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1. Outcast Women Identified by Lifestyle: A Samaritan Woman

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Time Period: Jesus’ First Year of Ministry, ~27 AD

Background: Life for Women

What was it like to be a woman living around the rim of the Mediterranean during Jesus' time? Imagine a time when a man was commended because he killed his wife for appearing in public without her veil; when a Roman woman's rights were completely subject to her father's power. If she married, then those rights, even the power of life and death, were transferred to her husband. Think of what it would have been like to bear and raise a son who would receive more esteem from his father and the rest of society than you would as his mother.

In both Greek and Roman cultures, women held a second-rate status. Their legal rights were practically nonexistent. In fact, only a husband could petition for a divorce. In such a society, permissive polygamy was considered normal—for men. The owning of multiple wives was an indication of wealth. Needless to say, such a practice only further relegated women to an inferior position since they were treated like property, a mere commodity to indicate status or position.

Jewish women fared only slightly better than their contemporaries in surrounding cultures.  A married woman with children did hold a certain place of honor as a wife and mother, but even that position was tied to her ability to produce male children. Because of a twisted interpretation of the Mosaic Law, the rabbinical leaders taught that women were uneducable. They were considered unreliable as courtroom witnesses. Women were even held responsible for the lustful temptations men suffered.

The Pharisees were known to regularly pray: "Thank You, God, that I am not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman." Yet, as the radical rabbi, Jesus treated women as no man had ever treated them before. His warmth, personal attention, tenderness, sound teaching, and compassion toward women were revolutionary. He openly demonstrated His love for each individual He met—both men and women—for whom He would ultimately die.

Day One Study

1. Read John 2:25; 3:1-22. Summarize what Jesus discussed with Nicodemus. 

Historical Insight: To go through Samaria “was the shortest route from Judea to Galilee but not the only way. The other route was through Perea, east of the Jordan River…In Jesus’ day, the Jews, because of their hatred for the Samaritans, normally took the eastern route in order to avoid Samaria.” (Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, pp. 284-285.)

2. Read John 4:1-6. In light of these verses and the Historical Insight above, why do you think Jesus traveled through Samaria (see map in “New Testament Insights”)?

3. Deeper Discoveries (optional): Use a commentary, Bible handbook, or study notes to answer this: Why was there such animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans? What were the social consequences of traveling through Samaria?

Historical Insight: “A Rabbinic law of AD 66 stated that Samaritan women were considered as continually menstruating and thus unclean. Therefore, a Jew who drank from a Samaritan woman’s vessel would become ceremonially unclean…The normal prejudices of the day prohibited public conversation between men and women, between Jews and Samaritans, and especially between strangers. A Jewish Rabbi would rather go thirsty than violate these proprieties.” (Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 285.)

Day Two Study

4. Read John 4:7-26. Describe the Samaritan woman and her initial circumstances (what is revealed about her in this text).

5. How did Jesus begin a relationship with this woman?

Scriptural Insight: “Jesus being truly human, experienced thirst, weariness, pain, and hunger” as well as “all the attributes of Deity” (all-knowing and all-powerful).  (Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, page 285.)

6. To understand vv. 10-15, read Jeremiah 2:13; John 7:37-39 and 1 John 5:11-12, 20.

  • What does the phrase "living water" symbolize?
  • What does the word "drink" symbolize?
  • Therefore, what is Jesus saying to her?

7. Living Out His Love: What do you seek to satisfy your built-in spiritual thirst? If our God created us with a spiritual thirst for a relationship with Him (as the Bible declares), can a relationship with another human satisfy that thirst? Explain your answer.

Day Three Study

8. Read John 4:7-26. How and why does Jesus change the subject in verses 16-18? (What attribute of God is He displaying here? See John 2:25.)

9. How and why does the Samaritan woman change the subject in verses 19-26?

10. How does Jesus use her detour to enlighten her further? What specifically does Jesus declare about Himself?

From the Greek: The title “Christ” given to Jesus is from the Greek word christos, a translation of the Hebrew term “Messiah” meaning “anointed one.” The Old Testament prophets promised that the Messiah, as the anointed one of God, would come and do many wonderful things for God’s people, including restoring God’s Kingdom on earth. Christians are followers of Jesus, who is the Christ.

11. What similarities do you find between this conversation & Jesus' conversation w/ Nicodemus (Day One Study)?

Day Four Study

12. Read John 4:27-42. How did the Samaritan woman respond to Jesus and his invitation to her?

13. How did this woman’s new faith in Jesus impact her peers? What did they urge Jesus to do?

14. Read John 3:16-17; John 6:38,40 and John 14:9. Who did Jesus say He is and for what reason had He come?             

15. Living Out His Love: Have you not yet made the decision to believe that Jesus is who He says He is—God’s Son—and that by believing you have eternal life through trusting in Him? You can put your trust in Him today and experience His love for you right away. If you do this, tell someone. If you are still unsure, pray for Jesus to reveal Himself through the truth of His Word. Ask your group leader or another woman to meet with you and answer any questions you might have.

16. Living Out His Love: Have you already trusted in Jesus to be your Savior? Think about your story of following Jesus and answer the questions below that fit your experience.

  • If you trusted in Jesus as a teen or an adult…What was life like for you before knowing Jesus? What triggered your need for Jesus? What did God use to draw you to Him? That may be how God will use you to reach others.
  • If you trusted in Jesus as a child then drifted away from Him but later returned…What did God use to draw you back to Him? That may be how God will use you to reach others for Christ.
  • If you trusted in Jesus as a child and kept faithful to Him choosing while a teen or young adult to follow Him as a disciple…What kept you faithful? What did God use to keep you drawn to Himself?

17. Read John 4:39-42. What resulted from Jesus' conversation with this woman?

Think About It: Consider the disciples' behavior in this incident. Do you allow racial, cultural or religious barriers to keep you from sharing Jesus' love with other people? Consider what life is like for those around you who have not experienced His love yet. Ask Jesus to give you love for them and to help you understand what they are feeling and needing from Him. Stepping into their lives to build intentional friendships is a means of displaying Jesus’ love and compassion to them.

18. Living Out His Love: Where are those women in your life who have not experienced Jesus’ love yet? Where do you frequently see them? Start with where you are presently connected (school, gym, neighborhood, sports teams, your children’s friends, community activities). How can you make the most of your connection to build a relationship with at least one woman? This next week, trust in Jesus to lead you to begin an intentional relationship with her so you can share Jesus’ love with her.

Related Topics: Character Study, Love, Women

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