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how can you say, Show us the Father?
As a Jew, you certainly do not expect to see God in person ; and how can you behold a brighter manifestation of his image and attributes, than that which you have so long beheld in me? You do not know me, Philip, neither me
nor my Father.
This instance of the apostle's incredulity and slowness of apprehension, does not prove that he was more incredulous and dull than his brethren; it only shows how small the impression was which the extraordinary instructions and actions of Jesus had as
yet produced on the whole twelve. They entered into his service with the Jewish ideas of a Messiah; and now, when he was just about to leave them, they were almost as ignorant of the spirituality of his kingdom, as when they first joined themselves to him.
Nothing further is said in the sacred histories to assist us in elucidating Philip's character. The book of Acts relates nothing concerning him; for we must not confound Philip the Apostle, with Philip the Deacon, or Philip the Evangelist, both of whom are there mentioned. The best ancient testimony specifies Scythia as the principal scene of his apostolical labors; from which country he came at last into Phrygia, and dwelt in Hierapo
lis, the chief city in the western part of that province.* There he preached the Gospel of his Master, and planted the seeds of faith in the midst of idolatry; and it is said by some, that it was by effecting the destruction of an object of superstitious worship, that he incurred the hatred and persecution of a part of the inhabitants, who caused him to be imprisoned and severely scourged, and then hung by the neck to a pillar. By others, however, he is said to have died a natural death.
By a concurrence of authorities, Philip is stated
have been a married man, and to have had several daughters
The festival of this apostle, according to the Calendar of the Western Church, is on the first of May.
* This city is mentioned by Paul, in his epistle to the ('olossians, iv. 13. It was near to Colosse and Laodicea, and had probably been visited by Paul.
The next in order of the twelve is Bartholo. mew. Respecting him there is a still greater dearth of information, than there is respecting Philip; for there is absolutely nothing told of him in the New Testament, unless we resort to the supposition, which many scholars have adopted, that he is the same person with Nathanael. In favor of this supposition there are several arguments, which form together a body of strong presumptive evidence.
It is observed, in the first place, that the evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who all place Bartholomew on their catalogues of the apostles, never mention Nathanael ; and that John, who gives the particulars of Nathanael's conversation with our Lord, never mentions Bartholomew. Secondly, as John acquaints us with the fact, that Philip led Nathanael to Jesus, so in the lists of the apostles by the other evangelists, Philip and Bartholomew are constantly joined together as companions. “As they were jointly called to the discipleship,” says Cave," so they are jointly referred in the Apostolic Catalogue, as afterwards we find them joint companions in the writings of the church." Thirdly, it is remarked, that Nathanael is introduced, in the company of several apostles, in the twenty-first chapter of John's Gospel, in such a manner as to lead us to suppose
that he likewise might be one. The passage is that which relates to the appearance of Jesus, after his resurrection, at the sea of Tiberias; on which occasion Peter swam to him from the vessel in which he and the rest were fishing. The disciples, who were present, are thus named ; “ 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." Fourthly, the difference in the two names, which may at first appear to be an argument against this supposition, is rather in its favor. Bartholomew signifies the son of Tolmai, just as Bartimeus, the blind man whom Jesus restored to sight, signifies the son of Timeus; bar being the Hebrew word for son. Nathanael, therefore, might have also been called Bartholomew, after his father, just as Simon was also called Barjonas after his father. Bartholomew could hardly have been the only name of the apostle, because it is a patronymic; and when circumstances agree so well, why might not his first name have been Nathanael? That John never calls Nathanael by the other name of Bartholomew, is no proof that he had no other name; for Matthew, though his other name was Levi, never calls himself by that name, throughout the whole of his own Gospel. And finally, we are led naturally to the presumption that Nathanael must have been an apostle, not only by the circumstance of his being named in the midst of four apostles, but by the tenor of the conversation which Jesus held with him, and the probability that he was one of the very earliest disciples.
If we are convinced by these considerations that Bartholomew was the same person with Nathanael, we of course know something of his character and history.
We view him as inhabitant of Cana, in Galilee, where was performed the first miracle of his Lord, soon after his interview with him; as probably called to be an apostle on the same day with Philip, by whom he was introduced to Jesus; and as one who was characterized by the Saviour, and therefore deservedly, as an “ Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile.”