Exegesis of John 4:5-42


With Ash Wednesday, and all the usual unexpected tasks of ministry, I

accomplished much less this week than I have in the past. (I also

noticed some personal fatigue from facing the same exegetical format

week after week, but I intend to keep working through this.)

I have still found it very enlightening to follow as many of the OT and

NT parallels printed in the margins of the Nestle NT as possible. This

week instead of looking them up in my printed Bible and typing them in

by hand, I went to the website The Unbound Bible


and found it much easier to investigate the texts I was searching for.

You may notice my biblical quotations are a little longer this week. It

is just so easy to copy the verses of interest. Hopefully this extra

information is worth the space in my exegesis. I have only printed what

I felt was helpful to my understanding of the text.

Step I - (Initial) Acquaintance

A. Comparison of English or other published translations


24 must worship in spirit and truth

42 truly the Savior of the world


24 must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth

42 we are certain that he is the Savior of the world


23 those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their

spirits, their true selves, in adoration

42 . . . know it for sure. HeÆs the Savior of the world!

B. Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

C. One's Own Rough Translation

4 And it was necessary for him to pass through Samaria

5 Therefore he comes to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the region

which Jacob gave to Joseph his son.

6 Now there was there Jacob' fountain. Jesus therefore being weary

from the journey, sat thus at the fountain. The hour was about the


7 A woman comes out of Samaria to draw water. Jesus says to her, "Give

me to drink."

8 For his disciples had gone away into the city, in order that they

might buy provisions.

9 Therefore, say to him, the Samaritan woman, "How, thou being a Jew,

from me to drink do you ask, being a Samaritan woman? For Jews do not

have dealings with Samaritans."

10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who

is the one saying to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked him and

he would have given you living water."

11 She says to him, "Lord, you have no bucket and the well is deep,

therefore where have you the living water?

12 You are not greater than Jacob, our father, who gave us the well, and

himself drank of it, and his sons and his cattle?"

13 Jesus answered and said to her, "All drinking of this water will

thirst again,

14 but whoever drinks of the water I will give to him, will not thirst

in the age. But the water I will give to him will become in him a

fountain of water going up to life eternal."

Due to a lack of time, I will focus on these first 14 verses and

possibly the phrase "savior of the cosmos" in verse 42.

42 and to the woman they said that no longer because of your talk we

believe, for ourselves we have heard, and we know that this one is truly

the savior of the cosmos.

Step II - Disposition

A. Genre - How the text says what it says

Everyone misunderstands what Jesus says. It is almost like a comedy.

B. Personal Interaction - Questions and observations

What do verses 1-3 have to do with this pericope? Why does John mention

how many people were being baptized by Jesus' disciples and why would

attention from the Pharisees cause Jesus to leave?

Matthew 4.12 also has Jesus withdrawing. Why does the savior of the

world keep retreating?

What could Jesus have said and done to cause people to be certain that

he was the Savior of the world? I can imagine people calling him a

great teacher and/or healer, even as a one come from God. But what

signs would indicate the Savior of the world?

C. Organization - Where the elements of "B" are located

Step III - Composition

A. Immediate Context - preceding/following pericope

Before: The "first sign" at the wedding at Cana, followed by Jesus

spending time with his family

The cleansing of the Temple, the Nicodemus story

Jesus and his disciples go into the Judaean countryside and baptize

The relative ministries of John and Jesus are clarified.

After: Jesus heals on the sabbath and the Jews start persecuting him


B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

The Gospel of John can be outlined as follows:

Prologue 1.1-18

Jesus' public ministry

The search for the Incarnate Word 1.19-4.54

The rejection of the Incarnate Word 5.1-12.50

Jesus' teachings among his own 13.1-17.26

The rejection and glorification of Jesus 18.1-19.42

The risen Word and the empowerment of his own 20.1-20.31

Epilogue 21.1-21.25

In this pericope, Jesus is clearly identified as the Savior of the

world. Next John will show how people rejected him.

C. Issues of Authorship

I was surprised to look in my concordance and find how few references

there are in the NT to Jesus as Savior. For instance, Mat 1.21 is one

of the few places in Matthew which indicates Jesus will "save". Matthew

never calls Jesus the savior. The gospel of John calls Jesus the savior

only here. The letter of 1 John uses this title once (4.14). However,

this is a powerful title, and along with John 3.16, helps to show John's

belief in the cosmic importance of Jesus.

Step IV - Context

A. Primitive Christianity

The savior of the cosmos theme ties in well with John's description of

Jesus earlier in 3.16.

Nestle parallels for verses 1-3

1 Cor 1.17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the

gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would

not be made void

Mat 4.12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He

withdrew into Galilee;

Nestle parallels for verses 4-14

Luk 9.51-3 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was

determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him,

and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make

arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was

traveling toward Jerusalem.

Rev 21.6 Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega,

the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the

spring of the water of life without cost.

Mt 12.41 the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the

judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of

Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (I don't see

the connection here.)

Nestle parallel for verse 42

1 John 4.14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to

be the Savior of the world.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

Nestle parallels for verses 4-14

Gn 48.22 Then Israel said to Joseph, "Behold, I am about to die, but God

will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. "I

give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand

of the Amorite with my sword and my bow."

Jos 24.32 Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel

brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob

had bought from the sons of Hamor

the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of money; and they became

the inheritance of Joseph's sons.

Esdras 4.1-3 Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the

people of the exile were building a temple to the LORD God of Israel,

they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' households, and

said to them, "Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God;

and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of

Assyria, who brought us up here." But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest

of the heads of fathers' households of Israel said to them, "You have

nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we

ourselves will together build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus,

the king of Persia has commanded us."

Sir 50.25

Gen 26.19 But when Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a

well of flowing water,

Jer 2.13 For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken

Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns,

Broken cisterns That can hold no water.

Zch 14.7-9 For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD,

neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there

will be light. And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem,

half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the

western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And the LORD

will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only

one, and His name the only one.

Gen 21.18-20 "Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I

will make a great nation of him." Then God opened her eyes and she saw a

well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the

lad a drink. God was with the lad, and he grew; and he lived in the

wilderness and became an archer.

Isa 58.11-12 And the LORD will continually guide you,

And satisfy your desire in scorched places,

And give strength to your bones;

And you will be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

"Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;

You will raise up the age-old foundations;

And you will be called the repairer of the breach,

The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

C. Hellenistic World

The quest for immortality is a familiar theme in Greek mythology.

However, it is typically achieved by individuals. In contrast, Jesus

offers it to anyone who will accept it.

Step V - Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

Jesus promises unending life to those who ask it of him. The excitement

of realizing who Jesus is seems to be contagious.

B. Smooth Translation

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

A woman whose life has been marked by broken relationships, is offered

an eternal relationship and is able to bring many more people to a

similar encounter with Jesus. We too can exchange our failures and

broken dreams for a new and eternal and good life.

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Description of Audience

A distant suburban congregation, many of whom may not be familiar with

the season of Lent. We also host many winter Texans in this time of


B. Intended Goals for the Address

To realize the exciting implications of following Christ. In a world

that is often confused, we have a clarity of mission. In a world of

sickness and hunger and death, we have eternal nourishment. In a world

of broken relationships and loneliness, we have eternal communion with

our Creator and our fellow humans.

C. Address - refer to the sermon page