Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, May 18th, 2024
Eve of Pentacost
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
John 4

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-26

IV. 1– 42. Christ in Samaria.

John 4:1-26 . Christ and the Samaritan Woman.— The Lord (for the title cf. John 6:23, John 11:2, John 20:20, John 21:7, with certain parts of Lk., e.g. Luke 18:6 *), having learned that the Pharisees are aware of the success of His baptism, administered by His disciples, retires to Galilee, to avoid opposition which might lead to a premature crisis. This obliged Him to pass through Samaria, unless He chose the longer route through Peræ a, often adopted by strict Jews to avoid defilement. So He comes to Sychar, identified by Jerome with Shechem (Nablus), and now more usually with ‘ Askar at the E. foot of Mt. Ebal. Jacob’ s well (p. 30) is on the main road from Judæ a to Samaria, close to the foot of Gerizim. Tired with the journey, He rests at noon by the well. In the absence of His disciples He asks a Samaritan woman, who had come to draw water, for a drink. [The point of John 4:8 is that the disciples had gone into the town, taking with them the rope and bucket carried on journeys in Palestine, so that Jesus could not draw for Himself, as the woman remarked ( John 4:11). Jesus and the disciples are superior to Jewish prejudices, which were not, however, so strict then as they became later.— A. S. P.] She is surprised at such a request from a Jew. If John 4:9 b is a later gloss it is true to fact. Using the metaphor thus suggested, Jesus tries to tell her of God’ s gift, the coming of the kingdom. In comparison with what has gone before, it is as the living water of a spring compared to that of a well ( cf. Jeremiah 2:13). She is surprised. Can He do more for them than Jacob who gave them the well? He explains that His gift will quench spiritual thirst, and not for a time only but once for all. Again she misunderstands, and He now tries to arouse the feeling of spiritual need through the sense of guilt. The gift is only for those who are willing to share it. So she is bidden to summon her husband. This leads to a confession. Allegorists interpret the five husbands as the five senses, the books of the Law, or the five gods worshipped by the Samaritans ( 2 Kings 17:24; 2 Kings 17:30 f., 2 Kings 17:34). Convinced by this proof of His knowledge that He is a prophet, she puts before Him her religious difficulties, or wishes to hear how He will deal with the stock subject of controversy between Jews and Samaritans. This suggests a possible line of teaching that she can understand. Local restrictions are not the last word in true worship. When the Messianic hour strikes they will disappear. As to the point at issue, Samaritan worship was ignorant. God’ s salvation starts from Judaism for those who read rightly the message of the Scriptures. But true worship, which will soon be possible, knows no limitations of race. It is spiritual, offered to the Father who is spirit, and who claims from His children a worship based on a true knowledge of His nature. Again she fails to grasp His meaning. Messiah, whom Samaritans, using at least the Pentateuch, expected as well as Jews, must settle such questions. In reply Jesus announces that He is Messiah. This is in accordance with the writer’ s view that Jesus accepted the title from the first, though He drew back, when He discovered the real attitude of the Judæ ans. In Samaria this hesitation was unnecessary. The Synoptic incident of the Syrophœ nician woman suggests that there is some historical truth behind this view, though as it stands it reflects the ideas of the author’ s own time.

Verses 27-38

John 4:27-38 . The Return of the Disciples.— The disciples return with the food they have bought. They are surprised that Jesus is talking with a woman ( cf. Pirke Aboth, i. 5, “ Prolong not discourse with a woman” ). The woman returns to the city, and her report leads the men to “ come and see.” Meanwhile the disciples offer the food to Jesus. But His experiences have banished physical hunger. He explains that His true life is supported by doing His Father’ s work. Signs of accomplishment are not wanting. In common parlance four months separate seed-time from harvest (unless John 4:35 a is to be taken as a note of time, in which case the event must have happened in December or January). In the spiritual harvest, which is independent of time, the grain is already ripe, as they will see if they look at the men coming from the city to Him. When fruit is gathered in to eternal life, sower and reaper share a common joy. The saying, “ One soweth, another reapeth,” which in the earthly sphere voices the complaint of the oppressed, deprived of the fruit of their toil, receives in the spiritual sphere its ideal fulfilment, when all the workers rejoice that men are brought to eternal life. In the bread they have just bought the disciples have reaped the reward of others’ sowing. Let them remember it when it is their turn to sow.

Verses 39-46

John 4:39-46 . The Witness of the Samaritans and the Return to Galilee.— The author records the effect of personal contact with Jesus on the men who come from the city. The expression, “ Saviour of the World,” must come from the author, who uses the incident to emphasize the readiness of non-Jewish peoples to receive the Christ, and the superiority of faith which rests on personal experience. Jesus, in spite of His success, stays only two days. His true work is in Galilee, His own country, where He is not likely to receive honours which at present would be dangerous.

Verses 46-54

John 4:46-54 . The Healing of the Son of the King’ s Officer.— The narrative is plain and needs little comment. The similarity of the story to Matthew 8:5 ff. ( Luke 7:2 ff.) has often been noticed since the time of Irenæ us. The main points, healing at a distance, the father’ s faith, the healing “ at that hour” ( cf. Matthew 8:13) are the same. And many of the peculiarities may be designed to bring out the lesson it is meant to teach, the superiority of faith which believes because of “ the word” to that which rests on miracle. The mention of Cana, not necessary from this point of view, suggests real knowledge. The seventh hour is not incompatible with “ yesterday.” Jews reckoned the evening after sunset as belonging to the next day. We should say “ at one o’ clock this afternoon.”

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on John 4". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/john-4.html. 1919.
Ads FreeProfile