The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50

2. Jesus the source of life, 4:1-54

i] Jesus and the woman at the well, 4:1-42

b) Reflections on mission.


While the woman at the well returns to the village to tell everyone that she thinks she has met the Messiah, the disciples return with something for Jesus to eat. Jesus tells them that food is the last thing on his mind because here in this little Samaritan village people are responding to the gospel. Jesus stays in the village for two days and many "from that town believed in him."


Jesus is the source of life - a universal savior.


i] Context: For Jesus the source of life, see 4:1-26.


ii] Structure: Reflections on mission:

The woman testifies to Jesus, v27-30;

"Could this be the Messiah?"

Jesus engages with his disciples on the issue of mission, v31-38;

The fields "are ripe for harvest."

Many Samaritans become believers, v39-42;

Jesus "is the Savior of the world."


iii] Interpretation:

The conversation between the woman and Jesus is interrupted at its climax and a sense of disorder emerges as the narrative takes on two strands: Jesus with his disciples and the woman with her neighbors, cf., Ridderbos. Unlike the woman, the disciples are somewhat phased by the situation that has developed in their absence, but other than an incongruous suggestion that Jesus may need something to eat, they keep schtum. The social context has its issues - a male talking with an unescorted woman, and worse, a Jewish rabbi talking with a Samaritan woman. Within this context, a woman offers Jesus a drink of water, and Jesus offers her salvation - "this man really is the Savior of the world."

The prophets had long described the eschatological coming day of the Lord, the day of the inauguration / realization of the reign of God, as harvest-time, a day of gathering people into the kingdom - the harvest is now, Isa.27:12, Joel 4:13. The prophets of old, all the way through to the Baptist and his disciples, had long proclaimed the coming kingdom of God and now in this Samaritan village the evidence of this end-time harvest is unfolding before their eyes in the response of a community of Samaritans. When Samaritans respond positively to the gospel then the Kingdom of God is surely at hand! So yes indeed, "the fields are already white, ripe for harvest", and this a world-wide harvest. In the person of Jesus, the entire world is confronted by the inadequacy of its limited resources and by the overabundant riches of the gift of God, a gift which is both international in scope and cross-cultural in character; ref. Klink, p227.


A model for the mission of the church: John may be reflecting on the post Pentecost mission of the New Testament church, but that doesn't mean that this narrative is a fabrication; Jesus would have had numerous contacts with the Samaritans, but like the Gentiles who sought him out (12:20-21), his mission is to Israel, and then to the world. It is certainly true that the narrative, as it stands, carries a word for the church on the subject of mission; "the new life in Christ inevitably breaks out of its Jewish setting and is as universal as the light that enlightens man", Lindars. So, this narrative reminds us that the mission of the church to proclaim Christ as savior is universal.


iv] Editorial:

Heaven on earth: John's realized eschatology is evident in this passage as Jesus uses the image of sowing and reaping to make the point that the coming day of the kingdom is bursting into the present. In the face of the coming kingdom, sowing and reaping coincide, with both sower and reaper sharing the harvest.

In the real world injustice reigns - reapers gain and sowers loose. It was in response to this reality that progressive believers in nineteenth century England sought to counter the social effects of the industrial revolution; they sought to realize heaven on earth in what we now know as socialism. From these humble beginnings a powerful secular political movement emerged which to this day strives to bring down capitalism and emancipate humanity in a heaven on earth. In essence, socialism is a Christian heresy; it is an embodiment of realized eschatology which sets aside God and the fall (original sin), breaking the nexus between the sower and the reaper so that all may rejoice together. As for all good theology, truth can be evidentially verified, and the evidence is that socialism doesn't work - in a century of sad experiments it has never worked. The socialist heresy ignores Jesus' proclamation that "my kingdom is not of this world"; In this world "you will always have the poor among you." Realized eschatology can never be realized in a sinful world.

In Jesus, the age to come bursts into this fading age, this Shadow Land as C.S. Lewis put it. It's touch is humanizing, but its reality is transcendent. To this reality we must lift our eyes and grasp the offer of eternal life, for in Jesus we will share, not in a flawed reflection of heaven on earth, but in God's glorious heavenly reign. It is there we shall rejoice together.

Text - 4:27

A reflection on the mission of the church, v27-42: i] A woman testifies to Jesus, v27-30.

epi + dat. "Just then" - at [this time the disciples of him came]. Temporal use of the preposition, as NIV; "the disciples returned about this time", CEV.

eqaumazon (qaumazw) imperf. "were surprised" - [and] were wondering. The imperfect, being durative, serves to express a state of being amazed, shocked; "very surprised", Phillips.

oJti "to find" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing the source of the wonder / amazement, but possibly causal, explaining why they were amazed; "felt surprised that ...", Berkeley.

meta + gen. "with [a woman]" - [he was speaking] with [a woman]. Expressing association.

mentoi "but" - nevertheless, but, however [no one said]. Adversative adverbial particle.

ti pro. "what [do you want]?" - what [are you seeking or] why [do you speak with her]? Interrogative pronoun, best understood as a "what" followed by "why" sequence; "'What do you seek?' or, 'Why are you talking with her'", ESV.


Is the woman responding to the negative response of the disciples? - "She took the hint and left", Peterson. Pfitzner suggests that her response is driven by "excitement and agitation, rather than offense at the disciples' silence and coolness." Some interesting sermons have worked off the fact that she left her water jar behind (like the disciples left their boats???). Hunter suggests that such an approach is "misplaced" - that's a nice way of putting it! "Leaving her water jar behind she headed off to the village."

oun "-" - therefore [the woman left the water jar of her and went away into the town]. Inferential, establishing a logical conclusion, "so ...."

toiV anqrwpoiV (oV) dat. "to the people" - [and said] to the men. Dative of indirect object; "to the village folk."


And so, she testifies to Jesus; "Come and see!", cf., 1:39, 46.

deute adv. "Come" - Serving as a hortatory adverb; "come here." "Come and check out someone who knows me inside and out."

moi dat. pro. "[told] me [everything]" - [see a man who told all things whatever i did] to me. Dative of indirect object.

mhti "-" - [is this one] not [the christ]? When the negation mh is used in a question we would expect the answer "no"; "No, this is not the Christ." But with tiV the question prompts a tentative answer leaning toward the negative, but possibly a tentative affirmation. So, the woman may still be unsure of Jesus' status, or she may even be playing down her opinion so as to not arouse a negative reaction. Her words could be critically judged, given that she is possibly a social outcast due to the string of men she has partnered. Some commentators have argued that she is a social outcast and that the time she chose to come to the well was late so as to miss the other womenfolk, but of course, such assumptions are always dangerous - to assume is to make an ASS out of U and ME! "Is it possible that he may be the Messiah?"


ek + gen. "[they came out] of [the city]" - [they came out] from [the city]. Expressing source / origin, "from", or separation, "away from"; redundant due to the ek prefix of the verb, but proper form.

hrconto (ercomai) imperf. "made their way [toward him]" - [and] were coming [to him]. The imperfect is possibly inceptive, "they started to come to him." "And they went out to see for themselves", Peterson.


ii] Jesus engages with his disciples on the issue of mission, v31-38.

en "[meanwhile]" - in [the meanwhile]. Temporal use of the preposition. The article tw/ serves as a nominalizer turning the temporal adverb "meanwhile" into a substantive, "the meantime", Cassirer.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "-" - [the disciples were asking him] saying [rabbi, eat]. Attendant circumstance participle, redundant, expressing action accompanying the verb "were asking"; "were asking ... and said." The verb "were asking" is imperfect, possibly chosen to emphasize durative action, ie., the disciples pestered him to eat (iterative - repeated action), although often tense is chosen to further the discourse; here the imperfect aligns with the imperfect "were coming", v30 - the townsfolk "were coming" while the disciples "were urging."


Jesus "lives by his obedience to the will of God, which is that he should be the Savior of the world; he has been engaged in this wok in his conversation with the woman", Fenton.

oJ de "but he" - but/and the = he. Transitional, indicating a step in the dialogue from one speaker to another.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [he said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

ego pro. "I" - i [have eating = food]. Emphatic by use.

fagein (fagw) aor. inf. "to eat" - to eat [which you do not know]. The infinitive is epexegetic, specifying the "food", edible food. Jesus "is sustained by accomplishing the work, the mission, which God has given him to do", Thompson. "I have spiritual sustenance of which you know little about."


John makes a point of recording the many times people misunderstand what Jesus is saying. He often uses this misunderstanding to then draw out the truth he wants to emphasize - as here in v34.

oun "Then" - therefore [the disciples said to one another]. Here with a inferential sense, "accordingly", as NIV; "given his comment, the disciples wondered whether someone had already brought Jesus something to eat."

mh "-" - no [certain person]. Used in a question expecting a negative answer, although as Harris notes, the sense here may be a bit more subtle; "Surely no one can have brought him food, yet it appears as if someone has?"

autw/ dat. pro. "[have brought] him" - [brought something / food to eat] to him. Dative of indirect object.

fagein (fagw) aor. inf. "food" - to eat. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "food for the purpose of eating"; "surely someone hasn't brought him something to eat?", Barclay.


As we know, Jesus came eating and drinking and was often criticized by the wowsers (the PC fun police) for his lack of piety, but the real food that satisfies him is that of undertaking the Father's mission of saving lost humanity, cf., 5:36, 17:4. Jesus had already made it clear to the Devil that absolute obedience to the Father's will for the fulfillment of his "work" is the "bread" that sustains, Deut.8:3, cf., Matt.4:4.

autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus said]" - [jesus says] to them. Dative indirect object.

iJna + subj. "[is to do the will]" - [my food is] that. Introducing two epexegetic clauses (in the place of an epexegetic infinitive) specifying the "food", namely "to do the will of the one who sent me", and "to complete his work."

tou pemyantoV (pempw) gen. aor. part. "of him who sent" - [i may do the will] of the one having sent [me and that I may complete / accomplish the work]. The participle serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, possessive, or subjective, "the will expressed by the one who sent me."

autou gen. pro. "his [work]" - of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or possibly subjective, "the work begun by the Father", Schnackenburg. The "work" is obviously the work of salvation, a work which finds its completion in the cross - the word "work" is not being used here of Jesus' signs, "works".


The agricultural saying "from planting to harvest is four months", TH, is a first century Palestinian version of the modern saying "Rome wasn't built in a day." The saying makes the point that to create something that has a degree of difficulty about it takes time, and so the saying serves to encourage patience. Yet, Jesus makes the point that when it comes to the business of the coming kingdom, sowing and harvest coincide; the anticipated future which requires patience and fortitude has burst into the present - the eschaton is realized, the kingdom of God is at hand. "You know how they say 'A watched pot never boils'? Well open your eyes, it's already boiling!"

ouc "[do]n't [you have a saying" - [do you] not [say]. This negation is used in a question expecting a positive answer, "Yes, we all know that saying."

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement direct speech / quotation, expressing what is said, namely the proverbial saying.

eti adv. "still [four months]" - [it is] yet, still [a period of four months]. Temporal adverb.

kai "until [harvest]" - and [the harvest comes]. Subordinate rather than coordinate; "before the harvest comes", Harris.

uJmin dat. pro. "[I tell] you" - [look I say] to you. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "-" - [lift up the eyes of you and see the fields] that [they are already white toward harvest]. Introducing an object clause, complement of the direct object "fields" of the verb "to see." Note that the temporal adverb hdh, "already", probably commences v36, so NIV; "Already the one who reaps .....", ESV. "White for harvest" images the bright shimmering of a wheat or barley field on a sunny day at the point of harvest.

proV + acc. "for [harvest]" - toward [harvest]. Probably expressing purpose here; "ripe and ready for the purpose of harvest


The synoptic image of harvest, as it relates to judgment, is a time to separate the wheat from the tares. Here the stress is on the imminence of the harvest ("the plowman shall overtake the reaper", Am.9:13) and of the gathering of the wheat "for eternal life." The coming kingdom breaks the nexus between the sower and the reaper such that both the one who sows and the one who reaps rejoices together as they share the harvest of eternal life.

hdh adv. "Even now" - already. Temporal adverb. "The harvest is at hand, the reaper has overtaken the sower", Barrett.

oJ qerizwn (qerizw) pres. part. "[even now] the one who reaps" - the one reaping [receives wages]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to receive." "Even now the harvest workers are receiving their wages."

eiV + acc. "[harvests a crop] for [eternal life]" - [and gathers fruit] into [eternal life]. Harris suggests that the sowing / harvesting process "issues in eternal life", but it is more likely that the preposition here expresses end-view / goal / purpose, "with a view to"; eternal life is the purpose for which the crop is gathered, so Barrett, as NIV.

iJna + subj. "so that" - Here introducing a consecutive clause expressing result, "with the result that ....", as NIV.

oJ speirwn (speirw) pres. part. "the sower" - the one sowing [and the one reaping may rejoice together]. The participle, as with "the one reaping", serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to rejoice."


Again Jesus draws on a common saying of the time to illustrate the immediacy of the kingdom and its eschatological harvest: "Some plant the seed and others harvest the crop." In a corrupt world the one who toils is often not the one who gains the reward, eg., those who undertake menial work, tasks that are essential for the maintenance of a civil society, are always rewarded far less (and increasingly so!) than those in executive positions. This is how it may be in a fallen world, but Jesus goes on to make the point in v38 that the immediacy of the coming kingdom overturns conventional wisdom by placing the disciples in the middle of a harvest they had no hand in preparing.

gar "-" - because. Possibly causal, "because"; "for here the saying holds true true, ....", ESV. Probably better taken here as emphatic, "indeed".

en + dat. "thus [the saying]" - in [this case the word / saying is true]; Here the preposition is local, context / circumstance, "in this context the saying is verified." The demonstrative pronoun toutw/, "this", is forward referencing (so Barrett), ie., referencing v38, namely, the situation where "you reap a crop for which you did not toil"; "Here in this case the saying, 'There is one who reaps and there is one who sows', fits well enough. I sent you to reap a crop for which you did not toil."

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement, direct quotation, stating the "the word."

oJ speirwn (speirw) pres. part. "one sows [another reaps]" - the one sowing [is other and the one reaping is another]. The participle, as with "the one reaping", serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb to-be. As noted above, the sowers are probably the prophets through to the Baptist. Some argue for the Baptist and his disciples, some for Jesus himself, cf., Schnackenburg, and others, who take a post-resurrection view, suggest the apostolic community (Christ and his apostles), cf., Hoskyns.


As noted above, the disciples now find themselves in the midst of a harvest they had no hand in preparing. This is the point Jesus wishes to make, so Ridderbos, ..., but there has been a tendency in the past to identify the players, eg., Jesus is referring to the ministry of the OT prophets through to the Baptist preparing the ground for Jesus' disciples (this is the most popular interpretation); Jesus is referring to the ministry of the Baptist and his disciples preparing the ground for Jesus and his disciples; Jesus is referring to his own ministry preparing the ground for his disciples, so Schnackenburg; Jesus is referring to the ministry of the apostolic community (Jesus + apostles + possibly the Jerusalem church) preparing the ground for Christendom, so Hoskins.

egw pro. "I" - Emphatic by use and position.

qerizein (qerizw) pres. inf. "[I sent you] to reap" - The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose.

o} pro. "what" - that (= a crop in a field) which [you have not labored]. Accusative of respect; "that with respect of which you have not labored", so Harris. "I have sent you to harvest a crop in a field where you did not plow the ground nor sow the seed."

eiV + acc. "[you have reaped the benefits of their labor]" - [others have labored and you have entered] into [the labor of them]. Spacial, metaphorical, "entered into" in the sense of "shared the benefits of." "I am sending you to harvest crops in fields where others have done all the hard work", CEV.


iii] Many Samaritans become believers, v39-42: This is not an a record of the evangelization of Samaria, but of the conversion of poliV ("many") Samaritans who lived in the village of Sychar and who, having heard the testimony of a woman who by chance had met Jesus, encountered the Christ for themselves, they believed, and so found eternal life in him. Israel may reject their messiah, many in the world will not - such evidences the coming kingdom / reign of God.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

twn Samaritwn (hV ou) gen. "[many] of the Samaritans" - [from that city many] of the samaritans [believed into him]. Partitive genitive.

ek + gen. "from [that town]" - Here expressing source / origin, "from", as NIV.

eiV + acc. "[believed] in [him]" - Spacial, expressing movement toward, arrival at. Here the preposition eiV is interchangeable with en, so "they came to believe in him", as NIV. The idea of believing "in", "into" is somewhat difficult to conceive. The act of believing involves putting ones faith / trust in something / someone. Such involves putting weight on something / someone, relying on, depending on, ......., a sense also carried by the preposition en.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of [the word of the woman]. Causal; "because of, on account of."

marturoushV gen. pres. part. "testimony" - testifying, witnessing. Although anarthrous, the participle could be taken as adjectival, attributive, limiting "woman"; "because of the word of the woman who testified that ...." None-the-less, given that the genitive "of the woman", is probably adjectival, verbal, subjective / idiomatic, "the word / account given by the woman", the participle may better taken as adverbial, temporal, "the account given by the woman when she testified" The majority of translations simplify as NIV.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the woman testified to her Samaritan neighbors; "because the woman affirmed that he told her everything she had done", Barclay.

moi dat. "[he told] me" - [he said] to me [all things which I did]. Dative of indirect object.


oun "so" - therefore. Here inferential, establishing a logical connection; "so, subsequently, accordingly", as NIV.

wJV "when" - as [the samaritans came to him]. Adverbial use of the conjunction, usually denoting the manner in which the action proceeds, although here most likely temporal, as NIV.

hrwtwn (erwtaw) imperf. "they urged [him]" - they were asking [him]. The imperfect probably serves to strengthen the durative nature of the action, so NIV "urged", "they begged him", TEV, but it could also be inceptive, "they began to ask him", so NET Bible.

meinai (menw) aor. inf. "to stay" - to remain. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the Samaritans asked, namely, that Jesus might stay with them.

par (para) + dat. "with [them]" - with [them, and he remained there two days]. Here the preposition expresses association / accompaniment. We should not make much of John's use of the verb menw, "to remain, abide, continue." It is a powerful word (cf., 14:10, 15:4), but here it simply means that the Samaritans asked Jesus to stay with them (rather than "abide" in their heart etc.!!!) and he stayed for a few days; "the Samaritans came and asked him to stay with them, and he did stay there for a few days", Cassirer.


The witness of the woman leads to others giving an ear to Jesus and responding in faith.

dia + acc. "because of [his words]" - [and many by more believed] because of [the words of him]. Causal use of the preposition; "because of what they heard him say", CEV.

pollw/ dat. adj. "[many] more" - [many] by more samaritans believed in him. Dative of measure / degree of difference; "Far more believed when they heard him for themselves", Barclay.


John provides a clue to Jesus' gospel preaching in the faith-statement of the crowd, namely that Jesus is "the Savior of the world."

te "-" - and. Coordinate, indicating a close connection with what precedes, "and so ......"

th/ ... gunaiki (h aikoV) dat. "[they said] to the woman" - [they were saying] to the woman. Dative of indirect object.

dia + acc. "just because of [what you said]" - [no longer do we believe] because of [the talk of you]. Causal; "we no longer believe in him simply because of what you said", Harris.

gar "-" - for [ourselves we have heard him]. Serving to introduce a causal clause; autoi, "we" = "ourselves", is emphatic by use and position. "for we have heard him for ourselves."

oJti "[we know] that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they know.

tou kosmou (oV) gen. "[the Savior] of the world" - [this one is truly / in very truth the savior, deliverer] of the world. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "the world's savior", or verbal, objective, "the one who saves the world" = "the one who saves / rescues people who live in the world." This is an interesting expression and is only used again in 1 John 4:14, but cf., Jn.3:17, 12:47, 1Tim.4:10. It may reflect the act of creation as a salvation event, and more particularly God's intention to create a people for himself from mankind and to deliver / save this people in their times of distress, culminating in their eschatological salvation, the salvation of the new Israel / new creation, through Christ. So "savior of the world" is short-talk (semantic density!!) for Christ's salvation / rescuing of a people of faith, a community of believers, from a world heading for destruction. The converted Samaritans are the harvest of this new creation, this new Israel, the first fruits of what will become a worldwide church community of believers.


John Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]