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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
John 4



Other Authors
Verse 1

When therefore (ως ουνHōs oun). Reference to John 3:22. the work of the Baptist and the jealousy of his disciples. ΟυνOun is very common in John‘s Gospel in such transitions.

The Lord (ο Κυριοςho Kurios). So the best manuscripts (Neutral Alexandrian), though the Western class has ο Ιησουςho Iēsous Mark usually has ο Ιησουςho Iēsous and Luke often ο Κυριοςho Kurios In the narrative portion of John we have usually ο Ιησουςho Iēsous but ο Κυριοςho Kurios in five passages (John 4:1; John 6:23; John 11:2; John 20:20; John 21:12). There is no reason why John should not apply ο Κυριοςho Kurios to Jesus in the narrative sections as well as Luke. Bernard argues that these are “explanatory glosses,” not in the first draft of the Gospel. But why? When John wrote his Gospel he certainly held Jesus to be ΚυριοςKurios (Lord) as Luke did earlier when he wrote both Gospel and Acts This is hypercriticism.

(εγνωegnō). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκωginōskō The Pharisees knew this obvious fact. It was easy for Jesus to know the attitude of the Pharisees about it (John 2:24). Already the Pharisees are suspicious of Jesus.

How that
(οτιhoti). Declarative οτιhoti (indirect assertion).

Was making and baptizing more disciples than John
(πλειονας ματητας ποιει και βαπτιζει η Ιωανηςpleionas mathētas poiei kai baptizei ē Iōanēs). Present active indicative in both verbs retained in indirect discourse. Recall the tremendous success of John‘s early ministry (Mark 1:5; Matthew 3:5; Luke 3:7, Luke 3:15) in order to see the significance of this statement that Jesus had forged ahead of him in popular favour. Already the Pharisees had turned violently against John who had called them broods of vipers. It is most likely that they drew John out about the marriage of Herod Antipas and got him involved directly with the tetrarch so as to have him cast into prison (Luke 3:19.). Josephus (Ant. XVIII. v. 2) gives a public reason for this act of Herod Antipas, the fear that John would “raise a rebellion,” probably the public reason for his private vengeance as given by Luke. Apparently John was cast into prison, though recently still free (John 3:24), before Jesus left for Galilee. The Pharisees, with John out of the way, turn to Jesus with envy and hate.

Verse 2

Although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples (καιτοιγε Ιησους αυτος ουκ εβαπτιζεν αλλ οι ματηται αυτουkaitoige Iēsous autos ouk ebaptizen all' hoi mathētai autou). Parenthetical explanation that applies also to John 3:22. Imperfect tense means that it was not the habit of Jesus. This is the only N.T. instance of καιτοιγεkaitoige (and yet indeed), compound conjunction (καιτοιkaitoi in Acts 14:17; Hebrews 4:3) with intensive particle γεge added. This is the last mention of baptism under the direction of Jesus till the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). It is possible that Jesus stopped the baptizing because of the excitement and the issue raised about his Messianic claims till after his resurrection when he enjoined it upon his disciples as a rite of public enlistment in his service.

Verse 3

Left Judea (απηκεν την Ιουδαιανaphēken tēn Ioudaian). Unusual use of απιημιaphiēmi First (ΚαππαKappa) aorist active indicative. Originally the word means to send away, to dismiss, to forsake, to forgive, to allow. Jesus uses it in this sense in John 16:28. Evidently because Jesus did not wish to bring the coming conflict with the Pharisees to an issue yet. So he mainly avoids Jerusalem and Judea now till the end. Each time hereafter that Jesus appears in Jerusalem and Judea before the last visit there is an open breach with the Pharisees who attack him (John 5:1-47; 7:14-10:21; 10:22-42; 11:17-53).

Again into Galilee (παλιν εις την Γαλιλαιανpalin eis tēn Galilaian). Reference to John 2:1-12. The Synoptics tell nothing of this early work in Perea (John 1:19-51), Galilee, or Judea (2:13-4:2). John supplements their records purposely.

Verse 4

He must needs pass through Samaria (Εδει δε αυτον διερχεσται δια της ΣαμαριαςEdei de auton dierchesthai dia tēs Samarias). Imperfect indicative of the impersonal verb δειdei with subject infinitive (διερχεσταιdierchesthai) and accusative of general reference (αυτονauton). Note repetition of διαdia It was only necessary to pass through Samaria in going directly north from Judea to Galilee. In coming south from Galilee travellers usually crossed over the Jordan and came down through Perea to avoid the hostility of the Samaritans towards people who passed through their land to go to Jerusalem. Jesus once met this bitterness on going to the feast of tabernacles (Luke 9:51-56).

Verse 5

So he cometh (ερχεται ουνerchetai oun). Vivid present middle indicative and transitional ουνoun

Sychar (ΣυχαρSuchar). There is a dispute whether this is just a variation of Shechem as meaning “drunken-town” (Isaiah 28:1) or “lying-town” (Habakkuk 2:18) or is a separate village near Shechem (Neapolis, Nablous) as the Talmud and Eusebius indicate. Apparently the present village Askar corresponds well with the site. The use of πολινpolin (city) does not mean that it was a large town. Mark and John use it freely for small places.

Parcel of ground
(χωριουchōriou). Old use of this diminutive of χωροςchōros or χωραchōra a piece of ground.

That Jacob gave to his son Joseph
(ο εδωκεν Ιακωβ τωι Ιωσηπ τωι υιωι αυτουho edōken Iakōb tōi Iōsēph tōi huiōi autou). See Genesis 33:19; Genesis 48:22. Relative οho is not attracted to case of χωριουchōriou First aorist active indicative εδωκενedōken f0).

Verse 6

Jacob‘s well (πηγη του Ιακωβpēgē tou Iakōb). “A spring of Jacob” (here and John 4:14), but πρεαρphrear (well, pit, cistern) in John 4:11 and John 4:12. It is really a cistern 100 feet deep dug by a stranger apparently in a land of abundant springs (Genesis 26:19).

Wearied (κεκοπιακωςkekopiakōs). Perfect active participle of κοπιαωkopiaō a state of weariness. The verb means to toil excessively (Luke 5:5). John emphasizes the human emotions of Jesus (John 1:14; John 11:3, John 11:33, John 11:35, John 11:38, John 11:41.; John 12:27; John 13:21; John 19:28).

With his journey
(εκ της οδοιποριαςek tēs hodoiporias). As a result (εκek) of the journey. Old compound word from οδοποροςhodoporos (wayfarer), in N.T. only here and 2 Corinthians 11:26.

(εκατεζετοekathezeto). Imperfect (descriptive) middle of κατεζομαιkathezomai “was sitting.”

(ουτωςhoutōs). Probably “thus wearied,” graphic picture.

By the well
(επι τηι πηγηιepi tēi pēgēi). Literally, “upon the curbstone of the well.”

Sixth hour
(ως εκτηhōs hektē). Roman time, about 6 p.m., the usual time for drawing water.

Verse 7

There cometh (ερχεταιerchetai). Vivid historical present as in John 4:5.

A woman of Samaria (γυνη εκ της Σαμαριαςgunē ek tēs Samarias). The country, not the city which was two hours away.

To draw water
(αντλησαι υδωρantlēsai hudōr). First aorist active infinitive of purpose of αντλεωantleō for which see John 2:8. Cf. Rebecca in Genesis 24:11, Genesis 24:17.

Give me to drink
(δος μοι πεινdos moi pein). Second aorist active imperative of διδωμιdidōmi and second aorist active infinitive (object of δοςdos) of πινωpinō shortened form of πιεινpiein A polite request.

Verse 8

For (γαρgar). Explanation of the reason for asking her.

Were gone away (απεληλυτεισανapelēlutheisan). Past perfect of απερχομαιaperchomai to go off. They had already gone before she came. To Sychar (John 4:5 and John 4:39).

To buy food
(ινα τροπας αγορασωσινhina trophas agorasōsin). ιναHina in purpose clause with first aorist active subjunctive of αγοραζωagorazō old verb from αγοραagora (marketplace). See Matthew 21:12. ΤροπηTrophē (nourishment) is old word from τρεπωtrephō to nourish (Matthew 3:4). “Victuals” (plural).

Verse 9

The Samaritan woman (η γυνη η Σαμαρειτιςhē gunē hē Samareitis). Different idiom from that in John 4:7, “the woman the Samaritan.” The Samaritans were a mixture by intermarriage of the Jews left in the land (2 Chronicles 30:6, 2 Chronicles 30:10; 2 Chronicles 34:9) with colonists from Babylon and other regions sent by Shalmaneser. They had had a temple of their own on Mt. Gerizim and still worshipped there.

Thou being a Jew (συ Ιουδαιος ωνsu Ioudaios ōn). Race antipathy was all the keener because the Samaritans were half Jews.

(πεινpein). Same infinitive form as in John 4:7 and the object of αιτειςaiteis (askest).

Of me
(παρ εμουpar' emou). “From me,” ablative case with παραpara

For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans
(ου γαρ συνχρωνται Ιουδαιοι Σαμαρειταιςou gar sunchrōntai Ioudaioi Samareitais). Explanatory (γαρgar) parenthesis of the woman‘s astonishment. Associative instrumental case with συνχρωνταιsunchrōntai (present middle indicative of συνχραομαιsunchraomai compound in literary Koiné, here only in N.T.). The woman‘s astonishment is ironical according to Bernard. At any rate the disciples had to buy food in a Samaritan village and they were travelling through Samaria. Perhaps she was surprised that Jesus would drink out of her waterpot. The Western class omit this explanatory parenthesis of the author.

Verse 10

Answered and said (απεκριτη και ειπενapekrithē kai eipen). As often (redundant) in John. The first aorist passive (απεκριτηapekrithē) is deponent, no longer passive in sense.

If thou knewest (ει ηιδειςei ēideis). Condition of second class, determined as unfulfilled, ειei and past perfect ηιδειςēideis (used as imperfect) in condition and ανan and aorist active indicative in conclusion (αν ηιτησας και αν εδωκενan ēitēsas kai an edōken note repetition of ανan not always done).

The gift of God
(την δωρεαν του τεουtēn dōrean tou theou). Naturally the gift mentioned in John 3:16 (Westcott), the inexpressible gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). Some take it to refer to the living water below, but that is another allusion (metaphor) to John 3:16. See Ephesians 4:7 for Paul‘s use of both χαριςcharis and δωρεαdōrea (from διδωμιdidōmi to give).

Who it is
(τις εστινtis estin). She only knew that he was a Jew. This Messianic self-consciousness of Jesus is plain in John, but it is early in the Synoptics also.

Living water
(υδωρ ζωνhudōr zōn). Running water like a spring or well supplied by springs. This Jacob‘s Well was filled by water from rains percolating through, a sort of cistern, good water, but not equal to a real spring which was always preferred (Genesis 26:19; Leviticus 14:5; Numbers 19:17). Jesus, of course, is symbolically referring to himself as the Living Water though he does not say it in plain words as he does about the Living Bread (John 6:51). The phrase “the fountain of life” occurs in Proverbs 13:14. Jesus supplies the water of life (John 7:39). Cf. Revelation 7:17; Revelation 22:1.

Verse 11

Sir (ΚυριεKurie). So it has to mean here in the mouth of the Samaritan woman, not Lord.

Thou hast nothing to draw with and the well is deep (ουτε αντλημα εχεις και το πρεαρ εστιν βατυoute antlēma echeis kai to phrear estin bathu). This broken construction of ουτεκαιoute -Αντλημαkai (neither - and) occurs in N.T. elsewhere only in 3 John 1:10. αντλεωAntlēma (from πρεαρantleō to draw) is a late word for that which is drawn, then (Plutarch) for the act of drawing, and then for the rope as here to draw with. This well (το υδωρ το ζωνphrear) is 100 feet deep and Jesus had no rope. The bucket of skin (“with three cross sticks at the mouth to keep it open,” Vincent) was kept at the well to be let down by a goat‘s hair rope.

That living water
(to hudōr to zōn). “The water the living,” with the article referring to the language of Jesus in John 4:10. She is still thinking only of literal water.

Verse 12

Art thou (Μη συ ειMē su ei). Expecting a negative answer.

Greater than our father Jacob (μειζων ει του πατρος ημων Ιακωβmeizōn ei tou patros hēmōn Iakōb). Ablative case πατροςpatros after the comparative adjective μειζωνmeizōn (positive μεγαςmegas). The Samaritans claimed descent from Jacob through Joseph (tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh).

(τρεμματαthremmata). Old word from τρεπωtrephō to nourish, nursling, child, flock, cattle. Only here in N.T.

Verse 13

Every one that drinketh (πας ο πινωνpas ho pinōn). Present active articular participle with παςpas parallel to the indefinite relative with the second aorist active subjunctive (ος αν πιηιhos an piēi) in John 4:14. With this difference in the tenses used (πινωνpinōn keep on drinking, πιηιpiēi once for all). Note εκek and the ablative both times, out of the water. Jesus pointed to the well (“this water”).

Verse 14

That I shall give him (ου εγω δωσω αυτωιhou egō dōsō autōi). Relative ουhou attracted to the case (genitive) of the antecedent (υδατοςhudatos). Future active indicative of διδωμιdidōmi

Shall never thirst (ου μη διπσησει εις τον αιοναou mē dipsēsei eis ton aiona). The double negative ου μηou mē is used with either the future indicative as here or the aorist subjunctive, the strongest possible negative. See both constructions (ου μη πεινασηιou mē peinasēi and ου με διπσησειou me dipsēsei) in John 6:35. Jesus has not answered the woman‘s question save by the necessary implication here that he is superior to Jacob.

A well of water springing up unto eternal life
(πηγη υδατος αλλομενου εις ζωην αιωνιονpēgē hudatos hallomenou eis zōēn aiōnion). “Spring (or fountain) of water leaping (bubbling up) unto life eternal.” Present middle participle of αλλομαιhallomai old verb, in N.T. only here and Acts 3:8; Acts 14:10. The woman‘s curiosity is keenly excited about this new kind of water.

Verse 15

Sir (ΚυριεKurie). Not yet “Lord” for her. See John 4:11.

This water (τουτο το υδωρtouto to hudōr). This peculiar kind of water. She did not grasp the last phrase “unto life eternal,” and speaks half ironically of “this water.”

That I thirst not
(ινα μη διπσωhina mē dipsō). Final clause with ιναhina alluding to the words of Jesus, water that will prevent thirst.

Neither come
(μηδε διερχωμαιmēde dierchōmai). Carrying on the negative purpose with present middle subjunctive, “nor keep on coming” as she has to do once or twice every day. She is evidently puzzled and yet attracted.

Verse 16

Go, call thy husband (υπαγε πωνησον σου τον ανδραHupage phōnēson sou ton andra). Two imperatives (present active, first aorist active). Had she started to leave after her perplexed reply? Her frequent trips to the well were partly for her husband. We may not have all the conversation preserved, but clearly Jesus by this sudden sharp turn gives the woman a conviction of sin and guilt without which she cannot understand his use of water as a metaphor for eternal life.

Verse 17

I have no husband (ουκ εχω ανδραouk echō andra). The Greek ανηρanēr means either “man” or “husband.” She had her “man,” but he was not a legal “husband.” Her language veils her deceit.

Thou saidst well (καλως ειπεςkalōs eipes). Jesus saw through the double sense of her language and read her heart as he only can do, a supernatural gift of which John often speaks (John 1:48; John 2:24.; John 5:20).

For thou hast had five husbands
(πεντε γαρ ανδρας εσχεςpente gar andras esches). “For thou didst have five men.” Second aorist (constative) active indicative of εχωechō

Is not thy husband
(ουκ εστιν σου ανηρouk estin sou anēr). In the full and legal sense of ανηρanēr not a mere “man.”

This hast thou said truly
(τουτο αλητες ειρηκαςtouto alēthes eirēkas). “This a true thing thou hast said.” Note absence of article with αλητεςalēthes (predicate accusative). Perfect active indicative ειρηκαςeirēkas here, not aorist ειπεςeipes (John 4:17).

Verse 19

Sir (ΚυριεKurie). So still.

I perceive (τεωρωtheōrō). “I am beginning to perceive” from what you say, your knowledge of my private life (John 4:29). See John 2:23 for τεωρεωtheōreō which John‘s Gospel has 23 times, of bodily sight (John 20:6, John 20:14), of mental contemplation (John 12:45; John 14:17). See both τεωρεωtheōreō and οπτομαιoptomai in John 1:51; John 16:16.

That thou art a prophet
(οτι προπητης ει συhoti prophētēs ei su). “That a prophet art thou” (emphasis on “thou”). She felt that this was the explanation of his knowledge of her life and she wanted to change the subject at once to the outstanding theological dispute.

Verse 20

In this mountain (εν τωι ορει τουτωιen tōi orei toutōi). Jacob‘s Well is at the foot of Mount Gerizim toward which she pointed. Sanballat erected a temple on this mountain which was destroyed by John Hyrcanus b.c. 129. Abraham (Genesis 12:7) and Jacob (Genesis 33:20) set up altars at Shechem. On Gerizim were proclaimed the blessings recorded in Deut 28. The Samaritan Pentateuch records an altar set up on Gerizim that is on Ebal (over 200 feet higher than Gerizim) in the Hebrew (Deuteronomy 27:4). The Samaritans held that Abraham offered up Isaac on Gerizim. The Samaritans kept up this worship on this mountain and a handful do it still.

And ye say (και υμεις λεγετεkai humeis legete). Emphasis on υμειςhumeis (ye). Ye Jews.

Ought to worship
(προσκυνειν δειproskunein dei). “Must worship,” as of necessity (δειdei). The woman felt that by raising this theological wrangle she would turn the attention of Jesus away from herself and perhaps get some light on the famous controversy. ΠροσκυνεωProskuneō in John is always worship, not just respect.

Verse 21

Believe me (πιστευε μοιpisteue moi). Correct text. Present active imperative. Unique phrase in place of the common αμην αμηνamēn amēn (verily, verily).

The hour cometh (ερχεται ωραerchetai hōra). “There is coming an hour.” The same idiom occurs also in John 4:34; John 5:25, John 5:28; John 16:2, John 16:25, John 16:32.

Neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem
(ουτε εν τωι ορει τουτωι ουτε εν Ιεροσολυμοιςoute en tōi orei toutōi oute en Ierosolumois). The worship of God will be emancipated from bondage to place. Both Jews and Samaritans are wrong as to the “necessity” (δειdei). “These ancient rivalries will disappear when the spirituality of true religion is fully realized.” Jesus told this sinful woman one of his greatest truths.

Verse 22

That which ye know not (ο ουκ οιδατεho ouk oidate). Cf. Acts 17:23. “You know whom to worship, but you do not know him” (Westcott). The Samaritans rejected the prophets and the Psalms and so cut themselves off from the fuller knowledge of God.

We (ημειςhēmeis). We Jews. Jesus is a Jew as he fully recognizes (Matthew 15:24).

That which we know
(ο οιδαμενho oidamen). Neuter singular relative as before. The Jews, as the chosen people, had fuller revelations of God (Psalm 147:19.; Romans 9:3-5). But even so the Jews as a whole failed to recognize God in Christ (John 1:11, John 1:26; John 7:28).

For salvation is from the Jews
(οτι η σωτηρια εκ των Ιουδαιων εστινhoti hē sōtēria ek tōn Ioudaiōn estin). “The salvation,” the Messianic salvation which had long been the hope and guiding star of the chosen people (Luke 1:69, Luke 1:71, Luke 1:77; Acts 13:26, Acts 13:47). It was for the whole world (John 3:17), but it comes “out of” (εκek) the Jews. This tremendous fact should never be forgotten, however unworthy the Jews may have proved of their privilege. The Messiah, God‘s Son, was a Jew.

Verse 23

And now is (και νυν εστινkai nun estin). See this same phrase in John 5:25. This item could not be added in John 4:21 for local worship was not abolished, but spiritual independence of place was called for at once. So contrast John 5:25, John 5:28; John 16:25, John 16:32.

The true worshippers (οι αλητινοι προσκυνηταιhoi alēthinoi proskunētai). See John 1:9 for αλητινοςalēthinos (genuine). ΠροσκυνητηςProskunētēs is a late word from προσκυνεωproskuneō to bow the knee, to worship, occurs here only in N.T., but is found in one pre-Christian inscription (Deissmann, Light, etc., p. 101) and in one of the 3rd century a.d. (Moulton & Milligan, Vocabulary).

In spirit and truth
(εν πνευματι και αλητειαιen pneumati kai alētheiāi). This is what matters, not where, but how (in reality, in the spirit of man, the highest part of man, and so in truth). All this is according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5) who is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). Here Jesus has said the final word on worship, one needed today.

(ζητειzētei). The Father has revealed himself in the Son who is the truth (John 14:6, John 14:9). It does matter whether we have a true conception of God whom we worship.

To be his worshippers
(τους προσκυνουντας αυτονtous proskunountas auton). Rather, “seeks such as those who worship him” (predicate accusative articular participle in apposition with τοιουτουςtoioutous (such). John pictures the Father as seeking worshippers, a doctrine running all through the Gospel (John 3:16; John 6:44; John 15:16; 1 John 4:10).

Verse 24

God is a Spirit (πνευμα ο τεοςpneuma ho theos). More precisely, “God is Spirit” as “God is Light” (1 John 1:5), “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). In neither case can we read Spirit is God, Light is God, Love is God. The non-corporeality of God is clearly stated and the personality of God also. All this is put in three words for the first time.

Must (δειdei). Here is the real necessity (δειdei), not the one used by the woman about the right place of worship (John 4:20).

Verse 25

Messiah cometh (Μεσσιας ερχεταιMessias erchetai). Hebrew word in N.T. only here and John 1:41 and explained by ΧριστοςChristos in both places. The Samaritans looked for a Messiah, a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18). Simon Magus gave himself out in Samaria as some great one and had a large following (Acts 8:9). Pilate quelled an uprising in Samaria over a fanatical Messianic claimant (Josephus, Ant. XVIII. iv. 1).

When he is come (οταν ελτηι εκεινοςhotan elthēi ekeinos). “Whenever that one comes.” Indefinite temporal clause with οτανhotan (οτεhote ανan) and the second aorist active subjunctive. Wistfully she turns to this dim hope as a bare possibility about this strange “prophet.”

He will declare unto us all things
(αναγγελει ημιν απανταanaggelei hēmin hapanta). Future active indicative of αναγγελλωanaggellō old and common verb to announce fully (αναana up and down). See also John 16:13. Perhaps here is light on the knowledge of her life by Jesus as well as about the way to worship God.

Verse 26

I that speak unto thee am he (Εγω ειμι ο λαλων σοιEgō eimi ho lalōn soi). “I am he, the one speaking to thee.” In plain language Jesus now declares that he is the Messiah as he does to the blind man (John 9:37).

Verse 27

Upon this (επι τουτωιepi toutōi). This idiom only here in N.T. At this juncture. Apparently the woman left at once when the disciples came.

They marvelled (εταυμαζονethaumazon). Imperfect active describing the astonishment of the disciples as they watched Jesus talking with a woman.

Was speaking
(ελαλειelalei). As in John 2:25, so here the tense is changed in indirect discourse from λαλειlalei to ελαλειelalei an unusual idiom in Greek. However, οτιhoti here may be “because” and then the imperfect is regular. It is not “with the woman” (μετα της γυναικοςmeta tēs gunaikos), but simply “with a woman” (μετα γυναικοςmeta gunaikos). There was a rabbinical precept: “Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no, not with his own wife” (Lightfoot, Hor, Hebr. iii. 287). The disciples held Jesus to be a rabbi and felt that he was acting in a way beneath his dignity.

Yet no man said
(ουδεις μεντοι ειπενoudeis mentoi eipen). John remembers through the years their amazement and also their reverence for Jesus and unwillingness to reflect upon him.

Verse 28

Left her waterpot (απηκεν την υδριανaphēken tēn hudrian). First aorist active indicative of απιημιaphiēmi ingressive aorist, in her excitement and embarrassment. It was too large for speed anyhow (John 2:6). And says (και λεγειkai legei). Graphic historic present indicative again.

Verse 29

All things that ever I did (παντα α εποιησαpanta ha epoiēsa).

Ha, not οσαhosa (as many as), no “ever” in the Greek. But a guilty conscience (John 4:18.) led her to exaggerate a bit.

Can this be the Christ?
(μητι ουτος εστιν ο Χριστοσmēti houtos estin ho Christos). She is already convinced herself (John 4:26.), but she puts the question in a hesitant form to avoid arousing opposition. With a woman‘s intuition she avoided ουκouk and uses μητιmēti She does not take sides, but piques their curiosity.

Verse 30

They went out (εχηλτονexēlthon). Second aorist (effective) indicative of εχερχομαιexerchomai at once and in a rush.

And were coming to him (και ηρχοντο προς αυτονkai ērchonto pros auton). Imperfect middle, graphically picturing the long procession as they approached Jesus.

Verse 31

In the meanwhile (εν τωι μεταχυen tōi metaxu). Supply καιροιkairoi or χρονοιchronoi See το μεταχυ Σαββατονto metaxu Sabbaton “the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:42) and εν τωι μεταχυen tōi metaxu (Luke 8:1). ΜεταχυMetaxu means between.

Prayed him (ηρωτων αυτονērōtōn auton). Imperfect active, “kept beseeching him.” For this late (Koiné) use of ερωταωerōtaō to beseech, instead of the usual sense to question see also John 4:40, John 4:47. Their concern for the comfort of Jesus overcame their surprise about the woman.

Verse 32

Meat (βρωσινbrōsin). Originally the act of eating (Romans 14:17) from βιβρωσκωbibrōskō but soon and commonly as that which is eaten like βρωμαbrōma once in John (John 4:34). So here and John 6:27, John 6:55. Cf. vernacular English “good eating,” “good eats.”

I … ye (εγω υμειςegō humeis). Emphatic contrast. Spiritual food Jesus had.

Verse 33

Hath any man brought him aught to eat? (Μη τις ηνεγκεν αυτωι παγεινMē tis ēnegken autōi phagein). Negative answer expected (μηmē). “Did any one bring him (something) to eat?” During our absence, they mean. Second aorist active indicative of περωpherō (ηνεγκενēnegken) and second aorist active infinitive of εστιωesthiō (παγεινphagein), defective verbs both of them. See John 4:7 for like infinitive construction (δος πεινdos pein).

Verse 34

To do the will (ινα ποιησω το τελημαhina poiēsō to thelēma). Non-final use of ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive as subject or predicate nominative as in John 6:29; John 15:8; John 17:3. The Messianic consciousness of Jesus is clear and steady (John 5:30; John 6:38). He never doubted that the Father sent him.

And to accomplish his work (και τελειωσω αυτου το εργονkai teleiōsō autou to ergon). ιναHina understood with τελειωσωteleiōsō in like idiom, first aorist active subjunctive of τελειοωteleioō (from τελειοςteleios), to bring to an end. See John 5:36. In John 17:4 (the Intercessory Prayer) he will say that he has done (τελειωσαςteleiōsas) this task which the Father gave him to do. On the Cross Jesus will cry ΤετελεσταιTetelestai (It is finished). He will carry through the Father‘s programme (John 3:16). That is his “food.” He had been doing that in winning the woman to God.

Verse 35

Say not ye? (Ουχ υμεις λεγετεOuch humeis legete). It is not possible to tell whether Jesus is alluding to a rural proverb of which nothing is known about there being four months from seedtime to harvest (a longer time than four months in fact) or whether he means that it was then actually four months to harvest. In the latter sense, since harvest began about the middle of April, it would be December when Jesus spoke.

There are yet four months (ετι τετραμηνος εστινeti tetramēnos estin). The use of ετιeti (yet) and the fact that the space between seedtime and harvest is longer than four months (τετραtetra Aeolic for τεσσαραtessara and μηνmēn month) argue against the proverb idea.

And then cometh the harvest
(και ο τερισμος ερχεταιkai ho therismos erchetai). “And the harvest (τερισμοςtherismos from τεριζωtherizō rare in Greek writers) comes.” The possible Iambic verse here is purely accidental as in John 5:14.

Lift up your eyes
(επαρατε τους οπταλμους υμωνeparate tous ophthalmous humōn). First aorist active imperative of επαιρωepairō Deliberate looking as in John 6:5 where τεαομαιtheaomai also is used as here.

(χωραςchōras). Cultivated or ploughed ground as in Luke 21:21.

(λευκαιleukai). Ripened grain like grey hair (Matthew 5:36).

Already unto harvest
(προς τερισμον ηδηpros therismon ēdē). Probably ηδηēdē (already) goes with John 4:36. The Samaritans could already be seen approaching and they were the field “white for harvest.” This is the meaning of Christ‘s parable. If it is the spring of the year and Christ can point to the ripened grain, the parable is all the plainer, but it is not dependent on this detail. Recall the parable of the sower in Matt 13.

Verse 36

Already he that reapeth receiveth wages (ηδη ο τεριζων μιστον λαμβανειēdē ho therizōn misthon lambanei). The spiritual harvester can gather his harvest without waiting four months. Jesus is reaping a harvest right now by the conversion of this woman. The labourer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7; 2 Timothy 2:6). John does not use μιστοςmisthos (reward) again, but καρποςkarpos (John 15:2-16), “fruit for life eternal” (cf. John 4:14).

That he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together (ινα ο σπειρων ομου χαιρηι και ο τεριζωνhina ho speirōn homou chairēi kai ho therizōn). Final use of ιναhina with present active subjunctive of χαιρωchairō to rejoice, in the singular with ο σπειρωνho speirōn (the sower) and to be repeated with ο τεριζωνho therizōn (the reaper). The adverb ομουhomou (together) elsewhere in N.T. only John 20:4; John 21:2; Acts 2:1. Usually considerable time passes between the sowing and the reaping as in John 4:35. Amos (Amos 9:13) spoke of the time when “the ploughman shall overtake the reaper” and that has happened here with the joy of the harvest time (Isaiah 9:3). Jesus the Sower and the disciples as the reapers are here rejoicing simultaneously.

Verse 37

For herein (εν γαρ τουτωιen gar toutōi). In this relation between the sower and the reaper.

The saying (ο λογοςho logos). Like 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:1, etc. Probably a proverb that is particularly true (αλητινοςalēthinos for which see John 1:9) in the spiritual realm.

One soweth, and another reapeth
(αλλος εστιν ο σπειρων και αλλος ο τεριζωνallos estin ho speirōn kai allos ho therizōn). “One is the sower and another the reaper.” It is sad when the sower misses the joy of reaping (Job 31:8) and has only the sowing in tears (Psalm 126:5.). This may be the punishment for sin (Deuteronomy 28:30; Micah 6:15). Sometimes one reaps where he has not sown (Deuteronomy 6:11; Joshua 24:13). It is the prerogative of the Master to reap (Matthew 25:26.), but Jesus here lets the disciples share his joy.

Verse 38

I sent (εγω απεστειλαegō apesteila). Emphatic use of εγωegō and first aorist active indicative of αποστελλωapostellō common in John for to send.

Whereon ye have not laboured (ο ουχ υμεις κεκοπιακατεho ouch humeis kekopiakate). Perfect active indicative of κοπιαωkopiaō for which see John 4:6. So also κεκοπιακασινkekopiakasin in next line. The disciples had done no sowing here in Sychar, only Jesus and the woman.

(αλλοιalloi Jesus, the Baptist, the prophets).

And ye
(και υμειςkai humeis). Emphatic contrast.

Have entered
(εισεληλυτατεeiselēluthate). Perfect active indicative of εισερχομαιeiserchomai

Into their labour
(εις τον κοπον αυτωνeis ton kopon autōn). Into the fruit and blessed results of their toil (κοποςkopos). This is always true as seen in Acts 8:5-7, Acts 8:14.

Verse 39

Because of the saying of the woman who testified (δια τον λογον της γυναικος μαρτυρουσηςdia ton logon tēs gunaikos marturousēs). She bore her witness clearly and with discretion. She told enough to bring her neighbours to Christ. They knew her evil life and she frankly confessed Christ‘s rebuke to her. She had her share in this harvest. How timid and cowardly we often are today in not giving our testimony for Christ to our neighbour.

Verse 40

Two days (δυο ημεραςduo hēmeras). Accusative of extent of time. They wanted to cultivate the acquaintance of Jesus. So he remained in Sychar in a continuous revival, a most unexpected experience when one recalls the feeling between the Jews and the Samaritans (John 4:9). The reaping went on gloriously.

Verse 41

Many more (πολλωι πλειουςpollōi pleious). “More by much” (instrumental case πολλωιpollōi) in comparison with just “many” (πολλοιpolloi) of John 4:39. Jesus was reaping more rapidly than the woman did. But all were rejoicing that so many “believed” (επιστευσανepisteusan really believed).

Verse 42

Not because of thy speaking (ουκετι δια την σην λαλιανouketi dia tēn sēn lalian). “No longer because of thy talk,” good and effective as that was. ΛαλιαLalia (cf. λαλεωlaleō) is talk, talkativeness, mode of speech, one‘s vernacular, used by Jesus of his own speech (John 8:43).

We have heard (ακηκοαμενakēkoamen). Perfect active indicative of ακουωakouō their abiding experience.

For ourselves
(αυτοιautoi). Just “ourselves.”

The Saviour of the world
(ο σωτηρ του κοσμουho sōtēr tou kosmou). See Matthew 1:21 for σωτηρsōseiused of Jesus by the angel Gabriel. John applies the term sōtēr to Jesus again in 1 John 4:14. Jesus had said to the woman that salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). He clearly told the Samaritans during these two days that he was the Messiah as he had done to the woman (John 4:26) and explained that to mean Saviour of Samaritans as well as Jews. Sanday thinks that probably John puts this epithet of Saviour in the mouth of the Samaritans, but adds: “At the same time it is possible that such an epithet might be employed by them merely as synonymous with Messiah.” But why “merely”? Was it not natural for these Samaritans who took Jesus as their “Saviour,” Jew as he was, to enlarge the idea to the whole world? Bernard has this amazing statement on John 4:42: “That in the first century Messiah was given the title sōtēr is not proven.” The use of “saviour and god” for Ptolemy in the third century b.c. is well known. “The ample materials collected by Magie show that the full title of honour, Saviour of the world, with which St. John adorns the Master, was bestowed with sundry variations in the Greek expression on Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, Titus, Trajan, Hadrian, and other Emperors in inscriptions in the Hellenistic East” (Deissmann, Light, etc., p. 364). Perhaps Bernard means that the Jews did not call Messiah Saviour. But what of it? The Romans so termed their emperors and the New Testament so calls Christ (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; Acts 3:23; Philemon 3:20; Ephesians 5:23; Titus 1:4; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:6; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 1:1, 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Peter 3:2, 2 Peter 3:18). All these are writings of the first century a.d. The Samaritan villagers rise to the conception that he was the Saviour of the world.

Verse 43

After the two days (Μετα τας δυο ημεραςMeta tas duo hēmeras). Those in John 4:40.

Into Galilee (εις την Γαλιλαιανeis tēn Galilaian). As he had started to do (John 4:3) before the interruption at Sychar.

Verse 44

For Jesus himself testified (αυτος γαρ Ιησους εμαρτυρησενautos gar Iēsous emarturēsen). John‘s explanation of the conduct of Jesus by quoting a proverb often used by Jesus (Mark 6:4; Matthew 13:57; Luke 4:24 in reference to Nazareth), but not necessarily used by Jesus on this occasion. A similar proverb has been found in Plutarch, Pliny, Seneca.

A prophet hath no honour in his own country (προπητης εν τηι ιδιαι πατριδι τιμην ουκ εχειprophētēs en tēi idiāi patridi timēn ouk echei). What is meant by πατριδιpatridi In the Synoptics (Luke 4:24; Mark 6:4; Matthew 13:57) the reference is to Nazareth where he was twice rejected. But what has John in mind in quoting it here? He probably knew the quotations in the Synoptics. Does John refer to Judea by “his own country”? If so, the application hardly fits for he had already explained that Jesus was leaving Judea because he was too popular there (John 4:1-3). If he means Galilee, he immediately mentions the cordial welcome accorded Jesus there (John 4:45). But even so this is probably John‘s meaning for he is speaking of the motive of Jesus in going into Galilee where he had not yet laboured and where he apparently had no such fame as in Judea and now in Samaria.

Verse 45

So when (οτε ουνhote oun). Transitional use of ουνoun sequence, not consequence.

Received him (εδεχαντο αυτονedexanto auton). First aorist middle of δεχομαιdechomai “welcomed him.” Jesus had evidently anticipated a quiet arrival.

Having seen
(εωρακοτεςheōrakotes). Perfect active participle of οραωhoraō Note τεωρουντεςtheōrountes in John 2:23 about this very thing at the feast in Jerusalem. The miracles of Jesus at that first passover made a stir.

For they also went
(και αυτοι γαρ ηλτονkai autoi gar ēlthon). The Samaritans did not go and so Jesus was a new figure to them, but the Galileans, as orthodox Jews, did go and so were predisposed in his favour.

Verse 46

Again (παλινpalin). A second time.

Unto Cana (εις την Καναeis tēn Kana). Note article, “the Cana of Galilee” already mentioned in John 2:1.

Where he made the water wine
(οπου εποιησεν το υδωρ οινονhopou epoiēsen to hudōr oinon). That outstanding first miracle would still be remembered in Cana and would indicate that Jesus had some friends there.

(βασιλικοςbasilikos). One connected with the king (βασιλευςbasileus), whether by blood or by office. Probably here it is one of the courtiers of Herod the tetrarch of Galilee, Chuzas (Luke 8:3), Manaen (Acts 13:1), or some one else. Some of the manuscripts used βασιλισκοςbasiliskos a petty king, a diminutive of βασιλευςbasileus

Was sick
(ηστενειēsthenei). Imperfect active of αστενεωastheneō (αa privative and στενοςsthenos without strength, Matthew 25:36), continued sick.

At Capernaum
(εν Καπαρναουμen Kapharnaoum). Some miles from Cana near where the Jordan enters the Sea of Galilee.

Verse 47

When he heard (ακουσαςakousas). First aorist active participle of ακουωakouō The news spread rapidly about Jesus.

Was come (ηκειhēkei). Present active indicative of ηκωhēkō one of the perfective presents, retained in indirect discourse. He had heard the people talk about the miracles in Jerusalem and the first one in Cana.

Went and besought
(απηλτεν και ηρωταapēlthen kai ērōta). Ingressive aorist indicative (went off at once) and imperfect active (ηρωταērōta began to beg and kept it up).

That he would come down
(ινα καταβηιhina katabēi ιναhina and second aorist active subjunctive of καταβαινωkatabainō come down at once) and heal his son (και ιασηται αυτου τον υιονkai iasētai autou ton huion ιναhina construction, sub-final use or object clause, with first aorist middle subjunctive of ιαομαιiaomai completely heal).

For he was at the point of death
(ημελλεν γαρ αποτνησκεινēmellen gar apothnēskein). Reason (γαρgar) for the urgency. Imperfect active of μελλωmellō with present active infinitive old and common verb for what is about to be and it is used with the infinitive present as here, the aorist infinitive (Revelation 13:16), or the future infinitive (Acts 11:28). The idiom is used of the impending death of Jesus (John 11:51; John 12:33; John 18:32).

Verse 48

Except ye see (εαν μη ιδητεean mē idēte). Condition of the third class (εαν μηean mē negative, with second aorist active subjunctive of οραωhoraō). Jesus is not discounting his “signs and wonders” (σημεια και τεραταsēmeia kai terata both words together here only in John, though common in N.T. as in Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Acts 2:19, Acts 2:22, Acts 2:43; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 2:4), though he does seem disappointed that he is in Galilee regarded as a mere miracle worker.

Ye will in no wise believe (ου μη πιστευσητεou mē pisteusēte). Strong double negative with aorist active subjunctive of πιστευωpisteuō picturing the stubborn refusal of people to believe in Christ without miracles.

Verse 49

Sir (ΚυριεKurie). See John 1:38.

Come down (καταβητιkatabēthi). Second aorist active imperative, tense and tone of urgency. Ερε μψ χιλδ διεEre my child die (πριν αποτανειν το παιδιον μουprin apothanein to paidion mou). Regular idiom with πρινprin in positive clause, second aorist active infinitive of αποτνησκωapothnēskō and accusative of general reference, “before dying as to my child.” Bengel notes that he only thought Jesus had power before death as even Martha and Mary felt at first (John 11:21, John 11:32). But the father‘s heart goes out to Jesus.

Verse 50

Thy son liveth (ο υιος σου ζηιho huios sou zēi). “Thy son is living,” and will not now die, Jesus means. Words too good and gracious to be true. His son is healed without Jesus even going to Capernaum, “absent treatment” so to speak, but without the cure being absent.

Believed the word (επιστευσεν τωι λογωιepisteusen tōi logōi). Instantaneous faith (aorist active indicative), trusted the word (dative case λογωιlogōi).

Went his way
(επορευετοeporeueto). Inchoative imperfect middle, “started on his way,” acted on his faith.

Verse 51

As he was now going down (ηδη αυτου καταβαινοντοςēdē autou katabainontos). Genitive absolute inspite of the fact that αυτωιautōi (associative instrumental case with υπηντησανhupēntēsan aorist active indicative of υπανταωhupantaō) is near.

That his son lived (οτι ο παις αυτου ζηιhoti ho pais autou zēi). Present active indicative preserved in indirect discourse (cf. the words of Jesus in John 4:50). Note παιςpais here (only example in John), υιοςhuios in John 4:50, παιδιονpaidion (diminutive of tenderness) in John 4:49.

Verse 52

Inquired (επυτετοeputheto). Second aorist middle indicative of πυντανομαιpunthanomai

Began to mend (κομπσοτερον εσχενkompsoteron eschen). Second aorist ingressive active indicative of εχωechō (took a turn, got better) and comparative of adverb κομπσωςkompsōs Arrian (Epictetus iii. 10.13) has κομπσως εχειςkompsōs echeis from a physician, “Thou hast it fine,” “Thou art doing finely.” The papyri give several similar examples. ΚομπσωςKompsōs (neat) is from κομεωkomeō to take care of.

At the seventh hour
(ωραν εβδομηνhōran hebdomēn). The accusative case without a preposition as in Revelation 3:3, though we have περι ωραν ενατηνperi hōran enatēn (about the ninth hour) in Acts 10:3. See the accusative also in Exodus 9:18 ταυτην την ωραν αυριονtautēn tēn hōran aurion (tomorrow about this hour). The accusative has the notion of extension and can be thus loosely used. It can even mean here “during the seventh hour.” In John 4:53 the locative is more exact, “at that hour” (εν εκεινηι τηι ωραιen ekeinēi tēi hōrāi). The seventh hour would be (Roman time) seven p.m.

Verse 53

So the father knew (εγνω ουν ο πατηρegnō oun ho patēr). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκωginōskō Inferential use of ουνoun

Himself believed (επιστευσεν αυτοςepisteusen autos). Not just the word of Jesus (John 4:50), but complete faith in Jesus himself as the Messiah, absolute use of πιστευωpisteuō as in John 1:7.

And his whole house
(και η οικια αυτουkai hē oikia autou). All his family, the first example of a whole family believing in Jesus like the later case of Crispus (Acts 18:8).

Verse 54

The second sign that (δευτερον σημειονdeuteron sēmeion). No article, simply predicate accusative, “This again a second sign did Jesus having come out of Judea into Galilee.” The first one was also in Cana (John 2:1.), but many were wrought in Jerusalem also (John 2:23).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 4:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 30th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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