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Conversation With a Samaritan Woman

But he had[a] to pass through Samaria.[b] Now he came to a Samaritan town[c] called Sychar,[d] near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.[e] Jacob’s well was there, so Jesus, since he was tired from the journey, sat right down beside[f] the well. It was about noon.[g]

A Samaritan woman[h] came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water[i] to drink.” (For his disciples had gone off into the town to buy supplies.[j])[k] So the Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you—a Jew[l]—ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water[m] to drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common[n] with Samaritans.)[o]

10 Jesus answered[p] her, “If you had known[q] the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ‘Give me some water[r] to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”[s] 11 “Sir,”[t] the woman[u] said to him, “you have no bucket and the well[v] is deep; where then do you get this[w] living water?[x] 12 Surely you’re not greater than our ancestor[y] Jacob, are you? For he gave us this well and drank from it himself, along with his sons and his livestock.”[z]

13 Jesus replied,[aa] “Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty[ab] again. 14 But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again,[ac] but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain[ad] of water springing up[ae] to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw[af] water.”[ag] 16 He[ah] said to her, “Go call your husband and come back here.”[ai] 17 The woman replied,[aj] “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “Right you are when you said,[ak] ‘I have no husband,’[al] 18 for you have had five husbands, and the man you are living with[am] now is not your husband. This you said truthfully!”

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see[an] that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain,[ao] and you people[ap] say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman,[aq] a time[ar] is coming when you will worship[as] the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You people[at] worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews.[au] 23 But a time[av] is coming—and now is here[aw]—when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks[ax] such people to be[ay] his worshipers.[az] 24 God is spirit,[ba] and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (the one called Christ);[bb] “whenever he[bc] comes, he will tell[bd] us everything.”[be] 26 Jesus said to her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”

The Disciples Return

27 Now at that very moment his disciples came back.[bf] They were shocked[bg] because he was speaking[bh] with a woman. However, no one said, “What do you want?”[bi] or “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar, went off into the town and said to the people,[bj] 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Surely he can’t be the Messiah,[bk] can he?”[bl] 30 So[bm] they left the town and began coming[bn] to him.

Workers for the Harvest

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him,[bo] “Rabbi, eat something.”[bp] 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 So the disciples began to say[bq] to one another, “No one brought him anything[br] to eat, did they?”[bs] 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me[bt] and to complete[bu] his work.[bv] 35 Don’t you say,[bw] ‘There are four more months and then comes the harvest?’ I tell you, look up[bx] and see that the fields are already white[by] for harvest! 36 The one who reaps receives pay[bz] and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the one who sows and the one who reaps can rejoice together. 37 For in this instance the saying is true,[ca] ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap what you did not work for; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

The Samaritans Respond

39 Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the report of the woman who testified,[cb] “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they began asking[cc] him to stay with them.[cd] He stayed there two days, 41 and because of his word many more[ce] believed. 42 They said to the woman, “No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one[cf] really is the Savior of the world.”[cg]

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  1. John 4:4 sn Travel through Samaria was not geographically necessary; the normal route for Jews ran up the east side of the Jordan River (Transjordan). Although some take the impersonal verb had to (δεῖ, dei) here to indicate logical necessity only, normally in John’s Gospel its use involves God’s will or plan (3:7, 14, 30; 4:4, 20, 24; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9).
  2. John 4:4 sn Samaria. The Samaritans were descendants of 2 groups: (1) The remnant of native Israelites who were not deported after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 b.c.; (2) Foreign colonists brought in from Babylonia and Media by the Assyrian conquerors to settle the land with inhabitants who would be loyal to Assyria. There was theological opposition between the Samaritans and the Jews because the former refused to worship in Jerusalem. After the exile the Samaritans put obstacles in the way of the Jewish restoration of Jerusalem, and in the 2nd century b.c. the Samaritans helped the Syrians in their wars against the Jews. In 128 b.c. the Jewish high priest retaliated and burned the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim.
  3. John 4:5 tn Grk “town of Samaria.” The noun Σαμαρείας (Samareias) has been translated as an attributive genitive.
  4. John 4:5 sn Sychar was somewhere in the vicinity of Shechem, possibly the village of Askar, 1.5 km northeast of Jacob’s well.
  5. John 4:5 sn Perhaps referred to in Gen 48:22.
  6. John 4:6 tn Grk “on (ἐπί, epi) the well.” There may have been a low stone rim encircling the well, or the reading of P66 (“on the ground”) may be correct.
  7. John 4:6 tn Grk “the sixth hour.”sn It was about noon. The suggestion has been made by some that time should be reckoned from midnight rather than sunrise. This would make the time 6 a.m. rather than noon. That would fit in this passage but not in John 19:14 which places the time when Jesus is condemned to be crucified at “the sixth hour.”
  8. John 4:7 tn Grk “a woman from Samaria.” According to BDAG 912 s.v. Σαμάρεια, the prepositional phrase is to be translated as a simple attributive: “γυνὴ ἐκ τῆς Σαμαρείας a Samaritan woman J 4:7.”
  9. John 4:7 tn The phrase “some water” is supplied as the understood direct object of the infinitive πεῖν (pein).
  10. John 4:8 tn Grk “buy food.”
  11. John 4:8 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author, indicating why Jesus asked the woman for a drink.
  12. John 4:9 tn Or “a Judean.” Here BDAG 478 s.v. ᾿Ιουδαίος 2.a states, “Judean (with respect to birth, nationality, or cult).” The same term occurs in the plural later in this verse. In one sense “Judean” would work very well in the translation here, since the contrast is between residents of the two geographical regions. However, since in the context of this chapter the discussion soon becomes a religious rather than a territorial one (cf. vv. 19-26), the translation “Jew” has been retained here and in v. 22.
  13. John 4:9 tn “Water” is supplied as the understood direct object of the infinitive πεῖν (pein).
  14. John 4:9 tn D. Daube (“Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: the Meaning of συγχράομαι [Jn 4:7ff],” JBL 69 [1950]: 137-47) suggests this The background to the statement use nothing in common is the general assumption among Jews that the Samaritans were ritually impure or unclean. Thus a Jew who used a drinking vessel after a Samaritan had touched it would become ceremonially unclean.
  15. John 4:9 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
  16. John 4:10 tn Grk “answered and said to her.”
  17. John 4:10 tn Or “if you knew.”
  18. John 4:10 tn The phrase “some water” is supplied as the understood direct object of the infinitive πεῖν (pein).
  19. John 4:10 tn This is a second class conditional sentence in The word translated living is used in Greek of flowing water, which leads to the woman’s misunderstanding in the following verse. She thought Jesus was referring to some unknown source of drinkable water.
  20. John 4:11 tn Or “Lord.” The Greek term κύριος (kurios) means both “Sir” and “Lord.” In this passage there is probably a gradual transition from one to the other as the woman’s respect for Jesus grows throughout the conversation (4:11, 15, 19).
  21. John 4:11 tc ‡ Two early and significant Greek mss along with two versional witnesses (P75 B sys ac2) lack ἡ γυνή (hē gunē, “the woman”) here; א* has ἐκείνη (ekeinē, “that one” or possibly “she”) instead of ἡ γυνή. It is possible that no explicit subject was in the autographic text and scribes added either ἡ γυνή or ἐκείνη to make the meaning clear. It is also possible that the archetype of P75 א B expunged the subject because it was not altogether necessary, with the scribe of א later adding the pronoun. However, ἡ γυνή is not in doubt in any other introduction to the woman’s words in this chapter (cf. vv. 9, 15, 17, 19, 25), suggesting that intentional deletion was not the motive for the shorter reading in v. 11 (or else why would they delete the words only here?). Thus, the fact that virtually all witnesses (P66 א2 A C D L Ws Θ Ψ 050 083 086 ƒ1,13 M latt syc,p,h sa bo) have ἡ γυνή here may suggest that it is a motivated reading, conforming this verse to the rest of the pericope. Although a decision is difficult, it is probably best to regard the shorter reading as authentic. NA28 has ἡ γυνή in brackets, indicating doubts as to their authenticity. For English stylistic reasons, the translation also includes “the woman” here.
  22. John 4:11 tn The word for “well” has now shifted to φρέαρ (phrear, “cistern”); earlier in the passage it was πηγή (pēgē).
  23. John 4:11 tn The anaphoric article has been translated “this.”
  24. John 4:11 sn Where then do you get this living water? The woman’s reply is an example of the “misunderstood statement,” a technique appearing frequently in John’s Gospel. Jesus was speaking of living water which was spiritual (ultimately a Johannine figure for the Holy Spirit, see John 7:38-39), but the woman thought he was speaking of flowing (fresh drinkable) water. Her misunderstanding gave Jesus the opportunity to explain what he really meant.
  25. John 4:12 tn Or “our forefather”; Grk “our father.”
  26. John 4:12 tn Questions prefaced with μή () in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end. In this instance all of v. 12 is one question. It has been broken into two sentences for the sake of English style (instead of “for he” the Greek reads “who”).
  27. John 4:13 tn Grk “answered and said to her.”
  28. John 4:13 tn Grk “will thirst.”
  29. John 4:14 tn Grk “will never be thirsty forever.” The possibility of a later thirst is emphatically denied.
  30. John 4:14 tn Or “well.” “Fountain” is used as the translation for πηγή (pēgē) here since the idea is that of an artesian well that flows freely, but the term “artesian well” is not common in contemporary English.
  31. John 4:14 tn The verb ἁλλομένου (hallomenou) is used of quick movement (like jumping) on the part of living beings. This is the only instance of its being applied to the action of water. However, in the LXX it is used to describe the “Spirit of God” as it falls on Samson and Saul. See Judg 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Kgdms 10:2, 10 LXX (= 1 Sam 10:6, 10 ET); and Isa 35:6 (note context).
  32. John 4:15 tn Grk “or come here to draw.”
  33. John 4:15 tn The direct object of the infinitive ἀντλεῖν (antlein) is understood in Greek but supplied for clarity in the English translation.
  34. John 4:16 tc Most witnesses have “Jesus” here, either with the article (אc C2 D L Ws Ψ 086 M lat) or without (א* A Θ ƒ1,13 al), while several significant and early witnesses lack the name (P66,75 B C* 33vid). It is unlikely that scribes would have deliberately expunged the name of Jesus from the text here, especially since it aids the reader with the flow of the dialogue. Further, that the name occurs both anarthrously and with the article suggests that it was a later addition. (For similar arguments, see the tc note on “woman” in 4:11).
  35. John 4:16 tn Grk “come here” (“back” is implied).
  36. John 4:17 tn Grk “answered and said to him.”
  37. John 4:17 tn Grk “Well have you said.”
  38. John 4:17 tn The word order in Jesus’ reply is reversed from the woman’s original statement. The word “husband” in Jesus’ reply is placed in an emphatic position.
  39. John 4:18 tn Grk “the one you have.”
  40. John 4:19 tn Grk “behold” or “perceive,” but these are not as common in contemporary English usage.
  41. John 4:20 sn This mountain refers to Mount Gerizim, where the Samaritan shrine was located.
  42. John 4:20 tn The word “people” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied to indicate that the Greek verb translated “say” is second person plural and thus refers to more than Jesus alone.
  43. John 4:21 sn Woman was a polite form of address (see BDAG 208-9 s.v. γυνή 1), similar to “Madam” or “Ma’am” used in English in different regions.
  44. John 4:21 tn Grk “an hour.”
  45. John 4:21 tn The verb is plural.
  46. John 4:22 tn The word “people” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied to indicate that the Greek verb translated “worship” is second person plural and thus refers to more than the woman alone.
  47. John 4:22 tn Or “from the Judeans.” See the note on “Jew” in v. 9.
  48. John 4:23 tn Grk “an hour.”
  49. John 4:23 tn “Here” is not in the Greek text but is supplied to conform to contemporary English idiom.
  50. John 4:23 sn See also John 4:27.
  51. John 4:23 tn Or “as.” The object-complement construction implies either “as” or “to be.”
  52. John 4:23 tn This is a double accusative construction of object and complement with τοιούτους (toioutous) as the object and the participle προσκυνοῦντας (proskunountas) as the The Father wants such people as his worshipers. Note how the woman has been concerned about where people ought to worship, while Jesus is concerned about who people ought to worship.
  53. John 4:24 tn Here πνεῦμα (pneuma) is understood as a qualitative predicate nominative while the articular θεός (theos) is the subject.
  54. John 4:25 tn Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “the one who has been anointed.”sn The one called Christ. This is a parenthetical statement by the author. See the note on Christ in 1:20.
  55. John 4:25 tn Grk “that one.”
  56. John 4:25 tn Or “he will announce to us.”
  57. John 4:25 tn Grk “all things.”
  58. John 4:27 tn Or “his disciples returned”; Grk “came” (“back” is supplied in keeping with English usage). Because of the length of the Greek sentence it is better to divide here and begin a new English sentence, leaving the καί (kai) before ἐθαύμαζον (ethaumazon) untranslated.
  59. John 4:27 tn BDAG 444 s.v. θαυμάζω 1.a.γ has “be surprised that” followed by indirect discourse. The context calls for a slightly stronger wording.
  60. John 4:27 tn The ὅτι (hoti) could also be translated as declarative (“that he had been speaking with a woman”) but since this would probably require translating the imperfect verb as a past perfect (which is normal after a declarative ὅτι), it is preferable to take this ὅτι as causal.
  61. John 4:27 tn Grk “seek.” See John The question “What do you want?” is John’s editorial comment (for no one in the text was asking it). The author is making a literary link with Jesus’ statement in v. 23: It is evident that, in spite of what the disciples may have been thinking, what Jesus was seeking is what the Father was seeking, that is to say, someone to worship him.
  62. John 4:28 tn The term ἄνθρωποι (anthrōpoi) used here can mean either “people” (when used generically) or “men” (though there is a more specific term in Greek for adult males, ανήρ [anēr]). Thus the woman could have been speaking either (1) to all the people or (2) to the male leaders of the city as their representatives. However, most recent English translations regard the former as more likely and render the word “people” here.
  63. John 4:29 tn Grk “the Christ” (both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed”). Although the Greek text reads χριστός (christos) here, it is more consistent based on 4:25 (where Μεσσίας [Messias] is the lead term and is qualified by χριστός) to translate χριστός as “Messiah” here.
  64. John 4:29 tn The use of μήτι (mēti) normally presupposes a negative answer. This should not be taken as an indication that the woman did not believe, however. It may well be an example of “reverse psychology,” designed to gain a hearing for her testimony among those whose doubts about her background would obviate her claims.
  65. John 4:30 tn “So” is supplied for transitional smoothness in English.
  66. John 4:30 sn The imperfect tense is here rendered began coming for the author is not finished with this part of the story yet; these same Samaritans will appear again in v. 35.
  67. John 4:31 tn Grk “were asking him, saying.”
  68. John 4:31 tn The direct object of φάγε (phage) in Greek is understood; “something” is supplied in English.
  69. John 4:33 tn An ingressive imperfect conveys the idea that Jesus’ reply provoked the disciples’ response.
  70. John 4:33 tn The direct object of ἤνεγκεν (ēnenken) in Greek is understood; “anything” is supplied in English.
  71. John 4:33 tn Questions prefaced with μή () in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here it is “did they?”).
  72. John 4:34 sn The one who sent me refers to the Father.
  73. John 4:34 tn Or “to accomplish.”
  74. John 4:34 tn The substantival ἵνα (hina) clause has been translated as an English infinitive No one brought him anything to eat, did they? In the discussion with the disciples which took place while the woman had gone into the city, note again the misunderstanding: The disciples thought Jesus referred to physical food, while he was really speaking figuratively and spiritually again. Thus Jesus was forced to explain what he meant, and the explanation that his food was his mission, to do the will of God and accomplish his work, leads naturally into the metaphor of the harvest. The fruit of his mission was represented by the Samaritans who were coming to him.
  75. John 4:35 tn The recitative ὅτι (hoti) after λέγετε (legete) has not been translated.
  76. John 4:35 tn Grk “lift up your eyes” (an idiom). BDAG 357 s.v. ἐπαίρω 1 has “look up” here.
  77. John 4:35 tn That is, “ripe.”
  78. John 4:36 tn Or “a reward”; see L&N 38.14 and 57.173. This is something of a wordplay.
  79. John 4:37 tn The recitative ὅτι (hoti) after ἀληθινός (alēthinos) has not been translated.
  80. John 4:39 tn Grk “when she testified.”
  81. John 4:40 tn Following the arrival of the Samaritans, the imperfect verb has been translated as ingressive.
  82. John 4:40 tn Because of the length of the Greek sentence and the sequencing with the following verse, the conjunction καί (kai) has not been translated here. Instead a new English sentence is begun.
  83. John 4:41 tn Or “and they believed much more.”
  84. John 4:42 tn Or “this.” The Greek pronoun can mean either “this one” or “this” (BDAG 740 s.v. οὗτος 1).
  85. John 4:42 sn There is irony in the Samaritans’ declaration that Jesus was really the Savior of the world, an irony foreshadowed in the prologue to the Fourth Gospel (1:11): “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” Yet the Samaritans welcomed Jesus and proclaimed him to be not the Jewish Messiah only, but the Savior of the world.