In the Evangelical church, there is nothing more comfortable than an evangelistic sermon. Those who are saved delight in hearing them for several reasons. First of all, in that one remote area they have spiritually arrived. No one is more comfortable during an invitation to salvation than the one who is saved. Second, it means that the preacher can’t step on our toes. The message sails comfortably over our heads to those who really need it. In the meantime, subjects like sanctification and the spiritual life (areas in which we are miserable failures) are neglected. Finally, we feel that if the preacher is laying the gospel on people, we need not devote ourselves to it.
In spite of what little comfort is derived from the hearing of evangelistic preaching, a Christian does not long enjoy the luxury of comfort. We know that the Bible commands us to be witnesses of our faith. We are guilt-ridden because of our failures and frustrations in sharing our faith. If you are like me, you could share far more on your failures than on your triumphs in evangelism. To be perfectly honest, most of us are just plain frightened by our obligation to give witness to our faith.
If you are as troubled about your witness as I am about mine, you will find encouragement and instruction from our study of our Lord’s dealing with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman in the third and fourth chapters of the Gospel of John. The similarities in these two encounters are few, while the contrasts are numerous. In both cases, our Lord is presenting Himself to individuals as the promised Messiah of Israel.
Here is where the similarities end, however. Nicodemus was a man, the Samaritan was a woman. Nicodemus was an orthodox, conservative Jew, the woman a half-breed apostate from Judaism. Nicodemus was a prominent, highly-regarded leader, perhaps one of the best-known religious teachers of his day. The woman was well-known, too, but her reputation had to do with the number of men she had lived with. Nicodemus sought out his interview with the Messiah, while the woman ‘chanced’ to meet with Him.
So far, all the pluses seem to be in favor of Nicodemus. But we should not fail to point out some additional contrasts. Nicodemus was not reported to have been immediately converted, while the woman’s faith is evident. The conversation with Nicodemus had no impact on the lives of his peers. Indeed, Jesus had to leave Judea because of the Pharisees (John 4:1-3). But the woman brought back nearly the whole town with her testimony, and Jesus was invited to stay on (4:39-42). While Jesus spoke of Himself to the Jews in veiled terms (cf. John 2:18-22), He gave one of the clearest statements of His identity to this woman (4:26). The Jews had already begun to reject Him, but the Samaritans received Him as the Savior of the world (4:42).
Let us look, then, to this account of the conversion of a Samaritan city, for lessons from the Master in sharing our faith, even across tremendous cultural barriers.
The occasion for our Lord’s encounter is a bit unusual. Our Lord was passing through Samaria, retreating from Judea to Galilee. The reason for our Lord’s departure was His untimely popularity. The Pharisees were attempting to capitalize on the greater popularity of the ministry of Jesus than of John. They sought to promote a rift. Rather than revel in this popularity77 our Lord ran from it, for it was untimely, and would tend to undermine John’s ministry rather than underscore it.
Much has been made of John’s statement that Jesus must travel through Samaria. Technically, it was not a necessity at all, and culturally, it was not customary to do so. If you will look at a map, you will see that Samaria lies between Galilee on the north and Judea to the south. The shortest distance between points is obviously a straight line, which would mean passing through Samaria to get from Judea to Galilee. But because of the animosity which existed between these two peoples, scrupulous Jews78 chose to avoid passing through Samaria by traveling around it to the east, crossing the Jordan and passing through the friendlier territories of Peraea and Decapolis.
In what sense was Jesus compelled to pass through Samaria? In part, our Lord may have done so to express His contempt for the narrow bigotry of some of the Jews of His day. Certainly from the divine perspective, He did so in order to bring many Samaritans to faith. But the Jewish historian, Josephus, used exactly the same expression in the sense of necessity for rapid travel.79 From the divine perspective our Lord must pass through Samaria in order to fulfill the purpose of God. From the human, it was the shortest and most sensible route. Racial prejudice and bigotry were no consideration at all to our Lord, who came as the Savior of the world, of Jews and Gentiles (cf. John 3:16; 4:42).
The journey from Judea to Sychar was a hot and dusty one. After a grueling 20 miles, our Lord was tired, thirsty, and hungry. His disciples left him80 sitting by a well81 dug by Jacob many years before while they went on into Sychar82 for provisions. Apparently, the time was about six o’clock in the evening when the Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water.83
The racial and cultural (not to mention the theological) barriers present at this encounter were insurmountable. When our Lord asked this woman for a drink of water, she was caught completely off guard, for in her own words, “… Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9).
That was putting it mildly. There had been bitter feelings between Jews and Samaritans for centuries. The Samaritans find their origin at the time of the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. According to Assyrian figures, nearly 30,000 Israelites were deported, being replaced by heathen captives from all over the Assyrian empire (cf. 2 Kings 17:3f.). It was not long before the purity of the Israelites was defiled, not only racially, but spiritually.
Ultimately, Samaritan theology differed greatly from that of orthodox Judaism. The Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) as inspired and authoritative. They rejected the Psalms, the prophets, and other books of the Old Testament. When the Babylonian exiles returned to the Holy Land, the Samaritans made efforts toward merger, but were rebuffed and rejected (and rightly so). As a result, open hostility sprung up from time to time. The Samaritans held that the center of worship was at Mt. Gerizim, while the Jews maintained that it was Jerusalem (cf. John 4:20). The Samaritans actually tampered with the Scriptures to substantiate their theology. Around 400 B.C., a Samaritan Temple was built on Mount Gerizim. Around 128 B.C., this temple was destroyed by the Jews and relations between these two peoples worsened. Such was the background to this conversation between Jesus and the woman. Evidence to the friction between the Jews and the Samaritans is easily found.84
When Jesus asked for a drink, He boldly refused to fit the Jewish stereotype, for Jews never used the same vessels as the Samaritans.85
The racial and cultural barriers, I believe, have been hurdled. The woman is now willing to converse, paving the way for further penetration with the Gospel. Notice that Jesus neither defended Jewish bigotry, nor did He explain how He differed with them. His actions spoke decisively enough. Concentration on such issues would not convert this woman.
The barrier to evangelism was now one of disinterest or apathy. The need was to make the Gospel both relevant to this woman as well as desirable. To do this, our Lord worked upon her sense of curiosity and physical need. He 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” (John 4:10).
This statement generated interest on two fronts. First of all, who was He? There had been no formal introduction. To make a claim to be Messiah without substantial proof would appear insane. Jesus haunts her sense of curiosity. Second, what was He trying to offer? No doubt this woman had heard a lot of approaches before, and yet it appeared that this Man was trying to give, not to get. What was His angle?
She chose to set aside the question of identity and to get to the bottom line. What was this ‘Living water’ that He spoke about? To a person in that time, the expression ‘Living water’ referred to running water, such as that of a spring or stream, as opposed to that which had no movement. Jesus seemed to be offering water even superior to that of Jacob’s well. As Nicodemus had done, so she took the words of Jesus strictly literally.
Whatever Jesus meant, she thought, He could not be speaking of water from this well, for it was at least 75 feet deep and He had nothing with which to drawn from it (vs. 11). This led her to pursue another line of questioning? “Just Who are You anyway? Do You think You are better than Jacob? Do You think Your well better than his?” (cf. vs. 12). Her question was far more profound than she could have imagined (compare John 8:53).
The water which our Lord offered was of a far different kind. It was not a literal drink, but the life-giving gift of the indwelling, presence of God by the Spirit, Who produces a continual refreshing and sustaining source of strength and blessing (vs. 14; cf. John 7:37-39).
Not yet comprehending the meaning of His words, the woman is ready to receive what He has to offer. She thought He offered the equivalent of hot and cold running water, and she was ready for that. She had a sense of physical need. What was lacking was a conviction of spiritual need. Our Lord’s words brought the matter of personal sin into uncomfortably sharp focus. “Go, call your husband, and come here” (John 4:16).
She tried to tactfully evade the issue. “I’m single,” she replied in effect (vs. 17). There is in this verbal exchange some skillful use of words. The original term rendered ‘husband’ can mean either ‘man’ or ‘husband.’ Our Lord did not necessarily mean for her to bring, her husband, but for her to bring her ‘man.’ Not knowing what our Lord knew, she chose to take the term in its technical sense, and thus thought she would evade her immorality.
Our Lord cut through the cover-up by informing her that she was technically correct. She did not have a husband, but she had a lover, and he was not number one, but number 6.86 She may have had, in fact, someone else’s husband. Now, as we might say, we have gotten to the ‘nitty gritty.’ The physical has given way to the spiritual. Whereas this woman would not have had any interest in spiritual things, now she welcomed the subject. Far better than dwelling on the realities of her moral life!
This woman’s awareness of Whom she was speaking to continued to grow.87 He was a Jew, but far from typical. He claimed to be greater than Jacob. He spoke with divine insight.
I do not know whether or not this woman was deliberately changing the subject (though we surely would have been inclined to do so), but for whatever reasons she brought the conversation around to the theological issue which divided Jews and Samaritans. Where was the central place of worship? Was it Mount Gerizim? (No doubt she pointed to the mountain with the ruins of their former temple in sight.) Or, was it at Jerusalem, where the Jews insisted?
The question was irrelevant, for with the coming of Messiah, all of that was to change. No longer did man need to seek God’s presence in one place. God is not to be worshipped in a place, but in a person, Jesus Christ.88 God is seeking true worshippers, but those who wish to worship Him must do so in accordance with His essential nature.
God is spirit, and thus He must be worshipped in spirit. Spiritual worship is that which takes place in the spiritual realm. No one who has not trusted in Christ as Messiah can truly worship, for they are ‘devoid of the spirit,’ (Jude 19, cf. Romans 8:9). While religionists view worship in terms of ceremony, true worship is a matter of the spirit, prompted and produced by the Holy Spirit.
Further, worship must be within the confines of truth. The Samaritans worshipped in ignorance. They worshipped ‘that which they knew not’ (verse 22). Samaritan worship consistently deviated from the revealed truth of God. One particular truth upon which worship must be based was the fact that salvation was to come from the Jews. The Messiah was to be a Jew, not a Samaritan. It is never enough to be sincere; one must be in accord with truth to be a real worshipper of God. To worship a god who does not conform to the truths of Scripture is to practice idolatry.89 Worship concentrates both upon truth (doctrine) and devotion prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Finally, the conversation arrived at the subject of the Messiah. The Samaritans, as well as the Jews, looked for a coming Messiah, although their expectations differed significantly from those of Judaism.90 This woman, too, looked for Messiah. When He came all these matters would be straightened out (verse 25). It is at this point that Jesus made one of His boldest and clearest claims to be Messiah. “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He”’ (John 4:26).
The reason Jesus refrained from bold claims to be Messiah in Israel was because of the wrong concept the nation had of Messiah’s activity. They looked for a political activist and revolutionary, not a sin-bearer. Here, away from Jewish fanaticism, Jesus was free to openly declare His identity.
It is possible that this statement of our Lord in verse 26 is even more bold than simply a declaration of His identity as Messiah. When our Lord said, ‘I who speak to you am He,’ the ‘He’ is not present in the original text, but rather supplied by the translators. Jesus, I believe, made claim to be the ‘I AM’ of the Old Testament, where God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM” sent you (Exodus 3:14). If this is the case, Jesus claimed to be Messiah and God at the same moment.
The disciples arrived back at the well at the end of our Lord’s conversation with this woman, and they were absolutely amazed. We need to look carefully to grasp the true cause for their incredulous surprise. It was not because of this woman’s reputation, for they did not know what our Lord did concerning her past. Nor was it because she was a Samaritan. Notice John’s record: “And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman …” (John 4:27).
The Rabbis had some very strict traditions concerning women. A man was not even to speak to his own wife in public. One of their sayings went like this:
“A man shall not be alone with a woman in an inn, not even with his sister or his daughter, on account of what men may think. A man shall not talk with a woman in the street, not even with his wife, and especially not with another woman, on account of what men may say.”91
What may have appeared on the surface to be merely a concern for keeping appearances above reproach, was, in my estimation, only a thinly-veiled disdain for woman in general (cf. fn. 15). Our Lord refused to follow the narrow-mindedness of the Rabbis and the disciples did not dare to question Him about it (verse 27).
While the woman was inviting the townsmen to come out to the well, the disciples were urging Jesus to partake of the food they had purchased in town. Our Lord took this opportunity to instruct them about evangelism. The first lesson for the disciples was in the area of priorities. In a sense the disciples were merely mouthing again the first temptation of our Lord Jesus by Satan. They were more concerned about eating than evangelism. Our Lord reminded them that doing the will of God is more important than dining.
The reasons for this urgency in evangelism is two-fold. First of all, the time is far spent. The disciples seemed to sense no great urgency. The expression ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’ (verse 35) was very likely a colloquial way of saying, “What’s the hurry; there’s plenty of time.”92 Such a casual attitude was not acceptable to our Lord.
From the imperfect tense employed in verse 30 (‘were coming’) we are informed that while this conversation between Jesus and His disciples was taking place the crowds were making their way from Sychar to the well. I believe it is this our Lord referred to when He said, “… Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35).
By this he meant for the disciples to see that there was no time for preparing a meal and eating it. Those hungry for the gospel, those ready for reaping, were arriving momentarily and God’s purpose to save is of far greater priority than that of eating a meal.
A second lesson in evangelism has to do with its nature. Those who were arriving at the well were those who were prepared to receive and respond. The work of Jesus and His disciples was that of reaping. It was the woman who had sown the seed, and they would bring in the harvest. That is the nature of evangelism. It is team work, a cooperative effort. So often today, it is represented as a one-man, one-time operation. I find that most often when people share with me how they came to the Savior it was a long process, often the combined efforts of several persons. Let the disciples learn from those who came to hear at the urging of the woman, that evangelism is a team effort. Some sow, others reap.
It is significant to observe that the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus seemingly resulted in no noteworthy results. Personally, I do not feel that even Nicodemus was immediately saved. If you and I would have been asked to predict which evangelistic effort would produce the most fruit, we would undoubtedly have put our money on Nicodemus. But it is the (forbidden) conversation with this woman that led to the conversion of a city.
Initially, it was the woman’s testimony that convinced the Samaritans that Jesus was Messiah. But her words were like the light of the moon when compared with the sunlight of direct exposure to Jesus and His teaching. While Jesus could not stay in Judea, the Samaritans urged Him to remain with them (verse 40). While the Jews were still standoffish, the Samaritans were convinced that, “this One is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).
John’s purposes for including this conversation and resulting evangelistic campaign seem quite clear. First of all this account greatly contributes to John’s purpose of establishing the deity of Christ (John 20:31). Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, and the ‘I AM’ of the Old Testament (verse 26). In addition, He revealed His omniscience by disclosing to this woman the most intimate details of her life. Only she and God knew how many men had been in her life. In this, the woman recognized that Jesus knew all about her (verse 29).
Further, John included this incident in the life of our Lord in order to give an additional exposure to the message of the gospel, presented in just a slightly different way. Just as Jesus gently brought this woman to the point of recognition of His deity and of her sin and ignorant worship, so you must come to this same conclusion and commitment to enter into God’s heaven.
Finally, I believe John included this conversion story in order to foreshadow what was going to take place later on in His ministry. In John 3 and 4 we have two presentations of the Gospel, back to back. The one conversation is with a representative of orthodox Judaism. It has no apparent immediate results and has no significant repercussions. The other is with a representative of the Gentiles so rejected and despised by orthodox Jews. She is immediately converted and that leads to the salvation of a city.
Such was soon to be the case on a much greater scale. Orthodox Jewish leadership would be instrumental in rejecting Messiah and hanging Him upon a Roman cross. But the rejection of the Jews meant salvation for the Gentiles (cf. Romans 11:15, 28, 31-32). This event in Samaria was prophetic of things to come. The rejection of the Jews and the salvation of many Gentiles was evident, even at the earliest stages of our Lord’s ministry.
There are many levels of application for men today in this text. We will give our attention to some of the most obvious.
(1) Lessons in Evangelism. One of the most common questions about evangelism pertains to the timing of it. When should I witness? The New Testament reports almost nothing of the kind of witnessing most familiar (and frightening) to us today—that of door-to-door, or some type of cold presentation. Our Lord witnessed in the midst of His normal activities. Two guidelines for when to witness emerge from this text: (a) When you have the opportunity. (b) When you have a listening ear.
The Lord had an opportunity to witness at the well. It might be better to say that the Lord made an opportunity. She did not ask Jesus the way to heaven. He brought her around to the subject. One far wiser than I gave this guideline. “Whenever in the course of a conversation I have the choice of determining the topic of discussion I make every effort to speak of spiritual things.”
The Lord had the opportunity to bring the conversation with the Samaritan woman to spiritual matters, and He used it to full advantage. I believe this is what Paul referred to when he wrote, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5-6).
Once having arrived at spiritual things we should be sensitive to interest or hostility. We should not ‘cast our pearls before swine’ by forcing an unwanted discussion. Rather, like Jesus, we should pursue spiritual conversation as deeply as the unbeliever wants to carry it.
We must be sensitive to the situation. Our Lord had one point of contact with this woman. He pressed on until she trusted in Him. Whenever I have unbelievers come to me for counsel or I visit an unbeliever in the hospital, I make the effort to give them the gospel clearly and completely. I realize I may never speak to them again. But I don’t press so hard with my neighbors. I have to live with them and generally I must be more gradual.
There is a most significant lesson for us in this passage about how we should witness. There is no one ‘canned’ approach that our Lord forced indiscriminately upon everyone He encountered, rather the Gospel is individualized. How different was His approach to Nicodemus than to this woman.
More significant is the way our Lord gradually moved from impersonal communication to that which was intimate. Here is a tremendous blind spot for many Christians. When once we are saved, our new life crops out everywhere. We want to share Christ with others. We are far more open in our expression of emotions, joys, convictions and so on. But the unbelieving world is just the opposite. They are touchy about spiritual things. They are frightened of them, and they make every effort to avoid the subject. For a Christian to suddenly blurt out, “Are you a Christian?” is absolute trauma. It is something like my meeting you casually and asking your take-home pay.
Communication research indicates that there are several levels of communication. The least intimate is that on the level of the cliche, “How’s it going?” “Great.” “Nice weather,” and so on. Then there is the next level of that which is routine and non-personal. “How do I find Main Street?” It is not until we begin to express our opinions, our feelings, our aspirations, fears, and so on that we really begin to communicate. (Incidentally, there is all too little communication, even in Christian homes.)
When our Lord spoke with this woman, he began an a very unthreatening level. He asked for a drink of water. Actually, this woman initiated a deeper level of communication by bringing up the ethic and cultural differences which separated Jews and Samaritans. Jesus chose not to dwell on that subject and pressed on to spiritual matters, couched in familiar terms (‘living water’). When the woman’s curiosity was sufficiently aroused, the Lord Jesus began to delve into the most intimate area of this woman’s life. By revealing her sinful past, the spiritual need and necessity of salvation was in the open. It was only at this point that a meaningful theological discussion could occur. When Jesus at last corrected her theology, He revealed His identity as Messiah.
If many of us had been sitting at that well when this woman came to draw from it, we would probably have blundered, “Are you saved?” It is no wonder so many people are turned off by the witness of Christians.
If I could give any advice to those who sincerely desire to share their faith, I would suggest two things. First of all, learn the Gospel so well that you are free to share it with great flexibility, rather than in terms of a formula. Second, develop the ability to communicate with people, and begin at home. Whenever we begin to communicate with people about deep-felt beliefs, fears, problems, etc., then the Gospel touches people where they really hurt. Most of us don’t know our friends and neighbors on intimate enough terms to be able to touch their deepest needs with a word from God.
(2) A Lesson on Guidance. Many people are greatly troubled about discerning the will of God. How did our Lord Jesus discern that it was the will of God for Him to pass through Samaria and witness to these people? I do not think that He received any spectacular revelations, nor do I believe He had some strange inner urge.
First of all, our Lord acted on biblical principle. The Old Testament Scriptures told of Israel’s responsibility to take the light of the Gospel to the nations. Although there were racial and cultural barriers between Jews and Samaritans, there were no biblical ones. To the contrary, the Scriptures insisted upon evangelizing the nations. Second, and this will probably smack of being unspiritual, passing through Samaria was the shortest and fastest route. My friend, don’t spend hours praying for guidance in matters which can be settled by common sense. If God wants you to do the unusual, He can make it clear. I know of a seminary professor who’s flight schedule was inexcusably altered so that he missed his plane. As he sat waiting in a coffee shop, he encountered a woman who desperately needed a word from God. When God has such unusual appointments, you can be sure you will not miss them. God’s guidance is always within the confines of what is biblical, and most often in accord with what is practical and logical.
(3) A Lesson on Culture. The thing about Jesus that caught the Samaritan’s initial attention was the fact that He was not controlled by His culture as a Jewish Rabbi. Whenever our culture is contrary to the Scriptures, it must bend. Our Lord did not shrink from speaking to a woman, and thus shocked His disciples. Our Lord did not hesitate to witness to a Samaritan. Jesus was not controlled by culture.
Having said this, I must hasten to add that Jesus did not totally reject or ignore culture. The culture to which He was most sensitive was not His own, but that of the woman. He bent His culture in order to cross over the barriers imposed by the Samaritan woman. Some of the greatest faux pas committed by Christians are senseless violations of culture. Jesus did not let His culture keep Him from reaching those of another.
Perhaps you have not considered the fact that Christians have a unique culture of their own. That is often why we work so hard at meeting all the time. We want to isolate ourselves from the world (and its culture) from within the walls of the church (and its culture). I am privileged to participate in a ministry designed to reach Blacks. I am most grateful to God for my Black brethren who have sought (and continue to do so) to enhance my understanding of the Black culture. Many of you could probably profit from such an education as I am receiving. But I would like to suggest that you make an intensive effort at learning the culture of your unsaved neighbors. I did not ask you to adopt it, but to accept it for what it is. Set aside those non-essentials of your culture, and adapt your witness to the culture of the unsaved American.
(4) A Lesson in Worship. We have already touched on the subject of worship, but let me simply remind you of the essentials of true worship. It is first of all factual—that is, it must be consistent with the truth revealed in the pages of the Word of God and in the person of the Son of God. Second, our worship must be ‘in spirit.’ Worship is not mechanical, not a ritual. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s working in the life of the Christian. There is no worship apart from truth and spirit.
77 I must share Shepard’s comment here, “Not many preachers run from over-popularity.” J.W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939), p. 114. Popularity is seldom at the center of God’s program. If our Lord retreated at the prospect of it, how much more should we!
78 “Josephus says that it was the custom of the Galileans to pass through Samaria when they went up to Jerusalem for the feasts” (Ant. xx, 118).” Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), p. 255, fn. 16. Perhaps this helps us understand in part, the disdain that Judean Jews had for the Gailileans.
81 Jacob’s well was located at the intersection of several ancient Roman roads. This hand-dug well is a bit unusual, for there were numerous springs nearby. It is one of the best attested biblical landmarks in Palestine. Estimates of the original depth of this well vary from 75-150 feet. Its water was probably much tastier than that of nearby springs.
82 The exact location and identification of this ancient city is matter of academic debate. Some think Sychar is a different, and derisive title for the city of Shechem. Cf. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, p. 257. fn. 19.
83 There is some disagreement among Bible students as to whether John reckoned time according to the Jewish (i.e. 12 o’clock noon) or Roman mode (6 p.m.). Edersheim’s arguments in favor of the Roman reckoning seem more persuasive:
“We have already expressed our belief, that in the Fourth Gospel time is reckoned not according to the Jewish mode, but according to the Roman civil day, from midnight to midnight. For a full discussion and proof of this, with notice of objections, see McLellan’s New Test. vol. i, pp. 737-743. It must surely be a lapsus when at p. 288 (note ), the same author seems to assume the contrary. Meyer objects, that, if it had been 6 P.M. there would not have been time for the after-events recorded. But they could easily find a place in the delicious cool of a summer’s evening, and both the coming up of the Samaritans (most unlikely at noon-time), and their invitation to Jesus ‘to tarry’ with them (v. 40), are in favour of our view. Indeed, St. John xix. 14 renders it impossible to adopt the Jewish mode of reckoning.” Alford Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, I, p. 408, footnote 1.
84 “Something of the feeling between the two groups may be gauged from the words of Ben Sira: ‘With two nations my soul is vexed, and the third is no nation: those who live on Mount Seir, and the Philistines, and the foolish people that dwell in Shechem’ (Sir. 50:25f.).” Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, p. 256, fn. 18.
85 “The verb means properly, ‘to use with,’ and this appears to be the meaning in the present passage. Jews do not use (utensils) with Samaritans. This was built into a regulation in A.D. 65 or 66: “The daughters of the Samaritans are (deemed unclean as) menstruants from their cradle” (Mishnah, Nidd, 4:1), i.e. they are all regarded as ceremonially unclean … Danby summarizes the complicated situation as “(a) a Samaritan conveys uncleanness by what he lies, sits, or rides on, by his spittle (including the phlegm of his lungs, throat, or nose) and by his urine; and (b) the daughters of the Samaritans even from their cradles (convey uncleanness in like manner), as also do the Gentiles” (Danby, p. 803; see also SBk, I, pp. 538-60). Morris, p. 259, fn. 25.
86 “A woman could not divorce her husband in Jewish Law. But under certain circumstances she could approach the court which would, if it thought fit, compel the husband to divorce her (see, for example, Mishnah, Ket. 7:9, 10). Or she might pay him or render services to induce him to divorce her. (Git. 7:5,6). In theory there was no limit to the number of marriages that might be contracted after valid divorces, but the Rabbis regarded two, or at the most three marriages as the maximum for a woman (SBk, II, p. 437).” Morris, p. 264, fn. 43.
87 “At the beginning of the conversation He did not make Himself known to her ... but first she caught sight of a thirsty man, then a Jew, then a Rabbi, afterwards a prophet, last of all the Messiah. She tried to get the better of the thirsty man, she showed her dislike of the Jew, she heckled the Rabbi, she was swept off her feet by the prophet, and she adored the Christ (Findlay, p. 61).” Morris, p. 254, fn. 13.
88 “Cf. G.S. Hendry: “it has commonly been taken to mean that God, being Spirit, is present everywhere and can be worshiped anywhere; the important thing is not where men worship, but how they worship.” This he vigorously denies. The saying “means the precise opposite; it means that God is present in his own realm, to which man as such has no access. To worship God in spirit is not a possibility that is always and everywhere open to man ... But this is just the gospel of Christ, that this possibility has now been opened to men. … The meaning is that the location has been redefined, and God is now to be worshiped in the place where he is present, i.e., in Him who is the truth incarnate (The Holy Spirit in Christian Theology, London, 1957, pp. 3lf.).” Quoted by Morris, p. 272, fn. 62.
90 “The Samaritan name for the Messiah was Taheb. … “He who returns,” or “He who restores.” According to Odeberg, “A prominent feature in the Taheb traditions was that the Redeemer, in accordance with Deut. 18 would teach the faithful concerning all things” (FG, p. 183). Dodd reminds us that we should not build too much on this figure, for our information about him is late and we do not know whether or not the Taheb was known in New Testament times (IFG, p. 240, n. 2). But Josephus recounts an incident where a man gathered armed men to Mt. Gerizim, saying that he would show them sacred vessels hidden there by Moses (Ant. xviii, 85). This looks very much like messianic expectation during the New Testament period.” Morris, p. 272, fn. 63.
91 “SBk, II, p. 438. Nor was it only discourse in public places that was discountenanced.” Jose B. Johanan of Jerusalem said: Let thy house be opened wide and let the needy be members of thy household; and talk not much with womankind. They said this of a man’s own wife: how much more of his fellow’s wife! Hence the Sages have said: He that talks much with womankind brings evil upon himself and neglects the study of the Law and at the last will inherit Gehenna” (Ab. 1:5), R. Jose the Galilean once asked a woman, “By what road do we go to Lydda?” only to be rebuked by her: “Foolish Galilean, did not the Sages say this: Engage not in much talk with women? You should have asked: By which to Lydda?” (Erub. 53b; soncino trans., p. 374). Perhaps the greatest blot on the Rabbinic attitude to women was that, though the Rabbis held the study of the Law to be the greatest good in life, they discouraged women from studying it at all. When Ben Azzai suggested that women be taught the Law for certain purposes R. Eliezer replied: “If any man gives his daughter a knowledge of the Law it is as though he taught her lechery” (Sot. 3:4). The Rabbis regarded women as inferior to men in every way. A very ancient prayer (still found in the Jewish prayer book) runs, “Blessed art thou, O Lord ... who has not made me a woman.” The equivalent prayer for a woman was “Blessed art thou, O Lord, who has fashioned me according to thy will.” Temple comments, “If we now feel that the women had the best of the exchange, that is a Christian and not an ancient Jewish sentiment!” Quoted by Morris, p. 274.
92 “There is evidence, moreover, that the agricultural year was divided into six two-month periods, seed-time, winter, spring, harvest, summer, and the time of extreme heat. Thus four months elapsed between the end of seed-time and the beginning of harvest. This might well have given rise to a proverbial saying indicating that there is no hurry for a particular task. The seed may be planted, but there is no way of getting round the months of waiting. Growth is slow and cannot be hurried.” Morris, pp. 278-279.