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Nor need the differ
and this for many reasons. ence of name cause any difficulty. For Bartholomew is not, strictly speaking, a proper name, but a name taken from the father, Bar, in the Hebrew tongue, meaning, 'a son of;' and so Bartholomew will mean son of Tholomew or Tholmai, even as Bartimæus means son of Timæus, and Bar-Jonah means son of Jonah. And so, there will be no more difficulty in this apostle being called, at once, Nathaniel and Bartholomew, i. e., Nathaniel son of Tholomew, than there is in another apostle, Peter, being called at once, Simon and Barjonah, i. e. Simon, son of Jonah. Setting aside then this apparent difference of names, as really no difficulty, we will consider the reasons which exist for thinking St. Bartholomew and Nathaniel to be one and the same person.
They are as follows:-The three evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, make express mention of St. Bartholomew, as one of the twelve apostles, but they make no mention whatever of Nathaniel. Again, the other evangelist, St. John, makes mention, more than once, of Nathaniel, but makes no mention at all of St. Bartholomew. Then again, the three evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, (and, after them,
the early Christian writers,) join together St. Philip and St. Bartholomew; even as St. John, in his first chapter, makes St. Philip to be the person who first brought Nathaniel into the presence of Christ. "The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathaniel, 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. And Nathaniel said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile ! Nathaniel saith unto him, Whence knowest Thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee. Nathaniel answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel. answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. And He saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the
angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." Thus (if we are right in taking St. Bartholomew and Nathaniel to be one and the same person), we have, in this place, our Lord's own witness to the holy apostle, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile;" a true and single-hearted son of Israel, of him who was "a plain man;”—and we have the example of that ready faith, that simple trust in God, which are among the blessed fruits of a guileless spirit. They who have a single eye, best see God; they who have a single mind, best follow God: deceit, hypocrisy, worldly thoughts and cares, worldly wisdom, these are the things which shut out God, and make men averse to see, and to follow, God's leading.
And there is, further, another passage in St. John's Gospel, c. xxi., which would seem to mark Nathaniel as an apostle, and so as the same, probably, with St. Bartholomew. When "Jesus shewed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias, . . . there were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathaniel of Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of His disciples." Now, as we know that all (beside Nathaniel) whose names are given, were apostles, Simon Peter, Thomas, the sons
of Zebedee, St. James, and St. John, it has been thought that Nathaniel also may have been an apostle; and for this reason, further, that (whereas St. John says, "This is now the third time that Jesus shewed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead") the persons to whom our Lord shewed Himself on each of the two former occasions mentioned by St. John, were, without question, His apostles and none other.
As regards the life and ministry of St. Bartholomew after our Lord's ascension, and the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, this is what we gather from the writers of early Church history:-That St. Bartholomew preached the gospel through the barbarous nations of the East, and carried the knowledge of Christ even into furthest India, insomuch that a Christian missionary, nearly two hundred years after, found in those parts persons who retained the Christian faith, and who had among them a portion of the holy Scriptures of the New Testament, the Gospel of St. Matthew, which, together with the Christian faith, they said that their fathers had received from St. Bartholomew. From India he returned to the north-west parts of Asia, where he is said to have again met his
ancient fellow-apostle, St. Philip, at Hierapolis. From this he passed into Lycaonia, (the scene also of the labours of St. Paul,) where he made converts to Christ; in what other countries he preached the gospel we know not; this only we hear, that he bore his last witness for Christ, and suffered martyrdom, in Armenia, being, as some say, crucified; or, as others, flayed alive; or, as is not improbable, being first flayed, and then nailed to the cross. However that may be, he sealed with his blood the witness to Christ which he had borne in his life; he shrunk not from his Master's Cross, but was content to bear it after Him, patiently and cheerfully; and, as we are told, continued to comfort his Christian converts during his last moments.
Blessed and holy is the memory of God's saints, of all who have departed this life in His true faith and fear: and thrice blessed the memory of His apostles and martyrs! "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world!" They have sown with their blood the seed of the Church,-their souls are in the hand of God,-they are now resting from their labours, and in the judgment-day, "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."