John 1:35–51: The Call of Jesus
The secret is out. John the Baptist has testified that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), the one on whom the Spirit descended and remained (John 1:32), the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33), and even the Son of God (John 1:34). Jesus is a grown man who has lived his life with a concealed identity, so that not even John the Baptist, his own cousin, really knew who he was (John 1:31). But now that John’s ministry has come to its fulfillment in the identification and revelation of Jesus, there is no going back to Jesus’ former obscurity.
Even though his secret is out, Jesus is not interested in making a big splash in the wider religious community—at least, not yet. Instead, his first priority is to gather a core group of disciples who will follow him in varying degrees of closeness. For his closest inner circle, Jesus gathers men like Peter, and possibly John (if John is the unnamed second disciple with Andrew), and maybe even James (see comments below on “first…his own” from John 1:41). As other disciples who are part of the twelve, Jesus gathers Andrew and Philip, and possibly Nathanael, if Nathanael is another name for the disciple known as Bartholomew in the Synoptic Gospels. Otherwise, Nathanael is one of the many people who believe and follow Jesus through his life, even though not being a part of the formal group of the twelve.