John 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of John 4)

Verse 3

[3] He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

He left Judea — To shun the effects of their resentment.

Verse 4

[4] And he must needs go through Samaria.

And he must needs go through Samaria — The road lying directly through it.

Verse 5

[5] Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

Sychar — Formerly called Sichem or Shechem.

Jacob gave — On his death bed, Genesis 48:22.

Verse 6

[6] Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Jesus sat down — Weary as he was.

It was the sixth hour — Noon; the heat of the day.

Verse 7

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

Give me to drink — In this one conversation he brought her to that knowledge which the apostles were so long in attaining.

Verse 8

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

For his disciples were gone — Else he needed not have asked her.

Verse 9

[9] Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

How dost thou — Her open simplicity appears from her very first words.

The Jews have no dealings — None by way of friendship. They would receive no kind of favour from them.

Verse 10

[10] Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

If thou hadst known the gift — The living water; and who it is - He who alone is able to give it: thou wouldst have asked of him - On those words the stress lies.

Water — In like manner he draws the allegory from bread, 8:12; the first, the most simple, necessary, common, and salutary things in nature.

Living water — The Spirit and its fruits. But she might the more easily mistake his meaning, because living water was a common phrase among the Jews for spring water.

Verse 12

[12] Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Our father Jacob — So they fancied he was; whereas they were, in truth, a mixture of many nations, placed there by the king of Assyria, in the room of the Israelites whom he had carried away captive, 2 Kings 17:24.

Who gave us the well — In Joseph their supposed forefather: and drank thereof - So even he had no better water than this.

Verse 14

[14] But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Will never thirst — Will never (provided he continue to drink thereof) be miserable, dissatisfied, without refreshment. If ever that thirst returns, it will be the fault of the man, not the water.

But the water that I shall give him — The spirit of faith working by love, shall become in him - An inward living principle, a fountain - Not barely a well, which is soon exhausted, springing up into everlasting life - Which is a confluence, or rather an ocean of streams arising from this fountain.

Verse 15

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

That I thirst not — She takes him still in a gross sense.

Verse 16

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

Jesus saith to her — He now clears the way that he might give her a better kind of water than she asked for.

Go, call thy husband — He strikes directly at her bosom sin.

Verse 17

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

Thou hast well said — We may observe in all our Lord's discourses the utmost weightiness, and yet the utmost courtesy.

Verse 18

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

Thou hast had five husbands — Whether they were all dead or not, her own conscience now awakened would tell her.

Verse 19

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

Sir, I perceive — So soon was her heart touched.

Verse 20

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

The instant she perceived this, she proposes what she thought the most important of all questions.

This mountain — Pointing to Mount Gerizim. Sanballat, by the permission of Alexander the Great, had built a temple upon Mount Gerizim, for Manasseh, who for marrying Sanballat's daughter had been expelled from the priesthood and from Jerusalem, Nehemiah 13:28. This was the place where the Samaritans used to worship in opposition to Jerusalem. And it was so near Sychar, that a man's voice might be heard from the one to the other.

Our fathers worshipped — This plainly refers to Abraham and Jacob (from whom the Samaritans pretended to deduce their genealogy) who erected altars in this place: Deuteronomy 11:29.

Ye Jews say, In Jerusalem is the place — Namely, the temple.

Verse 21

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

Believe me — Our Lord uses this expression in this manner but once; and that to a Samaritan. To his own people, the Jews, his usual language is, I say unto you.

The hour cometh when ye — Both Samaritans and Jews, shall worship neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem - As preferable to any other place. True worship shall be no longer confined to any one place or nation.

Verse 22

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

Ye worship ye know not what — Ye Samaritans are ignorant, not only of the place, but of the very object of worship. Indeed, they feared the Lord after a fashion; but at the same time served their own gods, 2 Kings 17:33.

Salvation is from the Jews — So spake all the prophets, that the Saviour should arise out of the Jewish nation: and that from thence the knowledge of him should spread to all nations under heaven.

Verse 23

[23] But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

The true worshippers shall worship the Father — Not here or there only, but at all times and in all places.

Verse 24

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

God is a Spirit — Not only remote from the body, and all the properties of it, but likewise full of all spiritual perfections, power, wisdom, love, holiness. And our worship should be suitable to his nature. We should worship him with the truly spiritual worship of faith, love, and holiness, animating all our tempers, thoughts, words, and actions.

Verse 25

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

The woman saith — With joy for what she had already learned, and desire of fuller instruction.

Verse 26

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

Jesus saith — Hasting to satisfy her desire before his disciples came.

l am He — Our Lord did not speak this so plainly to the Jews who were so full of the Messiah's temporal kingdom. If he had, many would doubtless have taken up arms in his favour, and others have accused him to the Roman governor. Yet he did in effect declare the thing, though he denied the particular title. For in a multitude of places he represented himself, both as the Son of man, and as the Son of God: both which expressions were generally understood by the Jews as peculiarly applicable to the Messiah.

Verse 27

[27] And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

His disciples marvelled that he talked with a woman — Which the Jewish rabbis reckoned scandalous for a man of distinction to do. They marvelled likewise at his talking with a woman of that nation, which was so peculiarly hateful to the Jews.

Yet none said — To the woman, What seekest thou? - Or to Christ, Why talkest thou with her?

Verse 28

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

The woman left her water pot — Forgetting smaller things.

Verse 29

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

A man who told me all things that ever I did — Our Lord had told her but a few things. But his words awakened her conscience, which soon told her all the rest.

Is not this the Christ? — She does not doubt of it herself, but incites them to make the inquiry.

Verse 31

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

In the meantime — Before the people came.

Verse 34

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

My meat — That which satisfies the strongest appetite of my soul.

Verse 35

[35] Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

The fields are white already — As if he had said, The spiritual harvest is ripe already. The Samaritans, ripe for the Gospel, covered the ground round about them.

Verse 36

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

He that reapeth — Whoever saves souls, receiveth wages - A peculiar blessing to himself, and gathereth fruit - Many souls: that he that soweth - Christ the great sower of the seed, and he that reapeth may rejoice together - In heaven.

Verse 37

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

That saying — A common proverb; One soweth - The prophets and Christ; another reapeth - The apostles and succeeding ministers.

Verse 38

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

I — he Lord of the whole harvest, have sent you - He had employed them already in baptizing, John 4:2.

Verse 42

[42] And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

We know that this is the Saviour of the world — And not of the Jews only.

Verse 43

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

He went into Galilee — That is, into the country of Galilee: but not to Nazareth. It was at that town only that he had no honour. Therefore he went to other towns.

Verse 44

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

Matthew 13:57.

Verse 47

[47] When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

To come down — For Cana stood much higher than Capernaum.

Verse 48

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

Unless ye see signs and wonders — Although the Samaritans believed without them.

Verse 52

[52] Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

He asked the hour when he amended — The more exactly the works of God are considered, the more faith is increased.