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John 1:38

ESV Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
NIV Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Rabbi' (which means 'Teacher'), 'where are you staying?'
NASB And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, 'What are you seeking?' They said to Him, 'Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?'
CSB When Jesus turned and noticed them following him, he asked them, "What are you looking for? "They said to him, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying? "
NLT Jesus looked around and saw them following. 'What do you want?' he asked them. They replied, 'Rabbi' (which means 'Teacher'), 'where are you staying?'
KJV Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
NKJV Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

What does John 1:38 mean?

Jesus has a habit of cutting right to the most important questions. In this case, His question is the same one God asks everyone who claims to seek Him: "what is it you are really, truly looking for?" The reasons a person seeks Jesus are just as important as what they find. What a person wants affects what they're willing to believe. It's often more important to find out why a person is asking a question than to answer it right away. What the other person seeks is critical to how they will interpret the answer.

John and Andrew (John 1:37) are cautious towards Jesus. Referring to Him as "Rabbi" was a gesture of respect. This verse defines the term "Rabbi" for the reader; these helpful asides are used often in this gospel (John 1:41–42; 9:7; 20:16). Their question suggests that John and Andrew didn't expect to talk much with Him, at once. They expected Him to be busy, or on His way somewhere else. So, they skipped right to asking where they might be able to meet Him later. Jesus' willingness to spend time with them (John 1:39) is not only gracious, but also surprising.
What is the Gospel?
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