John 1:37-39:

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’

They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’), ‘where are you staying?’

‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

What is the significance of this question? Why was it important for them to know and see where Jesus was staying?

3 Answers 3


This is a very good question because it illustrates the sharp contrast between the learning styles of then and now.

And if thou see a man of understanding, go to him early in the morning, and let thy foot wear the steps of his doors. [37] Let thy thoughts be upon the precepts of God, and meditate continually on his commandments: and he will give thee a heart, and the desire of wisdom shall be given to thee

Sirach 6:36-37

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. 35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.

Proverbs 8:34-35

In that day and time, there weren't "public" institutions of learning: parents or those interested in becoming 'disciples' of a particular teacher (Rabbi) would entreat (wear out the door) to get 'accepted' as a disciple. The importance was not placed on where the 'facility' was, but where the 'Rabbi' was. We see this illustrated when Paul declared that he was a disciple of Gamaliel:

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

Acts 22:3

He didn't "matriculate" at the University of Jerusalem-this is a 'western' concept of education; that one can be 'well rounded' if one can be taught by a diversity of instructors-then make up one's own mind as to what seemed best.

To be a 'disciple'(disciplined one) meant that one absorbed everything about the one giving instruction, "sitting at the feet", or "wearing out the door" of the one who instructed. The understanding was, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord" (Matthew 10:24-25).

The 2 disciples of John the Baptist that heard John declare, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" (John 1:36) called Jesus "Rabbi" in vs 38, indicating He was someone worthy and desirous to be a disciple of. "Where do you live?" was equivalent to saying, 'Can I be your disciple?' Jesus apparently knew beforehand that they were given to Him by His Father (John 17:12) and accepted their request.

In Western Culture, we often think in terms of 'mastering' a particular concept, trade, or profession. We do this by seeking a variety of individuals in an environment suited for that particular occupation. But true discipleship binds one not to a trade or even discipline, but to their Master; 'sitting at their feet' and absorbing the gift of God made available through them, until they become 'like' the Master.


On the one hand, I suggest there is nothing significant about the disciples' question. They were obviously fascinated with Jesus' teaching. Consequently, they wanted to spend more time with him.

Put yourself in their position. You're talking to a respected teacher on the street, and you are fascinated by what he has to say. When he turns to walk away--since you want to hear more, you simply ask him:

"Uh, Rabbi, where do you hang your hat? We'd love to hear more from you, if that's all right with you."

Contrary to popular thinking, Jesus did have places to stay, whether in Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethany, and probably other places that escape my thinking. His base of operations, so to speak, was likely a house in Capernaum. Only late in His public ministry did He say,

"The foxes have holes, and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matthew 8:20: Luke 9:58).

Even that expression doesn't necessarily mean Jesus had no place to crash; it does mean He owned neither house nor land; in other words, things which we mortals consider to be relatively permanent and immoveable, were not of interest to Jesus. He had bigger fish to fry, so to speak!

On the other hand, there is something significant about the disciples' questions about "where are you going?" and"where are you staying [, Jesus]?" We read in the Tanakh,

"The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1 KJV).

Jesus, as the eternal Word, the Son of the living God, owned everything, since

"All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:1-3).

Given His role in creation, Jesus' humble self-emptying is all the more amazing (see Philippians 2:5-7, especially v.7). Clearly, He shunned five-star accommodations--though He was certainly entitled to them--in favor of an itinerant ministry with its coach seating, the occasional crashing on a friend's floor (or mat), or even sleeping under the stars!

I used to sing in Sunday school:

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,

The wealth in every mine.

He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,

The sun and stars that shine.

Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell,

He is my Father, so they're mine as well.

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,

I know that He will care for me!

Again, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe was under no obligation to become poor for the sake of us sinners. By rights, he could have lived in the finest mansion or palace imaginable. We are told very clearly in Scripture, however, that

"You know the grace of our Lord Jesus, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Sorry for the prolix answer, but I sometimes (OK, almost always) get on a roll and stray from the question.


When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. John 1:36-39 New International Version (NIV)

The disciples did not yet understand spiritually the word Lamb, it was close to the time of the Jewish meal, so the disciples were hungry and wanted to eat a lamb in the house of Jesus.

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