In Genesis 3:15 we see that Jesus will attack Satan. In Genesis 22:18 God tells Abraham that all nations will be blessed by the name of his descendants. In Deuteronomy 18:18-22 God tells the Israelites that he will raise up a prophet like Moses and will punish anyone that does not listen to him. We also learn how to tell if a prophet is true in these verses. Moving on to Isaiah 7:14 Phillip mentions the son of Joseph which would have been doubted by everyone and by mentioning prophets Phillips is saying Jesus is the virgin born. Or even Isaiah 9:6 where it says the child will be called everlasting God and mighty father. Phillips statement is loaded to someone who has a great knowledge of the Tanakh or Jewish Old Testament.
Nathanael responds like any of us would when someone tells us they just saw God in human form. He mocks can anything good come from Nazareth. Phillip simply responds come and see. Phillip then takes Nathanael to introduce Him to Jesus. I’m goin to take a minute here for application. When we meet Jesus and understand the wonderful thing of who He is we should want to go to our family and introduce them to Jesus. It is not our responsibility to convince them that Jesus is who we say He is, the Holy Spirit will do that as we will see in a minute. We just need to make sure we show that we believe who He is and that we want them to meet Him and see for themselves.
When Jesus sees Philip and Nathanael coming He takes it upon Himself to convince Nathanael who He is. Jesus states, “here comes an Israelite in whom there is nothing false.” This word dolos means no deceit, tricks and is also translated stealth. So Jesus is stating here is a good God honoring worshiping Jew that is true to his word.
After such a compliment Nathanael wanted to know how did Jesus know him. Jesus stated I saw you under the fig tree and Phillip responds in total belief that Jesus is who He says He is. So what happened under the fig tree. Honestly we don’t know and anything I say would be speculation and opinion which I’m going to give.
In Jewish custom studying was often done under fig trees due to the shade provided. All that would show us is that Nathanael studied his bible. I don’t believe that alone would have convinced him. Jesus preached against the pharisees false righteousness in many of His talks with them. I guess that while Nathanael was studying something happened and he got up and helped somebody with something, quite possibly he helped someone that by law he probably normally wouldn’t help. Again I state that this just my opinion because we have no way of knowing why this had such a profound effect on him.
Jesus in verse 50 says you believe because I saw you under a fig tree, but you will see even more amazing things than these. Then turns to everyone around him (The two yous in verse 51 are plural) and the bible does not tell us who this is other than Phillip and Nathanael, and Jesus says Amen, Amen which is stating something is a fact you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” This is referring to Jacob’s dream of a ladder that the angels of God used ascend and descend to Earth on. Jesus is telling them He is that Ladder that connects us with God.