Translations: Chinese GB Big5

John 4:1-26 (web)

The Samaritan Woman: Part I

4:1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees
had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John
4:2 (although Jesus himself didn't baptize, but his disciples),
4:3 he left Judea, and departed into Galilee.
4:4 He needed to pass through Samaria.
4:5 So he came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar,
near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph.
4:6 Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore,
being tired from his journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour{noon}.

4:7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
4:8 For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

4:9 The Samaritan woman therefore said to him,
"How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?"
(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

4:10 Jesus answered her,
"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you,
'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him,
and he would have given you living water."

4:11 The woman said to him,
"Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.
From where then have you that living water?
4:12 Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well,
and drank of it himself, as did his children, and his cattle?"

4:13 Jesus answered her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again,
4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again;
but the water that I will give him will become in him
a well of water springing up to eternal life."

4:15 The woman said to him,
"Sir, give me this water, so that I don't get thirsty,
neither come all the way here to draw."

4:16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here."

4:17 The woman answered, "I have no husband."

Jesus said to her, "You said well, 'I have no husband,'
4:18 for you have had five husbands;
and he whom you now have is not your husband. This you have said truly."

4:19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
4:20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain,
and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship."

4:21 Jesus said to her,
"Woman, believe me, the hour comes,
when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father.
4:22 You worship that which you don't know.
We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews.
4:23 But the hour comes, and now is,
when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers.
4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

4:25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah comes," (he who is called Christ).
"When he has come, he will declare to us all things."

4:26 Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who speaks to you."

Discussion Questions

Who were the Samaritans?
In speaking with this woman what barriers was Jesus crossing?
What was Jesus' purpose in asking for water?
vs 13,14 How do you resolve the paradoxical statement that Jesus claims to be able to give others water so that they will never thirst, yet He himself thirsts?
vs 16 Why did Jesus asked her to call her husband? (Especially since he knew she didn't have a husband?)
vs 19 How did Jesus prove to her he was a prophet of God?
vs 20-21 In accordance with New Testament Christianity, in what location in particular should God be worshipped? How does this differ from the thinking of the Jews and Samaritans in those days?
vs 23-24 What does it mean to worship in spirit and in truth?
vs 26 What expectations did the woman have concerning the Messiah? And how were they met in Jesus?
And finally, what aspects of this encounter can be applied to evangelism today?


vs 1-3 As Jesus was becoming a popular figure he had to deal with the politics of the situation so as to fulfill his mission before being brought to trial and being put to death. As such he made attempts to avoid direct confrontation with political and religious leaders until the end of his ministry.

vs 4-7 Samaria lies between Judea and Galilee. This piece of land it refers to is mentioned in the Old Testament

Gen 33:19  "For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent."
Joshua 24:32  "And Joseph's bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph's descendants."
The Samaritans were most likely Israelites of the Northern Kindom left behind by the Assyrians when they conquered Palestine. Their theology may be likened to a cult as was not uncommon in the Biblical history of the Northern Kingdom. They believed that Joshua built a sanctuary on Mt. Gerizim, which was the center for all early Israelite worship, to which the woman at the well alluded in vs 20.

vs 7-8 Interesting to note that though Jesus asked for a drink he really didn't want the water. What he wanted was to be refreshed by reconciling this woman to God in repentance. Though God may ask material things of us, yet we need to look beyond these in understand what He really wants. He commanded the Israelites to make animal sacrifices, but "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart."Ps 51:17 Therefore let us read the spirit and not just the letter of the Bible.

vs 9 Jews were antipathetic towards Samaritans. At one point Jesus himself was derogatorily called a Samaritan by his enemies. (John 8:48) The prejudice between Jews and Samaritans is not unlike that between Jews and Muslims today. But not so with Jesus. Later he would commission his apostles to go beyond Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth preaching the gospel and making disciples of Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. But another boundary was then gender gap. Though not as distinct today in this culture, men and woman of that time and culture did not mix casually. Thus a Jew speaking to a Samaritan was odd enough, but even more so speaking to a woman. There is however the issue as to how she knew he was a Jew. There may have been some distinction in dress.

Numbers 15:38-40 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God."
It was such a tassel that the woman with the flow of blood took hold of to be healed. And from this form of dress the Samaritan woman may have inferred he was a Jew.

vs 10 "Know" here is not speaking of being familiar with but rather "perceiving". There are things that people need to perceive to receive God's gift. They need to perceive the gift of eternal life is available to them through the forgiveness of sins. And they need to perceive the giver as Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, the atoning sacrifice for our sins who has the authority to forgive sins. But the unspiritually minded may be too caught up in the material things of this world to exercise such discernment. But having perceived these things the natural response should be to ask. Asking takes a degree of humility. But in asking we are also glorifying God by acknowledging his graciousness to us.

vs 11 In her response one is reminded of Nicodemus "How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus often speaks allegorically, for he is trying to communicate not simply with the person's mind, but also with their spirit through their conscience and intuition. Here Jesus speaks to her intuition and later he will do so to her conscience. As Christians we also need to learn to communicate in such a manner.

vs 12 "Our father Jacob" indicates she was an Israelite, though not a Jews. (The word "Jew" is not used for Israelites in general, but specifically for those who returned from the Babylonian captivity. It comes from the word "Judah", which was the Southern Kingdom taken into captivity by Babylon. The Northern Kingdom was separate from them and taken by the Assyrians a bit earlier of which the Samaritans were a remnant)

vs 13-14 One aspect of eternal life is contentment. Paul writes, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Php 4:11 It's a contentment experience even in this life due to the security and provision God provides. "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" Heb 13:5 Furthermore things in this life are transitory, but what God provides is eternal. Christians have this permanent source of life within us which brings us not only the experience of Christ but also becomes a source of life to others just as Jesus here is portraying himself as the well of life. But more specifically the water of life also involves a permanent reconciliation with God through the forgiveness of sins, securing one's salvation eternally.

vs 15-16 She acknowledged He made contact with her spirit through her intuition and desires, but now he had to move on to her conscience. For the faith that saves does not involve simply understanding Jesus' allegories. It involves a broken and contrite spirit leading to repentance from sin. If a person is not willing to deal with their sin, then they will not be saved.

vs 17-18 The woman was living in sin with a man who was not her husband. And the fact that she previously had gone through five husbands must have also been humiliating. Perhaps this is why she is alone in coming to the well, at noon time when it was the hottest of the day, when others would be indoors or rest, so as to avoid them. For she may have been despised and a woman of a bad reputation.

vs 19-20 Have been exposed, the woman quickly tries to change the subject to a hot theological topic. The main division the Samaritans see between them and Jews is about where to worship God. The Jews made a big deal about the temple in Jerusalem and the Samaritans made a big deal about sanctuary on Mt. Gerizim.

vs 21 But worship from God's point of view is not about location. The figures of such things as the tabernacle with its sacrifices and rituals were only a passing shadow of what was to come, the substance of which can now be found in Christianity. By saying this Jesus broke down a major barrier between Jews and Samaritans.

vs 22 However, significantly Jesus speaks of "we" versus "you". He distinguishes Jews alone and not Samaritans being the source from which salvation comes, despite their common roots. For the Messiah was a Jew and not a Samaritan. And the Word of God was passed on through the Jews and not the Samaritans. The primary distinction Jesus makes between Jews and Samaritans is that Jews know God better. As I said Samaritans are kind of like Muslims today who claim to accept the Bible, but don't really know what it says. They claim Jesus as a prophet, but have little knowledge of the Biblical Jesus. They worship "God", but their concept of God is not completely true to the Bible.

vs 23 God is not interested in ritual worship. He is not interested in the kind of worship where people say prayers but don't really know what they're praying about, or sing songs but not knowing what they're singing about. Worship must be honest and sincere and in accordance with what is actually true. As in John 3 Jesus contrasted the spirit with the flesh. To worship in spirit one is not obsessed over the physical forms of worship. It can be done in any place at any time. There's no particular form of dress or physical forms for those who worship in spirit. And one can worship out loud or silently. In fact worshipping in spirit does not even have to be associated with prayer. Paul writes, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship." Rom 12:1 Simply serving God in accordance to his commands in whatever capacity God has gifted us is itself worshipping in spirit.  To worship in spirit and in accordance with truth, this is the kind of worship God desires.

vs 24 God is not made of matter. He is not material and does not need material things. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything,"Acts 17:24,25  But "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart." Ps 51:17 These are the kind of spiritual things we can offer to God.

vs 25 The anticipation of the coming of the Messiah was not limited to the Jews. The Samaritans also view him as their savior as well.

vs 26 Here's one of the places where Jesus explicitly states that he is the Messiah. He stands far off from the proud but reveals himself to the humble.

NIV version used in comments

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015