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

Nathanael[Note 1], also known as Nathaniel[Note 2] of Cana was a disciple of Jesus, mentioned only in chapters 1 and 21 of the Gospel of John.

He is typically viewed as the same person as Bartholomew.[1]

Gospel account

In the Gospel of John, Nathanael is introduced as a friend of Philip, from Bethsaida (1:43-44).[2] The first disciples who follow Jesus are 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[who?] hold that when Jesus said, "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.[citation needed] Nathanael recognizes Jesus as "the Son of God" and "the King of Israel".[6]

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][7]

Identification as Bartholomew

Nathanael is usually identified with Bartholomew the Apostle mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts 1:13.[2][8] The reason for this identification is Bartholomew being a surname, and because Bartholomew and Philip are always paired together in the synoptic gospels.[9] The earliest known example of this identification is from Ishodad of Merv (c. 850). The earliest known reference in the West is in Rupert of Deutz (d. 1129).

However, some disagree with this identification. Augustine suspected that Nathanael was not one of the twelve at all because he was so versed in the law.[10] The earliest identification of Nathanael with one of the Twelve Disciples is found in the 2nd-century Epistula Apostolorum, where he is identified with or takes the place of James, son of Alphaeus.[11]


  1. ^ Hebrew נתנאל, Greek: Ναθαναήλ, "God has given"
  2. ^ As John 21:2 in the International Standard Version. Also "Natan'el" in the Complete Jewish Bible.


  1. ^ "Are Bartholomew and Nathanael the same person in the Bible?". Aleteia — Catholic Spirituality, Lifestyle, World News, and Culture. August 24, 2022.
  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 1:49
  7. ^ John 21:2
  8. ^ "John Wesley's Notes on the Gospel according to Saint John: Chapter 1". Wesley Center Online. Northwest Nazarene University. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  9. ^ DRISCOLL, JAMES F. "Nathanael". Catholic Answers.
  10. ^ "Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aquinas". Retrieved 2024-01-21.
  11. ^ Hill, C. E. (1998). "The Identity of John's Nathanael". Journal for the Study of the New Testament. 20 (67): 45–61. doi:10.1177/0142064x9802006703. S2CID 170347938.