John Chapter Four
And now Jesus, being driven away by the jealousy of the Jews, begins His ministry outside that people, while still acknowledging their true position in the dealings of God. He goes away into Galilee; but His road led Him by Samaria, in which dwelt a mingled race of strangers and of Israel-a race who had forsaken the idolatry of the strangers, but who, while following the law of Moses and calling themselves by the name of Jacob, had set up a worship of their own at Gerizim. Jesus does not enter the town. Being weary He sits down outside the town on the brink of the well-for He must needs go that way; but this necessity was an occasion for the acting of that divine grace which was in the fulness of His Person, and which overflowed the narrow limits of Judaism.
There are some preliminary details to remark before entering on the subject of this chapter. Jesus did not Himself baptise, for He knew the whole extent of the counsels of God in grace, the true object of His coming. He could not bind souls by baptism to a living Christ. The disciples were right in so doing. They had so to receive Christ. It was faith on their part.
When rejected by the Jews, the Lord does not contend. He leaves them; and, coming to Sychar, He found Himself in the most interesting associations as regards the history of Israel, but in Samaria: sad testimony of Israel's ruin. Jacob's well was in the hands of people who called themselves of Israel, but the greater part of whom were not so, and who worshipped they knew not what, although pretending to be of the stock of Israel. Those who were really Jews had driven away the Messiah by their jealousy. He-a man despised by the people-had gone away from among them. We see Him sharing the sufferings of humanity, and, weary with His journey, finding only the side of a well on which to rest at noon. He contents Himself with it. He seeks nothing but the will of His God: it brought Him thither. The disciples were away; and God brought thither at that unusual hour a woman by herself. It was not the hour at which women went out to draw water; but, in the ordering of God, a poor sinful woman and the Judge of quick and dead thus met together.
The Lord, weary and thirsty, had no means even to quench His thirst. He is dependent as man, on this poor woman to have a little water for His thirst. He asks it of her. The woman, seeing that He is a Jew, is surprised; and now the divine scene unfolds itself, in which the heart of the Saviour, rejected by men and oppressed by the unbelief of His people, opens to let that fulness of grace flow out which finds its occasion in the necessities and not in the righteousness of men. Now this grace did not limit itself to the rights of Israel, nor lend itself to national jealousy. It was a question of the gift of God, of God Himself who was there in grace, and of God come down so low, that, being born among His people, He was dependent, as to His human position, on a Samaritan woman for a drop of water to quench His thirst. "If thou knewest the gift of God, and [not, who I am, but] who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink"; that is to say, If thou hadst known that God gives freely, and the glory of His Person who was there, and how deeply He had humbled Himself, His love would have been revealed to thy heart, and would have filled it with perfect confidence, in regard even to the wants which a grace like this would have awakened in thy heart. "Thou wouldest have asked," said the divine Saviour, "and he would have given thee" the living water that springeth up into everlasting life. Such is the heavenly fruit of the mission of Christ, wherever He is received. 
His heart lays it open (it was revealing Himself), pours it out into the heart of one who was its object; consoling itself for the unbelief of the Jews (rejecting the end of promise) by presenting the true consolation of grace to the misery that needed it. This is the true comfort of love, which is pained when unable to act. The floodgates of grace are lifted up by the misery which that grace waters. He makes manifest that which God is in grace; and the God of grace was there. Alas! the heart of man, withered up and selfish, and pre-occupied with its own miseries (the fruits of sin), cannot at all understand this. The woman sees something extraordinary in Jesus; she is curious to know what it means-is struck with His manner, so that she has a measure of faith in His words; but her desires are limited to the relief of the toils of her sorrowful life, in which an ardent heart found no answer to the misery it had acquired for its portion through sin.
A few words on the character of this woman. I believe the Lord would shew that there is need, that the fields were ready for the harvest; and that if the wretched self-righteousness of the Jews rejected Him, the stream of grace would find its channel elsewhere, God having prepared hearts to hail it with joy and thanksgiving, because it answered their misery and need-not the righteous. The channel of grace was dug by the need and the misery which the grace itself caused to be felt.
The life of this woman was shameful; but she was ashamed of it; at the least her position had isolated her, by separating her from the crowd that forgets itself in the tumult of social life. And there is no inward grief like an isolated heart; but Christ and grace more than meets it. Its isolati on more than ceases. He was more isolated than she. She came alone to the well; she was not with the other women. Alone, she met with the Lord, by the wonderful guidance of God who brought her there. The disciples even must go away to make room for her. They knew nothing of this grace. They baptised indeed in the name of a Messiah in whom they believed. It was well. But God was there in grace-He who would judge the quick and the dead-and with Him a sinner in her sins. What a meeting! And God who had stooped so low as to be dependent on her for a little water to quench His thirst!
She had an ardent nature. She had sought for happiness; she had found misery. She lived in sin, and was weary of life. She was indeed in the lowest depths of misery. The ardour of her nature found sin no obstacle. She went on, alas! to the uttermost. The will, engaged in evil, feeds on sinful desires, and wastes itself without fruit. Nevertheless her soul was not without a sense of need. She thought of Jerusalem, she thought of Gerizim. She waited for the Messiah, who would tell them all things. Did this change her life? In no wise. Her life was shocking. When the Lord speaks of spiritual things, in language well suited to awaken the heart, directing her attention to heavenly things in a way that one would have thought it impossible to misunderstand, she cannot comprehend it. The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit: they are spiritually discerned.
The novelty of the Lord's address excited her attention, but did not lead her thoughts beyond her waterpot, the symbol of her daily toil; although she saw that Jesus took the place of one greater than Jacob. What was to be done? God wrought-He wrought in grace, and in this poor woman. Whatever the occasion might be as regards herself, it was He who had brought her thither. But she was unable to comprehend spiritual things though expressed in the plainest manner; for the Lord spoke of the water that springs up in the soul unto everlasting life. But as the human heart is ever revolving in its own circumstances and cares, her religious need was limited practically to the traditions by which her life, as regarded its religious thoughts and habits, was formed, leaving still a void that nothing could fill. What then was to be done? In what way can this grace act, when the heart does not understand the spiritual grace which the Lord brings? This is the second part of the marvellous instruction here. The Lord deals with her conscience. A word spoken by Him who searches the heart, searches her conscience: she is in the presence of a man who tells her all that ever she did. For, her conscience awakened by the word, and finding itself laid open to the eye of God, her whole life is before her.
And who is He that thus searches the heart? She feels that His word is the word of God. "Thou art a prophet." Intelligence in divine things comes by the conscience, not by the intellect. The soul and God are together, if we may so speak, whatever instrument is employed. She has everything to learn, no doubt; but she is in the presence of Him who teaches everything. What a step! What a change! What a new position! This soul, which saw no farther than her waterpot and felt her toil more than her sin, is there alone with the Judge of quick and dead-with God Himself. And in what manner? She knows not. She only felt that it was Himself in the power of His own word. But at least He did not despise her, as others did. Although she was alone, she was alone with Him. He had spoken to her of life-of the gift of God; He had told her that she had only to ask and have. She had understood nothing of His meaning; but it was not condemnation, it was grace-grace that stooped to her, that knew her sin and was not repelled by it, that asked her for water, that was above Jewish prejudice with regard to her, as well as the contempt of the humanly righteous-grace which did not conceal her sin from her, which made her feel that God knew it nevertheless, He who knew it was there without alarming her. Her sin was before God, but not in judgment.
Marvellous meeting of a soul with God, which the grace of God accomplishes by Christ! Not that she reasoned about all these things; but she was under the effect of their truth without accounting for it to herself; for the word of God had reached her conscience, and she was in the presence of Him who had accomplished it, and He was meek and lowly, and glad to receive a little water at her hands. Her defilement did not defile Him. She could, in fact, trust in Him, without knowing why. It is thus that God acts. Grace inspires confidence-brings back the soul to God in peace, before it has any intelligent knowledge, or can explain it to itself. In this way, full of trust, she begins (it was the natural consequence) with the questions that filled her own heart; thus giving the Lord an opportunity of fully explaining the ways of God in grace. God had so ordered it; for the question was far from the sentiments which grace afterwards led her to. The Lord replies according to her condition: salvation was of the Jews. They were the people of God. Truth was with them, and not with the Samaritans who worshipped they knew not what. But God put all that aside. It was now neither at Gerizim nor at Jerusalem, that they should worship the Father who manifested Himself in the Son. God was a spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. Moreover the Father sought such worshippers. That is to say, the worship of their hearts must answer to the nature of God, to the grace of the Father who had sought them.  Thus true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Jerusalem and Samaria disappear entirely-have no place before such a revelation of the Father in grace. God no longer hid Himself; He was revealed perfectly in light. The perfect grace of the Father wrought, in order to make Him known, by the grace that brought souls to Him.
Now the woman was not yet brought to Him; but, as we have seen in the case of the disciples and of John the Baptist, a glorious revelation of Christ acts upon the soul where it is, and brings the Person of Jesus into connection with the need already felt. "The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh; and when he is come, he will tell us all things." Small as her intelligence might be, and unable as she was to understand what Jesus had told her, His love meets her where she can receive blessing and life; and He replies, "I, that speak unto thee, am he." The work was done: the Lord was received. A poor Samaritan sinner receives the Messiah of Israel, whom the priests and the Pharisees had rejected from among the people. The moral effect upon the woman is evident. She forgets her waterpot, her toil, her circumstances. She is engrossed by this new object that is revealed to her soul-by Christ; so engrossed that, without thinking, she becomes a preacher; that is, she proclaims the Lord in the fulness of her heart and with perfect simplicity. He had told her all that she had ever done. She does not think at that moment of what it was. Jesus had told it her; and the thought of Jesus takes away the bitterness of the sin. The sense of His goodness removes the guile of heart that seeks to conceal its sin. In a word, her heart is entirely filled with Christ Himself. Many believed in Him through her declaration-"He has told me all that ever I did"; many more, when they had heard Him. His own word carried with it a stronger conviction, as more immediately connected with His Person.
Meanwhile the disciples come, and-naturally-marvel at His talking with the woman. Their Master, the Messiah-they understood this; but the grace of God manifested in the flesh was still beyond their thoughts. The work of this grace was the meat of Jesus, and that in the lowliness of obedience as sent of God. He was taken up with it, and, in the perfect humility of obedience, it was His joy and His food to do His Father's will, and to finish His work. And the case of this poor woman had a voice that filled His heart with deep joy, wounded as it was in this world, because He was love. If the Jews rejected Him, still the fields in which grace sought its fruits for the everlasting granary were white already to harvest. He, therefore, who laboured should not fail of his wages, nor of the joy of having such fruit unto life eternal. Nevertheless, even the apostles were but reapers where others had sown. The poor woman was a proof of this. Christ, present and revealed, met the need which the testimony of the prophet had awakened. Thus (while exhibiting a grace which revealed the love of the Father, of God the Saviour, and coming out, consequently, from the pale of the Jewish system) He fully recognised the faithful service of His labourers in former days, the prophets who, by the Spirit of Christ from the beginning of the world, had spoken of the Redeemer, of the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. The sowers and the reapers should rejoice together in the fruit of their labours.
But what a picture is all this of the purpose of grace, and of its mighty and living fulness in the Person of Christ, of the free gift of God, and of the incapability of the spirit of man to apprehend it, preoccupied and blinded as he is by present things, seeing nothing beyond the life of nature, although suffering from the consequences of his sin! At the same time, we see that it is in the humiliation, the deep abasement, of the Messiah, of Jesus, that God Himself is manifested in this grace. It is this that breaks down the barriers, and gives free course to the torrent of grace from on high. We see, also, that conscience is the doorway of understanding in the things of God. We are brought truly into relationship with God when He searches the heart. This is always the case. We are then in the truth. Moreover God thus manifests Himself, and the grace and love of the Father. He seeks worshippers, and that, according to this double revelation of Himself, however great His patience may be with those who do not see farther than the first step of the promises of God. If Jesus is received, there is a thorough change; the work of conversion is wrought; there is faith. At the same time what a divine picture of our Jesus-humbled, indeed, but even thereby the manifestation of God in love, the Son of the Father, He who knows the Father, and accomplishes His work! What a glorious and boundless scene opens before the soul that is admitted to see and to know Him!
The whole range of grace is open to us here in His work and its divine extent, in that which regards its application to the individual, and the personal intelligence we may have respecting it. It is not precisely pardon, nor redemption, nor the assembly. It is grace flowing in the Person of Christ; and the conversion of the sinner, in order that he may enjoy it in himself, and be capable of knowing God and of worshipping the Father of grace. But how entirely have we broken out in principle from the narrow limits of Judaism!
Nevertheless in His personal ministry, the Lord, always faithful, putting Himself aside in order to glorify His Father by obeying Him, repairs to the sphere of labour appointed Him of God. He leaves the Jews, for no prophet is received in his own country, and goes into Galilee, among the despised of His people, the poor of the flock, where obedience, grace, and the counsels of God alike placed Him. In that sense, He did not forsake His people, perverse as they were. There He works a miracle which expresses the effect of His grace in connection with the believing remnant of Israel, feeble as their faith might be. He comes again to the place where He had turned the water of purification into the wine of joy ("which cheereth God and man"). By that miracle He had, in figure, displayed the power which should deliver the people, and by which, being received, He would establish the fulness of joy in Israel, creating by that power the good wine of the nuptials of Israel with their God. Israel rejected it all. The Messiah was not received. He retired among the poor of the flock in Galilee, after having shewn to Samaria (in passing) the grace of the Father, which went beyond all promises to, and dealings with, the Jew, and in the Person and the humiliation of Christ led converted souls to worship the Father (outside all Jewish system, true or false) in spirit and in truth; and there, in Galilee, He works a second miracle in the midst of Israel, where He still labours, according to His Father's will, that is to say, wherever there is faith; not yet, perhaps, in His power to raise the dead, but to heal and save the life of that which was ready to perish. He fulfilled the desire of that faith, and restored the life of one who was at the point of death. It was this, in fact, which He was doing in Israel while here below. These two great truths were set forth-that which He was going to do according to the purposes of God the Father, as being rejected; and that which He was doing at the time for Israel, according to the faith He found among them.
In the chapters that follow we shall find the rights and the glory shewn forth that attach to His Person; the rejection of His word and of His work; the sure salvation of the remnant, and of all His sheep wherever they may be. Afterwards-acknowledged by God, as manifested on earth, the Son of God, of David, and of man-that which He will do when gone away, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, are unfolded; also the position in which He placed the disciples before the Father, and with regard to Himself. And then-after the history of Gethsemane, the giving of His own life, His death as giving His life for us-the whole result, in the ways of God, until His return, is briefly given in the chapter that closes the book.
We may go more rapidly through the chapters till the tenth, not as of little importance-far from it-but as containing some great principles which may be pointed out, each in its place, without requiring much explanation.
 Note, too, here, that it is not as with Israel in the wilderness that there was water from the smitten rock to drink. Here the promise is of a well of water springing up unto everlasting life in ourselves.
 It will be found in John's writings that, when responsibility is spoken of, God is the word used; when grace to us, the Father and the Son. When indeed it is goodness (God's character in Christ) towards the world, then God is spoken of.
── John Darby《Synopsis of John》
Christ's departure into Galilee. (1-3) His discourse with the Samaritan woman. (4-26) The effects of Christ's conversation with the woman of Samaria. (27-42) Christ heals the nobleman's son. (43-54)
Commentary on John 4:1-3
(Read John 4:1-3)
Jesus applied himself more to preaching, which was the more excellent, 1 Corinthians 1:17, than to baptism. He would put honour upon his disciples, by employing them to baptize. He teaches us that the benefit of sacraments depends not on the hand that administers them.
Commentary on John 4:4-26
(Read John 4:4-26)
There was great hatred between the Samaritans and the Jews. Christ's road from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria. We should not go into places of temptation but when we needs must; and then must not dwell in them, but hasten through them. We have here our Lord Jesus under the common fatigue of travellers. Thus we see that he was truly a man. Toil came in with sin; therefore Christ, having made himself a curse for us, submitted to it. Also, he was a poor man, and went all his journeys on foot. Being wearied, he sat thus on the well; he had no couch to rest upon. He sat thus, as people wearied with travelling sit. Surely, we ought readily to submit to be like the Son of God in such things as these. Christ asked a woman for water. She was surprised because he did not show the anger of his own nation against the Samaritans. Moderate men of all sides are men wondered at. Christ took the occasion to teach her Divine things: he converted this woman, by showing her ignorance and sinfulness, and her need of a Saviour. By this living water is meant the Spirit. Under this comparison the blessing of the Messiah had been promised in the Old Testament. The graces of the Spirit, and his comforts, satisfy the thirsting soul, that knows its own nature and necessity. What Jesus spake figuratively, she took literally. Christ shows that the water of Jacob's well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever partakes of the Spirit of grace, and the comforts of the gospel, shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul. Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. Give it me, saith she, not that I may have everlasting life, which Christ proposed, but that I come not hither to draw. The carnal mind is very ingenious in shifting off convictions, and keeping them from fastening. But how closely our Lord Jesus brings home the conviction to her conscience! He severely reproved her present state of life. The woman acknowledged Christ to be a prophet. The power of his word in searching the heart, and convincing the conscience of secret things, is a proof of Divine authority. It should cool our contests, to think that the things we are striving about are passing away. The object of worship will continue still the same, God, as a Father; but an end shall be put to all differences about the place of worship. Reason teaches us to consult decency and convenience in the places of our worship; but religion gives no preference to one place above another, in respect of holiness and approval with God. The Jews were certainly in the right. Those who by the Scriptures have obtained some knowledge of God, know whom they worship. The word of salvation was of the Jews. It came to other nations through them. Christ justly preferred the Jewish worship before the Samaritan, yet here he speaks of the former as soon to be done away. God was about to be revealed as the Father of all believers in every nation. The spirit or the soul of man, as influenced by the Holy Spirit, must worship God, and have communion with him. Spiritual affections, as shown in fervent prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, form the worship of an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. The woman was disposed to leave the matter undecided, till the coming of the Messiah. But Christ told her, I that speak to thee, am He. She was an alien and a hostile Samaritan, merely speaking to her was thought to disgrace our Lord Jesus. Yet to this woman did our Lord reveal himself more fully than as yet he had done to any of his disciples. No past sins can bar our acceptance with him, if we humble ourselves before him, believing in him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Commentary on John 4:27-42
(Read John 4:27-42)
The disciples wondered that Christ talked thus with a Samaritan. Yet they knew it was for some good reason, and for some good end. Thus when particular difficulties occur in the word and providence of God, it is good to satisfy ourselves that all is well that Jesus Christ says and does. Two things affected the woman. The extent of his knowledge. Christ knows all the thoughts, words, and actions, of all the children of men. And the power of his word. He told her secret sins with power. She fastened upon that part of Christ's discourse, many would think she would have been most shy of repeating; but the knowledge of Christ, into which we are led by conviction of sin, is most likely to be sound and saving. They came to him: those who would know Christ, must meet him where he records his name. Our Master has left us an example, that we may learn to do the will of God as he did; with diligence, as those that make a business of it; with delight and pleasure in it. Christ compares his work to harvest-work. The harvest is appointed and looked for before it comes; so was the gospel. Harvest-time is busy time; all must be then at work. Harvest-time is a short time, and harvest-work must be done then, or not at all; so the time of the gospel is a season, which if once past, cannot be recalled. God sometimes uses very weak and unlikely instruments for beginning and carrying on a good work. Our Saviour, by teaching one poor woman, spread knowledge to a whole town. Blessed are those who are not offended at Christ. Those taught of God, are truly desirous to learn more. It adds much to the praise of our love to Christ and his word, if it conquers prejudices. Their faith grew. In the matter of it: they believed him to be the Saviour, not only of the Jews but of the world. In the certainty of it: we know that this is indeed the Christ. And in the ground of it, for we have heard him ourselves.
Commentary on John 4:43-54
(Read John 4:43-54)
The father was a nobleman, yet the son was sick. Honours and titles are no security from sickness and death. The greatest men must go themselves to God, must become beggars. The nobleman did not stop from his request till he prevailed. But at first he discovered the weakness of his faith in the power of Christ. It is hard to persuade ourselves that distance of time and place, are no hinderance to the knowledge, mercy, and power of our Lord Jesus. Christ gave an answer of peace. Christ's saying that the soul lives, makes it alive. The father went his way, which showed the sincerity of his faith. Being satisfied, he did not hurry home that night, but returned as one easy in his own mind. His servants met him with the news of the child's recovery. Good news will meet those that hope in God's word. Diligent comparing the works of Jesus with his word, will confirm our faith. And the bringing the cure to the family brought salvation to it. Thus an experience of the power of one word of Christ, may settle the authority of Christ in the soul. The whole family believed likewise. The miracle made Jesus dear to them. The knowledge of Christ still spreads through families, and men find health and salvation to their souls.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on John》
 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
He left Judea — To shun the effects of their resentment.
 And he must needs go through Samaria.
And he must needs go through Samaria — The road lying directly through it.
 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Sychar — Formerly called Sichem or Shechem.
Jacob gave — On his death bed, Genesis 48:22.
 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
Jesus sat down — Weary as he was.
It was the sixth hour — Noon; the heat of the day.
 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
Give me to drink — In this one conversation he brought her to that knowledge which the apostles were so long in attaining.
 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
For his disciples were gone — Else he needed not have asked her.
 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
How dost thou — Her open simplicity appears from her very first words.
The Jews have no dealings — None by way of friendship. They would receive no kind of favour from them.
 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
If thou hadst known the gift — The living water; and who it is - He who alone is able to give it: thou wouldst have asked of him - On those words the stress lies.
Living water — The Spirit and its fruits. But she might the more easily mistake his meaning, because living water was a common phrase among the Jews for spring water.
 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Our father Jacob — So they fancied he was; whereas they were, in truth, a mixture of many nations, placed there by the king of Assyria, in the room of the Israelites whom he had carried away captive, 2 Kings 17:24.
Who gave us the well — In Joseph their supposed forefather: and drank thereof - So even he had no better water than this.
 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Will never thirst — Will never (provided he continue to drink thereof) be miserable, dissatisfied, without refreshment. If ever that thirst returns, it will be the fault of the man, not the water.
But the water that I shall give him — The spirit of faith working by love, shall become in him - An inward living principle, a fountain - Not barely a well, which is soon exhausted, springing up into everlasting life - Which is a confluence, or rather an ocean of streams arising from this fountain.
 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
That I thirst not — She takes him still in a gross sense.
 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
Jesus saith to her — He now clears the way that he might give her a better kind of water than she asked for.
Go, call thy husband — He strikes directly at her bosom sin.
 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
Thou hast well said — We may observe in all our Lord's discourses the utmost weightiness, and yet the utmost courtesy.
 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
Thou hast had five husbands — Whether they were all dead or not, her own conscience now awakened would tell her.
 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
Sir, I perceive — So soon was her heart touched.
 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
The instant she perceived this, she proposes what she thought the most important of all questions.
This mountain — Pointing to Mount Gerizim. Sanballat, by the permission of Alexander the Great, had built a temple upon Mount Gerizim, for Manasseh, who for marrying Sanballat's daughter had been expelled from the priesthood and from Jerusalem, Nehemiah 13:28. This was the place where the Samaritans used to worship in opposition to Jerusalem. And it was so near Sychar, that a man's voice might be heard from the one to the other.
Our fathers worshipped — This plainly refers to Abraham and Jacob (from whom the Samaritans pretended to deduce their genealogy) who erected altars in this place: Genesis 12:6,7, and Genesis 33:18,20. And possibly to the whole congregation, who were directed when they came into the land of Canaan to put the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, Deuteronomy 11:29.
Ye Jews say, In Jerusalem is the place — Namely, the temple.
 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Believe me — Our Lord uses this expression in this manner but once; and that to a Samaritan. To his own people, the Jews, his usual language is, I say unto you.
The hour cometh when ye — Both Samaritans and Jews, shall worship neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem - As preferable to any other place. True worship shall be no longer confined to any one place or nation.
 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Ye worship ye know not what — Ye Samaritans are ignorant, not only of the place, but of the very object of worship. Indeed, they feared the Lord after a fashion; but at the same time served their own gods, 2 Kings 17:33.
Salvation is from the Jews — So spake all the prophets, that the Saviour should arise out of the Jewish nation: and that from thence the knowledge of him should spread to all nations under heaven.
 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
The true worshippers shall worship the Father — Not here or there only, but at all times and in all places.
 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
God is a Spirit — Not only remote from the body, and all the properties of it, but likewise full of all spiritual perfections, power, wisdom, love, holiness. And our worship should be suitable to his nature. We should worship him with the truly spiritual worship of faith, love, and holiness, animating all our tempers, thoughts, words, and actions.
 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
The woman saith — With joy for what she had already learned, and desire of fuller instruction.
 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
Jesus saith — Hasting to satisfy her desire before his disciples came.
l am He — Our Lord did not speak this so plainly to the Jews who were so full of the Messiah's temporal kingdom. If he had, many would doubtless have taken up arms in his favour, and others have accused him to the Roman governor. Yet he did in effect declare the thing, though he denied the particular title. For in a multitude of places he represented himself, both as the Son of man, and as the Son of God: both which expressions were generally understood by the Jews as peculiarly applicable to the Messiah.
 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
His disciples marvelled that he talked with a woman — Which the Jewish rabbis reckoned scandalous for a man of distinction to do. They marvelled likewise at his talking with a woman of that nation, which was so peculiarly hateful to the Jews.
Yet none said — To the woman, What seekest thou? - Or to Christ, Why talkest thou with her?
 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
The woman left her water pot — Forgetting smaller things.
 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
A man who told me all things that ever I did — Our Lord had told her but a few things. But his words awakened her conscience, which soon told her all the rest.
Is not this the Christ? — She does not doubt of it herself, but incites them to make the inquiry.
 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
In the meantime — Before the people came.
 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
My meat — That which satisfies the strongest appetite of my soul.
 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
The fields are white already — As if he had said, The spiritual harvest is ripe already. The Samaritans, ripe for the Gospel, covered the ground round about them.
 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
He that reapeth — Whoever saves souls, receiveth wages - A peculiar blessing to himself, and gathereth fruit - Many souls: that he that soweth - Christ the great sower of the seed, and he that reapeth may rejoice together - In heaven.
 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
That saying — A common proverb; One soweth - The prophets and Christ; another reapeth - The apostles and succeeding ministers.
 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
I — he Lord of the whole harvest, have sent you - He had employed them already in baptizing, John 4:2.
 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
We know that this is the Saviour of the world — And not of the Jews only.
 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.
He went into Galilee — That is, into the country of Galilee: but not to Nazareth. It was at that town only that he had no honour. Therefore he went to other towns.
 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
To come down — For Cana stood much higher than Capernaum.
 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
Unless ye see signs and wonders — Although the Samaritans believed without them.
 Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
He asked the hour when he amended — The more exactly the works of God are considered, the more faith is increased.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on John》
Chapter 4. Samaria
I. A Fountain That Never Thirst
II. Comparison of Three Kinds of Worship
III. The Healing of a Nobleman's Son
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Seven Principles Of Personal Evangelism (4:1-26)
1. Most Christians want to share the gospel of Christ with others...
a. Yet many often feel awkward in their attempts to talk with others
b. Or they simply don't know how to establish contacts for a Bible
-- Causing many to experience frustration that discourages them from
2. Perhaps we learn some things from Jesus, the master teacher...
a. Who often engaged in personal evangelism as well as public
b. For example, His conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's
well - Jn 4:1-26
[Observing Jesus in action, it is possible to glean "Seven Principles Of
Personal Evangelism" that we would do well to remember in our own
efforts to teach others. One such principle is to...]
I. CONTACT PEOPLE SOCIALLY
A. WE MUST HAVE SOCIAL CONTACT...
1. The import of Jesus passing through
- Jn 4:1-6 Samaria
a. Many Jews, because of their disdain for Samaritans, avoided
b. Jesus and His disciples chose to pass through
c. A similar example of Jesus making social contact - cf. Lk 5:
2. When people aren't coming to Christ, it's because we are not
going to the people!
a. We can't be fishers of men by fishing in a barrel; if the
fish won't come to the barrel, then we must go where the
b. The problem with sowing the seed is not that there is not
good ground to be found, but that the seed is still in the
barn! - cf. Hag 2:19
B. DO NOT CONFUSE SEPARATION WITH ISOLATION...
1. Yes, we must be separate - 2 Co 6:14-18
2. But this does not mean we are to isolate ourselves
a. Note the prayer of Christ - Jn 17:15
b. Note the command of Paul - 1 Co 5:9-11
3. Withdrawing ourselves from those who have not heard or obeyed
the gospel in contrary to the will of the Lord!
C. OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOCIAL CONTACT...
1. At school with fellow students
a. Don't think you are too young to be involved in leading
others to Christ
b. Young Christians often possess the greatest opportunities to
c. How you serve now will likely be an indication of how you
will serve later in life
2. At work with fellow employees or employers
a. We spend much of our life with these people
b. We have the greatest potential to influence them, especially
3. At home with neighbors, friends, and family
a. Do we even know our neighbors?
b. Those closest to us can be difficult sometimes, but are
reachable - e.g., Mt 13:54-58; Jn 7:5; Ac 1:14
[Remember, Jesus said "Go into all the world..." (Mk 16:15). We must go
where the people are! Another principle we can glean from Jesus'
conversation with the woman is...]
II. ESTABLISH A COMMON INTEREST
A. COMMON INTERESTS CREATE A BRIDGE...
1. Note Jesus' first words to the woman - Jn 4:7-8
a. She had come to draw water
b. He was thirsty
c. His first words centered around their common interest
2. Realize the need to build rapport
a. Meaningful dialogue is not easy, especially involving
b. A common interest allows opportunity for meaningful dialogue
c. Once a bridge for communication has been established, it
will be easier to discuss God's word with another person
B. COMMON INTERESTS ARE MANY...
1. They include family (such as children, grandchildren)
2. They include activities (such as work, community projects,
3. They include shared experiences (such as travel, or even
[Don't feel that you must immediately begin talking about spiritual
matters. Take time to nurture common interests. Yet at some point we
want to reach the next stage, which leads to our third principle...]
III. AROUSE SPIRITUAL INTEREST
A. THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS...
1. The example of Jesus - Jn 4:9
a. As a man He speaks to her, a woman
b. As a rabbi He speaks to her, an immoral woman
c. As a Jew He speaks to her, a Samaritan
-- He aroused interest by simply speaking to her
2. Regarding our actions
a. We can arouse spiritual interest by our example
b. By showing kindness and compassion to all, even the evil and
c. By not harboring racial or social prejudices to those who
d. By our own example of faith and hope - e.g., 1 Pe 3:1-2,15
B. THROUGH YOUR WORDS...
1. The example of Jesus - Jn 4:10-14
a. Jesus' statement shifted their conversation to spiritual
b. He led them into a discussion on a common spiritual interest
2. Regarding our words
a. We can raise questions or make statements that shift
conversations to spiritual matters
1) E.g., "What do you think our world is in such a mess?"
2) E.g., "Would you be interested in what the Bible says
b. The discussion should first involve matters of common
1) Start with things upon which you agree, to build rapport
and instill confidence
2) This was the practice of apostolic preaching - e.g., Ac
[Once spiritual interest has been aroused, another principle can be
gleaned from Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman...]
IV. DON'T GO TOO FAR, TOO FAST
A. GIVE A PERSON WHAT THEY ARE READY FOR...
1. Note Jesus' discussion with the woman - Jn 4:15-16
a. She wanted the "living water", but did she really
b. Jesus saw the need to slow her down and provide the proper
1) She needed faith in Him as the Messiah
2) He needed to provide evidence that He was the Messiah
c. So instead of giving her the "living water"...
1) He tells her to get her husband
2) Which will result in her conviction of Him as a prophet
2. Sometimes people don't realize what they need first
a. They'll want to talk about a particular subject
b. But they really need something else first
B. SOME EXAMPLES...
1. Some want to study Revelation, when they need to be grounded on
the rest of the Bible first
2. Some want to discuss issues related to church organization,
work, worship, etc., when they ought to focus on the "first
principles" of the gospel
3. It is important that a person not choke on the "meat" of the
Word - cf. 1 Co 3:1-2
[There is another principle of evangelism that takes into consideration
the need of the prospect...]
V. DON'T CONDEMN UNNECESSARILY
A. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS...
1. He could have dwelt on her being an adulteress - Jn 4:17-18
2. As stated elsewhere, He came to save the world, not to condemn
it - cf. Jn 3:17
3. Not to say He will not one day judge the world, but that the
primary purpose of His first coming was to offer salvation
- cf. Jn 12:46-48
B. IN OUR EVANGELISTIC EFFORTS...
1. Though we preach against sin, our primary purpose is to save,
not judge - 1 Co 5:12-13
2. Our focus should be to inform others of the forgiveness God
offers - cf. 2 Co 5:18-20
a. God seeks reconciliation with sinners
b. Ours is a ministry of reconciliation
[Another important principle in evangelism to remember is...]
VI. STICK WITH THE MAIN ISSUE
A. IN THE CASE OF THE SAMARITAN WOMAN...
1. She turned the subject away from herself to where one should
worship - Jn 4:19-20
2. Jesus answered her question, while effectively turning the
conversation back to the original subject: Who He is and what
He offers - Jn 4:21-25 (cf. Jn 4:10)
B. REMAIN STEADFAST TO YOUR OBJECTIVES...
1. If seeking to establish a common ground of agreement, avoid
2. As you move from common to uncommon ground...
a. Take one step at a time
b. Do not go on until agreement at each step has occurred
3. If your objective is simply to obtain consent for a home Bible
study, avoid getting into a detailed discussion at that time
- cf. Pro 15:28
[One last principle in evangelism gleaned from Jesus' conversation with
the woman at the well...]
VII. CONFRONT DIRECTLY
A. JESUS' EXAMPLE THEN...
1. Finally, Jesus confronted the woman with His identity - Jn 4:26
2. This came after He had laid the groundwork
B. EXAMPLES FOR TODAY...
1. In trying to set up a home Bible study
a. Take advantage of social contacts
b. Develop common interests
c. Be open to comments that indicate a spiritual interest,
while demonstrating your own faith through actions and words
d. Avoid fruitless arguments, emphasize instead common beliefs
e. Praise their good points and encourage them in the right
f. Have one primary objective: to encourage them to study the
Bible even more
a. Ask if they would like to learn more about Jesus, the
Bible, His church
b. Note the example of
Aquilaand Priscilla with Apollos
- Ac 18:24-26
g. Confront them directly with the opportunity to study the
2. During the course of a home Bible study
a. Continue to develop the social contact
b. Continue to establish common interests
c. Take time to accentuate common ground you share in your
d. Go from common ground to uncommon ground carefully
e. Stress the gospel message; don't obsess on their individual
f. Have one primary objective: to help them understand their
need and gospel plan of salvation - Mk 16:15-16; Co 1:5-6
g. Confront them directly with the invitation to obey the
gospel of Christ; for example, by asking...
1) "Does this make sense?"
2) "Is there anything I have said that you do not
3) "Have I been teaching you anything other than what the
4) "Would you like to obey Christ now and be baptized for
the remission of your sins?"
1. The result of Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman was the
conversion of many people in the city of
- Jn 4:39-42 Sychar
2. This demonstrates the potential of personal evangelism...
a. Who knows whether the one person you teach may in turn bring many
b. That one person may be like a seed from which seeds may come forth
Realizing this potential, we can better appreciate the words of Jesus:
"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!" (Jn 4:35)
Perhaps by following the example of our Lord, we can be more useful in
The Gift Of Living Water (4:10-14)
1. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He spoke of "living
a. He approached her for a drink on His way to
Galilee- Jn 4:3-8
b. She was amazed that He, a Jew, would speak to her, a Samaritan
woman - Jn 4:9
-- Jesus used the opportunity to tell her about "living water" - Jn
2. Questions abound about "the gift of God" and "living water" in this
a. What is "the gift of God"?
1) Many say it refers to Jesus
2) Others believe it refers to the salvation He offers
b. What is the "living water" Jesus offers?
1) Many say it is a figure for salvation or eternal life
2) Others apply it to the Holy Spirit, because of Jn 7:37-39
-- Are they two different things, or one and the same?
3. Like others, I believe "the gift of God" and "living water" are one
and the same...
a. "Now it is quite clear that our Lord means the same thing,
whatever it may be, by the two expressions, 'the gift of God' and
'the living water.'" - Maclaren
b. "When Jesus spoke about 'the gift of God,' He meant 'living
water.'" - Hendriksen
-- Though I can appreciate why many believe "the gift of God" is
Jesus - cf. Jn 3:16
4. Like others, I tend to think "living water" in this passage may refer
to the Holy Spirit...
a. "By this living water is meant the Spirit..." - Matthew Henry
b. "From [Jn 7:37-39] it is plain, that our Savior here by the living
water he speaks of understood the Holy Spirit." -
[That "living water" in Jn 4:10-14 may be an allusion to the gift of the
Holy Spirit comes from examining the nature of this "living water"
described by Jesus both here and in Jn 7. For example...]
I. THE LIVING WATER MUST BE DRUNK
A. AS EXPRESSED BY JESUS...
1. "...whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will
never thirst" - Jn 4:14
2. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink" - Jn 7:37
B. DO WE "DRINK" THE HOLY SPIRIT...?
1. Yes, upon our conversion
a. Those who repent and are baptized receive the gift of the
Spirit - Ac 2:38-39
b. Those who are baptized are made to "drink" of the Spirit
- 1 Co 12:13
2. Yes, as we continue to seek to be filled with the Spirit
a. We are not to be drunk with wine, but filled with the Spirit
- Ep 5:18-19
b. The implication may be that filling comes through "drinking"
c. How do we continue to drink of the Spirit? I would suggest
in these ways:
1) Singing and making melody in our heart - Ep 5:18-19
2) Feeding upon the Word of God, which is the sword of the
Spirit - Ep 6:17
3) Praying for strength through the Spirit - Ep 3:16; cf. Lk
[Thus we see a similarity between the "living water" of Jesus and what
is said concerning the Spirit and the Christian. The similarity
II. THE LIVING WATER QUENCHES THIRST
A. AS EXPRESSED BY JESUS...
1. "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will
never thirst." - Jn 4:14
2. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." - Jn 7:37
B. DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT "QUENCH THIRST"...?
1. Yes, as prophesied by Isaiah - cf. Isa 44:3
2. Yes, if by quenching our thirst one means meeting our spiritual
a. Such as our need for the love of God - cf. Ro 5:5
b. Such as our need for our love for God - cf. Ro 8:15; Ga 4:6
c. Such as our need to mortify the flesh - cf. Ro 8:12-13
d. Such as our need to abound in hope - cf. Ro 15:13
e. Such as our need for inner strength - cf. Ep 3:16
[In many ways the Spirit quenches our spiritual thirst! As we continue
to note the similarity between "living water" and the Spirit in the life
of the Christian, we next observe...]
III. THE LIVING WATER IS IN YOU
A. AS EXPRESSED BY JESUS...
1. "the water that I shall give him will become in him..." - Jn
2. "out of his heart..." - Jn 7:38
B. IS THE HOLY SPIRIT "IN" US...?
1. Yes, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit - 1 Co 6:19
2. Yes, for the Spirit dwells in us if we are Christ's - Ro 8:9,11
[How the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian may be a mystery; that He
does, there is no doubt. Note another similarity between "living water"
and the Spirit in the life of the Christian...]
IV. THE LIVING WATER SPRINGS UP
A. AS EXPRESSED BY JESUS...
1. "a fountain of water springing up" - Jn 4:14
2. "will flow rivers of living water" - Jn 7:38
B. DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT "SPRING UP"...?
1. Yes, by moving the Christian to "cry out" Abba, Father - Ro
8:15; Ga 4:6
2. Yes, by helping the Christian to "abound" in hope - Ro 15:13
3. Yes, by producing "fruit" in the life of the Christian - Ga 5:
[The fruit of the Spirit truly refreshes the soul of the Christian as
"living water" does the thirsty soul. Finally, note one more similarity
between "living water" and the Spirit in the life of the Christian...]
V. THE LIVING WATER RESULTS IN ETERNAL LIFE
A. AS EXPRESSED BY JESUS...
1. "a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." - Jn
2. Note: the "living water" is not everlasting life itself,
rather it results in everlasting life
B. DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT "RESULT IN ETERNAL LIFE"...?
1. Yes, for through the Spirit we wait for the hope of
righteousness - Ga 5:5
2. That hope, of course, is eternal life - Ti 1:2
3. By the Spirit whom God poured out on us abundantly through
a. We are renewed and justified by God's grace - Ti 3:5-6
b. Thus made heirs according to the hope of eternal life - Ti
4. And sowing to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting
life - Ga 6:8
1. While the "living water" in Jn 4:10-14 may pertain to salvation, I
believe it has particular reference to the gift of the Spirit in the
life of the Christian...
a. Salvation involves both justification and sanctification
b. The Holy Spirit certainly plays a role in both - cf. 1 Co 6:11; Ti
c. And the Spirit is given to those who become Christians - Ac 2:
38-39; 5:32; Ga 4:6
-- It certainly has such reference in Jn 7:37-39
2. If so, then we might understand Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman
a. "If you knew the gift of God" - If you knew what God is willing to
give you (i.e., the Spirit)
b. "...and who it is who says to you..." - That He is the Messiah,
the one who will pour out the Spirit on all flesh - cf. Jn 1:33;
c. "...He would have given you living water..." - i.e., the Holy
1) The same promise made to all believers in Jn 7:37-39
2) Though not fully given until He was glorified (after His
resurrection and ascension)
3. Are we enjoying the benefits of "The Gift Of Living Water" that Jesus
a. It begins by responding to Christ in baptism - cf. Ac 2:38; 1 Co
b. It continues by being careful not to "quench" the Spirit - cf.
1 Th 5:19; e.g., Ac 7:51
May our attitude be like that of the Samaritan woman: "Sir, give me
this water..." - Jn 4:15
Worship In Spirit And Truth (4:20-24)
1. At Jacob's well, Jesus and the Samaritan woman discussed the matter
a. Samaritans and Jews differed as to where one should worship - Jn
1) Samaritans believed they should worship on Mt. Gerazim
2) Jews understood that it should be in Jerusalem
b. Jesus said the time was coming for a different kind of worship
- Jn 4:21-24
1) Where worship would not be defined by its location (though Jews
had been right)
2) Where true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and
2. What does it mean to worship the Father in spirit and truth? Many
say it means...
a. To worship God from the heart ("in spirit")
b. To worship God as He directs in His Word ("and truth")
3. Yet note the contrast made by Jesus...
a. The Jews had worshipped correctly by going to Jerusalem
b. But the time was coming when place would not be important
-- A contrast is being made between OT worship and NT worship
4. Somehow Old Testament (OT) worship had not been "in spirit and
a. Yet God required worship from the heart from the Jews - cf. Deu
6:4-7; Isa 1:10-18
b. And God required worship as directed by His Word - cf. Deu 5:32-33
[If "in spirit and truth" does not mean "from the heart and in harmony
with God's Word", then what does it mean? Let's first consider...]
I. WORSHIPPING GOD IN SPIRIT
A. MEANS TO OFFER "SPIRITUAL" WORSHIP...
1. In contrast to that which is mostly physical
2. This explanation is in keeping with the context - cf. Jn 4:24
a. Jesus began by saying "God is Spirit..."
b. The worship of God is to be "in spirit" (i.e., spiritual)
3. Note these comments:
a. "...men must offer a worship corresponding with the nature
and attributes of God." - J. W. McGarvey
b. "Since he is Spirit, he must receive spiritual worship..."
- B.W. Johnson
c. "A pure, a holy, a spiritual worship, therefore, is such as
he seeks the offering of the soul rather than the formal
offering of the body - the homage of the heart rather than
that of the lips." - Albert Barnes
-- A worship was coming that was more in keeping with God's
B. AS OPPOSED TO "CARNAL" ORDINANCES...
1. OT worship consisted of carnal (fleshly) ordinances - cf. He
a. A physical structure (tabernacle)
b. Special priesthood, clothing for priests
c. Lamp stands, burning incense
d. Instruments of music
e. Feast days
f. Animal and meal sacrifices
-- All which appealed to the carnal or physical senses of man
2. NT worship is geared more toward the spiritual side of man:
a. God's temple is now spiritual, made up of Christians - 1 Co
3:16; Ep 2:19-22
b. All Christians are priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices
- 1 Pe 2:5,9
c. Our prayers are as sweet incense - Re 5:8
d. Our music is making melody with the heart, not the harp - Ep
e. The Lord's Supper - Ac 20:7; 1 Co 10:16-17; 11:17-34
f. Spiritual sacrifices of praise and service - He 13:15; Ro
-- The emphasis is on the spirit of man, not his physical
[Physical ordinances of the Old Covenant were until "the time of
reformation" (He 9:9-10), which occurred with the coming of the New
Covenant. As Jesus proclaimed, the new worship is more in keeping with
the nature of God ("God is Spirit..."), designed to relate more to the
spiritual side of man. Now let's examine...]
II. WORSHIPPING GOD IN TRUTH
A. MEANS TO OFFER "TRUE (REAL)" WORSHIP...
1. To worship according to the commands of God?
a. Certainly we should do this
b. But this is no contrast to what God expected in the OT - cf.
c. Jesus admitted that the Jews were right in their worship
- Jn 4:22
2. What then is the contrast between worship that was and that
which "now is"?
a. Not between true and false worship
b. But between that which is true (real) and that which had
been a shadow
-- A worship was coming that was more in keeping with truth and
B. AS OPPOSED TO "SHADOW (SYMBOL)" WORSHIP...
1. Many elements of worship in the OT were simply a shadow or
figure of that to come
a. The Tabernacle was a symbol - He 9:8-9
b. The Law with its worship was only a shadow of that to come
- He 10:1
2. Christ is now in the true tabernacle (heaven)- He 9:11-12,24
a. We should expect the worship of the true to be different
from that of the shadow
b. We have already seen that to be the case:
1) Old Covenant worship, which was but a shadow, was
physical in nature
2) New Covenant worship is according to the true realities
(God is Spirit, Christ in heaven) and is therefore more
spiritual in nature
-- The emphasis is on that which is true (real), not which was a
shadowy symbol of things to come
[This explanation of worshipping God "in spirit and truth" is more in
keeping with the immediate context. Since God is seeking "true
worshippers" who worship Him accordingly (Jn 4:23), some thoughts about
our worship today may be appropriate...]
III. WORSHIPPING GOD TODAY
A. NOT ALL WORSHIP IS ACCEPTABLE...
1. There is vain worship - Mt 15:7-9
a. Based on traditions of men, while ignoring the commands of
b. Offered without involving our "hearts" (spirits)
2. There is ignorant worship - Ac 17:22-23
a. Ignorant of the true nature of God
b. Ignorant of the worship He desires
3. There is will worship - Co 2:20-23 (KJV)
a. Self-imposed, not God-directed
b. What we like, what we think is good
-- Just because we worship God, does not mean He is pleased with
B. MANY OFFER CARNAL WORSHIP...
1. When they appeal to the OT for their authority for how they
a. For instrumental music, burning incense, clapping, etc.
b. They seek to justify that which appeals to the flesh
(senses), not the spirit
2. When they offer that which appeals to their fleshly nature
a. Preferring what is based on how it sounds
b. Preferring what is based on how it feels
-- Striving to be more spiritual, some revert to becoming more
carnal, a reason to be concerned (cf. Ga 4:9-11)!
C. GOD SEEKS TRUE WORSHIPPERS...
1. Who worship God "...with their spirits" - Matthew Poole
a. Seeking to engage the spirit (mind) more than the organs of
b. Content with the simplicity of worship that stresses the
spiritual side of man
2. Who worship God "...according to the rule that he hath
prescribed, in truth and reality." - ibid.
a. Not desiring to return to the carnal ordinances imposed
until a time of reformation
b. Content with the worship ordained in the New Covenant
3. Who can worship God anywhere, anytime, with true spiritual
worship - e.g., Ac 16:25
-- God seeks such worshippers, who seek to worship Him in spirit
1. Matthew Poole offered this explanation of our text in his
"God...is a spiritual Being, the Father of spirits, and requires
a spiritual service proportioned to His being; and therefore those
that pay a religious homage to him, must do it with their spirits,
and according to the rule that he hath prescribed, in truth and
2. How can we be sure to offer spiritual and true worship acceptable to
a. Look to the New Testament for our authority in worship!
b. Worship in ways ordained by Christ and His apostles! - cf. Ac 2:42
3. As God is Spirit...
a. Our worship should be spiritual and not limited to special places
b. The emphasis should be on the spiritual (e.g., meaning of the
words), and not the physical (e.g., how it looks, sounds, feels)
"...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."
One Sows And Another Reaps (4:35-38)
1. Jesus, the Master Teacher, has much to teach us about winning
a. By way of example, He teaches us the need for compassion - e.g.,
b. By way of instruction, He teaches the need for prayer - e.g., Mt
-- Many other things regarding evangelism can be gleaned from our
Lord's example and words
2. On one occasion, Jesus taught His disciples an important principle of
sowing and reaping...
a. In Samaria, following His discussion with the woman at the well
- cf. Jn 4:28-29
b. Apparently as people from the city were making their way to see
Jesus - cf. Jn 4:30
c. As the crowd was making their way, Jesus told His disciples:
1) "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the
fields, for they are already white for harvest" - Jn 4:35
2) "He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal
life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice
together." - Jn 4:36
3) "For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another
reaps.'" - Jn 4:37
4) "I have sent you to reap that for which you have not labored;
others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."
- Jn 4:38
3. In our study, I want to focus on the "true saying" Jesus referred
a. I.e., "One sows and another reaps"
b. Which provides valuable insight into the process of winning souls
[From Jesus we learn that...]
I. WINNING SOULS INVOLVES BOTH SOWING AND REAPING
A. THE PROCESS OF SOWING...
1. In agriculture, sowing involves preparing the soil and planting
2. In winning souls to Christ, sowing likewise involves
preparation and planting
a. In which hearts are being prepared to receive the gospel
b. In which hearts are first introduced to the gospel
-- A process involving time, teaching, influence, often with
little visible results
B. THE PROCESS OF REAPING...
1. In agriculture, reaping is the harvesting of what has been sown
2. In winning souls to Christ, reaping involves a similar harvest
a. Involving souls who have already heard the Word
b. Involving souls who decide to obey the Word
- A process involving conversion, with great joy and excitement
over the results
[Both sowing and reaping are necessary to win souls. Yet the "saying"
reveals that the two are not always done by the same person(s)...]
II. WE MAY REAP WHERE OTHERS HAVE SOWN
A. THIS WAS THE CASE IN SAMARIA...
1. Jesus sent His disciples to reap where others had labored - cf.
2. Who had done the sowing?
a. Jesus, in conversing with the woman at the well - Jn 4:5-26
b. The woman, in telling those in town about Jesus - Jn 4:28-30
-- The disciples were to benefit from the sowing done by others
B. THIS IS OFTEN THE CASE TODAY...
1. There are times when people seem "ripe" (ready to be reaped)
a. Ready to obey the gospel
b. Requiring little effort on our part
2. This is likely due to "sowing" that occurred some time earlier
a. Perhaps the example or teaching by a friend, family member
in the past
b. To which they did not respond then, but are ready now
-- We often benefit from the sowing done by others
C. THIS CAN BE MISINTERPRETED...
1. We might think that we have won souls by ourselves
2. We might think that those who convert many are great soul
winners in of themselves
-- Reaping does not always reflect where the hardest work has been
[We should be careful not to boast if we are privileged to reap where
others have sown. Yet we can rejoice, for reaping even when others have
sown is an exciting time for the laborers! Then again...]
III. WE MAY SOW WHERE OTHERS WILL REAP
A. THIS WAS THE CASE IN SAMARIA...
1. Jesus did the sowing, but the disciples would do the reaping
2. The woman did some sowing, then Jesus and His disciples did the
reaping - Jn 4:39-42
-- In this case, the sowing and reaping, though separate, occurred
B. THIS IS OFTEN THE CASE TODAY...
1. There are times when a lot of sowing is being done
a. Lives are influenced by the godly examples of other
b. Souls are taught the Word of God
2. Yet the reaping is not enjoyed by those doing the sowing
a. Few seem to respond to the efforts being made
b. Much time and energy is expended, with little immediate
3. The reaping often comes later
a. It might be years before the Word bears fruit
b. It might be long after we are gone
c. It might be done by others
-- In such cases, the sowing and reaping occur far apart
C. THIS CAN BE MISINTERPRETED...
1. Those sowing with little visible reaping may think they have
a. Causing them to become discouraged
b. Tempting them to discontinue their efforts
2. Others may think those who sow with little visible reaping are
a. Presuming they must not be sowing the seed
b. Presuming they must not be diligent in their efforts
-- Failure to reap does not always reflect the hard work being
[When the efforts to sow appear to produce little fruit, we should not
draw conclusions hastily. It can only lead to discouragement and
possible misjudgment others. Understanding the principle, "One Sows And
Another Reaps", then may I suggest that...]
IV. WE SHOULD BE DILIGENT TO SOW AND REAP
A. DILIGENT IN SOWING...
1. There will be times when we will be mostly sowing the seed
a. Teaching souls the first principles of the gospel of Christ
- cf. Mk 16:15-16
b. Influencing souls by example - cf. 1 Pe 3:1-2
2. There may be times when we see little fruit from our efforts
a. Jeremiah prophesied nearly fifty years with little success
b. Jesus and His apostles had their periods when few would
3. Yet we can take comfort in knowing that God's Word is never
sown in vain
a. It will accomplish its purpose - cf. Isa 55:10-11
b. It has the power to save those who believe it - Ro 1:16; Ja
c. God only holds us responsible for sowing the seed - cf. Ezek
-- Even if we never reap, we can rejoice in the work of sowing,
knowing that our labors for the Lord are not in vain - cf. 1 Co
B. DILIGENT IN REAPING...
1. There may be times when we may reap where others have sown
a. Souls who come to us, wanting to study, ready to obey
b. Souls where others had sown, and we are privileged to reap
2. There may be times when there is much reaping with little
a. Souls seem quick to respond
b. Numbers of members increase
3. Yet we should be cautious not to boast
a. The power is in the seed, not the sower or the reaper - He
b. The providence of God is at work, He is the one who gives
the increase - 1 Co 3:5-7
-- As we reap, be mindful of the contribution of others (including
God), and rejoice together in the work of the Lord - cf. 1 Co
3:8; Jn 4:36
1. Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we not laborers in the vineyard
of the Lord...?
a. Then let us not hesitate to reap where others have sown
b. Then let us not hesitate to sow where others might reap
2. May the principle "One Sows And Another Reaps"...
a. Encourage us when it seems we are sowing with little fruit to be
b. Humble us when it seems we are reaping where we have not sown
Finally, if we are not reaping at the moment, then let us at least be