Bible Study on Gospel of John, Chapter 4

by Matt Slick

Bible Study on John 4:1–54


  1. "Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John
  2. (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were),
    1. Jesus' followers are increasing in number.  Therefore, the word disciples is not limited to the 12 disciples.
    2. This caused the Pharisees to take notice. Of course, they did not like it because they consider themselves to be the spiritual leaders of Israel, not Jesus.
    3. Baptizing
      1. John 3:22, "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing."
      2. John 3:26, "And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.”"
      3. 1 Corinthians 1:17, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void."
  3. He left Judea and went away again into Galilee.
    1. Judea is in the southern part of Israel and Galilee is in the upper part.
  4. And He had to pass through Samaria.
    1. The geography did not require that Jesus have to go through Samaria to get to Galilee. In fact, Jews generally avoided Samaria since there was a mild hostility that existed between them and Samaritans.  Instead, it was God's will that Jesus passed through Samaria
    2. Samaria: 
      1. "Capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, identified with the hill on which the village of Sebastieh is located. The hill was purchased by Omri from Shemer, the clan who had occupied it. He built his new capital there (1 Kgs 16:24). A village was evidently there dating at least from the 10th or perhaps the 11th century B.C....In the Persian period (6th through 4th centuries), Samaria was the center of an administrative district governed by a dynasty of rulers whose names included several Sanballats (e.g., Neh 2:10 et al.), usually every other generation. The resultant Samaritan population considered itself part of Israel but were rejected by the Judeans (Ezr 4:1–3)...Samaria was taken by Hyrcanus in 108–107 B.C. (Antiq. 13.10.2; War 1.2.7), who destroyed the city. It was rebuilt by Pompey, and further restored by Gabinius."1
    3. Samaritans
      1. Samaritans only accept the Pentateuch:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
  5. So, He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph;
    1. Sychar is not mentioned in the Old Testament.
    2. The ground given to Joseph
      1. Joshua 24:32, "Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons."
  6. and Jacob’s well was there. So, Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
    1. Jacob's well is not mentioned in the Old Testament.
    2. The sixth hour is about noontime.
    3. "by the well" could be "on the well" (KJV) since the Greek is ἐπὶ τῇ πηγῇ, epi tay paygay.  ἐπὶ, epi, can mean on or upon.

                                THE SAMARATIN WOMAN

  7. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
    1. Normal social protocol meant that men and women, who did not know each other, did not speak to each other in public.  This applied even more so between Jews and Samaritans.
    2. Remember, it was about noon time so it was probably hot and Jesus was thirsty.
  8. For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
    1. The disciples were not with Jesus when he spoke to the woman.
  9. Therefore, the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
    1. She did not outright refuse to help him. But she was naturally surprised by his request.
    2. Good Samaritan:  Luke 10:25–29, "And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”" 30 "Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”"
      1. See
  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.”
    1. Jesus spoke in such a way as to cause her to think.
    2. What is this "gift of God"?  It is eternal Life
    3. Who is it that is speaking to this woman and requests a drink from her?  He is God in flesh.
    4. What is this living water?   It is the Holy Spirit
      1. John 7:38–39, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
      2. The water is a continuous and living satisfaction of life that is found in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
      3. Jesus is implying that he is greater than Jacob, the one who provided the land on which the world was originally dug.
  11. She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?
    1. She did understand what Jesus was saying to her.  She was not thinking spiritually.
    2. This well is one of the deepest in Israel.
    3. In her mind, Jesus, whom she did not know, could not be greater than your father Jacob who provided the well as the next verse shows.
  12. “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”
    1. "our father" means that she recognized both the Jews and the Samaritans had a common ancestor in Jacob.
  13. Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;
    1. Jesus now begins to clear up the woman's misunderstanding of what he was saying.
  14. but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
    1. Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers.
    2. He is evangelizing to her.  But, there is no gospel yet.
    3. He forgot his own needs and ministered to her.
    4. The well is deep and requires hard work to get water.  In contrast, the water that Jesus gives does not require our hard work.
  15. The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”
    1. There was no running water in homes.  It was generally the woman's job to get water. Since a gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds, and the average household could easily use several gallons a day, getting water could be a laborious task.
    2. No wonder she wanted water that would permanently cure her thirst.
    3. But, she is still not understanding what Jesus is saying.
  16. He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”
    1. Jesus knows she does not have a husband. So why does he ask? So that he could reveal more to her about who he is by telling her what she knows already and he, if he were a mere man, could not know.
  17. The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;
    1. Jesus knows the truth.
  18. for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”
    1. Jesus recited her history of man and her presence sin of fornication.
    2. Generally speaking, Jewish rabbis did not approve of more than three marriages.
    3. It is interesting that he does not tell her to repent. Instead, it seems to be that Jesus is trying to convince her of who he really is before he instructs her about true worship.
  19. The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
    1. The fact that he knew things about her, convinces her that he has a special connection with God.
  20. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
    1. She does not acknowledge her sin.  Is she deflecting from the topic at hand?
    2. "This mountain is a reference to Mount Gerizim. Even after their temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus in 128 B.C., the Samaritans continued to use that mountain as their place of worship. The Samaritans were as firm in their worship on Mount Gerizim as were the Jews in their worship in Jerusalem; they interpreted the one sanctuary law of Deuteronomy to refer to Mount Gerizim rather than Jerusalem."2
  21. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
    1. "Woman," is a polite form of address, not a rude one.
    2. Could "an hour" be referring to the time of Jesus death which will then usher in a new way of worship where physical location is supplanted by universal adoration via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of the members of the church.
      1. Hebrews 8:13, "When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear."
      2. Hebrews 9:15–16, "For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it."
  22. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
    1. Jesus corrects her error about worship. The Samaritans were not the one through whom the Messiah would come. That was by the Jews.
  23. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
    1. Since Jesus had been revealing the truth about God, people were now able to worship him in spirit and truth.
    2. God the father is seeking true worshipers, not those who prefer ritual, tradition, and false theologies.
  24. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
    1. Jesus is declaring the nature of God. He is spirit, not a physical being.
      1. Luke 24:39, "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”"
        1. 1 Corinthians 15:50, "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable."
        2. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But Jesus' blood was offered on the cross.
        3. John 20:25–28, "So the other disciples were saying to him [Thomas], “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”"
    2. Mormonism
      1. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).
      2. 10th President Joseph Fielding Smith. “According to the teachings of Joseph Smith, he beheld the Father and the Son in his glorious vision, and he taught that each had a body of flesh and bones” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:122).
  25. The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”
    1. Both the Jews and the Samaritans were expecting a Messiah. However, the Samaritans did not believe he would come through the line of David.
      1. Deuteronomy 18:15, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him."
    2. She believed that when the Messiah came he would reveal many truths to their people.
  26. Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
    1. Ἐγώ εἰμι, ὁ λαλῶν σοι.   Jesus uses "ego eimi" which is also found in John 8:58.
    2. Jesus declares himself to be the Messiah.  Yet, contrast that self-declaration with John 6:15, "So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone."
      1. It was not the time for Christ to be revealed fully, publicly, concerning who he was. Speaking to the woman did not endanger the timeline established by God.



  27. At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?”
    1. Greek: Amazed, θαυμάζω thaumázō; to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment
    2. They were marveling that Jesus would be speaking to a woman which is due to their cultural expectations and prohibitions concerning men and women’s conversations in public.
    3. I can’t help but think how amazing would be to have God speak to anyone.
    4. NNevertheless, the disciples didn’t question him. Perhaps, by that time they weren’t learning that Jesus ways were not their own.
  28. So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men,
    1. Did the presence of the disciples motivate her to leave?
    2. Or, was she excited wanted to proclaim to others what she had found in Jesus?
    3. It’s interesting to note that she went into the city and addressed the man.
    4. Women are often the ones who informed the man about who Jesus is.
      1. Matthew 28:5–7, "The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”"
      2. Mark 16:9–11, "Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it."
  29. “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”
    1. Perhaps she’s inquiring about who Jesus is among others, since she is wondering if he was the Messiah.
    2. After all, Jesus knew things about her that no one else could possibly know.
  30. They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.
    1. Perhaps they had heard about Jesus through word-of-mouth and since he was now in Samaria at Jacob’s well, people seemed curious enough to go out to meet him.
  31. MMeanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
    1. Remember, Jesus had asked the woman for something to drink. Perhaps such a journey through Israel in the heat of the day had taken its toll on Jesus. Perhaps the disciples saw his fatigue and wanted him to replenish himself.
  32. But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
    1. Jesus was so spiritually minded.
    2. To do the will of God the father was what fed Jesus.
    3. Yes, he needed physical nourishment, but what was important to him was to do the will of God the father.
      1. John 5:30, "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."
      2. John 8:28–29, "So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. 29 “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”"
  33. So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
    1. Where Jesus was spiritually minded, the disciples were carnally minded.
    2. Luke 4:4, " And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.’ ”"
      1. Deuteronomy 8:3, "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."
  34. Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
    1. Jesus routinely stated he came to do the will of the Father
      1. John 5:30, "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."
      2. John 6:38, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me."
  35. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
    1. Jesus alluded to the common practice in farming of having to plant and wait for the harvest.
    2. But waiting is not necessary when it comes to evangelism and leading people to Christ.
    3. The “harvest” is referred to many times by Jesus in the Gospels.
      1. Matthew 9:37, "Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." (Luke 10:2)
      2. Matthew 13:30, "‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”"
      3. Matthew 13:39, "and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels."
      4. Matthew 21:33–34, “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 34 “When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce." (Mark 12:1-9; Luke 10:9-16)
      5. Mark 4:29, "But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
  36. “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
    1. There are natural crops and there are spiritual crops. In which realm do you sow?
    2. The disciples of Christ are the reapers. They are Christians, us, who evangelize, who spread the gospel.
    3. “fruit” is in the singular and the Greek, karpon (accusative (direct object), masculine, singular)
    4. The one who sows, preaches the gospel, and the one who reaps, lead someone to Christ, both share in rejoicing at redemption of a lost soul.
    5. Both of their work stores up treasure in heaven.
  37. “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’
    1. Jesus confirms the teaching with a saying that is found in at least two places of Scripture.
      1. Job 31:8, "Let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted."
      2. Micah 6:15, "You will sow but you will not reap. You will tread the olive but will not anoint yourself with oil; And the grapes, but you will not drink wine."
  38. “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”
    1. Jesus appointed the apostles, the disciples to share in the reaping of people’s souls. The prophets of old laid the foundation for the Messiah in the Old Testament law points to Christ (Galatians 3:24).
    2. The disciples benefited from the work of those who had gone before. Therefore, they were able to reap where others had sown.



  • 1. Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.
  • 2. Newman, Barclay Moon, and Eugene Albert Nida. A Handbook on the Gospel of John. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.