John 4:1-54 - Outline of John (MENU page)
4:1. When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard
that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
4:3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
Jesus avoided unnecessary confrontation with the Pharisees,
because His hour had not yet come. (cp. 3:22-25; Mat 4:12; also see John 10:39,40)
4:4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
Samaria was a region between Judea (on the south) and Galilee (on the north).
Because Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another (v.9), Jews usually travelled via a road to the east of the Jordan River, even though the direct route through Samaria was shorter.
must needs...{ie., it was necessary} - He was compelled, not by the need to get to Galilee quickly (cp. v.43),
but by the Father's will (v.34). cp. Luke 19:10
4:5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar,
near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
cp. Gen 33:18,19; 48:21,22; Josh 24:32 (Sychar was very near to Shechem.)
4:6 Now Jacob's well was there.
"Jacob's well is one-half mile south of Sychar, on the high road from Jerusalem where it curves to enter the valley between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. Situated near Joseph's tomb, on the ground purchased by Jacob, the Biblical site is well authenticated." [ThomCRB]
Jesus therefore, being wearied with [his] journey, sat thus on the well:
[and] it was about the sixth hour.
wearied- We glimpse the actuality of His humanity.-
"The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace... sitting weary... and thirsty... dependent upon an outcast woman for a little water." [GWms]
the sixth hour- ie., 6 pm (by Roman reckoning), or 12 noon (by Hebrew reckoning).
John's Gospel appears to use Roman time. [See the Notes at 19:14.]
It was not yet the cool of the evening, when the women would draw water. cp. Gen 24:11
4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water:
a woman- she came alone. Why? By reading ahead (v.18),
we can see reasons that her company was not welcomed by the village women.
But had we been there, could we have seen the loneliness and hurt of her heart? Jesus did.
Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
4:8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
There are startling contrasts between Nicodemus and this woman:
Nicodemus -the Samaritan woman -
came seekingwas indifferent
a respected ruleran outcast
serious mindedinitially flippant
a Jewa Samaritan
knowledge of scriptureignorant of scripture
Both the 'churchman' and the 'woman of the world' needed to be born again.
But Jesus dealt very differently with them:
  • With Nicodemus, He was direct and blunt, and spoke with the authority of the God (whom Nicodemus claimed to know). 3:3
  • With the woman, He humbled Himself, and asked for her assistance.
    "Two isolated hearts met - His isolated by holiness, for He was separate from sinners;
    - hers isolated by sin, which separated her from society..." [GWms].
    Who but He could bridge the gulf with so few words?
''Give me to drink.'' -
4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him,
How is it that thou, being a Jew,
askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?
for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
dealings- GK= sunchraomai, associations, common usage (eg., of vessels like waterpots).
Samaritans- were despised by the Jews, although they shared a common ancestor (Jacob, v.12).
Samaritans were descendants of Jews who had intermarried with gentiles following the Assyrian captivity of Israel (which occurred in 721 BC). Their religion was a blend of Judaism and heathen customs. Historically, the Samaritans had hindered Israel's return to the land and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (cp. Ezra 4:9,10,24; Neh 4:1,2).
how is it... a Jew...- The woman is astounded.
Jesus had initiated contact with her across several impenetrable social barriers...
  • Race- a Jew would avoid any gentile, and especially a Samaritan. cp. Acts 10:28
  • Gender - a Rabbi would avoid direct interaction with any woman, not of his family.
  • Character - a Rabbi would shun a woman of ill repute.
  • Purity- a Rabbi would become ceremonially unclean by drinking from a Samaritan cup.
4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her,
If thou knewest the gift of God,
and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink;
{1:14,18; 3:13; Isa 9:6}
thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
{3:5-7; 7:37-39}
if you knew- Like Nicodemus, the woman could not discern spiritual things (3:3,4; 1Cor 2:14).
Her mind was focused on earthly things (cp. 3:12).
4:11 The woman saith unto him, Sir,
thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep:
from whence then hast thou that living water?
4:12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well,
and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Sir- GK= kurios, lord.
Her tone is changing from flippancy to curious respect.
the well- GK= phrear, a dug well. Jacob's well was hand-dug, the lower portion through limestone.
deep- Jacob's well is about 100 feet deep.
art thou greater...? - See Isa 12:1-6; Isa 55:1
4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her,
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
{cp. 6:35}
but the water that I shall give him shall be
{become} in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
well- GK= pege, fountain, spring (a different word from v.11). cp. 7:37-39
4:15 The woman saith unto him,
Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
give me- He has aroused her interest in, and whet her thirst for, living water.
She asks according to her fleshly mind. Rom 8:5; James 4:3
He answers to give her understanding. 1Joh 5:20
4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
4:17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband.

Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
4:18 For thou hast had five husbands;
and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband:
{cp. Mark 10:11,12; Heb 13:4}
in that saidst thou truly.
truly- Jesus identifies the obstruction that prevents her from drawing from His well.
It is not the barriers of society, but her sin that separates her from the living water.
4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
I perceive- GK= theoreo, to discern through careful observation.
It was evident that her sins were not hidden from Him (cp. 2:24,25; Heb 4:13; Psa 90:8).
She reasoned that God must have given Him some unusual spiritual insight.
She changed the subject...
4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain;
and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
our fathers... ye {Jews} say...- because the Samaritans recognized only the Pentateuch
(ie., the 5 books written by Moses), they rejected God's covenant relation with David and Jerusalem. Therefore, they misidentified the place designated by God for worship (Deu 12:5-7).-
An unregenerate heart will argue religion - to cover, rather than confront its sin.
But the Lord skillfully dismisses the diversion of this deceitful heart. cp. Jer 17:9,10
4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me,
the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain,
nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
cp. Luk 21:5,6,24; Mal 1:11
4:22 Ye worship ye know not what:
we know what we worship:
for salvation is of the Jews.
ye know not... we know...- ie., because the Jews received the Scriptures unabridged.
salvation is of...- ie., 'is sourced in' the Jewish race. Rom 9:4,5
4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is,
when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:
for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
4:24 God [is] a Spirit:
{lit., God is Spirit}
and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.
God is Spirit- we should not think to impress Him with external actions or appearance. 1Sam 16:7
true worshippers- their scarcity explains the Father's search.
cp. Josh 24:14; 1Sam 12:24; Isa 29:13; 48:1; 66:1,2; Mat 15:7-9.
worship- GK= proskuneo, lit., 'to kiss the hand toward.'
Worship is an expression of reverence, and obeisance.
-- But true worship is more than a declaration of allegiance, it is a lifetime of service.
-- The OT word for 'worship' also means 'to serve.' cp. Daniel's example, Dan 6:16,20
Worship wrongly directed is idolatry.
Worship wrongly motivated is a mockery to the One worshipped. cp. Mark 15:19
worship in truth- requires agreement with, and submission to, what God says is true.
worship in spirit- requires agreement with, and submission to, God's Spirit.
This is impossible for the flesh (Rom 8:7). Therefore, true worshippers must be...
the hour... now is- Christ has come to make it possible for us to worship in spirit & truth. Joh 14:6
4:25 The woman saith unto him,
I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ:
when he is come, he will tell us all things.
Messiah- she had in mind "the prophet" foretold by Moses. Deu 18:15-18
The Samaritans rejected the idea that Messiah would come through the line of David. (See note at v. 20)
I know... he will tell us all things.- She was convicted of sin and confused about doctrinal truth.
She knew only that the expected Messiah could remove confusion. Deu 18:18
4:26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am [he].
I... am He.- Jesus manifested Himself to those who were ready to receive Him.
cp. Joh 9:35-38; Rom 10:20,21
But He kept His identity hidden from his enemies (Mat 16:20), until His hour had come (Mat 26:63,64).
4:27 And upon this came his disciples,
and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said,
What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
his disciples marvelled- that He spoke to such a woman, cp. v.9 (and note at v.9 above).
Had they seen their own sin, in light of His holiness, they might also have marvelled that He spoke to them (cp. Isa 59:1,2; Heb 7:26). Yet, He had come to seek the lost. He was beginning to teach the disciples to see others as He sees them (cp. Acts 10:15,28).
4:28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city,
Her original errand was forgotten.
Having received a taste of living water, she wanted to bring others to the Lord.
and saith to the men,
4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did:
is not this the Christ?
to the men...- because she was not on speaking terms with the women.
all things that ever I did.- For many men, these words would have brought conviction of sin. 1Cor 14:25
is not this the Christ?- or, Can this be the Christ?
She could not debate the issue. But she could say, "Come and see." cp. 1:46; Rev 22:17
4:30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
4:31 In the mean while his disciples prayed
{begged} him, saying, Master, eat.
4:32 But he said unto them, I have meat
{food} to eat that ye know not of.
4:33 Therefore said the disciples one to another,
Hath any man brought him [ought
{something}] to eat?
4:34 Jesus saith unto them,
My meat
{food} is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
my food...- That, for which He hungered, was to do the Father's will (cp. 5:30; 8:29; Psa 40:7,8),
and, to bring His purposes to completion (cp. 17:4; 19:30).
food that you know not of...- His greatest satisfaction was in bringing men to God. cp. Isa 53:11
4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest?
behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields;
for they are white already to harvest.
{Mat 9:37,38}
As He spoke, Samaritan men were crossing the fields, coming toward Him. v.30
4:36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal:
that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
wages- Prov 11:30; Dan 12:3; Jam 5:20
rejoice together- cp. 1Cor 3:5-9; 1The 2:19
4:37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
4:38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour:
other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
I sent you... ye are entered- The Lord speaks of the yet future ministry of His apostles
as accomplished and successful. This is the language of faith.
other men- ie., the OT prophets, including John. cp. Jer 44:4; Mat 3:1-3; 1Pet 1:10-12
4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him
for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
for the saying- Their faith was based on the simple witness of a new believer,
which drew attention to His person and words (not to His miracles, cf. 2:23-25).
4:40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him,
they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
4:41 And many more believed because of his own word;
4:42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe,
not because of thy saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves,
{Luk 4:32}
and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Saving faith -- is not second-hand faith (v.42) (salvation is for "whosoever...", 3:16)
-- is based on His word (v.41). 3:31-36; Joh 17:8
-- desires to know Him better (v.40). Rev 3:20
the Saviour of the world- He came to Israel first, but not for Israel only.
cp. Rom 10:11-13; 1Joh 4:14; Isa 49:5,6
4:43 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. {cp. v.40}
4:44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
Jesus made a similar statement in the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown,
where the people had been offended {scandalized, stumbled} at His teaching.
cp. Mat 13:57; Mark 6:1-6; Luke 4:24; John 1:11.
The Samaritan's of Sychar had received Him.
But Jesus warned His disciples not to expect such a reception from the Jews of Judea or of Galilee.
4:45 Then when he was come into Galilee,
the Galilaeans received him,
having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast:
for they also went unto the feast.
{cp. 2:13,23}
the Galilaeans received Him- but with 'evidential faith' [see the Notes at 2:23].
4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine.
And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.
Cana... Capernaum- separated by about 20 miles (a day's travel by foot, v.51,52).
nobleman- GK= basilikos, a person in service of a king.
He could have been either a Jew or a gentile.
The gentile centurion (of Mat 8:5-13; Luk 7:1-10) could have been described in this way.
But contrast Jesus' commendation of the centurion's faith with v.48.
4:47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee,
he went unto him, and besought him
that he would come down, and heal his son:
for he was at the point of death.

4:48 Then said Jesus unto him,
Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
except ye see...- Jesus was testing and challenging the man's faith.
ye- (plural) ie., national Israel. His comment is not primarily aimed at this man.
signs and wonders- a weak basis for faith, at best... a means of deception, at worst.
  • Jesus' miracles were not intended to be the basis of faith, but rather as aids for identifying Him as the Messiah foretold in Scripture. Acts 2:22; cp. John 12:37; 1Cor 1:22
    Solid faith is based on God's Word. cp. v.41,42; Luke 16:31.
  • The future false messiah's signs will deceive men to believe "the lie." 2The 2:9-11
    Under the false messiah's reign, Israel will be brought to the brink of destruction. Then, 'at the point of death' (cp. v.47), they will call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, whom others previously recognized as the Savior of the world (v.42). (See Zechariah ch. 12-14.)
4:49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
This man did not want signs and wonders. He wanted his son.
4:50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. {cp. Psa 111:7}
And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
Go thy way, thy son liveth.- The nobleman responded in faith to Christ's word.
He obeyed the instruction to 'Go...' and went, with nothing but Jesus's words. Twice, he had asked Jesus to 'come down and heal' his son. The Lord chose to answer in another way. From all appearances, the man went away, empty handed. But he believed the Lord's Word, and he was not disappointed.
4:51 And as he was now going down,
his servants met him, and told [him], saying, Thy son liveth.
4:52 Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend
{ie., improve}.
And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
4:53 So the father knew that [it was] at the same hour,
in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth:
{Psa 33:9; 107:20}
and himself believed, and his whole house.

4:54 This [is] again the second miracle [that] Jesus did,
when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
second miracle- ie., in Galilee- After His first miracle (in Cana of Galilee, v.46; 2:11),
He did an unknown number of miracles at Jerusalem, before returning to Galilee.
miracle- GK= semeion, sign.
Note that these Galilaean miracles are called signs, even though they were somewhat hidden from public view, and only a few people observed and believed (eg., the nobleman and his family, v.53; and Jesus' disciples 2:11).

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