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The Gospel of John: Revealing the Invisible God 

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

Chapter 4


 

 

Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well

Jesus ministers to the Samaritan people

The second miracle: Jesus heals the sick child

 

Summary Highlights of Chapter 4

 

 

This book is a verse-by-verse commentary.  To go to the commentary for any particular verse in Chapter 4, please click on a number below.

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54            

 

 

Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well

 

4:1     When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees heard that Jesus makes, and baptizes, more disciples than John,

 

This verse is only the dependent clause of a sentence that includes the next two verses. It is unusual in that the apostle John used both "lord" and "Jesus" when referring to the same person. Jesus is the lord, and it is he who heard about the Pharisees, and what they had learned. What they had learned was that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than did John, the Baptist.

 

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4:2     (although indeed Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples,)

 

This part of the sentence sets in apposition to John 3:22, which seemed to infer that Jesus was baptizing, as does verse 4:1 above. This is actually a parenthetical insert, or an anacolouthon, to explain that Jesus was not actually doing the baptizing himself. It was his disciples who did the baptizing.

 

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4:3     he left Judea, and went away again into Galilee.

 

This clause finishes the sentence first begun in verse 4:1. Jesus and his disciples continued their journey from one area around Jerusalem to another. These were not long journeys, as the usual mode of transportation was walking.

 

Jesus went again into Galilee. He had been there earlier in his ministry, but before arriving this time, he had an additional ministry that most Jews would consider as unusual.

 

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4:4     And it was necessary for him to pass through Samaria.

 

Fallows (Vol. 3, p 1512) offers the following description of Samaria.

"The ten tribes which revolted from Rehoboam, son of Solomon, chose Jeroboam for their king. After his elevation to the throne he set up golden calves at Dan and Bethel, lest repeated visits of his subjects to Jerusalem, for the purpose of worshiping the true God, should withdraw their allegiance from himself. Afterwards Samaria, built by Omri, became the metropolis of Israel, and the separation between Judah and Israel was rendered complete. The people took the name Samaritans from the capital city. In the ninth year of Hosea, Samaria was taken by the Assyrians under Shalmaneser, who carried away the inhabitants into captivity and introduced colonies into their place from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. Thus it appears that the people were a mixed race. The greater part of the Israelites had been carried away captive by the Assyrians, including the rich, the strong, and such as were able to bear arms. But the poor and the feeble had been left. The country had not been so entirely depopulated as to possess no Israelite whatsoever. The dregs of the populace, particularly those who appeared incapable of active service, were not taken away by the victors. With them, therefore, the heathen colonists became incorporated. As the people were a mixed race, their religion also assumed a mixed character. In it the worship of idols was associated with that of the true God."

 

After the 12 tribes of Israel split in two sections, the 10 tribes became known as Israel. The large tribe of Judah, plus the small tribe of Benjamin, became known as Judah. The 10 tribes were also sometimes spoken of as Samaria in the Old Testament. By the time of Jesus, Samaria comprised a small area populated by many of those who still held to the beliefs of the old Samaria. They practiced their beliefs in the vicinity of Mount Gerizim, in the valley of which was the city of Shechem. The 10 tribes were the first to be taken captive, and then some 400 years later, Judah was also taken captive.

 

When Jesus left the area in Judea where he had been ministering, he had to go through the area called Samaria in order to get to Galilee. This was the most direct route, although he could have gone around the area.

 

However, the phrase was necessary comes from edei, derived from dei, an impersonal verb conveying the sense of something which must come to pass. This would indicate that Jesus was led by holy spirit to take this particular route. The use of this word leaves the impression that Jesus had no choice in the matter if he were to be obedient to The God.

 

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4:5     He comes therefore to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the land which Jacob gave to his son, Joseph.

 

The land John was referring to is described in Genesis 33:18-19, which says,

"And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money."

 

Joshua 48:21-22 relates,

"And Israel [Jacob], said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow."

 

Apparently, some of the area called Samaria was bought, and some of it was won by war. A good atlas of the holy land will exactly identify this area .

 

John then began to describe what happened at Sychar, or Shechem, as it was known in the Old Testament.

 

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4:6     Now Jacob's fountain was there; Jesus, therefore being wearied from the journey, thus sat at the fountain. [The] hour was about [the] sixth.

 

"Jacob's fountain" was not a fountain as we would understand the term today, but actually a well where people drew up water. Smith (p. 141) says that,

"Jacob's well is in a low spur of Mt. Gerizim, at the mouth of the valley of Shechem. The well is nine feet in diameter, circular, cut through limestone rock nearly l00 feet deep. It sometimes has water in it, but is often quite dry."

 

"Jesus, therefore being wearied from the journey, sat thus at the fountain." To those who teach that Jesus was The God, this must raise a question. Can the invisible creator god of heaven, who spoke all things into existence, become tired from a day's foot journey? Actually, scripture clearly says that Jesus was just a man, as he claimed himself to be. [For a full discussion of this point, see our book, The No-Name God: Attributes of Jehovah and Jesus as Manifestations of the Invisible God, and also Part II in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]

 

The word wearied comes from kekopiakoos, a perfect participle. The perfect conveys the impression that Jesus was completely worn out physically from his journey. Because of this, he sat at the fountain, and rested. "The hour was about the sixth," indicates that it was approximately 12 o'clock noun, or midday. Jesus was tired, hot, and thirsty.

 

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4:7     A woman out of Samaria comes to draw water. Jesus says to her, Give me to drink.

 

This is the opening scene in an interesting scenario. The Samaritan woman would have belonged to the religion which mixed the worship of idols and the worship of the true god. The orthodox Jews of that time hated this mixture of religions.

 

The Old Testament Israelites had constantly fallen victim to this trap of mixed religions. Jehovah would punish them for this kind of worship, and they would again return to the true worship ordained by Jehovah, their god.

 

The Jews of Jesus' day detested the Samaritans and their religion, and they refused to have any communication with them. How would Jesus react to this woman?

 

"A woman out of Samaria comes to draw water." Water was scarce in the area, and this well was the source of water for the inhabitants of the town. This woman was no doubt coming to get water for her household use.

"Jesus says to her, Give me to drink."  This was a very unusual request. A Jew would not normally even speak to her, let alone ask her for a favor.

 

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4:8     For his disciples had gone away into the city, that they might buy provisions.

 

This verse implies that Jesus was more wearied than were his disciples. Jesus stayed behind to rest while his disciples went on, although it would only be a short walk further. However, this also provided the opportunity for Jesus to be alone with the Samaritan woman, unhindered by the presence of his disciples.

 

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4:9     The Samaritan woman therefore says to him, How dost thou, being a Jew, ask to drink from me, being a Samaritan woman?" For no Jews have intercourse with Samaritans.

 

The Samaritan woman apparently was no "shrinking violet." She challenged Jesus by asking the question, "How dost thou, being a Jew, ask to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?"  This was an unusual Jew who was speaking to her! It was a very rare event, as shown by her comment that "no Jews have intercourse with Samaritans."

 

In our sex-crazed society today, the word intercourse would imply only sexual intercourse, although the meaning of intercourse is actually much broader. The Greek word used here is suykroontai, which means,

"to associate with, to have dealings with: Jn.iv.9" (Thayer, p. 594).

 

The KJV translated this word as dealings, which, by today's standards, is probably a better choice. The Samaritan woman must have had great difficulty in understanding why a Jew was even speaking to her, let alone asking her for a drink.

 

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4:10     Jesus answered, If thou had known the gift of The God, and who it is that says to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked him, and he would have given to thee living water.

 

When Jesus answered her question, he told her two things that she did not know. First, she did not know, or understand, the gift of The God. What gift?  The gift was Jesus, himself. In Jeremiah 2:13b, Jehovah said to the people,

"They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters."

 

This Jehovah was now Jesus, and he spoke similar words to the Samaritan woman.

 

Just as natural water is necessary for physical life, so is Jesus necessary for eternal life. John 5:26 says,

"For even as the Father has life in himself, so he gave also the Son to have life in himself."(KJV).

 

Living water is the terminology often used to express spiritual life. Earlier, John l:4 spoke of Jesus as having life in himself, or one might say, having living water. This living water, or life, is a gift from The God to Jesus.

 

Jesus also told the Samaritan woman that she did not know "who it is that says to you, Give me to drink."  At this time she had no understanding whatsoever that she was speaking to the son of The God, or the messiah. By these statements, Jesus was saying that if she had known these two things, she would have asked him for water, and he would have given living water to her.

 

Earlier, Jesus said that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Yet, he was telling this supposedly hated Samaritan woman that he would have given her eternal life.

 

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4:11     The woman says to him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; whence then hast thou this living water?

 

When Jesus spoke of "living water," he used it as another term for life. The woman thought he meant ordinary water, like she drew from the well. She knew that the only water nearby was that in the well. Her question, then, indicated her confusion. She saw he had nothing which would enable him to draw water up from this well. The only way he could have moving, or flowing, water was if he could draw some up and pour it out. Therefore, how was he going to do this? Where would he get the water?

 

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4:12     Art thou greater than Jacob, our father, who gave us the well, and himself drank of it, and his sons and his cattle?

 

Jacob had to use tools of some kind to draw forth water from the well. Do you think you can do something that Jacob could not do? Who do you think you are? Jacob could not just stand up here above the opening in the well and have water come up out of it to him. Are you able to do something Jacob could not do? One can almost hear the scorn in her voice as she questioned this strange Jew.

 

She also called Jacob "our father," which would surely have tempted the Jews to stone her. To the Jews, this would have been blasphemy. They hated the Samaritans, and looked upon them as the scum of the earth. The Samaritans were a mixture of the poor Jews left behind, and the Gentile settlers who moved in; however, they also looked upon Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as their fathers. After all, they worshiped the one true god, just as did the Jews. They simply had a synergistic type of religion and worshiped other idols, too, just as the Israelites often had throughout their history.

 

There is not much difference today. Too few actually worship and obey the one true god above their own desires for money, and other things. Although they may worship God, they also worship the material things of this earth. What could be wrong with that? Everything! The main purpose of so many people is not to be pleasing to the invisible god of heaven, but to gain more material things here on earth.

 

Jacob's sons and his cattle also drank from the well, and someone had to draw the water for the cattle. The word cattle comes from thremmata, which is derived from the basic word thremma. It means,

"whatever is fed or nursed: hence 1. a ward, nursling, child. 2. a flock, cattle, esp. sheep and goats: Jn. 1v. 12" (Thayer, p. 291).

 

Cattle, at least to many in our country, means only cows, calves, steers, and bulls of the bovine genera, not sheep and goats.

 

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4:13     Jesus answered and said to her, Everyone that drinks of this water will thirst again.

 

This verse begins Jesus' answer to the Samaritan woman. She had asked if he was greater than Jacob who had watered at this well. Now, Jesus began to make a distinction between himself and Jacob. He said, "Everyone that drinks of this water will thirst again." In other words, this water, Jacob's water, will sustain you physically for a time, but then you will need another drink.

 

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4:14     But whoever may drink of the water which I will give him in no wise shall thirst for ever, but the water which I will give to him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up into life eternal.

 

With the word "but," Jesus set Jacob's water in antithesis to the water of which he spoke. The grammar plays an important part in properly understanding what Jesus said here. May drink is written in the aorist subjunctive, which asserts that something will actually happen in the future. At some time in the future, "whoever may drink of the water which I will give him in no wise shall thirst for ever."

 

Will give comes from doosoo, also in the future tense. Notice that the next verb is "shall become," written in the Greek future middle, which means that the person who drinks will participate in the outcome. That is expressed as "it shall become in him a fountain of water." The person who drinks will be the one who bears a fountain of water.

 

If taken literally, this verse would be completely mystifying. No one is going to have a well of physical water in him, no matter what. So, what was Jesus speaking about? Please keep in mind that Jesus had put all of these happenings sometime in the future. However, assuming that all of these requirements were met, there would be a "fountain of water springing up into life eternal."

 

Springing up is a present, middle, participle. Why did John now quote Jesus as using the present tense, which shows continuous action? John wanted to show that Jesus, by using the present tense, was expressing the truth that when people partook of that water which he would give them, then there would be a continuous springing up in them.

 

What would it spring up into? Into life eternal. Into comes from eis, a preposition in the accusative, which shows motion toward. This fountain of water will continuously be working itself into, or moving toward, life eternal.

 

Earlier, we defined life eternal as a quality of life rather than length of time. When one shall drink of the water which Jesus shall give, that person's life shall take on the qualities of godliness, which are completely strange to the normal physical life. It will be oriented toward pleasing The God, instead of pleasing the person's own fleshly desires.

 

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4:15     The woman says to him, Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst nor come here to draw.

 

As shown by her comment, the Samaritan woman had no conception of what Jesus spoke about. She was still thinking he meant some kind of literal water that had the ability to keep her from ever being thirsty again. It would also remove the burden of coming to the well to draw more water.

 

Before leaving this part of the conversation, two important points must be made. First, in verse 4:14, Jesus used the word whoever. This opened up the possibility that anyone living could, at some time in the future, drink this specific water. It was not only the Jews who could have this privilege, but whoever. This signified a change in the focus of Jesus' ministry. When he began his earthly ministry, it was limited to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. However, it had now been expanded to include whoever, which would encompass all the people of earth.

 

Second, the reason Jesus spoke of all these things being in the future was because he had not yet been crucified, resurrected, and ascended to the Father, the invisible god of heaven. Until these things had happened, holy spirit would not be a reality (see John 7:39). It would be holy spirit which would constantly move a person into eternal life. [For a greater discussion of the difference between "the holy spirit" and "holy spirit," see Part III in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]

 

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4:16     Jesus says to her, Go call thy husband and come here.

 

Jesus dropped the subject of water and redirected the discussion to another subject. The Samaritan woman did not understand what Jesus had told her about the living water which he would give to people in the future. So, he tried a different approach. He told the woman to bring her husband to him, fully realizing that she did not know that he knew the details about her life.

 

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4:17     The woman answered, and said, I have not a husband. Jesus says to her, Well didst thou say, A husband I have not.

 

When the woman said she did not have a husband, Jesus commended her for her honesty. By admitting she was not married, she demonstrated that she was being open and honest with him.

 

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4:18     For five husbands thou hast had, and now him whom thou hast is not thy husband: this truly thou hast spoken.

 

This oft-wedded, and oft-divorced, Samaritan woman was now living with a man to whom she was not married. Again, Jesus commended her honesty. This is the same Jesus who had chastised the Pharisees for their dishonesty about their sins. Yet, he commended this woman who was now living out of wedlock. He praised her for her honesty in admitting her wrong doing. In doing so, Jesus demonstrated that it is better to

"confess our sins,"

pointing out that

"he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9).

 

Remember, Jesus was demonstrating the invisible god of heaven in everything he said and did. Above, when Jesus said "whoever," he was demonstrating The God's love for all people, both Jews and Gentiles. Here, he was demonstrating The God's love of truthfulness, that The God does not punish those who will confess their sins, or agree with him that something is sin.

 

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4:19     The woman says to him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

 

The woman was beginning to perceive that Jesus was no ordinary Jew. She had raised her perception of him to the category of prophet. Of course, she was correct. Jesus was a prophet. He could foretell the future because of the fullness of holy spirit which had been given to him for his ministry.

 

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4:20     Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to worship.

 

When the woman said, "our fathers worshiped in this mountain," to whom was she referring? Was she speaking of the Canaanites, who were brought in to replace the Jews taken into exile, who later intermarried with the remaining Jews? Or, was she referring to her Jewish ancestors?

 

The Old Testament contains much history related to Mount Gerizim. Genesis 12:6-7 says,

"And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Si'-chem, unto the plain of Mo'-reh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said,Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him."

 

Later, in Genesis 13:1-4, Abram was said to have come forth out of Egypt, and again returned to the altar he had built. This was between Bethel and Ha'-I, which is the location of Mount Gerizim. This place is mentioned again in Genesis 33:18-20, when Jacob came to this area and built an altar which he named el-el'-o-he-Israel, meaning god, the god of Israel. Remember, this is also the location of Jacob's well, where the conversation took place between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.

 

Deuteronomy 11:29 says,

"And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy god hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount E-bal."

 

Deuteronomy 27:11-13 says,

"And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, These shall stand upon Mount Gerizim, to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan: Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin. And these shall stand upon Mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali."

 

These passages from Deuteronomy describe how the blessing and the curse would be demonstrated to the people when they entered the promised land. If they followed the precepts of their god, which Moses gave them, they would experience blessings. If they did not follow those precepts, they would receive the curse of their god, or removal from the land, because of their disobedience.

 

This was all said as part of the preparation for the time when Joshua would lead them into the promised land, since Moses was not allowed to enter. Joshua 8:33-34 says that Joshua followed Moses' order when they entered the promised land.

"And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priest, the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that was written in the book of the law."

 

As these scriptures point out, Mount Gerizim had been a place where the fathers of Israel gathered to worship. By these same scriptures, it should be understood that this Samaritan woman was claiming Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as her ancestors which worshiped at that mountain.

 

Fallows (Vol. 1, p. 558) gives the following description of Mount Ebal and Gerizim.

"Ebal and Gerizim, two mountains of Samaria, form the opposite sides of the valley which contained the ancient town of Shechem, the present Nabulus. From this connection it is best to notice them together.

(1) The valley which these mountains enclose is about 200 to 300 paces wide, by above three miles in length; and Mount Ebal rises on the right hand and Gerizim on the left hand of the valley (which extends west-north-west as a person approaches Schechem from Jerusalem). It was on Mount Ebal that God commanded to be reared up an altar, and a pillar inscribed with the law; and the tribes to be assembled, half on Ebal and half on Gerizim, to hear the fearful maledicitons pronounced by the Levites upon all who should violate the obligations of the sacred code, and the blessings promised to those who should observe them.

(2) The tribes which responded with simultaneous 'Amens' to the curses, were to be stationed on Mount Ebal, and those who answered to the blessing, on Mount Gerizim. This grand ceremony­perhaps the grandest in the history of nations­could not have found a more fitting scene; and it was duly performed by Joshua as soon as he gained possession of the Promised Land (Deut.27:4, 13: Joshua 8:30-35.)"

 

The Samaritan woman's forthrightness again stood out when she told Jesus that her fathers worshiped in Gerizim, and "ye say in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to worship." She must have been wondering who changed the place of worship. Why, when all the earlier fathers had worshiped in Mount Gerizim, did Jesus say the correct place to worship was in Jerusalem?

 

Deuteronomy 26:2 says that Jehovah would choose where to place his name. I Kings 11:13 indicates that Jehovah chose Jerusalem to be the seat of worship for Israel when David became king. Although the Samaritan woman was apparently unaware of this scripture, Jesus must surely have enjoyed his tit-for-tat conversation with this tactless woman.

 

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4:21     Jesus says to her, Woman, believe me, that an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall ye worship the father.

 

It was amazing that Jesus chose to reveal so much of future events to this Samaritan woman. When he said "an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall ye worship the Father," he was prophesying about the future coming of holy spirit. Holy spirit, which was poured out upon all people, enables everyone to worship the Father.

 

The word worship comes from proskuneesete, which Thayer (p. 548) defines as,

"in the New Testament by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication. It also means to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence, (to make a salam)."

 

This act could be done to show respect to a greater person, or to worship a god.

 

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about where worship would no longer be practiced, he was foretelling a new era. No longer would the worship of his Father be a localized affair requiring the priesthood and all its trappings. The priesthood would be done away with as far as The God was concerned. Of course, we now know that men, about 300 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, created a new priesthood in defiance of The God's will. This new priesthood presides over "organized religions" of all kinds.

 

Today's organized religions are totally man's doing, not something ordained by The God. According to scripture, all persons mow act as their own priests, with a high priest, Jesus, who intercedes for them in the heavenly holy of holies. However, as always, people still find it easier to worship in a Jerusalem, or a Mount Gerizim, or some physical structure. Jesus, though, told the Samaritan woman that in the future this type of worship would no longer be practiced.

 

Jesus often quoted Old Testament scriptures, such as what was prophesied in Malachi 1:11.

"For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts."

 

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4:22     Ye worship ye know not what: we worship what we know; for salvation is of the Jews.

 

When Jesus told her, "ye worship ye know not what," he was telling her that the synergistic type of religion, combining both idols and the heavenly Father, only led to confusion and a lack of knowledge about whom they were worshiping. That problem is still with us today. The synergistic, organized religions of our day seek to worship the heavenly Father, while, at the same time, worshiping material things.

 

Jesus also told her, "we worship what we know." This is an amazing statement if we were to believe that Jesus is The God, as many erroneously teach. If this were true, then Jesus was evidently worshiping himself, as he said "we."  But, according to context, he was speaking of himself as one of the Jews who worship what we know.

 

The Jews had a great advantage over other people in that The God had entrusted them with the oracles of The God (see Romans 3:1-2). They had previously received the truth from The God from the Old Testament prophets, and now from Jesus himself (see Hebrews l:1-2). The Israelites had always known whom they were to worship, even though they did not always obey. They often made the same mistake that the Samaritans made.

 

Jesus then added further proof of why the Jews knew whom they worshiped by saying, "for salvation is of the Jews." Salvation, or deliverance, is of, the Greek ek, meaning that the Jews were the source of salvation. What did Jesus mean by this statement? He was stating the truth that he, himself, was a Jew, and that it would be through his crucifixion that salvation would become a reality. Salvation is out of the Jews.

 

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4:23     But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the father also seeks such who worship him.

 

The statement, "an hour is coming, and now is," must create a question in the mind of any English-speaking person. It is quite evident in our language that an hour cannot be coming, and also be now, certainly not chronologically. Normally, the English language has only one sense of time: chronological, or measured time. But the Greek language has two kinds of time: chronos, quantitative, measured time; and kairos, qualitative time. Therefore, Jesus could speak of both kinds of time in the same scenario, as he did here.

 

When he said "an hour is coming," he spoke of chronological time. This coming time would not begin until after his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to the father. At that point, he would receive the holy spirit, to impart some of it to all people. That is the hour that is coming. When Jesus said "and now is," he spoke of kairos, or qualitative time.

 

Jesus often used this kind of speech in his teaching, and those who heard him would have easily understood the difference in the two words. When an event was certain to occur, he often spoke of it in a qualitative sense of time, as though it were already present.

 

Another example of this occurs in John 16:32 when Jesus told his disciples,

"Lo, is coming an hour and now has come, that ye will be scattered each to his own…."

 

Again, when Jesus was still standing before his disciples, he said,

"And I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee" (John 17:11).

 

Jesus spoke in kairos time, indicating the certainty of his return to the Father, as though it had already happened, when it actually had not yet occurred.

 

What is it in verse 4:23 that is both now and yet coming? It is when "the true worshipers will worship the father in spirit and truth." Worship, proskuneo, was defined earlier. Note carefully that the person to be worshiped is not Jesus, but the Father. This is the one whom true worshipers will worship.

 

There are two Greek words translated as true: aleetheia and aleethinos. The first, aleetheia, is not as strong a word as is the latter, aleethinos. Thayer (p. 26- 27) gives the definition for both words. About aleetheia:

"Universally, what is true in any matter under consideration (opp. to what is feigned, fictitious, false). b. The true notions of God which are open to human reason without his supernatural intervention."

 

Aleetheia, then, does not indicate absolute truth, but relative truth. This is the word Jesus used when he said,

"I am the truth, the way, the life" (John 14:6).

 

His truth about the father was relative, not absolute, as he was in the flesh when he said this.

 

Thayer defines aleethinos, the other word for truth, as,

"That which has not only the name and semblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name (particularly applied to express that which is all that it pretends to be, for instance, pure gold as opposed to adulterated metal)…in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real and true, genuine."

 

Aleethinos, then, is absolute truth without adulteration in any manner, while aleetheia may be truth that has been adulterated because of the weakness of man and his ideas of truth.

 

This latter word, aleethinos, absolute truth, is the word used to describe true worshipers, and also to describe those who worship in spirit and in truth. John used this word 23 times, while it was only used five times in the rest of the New Testament. There is no definite article preceding the phrase "in spirit and in truth." Hence, these two words are descriptive of those who worship.

 

In spirit comes from en pneumati, which means a deed that is activated by the spirit, and not something of the flesh. A true worshiper, then, is a person activated by holy spirit in the practice of worship. The other characteristic, in truth, means the genuine truth, and the reason it is aleethinos, or real, genuine worship, is that it is a worship instigated by holy spirit.

 

I John 5:6 identified the spirit as the truth. Therefore, anything which is en pneumati, must also be of the truth. The flesh will lead to worship that is only aleetheia, or partially true. With these descriptions in mind, it is little wonder that Jesus went on to say, "The father seeks such to worship him."

 

The word seek comes from zeetei, which means something or someone who is searched out, something not easily found. Such true worshipers are not easily found, and the father must search for them. Throughout the scriptures, though, there are some people described as being able to worship in this manner. Could this indicate that true worship is a special gift given to people? Or, does it simply indicate that only a few people ever choose to worship in this manner?

 

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4:24     The God [is] a spirit, and they that worship him, in spirit and truth must worship.

 

This statement must give pause to any thinking person. Because "The God is a spirit," he can only be worshiped in one manner: en pneumati and en aleethinos, in spirit and in truth. A spirit being can only be worshiped in a spiritual and truth-filled manner. There is no in-between, indicated by the word must, dei, which means something which is a necessity. This is the same word used to indicate that Jesus "must die." His death was a necessity to fulfill the purpose of The God's salvation.

 

What exactly is worship that is in spirit and in truth? Is it worship accompanied with a great deal of emotion? Not necessarily. Is it necessary to be emotional, or can one worship en pnuemati and en aleethinos in a quiet manner that will glorify the father in heaven? We believe en pnuemati and en aleethinos simply means worship that is sincerely offered to The God by anyone who is dedicated to his service.

 

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4:25     The woman says to him, I know that Messias is coming, who is called Christ; when he comes he will tell us all things.

 

Jesus had just told the woman that she did not know whom to worship, and she said, "I know messias is coming, who is called christ."  Messias is the Greek transliteration for the Hebrew messiah. When translated into Greek, it becomes christos, and in English, christ.

 

This Samaritan woman had the same hope as the Jews. She was looking forward to the coming of the christ, or the messiah. She was also conversant with both the Greek and the Hebrew words for this coming person. Both the Jews and the Samaritans shared a common hope.

 

The woman went on to say, "when he comes he will tell us all things." She also realized that this coming messiah would have knowledge which is not available to others. He would tell them all things, which would include both physical truths and spiritual truths.

 

The scriptures said that the coming messiah would tell the people all things. Deuteronomy 18:18 says,

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth: and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."

 

This coming person would speak only what The God puts in his mouth to say. Jesus said that he said and did only what his Father told him (see John 5:19, 30). This was total commitment! Only he could truthfully say such a thing.

 

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4:26     Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

 

For some reason, Jesus responded to this woman's hope of the coming messiah. Jesus seldom admitted this truth so directly. Why he did so to this woman was not revealed. However, the fact remains that he did admit that he was the messiah. His conversation and admission to this supposedly heathen woman also reveals to us that The God is no respecter of persons; he loves everyone equally.

 

At the beginning of his ministry, when Jesus was sent only to the Israelite nation, he refused to minister to any others. After the Jewish leaders refused to accept him, he then turned to the Gentiles to get a name, or people, for himself.

 

Surely, his conversation with this woman at the well must have taken place after he expanded his ministry to other people. His speaking to this Samaritan woman followed the same order in which he sent out his disciples: first to the Jews, then to the Samaritans, and then to the Gentiles. Therefore, this may have been at the beginning of his ministry to all the people who were not Jews.

 

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Jesus ministers to the Samaritan people

 

4:27     And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

 

The word marveled is written in the imperfect, which shows constant action in the past. The reason for this was explained by Rienecker (p. 227):

"Thaumazoo, to be astonished, to marvel. It denotes incredulous surprise. The surprise arises because He was talking to a woman. This was held to be improper, especially for a rabbi."

 

It appears that Jesus was breaking another of the taboos so carefully built up by the Jewish religion.

 

Over time, the priests had surrounded the true word of The God with their own interpretations and rules. They did not recognize the truth even when Jesus proclaimed it to them. They accused him of having a devil (see Matthew 11:18). Even today, simple worship of The God is still not recognized as religiously legal.

 

The various "christian" denominations are similar to the Jewish religion of Jesus' time. They react to the clear teachings of The God's word in much the same way as the Jewish priests did. Denominational leaders still love the surrounding laws of their denominations, which they have built up over time. They love their denominational doctrines so much that they will not accept the simple truth of the scriptures which do not fit their ideas.

 

Although his disciples must have wondered why Jesus was talking to this woman, none of them asked, "What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?"  Their respect for their teacher, or rabbi, was so high that they dared not quiz him about his relationship with the Samaritan woman.

 

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4:28-29     The woman then left her waterpot and went away into the city, and says to the men, Come, see a man who told me all things whatsoever I did; is this perchance the christ!

 

First, the disciples were amazed when they found Jesus speaking with this woman of Shechem. The Samaritan woman was equally excited, and went home without any water, or even her water pot. She completely forgot what she had come to the well to do! Instead, she rushed home to tell the men about whom she thought she had found.

 

She had a powerful message for the people of her Samaritan religion. "Come, see a man who told me all things whatsoever I did." And then she followed this with an exclamation that sounds like a question. "Is this perchance the christ!"  The very thought that a Jewish stranger could tell her things about her life that it was impossible for him to know was exciting news to these people. But the clincher to her testimony was: "Is this perchance the christ!"

 

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4:30     They went forth therefore out of the city, and came unto him.

 

What a powerful testimony! I have often wondered what would happen today. Would people respond today like they did then? Would the pastor's of our sophisticated churches even pay any attention to this woman? I doubt that she would get much of an audience in our blasé society, most of whom are not looking for a coming christ. 

 

The God, of course, does have his own who do look for the second coming of Jesus to rule and reign over this world. This was prophesied in II Peter 3:3-4:

"This first knowing, that mockers will come at the close of the days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things thus continue from [the] beginning of [the] creation."

 

The phrase "they went forth" is another imperfect, which shows continual action. This imperfect indicates that a long procession of people came out of the city. The scriptures say nothing about the size of Shechem, or Sychar. From the Old Testament, we know that Shechem was a place where Abraham built altars to worship Jehovah, so it could have become a fairly sizable city.

 

The Jews had renamed the city Sychar, meaning falsehood, because they considered that the Samaritans practiced a false religion at the temple on Mount Gerizim. However, these people were looking for the coming messiah! They were not asleep at the switch. When this woman came testifying of her talk with Jesus, they responded in faith to go see for themselves. They "came unto him."

 

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4:31     But in the meantime, the disciples were asking him, saying Rabbi, eat.

 

Between the time that the woman left and the people of Sychar arrived, the disciples tried to get Jesus to eat. After all, they had gone into the city to buy food. They were concerned that Jesus did not seem to be interested in eating, even after their long journey to Sychar. They had probably eaten on their way back to the well, after buying food, since it does not say anything about them eating at the time they tried to get Jesus to take food.

 

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4:32     But he said to them, I have meat to eat which you know not.

 

They knew Jesus had not eaten any food, yet he told them, "I have meat to eat which you know not."  They must have wondered if he had hidden some food from them. Surely, he would not have taken any unclean food from that Samaritan woman, would he? They must have wondered what he was talking about.

 

Jesus used the absolute no, ouk. They absolutely knew nothing about the food of which he spoke. Then, they asked one another the following question.

 

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4:33     Therefore the disciples said one to another, Did anyone bring him [anything] to eat?

 

The disciples were clearly confounded. They assumed that one of them had given food to Jesus. This is signified by the use of the word "therefore," which points back to the previous verse which contained Jesus' answer.

 

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4:34     Jesus says to them, My meat is that I should do the will of him who sent me, and should finish his work.

 

Jesus must have been aware of the consternation his disciples felt with his previous statement, and he added more explanation. Meat, to Jesus, simply meant food. It did not necessarily mean animal flesh, as it would in our society today.

 

Here, Jesus used "meat" in a metaphorical sense, as that which sustained him, not the food eaten and digested. He spoke of a spiritual feeding, and explained it by saying that it was, "that I should do the will of him who sent me, and should finish his work." With this statement, Jesus clearly set forth his only purpose for being on this earth.

 

His purpose consisted of two parts. First, that he was to do the "will of him who sent me."  Will comes from theleema, defined by Thayer (p. 285) as,

"what one wishes or has determined shall be done…of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ."

 

This is the stronger of the two words translated as "will."  The other word is boulomai, which is the weaker of the two words. Boulomai indicates desire, while theleema indicates determination.

 

By the use of theleema, Jesus was telling the disciples that this was the purpose, or will, of him who sent me. In reading this part of the verse, it appears that Jesus was not saying that he sent himself, but that he was sent by someone greater than himself, someone who had the authority to send him. Jesus never did equate himself with the invisible god of heaven, his father. Only obstinate, arrogant religionists dare to do that today.

 

The second part of his purpose for being sent was to "finish his work." Whose work? Not his own work, but the work of the one who sent him. Remember that whatever Jesus said, or did, it always represented some element of the invisible god of heaven, whom he was to reveal to mankind.

 

There is much more to The God than mankind can ever understand completely. The God dwells in light unapproachable by man. Not light such as the sun, but light as in knowledge. No man can ever know all about the invisible god. The commitment of Jesus was very clear in this statement to his disciples.

 

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4:35     Say ye not that it is yet four months and the harvest comes? Behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are white to harvest already.

 

If it is yet "four months and the harvest comes," then Jesus must have visited Sychar in the spring. Again, Jesus was speaking in a metaphorical sense to his disciples.

 

First, he spoke of harvesting crops which had been planted earlier. Then, he used that as an example of the harvest which was uppermost in his own mind, and the harvest intended by The God who had sent him. He got their attention by using the word "behold," which told those listening to pay special attention to what he was about to say. Today a speaker might simply say "Pay attention!"

 

Jesus told them the important part he wanted them to pay attention to: "Lift up your eyes and see the fields, for they are white to harvest already."  Again, this was said in a metaphorical sense. The planted fields were not yet ready for harvest. Therefore, the fields Jesus wanted the disciples to see were the people of Samaria.

 

When he said "lift up your eyes," he meant for them to look upward, away from the earthly fields, and see the harvest his father was interested in. The harvest The God had in mind was concerned with instructing men correctly about his salvation. The scriptures tell us that

"Salvation is of god" (see Psalms 68:20 and Acts 28:28).

 

All things concerning salvation begin with the Father in heaven. He sent Jesus to fulfill that purpose which he had begun before the foundation of the world. Why Jesus used the word white was not explained. Perhaps some of the crops ordinarily planted may have appeared to be white when they were ready for harvest. Or, perhaps he looked out over the people of Samaria gathered before him, dressed in the traditional white clothing of that day. Jesus was letting his disciples know that they had a part to play in harvesting those fields which were ready for the harvest.

 

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4:36-37     And he that reaps receives a reward, and gathers fruit unto eternal life, that both he that sows, and he that reaps, may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true, That it is one who sows, and another who reaps.

 

The words "he that reaps," raises a question. What constitutes a reaping? The three synoptic gospels say that Jesus went about preaching the kingdom of The God, as also did Paul and the other apostles. When Jesus spoke here to his disciples about reaping, was he speaking of saving souls, which is the predominant message of evangelical preachers today? No!

 

The reaping desired by Jesus was turning people to faith in the truth that he is The God's messiah, or christ, and that he is the coming king to rule over this earth for the next age. With this in mind, people should commit themselves to serve this coming king. It is not a matter of "accepting Jesus as your personal savior." Although this message is so often preached by evangelical religions, it actually changes nothing. Jesus is already the savior of everyone.

 

Daniel 12:3 tells what those who reap should do.

"And they that be wise, [teachers] shall shine as the brightness of the firmament and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."

 

To reap is to turn people to righteousness, not to get them "saved." Checking in a good concordance under the word "saved," would reveal that most instances of its use concerning eternal salvation are written in the future tense. Many scriptures say, "shall be saved."  Scriptural salvation is that of the future, not of the present, and definitely not represented by joining a church. Of course, there is a present tense of salvation, concerning the deliverance from sad situations in this life. But, that does not include eternal salvation, as it is erroneously taught by so many churches.

 

The disciples were sent forth by Jesus to be teachers, or to reap, and they shall receive a reward, or recompense. As related by Daniel 12:3, they will shine forth as a star in the next age. They will also "gather fruit unto life eternal." Does this mean that one is earning eternal life by reaping? Absolutely not! The fruit gathered means an enhanced life, not only now in this lifetime, but also in the age to come. Eternal is an adjective, and describes the quality of life, not the chronological length. Eternal life is always a gift of The God, and can never be earned.

 

Also, we must issue a note of warning to any who think they will run out and become teachers so they might shine as the stars. Be aware that the scriptures indicate that teachers will face a much sterner judgment than others. Too many, who are completely unprepared, are coerced into teaching the scriptures in churches today "because God needs you." They should be aware that they will be held accountable by The God for what they teach. If you do not have a specific calling from The God to teach, we strongly advise that you do not teach!

 

"That both he that sows, and he that reaps, may rejoice together."  By these words, Jesus was teaching his disciples that someone was there ahead of them. Someone had prepared the way for them to reap. Someone had planted the seed, or they could not reap. Many preachers today, especially those on television, boast about how many people they "have saved."  What nonsense! If nothing else, holy spirit was there ahead of them.

 

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4:38     I sent you to reap on which ye have not laboured; others have laboured, and ye have entered into their labour.

 

The phrase, "I sent you," indicates the authority which Jesus demonstrated over his disciples. They went because he sent them. They were not sent to save souls, as is so often taught in many churches. They were sent to guide people into the kind of commitment which would allow them to enter into the next age. This is the reason that salvation is so often spoken of in the future tense. Future salvation, or entry into the kingdom, is the message of the New Testament.

 

Jesus again reiterated his message that others had labored, and the disciples had not labored. In our time, Jesus is the one whose labor we enter into. It was he who reconciled the world unto The God through his death, and thereby demonstrated The God's love for all.

 

As the "sent ones" go forth today, it should be in the knowledge that they are entering into the labor of the lord, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus has labored. Now is the time to reap what he sowed by telling people about what he accomplished for them by his death. Perhaps, by recounting his great love for them, some will commit themselves to his service, instead of serving only themselves. By doing so, they can retain the salvation given to them by grace.

 

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4:39     But out of that city many of the Samaritans believed on him, because of the word of the woman testifying, He told me all things whatsoever I did.

 

The Samaritan woman heard Jesus, and she believed him when he said that he was the hoped-for messiah. She went forth and told of her new-found faith, because "he told me all things whatsoever I did."  She did not keep her light under a bushel, but shed it abroad to all in the city of Sychar (or Shechem, as it was once known).

 

Whose labor did she enter into? It was the Old Testament prophets whose words the Samaritans used as their scriptures. Because of their prophecy that the messiah was coming, when they heard the woman's testimony, they believed enough to go hear Jesus for themselves. True faith knows nothing of keeping the good news secret. Faith impels one to action, not secrecy.

 

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4:40     Therefore when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to abide with them, and he abode there two days.

 

This was an amazing invitation. These Samaritans were inviting a Jew to stay with them, when in the past, the Jews would have nothing whatsoever to do with them. But, they wanted to know more about this Jew that the woman at the well had testified about. Therefore, they asked him to "abide with them."  Their asking, in itself, was a miracle. That a Jew would accept such an invitation might even be considered another miracle.

 

Jesus "abode with them two days." By doing so, he was acknowledging that The God was reaching out to others. By staying with them for two days, Jesus was definitely defying one of the most precious tenets of the Jews: Do not have anything to do with the Samaritans.

 

What if Jesus came to some of the groups so despised by the orthodox religions of our day? And what if those groups accepted him for whom he said he was? Would the orthodox religions reject him just as the orthodox Jews did? When Jesus returns to this earth, it will be very interesting to see who is accepted into his kingdom. Will it be the worldly religious denominations, or those few who saw them for what they all were: divisions of the body of the christ?

 

I Corinthians l:10-13 says,

"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you. For it was shown to me, my brethren, by those of [the house of] Chloe, that there are strifes among you. But I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Has the Christ been divided?"

 

This exhortation of Paul to the Corinthians raises a question: Why is there such a variety of "christian" denominations in the world?  Some pastors claim that this simply demonstrates the diversity in the body of christ. But Paul did not think so. And, if he was speaking under the power of holy spirit, then neither did The God think so, nor his son, Jesus, the Christ. They say these are divisions in the body of the christ, even if one says, "I am of christ!"

 

Does this mean that anyone who claims to be a Christian, or a follower of Jesus, is causing a schism in the body of christ? Yes, even though this must seem odd to most people today!  When some say they are Catholic, does this create a schism? Yes, it does! What about those who say they are Muslims? Yes!  They, too, are creating a schism in the body of christ, even though they do not believe in him.

 

By his crucifixion, Jesus reconciled the entire world unto himself, not just one group, or one denomination, or one religion. All the people of the world were reconciled to The God, and anyone who claims to be part of anything other than this complete body is causing a division, or a schism.

 

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). The God considers that we all died together with Jesus (Romans 6:5). We were all raised together with him (Romans 8:17). Where, then, is there any place for all the differing religions of this world? Are they not all a matter of pride among differing people and denominations? Whatever else they may be, they are definitely divisions in the body of the christ.

 

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4:41     And many more believed because of his word.

 

Many of the people of Sychar had believed because of the woman's testimony. Many more were curious enough to go hear what this unusual Jew had to say. For two days, Jesus taught them about The God of heaven who loved all men equally. He demonstrated this love by his actions, by accepting them as worthy of hearing that he was the messiah they were expecting. Remember, the primary purpose for which Jesus came to this earth was to reveal the Father to the people, all the people. They heard his message, and believed because of what he had told them.

 

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4:42     And to the woman they said, No longer we believe because of your saying, for ourselves have heard, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world, the Christ.

 

The people of Sychar now had more reason to believe, beyond what the woman had told them. She had testified that Jesus had told her all things about herself. After hearing Jesus for two days, their faith had deepened. They had heard this friendly Jew for themselves. What did this hearing cause them to believe? "That this is truly the savior of the world, the christ."

 

Please notice that there is nothing here about believing that Jesus was their personal savior, as is often preached today. There is nothing here about joining a church. There is nothing here about beginning a hierarchical priesthood. They believed that Jesus was the savior of the world, the christ, the messiah, for whom they had longed for generations.

 

Jesus, who knows the heart of all men, accepted them for what they were, children of The God, and children who were beloved of him. He was the savior of the world, not only of believers, or people of a certain religion, but all people, regardless of what group, or faith, they might belong to. Men's religions are exclusive, but The God accepts everyone inclusively.

 

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The second miracle: Jesus heals the sick child

 

4:43     But after the two days he went forth thence, and went away into Galilee.

 

The two days that Jesus spent in Sychar were apparently fruitful ones. From there, he returned to Galilee. There must have been a reason why Jesus returned to Galilee, although it was not stated.

 

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4:44     For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet has not honor in his own country.

 

Perhaps this was one of the reasons why Jesus went into Galilee. Jesus was born in the district of Judea and he knew that if he returned to his home, he would have "not honor in his own country." The not used is ouk, the absolute not.

 

Does this principle still apply today? Yes, it does. If a person is well known, and if he exercises a gift bestowed by holy spirit, those who know him well will likely ask the same question folks posed about Jesus:

"Is not this the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55).

 

Or, as the case may be, is not this the son of the neighbor down the street? Who does he think he is? I know him well, and I could not think of any person less likely to be doing God's work, as he claims he is doing.

 

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4:45     When therefore he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all things which he did in Jerusalem during the feast, for they also went to the feast.

 

Perhaps another reason why Jesus went into Galilee was that he knew his message would be "received." Received comes from the root word dexomai, not from lambanoo, the usual word used to indicate the taking of something.

 

Thayer (p. 131) compares the two words:

"syn. dexomai, lambanoo. The earlier classic use of these verbs sustains in the main the distinction laid down in the glossaries, and the suggestion of a self prompted taking still adheres to lambanoo in main connexions, in distinction from a receiving of what is offered. Yet the suggestion of a welcoming or an appropriating reception generally cleaves to dexomai."

 

Jesus had a ready audience in Galilee, not because of the testimony of some woman, but because of their "having seen all things which he did in Jerusalem at the feast."  Remember, Jesus had cleansed the temple of the money changers, and had also done many signs, or miracles, while he was there. The people of Galilee had attended that feast, and therefore they were more than ready to receive Jesus, or give audience to him.

 

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4:46     Jesus came therefore again to the Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain courtier, whose son was sick in Capernaum.

 

In noting that Jesus returned to the site of his first miracle, where he had turned water into wine, John was laying the foundation for another of Jesus' ministries. The word courtier comes from basilikos, which means,

"Of a man, the officer or minister, of a prince, a courtier" (Thayer, p. 98).

 

Since he was the officer of a prince, this man was an important person. Furthermore, his "son was sick in Capernaum," a city several miles from Cana. In those days, the usual mode of travel was either by foot, or by donkey, if you were wealthy enough to own one.

 

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4:47     He, having heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, went to him, and asked him that he would come down and heal his son: for he was about to die.

 

The courtier had come to Cana specifically to see Jesus, to ask him to travel to Capernaum to heal his son. How would Jesus respond to this request? Would he travel a great distance to Capernaum, or would he refuse to go?

 

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4:48     Therefore Jesus said to him, Unless ye see signs and wonders in no wise will ye believe.

 

This answer must have surprised the courtier. Since he was an important man, he was undoubtedly used to having his requests granted. It would have been dangerous for an ordinary Jew to speak like this to a man of the courtier's authority. Jesus, however, was interested in more than just healing his son. He was also interested in what the courtier believed about him.

 

The word signs comes from seemeia, and the word wonders comes from terata. Thayer (p. 573) notes that the word signs means,

"a sign, prodigy, portent, i.e., an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature." 

 

Thayer (p. 620) also notes that the word wonders means,

"Apparently akin to the verb teereoo; accordingly something so strange as to cause it to be 'watched' or 'observed.'"

 

The two words are quite close to each other in meaning. One stresses the action itself, while the other stresses that the action causes one to watch, or observe it. Jesus told the courtier that he would not believe unless his faith was based on both of these criteria.

 

Jesus spoke boldly, and quite directly, and without tact. He was not intimidated by this important man, whom he also loved. He did, however, want to get his point across to this man.

 

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4:49     The courtier says to him, Sir, come down before my little child dies.

 

Instead of being angry, the courtier continued to plead for his son's life. He undoubtedly loved his son dearly.

 

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4:50     Jesus says to him, Go, thy son lives. And the man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went away.

 

After telling the man that he would not believe unless he had seen signs and wonders, Jesus then told him, "Go, thy son lives." Did this indicate a change of mind on the part of Jesus? Did he say this to test the man? No, it was because he came to earth to demonstrate The God's love for all people. If this healing happened as Jesus had said, then it would authenticate his calling to be messiah. His works would prove the truthfulness of his words.

 

The fact that the man believed Jesus indicates the extent of the courtier's faith. He accepted that Jesus could cause miracles to happen. He had heard this earlier, and it was the reason he had come to see Jesus. When Jesus said his son was healed, the courtier was satisfied, and he went away.

 

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4:51     But already as he was going down, his bondmen met him and reported, saying, Thy child lives.

 

The phrase "going down" referred to the courtier's return to Capernaum. Why it was "down," may have been because Capernaum was lower in elevation than Cana, or maybe it was simply an idiomatic expression. The important point was that his bondmen reported to him that his son was alive. He must have felt a great sense of relief, that his trip to Cana had been worthwhile.

 

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4:52     He inquired therefore from them the hour in which he got better. And they said to him, Yesterday [at the] seventh hour the fever left him.

 

"Yesterday" indicates that the courtier had been traveling for a full day before he met his bondmen. He must have wondered if his son had been healed at the exact time Jesus spoke to him.

 

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4:53     The father therefore knew that [it was] at that hour in which Jesus said to him, Thy son lives. And he, himself, believed and his whole house.

 

When the bondmen told him that it was "the seventh hour," the courtier recognized that this was the exact hour "in which Jesus said, thy son lives." As a result, the courtier believed. However, verse 4:50 says that he had believed when Jesus told him his son was healed. What is the difference in what he believed now, and what he believed earlier?

 

The first act of faith, or belief, was that Jesus could do signs and wonders. But later, the courtier believed that Jesus was the messiah, the son of The God. And that is exactly what the scriptures tell us to believe. The scriptures do not tell us to believe that Jesus is our "personal savior," but that he is the messiah, the king of Israel, the son of The God, who will come again to rule and reign over the earth.

 

Not only did the courtier believe, but also "his whole house." This would include not only his actual kin, but his bondmen and other servants as well.

 

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4:54     This, again, a second sign did Jesus, having come out of Judea, into Galilee.

 

This healing was a sign, not a wonder, and it was the second of eight signs, or miracles, which John recorded in his gospel. According to John, Jesus performed these signs to prove that he was the messiah. Both of these first two signs were performed in Cana.

 

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Summary Highlights of Chapter 4

 

# The Samaritan woman belonged to the religion which mixed the

     worship of idols and the worship of the true god. The orthodox Jews of

     that time hated this mixture of religions, and detested the Samaritans,

     refusing to have any communication with them.  The Samaritan

     woman must have had great difficulty in understanding why a Jew

     was even speaking to her, let alone asking her for a drink.

 

# Earlier, Jesus said that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of

     Israel. Yet, he was telling this supposedly hated Samaritan woman that

     he would have given her eternal life. When he began his earthly

     ministry, it was limited to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

     However, it had now been expanded to include whoever, which would

     encompass all the people of earth.

 

# Too few actually worship and obey the one true god above their own

     desires for money, and other things. Although they may worship God,

     they also worship the material things of this earth.

 

# Life eternal is a quality of life rather than length of time. When one

     shall drink of the water which Jesus shall give, that person's life shall

     take on the qualities of godliness, which are completely strange to the

     normal physical life. It will be oriented toward pleasing The God,

     instead of pleasing the person's own fleshly desires.

 

#  Jesus commended her honesty. This is the same Jesus who had

     chastised the Pharisees for their dishonesty about their sins. Yet, he

     commended this woman who was now living out of wedlock. He

     praised her for her honesty in admitting her wrong doing.

 

#  Jesus was demonstrating The God's love of truthfulness, that The God

     does not punish those who will confess their sins, or agree with him

     that something is sin.

 

# Today's organized religions are totally man's doing, not something

     ordained by The God. According to scripture, all persons mow act as

     their own priests, with a high priest, Jesus, who intercedes for them in

     the heavenly holy of holies. However, as always, people still find it

     easier to worship in a Jerusalem, or a Mount Gerizim, or some physical

     structure. Jesus, though, told the Samaritan woman that in the future

     this type of worship would no longer be practiced.

 

#  Note carefully that the person to be worshiped is not Jesus, but the

     Father. This is the one whom true worshipers will worship.

 

#  A true worshiper, then, is a person activated by holy spirit in the

     practice of worship.  What exactly is worship that is in spirit and in

     truth?  We believe this simply means worship that is sincerely offered

     to The God by anyone who is dedicated to his service.

 

# However, these people were looking for the coming messiah! They were

     not asleep at the switch. When this woman came testifying of her talk

     with Jesus, they responded in faith to go see for themselves. They

     "came unto him."

 

#  Jesus never did equate himself with the invisible god of heaven, his

     Father. Only obstinate, arrogant religionists dare to do that today.

 

# The reaping desired by Jesus was turning people to faith in the truth

     that he is The God's messiah, or christ, and that he is the coming king

     to rule over this earth for the next age. With this in mind, people should

     commit themselves to serve this coming king. It is not a matter of

     "accepting Jesus as your personal savior." Although this message is so

     often preached by evangelical religions, it actually changes nothing.

     Jesus is already the savior of everyone.

 

# To reap is to turn people to righteousness, not to get them "saved."

 

# Many scriptures say, "shall be saved."  Scriptural salvation is that of the

     future, not of the present, and definitely not represented by joining a

     church.

 

# As the "sent ones" go forth today, it should be in the knowledge that

     they are entering into the labor of the lord, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus has

     labored. Now is the time to reap what he sowed by telling people about

     what he accomplished for them by his death. Perhaps, by recounting

     his great love for them, some will commit themselves to his service,

     instead of serving only themselves. By doing so, they can retain the

     salvation given to them by grace.

 

# Does this mean that anyone who claims to be a Christian, or a follower

     of Jesus, is causing a schism in the body of christ? Yes, even though this

     must seem odd to most people today!  When some say they are

     Catholic, does this create a schism? Yes, it does! What about those who

     say they are Muslims? Yes!  They, too, are creating a schism in the

     body of christ, even though they do not believe in him.

 

# By his crucifixion, Jesus reconciled the entire world unto himself, not

     just one group, or one denomination, or one religion. All the people of

     the world were reconciled to The God, and anyone who claims to be

     part of anything other than this complete body is causing a division, or

     a schism.

 

# Where, then, is there any place for all the differing religions of this

     world? Are they not all a matter of pride among differing people and

     denominations? Whatever else they may be, they are definitely

     divisions in the body of the christ.

 

# Remember, the primary purpose for which Jesus came to this earth was

     to reveal the Father to the people, all the people. They heard his

     message, and believed because of what he had told them.

 

# He was the savior of the world, not only of believers, or people of a

     certain religion, but all people, regardless of what group, or faith, they

     might belong to. Men's religions are exclusive, but The God accepts

     everyone inclusively.

 

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September 2009