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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
John 4

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

Baptized more disciples — Baptizing was used by the Jews before John or Christ took it up, from which custom, though brought in without commandment, our Saviour authorizeth a seal of entering into his rest; using the Jews’ weakness as an allurement thither.

Verse 2

(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

Jesus himself baptized not — A sweet comfort, that Christ is said not to baptize those whom the disciples baptized. The sacraments administered by ministers are no less effectual than if we had received the same from Christ’s own hands.

Verse 3

He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

He left Judea — God must be trusted, not tempted.

Verse 4

And he must needs go through Samaria.

He must needs go — Happy for them that they lay in our Saviour’s way, to be looked upon; his feet drop fatness. Luther had rather be with Christ in hell than in heaven without him, Malim praesente Christo esse in inferno, quam absente eo in coelo. Luther in Genesis 30:1-43 .

Verse 5

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.

Jacob gave to his son Joseph — Having first won it with "his sword and his bow," Genesis 48:22 ; that is, with his prayer and supplication (saith the Chaldee paraphrast); which, as Saul’s sword and Jonathan’s bow, never return empty, 2 Samuel 1:22 .

Verse 6

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 therefore, being wearied — And in that he himself had suffered, he was the more able and apt to help this poor Samaritess. So the apostle bids us pity those in adversity, as being ourselves in the body, i.e. in the body of flesh and frailty, subject to like misery. μετριοπαθειν ’ Proportionate ad miseriam condolere, Hebrews 5:2 ; Hebrews 13:3 . He that hath had the toothache, will pity those that have it. Non ignara mali, … Do not ignore evil. We are orphans all (said Queen Elizabeth, in her speech to the children of Christ’s Hospital), let me enjoy your prayers, and ye shall be sure of mine assistance.

Verse 7

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

A woman of Samaria — A poor cupbearer, such as Festus calls Canalicolas, quod circa canalem fori consisterent, lazy people because they were much about the conduits of the forum. (Becman. de Originib.)

Verse 8

(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

To buy meat — For our Saviour lived not upon alms; but although he became poor to make us rich,2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 8:9 , yet had he a bag, and that so big as that it required a bearer, John 12:6 , his friends and followers supplying him with money for his necessary uses and for relief of the poor.

Verse 9

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.

Askest drink of me? — The Samaritans knew that they were slighted by the Jews, and took it ill, Gens haec (saith Giraldus Cambrensis, of the Irish) sicut et natio quaevis barbara, quanquam honorem neseiant, honorari tamen supra medam affectant. No man would be slighted, how mean soever.

For the Jews have no dealings, … — Josephus writeth, that at Samaria was a sanctuary opened by Sanballat for all renegade Jews, … The Jews therefore hated the presence, the fire, the fashion, the books of a Samaritan. Neither was there any hatred lost on the Samaritan’s part; for if he had but touched a Jew, he would have thrown himself into the next water, clothes and all; both of them equally sick of a noli me tangere. Do not touch me. (Epiphanius.)

Verse 10

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.

The gift of God — That is, Christ himself, called by St Paul the benefit, ευεργεσια , 1 Timothy 6:2 . Let him not be to us as Jether’s sword to him, which he drew not, used not; but as Goliath’s sword to David, none to that. None but Christ, none but Christ, said that martyr.

Verse 11

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

Sir, thou hast no bucket — See how witty we are naturally, with our armed dilemmas, to reject grace offered, and with both hands as it were, to thrust away from us eternal life, απωθεισθε , Acts 13:46 .

Verse 12

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 — Josephus tells us that these Samaritans, while the Jews prospered, would needs be their dear cousins; but when they were in adversity (as under Antiochus) they would utterly disown and disavow them. They wrote to Antiochus, because he tormented the Jews, to excuse themselves as none such; and they styled Antiochus, the mighty God. Oh, baseness!

Verse 13

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

Shall thirst again — So shall all they, quibus avaritiae aut ambitionis salsugo bibulam animare possidet. He that seeks to satisfy his lusts goes about an endless business. Give, give, is the horse’s leech language. The worldling hath enough to sink him, not to satisfy him.

Verse 14

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.

Shall never thirst — His lips water not after homely provision, that hath lately tasted of delicate sustenance.

" Clitorio quicunque sitim de fonte levarit,

Vina fugit, gaudetque meris abstemius undis. "

(Ovid, Metam. xv.)

Verse 15

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Sir, give me this water — We would all have immortality, but here on earth. Some think she jeers our Saviour here; who therefore in the next words arouseth her conscience.

Verse 16

Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

Go, call thy husband — It was a great favour in Christ to receive that sinful woman that washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, and not to kick her out of his presence, as the Pharisees expected. How much greater is this, to fetch in an idolatrous harlotry that fled from him, to entertain her that had rejected him? … Well might St Paul say, that the "grace of our Lord is exceeding abundant," or doth abound to flowing over, as the sea easily overfloweth mole hills, υπερεπλεονασε , 1 Timothy 1:14 .

Verse 17

The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

I have no husbandLucretius ait, quasdam mulieres effugere unius viri torum, ut omnium fiant torus. (Sphinx Philos.)

" Iesuitae etiam sunt

Connubisanctifugae, clammeretricitegae. "

Verse 18

For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

He whom thou now hast, … — Here he comes home to her conscience; so must all that will do good on it, striving not so much to please as to profit. Bees are killed with honey but quickened with vinegar. The eagle, though she love her young ones dearly, yet she pricketh and beateth them out of the nest: so must preachers drive men out of the nest of pleasure. John Speiser, preacher at Augsburg in Germany, did his work so well at first, that the common strumpets left the brothel houses (then tolerated) and betook themselves to a better course, A.D. 1523. Yet afterwards he revolted to the Papists and miserably perished. (Sculler. Annal. 118.)

Verse 19

The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet — To the "hidden man of the heart," 1 Peter 3:4 , the plain song ever makes the best music. The Corinthian idiot, convinced of all, and having the secrets of his heart ripped up by the two-edged sword, "falls down upon his face worshipping God," and reporteth that "God is in the ministers of a truth," 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 .

Verse 20

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Our fathers, … — No sooner doth she acknowledge him a prophet, but she seeks to be satisfied in a case of conscience. Proh stuporem nostrum! Woe to our dulness!

Verse 21

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Ye shall neither in this mountain, … — Herod’s temple at Jerusalem was so set on fire by Titus’s soldiers, that it could not be quenched by the industry of man. And at the same time Apollo’s temple at Delphi was utterly overthrown by earthquakes and thunderbolts, and neither of them could ever since be repaired. The concurrence of which two miracles (saith mine author) evidently showeth that the time was then come when God would put an end both to Jewish ceremonies and heathenish idolatry, that the kingdom of his Son might be the better established. (Godw. Antiq. Heb.)

Verse 22

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

We know what we worship — Christ also, as man, worshippeth, being less than himself as God. Christ is worshipped by angels as God, being greater than himself as man.

Ye worship ye know not what — And yet these Samaritans thought themselves the only right worshippers. As Turks hold themselves the only Moslems, that is, true believers; as Hermotimus, the Stoic in Lucian, thought his sect the best of all other, as being ignorant of any other himself.

Verse 23

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 Father seeketh such — Oh, how should this fire up our hearts to spiritual worship! that God seeks for such, with, "Let me see thy face, hear thy voice," Song of Solomon 2:14 . He soliciteth suitors.

Verse 24

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

God is a SpiritOmnes nominis Iehovae literae sunt spirituales ut denotetur Deum esse spiritum. (Alsted.) Though, to speak properly, God is not a spirit. For, first, spirit signifies breath, which indeed is a body, but because it is the finest body, the most subtle and most invisible, therefore immaterial substances, which we are not able to conceive, are represented unto us under this name. Secondly, God is above all notion, all name. Afri dicunt Deum ignotum Anon, i.e. Heus tu, quis es? One being asked what God is, answered, Si scirem, Deus essem, a That which Augustine saith concerning time (the measure of all our motions) may much more be said concerning God, in whose hands are all our times and motions; Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio: si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio. When I am not asked, methinks I know somewhat of him; but let me go about to say what he is, and I find I know nothing at all. Confess. xi. 14.

In spirit and truth — As opposed to formality and hypocrisy.

Verse 25

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

I know that Messias, … — As who should say, we are not altogether so ignorant as you would make us,John 4:23; John 4:23 . A dead woman must have four men to carry her out, as the proverb is: we are apt to think our penny good silver.

Verse 26

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

I that speak unto thee, … — No sooner do we think of Christ with any the least true desire after him, but he is presently with us. He invited himself to Zaccheus’s table, … Tantum velis, et Deus tibi praeoccurret, said a Father.

Verse 27

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?

That he talked with the womanSolum cum sola. (Beza.) He might do that we must beware of, lest concupiscence kindle. Abraham may see Sodom burning, Lot may not.

Yet no man said — All ill thoughts and sinister surmises, of superiors especially, are to be presently suppressed and strangled in the birth.

Verse 28

The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

Left her waterpot — She had now greater things in hand, better things to look after. As Alexander, hearing of the riches of the Indies, divided his kingdom among his captains.

Verse 29

Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

Come, see a man, … — Weak means may, by God’s blessing, work great matters. He can make the words of Naaman’s servant greater in operation than the words of great Elisha, and by a poor captive girl bring him to the prophet.

Verse 30

Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

Then they went out — More to see the news than else; as Moses’ curiosity led him nearer the bush, wherehence he was called. It is good to come to the ordinances, though but for novelty; absence is without hope. What a deal lost Thomas by being out of the way but once.

Verse 31

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

Master, eatAnimantis cuiusque vita in fuga est, and must be repaired by nutrition, in a natural course. Only we must eat to live, and not live to eat only, as belly gods.

Verse 32

But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

I have meat to eat, … — Abraham’s servant would not eat till he had despatched, his errand, Genesis 24:33 . When we are to woo for Christ, we should forget our own interests and occasions. Quaerite primum, … Seek first the kingdom of God.

Verse 33

Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

Hath any man brought, … — "Are not these yet carnal, and talk as men?"1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 3:3 . How dull and thick brained are the best till God rend the veil, and enlighten both organ and object!

Verse 34

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

My meat is to do the will — Job, Job 23:12 , preferred it before his necessary food, that should keep him alive. So did Christ, when disappointed of a breakfast at the barren fig tree, and coming hungry into the city, he went not into an eating house, but into the temple, where he taught the people most part of that day,Matthew 21:17; Matthew 21:17 ; Matthew 21:23 .

Verse 35

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.

Say not ye, There are yet four months — As who should say, ye so long for the time, that ye count how many months, weeks, days it is to harvest; should ye not be much nmre solicitous of such a heavenly harvest? These Samaritans do but hang for mowing, …

Verse 36

And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

That he that soweth, … — That is, that both the prophets that sowed and the apostles that reaped, …, for the people were prepared by the writings of the prophets to be wrought upon by the apostles. The Samaritans also had the Bible, agreeing, for the most part, with that we have from the Jews. The copy of this Samaritan Bible was first brought from Damascus into Christendom by one Petrus de Valle, A. D. 1626.

Verse 37

And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

That saying true, … — Camerdrius recites the Senary at large.

Αλλοι μεν σπειρους ’, αλλοι δ αυ αμησονται .

Verse 38

I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

Other men have laboured — Laboured even to lassitude, as the word κεκοπιακασι signifies ( κοπιαω, κοπτω ). The ministry is not then an easy trade, an idle man’s occupation. Luther was wont to say, Sudor aeconomicus est magnus, Politicus maior, Ecclesiasticus maximus, The householder hath somewhat to do, the magistrate more, but the minister most of all.

Verse 39

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

For the saying of the woman — An unlikely means to effect so great a matter. But what is that to the Almighty? So Junius professeth, that the very first thing that turned him from atheism was conference with a countryman of his, not far from Florence. The next was, the majesty of the Scriptures, which he observed inJohn 1:1-15; John 1:1-15 . So for our forefathers in times of Popery, Mr Fox observeth, that by the reading of Chaucer’s books some were brought to the knowledge of the truth. And in that rarity of books and want of teachers, this one thing I greatly marvel at (saith he), to note in the registers, and consider how the word of God did multiply so exceedingly as it did among them. For I find that one neighbour resorting to and conferring with another, again, with a few words of their first or second talk, did win and turn their minds to that wherein they desire to persuade them touching the truth of God’s word and sacraments.

Verse 40

So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

Were come unto him — We no sooner believe, but we would fain see, and be brought a spe ad speciem, from hope to sight.

Verse 41

And many more believed because of his own word;

Because of his own word — This is it alone that is the foundation of faith, and converts the soul, Psalms 19:7 . That of good wives winning their husbands,1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:1 , is meant by way of preparation only in general. And that of winning a soul by private admonition, James 5:20 , is meant of persuading them to some good duty, or to receive some truth, or to forsake some one evil or error.

Verse 42

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.

Not because of thy saying — Properly, because of thy prittle prattle, Δια την σην λαλιαν , propter loquacitatem tuam. So perhaps it seemed to some of them at first, who believed indeed when they heard him. Plato gives a good rule, Consider not so much τις as τι , who saith, as what is said. Prejudicate opinion bars up the understanding; muddy water in a vessel causeth the best liquor to run over. Intus existens prohibet alienum.

Verse 43

Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.

After two days he departed — Though never so much made of, we must away when there is something elsewhere to be done for God.

Verse 44

For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

Jesus himself testified — Had testified, when he was cast out at Nazareth; therefore he came no more there. A minister that can do no good once in the place where he lives, is bound to leave, though the fault be not in him, but the people, saith an interpreter here; otherwise (if for self-respects he there abide) it is to be feared that he will lose his gifts, and either fall into errors and heresies, or prove but a dull and dry doctor. Metuendum est ne donum quod acceperis, omittas vel degeneres in errores, vel haereses, vel si retineas puritatem doctrinae, evadas tamen frigidus et aridus doctor. (Rolloc in loc. )

Verse 45

Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

The Galileans received him — Though those of Nazareth would not, others did. He that is sent and gifted by God shall have one where or other to exercise his gifts, as the English exiles at Geneva, Zurich, …; as Zanchius, when he could not rest at Argentina, was received at Clavenna.

Having seen all the things he did, … — Christ’s miracles were as the sermon bell, that called them together. These the men of Nazareth also had seen, but with prejudice, and therefore to no profit.

Verse 46

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

A certain nobleman — One that belonged to the king, Βασιλικος , a royalist; for so the common people flatteringly styled Herod the tetrarch. Few noblemen came to Christ; this, not till he was driven to him by his son’s sickness. "Not many noble are called," 1 Corinthians 1:26 ; if any, they are as black swans, and thinly scattered in the firmament of a state, even like stars of the first magnitude.

Verse 47

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.

Besought him that he would, … — Even Darius, king of Persia, can give order for prayers to be made at Jerusalem for the "king’s life and his sons," Ezra 6:10 , when he had seen various of his children die before him, as Ctesias relateth.

Verse 48

Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

Except ye see signs, … — Our Saviour first chides him, and upon his well bearing of that, accommodates him. He saw the courtiers’ unbelief more dangerous to his soul than the disease could be to his son’s body.

Verse 49

The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

Sir, come down — He fumes not at reproof (as many great ones would have done, Tange montes, et fumigabunt ), but "suffers the word of exhortation,"Hebrews 13:22; Hebrews 13:22 , being subdued thereunto by affliction.

Verse 50

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

Thy son liveth — Is in very good health; for non est vivere, sed valere, vita It is not to live but to live in good health, (Martial). So God is better to us ofttimes than our prayers, than our hopes.

Verse 51

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him , saying, Thy son liveth.

Thy son liveth — So the son was restored by his father’s faith. It is a benefit to be born of good parents. Personal goodness is profitable to posterity.

Verse 52

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.

Then inquired he, … — By a sweet providence, that God might be the more glorified and the man’s faith confirmed. "All things cooperate," …,Romans 8:28; Romans 8:28 . So at the same time wherein the states of Germany (after long debate) concluded for the truth of the gospel, Luther came leaping out of his closet where he had been praying (though many miles distant) with vicimus, vicimus we conquer, we conquer, in his mouth. So Musselborough field was won by the English the selfsame day and hour wherein those Balaam’s blocks (idolatrous images) were burnt at London by order of Parliament.

Verse 53

So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

And he himself believed — With a justifying faith, introduced at first by a common faith.

Verse 54

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

This is again the second miracle — God keeps count of what he doth for us, and will call us to a reckoning. Should not we keep a register? write up the noble acts of the Lord? make a catalogue of them, such a one as was that Judges 10:11-12 . "Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites did oppress you, and ye cried unto me, and I delivered you out of their hand." According to this form, and many the like in sacred Scripture, we should polish and garnish, embroider and embellish, the magnalia Dei, great works of God; for else we undervalue them, which he will not bear with.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/john-4.html. 1865-1868.
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