John 4

John 4:1

Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John

Baptizing. The original word implies total immersion. See entry for Baptism.

John 4:4

And He had to pass through Samaria.

Samaria. The shortest route between Judea and Galilee went through Samaria, a distance of about 40 miles. According to Josephus, the trip took three days on foot (Life of Flavius Josephus, 52).

John 4:7

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”

A woman of Samaria. Although this woman is not named in the Bible, Orthodox Christians know her as Photini and regard her as equal to the apostles. According to Orthodox tradition, Photini was baptized by the apostles on the Day of Pentecost and became a missionary to Carthage. Her ministry was so prolific that it attracted the hostile attention of the Emperor Nero, and she was martyred in AD66.

John 4:9

Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Samaritans. The Jews hated the mixed-race Samaritans and they had nothing to do with them. Their mutual animosity reached back to the 8th century BC when the conquering Assyrians deported Jews from the northern kingdom of Israel and replaced them with foreign colonists (2 Kgs. 17:24). These newcomers intermarried with the Jews who had remained creating the Samaritans. At different times, the Samaritans were a source of trouble for the Jews of the southern kingdom. They hindered the rebuilding of the temple and the walls of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:1–16), and built a temple of their own on Mount Gerizim in Samaria.

John 4:14

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.

John 4:21

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

The Father. Jesus came to reveal a God who loves us like a Father. This revelation was not just for the Jews, but for the Gentiles as well. God is the Father of us all.

When Jesus prayed, “Righteous Father… I have made your name known to them” (John 17:25-26), he was referring to the name of Father. Jesus is in the business of revealing the Father (see entry for Luke 2:49). And when Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:28), he was saying, “May you be known as Father.”

Theologians like to ask, “What was Jesus’ favorite subject?” Some observe that he spoke often about the kingdom. Others note that he spoke much about money and love. But Jesus’ favorite subject by a long stretch was his Father. Everything he said and everything he did was grounded in the relationship he shared with his Father. “I do what I see my Father doing,” said Jesus. “I speak what I hear him speaking.” (John 5:17–20, 8:28, 12:49–50).

The Bible has many names for God, but Jesus gave us the best name of all: “Abba, Father” (see entry for Mark 14:36). Abba is not the name of a distant and mysterious God. Abba is your heavenly Father who cares for you and knows your needs (Matt. 6:31–32). Abba Father is the name of God who loves you as much as he loves Jesus (see entry for John 17:23).

John 4:36

“Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.

(a) Receiving wages. The reaper is reaping a harvest.

The original word for wages (misthos) is elsewhere translated as reward (e.g., 1 Cor. 3:14). What is a reaper’s reward but a harvest?

(b) Gathering fruit for life eternal. When you sow and water the gospel seed, you are laboring to reap an eternal reward of people. Just as a farmer who sows corn expects to reap corn, we who sow the good seed can expect to reap new life.

See also the entry for Eternal Rewards.

John 4:39

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.”

(a) The word of the woman. In an era when a woman’s testimony counted for nothing in a court of law, Jesus encouraged women to proclaim the good news. Many in that were saved because she spoke.

(b) “He told me.” His words, her testimony. Jesus provides the good news; we tell the story. “This is what Jesus has done for me.” There is a partnership here. Without Jesus, we would have nothing to say. But if we fail to speak, they will have nothing to hear (Rom. 10:14).

John 4:41

Many more believed because of His word;

The Samaritans saw no miracles. No water was turned into wine and no lepers were healed. They simply heard the woman’s testimony and put their faith in Jesus. You don’t need to be a miracle worker to lead people to Jesus, but you do need to share what God has given you. As we freely give what we have freely received, good seed is sown. God’s word takes root and begins to grow, and the result is a harvest.

John 4:42

and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Savior of the world. Jesus is not just the Jews’ Messiah; he is the Savior of the Gentiles and the whole world besides (1 John 4:14). “He himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). This was radical news at the time, but it was a revelation that John received direct from Jesus (John 3:16).

John 4:46

Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum.

(a) Cana of Galilee; see entry for John 2:1.

(b) A royal official. Some scholars believe this official was Chuza who served in the government of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee (Luke 8:3). Chuza’s wife was Joanna, one of the women who had been healed by Jesus (Luke 8:2–3).

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