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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

John 4

 

 

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Verse 1

When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

When therefore (referring back to John 3:22, from which the narrative is now resumed), the Lord knew now the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized [ poiei (G4160) kai (G2532) baptizei (G907)] - or 'was making and baptizing' more disciples than John. Word to this effect may have been brought to Him; but, perhaps, by styling Him here "the Lord" - which he does only once again before His resurrection-our Evangelist means that He "knew" it as "knowing all men" (John 2:24-25).


Verse 2

(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

(Though [ kaitoige (G2544 }, or, 'And yet'] Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.)}] John, being but a servant, baptized with his own hand: Jesus, as the Master, whose exclusive prerogative it was to baptize with the Holy Spirit, seems to have deemed it fitting that He should administer the outward symbol only through His disciples. Besides, had it been otherwise, undue eminence might have been supposed to attach to the Christ-baptized.


Verse 3

He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

He left Judea - that opposition to Him might not be too soon organized, which at that early stage would have marred His work.

And departed again into Galilee - by which time John had been cast into prison. Here, then, our Evangelist takes up the thread of the three first Gospels: Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14. The period during which our Lord continued in Judea, from the time of His first Passover, appears to have been at least eight months-it being, as we shall see from John 4:35, now "four months to harvest," which, as usually reckoned, would be late in the month of December; but as this makes the harvest, it would seem, too early, perhaps our Lord did not leave until late in January.


Verse 4

And he must needs go through Samaria.

And [ de (G1161), or, 'Now'] he must needs go through Samaria - for a geographical reason, no doubt; the nearest way from Judea to Galilee being through the intermediate province of Samaria: but certainly it was not without a higher design-He "needed" to meet with the woman at Jacob's well, and to reap the blessed fruit of that meeting.


Verse 5

Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, called Sychar - the "Shechem" of the Old Testament, about 34 miles north of Jerusalem. From the Romans it got the name of "Neapolis," and is now called "Nablous." But see the note at John 4:20. In "coming to" this town, however, He came only to its neighbourhood, remaining in the first instance, at Jacob's well.

Near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. This fact, though not expressly stated in the Old Testament, was inferred by the Jews from Genesis 33:19; Genesis 48:22 (according to the Septuagint translation); Joshua 24:32.


Verse 6

Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

Now Jacob's well was there. 'We inquired of the Samaritans,' says Dr. Robinson, 'respecting Jacob's well. They said they acknowledged the tradition, and regarded it as having belonged to the patriach. It lies at the mouth of the valley (the narrow valley of Nablous) near the southside. Late as it was, we took a guide and set off for Jacob's well. We were 35 minutes in coming to it from the city. The well bears evident marks of antiquity, but was now dry and deserted; it was said usually to contain living water, and not merely to be filled by the rains. A large stone was laid loosely over, or rather in its mouth, and as the hour was now late, we made no attempt to remove the stone and examine the vaulted entrance below. We had also no line with us at the moment, to measure the well; but by dropping in stones, we could perceive that it was deep (John 4:11). Maundrell, who measured the well, found it dug in a firm rock, about 3 yards in diameter, and 35 yards in depth; 5 yards being full of water. In 1839, it was found to be only 75 feet deep below the vault by which it is covered, with only 10 or 12 feet of water; while in 1843, the bottom was found scarcely covered with water.' Various difficulties in the way of this tradition and the identity of the well are satisfactorily disposed of by Dr. Robinson.

Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus [ houtoos (G3779)] on the well , [ epi (Greek #1909) tee (Greek #3588) peegee (Greek #4077)] - rather, 'by the well'-that is, just as one would do in such circumstances, loungingly or at ease; an instance of the graphic style of our Evangelist. In fact, this is perhaps the most human of all the scenes of our Lord's earthly history. We seem to be beside Him, overhearing all that is here recorded; nor could any painting of the scene on canvas, however perfect, do other than lower the conception which this exquisite narrative conveys to the devout and intelligent reader. But with all that is human, how much also of the divine have we here, both blended in one glorious manifestation of the majesty, grace, pity, patience with which "the Lord" imparts light and life to this unlikeliest of strangers, standing midway between Jews and pagans.

[And] it was about the sixth hour - or noon-day; reckoning from a.m. From Song of Solomon 1:7, we know, as from other sources, that the very flocks "rested at noon." But Jesus, whose maxim was, "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day" (John 9:4), seems to have denied Himself that repose, at least on this occasion, probably that He might reach this well when He knew the woman would be there. Once there, however, He accepts the grateful ease of a seat on the patriarchal stone. But, while Himself is resting, what music is that which I hear from His lips, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?" (Matthew 11:28).


Verse 7

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. For the heat of a noon-day sun had parched His lips. But, while Himself thirsting, "In the last, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink" (John 7:37).


Verse 8

(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat) , [ trofas (Greek #5160)] - 'victuals,' or 'provisions.' This was wisely ordered, that Jesus might be alone with the woman; nor did the disciples return until the dialogue was concluded, and our Lord's object in it entirely gained.


Verse 9

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? - not altogether refusing, yet wondering at so unusual a request from a Jew, as His dress and dialect would at once discover Him to be, to a Samaritan.

For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans - or better without the article, as in the original, 'Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.' Not absolutely none, for the disciples at this very time had gone to buy of the Sycharites, and brought their purchase with them. But the reference is to friendly dealings, such as exchange of hospitalities and acts of kindness. It is this national antipathy that gives point to the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30, etc.), and to the thankfulness of the Samaritan leper, when he found himself cured by the Lord Jesus (Luke 17:16; Luke 17:18). Robinson says the Samaritans 'still maintain their ancient hatred against the Jews, and neither eat, nor drink, nor marry, nor associate with the Jews; but only trade with them.'


Verse 10

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water: - q.d., 'In Me thou seest only a petitioner to thee; but if thou knewest Who that Petitioner is, and the gift that God is giving to men, thou wouldst have changed places with Him, gladly suing of Him living water-nor shouldst thou have sued in vain,' gently reflecting on her for not immediately meeting His request.


Verse 11

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? This is the language of one who, though startled by what was said to her, saw that it must have some meaning, and sought by this question to get at the bottom of it.


Verse 12

Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Art thou greater (already perceiving in this Stranger a claim to some mysterious greatness), than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? For, says Josephus (Ant. 9: 14. 3), when it went well with the Jews the Samaritans claimed kindred with them, as being descended from Joseph, but when misfortunes befell the Jews they disowned all connection with them.


Verse 13

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever pas (G3956) ho (G3588) rather, 'Everyone that'] drinketh of this water shall thirst again:


Verse 14

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him [ geneesetai (G1096) en (G1722) autoo (G846), rather, 'shall become in him'] a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The contrast here is fundamental and all-comprehensive. "This water" plainly means 'this natural water and all satisfactions of a like earthly and perishable nature.' Coming to us from without, and reaching only the superficial parts of our nature, they are soon spent, and need to be anew supplied as much as if we had never experienced them before, while the deeper wants of our being are not reached by them at all; whereas the "water" that Christ gives-spiritual life-is struck out of the very depths of our being, making the soul not a cistern, for holding water poured into it from without, but a fountain-the word [ peegee (Greek #4077)] had been better so rendered, to distinguish it from the word rendered "well" in John 4:11 [ frear (Greek #5421)] - springing, gushing, bubbling up and flowing forth from within us, ever fresh, ever living. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ is the secret of this life, with all its enduring energies and satisfactions, as is expressly said (John 7:37-39). "Never thirsting," then, just means that such souls have the supplies at home. It is an internal well, "springing up into everlasting life" - by which words our Lord carries the thoughts up from the eternal freshness and vitality of these waters in us to the great ocean in which they have their confluence. 'There,' says devout Bengel, 'may I arrive!'


Verse 15

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. This is not obtuseness, for that is giving way: it expresses a wondering desire after she scarce knew what from this mysterious Stranger.


Verse 16

Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

Jesus saith unto her, Go call thy husband, and come hither - now proceeding to arouse her slumbering conscience by laying bare the guilty life she was leading, and, by the minnie details which that life furnished, not only bringing her sin vividly up before her, but preparing her to receive in His true character that wonderful Stranger to whom her whole life, in its minutest particulars, evidently lay open.


Verse 17

The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:


Verse 18

For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.


Verse 19

The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.


Verse 20

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain - that is, mount Gerizim (Deuteronomy 11:29; Deuteronomy 27:12; Joshua 8:33; Judges 9:7). In the Samaritan Pentateuch, instead of "Ebal" (Deuteronomy 27:4) - on which Moses commanded the altar to be erected, with the Ten Commandments written upon the stones of it (see Deuteronomy 27:1-8) - the word "Gerizim" stands; and the Samaritans are tenacious of this reading as their warrant for holding Gerizim to be the divinely-ordained place of public worship, on which they have acted from age to age, and do even to this day. 'There is,' says Stanley, 'probably no other locality in which the same worship has been sustained with so little change or interruption for so great a series of years as that of this mountain, from Abraham to the present day. In their humble synagogue, at the foot of the mountain, the Samaritans still worship-the oldest and the smallest sect in the world.' Robinson found their whole number scarcely to exceed a hundred and fifty souls. 'Mounts Gerizim and Ebal,' says this last distinguished traveler, 'rise in steep rocky precipices from the valley on each side, apparently some eight hundred feet in height. The sides of both these mountains, as here seen, were to our eyes equally naked and sterile.'

And ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Was this question asked-as Stier, Alford, and others think-merely for information on an important religious question? In that case it seems a strange way of meeting our Lord's home-thrust. But if we view it as the question of one who had been stunned by so unexpected a revelation of her sinful life, made to her by one whom she had begun to regard in no common light-all seems clear enough. Though she saw herself all disclosed, she is not yet prepared to break down and ask what hopes there might be for one so guilty. Her convictions have come upon her too suddenly for that. She shifts the question, therefore, from a personal to a public one, though the sequel shows how this revelation of her past life had told upon her. So her reply is not, 'Alas, what a wicked life have I been leading!' but, 'Lo, what a wonderful prophet have I gotten into conversation with! He will be able to settle that interminable dispute between us and the Jews.

Sir, our fathers hold to this mountain,' pointing to Gerizim, 'as the divinely consecrated place of worship, but ye Jews say that Jerusalem is the proper place: say, which of us is right, thou to whom all such things are doubtless known.' How slowly does the human heart submit to thorough humiliation! Compare the prodigal (see the note at Luke 15:15). Doubtless our Lord saw through her, and perceived the more immediate object of her question. But how does He meet it? Does He say 'That is not the point just now; but how stands it with thy heart and life? Until that is disposed of theological controversies must be let alone?' The Prince of preachers takes another method: He humours the poor woman, letting her take her own way, allowing her to lead while He follows-but thus only the more effectively gaining His purpose. He answers her question, pours light into her mind on the spirituality of all true worship, even as of its glorious Object, and so brings her insensibly to the point at which He could disclose to her wondering mind whom she was all the while speaking to.


Verse 21

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, [ erchetai (G2064) hoora (G5610), rather, 'there cometh an hour,'] when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father - that is, shall worship Him at neither place and at no place as an exclusively chosen, consecrated, central place of worship. (See Malachi 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:8.) Observe how our Lord gently and indirectly raises the woman's views of the great Object of all acceptable worship. She had talked simply of "worship." He says, "The worship of THE FATHER" shall soon be everywhere. 'The point raised will very soon cease to be of any moment, for a total change of dispensation is about to come over the Church: but now, as to the question itself.'


Verse 22

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship , [ ho (Greek #3739) ouk (Greek #3756) oidate (Greek #1492) ... ho (Greek #3739) oidamen (Greek #1492)] - rather, 'Ye worship what ye know not: we worship what we know'-q.d., 'Ye worship without any revealed authority, and so, very much in the dark; but in this sense the Jews know what they are about.'

For salvation is of the Jews. The Samaritans are wrong, not only as to the place, but the whole grounds and nature of their worship; while in all these respects the truth lies with us Jews. For salvation is not a thing left to be reached by anyone who may vaguely desire it of a God of mercy, but something that has been revealed, prepared, deposited with a particular people, and must he sought in connection with, and as issuing from them; and that people "the Jews." Here, and almost here only, our Lord uses the pronoun "we." But observe in what sense. It is not, He and other individual men: It is He and the Jewish nation, "of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came" (Romans 9:5). It is, We Jews. In other words, Christ here identifies Himself with others only as touching the family to which as man He belonged; and even that but once or twice. Hence, it seems no proper exception to Remark 3 at the close of the section on Nicodemus (John 3:1-21).


Verse 23

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

But the hour cometh (or, 'But there cometh an hour,') and now is - evidently meaning her to understand that this new economy was in some sense in course of being set up while He was talking to her; a sense which would in a few minutes so far appear, when He told her plainly that He was the Christ.

When the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth - or 'in spirit and truth' [ en (Greek #1722) pneumati (Greek #4151) kai (Greek #2532) aleetheia (Greek #225)]; for the Father seeketh such to worship him}-or 'seeketh such to be His worshippers' [ toioutous (Greek #5108) zeetei (Greek #2212) tous (Greek #3588) proskunountas (Greek #4352) auton (Greek #846)].


Verse 24

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and [in] truth. 'As God is a Spirit, so He both invites and demands a spiritual worship, and already all is in preparation for a spiritual economy, more in harmony with the true nature of acceptable service than the ceremonial worship by consecrated persons, places, and times, which God for a time has seen meet to keep up until the fullness of the time should come.'


Verse 25

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. If we take our Lord's immediate disclosure of Himself, in answer to these words, as the proper key to their meaning to His ear, we can hardly doubt that the woman was already all but prepared for even this startling announcement, which indeed she seems (from John 4:29) to have already begun to suspect by His revealing her to herself. Thus quickly, under so matchless a Teacher, was she brought up from her sunken condition to a frame of mind and heart capable of receiving the noblest revelations. When she says of the expected Messiah, that He would "tell them all things," this belief was probably founded on Deuteronomy 18:15.


Verse 26

Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. Never did our Lord utter Himself so nakedly to His own people the Jews. He had magnified them to the woman; but to themselves He was to the last far more reserved than to her-proving to them rather than plainly telling them that He was the Christ. But what would not have been safe among them was safe enough with her, whose simplicity and docility at this stage of the conversation appear from the sequel to have Become perfect. What now will the woman say? We listen, but all is over. The curtain has dropped. The scene has changed. A new party has arrived.


Verse 27

And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

And upon this came his disciples - who had been to Sychar to buy provisions (John 4:8).

And marveled that he talked [or 'was talking' elalei (G2980)] with the woman. Being a Samaritan, they would not expect such a thing. But though our Lord never went out of His way to seek either Samaritans or Gentiles-ever observing His own direction to the Twelve when they went forth to preach (see the notes at Matthew 10:5-6) - neither did He ever go out of His way to avoid them, when, as in the case of the Syrophoenician Gentile, they came seeking Him (see the notes at Mark 7:24-25), or, as in the case of this Samaritan woman, Providence threw them in His way. In this He acted on the great principle which He Himself laid down in regard to the Sabbath-that 'Not to do good, when it is in the power of our hand to do it, is to do evil.' See the note at Matthew 12:12. Had the disciples seen with the eyes and felt with the heart of their Master, they would less have marveled that He "talked with the woman" - and many a time have marveled that He talked with themselves.

Yet no man ('no one') said, What seekest thou? - `What object hadst Thou?

Or, Why talkest thou with her? }-awed, no doubt, by the spectacle, and thinking there must be something under it, yet afraid to meddle with it.


Verse 28

The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

The woman then left her water-pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,


Verse 29

Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

Come [ deute (G1205)], see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

[ meeti (Greek #3385) houtos (Greek #3778) estin (Greek #1510) ho (Greek #3588) Christos (Greek #5547)] The grammatical form of this question, which expects a negative answer, requires that it should be rendered, 'Is this'-or rather, 'Can this be the Christ?' The woman put it thus, as if they would naturally reply, 'Impossible.' But beneath that modest way of putting it was the conviction, that if they would but come and judge for themselves, she would have no need to obtrude upon them any opinions of hers-which she well knew would appear unworthy of attention.

Thus, by asking if this could possibly be the Christ-and so, rather asking to be helped by them than pretending to be their teacher-she in reality drew their attention to the point, in the least offensive and yet most effectual way. Observe, too, how she confines herself to the marvel of His disclosing to her the particulars of her own life, without touching on what He had said of Himself. If the woman's past life was known to the Sycharites-as who can doubt it was, in so small a place?-this would at once disarm their prejudices and add weight to her statement. How exquisitely natural is all this! Up to our Lord's last words her attention had been enchained, and her awe deepened; and certainly the last disclosure was fitted to hold her faster to the spot than ever. But the arrival of strangers made her feel that it was time for her to withdraw; and He who knew what was in her heart, and what she was going to the city to do, having said all to her that she was then able to bear, let her go without exchanging a word with her in the hearing of others. Their interview was too sacred, and the effect on the woman too overpowering (not to speak of His own deep emotion), to allow of its being continued. But this one artless touch-that she "left her water-pot" - speaks volumes. The living water was already beginning to spring up within her; she found that man doth not live by bread nor by water only, and that there was a water of wondrous virtue that raised people above meat and drink, and the vessels that held them, and all human things. In short, she was transported, forgot everything but one, or felt that her water-pot now would be an encumbrance; and her heart running over with the tale she had to tell, she hastens home and pours it out.


Verse 30

Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

Then they went out of the city and came unto him How different in this from the Jews! and richly was Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. How different, in this, from the Jews! and richly was this their openness to conviction rewarded. But first the Evangelist relates what passed between Jesus and the disciples after the woman's departure.


Verse 31

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

In the meanwhile (during her absence) his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. Fatigue and thirst we saw He felt; here is revealed another of our common infirmities to which the Lord was subject-hunger.


Verse 32

But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. What spirituality of mind does this answer breathe! The pronouns, "I" and "ye" are emphatically expressed [ Egoo (Greek #1473) ... humeis (Greek #5210)], sharply to mark the contrast between His thoughts and theirs at this time. 'As for Me, I have been eating all this time, and such food as ye dream not of.' What can that be? they ask each other; have any supplies been brought Him in our absence? He knows what they are saying, though He hears it not.


Verse 33

Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him [ought] to eat?


Verse 34

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Jesus saith unto them, My meat , [ emon (Greek #1700) brooma (Greek #1033)]. Here, again, the "My" is emphatic, in the same sense.

Is to do [or rather, 'to be doing' hina (G2443) poioo (G4169)] the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work , [ teleioosoo (Greek #5048)] - changing the tense to that of a completed work. 'A Servant here to fulfill a prescribed work, to do and to finish that work is "meat" to Me; and of this, while ye were away, I have had my fill.' And of what does He speak thus? Of the condescension, pity, patience, wisdom, He had been laying out upon one soul-a very humble woman, and one in some respects repulsive too! But He had gained her, and through her was going to gain more, and lay perhaps the foundation of a great work in the country of Samaria; and this filled His whole soul, and raised Him above the sense of natural hunger. (See the note at Matthew 4:4.)


Verse 35

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? That this was intended to express the actual interval between the time when our Lord was speaking and the harvest-time that year, we cannot doubt. The arguments against it, by Alford and others, as if this were a proverbial speech without any definite reference to the actual tame of its utterance-which to us is scarcely intelligible-seem feeble, and the best critics and harmonists regard it here as a note of the actual season of the year at which our Lord spoke-late in December, but more probably January, and, as Stanley affirms, from his own observation, even so late as February; though the year he refers to was perhaps an exceptional one, and the month of February seems too late.

Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

'It wants four months to harvest, ye would say at this season of the natural harvest: but lift up your eyes and look upon those fields in the light of another husbandry, for, lo! in that sense, it wants not four months nor four days, for they are even now white to harvest, ready for the sickle.' The simple beauty of this language is only surpassed by the glow of holy emotion in the Redeemer's own soul which it expresses. It refers to the ripeness of these Sycharites for accession to Him, and the joy of this great Lord of the reapers over the anticipated ingathering. O could we but so "lift up our eyes and look" upon many fields abroad and at home, which to dull sense appear unpromising, as He beheld those of Samaria, what movements, now scarce in embryo, and accessions to Christ, seemingly far distant, might we not discern as quite near at hand, and thus, amidst difficulties and discouragements too much for nature to sustain, be cheered-as our Lord Himself was in circumstances far more overwhelming-with "songs in the night"! [It is surprising that Tischendorf should adhere to the punctuation of some certainly ancient manuscripts and versions here, in connecting the word "already" - eedee (Greek #2235) - with the following verse; no doubt, because the usual place of that adverb is before, not after, kai (Greek #2532). But as this would utterly destroy the sense of our Lord's statements in the two verses, so in the matter of mere punctuation the manuscripts and versions are of no authority; and we are as good judges as the ancient transcribers and translators where the punctuation in every case ought to be. Both Lachmann and Tregelles follow here the punctuation of the received text.]


Verse 36

And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 37

And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. As our Lord could not mean that the reaper only, and not the sewer, received "wages," in the sense of personal reward for his work, the "wages" here can be no other than the joy of having such a harvest to gather in-the joy of "gathering fruit unto life eternal." The blessed issue of the whole ingathering is the interest alike of the sower and of the reaper; it is no more the fruit of the last operation than of the first; and just as there can be no reaping without previous sowing, so have those servants of Christ, to whom is assigned the pleasant task of merely reaping the spiritual harvest, no work to do, and no joy to taste, that has not been prepared to their hand by the toilsome and often thankless work of their predecessors in the field. The joy, therefore, of the great harvest festivity will be the common joy of all who have taken any part in the work from the first operation to the last. (See Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14; Psalms 126:6; Isaiah 9:3).


Verse 38

I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

I sent you , [ egoo (Greek #1473) apesteila (Greek #649)]. The "I" here is emphatic: I, the Lord of the whole harvest. When He says, "I sent you," He refers back to their past appointment to the apostleship, though it points only to the future discharge of it, for they had nothing to do with the present ingathering of the Sycharites.

To reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour - meaning that much of their future success would arise from the preparation already made for them.

Other men laboured - referring, as we think, to the Old Testament labourers, the Baptist, and by implication Himself, though He studiously keeps this in the background, that the line of distinction between Himself and all His servants might not be lost sight of.


Verse 39

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. What a commentary is this on John 4:35, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest"!


Verse 40

So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode - or 'tarried'-it is the same word [ emeinen (Greek #3306)] - "there two days."


Verse 41

And many more believed because of his own word;

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 42

And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying , [ ouk (Greek #3756) eti (Greek #2089) dia (Greek #1223) teen (Greek #3588) seen (Greek #4674) lalian (Greek #2981)] - or, 'No longer do we believe because of thy saying;'

For we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world - or, according to the order in the original, 'that this is indeed the Saviour of the world, the Christ.' What a marvelous simplicity and docility do these Samaritans display! They first credit the woman's simple testimony, and let her bring them to Jesus; then they are satisfied by one brief interview with Himself that He is the Christ, and invite Him to visit them; and when He condescends to do so, His two days' stay not only brings over manymore to the same faith in Him, but raises that faith to a conviction-never reached by the Jews, and hardly as yet attained by His own disciples-that as the Christ He was "the Saviour of the world." And yet, beyond the supernatural knowledge which He had displayed in His interview with the woman, He does not appear to have performed any miracle before these Samaritans. Is there anything in the Gospel History more remarkable than this? those were two precious days, surely, to the Redeemer Himself! Unsought, He had come to His own, yet His own received Him not; now those who were not His own had come to Him, been won by Him, and invited Him to their town that others might share with them in the benefit of His wonderful ministry. Here, then, would He solace His already wounded spirit, and have in this outfield village-triumph of His grace a sublime foretaste of the inbringing of the whole Gentile world into the Church. Olshausen correctly notes this as 'a rare instance of the Lord's ministry producing an awakening on a large scale.'

Remarks:

(1) Did He who, when the time to suffer arrived, "set His face like a flint," withdraw from Judea to Galilee when Pharisaic jealousy at Jerusalem would have come too soon to a head, and arrested the work given Him to do? Let His followers learn from Him this wisdom of the serpent while manifesting, with Him, the harmlessness of the dove. Needless exposure is as much to be avoided as a cowardly flight, in times when the truth cannot be confessed without personal danger.

(2) In what a light do the condescension, the zeal, the skill, the patience, which Jesus bestowed upon the woman of Samaria place the value of a single soul! Apart from all that followed, what a rescue was effected in that one cause! See a similar care of one soul in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, with a view to whose illumination Philip the Evangelist was taken out of full and glorious work in the city of Samaria, away to the desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26, etc., on which see). "Brethren," says James, "if any [one] of you [ tis (Greek #5100) en (Greek #1722) humin (Greek #5213)] do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (see the notes at James 5:19-20). And observe how casually this woman of Samaria was gained. Jesus and she were each on their own business at this well; He on His way from Judea to Galilee, and she come from the neighbouring village to draw water.

Doubtless such meetings of Jewish men and Samaritan women at that well were customary enough; and had Jesus preserved the usual silence, nothing had come of it. But the opportunity was to Him too precious to be lost. Though the thirst was as real as the weariness, and water as desirable as repose, He certainly disregarded the national antipathies, not so much to mark His superiority to them and disapprobation of them, nor yet merely to slake His thirst, but to draw this woman into a conversation which should not cease until He had gained her soul. O, if such casual opportunities of usefulness were embraced by the followers of Christ as by Christ Himself, how many might be won to Him without ever going out of their way! All that is wanted is that love of souls which burned in Him, that constant readiness to avail ourselves of openings for Christian usefulness, the present sense of the truth upon the heart, and a spirit of dependence upon Him for that power to open the mind and heart which He possessed and we must get from Him.

If we could but say with Him-and just in proportion as we can say with Him -"My meat is to be doing the If we could but say with Him-and just in proportion as we can say with Him - "My meat is to be doing the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work;" if we do but remember that this was said of what He had been doing for one soul, and that of the fruit He was reaping in that one case, He said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of" - we should need no stimulants to follow Him, and hardly any directions for doing it. But who can tell what may issue out of one conversion? Think of the little maid of Israel (2 Kings 5:1-14.) See what this once disreputable woman of Samaria did for her fellow-villagers; and who shall say what widespread influences, preparing Samaria for the eventual reception of the Gospel, may not have flowed from the precious events of those two days which Jesus spent there? (See the notes at Acts 8:9-13.) No conversion ought to stand alone. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus should feel himself, like this woman, a missionary for Christ, and every conversion should be like a wave of the sea, begetting another. So that the pains taken on one soul-while of itself, if it issue in conversion, it will be "meat" to any who have the Spirit of Christ-ought to be taken with all the more eagerness and hope, as we have ground to believe that we are thus, in all likelihood, doing good on a large scale.

(3) How vividly does the reality of our Lord's human nature-His warm, quivering humanity-His identity with ourselves, not only in all the essential properties but in all the sinless infirmities of our nature, come out here! He is weary with a journey, just as we are; His tongue, like ours, is parched with thirst; He feels, as we do, the cravings of hunger: So He rests Him by Jacob's well, as we should do in like case, and asks, as a thirsty man would do; for a drink of water from the woman of Samaria; and He is provided by His disciples with victuals from Sychar, just as other men. And the life-like, minute lines of detail are so drawn that we feel as if we saw and heard the whole, and the very children that read it feel the same. And yet this is the loftiest and deepest of all the Gospels. Nay, in the dialogue which the Evangelist reports between Jesus and the Woman, these details seem but like the finest net-work of gold in which are set jewels of heavenly luster and incomparable price-the jewel of unfathomable Dignity, Authority, Grace, Penetration, Patience, in this Petitioner for water; besides all the jewels of spiritual truth never before uttered in such a style. No wonder that this should be regarded as emphatically the Gospel of the Person and Grace of the Lord Jesus, and that our Evangelist should get the surname of "the divine."

(4) Mark how Jesus holds Himself forth here as the sovereign Giver, the authoritative Dispenser of the living water; which living water is nothing less than a well-spring of eternal satisfaction opened up in a man's soul, never to dry up. Such a claim on the part of a mere creature would not be more offensive than ridiculous. Search the whole Scripture, and see if anything approaching to it was ever taken into the lips of the most eminent and inspired servants of God. But how majestic, appropriate, and self-evidencing are such claims from the lips of this Speaker! As we read and re-read this dialogue, we feel ourselves in the presence of Grace Incarnate-enshrined, too, not in celestial humanity, but (O wonder of wonders!) in weary, thirsty, hungry flesh, just like our own; sitting down beside us, talking with us, breathing on us its tender love, and laying its warm, fleshly hand upon us, drawing us with cords of a man and bands of love. See the note at Matthew 11:28, and Remark 5 at the close of that section.

(5) With what charming simplicity and transparent clearness does one line of this dialogue express the unsatisfactoriness of all earthly satisfactions - "Everyone that drinketh of this water shall thirst again." Under the figure of cold waters to a thirsty soul, it covers the whole field of earth's satisfactions, but stamps them as external to us, and coming into us from without; while it represents the soul as the mere reservoir of them, drying up like other cisterns, and needing to be ever replenished. But what a contrast to this immediately follows. Still keeping to the figure of water, Jesus claims it as His prerogative to open in the soul a fountain of living waters that shall never cease to flow, a spring of enduring satisfaction and eternal freshness; thus expressing, with matchless brevity, force, and beauty, the spirituality, the vitality, the joy, the perpetuity of that religious change which He effects in all that believe on His name. But now,

(6) When we advance to the woman's question about the place where men ought to worship, how wonderful is the breadth and richness of the answer given her. First, our Lord will not dash her by telling her that her countrymen were in the wrong, until He has first told her how soon the whole question will be at an end. But when He does do so, how definite and positive is the verdict pronounced upon the Samaritan worship. Men talk as if sincerity were the only thing of consequence in the worship of God. That the Samaritans were more wanting in this than the Jews there is no evidence; and the very different reception which our Lord met with from the one than the other would seem to show that they were the more unsophisticated of the two. And yet He says the Samaritans knew not the Object they worshipped, while the Jews did, because Salvation was of the Jews. What can this mean, if it be not that the Samaritans worshipped after ideas and modes of their own, and in doing so were wrong; while the Jews followed divinely communicated ideas and prescribed modes, and therefore theirs was, in that respect, the only acceptable worship? But again, when our Lord says that all was right with the Jewish worship, "because Salvation is of the Jews," He enunciates the great truth, that in the worship of sinful men, as all worshippers on earth are, SALVATION must ever be the key-note-Salvation needed, sought, obtained, extolled; that historically the whole economy of salvation in its preparatory form had been entrusted for conservation to the seed of Abraham; and that so long as they occupied the important position of the ordained depositaries of all Saving Truth, Jerusalem must be regarded as the city of divine solemnities, and its temple as the visible dwelling-place of the Most High. (See Isaiah 2:3.) What a recognition is this of the Old Testament and its Faith, and of the Jews and the Jewish Economy as the living embodiment of it up to that time! But further, mark how explicitly our Lord announces the speedy cessation of all religious distinction between Jew and Gentile, and between one place and another for the worship of God.

"There cometh an hour and now is," when a world-wide worship shall be set up. The rending of the veil of the temple in twain, from the top to the bottom, was the signal-note of that mighty event-the death of Christ-which dissolved forever these distinctions. From that time forth the middle wall of partition was broken down, and in every place the true incense and a pure offering was free to rise to heaven (Malachi 1:11). How strange it seems (one cannot avoid adding) that notwithstanding these announcements, and the commentaries on them in Galatians 4:1-31 and the Epistle to the Hebrews throughout, there should be an influential section of the students of prophecy who contend that the temple-services and the ritual distinctions of Jew and Gentile have not been absolutely and finally abolished, and that they will all be re-established during the millennium! Another thing worthy of special notice in this comprehensive reply to the woman of Samaria, is the emphatic manner in which the spirituality of all acceptable worship is proclaimed, and-what is even of more importance-its being based upon the Spirituality of God Himself.

This was as true under the Jewish Economy as it has been since its cessation. But since, under an elaborate external and exclusive worship, this neither was nor could be so manifest, nor yet so fully realized by the worshippers themselves, the Lord here speaks as if only now such a spiritual worship was going to be established, because now for the first time since Moses-and in one sense even since the fall itself-to be stripped of sacrificial rites and the observance of time and place. Once more, in this reply, our Lord raises the woman's views of the glorious Object of worship, saying, "The Father seeketh such to worship Him." This is the more remarkable, because to the unbelieving Jews He never so speaks of God, and seems studiously to avoid it (John 8:38). In the Sermon on the Mount, addressing His own disciples, He calls Him "your Father," and He teaches them in prayer to say, "Our Father." In His own prayers He says ever, "Father," and once His Agony in the Garden drew from Him the emphatic form, "My Father." From these facts we infer that though this woman was not yet within the circle of those to whom He says, "Your Father," this was so soon to be, that He could with propriety invite her to regard Him as "The Father." So much for the dialogue between our Lord and the woman of Samaria. Turning next to that between Him and the disciples on the woman's departure, we may notice,

(7) What rich encouragement it affords to those "fishers of men" who "have toiled all the night" of their official life, and, to human appearance, have "taken nothing." How little might any other than one Eye have seen that the fields of Samaria were white already to harvest; and yet the event proves it to a very remarkable degree, as far as Sychar was concerned. Even so may the desert all unexpectedly rejoice and blossom as the rose; yet never is a harvest reaped that has not first been sown. The sowers may live and die before the harvest-time arrive, and the fruit of their labours be gathered. Yet can the reapers not say to the sowers, We have no need of you. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy," though others may do the actual reaping work after they are in their graves. And if the work of the latter is the more joyous, it should bind them sweetly to the sowers to recollect that "other men laboured, and they have but entered into their labours." But may not the spiritual eye be trained so as to see what Jesus here saw-the whitening fields, the yellow grain, all invisible to the eye of sense? We have, indeed, much to learn before we come to this, and the Lord overrules our spiritual obtuseness to try our faith, and then overpower us with the spectacle of nations born in a day.

But even then, all might probably be seen by the eye of faith. In Tahiti, after nearly twenty years' missionary labour, not one conversion was known to have occurred, and the abandonment of the Mission was all but agreed on. But on the return of the missionaries to the island, after a native war which had driven them from it, they found that two natives, who, unknown to them, had received serious impressions as servants in their families, and had met together for prayer in their absence, had been joined by a number more, and that little remained for the missionaries but to help forward what God Himself had so marvelously begun. Meanwhile, the Directors in London, urged by one or two of their number, who could not endure to see the Mission abandoned had, after a season of special prayer, despatched letters of encouragement to the missionaries. While these were on their way out, a ship was conveying the news to England of the entire overthrow of idolatry in the island.


Verse 43

Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.

Now after two days , [ tas (Greek #3588) duo (Greek #1417) heemeras (Greek #2250)] - it should be, 'after the two days;' that is, of His stay at Sychar (John 4:40), "he departed thence, and went into Galilee."


Verse 44

For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country , [ en (Greek #1722) tee (Greek #3588) idia (Greek #2398) patridi (Greek #3968)]. If "his own country" here meant Galilee, His having no honour in it would seem to be a reason why he should not go to it. Hence, some of those who think so render the words, He "went into Galilee, although He Himself testified," etc. But this is against the sense of the word "for" [ gar (Greek #1063)], and is inadmissible. Others of those who understand "His own country" here to mean Galilee get over the difficulty by connecting the "for" with what follows in the next verse rather than with what goes before, thus: 'The Galileans received Him, not because they appreciated His character and claims - "for" He had grown too common among them for that, according to the proverb-but merely because they had seen His recent miracles at Jerusalem.' This is the view of Tholuck, supported by Lucke in his 3rd Edition, DeWette, and Alford.

But it is too far-fetched. Hence, some give up Galilee as "His own country," and think Judea, or Bethlehem as But it is too far-fetched. Hence, some give up Galilee as "His own country," and think Judea, or Bethlehem as His birthplace, to be meant. So Origen, Maldonat, Lucke, 2nd Edition, Robinson, Wieseler. But our Lord was never either at Bethlehem or in Judea at all from the time of His birth until the commencement of His ministry; and therefore "His own country" can only mean the place of His early life-the scene of such familiar contact with others as would tend to make Him grow common among them. And what can that be but Nazareth?-which is expressly called "His country" [ teen (Greek #3588) patrida (Greek #3968) autou (Greek #846)] in Matthew 13:54; Matthew 13:57, in precisely the same connection; as also in Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24. In this sense all is clear and natural: 'Now after the two days, Jesus, having left the province of Samaria as He had done that of Judea, went into the province of Galilee; but not, as might have been expected, to that part of it where He had been brought up, for Jesus knew that there-in His own country-He would have no honour, according to the proverb: He went, therefore as the reader shall learn presently, to Cana of Galilee.' So Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Olshausen, etc.


Verse 45

Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

Then, when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received (or welcomed) him, having seen all the things that he did at [`in' en (G1722)] Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast - proud, perhaps, of their countryman's wonderful works at Jerusalem, and possibly won by this circumstance to regard His claims as at least worthy of respectful investigation. Even this our Lord did not despise, for saving conversion often begins in less than this (so Zaccheus, Luke 19:3).


Verse 46

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee (see the note at John 2:1), where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman [ basilikos (Greek #937)] - 'courtier,' or king's servant, one connected with a royal household; such as "Chuza" (Luke 8:3) or Manaen (Acts 13:1). So Josephus often uses the word.

Whose son was sick at Capernaum.


Verse 47

When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee he went unto him and besought him that When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea - whence the report of His miracles at the paschal feast had doubtless reached him, begetting in Him the hope that He would extend His healing power to his dying son,

Into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down - Capernaum being "down" from Cana on the Northwest shore of the sea of Galilee, "and heal his son: for he was at the point of death."


Verse 48

Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

Then said Jesus, Except ye see signs and wonders [ seemeia (Greek #4592) kai (Greek #2532) terata (Greek #5059)]. The latter word expresses simply the miraculous character of an act; the former the attestation which it gave of a higher presence and a divine commission. (See the note at John 6:26.)

Ye will not believe. The poor man did believe, as both his coming and his urgent entreaty show. But how imperfect that faith was, we shall see, and our Lord would deepen it by such a blunt, and seemingly rough, answer as He made to Nicodemus (John 3:3).


Verse 49

The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 'Ah! while we talk, my child is dying, and if Thou come not instantly, all will be over.' This was faith, but partial, and our Lord would perfect it. The man cannot believe the cure could be performed without the Physician coming to the patient-the thought of such a thing evidently never occurred to him. But Jesus will in a moment bring him up to this.


Verse 50

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. Both effects instantaneously followed: the man believed the word, and the cure shooting quicker than lightning from Cana to Capernaum, was felt by the dying youth. In token of faith, the father takes his leave of Christ-in the circumstances this evidenced full faith. The servants hasten to convey the joyful tidings to the anxious parent, whose faith now only wants one confirmation.


Verse 51

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.


Verse 52

Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.


Verse 53

So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house. He had believed before this-first very imperfectly, then with assured confidence in Christ's word; but now with a faith crowned by "sight." And the wave rolled from the head to the members of his household. "Today is salvation come to this house" (Luke 19:9); and no mean house this.


Verse 54

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee - that is, not His second miracle after coming out of Judea into Galilee; but 'His second Galilean miracle, and it was performed after his return from Judea'-as the former was before He went to it.

Remarks:

(1) If we are right as to the sense of John 4:43-44 - if Jesus, on His return into Galilee, went to Cana, avoiding Nazareth as "His own country," in which He knew that He would have "no honour," according to the proverb which Himself uttered-we have here a strong confirmation of the judgment we have given on the much-disputed question, whether Jesus paid two visits to Nazareth after his public ministry commenced, or only one. See the note at Matthew 4:12, and more fully on Luke 4:16, etc. As in our view He avoided Nazareth on this occasion, because He had become too common among them during His early life, so when He did visit it (Luke 4:16, etc.), it was only to be upbraided for never having yet exhibited to His own town's-people the miraculous powers with the fame of which other places were ringing; and His reception on that one occasion when He visited Nazareth was quite enough to show that a repetition of His visit would be but "giving that which was holy to the dogs." So He left it, as we believe, never to return.

(2) On comparing the faith of the nobleman whose son Jesus healed, with that of the centurion whose servant was restored by the same healing power, we are not to conclude that the believing disposition of the one was at all behind that of the other. Did the nobleman "beseech Jesus that He would come down and heal his son" - as if the thing could not be done at a distance? The centurion also "sent elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant." It is true that Jesus replied to the nobleman, "Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe" - referring to the general unpreparedness even of those who believed in Him to recognize His unlimited power-and it is true that the nobleman only proved this by replying, "Sir, come down ere my child die;" while the centurion sent a noble message to Jesus not to come to Him, as that would be too great an honour, and besides there was no need, as it could be done equally well by a word uttered at a distance. But we must remember that the nobleman's case occurred almost at the outset of our Lord's ministry, when faith had much less to work upon than when the centurion applied (Luke 7:2, etc). But what shows that the two cases are as nearly as possible on a par is, that whereas even the centurion's noble message seems to have been an after thought-his faith rising, perhaps, after his first messengers were despatched-the nobleman, as his case became more urgent, reached to the very same faith by another method. For when Jesus answered his entreaty to "come down" by saving, "Go thy way; thy son liveth," "the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way," persuaded the cure could and would be performed without the great Healer's presence.

Thus may two cases, differing in their circumstances and features, be essentially of one character, and thus may a weaker manifestation of faith be consistent with an equal capacity for faith-the opportunities and advantages of each being different. This might indeed baffle man's power to detect and determine. But it is our comfort to know that it is He with whom both had to do, and from Whom they both experienced such love and grace, who is "ordained to be the Judge of quick and dead."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-4.html. 1871-8.

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