:47
  6. ^ John 21:2
  7. ^ "John Wesley's Notes on the Gospel according to Saint John: Chapter 1". Wesley Center Online. Northwest Nazarene University. Retrieved 2 February 2016.