The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 4:1-42 - The Woman at the Well.

v1-5 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptised more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptise, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He had to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 

v6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour (6pm). 
v7,8 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." (For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food). 
v9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 

v10 Jesus answered and said to 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." 

v11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 
v12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" 

v13,14 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 

v15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." 

v16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 
v17,18 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." 
Jesus said to her, "You have well said, "I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." 

v19,20 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." 

v21-24 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." 
v25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" 
(who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." 
v26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." 

v27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marvelled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why are You talking with her?" 
v28-30 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Then they went out of the city and came to Him. 

v31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." 
v32 But He said to them,"I have food to eat of which you do not know" 
v33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" 

v34,35 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, "There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 

v36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 
v37 For in this the saying is true: "One sows and another reaps.' 
v38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not laboured; 
others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours." 

v39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did’ 

v40-42 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." 

“When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptising more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptise, but his disciples), he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee” (v1-3).  The other Gospels tell us also that John was put into prison at that time, and that when Jesus heard this He returned to Galilee (Matt 4:12, Mark 1:14). Up to this point, John had been the focus of attention for the Jewish authorities, but now that he was in prison, Jesus knew they would turn their attention and guns on Him, especially now that they knew Jesus had become more popular than John.  So, this was the God-given signal for Jesus to begin His Galilean ministry, for He now returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14). 

“And He must needs pass through Samaria (this was not because it was the direct route, for Jews usually avoided Samaria. He was compelled by the will of God to witness in Samaria. The time was February AD 31). Then came He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there (see Genesis 33:18,19). Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey (He was human as well as Divine), sat on the well: and it was about the sixth hour (at 6pm, see 1:39)” (v4-6). 

“There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me some to drink’. (For His disciples were gone away to the city to buy meat). Then said the woman of Samaria to him, ‘How is it that you, being a Jew, ask a drink of me, who am a womanof Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (v7-9). Jesus started a conversation that resulted in the conversion of the whole town. 

Jesus had to overcome all kinds of barriers to reach this woman with the

(1) Racially Samaritans and Jews had a mutual hatred. The Jews saw themselves as superior to the ‘half-breed impure’ Samaritans -who were the result of intermarriage between Jews and those brought in by the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations of 722 BC and 586 BC. 

(2) Moreover Jews saw women as inferior. 

For these reasons she was amazed that Jesus wanted to talk to her. 

(3) Also she had local religious traditions she was proud of (including Jacob and his well, and Mt.Gerazim where they worshipped), which were a barrier to the Gospel.  

(4) She was also living in immorality. Although popular with the men, she was shunned by women, and so had to go alone at noon to the well. Jesus was not put off by all this, but lovingly proceeded to win her to God. As a result of this encounter Jesus demonstrated Himself to be: ‘the Christ, the Saviour of the world’ (the Saviour of every kind of people, not just of Israel) (v42). 

Here Jesus gave us a classic example of how to witness. 
(1) He got her attention, making contact by starting where she was in her thoughts and life: Give me some to drink’ (v7), before moving the topic from physical to spiritual water (v10).   

 Then He appealed to her curiosity, getting her interested to hear more by announcing Good-News: “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and Who it is who says to you, ‘Give me to drink’; you would have asked of Him and He would have given you living water” (v10).  

He speaks of superior water - the living (flowing) water of a spring rather than the still water of a well. In John 7:37-39 this living-water is the life of the Holy-Spirit. Notice that the Good-news is that salvation (living water) is the GIFT of God, to be received by faith (it is not earned by our works: “He who is thirsty, let him come, whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).   
The Giver is Jesus - we must come to Him to receive this gift of life: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him who is thirsty to drink freely of the fountain of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6).  

“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? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his children and cattle?” (v11,12). "You say you have a superior supply of flowing water, that springs up rather than having to draw it from a 100 ft well? Where is this Spring?”

(3) Next He appealed to her desire: “Jesus answered her, ‘Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again (this is true of anything in the natural that is our source of satisfaction - in her case: men). But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall GIVE him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be IN HIM a SPRING of water SPRINGING up to everlasting life” (v13,14). 

The water He gives is superior
, being the very life of God. 
Its longevity is superior, being everlasting in satisfaction. 
The supply is superior, for it is a spring, not a well. 
The location is superior. 
She had asked: WHERE? 
The answer was amazing: It will be IN US! In the New-Covenant, our recreated spirit is an internal, artesian spring, with self-regenerating, everlasting life springing up to God in the Holy-Spirit (that’s you on the inside if you’ve received Christ!). 

(4) Next He convicted her of her sin and need for salvation: 
“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, I have no husband: for you have had five husbands; and he who you now have is not your husband: in that you spoke truly” (v15-18).  

By a word of knowledge, He put His finger on her sin - to convict her of her need for repentance and salvation. She had been drinking from the wrong wells. Notice that living with someone is not marriage in Jesus’ book. She was cohabiting but unmarried. God wants worship in TRUTH (according to God’s Word, v23) and immorality does not fit with that. People think they can dump the truth of the Bible and still worship God, but it does not please Him (for example, having homosexual priests and bishops in the Church). 

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet’ (because of His accurate word of knowledge concerning her). Our fathers worshipped in this mountain (Gerazim); and you (Jews) say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship (it is common for people to throw red herrings when it gets personal. Jesus answers this without getting off course in getting His message to her). She had asked: ‘Which is God’s true Temple where He should be worshipped?’ 

Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, (shall you)worship the Father (a prophecy of Samaritan salvation). You (Samaritans) worship what you don’t know. We (Jews) know who we worship: for SALVATION (Christ) is of the Jews” (v19-22).  Jesus was not one to fudge or compromise the truth to unify religions, as  if they were all equally valid. He answered her question straight: ‘you are wrong’ (for it was the Jewish Temple that had been Divinely authorised).

“BUT the hour is coming (there is a new better thing coming) and now is (here in prototype form, for in Jesus it was already fulfilled),when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him 
in spirit and in truth”(v23,24).

Worship ‘in spirit’ refers to the worship constantly springing up from the reborn human spirit (see v14), filled (energised) by the Holy-Spirit. Worship ‘in truth’ denotes the reality of this direct spirit to Spirit communion (in contrast to shadow-rituals), as well as worship according to the Bible. We worship the God of the Bible in His way - the God who is revealed in the Bible (the Triune God, the God of love and justice, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, God Almighty - not ‘All-Matey’!). 

Jesus was announcing a new Temple development and worship that He was introducing which would replace the old buildings, for now God was moving into human Temples (this was His real hearts desire all the time - Temple buildings were preparatory teaching tools which established the pattern for our understanding).  This true worship will no longer be about outward rituals in ‘holy’ buildings with a conscious separation between the worshipper and God, but will happen within his own being in spirit and in truth in personal, direct spirit to Spirit communion with God. 

In other words,MAN himself would be the TEMPLE of GOD, indwelt by God’s Spirit and dedicated to God’s worship and glory. His spirit, mind and body is to be dedicated to worship God in truth (reality). This is the ultimate Temple and the true worship that the Father has always been seeking, not beautiful buildings. 

When Jesus said: “and now is”, He declared that this was already being fulfilled.  But how could this be before the barrier between God and man was removed by the Cross (for sin meant God could not indwell man)? The answer is that it was fulfilled in Jesus Himself. In His humanity, He was already the true Temple indwelt by God’s Spirit, dedicated to worship and prayer, out of whom flowed rivers of living water to bless people, especially all who came to Him. Jesus was the prototype new Temple for He was saying that the time was soon coming (after His death and resurrection),when there would be many such Temples where true worship will take place (they would be multiplied). This was brought about by the New Birth, in which man’s spirit is recreated and indwelt by God’s Spirit.

He had made this claim to be the true Temple in the earth in John 2:19-21: 
“Jesus said, "Destroy this Temple and in 3 days I will raise it up." 
The Jews said: ‘It’s taken 46 years to build this Temple and will You raise it up in 3 days?’ But He spoke of the Temple of His body.” 

These new Temples are eternal, because if killed they will be resurrected! Jesus’ ministry was a transition time, for the Jewish Temple was still in action, but when He died and paid the penalty for sin, His declaration: ‘it is finished’ signified the end of that old Temple (the veil torn from above showed that the barrier between God and man was now removed). Now God no longer needed to live in the shadow Temple, He could move into the real Temples, that He had desired all the time - PEOPLE.  So, fifty days later the Spirit came to the same place (the Temple) and filled His new Temples to overflowing instead (Acts 2). Now every believer in Christ is also a Temple (1Corinth 3:16, 6:19; 2Corinth 6:16; John 7:37-39; Ephesians 2:22). Now we have the amazing privilege of being God’s holy Temples, houses of prayer, where God lives and manifests His glory.   

“The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah comes, who is called 
Christ: when He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her,  "I who speak to you AM HE (Messiah)!” (v25,26). Thus He revealed the Gospel to her: Who He was and His free-gift of eternal life (see v10). 

Next the story focuses on the carnal disciples (v27-42). 
“At this time came His disciples marvelling (shocked) that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, ‘What do you seek?’ or, ‘Why do you talk with her?’ The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city and said to the men (not the women!, for she knew all the men, but was not popular with the women), ‘Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did (there is humour here, for this got the men’s attention and some were worried about what might be revealed!), is not this the Christ? Then they (all the men) went out of the city, and came to Him” (v27-30). 

Jesus had lifted her eyes to from the natural (water) to the spiritual realities (of eternal life) and so she left the water behind, such was her urgency to witness to Christ. But look at the disciples. They were obsessed with the natural; their prejudice made them insensitive to the needs of the Samaritans and blind to the great spiritual opportunities, thinking that the Samaritans were not ready to hear them. So, they had walked through a town of people ready to hear about Jesus and be saved, but they did not know it, only thinking of food for their stomachs.
“Meanwhile His disciples asked Him, ‘Master, eat’ (food again!). But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know not of’. Therefore said the disciples to one another, ‘Has anyone brought Him food?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (v31-34). 
We first enjoy the WATER of salvation then the solid satisfying FOOD of doing God’s work (witnessing). 

“Say not, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes harvest.” 
This tells us the timing of Jesus in Samaria. It must have been February 31 AD, 4 months before the wheat harvest in June. This was a double ‘word of knowledge’ Jesus had about their natural conversation. They were saying
 this as they walked back through the unripened fields of wheat, but they had also said the parallel thing about the Samaritans“these people are not ripe, they are not ready to hear us, it is pointless telling them of Jesus.”) They were so focused on natural things, on their food and the state of the natural (wheat) harvest, that they were blind to the spiritual harvest of the people around them, that were ripe and ready to hear the Gospel and be reaped (saved) and placed into God’s Kingdom (the barn).

“Behold, I say to you, ‘Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest (ready for reaping)”(v35). 
This had a double meaning. He was telling them to lift their eyes up above the natural, onto the spiritual, so they could see the higher realities. More specifically He is telling them to stop looking down at their food and look up at the whole town of people coming to Jesus across the fields (v30). The Samaritan harvest was coming to Jesus right then. In fact, this mass of people, clothed in white, looked exactly like a field of wheat ripe for harvest and they were indeed ready for reaping as we shall see. Jesus was telling the disciples that this town was ready to be saved, but their carnality meant they missed their chance to reap the harvest. He is also telling us to lift our eyes above the natural and see the opportunities for leading people to Jesus, whether it is through sowing or reaping.

He goes on to say that the woman got the reward instead of them, for reaping this harvest: “And the reaper receives wages (eternal rewards) and gathers fruit (souls) to life eternal: that both the sower and the reaper may rejoice together. And here is that saying true, ‘one sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap (the harvest in Samaria) where you bestowed no labour, others laboured, and you are entering into their labours” (v36-38). 

Jesus had sent them into the town to reap, but they missed it. Sometimes people are not ready, so when we witness we are sowing seed. This is crucial, for there can be no reaping unless there has previously been some sowing. So when someone reaps a soul, bringing him into eternal life, he is building upon the work of the sower and both sower and reaper share the joy and the reward of the harvest. So when you witness in the love of God, you are doing God’s work in the harvest field and will receive great reward, whether you reap (see them come to Christ) or not (because then you are still sowing the seed - the word of life).

The Samaritan Harvest and the Saviour of the World
“And many Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying (witness) of the woman, who testified, ‘He told me all that ever I did’. (The woman was the reaper for this town instead of the disciples, because she had the courage to testify and it was a direct result of her testimony that they came to Jesus and believed on Him). So when the Samaritans came to Him, they begged Him to stay with them. He abode there (outside Israel) two days” (v39,40). 

These 2 days are symbolic and prophetic of the Church-Age. For although Jesus was first sent to the House of Israel, He also is ‘the Saviour of the whole world’ (v42). His salvation is for all people (even the outcast Samaritans living in immorality and false-religion). He surprised His Jewish disciples by deliberately going to the Samaritans and reaching out to them, promising them the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant that He would introduce, in which they would participate equally with the Jews (in which they would have direct access to God and they would not have 
to go through Israel or the Jewish Temple). Whereas Israel rejected Him, the Samaritans welcomed Him, so Jesus shocked His disciples further by abiding with them (in fellowship) for two days. This speaks of the Church-Age of 2 DAYS (2,000 years) during which Jesus Christ has 
 moved from Israel and abided mostly with the Gentiles, with the result that many Gentiles have believed and received salvation in the New Covenant (according to the promise of Jesus in this chapter): “And 
many more (Samaritans) believed because of His own word” (v41). However after the two days Jesus returned to Israel, and so the time is coming soon (after 2,000 years, see Hosea 5:15-6:3) when Jesus will move back to Israel, and she will welcome Him as her Messiah.

“And many more (Samaritans) believed because of His own word saying to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of your saying, for we have heard Him ourselves and know that He is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world (both Jew and Gentile)”(v41,42). They realised from the scriptures (unlike most of the Jews), that one sign of the true Messiah was that He would bring salvation and the knowledge of the true God to the whole world (as well as saving and exalting Israel). Jesus’ presence with them and His love and concern for them and their salvation, proved to them that He was the true Messiah, who was the Saviour of all men (even in the face of all their anti-Jewish prejudice). 

The Messiahship of Jesus has now been further confirmed by what has happened over the last 2,000 years, through the world-wide growth of Christianity. As in the symbolic prophecy of John 4, during the last 2 days (2,000 years) many more Gentiles have believed because of Jesus’ Word and His Presence through His Spirit, and they have come to acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God and Saviour of the world, the Source of Living Water, the One who delivers them from empty religion and brings them into a relationship with God, a worshipful fellowship with the Father. The spread of the knowledge of the God of Israel throughout the world was predicted in the Old-Testament, as coming to pass primarily through the Messiah, the seed of Abraham, in and through whom the blessing of Abraham would go to all peoples. He would be ‘the light to the nations.’ If we look at history, we see that Jesus and Jesus alone has fulfilled this Messianic requirement (as well as all the other credentials the Messiah must satisfy), for He alone among the Jewish leaders and prophets can claim to have fulfilled these prophecies. This is proof to Israel of the Messiahship of Jesus. What He began in John 4 in revealing Himself as ‘the Saviour of the world’, He has continued to do, as billions from every tribe, nation and tongue have believed in Him and through Him the God God of Israel. Jesus has surely proved Himself to be ‘the Christ, the Saviour of the world’ by fulfilling this prophetic picture of John 4.



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