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John: Chapter 4

 

By: Steve Shirley

     "The Woman At The Well" Much of this chapter is a conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well. Let's take this in pieces. First, let's start with reading (Jn 4:1-9).

     (Verses 1-4) We mentioned these verses previously in our study of Chapter 3. Both the disciples of John the Baptist, and the disciples of Jesus were baptizing people (Jn 4:2 - "Jesus Himself did not baptize."), and a controversy arose between "some of John's disciples and the Jews" (Jn 3:25-26). When Jesus heard about this controversy, "He left Judea and departed again to Galilee."

 

     (Verse 4) Galilee was north of Judea. There were several routes to get from Galilee to Judea, but the shortest one was through Samaria. (A distance of about 35 mi.)

 

     (Verses 5-6) John MacArthur, in his Study Bible explains these verses well: "These verses refer back to Gen. 48:22 where Jacob bequeathed a section of land to Joseph which he had purchased from the "children of Hamor" (cf. Gen 33:19). When the Jews returned from Egypt, they buried Joseph's bones in that land at Shechem. This area became the inheritance of Joseph's descendants. The precise location of "Jacob's well" has been set by a firm tradition among Jews, Samaritans, Muslims, and Christians and lies today in the shadow of the crypt of an unfinished Orthodox church."

 

     (Verses 7-9)(NASB) "Jesus said to her (the woman from Samaria), "Give Me a drink."

     Jesus did two things here that were considered "unusual."

1. As is noted in (verse 9), "Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans."

     The land which would be called Samaria was purchased in 920 B.C. by Omri, the 6th king of Israel, from a man named "Shemer" for two talents of silver (1 Kin 16:24). (Omri named Samaria after him). Afterwards, it became the capital of the 10 northern tribes of Israel. In 722-721 B.C., Samaria was conquered by the Assyrians. Many of those who were living in Samaria were deported, and replaced by "people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim" (2 Kin 17:24). However, some Israelites avoided being exiled. Those who remained intermarried with these "foreigners." These became known as the "Samaritans," a "mixed race" who were despised by the "full-blooded" Jews, and considered "contaminated."

2. He was speaking to a woman in public. Jewish men did not do this. We see this pointed out in (verse 27)(NASB) "At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why do You speak with her?"

 

     Now, let's read (Jn 4:10-15).

     (Verse 10) "Living water"

     There are several views as to what "living water" is. The most common view is that Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit based upon (Jn 7:37-39), and the fact that Jesus said He would "give it" (verses 10 & 14). This is entirely possible. However, I spent a fair amount of time studying this, and I believe "living water" may be pointing to Jesus. I wrote a LONG study on this. We won't go into all of the details, but in short, when (4:10) is combined with (4:14-15), we see several things which point to "living water" being Jesus.

1. If you "drinketh" (verse 13) of the "living water," you have "everlasting (eternal) life." Jesus gives eternal life (Jn 3:16)(Jn 6:40,47)(Jn 10:28)(Rom 6:23).

2. A well of water." It interesting to note that the word "well" used here (verse 14)("spring" in some versions) in Greek ("pege") is the same word used for "fountain." In other words, "a FOUNTAIN of water springing up into everlasting life." Looking at (Rev 21:6), this appears to point to Jesus.

3. A well (fountain) of water SPRINGING up." This is interesting, and also goes back to the Old Testament.

Take a look at a similar verse found in (Gen 26:19) "And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of SPRINGING water." The Hebrew word used for "springing" is "chay," which Strong's defines as: "alive... life (or living thing) whether lit. or fig." Putting this another way, when Isaac's servants dug the well, they found water that was "living (chay)" not "dead or stagnant." The Albert Barnes Commentary says this, "The Jews used the expression "living water" to denote springs, fountains, or running streams, in opposition to dead and stagnant water."

In other words, when Jesus used the term "living water," He was using a term that the Jews were familiar with from the Old Testament. "Living water" refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed the person who drank it. It was a picture of having "new life." As with nearly all things in the Old Testament, this pointed to Jesus who gives new life.

     In addition, we have parallel verses of "drinking" or "eating" Jesus. For example, (Jn 6:35) says, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Jesus follows this by saying that the "manna" which was "eaten" in the Old Testament (Ex 16:1-36) pointed to Him. Finally, Jesus speaks of "eating His flesh" and "drinking His blood" in (Jn 6:53-58). He also says that in doing so, that person will have "eternal life" (Jn 6:51,54,58). (Just as the one who drinks "living water" has "eternal life:" Jn 4:14.)

***Note: In taking the Lord's Supper (Communion), we "figuratively" eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus (1 Cor 11:23-26)(Lk 22:19-20)(Mt 26:26-28).

 

     Let's move on to (Jn 4:16-26).

     In the previous verses, Jesus tells the woman she needs "living water" (Jesus). In these verses He points out why. She had been married and divorced 5 times, and was now living with a man. (Verse 18) is a clear indication that "living together" while unmarried is wrong.

 

     (Verse 19) Because Jesus knows about her life when she has not told Him anything, she discerns that He is a "prophet." Remember, we discussed in our study on John Chapter 1 that the expected Messiah was prophesied to be a "Prophet" in (Deut 18:15-18). This pointed to Jesus. Three places in the New Testament also show us this: (Jn 6:14)(Jn 7:40)(Acts 3:19-26).

 

     (Verse 20) The Samaritans only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament (The Pentateuch), and as such they worshipped at Mt. Gerizim, near the place where Abraham built his first altar at Shechem (Gen 12:6-7). The Jews, on the other hand, accepted the whole Old Testament, and worshipped in Jerusalem, where God said to build His Temple in (2 Chr 6:5-11)(2 Chr 12:13)(2 Sam 7:1-17).

 

     (Verse 21) "when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father" This is most likely pointing to the fact that the "worship of God" would no longer be confined to the Temple (or Mt. Gerizim in the case of the Samaritans), but rather it would be everywhere, as Christians would soon become the Temple of God. It is also possible that Jesus might be pointing in a secondary way to the destruction of the Temple, which would soon happen in 70 A.D.

 

     (Verse 22) Jesus was a Jew (see: 4:9)(Jn 1:11)(Heb 7:14)(Jn 19:19-21), and came for the Jews (Rom 9:3-5)(Mt 10:5-6)(Mt 15:24). It was through the Jews that "salvation" came to all (Lk 24:47)(Acts 5:30-31).

 

     (Verses 23-24) "worship the Father in spirit and in truth" What do you think this means? What is "spirit" and "truth?"

 

     (Verses 25-26) Messianic prophecies are found throughout the Old Testament, including in the Pentateuch (which again, are the only books the Samaritans accepted). Here are a few: (Gen 3:15)(Gen 9:27)(Gen 12:2-3)(Gen 49:8-12)(Num 24:15-19), and as mentioned above (Deut 18:15-18).

 

     Next, let's read (Jn 4:27-42)

     (Verses 28-30) The woman appears to have believed Jesus' proclamation that He was the Messiah, and went to tell others in the city.

 

     (Verses 31-38) What stands out to you in these verses, and how do they apply to us today?

 

     (Verse 35) "There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest" The Spring harvest was generally done in what would be our April, therefore, this event likely took place around December.

 

     (Verses 39-42) We see in verse 30 that the people of the city went out to see Jesus after hearing what the woman said. "Many believed" because of what the woman told them about Him (verse 39). However, "many more believed" after they went out to see Jesus and "heard Him."

***Note: It is interesting to note that the Samaritans seemed much more open to the words of Jesus than did His own people the Jews.

 

     Let's finish by reading (Jn 4:43-54).

     (Verse 44) "For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country." Why do you think Jesus said this?

 

     (Verses 45-54) What things stand out to you in these verses?

 

     (Verse 54) This was the 2nd of 8 miracles in John. The first was also in Cana, when Jesus changed water into wine in John Chapter 2.