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The Samaritan Woman. He had to[a] pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,[b] near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.(A) Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. [c]The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”(B) (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) 10 [d]Jesus answered and said to her,(C) “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 [The woman] said to him, “Sir,[e] you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”(D) 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(E) 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” 17 The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ 18 For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”(F) 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.(G) 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;[f] but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”(H) 21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.(I) 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;[g] and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”(J) 25 [h]The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming,(K) the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he,[i] the one who is speaking with you.”(L)

27 At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,[j] but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, 29 “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 They went out of the town and came to him. 31 Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.(M) 35 Do you not say, ‘In four months[k] the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.(N) 36 The reaper is already[l] receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.(O) 37 For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’(P) 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

39 Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman[m] who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” 40 When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 Many more began to believe in him because of his word, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”(Q)

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  1. 4:4 He had to: a theological necessity; geographically, Jews often bypassed Samaria by taking a route across the Jordan.
  2. 4:5 Sychar: Jerome identifies this with Shechem, a reading found in Syriac manuscripts.
  3. 4:9 Samaritan women were regarded by Jews as ritually impure, and therefore Jews were forbidden to drink from any vessel they had handled.
  4. 4:10 Living water: the water of life, i.e., the revelation that Jesus brings; the woman thinks of “flowing water,” so much more desirable than stagnant well water. On John’s device of such misunderstanding, cf. note on Jn 3:3.
  5. 4:11 Sir: the Greek kyrios means “master” or “lord,” as a respectful mode of address for a human being or a deity; cf. Jn 4:19. It is also the word used in the Septuagint for the Hebrew ’adônai, substituted for the tetragrammaton YHWH.
  6. 4:20 This mountain: Gerizim, on which a temple was erected in the fourth century B.C. by Samaritans to rival Mount Zion in Jerusalem; cf. Dt 27:4 (Mount Ebal = the Jews’ term for Gerizim).
  7. 4:23 In Spirit and truth: not a reference to an interior worship within one’s own spirit. The Spirit is the spirit given by God that reveals truth and enables one to worship God appropriately (Jn 14:16–17). Cf. “born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5).
  8. 4:25 The expectations of the Samaritans are expressed here in Jewish terminology. They did not expect a messianic king of the house of David but a prophet like Moses (Dt 18:15).
  9. 4:26 I am he: it could also be translated “I am,” an Old Testament self-designation of Yahweh (Is 43:3, etc.); cf. Jn 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5–6, 8. See note on Mk 6:50.
  10. 4:27 Talking with a woman: a religious and social restriction that Jesus is pictured treating as unimportant.
  11. 4:35 ‘In four months… ’: probably a proverb; cf. Mt 9:37–38.
  12. 4:36 Already: this word may go with the preceding verse rather than with Jn 4:36.
  13. 4:39 The woman is presented as a missionary, described in virtually the same words as the disciples are in Jesus’ prayer (Jn 17:20).