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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-6

When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,2. (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)3. He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. 4. And he must needs go through Samaria. 5. Then comes he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 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.

GLOSS. The Evangelist, after relating how John checked the envy of his disciples, on the success of Christ"s teaching, comes next to the envy of the Pharisees, and Christ"s retreat front the them. When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard, &c.

AUG. Truly had the Pharisees" knowledge that our Lord was making more disciples, and baptizing more than John, been such as to lead them heartily to follow Him, He would not have left Judea, but would have remained for their sake: but seeing, as He did, that this knowledge of Him was coupled with envy, and made them not followers, but persecutors, He departed thence. He could too, had He pleased, have stayed amongst them, and escaped their hands; but He wished to show His own example to believers in time to come, that it was no sin for a servant of God to fly from the fury of persecutors. He did it like a good teacher, not out of fear for Himself, but for our instruction.

CHRYS. He did it too to pacify the envy of men, and perhaps to avoid bringing the dispensation of the incarnation into suspicion. For had he been taken and escaped, the reality of His flesh would have been doubted.

AUG. It may perplex you, perhaps, to be told that Jesus baptized more than John, and then immediately after, Though Jesus Himself baptized not. What? Is there a mistake made, and then corrected?

CHRYS. Christ Himself did not baptize, but those who reported the fact, in order to raise the envy of their hearers, so represented it as to appear that Christ Himself baptized. The reason why He baptized not Himself, had been already declared by John, He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Now He had not yet given the Holy Spirit: it was therefore fitting that He should not baptize. But His disciples baptized, as an efficacious mode of instruction; better than gathering up believers here and there, as had been done in the case of Simon and his brother. Their baptism, however, had no more virtue than the baptism of John; both being without the grace of the Spirit, and both having one object, viz. that of bringing men to Christ.

AUG. Or, both are true; for Jesus both baptized, and baptized not. He baptized, in that He cleansed: He baptized not, in that He dipped not. The disciples supplied the ministry of the body, He the aid of that Majesty of which it was said, The Same is, He which baptize.

ALCUIN. The question is often asked, whether the Holy Ghost was given by the baptism of the disciples; when below it is said, The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. We reply, that the Spirit was given, though not in so manifest a way as he was after the Ascension, in the shape of fiery tongues. For, as Christ Himself in His human nature ever possessed the Spirit, and yet afterwards at His baptism the Spirit descended visibly upon Him in the form of a dove; so before the manifest and visible coming of the Holy Spirit, all saints might possess the Spirit secretly.

AUG. But we must believe that the disciples of Christ were already baptized themselves, either with John"s baptism, or, as is more probable, with Christ"s. For He who had stooped to the humble service of washing His disciples" feet, had not failed to administer baptism to His servants, who would thus be enabled in their turn to baptize others.

CHRYS. Christ on withdrawing from Judea, joined those whom He was with before, as we react next, And departed again into Galilee. As the Apostles, when they were expelled by the Jews, went to the Gentiles, so Christ goes to the Samaritans. But, to deprive the Jews of all excuse, He does not go to stay there, but only takes it on His road, as the Evangelist implies by saying, And he must needs go through Samaria. Samaria receives its name from Somer, a mountain there, so called from the name of a former possessor of it. The inhabitants of the country were formerly not Samaritans, but Israelites. But in process of time they fell under God"s wrath, and the king of Assyria transplanted them to Babylon and Media; placing Gentiles from various parts in Samaria in their room. God however, to show that it was not for want of power on His part that he delivered up the Jews, but for the sins of the people themselves, sent lions to afflict the barbarians. This was told the king, and he sent a priest to instruct them in God"s law. But not even then did they wholly cease from their iniquity, but only half changed. For in process of time they turned to idols again, though they still worshipped God, calling themselves after the mountain, Samaritans.

BEDE. He must needs pass through Samaria; because that country lay between Judea and Galilee. Samaria was the principal city of a province of Palestine, and gave its name to the whole district connected with it. The particular place to which our Lord went is next given: Then comes He to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar.

CHRYS. It was the place where Simeon and Levi made a great slaughter for Dinah.

THEOPHYL. But after the sons of Jacob had desolated the city, by the slaughter of the Sychemites, Jacob annexed it to the portion of his son Joseph as we read in Genesis, I have given to you one portion above your brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword, and with my bow. This is referred to in what follows, Near to the place of ground which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob"s well was there.

AUG. It was a well. Every, well is a spring, but every spring is not a well. Any water that rises from the ground, and can be drawn for use, is a spring: but where it is ready at hand, and on the surface, it is called a spring only; where it is creep and low down, it is called a well, not a spring.

THEOPHYL. But why does the Evangelist make mention of the parcel of ground, and the well? First, to explain what the woman says, Our father Jacob gave us this well; secondly, to remind you that what the Patriarchs obtained by their faith in God, the Jews had lost by their impiety. They had been supplanted to make room for Gentiles. And therefore there is nothing new in what has now taken place, i.e.; in the Gentiles succeeding to the kingdom of heaven in the place of the Jews.

CHRYS. Christ prefers labor and exercise to ease and luxury, and therefore travels to Samaria, not in a carriage but on foot; until at last the exertion of the journey fatigues Him; a lesson to us, that so far from indulging in superfluities, we should often even deprive ourselves of necessaries: Jesus therefore being wearied with His journey, &c.

AUG. Jesus, we see, is strong and weak: strong, because in the beginning was the Word; weak, because the Word was made flesh. Jesus thus weak, being wearied with his journey, sat on the well. CHRYS. As if to say, not on a seat, or a couch, but on the first place He saw - upon the ground. He sat down because He was wearied, and to wait for the disciples. The coolness of the well would be refreshing in the midday heat: And it was about the sixth hour. THEOPHYL. He mentions our Lord"s sitting and resting from His journey, that none might blame Him for going to Samaria Himself, after He had forbidden the disciples going. ALCUIN. Our Lord left Judea also mystically, i.e. He left the unbelief of those who condemned Him, and by His Apostles, went into Galilee, i.e. into the fickleness of the world; thus teaching His disciples to pass from vices to virtues. The parcel of ground I conceive to have been left not so much to Joseph, as to Christ, of whom Joseph was a type; whom the sun, and moon, and all the stars truly adore. To this parcel of ground our Lord came, that the Samaritans, who claimed to be inheritors of the Patriarch Israel, might recognize Him, and be converted to Christ, the legal heir of the Patriarch.

AUG. His journey, is His assumption of the flesh for our sake. For whither does He go, Who is every where present? What is this, except that it was necessary for Him, in order to come to us, to take upon Him visibly a form of flesh? So then His being wearied with His Journey, what means it, but that He is wearied with the flesh? And wherefore is it the sixth hour? Because it is the sixth age of the world. Reckon severally as hours, the first age from Adam to Noah, the second from Noah to Abraham, the third from Abraham to David, the fourth from David to the carrying away into Babylon, the fifth from thence to the baptism of John; on this calculation the present age is the sixth hour.

AUG. At the sixth hour then our Lord comes to the well. The black abyss of the well, methinks, represents the lowest parts of this universe, i.e. the earth, to which Jesus came at the sixth hour, that is, in the sixth age of mankind, the old age, as it were, of the old man, which we are bidden to put off; that we may put on the new. For so do we reckon the different ages of man"s life: the first age is infancy, the second childhood, the third boyhood, the fourth youth, the fifth manhood, the sixth old age. Again, the sixth hour, being the middle of the day, the time at which the sun begins to descend, signifies that we, who are called by Christ, are to check our pleasure in visible things, that by the love of things invisible refreshing the inner man, we may be restored to the inward light which never fails. By His sitting is signified His humility, or perhaps His magisterial character; teachers being accustomed to sit.


Verses 7-12

There comes a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus says to her, Give me to drink. 8. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)9. Then says the woman of Samaria to him, How is it that you, being a Jew, asks drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10. Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water. 11. The woman says to him, Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then have you that living water?12. Are you greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

CHRYS. That this conversation might not appear a violation of His own injunctions against talking to the Samaritans, the Evangelist explains how it arose; viz. for He did not come with the intention beforehand of talking with the woman, but only would not send the woman away, when she had come. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Observe, she comes quite by chance.

AUG. The woman here is the type of the Church, not yet justified, but just about to be. And it is a part of the resemblance, that she comes from a foreign people. The Samaritans were foreigners, though they were neighbors and in like manner the Church was to come from the Gentiles, and to be alien from the Jewish race.

THEOPHYL. The argument with the woman arises naturally from the occasion: Jesus says to her, Give me to drink. As man. the labor and heat He had undergone had made Him thirsty.

AUG. Jesus also thirsted after that woman"s faith? At He thirsts for their faith, for whom He shed His blood.

CHRYS. This shows us too not only our Lord"s strength and endurance as a traveler, but also his carelessness about food; for his disciples did not carry about food with them, since it follows, His disciples were gone away into the city to buy food. Herein is shown the humility of Christ; He is left alone. It was in His power, had He pleased, not to send away all, or, on their going away, to leave others in their place to wait on Him. But He did not choose to have it so: for in this way He accustomed His disciples to trample upon pride of every kind. However some one will say, Is humility in fisherman and tent-makers so great a matter? But these very men were all on a sudden raised to the most lofty situation upon earth, that of friends and followers of the Lord of the whole earth. And men of humble origin, when they arrive at dignity, are on this very cry account more liable than others to be lifted up with pride; the honor being so new to them. Our Lord therefore to keep His disciples humble, taught them in all things to subdue themselves. The woman on being told, Give Me to drink, very naturally asks, How is it that You, being a Jew, asks drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? She knew Him to be a Jew from His figure and speech. Here observe her simpleness. For even had our Lord been bound to abstain from dealing with her, that was His concern, not hers; the Evangelist saying not that the Samaritans would have no dealings with the Jews, but that the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. The woman however, though not in fault herself, wished to correct what she thought a fault in another. The Jews after their return from the captivity entertained a jealousy of the Samaritans, whom they regarded as aliens, and enemies; and the Samaritans did not use all the Scriptures, but only the writings of Moses, and made little of the Prophets. They claimed to be of Jewish origin, but the Jews considered them Gentiles, and hated them, as they did the rest of the Gentile world.

AUG. The Jews would not even use their vessels. So it would astonish the woman to hear a Jew ask to drink out of her vessel; a thing so contrary to Jewish rule.

CHRYS. But why did Christ ask what the law allowed not? It is no answer to say that He knew she would not give it, for in that case, He clearly ought not to have asked for it. Rather His very reason for asking, was to show His indifference to such observances, and to abolish them for the future.

AUG. He who asked to drink, however, out of the woman"s vessel, thirsted for the woman"s faith: Jesus answered and said unto her, If you knew the gift of God, or Who it is that says to you, Give Me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water.

ORIGEN. For it is as it were a doctrine, that no one receives a divine gift, who seeks not for it. Even the Savior Himself is commanded by the Father to ask, that He may give it Him, as we read, Require of Me, and I will give you the heathen for you inheritance. And our Savior Himself says, Ask, and it shall be given you. Wherefore He says here emphatically, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you.

AUG. He lets her know that it was not the water, which she meant, that He asked for; but that knowing her faith, He wished to satisfy her thirst, by giving her the Holy Spirit. For so must we interpret the living water, which is the gift of God; as He says, If you knew the gift of God.

AUG. Living water is that which comes out of a spring, in distinction to what is collected in ponds and cisterns from the rain. If spring water too becomes stagnant, i.e. collects into some spot, where it is quite separated from its fountain head, it ceases to be living water.

CHRYS. In Scripture the grace of the Holy Spirit is sometimes called fire, sometimes water, which shows that these words are expressive not of its substance but of its action. The metaphor of fire conveys the lively and sin-consuming property of grace; that of water the cleansing of the Spirit, and the refreshing of the souls who receive Him.

THEOPHYL. The grace of the Holy Spirit then He calls living water; i.e. life-giving, refreshing, stirring. For the grace of the Holy Spirit is ever stirring him who does good works, directing the risings of his heart.

CHRYS. These words raised the woman"s notions of our Lord, and make her think Him no common person. She addresses Him reverentially by the title of Lord; The woman says to Him, Lord, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then has you that living water?

AUG. She understands the living water to be the water in the well; and therefore says, You wish to give me living water; but You have nothing to draw with as I have: You can not then give me this living water; Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

CHRYS. As if she said, You can not say that Jacob gave us this spring, and used another himself; for he and they that were with him drank thereof; which would not have been done, had he had another better one. You can not then give me of this spring; and You have not another better spring, unless You confess Yourself greater than Jacob. Whence then have You the water, which You promise to give us?

THEOPHYL. The addition, and his cattle, shows the abundance of the water; as if she said, Not only is the water sweet, so that Jacob and his sons drank of it, but so abundant, that it satisfied the vast multitude of the Patriarchs" cattle.

CHRYS See how she thrusts herself upon the Jewish stock. The Samaritans claimed Abraham as their ancestor, on the ground of his having come from Chaldea; and called Jacob their father, as being Abraham"s grandson.

BEDE. Or she calls Jacob their father, because she lived under the Mosaic law, and possessed the farm which Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

ORIGEN. In the mystical sense, Jacob"s well is the Scriptures. The learned then drink like Jacob and his sons; the simple and uneducated, like Jacob"s cattle.


Verses 13-18

Jesus answered and said to her, Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again:14. But whosoever drinks 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. 15. The woman says to him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16. Jesus says to her, Go, call your husband and come hither. 17. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said to her, You have well said, I have no husband:18. For you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband: in that said you truly.

CHRYS. To the woman"s question, Are you greater than our father Jacob? He does not reply, I am greater, lest He should seem to boast; but His answer implies it; Jesus answered and said to her, Whosoever drink of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; as if He said, If Jacob is to be honored because he gave you this water. what will you say, if I give you far better than this? He makes the comparison however not to depreciate Jacob, but to exalt Himself. For He does not say, that this water is vile and counterfeit, but asserts a simple fact of nature, viz. that whosoever drink of this water shall thirst again.AUG. Which is true indeed both of material water, and of that of which it is the type. For the water in the well is the pleasure of the world, that abode of darkness. Men draw it with the waterpot of their lusts; pleasure is not relished, except it be preceded by lust. And when a man has enjoyed this pleasure, i.e. drunk of the water, he thirsts again; but if he have received water from Me, he shall never thirst. For how shall they thirst, who are drunken with the abundance of the house of God? But He promised this fullness of the Holy Spirit.

CHRYS. The excellence of this water; viz. that he that drinks of it never thirsts, He explains in what follows, But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. As a man who had a spring within him, would never feel thirst, so will not he who has this water which I shall give him.

THEOPHYL. For the water which I give him is ever multiplying. The saints receive through grace the seed and principle of good; but they themselves make it grow by their own cultivation.

CHRYS. See how the woman is led by degrees to the highest doctrine. First, she thought He was some lax Jew. Then hearing of the living water, she thought it meant material water. Afterwards she understands it as spoken spiritually, and believes that it can take away thirst, but she does not yet know what it is, only understands that it was superior to material things: The woman says to Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not neither come hither to draw. Observe, she prefers Him to the patriarch Jacob, for whom she ha such veneration.

AUG. Or thus; The woman as yet understands Him of the flesh only. She is delighted to be relieved for ever from thirst, and takes this promise of our Lord"s in a carnal sense. For God had once granted to His servant Elijah, that he should neither hunger nor thirst for forty days; and if He could grant this for forty days, why not for ever? Eager to possess such a gift, she asks Him for the living water; The woman says to Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Her poverty obliged her to labor more than her strength could well bear; would in that she could hear, Come to Me, all that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Jesus had said this very thing, i.e. that she need not labor any longer; but she did not understand Him. At last our Lord was resolved that she should understand: Jesus says to her, Go call your husband, and come hither. What means this? Did He wish to give her the water through her husband? Or, because she did not understand, did He wish to teach her by means of her husband? The Apostle indeed says of women, If they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. But this applies only where Jesus is not present. Our Lord Himself was present here; what need then that He should speak to her through her husband? Was it through her husband that He spoke to Mary, who sat at His feet?

CHRYS. The woman then being, urgent in asking for the promised water, Jesus says to her, Go call your husband; to show that he too ought to have a share in these things. But she was in a hurry to receive the gift, and wished to conceal her guilt, (for she still imagined she was speaking to a man) The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Christ answers her with a seasonable reproof; exposing her as to former husbands, and as to her present one, whom she had concealed; Jesus said to her, you have well said, I have no husband.AUG. Understand, that the woman had not a lawful husband, but had formed an irregular connection with some one. He tells her, you have had five husbands, in order to show her His miraculous knowledge.

ORIGEN. May not Jacob"s well signify mystically the letter of Scripture; the water of Jesus, that which is above the letter, which all are not allowed to penetrate into? That which is written was dictated by men, whereas the things which the eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, cannot be reduced to writing, but are from the fountain of water, that springs up unto everlasting life, i.e. the Holy Ghost. These truths are unfolded to such as carrying no longer a human heart within them, are able to say with the Apostle, We have the mind of Christ. Human wisdom indeed discovers truths, which are handed down to posterity; but the teaching of the Spirit is a well of water which springs up into everlasting life. The woman wished to attain, like the angels, to angelic and super-human truth without the use of Jacob"s water. For the angels have a well of water within them, springing from the Word of God Himself. She says therefore, Sir, give me this water. But it is impossible here to have the water which is given by the Word, without that which is drawn from Jacob"s well; and therefore Jesus seems to tell the woman that He cannot supply her with it from any other source than Jacob"s well; If we are thirsty, we must first drink from Jacob"s well. Jesus says to her, Go, call your husband, and come hither. According to the Apostle, the Law is the husband of the soul.

AUG. The five husbands some interpret to be the five books which were given by Moses. And the words, He whom thou now have is not your husband, they understand as spoken by our Lord of Himself; as if He said, You have served the five books of Moses, as five husbands; but now he whom you have, i.e. whom you hear, is not your husband; for you do not yet believe in him. But if she did not believe in Christ, she was still united to those five husbands, i.e. five books, and therefore why is it said, you have had five husbands, as if she no longer had them? And how do we understand that a man must have these five books, in order to pass over to Christ, when he who believes in Christ, so far from forsaking these books, embraces them in this spiritual meaning the more strongly? Let us turn to another interpretation.

AUG. Jesus seeing that the woman did not understand, and wishing to enlighten her, says, Call your husband; i.e. apply your understanding. For when the life is well ordered, the understanding governs the soul itself, pertaining to the soul. For though it is indeed nothing else than the soul, it is at the same time a certain part of the soul. And this very part of the soul which is called the understanding and the intellect, is itself illuminated by a light superior to itself. Such a Light was talking with the woman; but in her there was not understanding to be enlightened. Our Lord then, as it were, says, I wish to enlighten, and there is not one to be enlightened; Call your husband, i. e. apply your understanding, through which you must be taught, by which governed. The five former husbands may be explained as the five senses, thus: a man before he has the use of his reason, is entirely under the government of his bodily senses. Then reason comes into action; and from that time forward he is capable of entertaining ideas, and is either under the influence of truth or error. The woman had been under the influence of error, which error was not her lawful husband, but an adulterer. Wherefore our Lord says, Put away that adulterer which corrupts thee, and call your husband, that you may understand Me.

ORIGEN. And what more proper place than Jacob"s well, for exposing the unlawful husband, i.e. the perverse law? For the Samaritan woman is meant to figure to us a soul, that has subjected itself to a kind of law of its own, not the divine lay. And our Savior wishes to marry her to a lawful husband, i.e. Himself; the Word of truth which was to rise from the dead, and never again to die.


Verses 19-24

The woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21. Jesus saith to her, Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22. You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. 24. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

CHRYS. The woman is not offended at Christ"s rebuke. She does not leave Him, and go away. Far from it: her admiration for Him is raised: The woman said to Him, Sir, I perceive that you are a Prophet: as if she said, Your knowledge of me is unaccountable, you must be a prophet.

AUG. The husband was beginning to come to her, though He had not yet fully come. She thought our Lord a prophet, and He was a prophet: for He says of Himself, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country.

CHRYS. And having come to this belief she asks no questions relating to this life, the health or sickness of the body: she is not troubled about thirst, she is eager for doctrine.

AUG. And she begins inquiries on a subject that perplexed her; Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. This was a great dispute between the Samaritans and the Jews. The Jews worshipped in the temple built by Solomon, and made this a ground of boasting over the Samaritans. The Samaritans replied, Why boast you, because you have a temple which we have not? Did our fathers, who pleased God, worship in that temple? Is it not better to pray to God in this mountain, where our fathers worshipped?

CHRYS. By, our fathers, she means Abraham, who is said to have offered up Isaac here.

ORIGEN. Or thus; The Samaritans regarded Mount Gerizim, near which Jacob dwelt, as sacred, and worshipped upon it; while the sacred place of the Jews was Mount Sion, God"s own choice. The Jews being the people from whom salvation came, are the type of true believers; the Samaritans of heretics. Gerizim, which signifies division, becomes the Samaritans; Sion, which signifies watch-tower, becomes the Jews.

CHRYS. Christ however does not solve this question immediately, but leads the woman to higher things, of which He had not spoken till she acknowledged Him to be a prophet, and therefore listened with a more full belief: Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. He says, Believe me, because we have need of faith, the mother of all good, the medicine of salvation, in order to obtain any real good. They who endeavor without it, are like men who venture on the sea without a boat, and, being able to swim only a little way, are drowned.

AUG. Believe Me, our Lord says with fitness, as the husband is now present. For now there is one in thee that believes, you have begun to be present in the understanding, but if you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.ALCUIN. In saying, the hour comes, He refers to the Gospel dispensation, which was now approaching; under which the shadows of types were to withdraw, and the pure light of truth was to enlighten the minds of believers.

CHRYS. There was no necessity for Christ to show why the fathers worshipped in the mountain, and the Jews in Jerusalem. He therefore was silent on that question; but nevertheless asserted the religious superiority of the Jews on another ground, the ground not of place, but of knowledge; You worship you know not what, we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews.

ORIGEN. You, literally refers to the Samaritans, but mystically, to all who understand the Scriptures in an heretical sense. We again literally means the Jews, but mystically, I the Word, and all who conformed to My Image, obtain salvation from the Jewish Scriptures.

CHRYS. The Samaritans worshipped they knew not what, a local, a partial God, as they imagined, of whom they had the same notion that they had of their idols. And therefore they mingled the worship of God with the worship of idols. But the Jews were free from this superstition: indeed they knew God to be the God of the whole world; wherefore He says, We worship what we know. He reckons Himself among the Jews, in condescension to the woman"s idea of Him; and says as if He were a Jewish prophet, We worship, though it is certain that He is the Being who is worshipped by all. The words, For salvation is of the Jews, mean that every thing calculated to save and amend the world, the knowledge of God, the abhorrence of idols, and all other doctrines of that nature, and even the very origin of our religion, comes originally from the Jews. In salvation too He includes His own presence, which He says is of the Jews, as we are told by the Apostle, Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came. See how He exalts the Old Testament, which He shows to be the root of every thing good; thus proving in every way that He Himself is not opposed to the Law.

AUG. It is saying much for the Jews, to declare in their name, We worship what we know. But He does not spear; for the reprobate Jews, but for that party from whom the Apostles and the Prophets came. Such were all those saints who laid the prices of their possessions at the Apostle"s feet.

CHRYS. The Jewish worship then was far higher than the Samaritan; but even it shall be abolished; The hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. He says, and now is, to show that this was not a prediction, like those of the ancient Prophets, to be fulfilled the course of ages. The event, He says, is now at hand, it is approaching your very doors. The words, true worshipers, are by way of distinction: for there are false worshipers, who pray for temporal and frail benefits, or whose actions are ever contradicting their prayers.CHRYS. Or by saying, true, he excludes the Jews together with the Samaritans. For the Jews, though better than the Samaritans, were yet as much inferior to those who were to succeed them, as the type is to the reality. The true worshipers do not confine the worship of God to place, but worship in the spirit; as Paul said, Whom I serve with my spirit.

ORIGEN. Twice it is said, The hour comes, and the first time without the addition, and now is. The first seems to allude to that purely spiritual worship which is suited only to a state of perfection; the second to earthly worship, perfected as far as is consistent with human nature. When that hour comes, which our Lord speaks of, the mountain of the Samaritans must be avoided, and God must be worshipped in Sion, where is Jerusalem, which is called by Christ the city of the Great King. And this is the Church, where sacred oblations and spiritual victims are offered up by those who understand the spiritual law. So that when the fullness of time shall have come, the true worship, we must suppose, will no longer be attached to Jerusalem, i.e. to the present Church: for the Angels do not worship the Father at Jerusalem: and thus those who have obtained the likeness of the Jews, worship the Father better than they who are at Jerusalem. And when this hour is come, we shall be accounted by the Father as sons. Wherefore it is not said, Worship God, but, Worship the Father. But for the present the true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

CHRYS. He speaks here of the Church; wherein there is true worship, and such as becomes God; and therefore adds, For the Father seeks such to worship Him. For though formerly He willed that mankind should linger under a dispensation of types and figures, this was only done in condescension to human frailty, and to prepare men for the reception of the truth.

ORIGEN. But if the Father seeks, He seeks through Jesus, Who came to seek and to save that which was lost, and to teach men what true worship was. God is a Spirit; i.e. He constitutes our real life, just as our breath (spirit) constitutes our bodily life.

CHRYS. Or it signifies that God is incorporeal; and that therefore He ought to be worshipped not with the body, but with the soul, by the offering up a pure mind, i.e. that they who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The Jews neglected the soul, but paid great attention to the body, and had various kinds of purification. Our Lord seems here to refer to this, and to say, not by cleansing of the body, but by the incorporeal nature within us, i. e. the understanding, which He calls the spirit, that we must worship the incorporeal God.

HILARY. Or, by saying that God being a Spirit ought to be worshipped in spirit, He indicates the freedom and knowledge of the worshipers, and the uncircumscribed nature of the worship: according to the saying of the Apostle, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

CHRYS. And that we are to worship in truth, means that whereas the former ordinances were typical; that is to say, circumcision, burnt offerings, and sacrifices; now, on the contrary, every thing is real.

THEOPHYL. Or, because many think that they worship God in the spirit, i.e. with the mind, who yet held heretical doctrines concerning Him, for this reason He adds, and in truth. May not the words too refer to the two kinds of philosophy among us, i. e. active and contemplative; the spirit standing for action, according to the Apostle, As many as are led by the Spirit of God; truth, on the other hand, for contemplation. Or, (to take another view,) as the Samaritans thought that God w as confined to a certain place, and ought to be worshipped in that place; in opposition to this notion, our Lord may mean to teach them here, that the true worshipers worship not locally, but spiritually. Or again, all being a type and shadow in the Jewish system, the meaning may be that the true worshipers will worship not in type, but in truth. God being a Spirit, seeks for spiritual worshipers; being the truth, for true ones.

AUG. O for a mountain to pray on, you cry, high and inaccessible, that I may be nearer to God, and God may hear me better, for He dwells on high. Yes, God dwells on high, but He has respect to the humble. Wherefore descend that you may ascend. "Ways on high are in their heart," it is said, "passing in the valley of tears," and in "tears" is humility. Would you pray in the temple? pray in yourself; but first do you become the temple of God.


Verse 25-26

25. The woman said to him, I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ; when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26. Jesus said to her, I that speak to you am he.

CHRYS. The woman was struck with astonishment at the loftiness of His teaching, as her words show: The woman said to Him, I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ.

AUG. Unctus in Latin, Christ in Greek, in the Hebrew Messias. She knew then who could teach her, but did not know Who was teaching her. When He is come, He will tell us all things: as if she said, The Jews now contend for the temple, we for the mountain; but He, when He comes, will level the mountain, overthrow the temple, and teach us how to pray in spirit and in truth.

CHRYS. But what reason had the Samaritans for expecting Christ"s coming? They acknowledged the books of Moses, which foretold it. Jacob prophesies of Christ, The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from beneath his feet, until Shiloh come. And Moses says, The Lord your God shall raise up a Prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren.

ORIGEN. It should be known, that as Christ rose out of the Jews, not only declaring but proving Himself to be Christ; so among the Samaritans there arose one Dositheus by name, who asserted that he was the Christ prophesied of.

AUG. It is a confirmation to discerning minds that the five senses were what were signified by the five husbands, to find the woman making five carnal answers, and then mentioning the name of Christ.

CHRYS. Christ now reveals Himself to the woman: Jesus said to her, I that speak to you am He. Had He told the woman this to begin with, it would have appeared vanity. Now, having gradually awakened her to the thought of Christ, His disclosure of Himself is perfectly opportune. He is not equally open to the Jews, who ask Him, If You be the Christ, tell us plainly; for this reason, that they did not ask in order to learn, but to do Him injury; whereas she spoke in the simplicity of her heart.


Verses 27-30

Ver 27. And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seek you? or, Why talk you with her?28. The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and said to the men,29. Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?30. Then they went out of the city, and came to him.

CHRYS. The disciples arrive opportunely, and when the teaching is finished: And upon this came His disciples, and marveled that He talked with the woman. They marveled at the exceeding kindness and humility of Christ, in condescending to converse with a poor woman, and a Samaritan.

AUG. He who came to seek that which was lost, sought the lost one. This was what they marveled at: they marveled at His goodness; they did not suspect evil.

CHRYS. But notwithstanding their wonder, they asked Him no questions, No man said, What seek You? or, Why talk you with her? So careful were they to observe the rank of disciples, so great was their awe and veneration for Him. On subjects indeed which concerned themselves, they did not hesitate to ask Him questions. But this was not one.

ORIGEN. The woman is almost turned into an Apostle. So forcible are His words, that she leaves her waterpot to go to the city, and tell her townsmen of them. The woman then left her waterpot, i.e. gave up low bodily cares, for the sake of benefiting others. Let us do the same. Let us leave off caring for things of the body, and impart to others of our own.

AUG. Hydria answers to our word aquarium; hydor being Greek for water.

CHRYS. As the Apostles, on being called, left their nets, so does she leave her waterpot, to do the work of an Evangelist, by calling not one person, but a whole city: She went her way into the city, and said to the men, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

ORIGEN. She calls them together to see a man, whose words were deeper than man"s. She had had five husbands, and then was living with the sixth, not a lawful husband. But now she gives him up for a seventh, and she leaving her waterpot, is converted to chastity.

CHRYS. She was not prevented by shame-facedness from spreading about what had been said to her. For the soul, when it is once kindled by the divine flame, regards neither glory, nor shame, nor any other earthly thing, only the flame which consumes it. But she did not wish them to trust to her own report only, but to come and judge of Christ for themselves. Come, see a man, she says. She does not say, Come and believe, but, Come and see; which is an easier matter. For well she knew that if they only tasted of that well, they would feel as she did.

ALCUIN. It is only by degrees, however, that she comes to the preaching of Christ. First she calls Him a man, not Christ; for fear those who heard her might be angry, and refuse to come.

CHRYS. She then neither openly preaches Christ, nor wholly omits Him, but says, Is not this the Christ? This wakened their attention, Then they went out of the city, and came to Him.

AUG. The circumstance of the woman"s leaving her waterpot on going away, must not be overlooked. For the waterpot signifies the love of this world,) concupiscence, by which men from the dark depth, of which the well is the image, i.e. from an earthly conversation, draw up pleasure. It was right then for one who believed in Christ to renounce the world, and, by leaving her waterpot, to show that she had parted with worldly desires.

AUG. She cast away therefore concupiscence, and hastened to proclaim the truth. Let those who wish to preach the Gospel, learn, that they should first leave their waterpots at the well.

ORIGEN. The woman having become a vessel of wholesome discipline, lays aside as contemptible her former tastes and desires.


Verses 31-34

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32. But he said to them, I have meat to eat that you know not of. 33. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Has any man brought him ought to eat?34. Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

AUG. His disciples had gone to buy food, and had returned. They offered Christ some: In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.

CHRYS. They all ask Him at once, Him so fatigued with the journey and heat. This is not impatience in them, but simply love, and tenderness to their Master.

ORIGEN. They think the pre sent time convenient for dining; it being after the departure of the woman to the city, and before the coming of the Samaritans; so that they sit at meat by themselves. This explains, In the mean while.

THEOPHYL. Our Lord, knowing that the woman of Samaria was bringing the whole town out to Him, tells His disciples, I have meat that you know not of:

CHRYS. The salvation of men He calls His food, showing His great desire that we should be saved. As food is an object of desire to us, so was the salvation of men to Him. Observe, He does not express Himself directly, but figuratively; which makes some trouble necessary for His hearers, in order to comprehend His meaning, and thus gives a greater importance to that meaning when it is understood.

THEOPHYL. That you know not of; i.e. know not that I call the salvation of men food; or, know not that the Samaritans are about to believe and be saved. The disciples however were in perplexity: Therefore said the disciples one to another, Has any man brought Him ought to eat?

AUG. What wonder that the woman did not understand about the water? Lo, the disciples do not understand about the meat.

CHRYS. They show, as usual, the honor and reverence in which they hold their Master, by talking among themselves, and not presuming to question Him.

THEOPHYL. From the question of the disciples, Has any man brought Him ought to eat, we may infer that our Lord was accustomed to receive food from others, when it was offered Him: not that He who gives food to all flesh, needed any assistance; but He received it, that they who gave it might obtain their reward, and that poverty thenceforth might not blush, nor the support of others be esteemed a disgrace. It is proper and necessary that teachers should depend on others to provide them with food, in order that, being free from all other cares, they may attend the more to the ministry of the word.

AUG. Our Lord heard His doubting disciples, and answered them as disciples, i.e. plainly and expressly, not circuitously, as He answered the women; Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.

ORIGEN. Fit meat for the Son of God, who was so obedient to the Father, that in Him was the t same will that was in the Father: not two wills, but one will in both. The Son is capable of first accomplishing the whole will of the Father. Other saints do nothing against the Father"s will; He does that will. That is His meat in an especial sense. And what means, To finish His work? It would seem easy to say, that a work was what was ordered by him who set it; as where men are set to build or dig. But some who go deeper ask whether a work being finished does not imply that it was before incomplete; and whether God could originally have made an incomplete work? The completing of the work, is the completing of a rational creature: for it was to complete this work, which was as yet imperfect, that the Word made flesh come.

THEOPHYL. He finished the work of God, i.e. man, He, the Son of God, finished it by exhibiting our nature in Himself without sin, perfect and uncorrupt. He finished also the work of God, i.e. the Law, (for Christ is the end of the Law,) by abolishing it, when every thing in it had been fulfilled, and changing a carnal into a spiritual worship.

ORIGEN. The matter of spiritual drink and living water being explained, the subject of meat follows. Jesus had asked the woman of Samaria, and she could give Him none good enough. Then came the disciples, having procured some humble food among the people of the country, and offered it Him, beseeching Him to eat. They fear perhaps lest the Word of God, deprived of His own proper nourishment, fail within them; and therefore with such as they have found, immediately propose to feed Him, that being confirmed and strengthened, He may abide with His nourishers. Souls require food as well as bodies. And as bodies require different kinds of it, and in different quantities, so is it in things which are above the body. Souls differ in capacity, and one needs more nourishment, another less. So too in point of quality, the same nourishment of words and thoughts does not suit all. Infants just born need the milk of the word; the grown up, solid meat. Our Lord says, I have meat to eat. For one who is over the weak who cannot behold the same things with the stronger, may always speak thus.


Verses 35-38

Say not you, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36. And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to life eternal: that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. 37. And herein is that saying true, One sows, and another reaps. 38. I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labor: other men labored, and you are entered into their labors.

CHRYS. What is the will of the Father He now proceeds to explain: Say you not, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest?

THEOPHYL. Now you are expecting a material harvest. But I say to you, that a spiritual harvest is at hand: lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. He alludes to the Samaritans who are approaching.

CHRYS. He leads them, as his custom is, from low things to high. Fields and harvest here express the great number of souls, which are ready to receive the word. The eyes are both spiritual, and bodily ones, for they saw a great multitude of Samaritans now approaching. This expectant crowd he calls very suitably white fields. For as the corn, when it grows white, is reader for the harvest; so were these ready for salvation. But why does He not say this in direct language? Because by making use in this way of the objects around them, he gave greater vividness and power to His words, and brought the truth home to them; and also that His discourse might be more pleasant, and might sink deeper into their memories.

AUG. He was intent now on beginning the work, and hastened to send laborers: And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to life eternal, that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together.

CHRYS. Again He distinguishes earthly from heavenly things, for as above He said of the water, that he who drank of it should never thirst, so here He says, He that reaps gathers fruit to life eternal; adding, that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. The Prophets sowed, the Apostles reaped, yet are not the former deprived of their reward. For here a new thing is promised; viz. that both sowers and reapers shall rejoice together. How different this from what we see here. Now he that sows grieves because he sows for others, and he only that reaps rejoices. But in the Dew state, the sower and reaper share the same wages.

AUG. The Apostles and Prophets had different labors, corresponding to the difference of times; but both will attain to like joy, and receive together their wages, even eternal life.

CHRYS. He confirms what He says by a proverb, And herein is that saying true, one sows and another reaps, i.e. one party has the labor, and another reaps the fruit. The saying is especially applicable here, for the Prophets had labored, and the disciples reaped the fruits of their labors: I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labor.

AUG. So then He sent reapers, no sowers. The reapers went where the Prophets had preached. Read the account of their labors: they all contain prophecy of Christ. And the harvest was gathered on that occasion when so many thousands brought the prices of their possessions, and laid them at the Apostles" feet; relieving their shoulders from earthly burdens, that they might follow Christ. Yes verily, and from that harvest were a few grains scattered, which filled the whole world. And now arises another harvest, which will be reaped at the end of the world, not by Apostles, but by Angels. The reapers, He says, are the Angels.

CHRYS. I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labor, i.e. I have reserved you for a favorable time, in which the labor is less, the enjoyment greater. The more laborious part of the work was laid on the Prophets, viz. the sowing of the seed: Other men labored, and you are entered into their labors. Christ here throws light on the meaning of the old prophecies. He shows that both the Law and the Prophets, if rightly interpreted, led men to Him; and that the Prophets w ere sent in fact by Himself. Thus the intimate connection is established between the Old Testament and the New.

ORIGEN. How can we consistently give an allegorical meaning to the words, Lift up your eyes, &c. and only a literal one to the words, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? The same principle of interpretation surely must be applied to the latter, that is to the former. The four months represent the four elements, i.e. our natural life; the harvest, the end of the world, when all conflict shall have ceased, and truth shall prevail. The disciples then regard the truth as incomprehensible in our natural state, and look forward to the end of the world for attaining the knowledge of it. But this idea our Lord condemns: Say not you, there are four months, and then comes harvest? Behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes. In many places of Holy Scripture, we are commanded in the same way to raise the thoughts of our minds, which cling so obstinately to earth. A difficult task this for one who indulges his passions, and lives carnally. Such an one will not see if the fields be white to the harvest. For when are the fields white to the harvest? When the Word of God comes to light up and make fruitful the fields of Scripture. Indeed, all sensible things are as it were fields made white for the harvest, if only reason be at hand to interpret them. We lift up our eyes, and behold the whole universe over-spread with the brightness of truth. And he that reaps those harvests, has a double reward of his reaping; first, his wages; And he that reaps receives wages; meaning his reward in the life to come; secondly, a certain good state of the understanding, which is the fruit of contemplation, And gathers fruit to life eternal. The man who thinks out the first principles of any science, is as it were the sower in that science; others taking them up, pursuing them to their results, and engrafting fresh matter upon them, strike out new discoveries, from which posterity reaps a plentiful harvest. And how much more may we perceive this in the art of arts? The seed there is the whole dispensation of the mystery, now revealed, but formerly hidden in darkness; for while men were unfit for the advent of the Word, the fields were not yet white to their eyes, i.e. the legal and prophetical Scriptures were shut up. Moses and the Pro pets, who preceded the coming of Christ, were the sowers of this seed; the Apostles who came after Christ and saw His glory were the reapers. They reaped and gathered into barns the deep meaning which lay hid under the prophetic writings; and did in short what those do who succeed to a scientific system which others have discovered, and who with less trouble attain to clearer results than they who originally sowed the seed. But they that sowed and they that reaped shall rejoice together in another world, in which all sorrow and mourning shall be done away. Nay, and have they not rejoiced already; Did not Moses and Elias, the sowers, rejoice with the reapers Peter, James, and John, when they saw the glory of the Son of God at the Transfiguration? Perhaps in, one sows and another reaps, one and another may refer simply to those who live under the Law, and those who live under the Gospel. For these may both rejoice together, inasmuch as the same end is laid up for them by one God, through one Christ, in one Holy Spirit.


Verses 39-42

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. 40. So when the Samaritans were come to him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days41. And many more believed because of his own word;42. And said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

ORIGEN After this conversation with the disciples, Scripture returns to those who had believed on the testimony of the woman, and were come to see Jesus.

CHRYS. It is now, as it were, harvest time, when the corn is gathered, and a whole floor soon covered with sheaves; 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. They considered that the woman would never of her own accord have conceived such admiration for one Who had reproved her offenses, unless He were really some great and wonderful person. And thus relying solely on the testimony of the woman, without any other evidence, they went out to beseech Christ to stay with them: So when the Samaritans were come to Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them. The Jews when they saw His miracles, so far from begging Him to stay, tried in every way to get rid of His presence. Such is the power of malice, and envy, and vainglory, that obstinate vice which poisons even goodness itself. Though the Samaritans however wished to keep Him with them, He would not consent, but only tarried there two days.

ORIGEN. It is natural to ask, why our Savior stays with the Samaritans, when He had given a command to His disciples not to enter into any city of the Samaritans. But we must explain this mystically. To go the way of the Gentiles, is to be imbued with Gentile doctrine; to go into a city of the Samaritans, is to admit the doctrines of those who believe the Scriptures, but interpret them heretically. But when men have given up their own doctrines, and come to Jesus, it is lawful to stay with them.

CHRYS. The Jews disbelieved in spite of miracles, while these exhibited great faith, be fore even a miracle was wrought, and when they had only heard our Lord"s words. And many more believed because of His own word. Why then do not the Evangelists give these words? To show that they omit many important things, and because the result shows what they were; the result being that the whole city was convinced. On the other hand, when the hearers are not convinced, the Evangelists are obliged to give our Lord"s words, that the failure may be seen to be owing to the indifference of the hearers, not to any defect in the preacher. And now, having become Christ"s disciples, they dismiss their first instructor; And they said to the woman, Now we believe not because of your saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. How soon they understand that He was come for the deliverance of the whole world, and could not therefore confine His purposes to the Jews, but must sow the Word every where. Their saying too, The Savior of the world, implies that they looked on this world as miserable and lost; and that, whereas Prophets and Angels had come to save it, this was the only real Savior, the Author not only of temporal but eternal salvation. And, observe, whereas the woman had spoken doubtfully, Is not this the Christ? they do not say, we suspect, but we know, know, that this is indeed the Savior of the world, not one Christ out of many. Though they had only heard His words, they said as much as they could have done, had they seen ever so many and great miracles.

ORIGEN. With the aid of our former observations on Jacob"s well, and the water, it wills not be difficult to see, why, when they find the true word, they leave other doctrines, i.e. the city, for a sound faith. Observe, they did not ask our Savior only to enter Samaria, St. John particularly remarks, or enter that city, but to tarry there. Jesus tarries with those who ask Him, and especially with those who go out of the city to Him.

ORIGEN. They were not ready yet for the third day; having no anxiety to see a miracle, as those had who supped with Jesus in Cana of Galilee. (This supper was after He had been in Cana three days.) The woman"s report was the ground of their belief. The enlightening power of the Word itself was not yet visible to them.

AUG. So then they knew Christ first by report of another, afterwards by His own presence; which is still the case of those that are without the fold, and not yet Christians. Christ is announced to them by some charitable Christians, by the report of the woman, i.e. the Church; they come to Christ, they believe on Him, through the instrumentality of that woman; He stays with them two days, i.e. gives them two precepts of charity. And thenceforth their belief is stronger. They believe that He is indeed the Savior of the world.

ORIGEN. For it is impossible that the same impression should be produced by hearing from one who has seen, and seeing one"s self; walking by sight is different from walking by faith. The Samaritans now do not believe only from testimony, but from really seeing the truth.


Verses 43-45

Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. 44. For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45. Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went to the feast.

AUG. After staying two days in Samaria, He departed into Galilee, where He resided: Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee.

AUG. Why then does the Evangelist say immediately, For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet has no honor in his own country. For He would seem to have testified more to the truth, had He remained in Samaria, and not gone into Galilee. Not so: He stayed two days in Samaria and the Samaritans believed on Him: He stayed the same time in Galilee, and the Galileans did not believe on Him, and therefore He said, that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

CHRYS. Or consider this the reason that He went, not to Capernaum, but to Galilee and Cana, as appears below, His country being, I think, Capernaum. As He did not obtain honor there, hear what He says; And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell. He calls it His own country, because He had most resided here.

THEOPHYL. Or thus: Our Lord on leaving Samaria for Galilee, explains why He was not always in Galilee: viz. because of the little honor He received there. A prophet has no honor in his own country.ORIGEN. The country of the prophets was Judea, and every one knows how little honor they received from the Jews, as we read, Whom of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? One cannot but wonder at the truth of this saying, exemplified not only in the contempt cast upon the holy prophets and our Lord Himself, but also in the case of other teachers of wisdom who have been despised by their fellow-citizens and put to death.

CHRYS. But do we not see many held in admiration by their own people? We do; but we cannot argue from a few instances. If some are honored in their own country, many more are honored out of it, and familiarity generally subjects men to contempt. The Galileans however received our Lord: Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him. Observe how those who are spoken ill of, are always the first to come to Christ. Of the Galileans we find it said below, Search and, look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet. And He is reproached with being a Samaritan, You are a Samaritan, and have a devil. And yet the Samaritans and Galileans believe, to the condemnation of the Jews. The Galileans however are superior to the Samaritans; for the latter believed from hearing the woman"s words, the former from seeing the signs which He did: Having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast.

ORIGEN. Our Lord by ejecting those who sold sheep and oxen from the temple, had impressed the Galileans with a strong idea of His Majesty, and they received Him. His power was shown no less in this act, than in making the blind to see, and the deaf to hear. But probably He had performed some other miracles as well.

BEDE. They had seen Him at Jerusalem, For they also went to the feast. Our Lord"s return has a mystical meaning, viz. that, when the Gentiles have been confirmed in the faith by the two precepts of love, i.e. at the end of the world, He will return to His country, i.e. Judea.

ORIGEN. The Galileans were allowed to keep the feast at Jerusalem, where they had seen Jesus. Thus they were prepared to receive Him, when He came: otherwise they would either have rejected Him; or He, knowing their unprepared state, would not have gone near them.AUG. After staying two days in Samaria, He departed into Galilee, where He resided: Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee.AUG. Why then does the Evangelist say immediately, For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet has no honor in his own country. For He would seem to have testified more to the truth, had He remained in Samaria, and not gone into Galilee. Not so: He stayed two days in Samaria and the Samaritans believed on Him: He stayed the same time in Galilee, and the Galileans did not believe on Him, and therefore He said, that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

CHRYS. Or consider this the reason that He went, not to Capernaum, but to Galilee and Cana, as appears below, His country being, I think, Capernaum. As He did not obtain honor there, hear what He says; And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell. He calls it His own country, because He had most resided here.

THEOPHYL. Or thus: Our Lord on leaving Samaria for Galilee, explains why He was not always in Galilee: viz. because of the little honor He received there. A prophet has no honor in his own country.

ORIGEN. The country of the prophets was Judea, and every one knows how little honor they received from the Jews, as we read, Whom of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? One cannot but wonder at the truth of this saying, exemplified not only in the contempt cast upon the holy prophets and our Lord Himself, but also in the case of other teachers of wisdom who have been despised by their fellow-citizens and put to death.

CHRYS. But do we not see many held in admiration by their own people? We do; but we cannot argue from a few instances. If some are honored in their own country, many more are honored out of it, and familiarity generally subjects men to contempt. The Galileans however received our Lord: Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him. Observe how those who are spoken ill of, are always the first to come to Christ. Of the Galileans we find it said below, Search and, look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet. And He is reproached with being a Samaritan, You are a Samaritan, and have a devil. And yet the Samaritans and Galileans believe, to the condemnation of the Jews. The Galileans however are superior to the Samaritans; for the latter believed from hearing the woman"s words, the former from seeing the signs which He did: Having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast.

ORIGEN. Our Lord by ejecting those who sold sheep and oxen from the temple, had impressed the Galileans with a strong idea of His Majesty, and they received Him. His power was shown no less in this act, than in making the blind to see, and the deaf to hear. But probably He had performed some other miracles as well.

BEDE. They had seen Him at Jerusalem, For they also went to the feast. Our Lord"s return has a mystical meaning, viz. that, when the Gentiles have been confirmed in the faith by the two precepts of love, i.e. at the end of the world, He will return to His country, i.e. Judea.ORIGEN. The Galileans were allowed to keep the feast at Jerusalem, where they had seen Jesus. Thus they were prepared to receive Him, when He came: otherwise they would either have rejected Him; or He, knowing their unprepared state, would not have gone near them.AUG. After staying two days in Samaria, He departed into Galilee, where He resided: Now after two days He departed thence, and went into Galilee.

AUG. Why then does the Evangelist say immediately, For Jesus Himself testified, that a prophet has no honor in his own country. For He would seem to have testified more to the truth, had He remained in Samaria, and not gone into Galilee. Not so: He stayed two days in Samaria and the Samaritans believed on Him: He stayed the same time in Galilee, and the Galileans did not believe on Him, and therefore He said, that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

CHRYS. Or consider this the reason that He went, not to Capernaum, but to Galilee and Cana, as appears below, His country being, I think, Capernaum. As He did not obtain honor there, hear what He says; And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell. He calls it His own country, because He had most resided here.

THEOPHYL. Or thus: Our Lord on leaving Samaria for Galilee, explains why He was not always in Galilee: viz. because of the little honor He received there. A prophet has no honor in his own country.

ORIGEN. The country of the prophets was Judea, and every one knows how little honor they received from the Jews, as we read, Whom of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? One cannot but wonder at the truth of this saying, exemplified not only in the contempt cast upon the holy prophets and our Lord Himself, but also in the case of other teachers of wisdom who have been despised by their fellow-citizens and put to death.

CHRYS. But do we not see many held in admiration by their own people? We do; but we cannot argue from a few instances. If some are honored in their own country, many more are honored out of it, and familiarity generally subjects men to contempt. The Galileans however received our Lord: Then when He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him. Observe how those who are spoken ill of, are always the first to come to Christ. Of the Galileans we find it said below, Search and, look, for out of Galilee arises no prophet. And He is reproached with being a Samaritan, You are a Samaritan, and have a devil. And yet the Samaritans and Galileans believe, to the condemnation of the Jews. The Galileans however are superior to the Samaritans; for the latter believed from hearing the woman"s words, the former from seeing the signs which He did: Having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast.

ORIGEN. Our Lord by ejecting those who sold sheep and oxen from the temple, had impressed the Galileans with a strong idea of His Majesty, and they received Him. His power was shown no less in this act, than in making the blind to see, and the deaf to hear. But probably He had performed some other miracles as well.

BEDE. They had seen Him at Jerusalem, For they also went to the feast. Our Lord"s return has a mystical meaning, viz. that, when the Gentiles have been confirmed in the faith by the two precepts of love, i.e. at the end of the world, He will return to His country, i.e. Judea.

ORIGEN. The Galileans were allowed to keep the feast at Jerusalem, where they had seen Jesus. Thus they were prepared to receive Him, when He came: otherwise they would either have rejected Him; or He, knowing their unprepared state, would not have gone near them.


Verses 46-54

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. 47. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. 48. Then said Jesus to him, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe. 49. The nobleman said to him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50. Jesus said to him, Go your way; your son lives. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way. 51. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, your son lives. 52. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said to him, your son lives: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee.

CHRYS. On a former occasion our Lord attended a marriage in Cana of Galilee, now He goes there to convert the people, and confirm by His presence the faith which His miracle had produced. He goes there in preference to His own country.

AUG. There, we are told, His disciples believed on Him. Though the house was crowded with guests, the only persons who believed in consequence of this great miracle, were His disciples. He therefore visits the city again, in order to try a second time to convert them.

THEOPHYL. The Evangelist reminds us of the miracle in order to express the praise due to the Samaritans. For the Galileans in receiving Him were influenced as well by the miracle He had wrought with them, as by those they had seen at Jerusalem. The nobleman certainly believed in consequence of the miracle performed at Cana, though he did not yet understand Christ"s full greatness; And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.

ORIGEN. Some think that this was an officer of King Herod"s; others, that he was one of Caesar"s household, then employed on some commission in Judea. It is not said that He was a Jew.

AUG. He is called a nobleman, either as being of the royal family, or as having some office of government.

CHRYS. Some think that he is the same centurion, who is mentioned in Matthew. But that he is a different person is clear from this; that the latter, when Christ wished to come to his house, entreated Him not; whereas the former brought Christ to his house, though he had received no promise of a cure. And the latter met Jesus on His way from the mountain to Capernaum; whereas the former came to Jesus in Cana. And the latter servant was laid up with the palsy, the former"s son with a fever. Of this nobleman then we read, When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, and besought Him that He could heal his son: for be was at the point of death.

AUG. Did not he who made this request believe? Mark what our Lord says; Then said Jesus to him, Except you see signs and wonders, you will Not believe. This is to charge the man either with lukewarmness, or coldness of faith, or with went of faith altogether: as if his only object was to put Christ"s power to the test, and see who and what kind of person Christ was, and what He could do. The word prodigy (wonder) signifies something far off, in futurity.

AUG. Our Lord would have the mind of the believer so raised above all mutable things, as not to seek even for miracles. For miracles, though sent from heaven, are, in their subject matter, mutable.

GREG. Remember what He asked for, and you will plainly see that he doubted. He asked Him to come down and see his son: The nobleman said to him, Sir, come down, ere my child die. His faith was deficient; in that he thought that our Lord could not save, except He were personally present.

CHRYS. And mark his earthly mind, shown in hurrying Christ along with him; as if our Lord could not raise his son after death. Indeed it is very possible that be may have asked in unbelief. For fathers often are so carried away by their affection, as to consult not only those they depend upon, but even those they do not depend upon at all: not wishing to leave any means untried, which might save their children. But had he had any strong reliance upon Christ, he would have gone to Him in Judea.

GREG. Our Lord in His answer implies that He is in a certain sense where He is invited present, even when He is absent from a place. He saves by His command simply, even as by His will He created all things: Jesus said to him, Go your way, your son lives. Here is a blow to that pride which honors human wealth and greatness, and not that nature which is made after the image of God. Our Redeemer, to show that things made much of among men, were to be despised by Saints, and things despised made much of, did not go to the nobleman"s son, but was ready to go to the centurion"s servant.

CHRYS. Or thus; In the centurion there was confirmed faith and true devotion, and therefore our Lord was ready to go. But the nobleman"s faith was still imperfect, as he thought our Lord could not heal in the absence of the sick person. But Christ"s answer enlightened him. And the man believed the word which Jesus had spoken to him, and went his way. He did not believe, however, wholly or completely.

ORIGEN. His rank appears in the fact of his servants meeting him: And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, your son lives.

CHRYS. They met him, to announce what had happened, and prevent Christ from coming, as He was no longer wanted. That the nobleman did not fully believe, is shown by what follows: Then inquired he of them at what hour he began to amend. He wished to find out whether the recovery was accidental, or owing to our Lord"s word. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. How obvious is the miracle? His recovery did not take place in an ordinary way, but all at once; in order that it might be seen to be Christ"s doing, and not the result of nature: So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said to him, your son lives; and himself believed, and his whole house.

AUG. If he only believed when he was told that his son was well again, and had compared the hour according to his servant"s account, with the hour predicted by Christ, he did not believe when he first made the petition.

BEDE. So, we see, faith, like the other virtues, is formed gradually, and has its beginning, growth, and maturity. His faith had its beginning, when he asked for his son"s recovery; its growth, when he believed our Lord"s words, Your son lives; its maturity, after the announcement of the fact by his servants.

AUG. The Samaritans believed; on the strength of His words only: that whole house believed on the strength of the miracle which had been brought in it. The Evangelist adds, This is again the second miracle which Jesus did, when He was come out of Judea into Galilee.

CHRYS. The second miracle, he says markedly. The Jews had not come to the more perfect faith of the Samaritans, who saw no miracle.

ORIGEN. The sentence is ambiguous. Taken one way, it means that Jesus after coming to Galilee, performed two miracles, of which that of healing the nobleman"s son was the second: taken another, it means, that of the two miracles which Jesus performed in Galilee, the second was done after coming from Judea into Galilee. The latter is the true and received meaning. Mystically, the two journeys of Christ into Galilee signify His two advents; at the first of which He makes us His guest at supper, and gives us wine to drink; at the second, He raises up the nobleman"s son who was at the point of death, i.e. the Jewish people, who, after the fullness of the Gentiles, attain themselves to salvation. For, as the great King of Kings is He, whom God has seated upon His holy hill of Sion, so the lesser king is he, who saw his day, and was glad, i.e. Abraham. And therefore his sick son is the Jewish people fallen from the true religion, and thrown into a fever in consequence by the fiery darts of the enemy. And we know that the saints of old, even when they had put off the covering of the flesh, made the people the object of their care: for we read in Maccabees, after the death of Jeremiah, This is Jeremias the prophet of the Lord, who prays much for the people. Abraham therefore prays to our Savior to succor his diseased people. Again, the word of power, Your son lives, comes forth from Cana, i.e. the work of the Word, the healing of the nobleman"s son, is done in Capernaum, i.e. the land of consolation. The nobleman"s son signifies the class of believers who though diseased are yet not altogether destitute of fruits. The words, Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe, are spoken of the Jewish people in general, or perhaps of the nobleman, i.e. Abraham himself, in a certain sense. For as John waited for a sign; on Whom you shall see the Spirit descending; so too the Saints who died before the coming of Christ in the flesh, expected Him to manifest Himself by signs and wonders. And this nobleman too had servants as well as a son; which servants stand for the lower and weaker class of believers. Nor is it chance that the fever leaves the son at the seventh hour; for seven is the number of rest.

ALCUIN. Or it was the seventh hour, because all remission of sins is through the sevenfold Spirit; for the number seven divided into three and four, signifies the Holy Trinity, in the four seasons of the world, in the four elements.

ORIGEN. There may be an allusion in the two journeys to the two advents of Christ in the soul, the first supplying a spiritual banquet of wine, the second taking away all remains of weakness and death.

THEOPHYL. The little king stands for man generally; man not only deriving his soul from the King of the universe, but having Himself dominion over all things. His son, i.e. his mind, labors under a fever of evil passion and desires. He goes to Jesus and entreats Him to come down; i.e. to exercise the condescension of His pity, and pardon his sins, before it is too late. Our Lord answers; Go your way, i.e. advance in holiness, and then your son will live; but if you stop short in your course, you will destroy the power of understanding and doing right.

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 4:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-4.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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