Bartholomew and Nathanael
by Wayne Blank
"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"
In Matthew, Mark and Luke ("the synoptic gospels"), Philip and Bartholomew are always mentioned together, while Nathanael is never mentioned.
"Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him" (Matthew 10:2-4 KJV)
On the other hand, in John, Philip and Nathanael are mentioned together, but nothing is said of Bartholomew. Jesus Christ approved very much of Nathanael's character when He said of Nathanael, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (guile means deception).
"Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Nathanael / Bartholomew (keeping in mind that Matthew, Mark and Luke speak of Bartholomew but never mention Nathanael, while John speaks of Nathanael but never mentions Bartholomew) was among the apostles to whom the risen Christ appeared before His ascension.
"After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed He himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus." (John 21:1-4 KJV)
In the book of Acts, Bartholomew is mentioned while Nathanael is not. If Luke was the author of the book of Acts (as he almost certainly was since Luke and Acts are identically addressed to a man named Theophilus i.e. Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1 - see Luke's Lessons To Theophilus) this would be well in keeping with Luke's always mentioning Bartholomew, but never Nathanael, in the gospel book of Luke.
"Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James." (Acts 1:11-13 KJV)
Fact Finder: Why or how is it that the apostles did not always recognize Jesus Christ after His resurrection?