1.  Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John

John makes a close connection with this fact and the Lord’s actions in verse 3.  Apparently this is all the Lord wanted the Pharisees and rulers to know about Himself at this point.  Once He knew they were aware of the popularity of His ministry and that more people were following Him now than John, He left Judea.  It may be that He was avoiding the inevitable conflict with them that was sure to arise over His popularity.  Of course, that conflict did arise later in His ministry when He returned to Judea.  The time for that conflict was not yet, however.

2.  (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),

It seems that the Lord wants us clear on this fact.  Perhaps He knew that otherwise, some might have thought that those who were baptized by the Lord were “more baptized” or somehow better off than those baptized by John.  He wanted us to know that the Lord Himself baptized no one, but just His disciples, so that no such claims might arise.

3.  He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.

He returns to Galilee, leaving the Pharisees and their opposition behind.

4.  But He needed to go through Samaria.

We need to realize that the Israelites hated the Samaritans.  They viewed them as bastardized because they were half-Jew, half-Gentile.  Also, they worshipped God in their own, unique way not outlined in the Scriptures.  Thus, those Israelites who lived in Judea and Samaria and worshipped God in the Scripturally mandated manner looked on them with disgust and hatred.  In fact, they were more tolerant of Gentiles than they were of the Samaritans.

Since Samaria sat in between Judea and Galilee, the most direct route between the two was straight through Samaria.  Yet the Israelites in their hatred for the Samaritans would usually refuse to set foot in Samaria, and would instead take a long and circuitous route around Samaria in order to get from one to the other.  Yet our Lord did not follow this prejudice.  He needed to go through Samaria.  Why?  Not because He had no choice, for the route around was well-traveled by the Jews.  Rather, because this was God’s will for Him to pass through that country.  God had no such hatred for Samaritans, and it was His will that Christ teach them the truth about Himself!

5.  So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

Before the split between the Samaritans and the rest of the Israelites, this was at the heart of the land of Israel.  Now, few of those who considered themselves “true Israelites” would even travel there.  Yet in the past many acts important to the Bible record had transpired there, including the gift of this plot of ground by Jacob to his son Joseph.

6.  Now Jacob’s well was there.  Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.  It was about the sixth hour.

We have record in Genesis of several wells made by Jacob.  Apparently, this was one of them.  The Lord is tired out by the journey.  He may have been truly God, but He also was truly man, and so was subject to weariness due to the length of the journey and the heat of the day.  Thus, He sits down to rest by the well.  Remember, by Jewish reckoning the sixth hour is the sixth hour of daylight, so this would have happened around noon.

7.  A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”

This woman comes to draw water.  Remember, they did not have running water in their homes like we do.  They lived in a dry, arid country, wasted by their rebellion against God and much reduced from the land of milk and honey they had inherited when God first gave them the land.  Thus, water was only available in specific places.  Wells were precious, and could be used to bring water to areas where no springs or rivers existed.

Noon was not the time to draw water.  Water was always fetched by the women, and carried in large waterpots on the head.  It would be fetched in the early morning or late evening hours.  This was done because the day was cooler then, and more conducive to the difficult work of carrying heavy water.  The drawing of water became very much a social event with them, and they would enjoy the company of the other women of the town as they performed this daily chore together.

Never would anyone draw at noon except in emergency circumstances because the baking oriental sun would tend to evaporate much of the water one had drawn.  No sense in going all the way to the well and only getting back home with half the water still left in your pot!  Thus what this woman was doing was most unusual.  The most likely explanation is that she was so much an outcast and so shunned by the other women of the town that she came to fetch water at this time when no other women would ever be there!

The Lord speaks to this woman for the first time, asking her to give Him a drink.  He no doubt was thirsty from His long journey down the road.  Yet He also wants to help this lonely, outcast woman.

8.  For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

Those who would normally have served Him were all gone.  Thus He called on the one who was available.  In the same way, we at times may feel that there are others much better suited to serve our Lord.  Yet let us ever be ready for His call to come, for if we make ourselves available, He will call us to service, just as He did this woman.

9.  Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

The woman is amazed that He would ask her for help.  He is a Jew, and Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.  Moreover, she was a woman, and rabbis of the day would usually not speak to women.  Thus her shock at His request.  It may be that this hatred went both ways as well, and this woman had little desire to have any interaction with a Jew either.

Notice that this is the first time in John where the words “Jew” and “Jews” are used in the manner we usually use them in English.  This is because here “Jews” are contrasted with the half-Jewish Samaritans.  It is only in contrast with other nations that the word “Jews” ever means just plain “Israelites” rather than the religious leaders.

10.  Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

If the woman had known the Scriptures, she would have recognized this reference.  In Jeremiah 2:13, we read:

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
And in Jeremiah 17:13b:
“Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the LORD,
The fountain of living waters.”

Thus by saying this, the Lord was clearly declaring Himself to be the Jehovah, the Yahweh, the LORD of the Old Testament!  Yet this woman did not know the Scriptures, so she did not know what He was talking about.

11.  The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.  Where then do You get that living water?

The woman does not know the Scriptures, and so she mistakes the Lord’s meaning.  She sees that He does not have anything to draw with, as she does, and points this out.  Secondly, the well is deep, and living water was usually the name for running water, a water which was not available at the well, which was full of stagnant water.  Thus, she does not understand where He will get this living water He is talking about.  As yet, she is not thinking of anything but natural water.

12.  “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

In Greek rhetorical questions are answered, and so we can see that this woman was expecting a negative answer to her question.  She did not believe that the Lord Jesus was any greater than their father Jacob.  She probably said this statement with some measure of contempt.  Remember, she was speaking to a Jew, one who would typically despise her and her race.  Her response shows a willingness to despise right back.  So we see the absolute truth of Christ’s statement, for at this point she has no idea Who it is Who is speaking to her.  But she will have soon, as He is about to reveal it to her!

13.  Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
14.  “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The picture the Lord describes to her is marvelous indeed.  We all know that a drink of water lasts for but a time and then thirst is renewed.  Yet imagine a fountain of water springing up inside you, causing you to never thirst again!  No wonder this woman’s hearing stopped here, and she did not hear the last and perhaps most important phrase.  The result of this water is not the physical ability to stop having to drink water.  Rather, it is the quenching of a spiritual thirst, resulting not just in satisfaction, but also in eonian life!  Remember, that is a life outflowing from God, not only lasting forever, but also flowing with all the things that would make eternal life worth living.

15.  The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

Although the water that the Lord was speaking of was the living water that gives eternal life, all the woman could think of was a living water that would keep her alive in this fallen world.  Yet even a temporal prize like this seems of great value to her, and she asks Him to give it to her.  This request is an interesting one for a woman who moments before had slightingly refused to believe that this One before her could possibly be greater than her ancestor Jacob.  It seems that something about the Lord Jesus tugged at her heart, and she couldn’t help but be moved by His incredible words.  Yet she still does not understand what He is really talking about.  Thus He will act to clarify this to her.

16.  Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

The Lord starts out to show her what kind of water He is truly talking about.  Yet He does so in a way we might not expect.  He asks her to go and call her husband.  This seems strange until we see what the result of it was.

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 the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

The woman has spoken openly with the Lord up until now, but now her answer is guarded.  By this we see why she was such an outcast among her people.  Her record with men is appalling.  She had a record of five failed marriages behind her, and was currently living in sin with a man.  This was not something that she was eager to share with the Lord, and yet He knew it very well.  The women of the town despised a woman like her.  Perhaps they feared she might be sleeping with their own husbands next!  Thus she was an outcast, and came to fetch water alone.  The only thing we can say in her favor is to remind ourselves of what life was like for women back then.  No woman could work at her own job.  She could help her father or husband with his business, and that was it.  A woman with no father either had to have a man to support her, or she had to be a beggar or a prostitute.  There was just no other option open to her.  This woman had not gone so far as to stoop to prostitution, but she had stooped very close in seeking any way she could to find a man to support her.  Now perhaps she is at her lowest point, and then she comes to meet the Lord.

She is not eager to tell the Lord of her situation and invite His reproach, yet He already knows of it, and He demonstrates His knowledge to her.  This was the point of His bringing her husbands up.  He wanted to demonstrate to her that this was not just a man talking with her, but Someone come from God Himself.  Thus she would start to realize that what He was speaking to her about was not the sort of physical water that she thought He was offering her, but rather the sort of water that could fill to overflowing the aching loneliness in her heart.

19.  The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

The Lord’s knowledge of her situation even though she had never seen Him before clearly revealed to her the truth.  Now she knew she was not just talking to a Jew, but to Someone sent from God.  He was much more than that, but she was yet to learn that.  Notice that this is now the second time she calls Him, “Sir.”  Yet how different her attitude is towards Him now!  Whereas the last time she called Him “Sir” it was to doubt His word and give Him a place less worthy than Jacob, now it is in respect and to acknowledge that He has a place greater than her own.  “Sir” is the same Greek word that is usually translated “Lord” in our Bibles, Kurios.

20.  “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

The woman is eager to change the subject, it seems.  We can hardly blame her for not wanting to discuss her sorry love life with the Lord.  Now she shows us an interesting side of herself.  She has pondered their religion, and considered the difference between it and that of the Jews.  She knows they claim to worship the same God, and yet they worship on a mountain and the Jews say that only in Jerusalem can God be worshipped.  It seems that this has been troubling her for some time.  Perhaps she has often wished that she had some prophet of God to ask about the matter.  Do you have anything you have in mind that you would ask God if you only had the chance?  It seems that this question was that for her, and upon realizing that the Lord was a Man of God, she cannot wait but to ask Him.  This reveals a side to her that perhaps we would not expect.  She was not just a worthless, immoral woman who took no thought for God or anything that had to do with Him.  She was a true seeker in spite of her godless lifestyle.  Now, confronted by the Savior, she immediately seeks to find the answers to her questions.  And indeed, she has come to the right place in seeking answers from the Source of truth Himself!

21.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

The Lord answers her with a startling statement.  She has been worried about which is the proper place to worship God, on the mountain or in Jerusalem.  Yet He tells her that soon she will worship Him, and her worship will be at neither place!

22.  “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

Ever since the Assyrian captivity the Samaritans had worshipped God in ignorance.  The Lord does not deny this.  Many today are eager to say that all religions are of equal value as long as they point to the same God.  Our Lord had no such attitude.  The Jews worshipped in knowledge, but the Samaritans in ignorance.  At that time, salvation was of the Jews.  This is a staggering statement to us today, when salvation is freely available to all totally apart from Israel.  This great situation came about as a part of Paul’s proclamation in Acts 28:28.  Yet at this time that was not yet true, and salvation actually belonged to the Jews!  Yet this woman and all the Samaritans were half-Jewish, much like many of those in the countries of the Americas who are half European or African and half the former native population.  Thus salvation would now be offered to them as well.

23.  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

Soon worship will not need to take place in either location, but true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.  Notice that He calls God His Father, a clue to her as to Who He is.

The strange statement, “the hour is coming, and now is,” should give us pause.  An hour cannot be coming and be here at the same time.  I cannot say, “it is nine-thirty, ten o’clock is coming, and is now here,” and have this be a true statement, unless a span of a half-hour exists between the beginning and end of my statement.  No such length of time occurred here.  The hour did not come as the Lord was speaking this statement.  Yet this is a phrase used several times by our Lord.  What then did He mean by this?

I think that this is another time when we need to keep in mind the fact that we have no punctuation in the original Greek manuscripts.  All punctuation has been added in later by scholars.  Thus, we cannot truly see when a quotation begins or ends.  All punctuation, even commas and periods, are added by men.  Thus, they are guesses based on what men know of the Greek and what can be deduced from the passages in question.  I believe that this is one case where the punctuation that is supplied is insufficient.  I believe that these words, “and now is,” should be placed in parenthesis, and should not be part of the Lord’s quote.  These are the words of the author of the book, John.  He is telling us that this prediction of the Lord’s has now come to pass.  We are now living in the time, the dispensation of the mystery (or secret,) when all true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth.  This is a characteristic of our day.  No earthly place, no temple, exists where we must go to worship the Lord.  Rather, we worship Him, not outwardly, but inwardly.

What does it mean to worship “in spirit”?  Some seem to think that “spirit” means “invisible,” but this does not tell us anything.  Others say that we have a spirit, but what does this tell us either?  If we have a spirit, how do we worship “in it”?  In this case, “spirit” does not refer to that which God breathed into Adam when He created Him (Genesis 2:7.)  “Spirit” when used in contrast with the body or the soul indicates the powers of the mind, thoughts, and beliefs.  The “body” is our physical form, and the “soul” is our emotions, feelings, and desires.  The Lord does not seek those who worship only with their bodies, by being in a certain place or by doing certain things.  Nor does He seek those who worship with their souls, by emotional outbursts or feelings that they have or fulfilling their desires in worship that only serves to please themselves.  Rather, He seeks those who worship Him in their spirits.  What sort of worship is that?  It is worship in your mind.  It is worship in what you think about God, about the place you give Him in your thought, about the honor you accord Him in your philosophizing.  It is worship in what you believe and how you respond to His words and His commands for you and your life.  Thus, it also must be worship “in truth.”  We can think we are worshipping God in our minds, and yet not be thinking correctly about Him and not believing His words.  True worship is based on right thinking and true faith.  This sort of worship is what God seeks, and this sort of person, one who worships in spirit and truth, is those He is seeking to worship Him in this day in which we live.  That is what Christ meant when He said this day is coming, and that is the day John affirmed had already come at Acts 28:28.  Let each of us therefore strive to worship God in this way!

24.  “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

This may actually be a statement of John the author’s, and not one that the Lord made to the woman at the time.  Yet either way, it further explains worship in our day.  First, it tells us a great truth about God.  He is Spirit.  He is not a man, like we are.  This may be referring to His Spirit, but I tend to not think so.  This seems to be telling us that God in basic essence is spirit.  What exactly this means is difficult for us to say, other than that He does not have a physical form like we do.  Thus, He is invisible and unknowable to those of us who exist in the physical plane.  Yet Jesus Christ reveals Him to us.

Then, since He is spirit, He must be worshiped in spirit.  This explains the reason.  Although God is truth, He is not feeling.  Although He is love, He is not desire.  Therefore, it is in truth and other spiritual things that one must worship Him, not in physical acts of ritual worship or emotional acts of fulfilling the desire to do something “holy.”  God MUST be worshiped, not in body, nor in soul, but in spirit.

25.  The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).  “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

The woman almost appears to try to put the Lord off here.  She almost seems to be saying, “What you are saying sounds nice, but I know Messiah is coming, and I’d rather listen to Him.”  Yet this may not have been what she meant.  Perhaps a suspicion had formed in her mind that this One Who was talking to her might be the Messiah, and she stated this to lead Him into telling her whether He was that Messiah or not.  Again, though, this shows that she had interest in and believed the measure of truth she knew and had been told, in spite of her ungodly lifestyle as far as marriage and men was concerned.

26.  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

The Lord leaves no doubt as to the answer to her unstated question.  He claims to be, not just the Messiah, but the “I am.”  This was the great name for God in the Old Testament, “I am,” or EHYH in Hebrew.  He was the Messiah she knew would come, and He was God Himself.  This claim is one of the clearest the Lord ever made while He was on earth.  And here it was made to a Samaritan woman whom most Israelites would not even have talked to or had anything to do with!

27.  And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”

The Talmud, that collection of man-made laws and traditions created by the greatest of the Jewish religious leaders, forbade a Rabbi to talk to a woman.  Thus the disciples’ surprise that He would talk to her.  The fact that she was a Samaritan must have caused them even greater wonder.  Yet we can see that these men knew Who was the Master and who the followers, as they did not dare to question Him on this.  Would that we likewise would remember Who the Lord is and not be so quick as we often are to question His words and actions!