John 4

CHAPTER IV.

Jesus, finding that the Pharisees took offence at his making

many disciples, leaves Judea to pass into Galilee, 1-3.

And passing through Samaria comes to Sychar, and rests at

Jacob's well, 4-6.

While his disciples were gone to the city to buy meat, a woman

of Samaria comes to draw water, with whom our Lord discourses

at large on the spiritual nature of his religion, the perfection

of the Divine nature, and the purity of his worship, 7-24.

On his informing her that he was the Messiah, she leaves her

pitcher, and goes to inform her townsmen, 25-30.

His discourse with his disciples in her absence, 31-38.

Many of the Samaritans believe on him, 39-42;

He stays two days with them, and goes into Galilee, 43-45.

He comes to Cana, and heals the son of a nobleman, in consequence

of which he believes on him, with his whole family, 46-54.

NOTES ON CHAP. IV.

Verse 1. Jesus made and baptized, &c.] These seem to be quoted

as the very words which were brought to the Pharisees; and, from

our Lord's conduct after this information, we may take it for

granted that they were so irritated that they were determined to

seek an occasion to take away his life; in consequence of which,

leaving Judea, he withdrew into Galilee.

Verse 2. Jesus himself baptized not] See Clarke on Joh 3:22.

Verse 4. And he must needs go through Samaria.] Or, It was

necessary for him to pass through Samaria: for this plain reason,

and no other, because it was the only proper road. Samaria lay

northward of Judea, and between the great sea, Galilee, and

Jordan; and there was therefore no going from Galilee to Jerusalem

but through this province. See Clarke on Lu 17:11. From

Jerusalem to Galilee through Samaria, according to Josephus, was

three days' journey. See his own life.

Verse 5. A city-called Sychar] This city was anciently called

Shechem. It seems to have been situated at the foot of Mount

Gerizim, in the province of Samaria, on which the temple of the

Samaritans was built. After the ruin of Samaria by Salmanezer,

Sychar, or Shechem, became the capital of the Samaritans; and it

continued so, according to Josephus, Ant. l. xi. c. 8, in the time

of Alexander the Great. It was about ten miles from Shiloh, forty

from Jerusalem, and fifty-two from Jericho. It probably got the

name of Sychar, which signifies drunken, from the drunkenness of

its inhabitants. With this crime the Prophet Isaiah

(Isa 28:1, 3, 7, 8) solemnly charges the Ephraimites, within

whose limits the city stood. This place is remarkable in the

Scriptures: 1. As being that where Abram first stopped on his

coming from Haran to Canaan. 2. Where God first appeared to that

patriarch, and promised to give the land to his seed. 3. The place

where Abram first built an altar to the Lord, and called upon his

name, Ge 12:7. The present name of this city is

Neapolis, or Naplouse. See Calmet.

That Jacob gave to his son Joseph.] Jacob had bought this field

from the children of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for a hundred

pieces of silver, or lambs, Ge 33:19; and in it he built an

altar, which he dedicated to El Elohey Yishrael, the strong God,

the covenant God of Israel, Ge 33:20. This, Jacob left as a

private or overplus inheritance to Joseph and his children. See

Ge 48:21, 22, and Jos 24:32.

Verse 6. Jacob's well was there.] Of this well Mr. Maundrell

gives the following account. "About one-third of an hour from

Naplosa, the ancient Sychar and Sychem, stood Jacob's well. If it

be inquired, whether this be the very place, seeing it may be

suspected to stand too remote from Sychar for the women to come

and draw water, we may answer-that, in all probability, the city

extended farther in former times than it does now, as may be

conjectured from some pieces of a very thick wall, the remains

perhaps of the ancient Sychem, still to be seen not far from

hence. Over it stood formerly a large church, erected by the

Empress Irene; but of this the voracity of time, assisted by the

hands of the Turks, has left nothing but a few foundations

remaining. The well is covered at present with an old stone vault,

into which you are let down by a very strait hole; and then,

removing a broad flat stone, you discover the well itself. It is

dug in a firm rock, is about three yards in diameter, and

thirty-five in depth, five of which we found full of water. This

confutes a story frequently told to travellers, 'That it is dry

all the year round, except on the anniversary of that day on which

our blessed Saviour sat upon it; but then bubbles up with

abundance of water.' At this well the narrow valley of Sychem

ends, opening itself into a wide field, which probably is part of

the ground given by Jacob to his son Joseph. It is watered by a

fresh stream, running between it and Sychem, which makes it

exceedingly verdant and fruitful." See Maundrell's Travels, 5th

edit. p. 62.

Cutting pools, or making wells for public use, renders a man

famous among the Hindoos. So this well had the name of Jacob,

because he had digged it, and it was for public use.

Sat thus] Chrysostom inquires what the particle thus, ουτως,

means here? and answers, that it simply signifies, he sat not upon

a throne, seat, or cushion; but (as the circumstances of the case

required) upon the ground. This is a sense which is given to the

word in the ancient Greek writers. See Raphelius, Wetstein, and

Pearce. It is probably a mere expletive, and is often so used by

Josephus. See several examples in Rosenmuller.

The sixth hour.] About twelve o'clock:

See Clarke on Joh 1:31. The

time is noted here: 1. To account for Christ's fatigue-he had

already travelled several hours. 2. To account for his thirst-the

sun had at this time waxed hot. 3. To account for the disciples

going to buy food, Joh 4:8, because this was the ordinary time of

dinner among the Jews. See the note referred to above. Dr.

Macknight thinks the sixth hour to be the Roman six o'clock in the

afternoon. See Clarke on Joh 1:29.

Verse 7. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water] That

this was the employment of the females, we see in different parts

of the Sacred Writings. See Ge 24:11, &c.; Ex 2:16, and the note

at the end of that chapter. The Jews say that those who wished to

get wives went to the wells where young women were accustomed to

come and draw water; and it is supposed that women of ill fame

frequented such places also. See several proofs in Schoettgen.

Verse 9. That thou, being a Jew] Probably the inhabitants of

Judea distinguished themselves from those of Samaria by some

peculiar mode of dress; and by this the Samaritan woman might have

known Christ: but it is likely that our Lord spoke the Galilean

dialect, by which we find, from Mr 14:70, a Jew of that district

might easily be known.

The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.] Perhaps better,

Jews have no communion with Samaritans. These words appear to be

added by the evangelist himself, in explanation of the woman's

question. The original word, συγχρωνται, has been variously

translated and understood. It comes from συν, together, and

χραομαι, I use, or borrow: hence it has been understood to mean,

the Jews will be under no kind of obligation to the

Samaritans-will borrow nothing from them-will not drink out of the

same cup or well with them-will not sit down to meals with

them, nor eat out of the same vessel-will have no religious

connection, no commercial dealings with them. The word communion,

I think, fully expresses the sense of the original; and, being as

extensive in its meaning as our word dealings, is capable of as

general an interpretation. The deadly hatred that subsisted

between these two nations is known to all. The Jews cursed them,

and believed them to be accursed. Their most merciful wish to the

Samaritans was, that they might have no part in the resurrection;

or, in other words, that they might be annihilated.

Verse 10. If thou knewest the gift of God] δωρεαν signifies a

free gift. A gift is any thing that is given, for which no

equivalent has been or is to be returned: a free gift is that

which has been given without asking or entreaty. Such a gift of

kindness was Jesus Christ to the world, Joh 3:16; and through him

comes the gift of the Spirit, which those who believe on his name

were to receive. Christ was not an object of desire to the

world-no man asked for him; and God, moved thereto by his own

eternal mercy, freely gave him. Through this great gift comes the

Holy Spirit, and all other gifts which are necessary to the

salvation of a lost world.

Living water.] By this expression, which was common to the

inhabitants both of the east and of the west, is always meant

spring water, in opposition to dead, stagnant water contained in

ponds, pools, tanks, or cisterns; and what our Lord means by it is

evidently the Holy Spirit, as may be seen, Joh 7:38, 39.

As water quenches the thirst, refreshes and invigorates the

body, purifies things defiled, and renders the earth fruitful,

so it is an apt emblem of the gift of the Holy Ghost, which so

satisfies the souls that receive it that they thirst no more for

earthly good: it purifies also from all spiritual defilement, on

which account it is emphatically styled the Holy Spirit; and it

makes those who receive it fruitful in every good word and work.

Verse 11. Thou hast nothing to draw with] ουτεαντλημαεχεις,

Thou hast no bucket. Good water is not plentiful in the east;

and travellers are often obliged to carry leathern bottles or

buckets with them, and a line also, to let them down into the

deep wells, in order to draw up water. If the well was in our

Lord's time, as it was found by Mr. Maundrell, thirty-five yards

deep, it would require a considerable line to reach it; and with

such it is not likely that even the disciples of our Lord were

provided. The woman might well say, The well is deep, and thou

hast nothing to draw with; whence then hast thou that living

water?

Verse 12. Our father Jacob] The ancient Samaritans were

undoubtedly the descendants of Jacob; for they were the ten tribes

that revolted in the reign of Rehoboam: but those in our Lord's

time were not genuine Israelites, but a corrupted race, sprung

from a mixture of different nations, sent thither by Salmanezer,

king of the Assyrians. See 2Ki 17:24.

Verse 14. Springing up into everlasting life.] On this account

he can never thirst:-for how can he lack water who has in himself

a living, eternal spring? By this water our Lord means also his

doctrine, explaining and promising the gifts and graces of the

Holy Ghost, which proceed from Jesus Christ their fountain,

dwelling in a believing heart. There is no eternal life without

the Spirit; no Spirit without Christ; and no Christ to give the

Spirit, without dwelling in the heart: this his whole doctrine

proclaims.

Verse 15. Give me this water] She did not as yet comprehend our

Lord's meaning; but her curiosity was much excited, and this was

the design of our Lord, that he might have her mind properly

prepared to receive the great truths which he was about to

announce.

Verse 16. Call thy husband] Our Lord appears to have spoken

these words for two purposes: 1. To make the woman consider her

own state. 2. To show her that he knew her heart, and the secret

actions of her life; and was therefore well qualified to teach her

heavenly truths.

Verse 18. Thou hast had five husbands] It is not clear that this

woman was a prostitute: she might have been legally married to

those five, and might have been divorced through some misbehaviour

of her own, not amounting to adultery; for the adulteress was to

be put to death, both by the Jewish and Samaritan law, not

divorced: or she might have been cast off through some caprice of

her husband; for, in the time of our Lord, divorces were very

common among the Jews, so that a man put away his wife for any

fault. See Clarke on Mt 5:31. Some are so very fond of

exaggerating that nothing can pass through their hands without an

increase: hence Heracleon says she had six husbands, and Jerome

modestly gives her twenty-two! Viginti duos habuisti maritos, et

ille a quo sepelieris non est tuus. "Thou hast had twenty-two

husbands and he by whom thou shalt be buried is not thine." Epist.

xi.

He whom thou now hast is not thy husband] νυνονεχειςουκεστι

σουανηρ. Bishop Pearce would translate this clause in the

following manner: There is no husband whom thou now hast-or, less

literally, Thou hast no husband now: probably the meaning is, Thou

art contracted to another, but not yet brought home: therefore he

is not yet thy husband. See Rosenmuller. Bishop Pearce contends

that our Lord did not speak these words to her by way of reproof:

1. Because it is not likely that a woman so far advanced in years

as to have had five husbands should have now been found living in

adultery with a sixth person. 2. Because it is not likely that our

Lord would not, in some part of his discourse, have reproved her

for her fornication, especially if guilty of it under such gross

circumstances. 3. Nor is it likely that a woman of so bad a life

should have had so much influence with the people of her city that

they should, on her testimony, Joh 4:39-42, believe Jesus to be

the Messiah. 4. Nor is it at all likely that when a discovery of

her guilt was made to her, by one whom she acknowledged to be a

prophet, Joh 4:19, the first thing which came into her thoughts

should be the important question in religion, about the place

appointed by God for his worship, so warmly contested between the

Jews and Samaritans. 5. Nor is it at all probable that a person of

such a bad life, without any mentioned sign of repentance, should

have been the first (perhaps the only private person) to whom

Jesus is recorded as declaring himself to be the Christ, as he

does to her, Joh 4:26.

Verse 19. I perceive that thou art a prophet.] And therefore

thought him well qualified to decide the grand question in dispute

between the Jews and the Samaritans: but she did not perceive him

to be the Messiah.

Verse 20. Worshipped in this mountain] Probably pointing to

Mount Gerizim, at the foot of which Sychar was situated. The

patriarchs had worshipped here-Jacob builded an altar on this

mountain, and worshiped the true God: see Ge 22:2; 33:20. Thus

she could say, Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. On this

mountain Sanballat had built them a temple, about 332 years before

our Lord's incarnation. See Joseph. Antiq. xi. c. viii. s. 4, and

2 Macc. 6:2.

Many heathens considered particular places as having a peculiar

sanctity or fitness, for the worship of their deities, beyond

others. Such places abound in Hindostan; and in them they think

men ought to worship.

In the Hebrew Pentateuch, De 27:4, &c., where the Israelites

are commanded to build an altar on mount EBAL, and offer

sacrifices, &c., the Samaritan Pentateuch has GERIZIM instead of

Ebal; and Dr. Kennicott strongly contends, Dissert. vol. ii. p.

20, &c., that Gerizim is the genuine reading: but our blessed

Lord, by the following answer, shows that the place was a matter

of little importance, as the Divine worship was no longer to be

confined to either: Joh 4:21. See Clarke on De 27:4.

Verse 21. The hour cometh, &c.] The time was now at hand in

which the spiritual worship of God was about to be established in

the earth, and all the Jewish rites and ceremonies entirely

abolished.

Worship the Father.] This epithet shows the mild, benignant, and

tender nature of the Gospel dispensation. Men are called to

worship their heavenly Father, and to consider themselves as his

children. In reference to this, our Lord's prayer begins, Our

FATHER, who art in heaven, &c. See Joh 4:23.

Verse 22. Ye worship ye know not what] The Samaritans believed

in the same God with the Jews; but, as they rejected all the

prophetical writings, they had but an imperfect knowledge of the

Deity: besides, as they incorporated the worship of idols with his

worship, they might be justly said to worship him whom they did

not properly know. See the account of their motley worship,

2Ki 17:26-34. But after Sanballat had built the temple on Mount

Gerizim, the idolatrous worship of the Cutheans and Sepharvites,

&c., was entirely laid aside; the same religious service being

performed in the Samaritan temple which was performed in that at

Jerusalem.

We know what we worship] We Jews acknowledge all the attributes

of his nature, and offer to him only the sacrifices prescribed in

the law.

Salvation is of the Jews.] εκτωνιουδαιωνεστιν, Salvation is

from the Jews. Salvation seems here to mean the Saviour, the

Messiah, as it does Lu 2:30; Ac 4:12: and so the woman appears

to have understood it, Joh 4:25. The Messiah was to spring from

the Jews-from them, the preaching of the Gospel, and the knowledge

of the truth, were to go to all the nations of the world. It was

to the Jews that the promises were made; and it was in their

prophetic Scriptures, which the Samaritans rejected, that Jesus

Christ was proclaimed and described. See Isa 11:3.

Verse 23. The true worshippers shall worship-in spirit] The

worship of the Samaritans was a defective worship-they did not

receive the prophetical writings: that of the Jews was a carnal

worship, dealing only in the letter, and referring to the spirit

and design, which were at a distance, by types and ceremonies. The

Gospel of Christ showed the meaning of all these carnal

ordinances, and the legal sacrifices, which had all their

consummation in his offering of himself: thus a spiritual

dispensation took the place of the carnal one which prefigured it.

2. The preaching of the Gospel discovered the true nature of God,

of salvation, of the human soul, of earthly and of heavenly

things; and, because of this, it is put in opposition to the

defective Samaritan worship.

Verse 24. God is a Spirit] This is one of the first, the

greatest, the most sublime, and necessary truths in the compass of

nature! There is a God, the cause of all things-the fountain of

all perfection-without parts or dimensions, for he is

ETERNAL-filling the heavens and the earth-pervading, governing,

and upholding all things: for he is an infinite SPIRIT! This God

can be pleased only with that which resembles himself: therefore

he must hate sin and sinfulness; and can delight in those only who

are made partakers of his own Divine nature. As all creatures were

made by him, so all owe him obedience and reverence; but, to be

acceptable to this infinite Spirit, the worship must be of a

spiritual nature-must spring from the heart, through the

influence of the Holy Ghost: and it must be in TRUTH, not only in

sincerity, but performed according to that Divine revelation

which he has given men of himself. A man worships God in spirit,

when, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, he brings all his

affections, appetites, and desires to the throne of God; and he

worships him in truth, when every purpose and passion of his

heart, and when every act of his religious worship, is guided and

regulated by the word of God. "The enlightened part of mankind,"

says Abu'l Fazel, "knows that true righteousness is an upright

heart; and believe that God can only be worshipped in holiness

of SPIRIT." Ayeen Akbery, vol. iii. p. 254.

"Of all worshippers," says Creeshna, "I respect him as the most

devout, who hath faith in me, and who serveth me with a soul

possessed of my spirit." Geeta, p. 68.

Verse 25. I know that Messias cometh] Instead of οιδα I know,

several excellent MSS. and versions read, οιδαμεν, we know; as if

she had said that all the Samaritans expected the advent of the

Messiah. Though they did not receive the prophetic writings, yet

the tradition of the advent of the Messiah, which was common among

the Jews, and founded on promises contained even in the books of

Moses, was generally received among the Samaritans also.

Which is called Christ] This appears to be the evangelist's

explanation of the Hebrew word, according to his custom;

Joh 1:38, 41, 42; 9:7, &c.; for we cannot suppose that the

woman understood Greek, so as to translate the Hebrew word to our

word; or that she should suppose that a person who was a Jew,

Joh 4:9, and a

prophet, Joh 4:19, could stand in need of this interpretation.

He will tell us all things.] Relative to the nature of God, the

nature of his worship, and the proper place to adore him in. In a

word, he will settle the great national question between Gerizim

and Ebal; and we shall then know certainly where we ought to

worship.

Verse 26. Jesus saith unto her, I-am he.] Our Lord never spoke

in such direct terms concerning himself to his own countrymen; nor

even to his own disciples, till a little before his death. The

reason given by Bishop Pearce is the following: The woman being

alone when Jesus said it, and being a Samaritan, he had no

reason to apprehend that the Samaritans, if they knew his claim,

would disturb his ministry before the time of his suffering came;

which seems to have been the reason why he concealed it so long

from his own countrymen.

Verse 27. Came his disciples] From the town, whither they went

to buy food, Joh 4:8.

Marvelled that he talked with the woman] Because it was contrary

to the custom of the eastern countries; and there are many canons,

among the rabbins, against it. To the present time, if a man meet

even his own wife in the street, he does not speak to her; and

this is done to keep up the appearance of a chastity and

temperance of which the eastern world knows nothing. They might

wonder how a Samaritan, in whom they could expect no spirituality,

could listen to the conversation of their Master, who never spake

but about heavenly things.

Yet no man said, &c.] They were awed by his majesty, and knew

that he must have sufficient reasons to induce him to act a part

to which he was not at all accustomed. A great man has said,

"Converse sparingly, if at all, with women; and never alone."

Every minister of the Gospel will do well to attend to this

advice.

Verse 28. Left her waterpot] She was so penetrated with the

great truths which Jesus had announced that she forgot her errand

to the well, and returned to the city without the water for which

she came out!

Verse 29. All things that ever I did] The Jews believed that one

essential characteristic of the Messiah would be, that he should

be able to tell the secrets of all hearts. This they believed was

predicted, Isa 11:2, 3.

When the famous impostor Barchochab, who rose up under the

empire of Adrian, about a hundred years after the incarnation,

professed himself to be the Messiah, after having been deceived by

him for two years, they at last thought of putting his divinity to

proof on this ground: they brought before him persons whom he did

not know, some of whom were very vicious, and others of a

different character; they desired him to point out who were the

righteous, and who were the wicked; which when he could not do,

they rose up and put him to death. La Bible de Martin.

Verse 30. They went out of the city] Such effect had the simple

testimony of the woman on their minds.

And came unto him.] Or, Were coming to him; for they did not

reach him immediately; all that discourse between him and his

disciples, mentioned Joh 4:31-39, inclusive, having taken place

before the people of Sychar got to the well. See Joh 4:40.

Verse 31. Master, eat.] They knew that he was greatly spent both

with hunger and fatigue.

Verse 32. I have meat to eat that ye know not of.] Our blessed

Lord seizes every opportunity to raise the minds of his apostles

to heavenly things, through the medium of earthly matters. Nor

does he force these things into such service. Properly understood,

earthly substances are the types, representatives, and shadows of

heavenly things.

Verse 33. Hath any man brought him aught to eat?] Has he got

food in any preternatural way? They could not help remembering the

miraculous interventions of Divine providence in feeding Elijah by

the ravens, at the brook Cherith, 1Ki 17:4-6, and by the ministry

of an angel, 1Ki 19:5-8, and our Lord's preternatural repast in

the wilderness, after his victory over Satan, Mt 4:11.

Verse 34. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me] In

these words, our blessed Lord teaches a lesson of zeal and

earnestness to his apostles, and to all their successors in the

Christian ministry. Let the salvation of souls lie nearer your

heart than life itself. Let eating and drinking, labour and rest,

reading, thinking, study, prayer, and all things, be directed to

the accomplishment of this great work. Ministers of Jesus! imitate

your Lord! Souls are perishing for lack of knowledge-God has given

you the key of the kingdom, the knowledge of his word-O open unto

them the gate of life! They are dropping by thousands into hell! O

pluck the brands out of the burning!

Verse 35. There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?]

In Palestine, the harvest did not begin till after the passover,

which was fixed on the 14th of the month Nisan, which answers to

our March, and sometimes extends into April. The barley harvest

was the first; after that the wheat; and both were finished by

Pentecost. For, in the feast of Pentecost, the first fruits of

all the harvest were carried to the temple, and waved before the

Lord. See Le 23:11. The

four months, of which our Lord speaks here, must be computed,

according to M. Toynard, from Shebat, which was the eleventh month

of the sacred year, and which commenced that year on the 13th of

January: from that, till the beginning of the wheat harvest, which

began about a month after the passover, there were exactly four

months. The passover was that year on the 15th of Nisan, or March

28; and Pentecost took place on the 17th of May. We may therefore

suppose that it was about the 13th of January, or beginning of the

month Shebat, that John the Baptist was cast into prison, and that

Christ retired into Galilee. The fixing of this epoch is of

considerable importance. See Calmet's Com. on this place.

The following method of dividing the seasons among the Jews is

thus stated in Bava Metsia, fol. 106. "Half Tisri, all Marheshvan,

and half Cisleu, is zera. SEED-TIME. Half Cisleu, whole

Tebeth, and half Shebat, is choreph, WINTER. Half

Shebat, whole Adar, and half Nisan, is kor, the

WINTER SOLSTICE. Half Nisan, all Ijar, and half Sivan, is

katsir, HARVEST. Half Sivan, all Tammuz, and half Ab, is

kyits, SUMMER. Half Ab, all Elul, and half Tisri,

is chum, the great HEAT." The Jews sowed wheat and spelt

in Tisri and Marheshvan; and barley in Shebat and Adar.

Now let us reckon τετραμηνον, the four months, backwards, from the

beginning of the barley harvest, or the middle of the month Nisan,

and we shall go back to the middle of the month Cisleu, which will

fall in with the beginning of our December, whence it will be easy

to conjecture what feast that was, mentioned Joh 5:1, viz. the

passover. See Lightfoot; and See Clarke on Joh 5:1.

After all that learned men have said on this passage, it does

not appear that our Lord meant any thing by it more than an

illustration of his present subject. Though there were ordinarily

four months from seed-time to harvest, and that a man, after he

had sowed his seed, must wait patiently till the regular and

natural harvest came, yet it was not the case now: the seed of

life which he had sown but a few hours ago had already brought

forth much fruit; therefore he says, Lift up your eyes, and look

on the fields, over which it is likely the Samaritans were then

coming in troops, guided by the woman who had already received the

light of the Gospel of peace.

The fields-are white already to harvest.] Multitudes of

Samaritans are coming to believe on me, and to be saved unto

eternal life. Probably they had a kind of white raiment.

Verse 36. And he that reapeth receiveth wages] Or, And already

the reaper receiveth wages. By making the word ηδη, already, the

beginning of this verse, on the authority of some excellent MSS.

and versions, a more consistent sense is obtained than from the

common arrangement, where ηδη terminates the preceding verse.

Already the heavenly sower, Jesus Christ, becomes the reaper

of the produce of the seed which he had so lately sown; and

receives the wages which he desired, the high gratification of

saving immortal souls; and gathers in his fruit unto eternal life.

So the sower and the reaper, who are here one and the same

person, rejoiced together, having seen the seed time and the

harvest take place on the same day. The sower had not time to

leave the field which he had sown, till it was full time to gather

in the harvest!

Verse 37. Herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another

reapeth.] Or, One is the sower, and another is the reaper. In what

respects you, of this business, this proverb is true-One is the

sower, &c., for I have sent you to reap, to preach my Gospel, and

gain converts, where ye have not laboured-have not sown the first

seeds of eternal life. Others have laboured-the patriarchs and

prophets, and ye are entered into the fruits of their labours.

They announced the Messiah who was to come, and the expectation of

the people was excited, and they longed for his appearance; but

they were gathered to their fathers before they could see the

fruit of their labour. You are come to tell the people that the

kingdom of God is among them, and that God has visited his people.

The proverb which our Lord mentions above was taken from what

ordinarily happens in the course of the Divine providence, where

one takes a great deal of pains to procure that of which another

reaps the benefit. See instances of this proverb, Le 26:16:

Ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

Mic 6:15:

Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the

olives, but not anoint thee with the oil. See also Ho 7:9. The

Greeks had the same proverb: αλλοιμενσπερουσιαλλοιδαν

αμησονται. So had the Latins: Aliis leporem excitasti. You have

beat the bush, and another has found the hare. See the famous

verses of Virgil beginning with, Sic vos non vobis, in which the

fowls, the sheep, the bees, and the oxen, are elegantly

brought in as illustrations of the propriety of the proverb.

Sic vos non vobis nidificatis aves.

Sic vos non vobis vellera fertis oves.

Sic vos non vobis mellificatis apes.

Sic vos non vobis fertis aratra boves.

So you, ye birds, of wondrous skill possest,

Not for yourselves construct the curious nest.

So you, ye sheep, who roam the verdant field,

Not for yourselves your snowy fleeces yield,

So you, ye bees, who every flower explore,

Not for yourselves amass the honied store.

So you, ye patient kine, inured to toil,

Not for yourselves subdue the stubborn soil!

Bishop Pearce gives this text a remarkable turn. The verse he

translates thus: I sent you away, that ye might reap that whereon

ye bestowed no labour; i.e. I did not send you to the city

(Joh 4:8) for this purpose only, that ye might buy meat; but I

sent you away chiefly with this intent, that there might be a

harvest for you to reap upon your return; though you sowed no

seed, and bestowed no labour for that purpose. While you were

gone, I sowed spiritual seed in the heart of a Samaritan woman;

and she is gone, and is about to return with many of her city,

whom she has brought to believe, (Joh 4:39-42.) These, and the

many more which will believe upon hearing my doctrine,

(Joh 4:41,) will all be a

harvest arising out of the seed which I sowed in your absence, and

on which, therefore, ye bestowed no labour. He farther adds, that

the Greek θεριζειν, stands for τουθεριζειν, and such expressions

are often used to signify, not the end and design, but the

event only. Pearce's Comment.

Verse 39. Many of the Samaritans-believed on him for the saying

of the woman] This woman was the first apostle of Christ in

Samaria! She went and told her fellow citizens that the Messiah

was come; and gave for proof, that he had told her the most secret

things she had ever done: see on Joh 4:29. This word, which is

twice repeated, in Joh 4:29 and here, strongly intimates that a

more particular conversation had taken place, between our Lord and

the Samaritan woman, than what is here related.

Verse 40. He abode there two days.] We are not told that he

wrought any miracles among them; this does not appear to have been

necessary: they were a simple-hearted, teachable people, and they

credited him on the evidence of his own eternal truth. Why are not

miracles wrought now? Miracles were only for the establishment of

the doctrines of Christianity, where they were first preached; we

profess to believe these doctrines; therefore, to us, miracles

would be useless. Where the doctrine is credited, no miracle is

necessary: the Samaritans believed, and no miracle was wrought

among them; for the simple reason, it was not necessary.

Verse 42. We have heard him ourselves] On seeing and hearing our

Lord, the faith of those who had already believed on the woman's

testimony was abundantly confirmed; and, besides those, may others

believed who had not heard the woman speak.

This is indeed the Christ] The promised Messiah.

The Saviour of the world.] Not of the Jews only, but of the

Samaritans, and of the whole Gentile world.

Verse 43. Went into Galilee.] Bishop Pearce thinks that some

words have been lost from the end of this verse, which may be

supplied thus: Went into Galilee, but not to Nazareth; for Jesus

himself had declared, &c. In Mt 13:57; Mr 6:4, and Lu 4:24,

which are the only texts where Jesus is said to have declared

this, he always spake of Nazareth only, and not of Galilee in

general, a country where he lived for the most part, and wrought

the greatest number of his miracles, and made the most converts.

Verse 44. Jesus himself testified] He bore testimony to the

general truth of the following proverb. See Clarke on Mt 13:57.

Verse 45. The Galileans received him] They received him as the

promised Messiah, because of the miracles which they had seen him

perform at Jerusalem, at the Passover. See Joh 2:23.

Verse 46. Where he made the water wine.]

See Clarke on Joh 2:1, &c. Cana was on the road from

Nazareth to Capernaum and the Sea of Tiberias.

A certain nobleman] An officer of the king's court: for this is

the meaning of the original word, βασιλικος, which the Vulgate

translates regulus, a little king. This officer belonged to Herod

Antipas, who was then tetrarch of Galilee. Jerome calls him

Palatinus, and says he was an officer of the king's palace.

Others think it was Chuza, mentioned Lu 8:3; and others think it

was Manaen, spoken of Ac 13:1. One of these opinions may be true,

but all solid proof is wanting. This officer, whoever he was,

appears to have had his ordinary abode at Capernaum, and hearing

that Christ was at Cana, he came express from Capernaum thither,

to entreat him to heal his child.

Verse 48. Except ye see signs and wonders, &c.] Our Lord does

not tell this man that he had no faith, but that he had not

enough. If he had had none, he would not have come from

Capernaum to Cana, to beg him to heal his son. If he had had

enough, he would have been contented with recommending his son

to our Lord, without entreating him to go to Capernaum to heal

him; which intimates that he did not believe our Lord could do it

at a distance. But the words are not addressed to the nobleman

alone, but to all the Galilean Jews in general; for our Lord uses

the plural number, which he never does when addressing an

individual. These people differed widely from the people of

Sychar: they had neither a love of the truth, nor simplicity of

heart; and would not believe any thing from heaven, unless forced

on their minds by the most striking miracles. They were favoured

with the ministry of John Baptist; but, as that was not

accompanied with miracles, it was not generally credited. They

require the miracles of Christ, in order that they may credit the

advent of the Messiah. There are many like these Galileans still

in the world: they deny that God can have any influence among men;

and as to the operations of the Holy Spirit, they, in the genuine

Galilean spirit, boldly assert that they will not credit any man

who professes to be made a partaker of them, unless he work a

miracle in proof of his pretensions! These persons should know

that the grace of working miracles was very different from that by

which a man is saved; and that the former might exist, even in the

most astonishing measure, where the latter did not. See 1Co 13:2.

Verse 49. Sir, come down, &c.] He did not think our Lord could

cure him without being present, and seems here to feel himself

hurt, because our Lord did not come at his first entreaty. It is

difficult for a proud man, or a man in office, to humble himself,

or to treat even God Almighty with proper respect. The spirit of

this man seems not much unlike to that of Naaman the Syrian,

2Ki 5:11.

Verse 50. Go thy way; thy son liveth.] Had our Lord gone with

him, as he wished, his unbelief could not have been fully removed;

as he would have still thought that our Lord's power could not

reach from Cana to Capernaum: in order to destroy his unbelief at

once, and bring him into the fulness of the faith of his supreme

power, he cures him, being apparently absent, by that energy

through which he fills both the heavens and the earth. Here it may

be observed, our blessed Lord did what this man requested him to

do, but not in the way in which he wished it to be done. God will

save all to the uttermost who call upon him, but not in the way in

which they may desire. Eternal life is the free gift of God, and

he has a right to give it as he pleases; and he always gives his

gifts in that way in which his glory is best promoted, and our

eternal interest secured.

The man believed the word] And yet it appears that he had

suspended his faith upon a certain condition: "If I find on my

return that my son is healed, I will believe that Jesus is the

Messiah."

Verse 52. Then inquired he of them the hour] The servants,

overjoyed to find their master's son so suddenly restored, set off

to meet him, that they might impart to him tidings which they knew

would be so very agreeable; and he, intent on having his faith

settled, began immediately to inquire what time it was when the

fever left him, to see whether his cure was the effect of some

natural cause, or whether it was done by the power of Christ.

Yesterday at the seventh hour] At the time we would call one

o'clock. Dr. Macknight thinks the Roman hour is intended; i.e.

seven o'clock in the evening; and this he thinks is the reason why

our Lord did not accompany the nobleman: for, as Cana was a day's

journey from Capernaum, had our Lord gone at that hour he must

have travelled in the night, from which it might have been

inferred that he could not cure the child without being personally

present. Harmony, vol. i. p. 52.

Verse 53. So the father knew] He had the fullest proof that his

son's cure was supernatural, and that it was wrought by the Lord

Jesus.

Himself believed, and his whole house.] He and his whole family

became true converts to the doctrine of the manifested Messiah.

The whole family, impressed with the great kindness of God in

sending health to the child, were the more easily led to believe

in the Lord Jesus. The sickness of the child became the mean of

salvation to all the household. They, no doubt, thought at first

that God was dealing hardly with them, when threatening to remove

the child; but now they see that in very faithfulness God had

afflicted them. Let us learn never to murmur against God, or think

that he does not act kindly towards us. His wisdom cannot permit

him to err; his goodness will not suffer him to do any thing to

his creatures but what may be subservient to their best interests.

By providential occurrences, apparently the most adverse, he may

be securing our eternal salvation.

There is an account in Beracoth, fol. 34, very similar to this

of the evangelist, and very possibly stolen from this holy source.

"When the son of Rab. Gamaliel fell sick, he sent two of his

disciples to R. Chanina, that he would pray to God for him. When

he had seen them, he went on the roof of his house and prayed for

him. He then came down and said to them, His fever has departed

from him. They said unto him, Art thou a prophet? He answered, I

am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet; but when I can

recite my prayers readily, I know I shall be heard. They then

wrote down the hour; and, when they returned to R. Gamaliel, he

said to them, Ye have fulfilled your ministry-in respect to my

son, all is complete. In that hour the fever ( chomah, ο

πυρετος) left him, and he desired water to drink." Schoettgen very

properly remarks, Ovum ovo non magis simile est, atque haec fabula

narrationi evangelicae. "One egg is not more like to another, than

this fable to the evangelical narration."

Verse 54. This-second miracle] The first miracle which Christ

performed was in this same city of Cana, just after his baptism;

and this second took place after his arrival here from Jerusalem,

whence, we have seen, he was driven by the persecution raised

against him by the scribes and Pharisees. By construing the word

παλιν, again, with ελθων, he came, that confusion which is

evident in the common version is entirely removed.

Bishop Pearce says: "It seems probable to me that John, when he

wrote this verse, either joined the word παλιν to ελθων, as he had

done in Joh 4:46, or meant that it should be so joined in the

construction."

John does not mention here the miracles which our Lord did at

Capernaum on his first journey, Joh 2:11, nor those which he did

at Jerusalem on the feast of the passover. See Joh 2:12;

Lu 4:23.

THERE are several particulars in the preceding history of the

Samaritan woman which confirm the doctrine of a particular

providence, and show how God manages the most common occurrences

in order to accomplish the designs of his mercy and love.

The Gospel must be preached to the Samaritans: this is God's

purpose; and in this case, the wrath of man is caused to praise

him.

1. Christ finds it necessary to quit Judea because of the

persecution raised up against him by the scribes and Pharisees,

Joh 4:1-3. How worthy of admiration is that Divine providence

that presses every thing into the accomplishment of its own

designs! The doctors of Jerusalem oblige the Saviour to leave

their city; and a simple woman persuades all the inhabitants of a

Samaritan city to open their gates and their hearts, and entreat

the Redeemer of the world to enter in.

2. Christ must pass through Samaria, Joh 4:4. He was so

situated in Judea that he could not reach Galilee except through

Samaria, without taking a large circuit, which the necessities of

the present case could not admit. Thus, while he appears to fly

only from the fury of his persecutors, he is in reality seeking

the lost, and fully accomplishing the work he came into the world

to perform.

3. Christ being weary finds it necessary to sit down to rest

himself by Jacob's well, Joh 4:5, 6, spent with fatigue and

hunger. How energetic was this fatigue? how active was this rest!

Nothing can happen to Christ in vain-nothing can turn him out of

the way of his mercy-his great work he continues to carry on,

without the smallest interruption, where we would have thought it

must have been necessarily suspended.

4. The disciples are obliged to go to the city to buy victuals,

Joh 4:8, and Jesus was left

alone. Even this circumstance was not only favourable to the

conversion of the Samaritan woman, but even essentially necessary,

as, without it, she could not have had that opportunity of

conversing freely with our Lord; nor would it have been proper for

him to have made that discovery of himself, in their presence,

which we find he did during their absence. See the note on

Joh 4:26.

5. The Samaritan woman is induced at that very time to go and

draw water. Even so small a circumstance as this becomes a

necessary part in the economy of her salvation. There is not a

circumstance in our life not an occurrence in our business, but

God will make it subservient to our salvation, if we have a simple

heart and a teachable spirit. The steps of a good man especially

are ordered of the Lord; and, while he acknowledges his Maker in

all his ways, he will direct all his steps. A proper consideration

of this great truth will produce both confidence and humility.

6. But this blessed doctrine may be abused; for some may suppose

that God always acts according to a fixed necessity, through

which, whatsoever was, is, or will be, has had its existence, mode

of being, operation, and direction, according to predetermined

irrevocable laws. This system makes God himself the necessary

agent of eternal fate, as it supposes him to be constantly

employed in doing what eternal necessity obliges him to perform;

and thus his infinite freedom is bounded or acted upon by

uncontrollable necessity. Perdition is not farther from glory than

necessitating decrees are from a particular and gracious

providence, by which the means of salvation are placed within the

reach of every human being.

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