Who was Bartholomew in the New Testament?

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Bartholomew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16). The word Bartholomew literally means “son of Talmai” (Num. 13:22; 2 Sam. 3:3; 13:37). This disciple was identified as Nathanael ( John 21:2).

After Jesus called Philip to follow Him, Philip found Nathanael and said him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). Nathaniel exclaimed, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see” (v. 46). There was a touch of scorn in Nathanael’s response to Philip’s thrilling declaration for he was from Cana (John 21:2), which is a short distance from Nazareth, and there is no doubt that he spoke from firsthand knowledge of that city.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (v. 47-49).

Nathanael was one of the few devout who earnestly waited for “the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25) and purposed to observe God’s principles in his life. For a true Israelite was not necessarily a physical descendant of Abraham (John 8:33–44), but one who lived in harmony with the will of God (John 8:39; Acts 10:34, 35; Rom. 2:28, 29).

It was Nathanael deepest desire for clearer light regarding the Baptist’s identification of Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (vs. 29, 36) and as “the Son of God” (v. 34), that had led him to seek a quiet place for meditation and prayer under the tree. Now, in response to that prayer, he was given with conclusive proof that Jesus was divine (Mark 2:8).

As an apostle, Bartholomew (Nathanael) witnessed the risen Savior at the Sea of Tiberias, (John 21:2) and was present at the His ascension (Acts 1:1–11). Christian tradition says that that Bartholomew preached the gospel in Persia and India. At the end, his faithful ministry to the Lord ended with martyrdom.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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