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Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew

February 24, 2008
Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 95 (1)
Romans 5:1-11
John 4:5-42

1. CONTEXT: John 4: 5--42

We know from Acts 1:8 that the Samaritans are included in the
church's mission and this mission is successful (Acts 9:31). The synoptics
are cool about the Samaritan mission (Mt l0:5, Lk 9:51-56). The story in
John 4: 4-30 probably arose from the tradition of the Johannine
community, not Jesus. According to Neyrey, "Jacob Traditions and the
Interpretation of John 4: 10-26," THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY 41,
l979, p. 421, the Samaritan "Jacob cult" is surplanted with Jesus' new
revelation, cult, and covenant. The story then focuses on sign: Jesus reads
hearts, and religious propaganda: the woman's testimony. The conclusion
of the text in v. 39-42 appears to be a later interpretation which deals
with Johannine replacement themes.

In 4:9 we are introduced to a problem, "The Jews have no dealings
with Samaritans." Coupled with 4:22, the Samaritans don't have salvation.
The entrance of Samaritans into the Johannine community may have caused
problems with Jewish members. As Malina points out (THE NEW
TESTAMENT WORLD, p. 125) new people would clash with existing group
purity boundaries. This is an example of the anti-blood relatives theme in
John cf. 1: 12, 13; 7: 5. Membership in the Johannine church is based on
belief in Jesus, not pedigree. Verses 31-38 and 39-42 justify the
Samaritan entrance into the Johannine community.

1b. TEXT: John 4: 5—42 (ESV)

5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. [1]
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that 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, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. [2] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up 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 water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

[1] 4:6 That is, about noon

[2] 4:14 Greek forever 

[3] 4:51 Greek bondservants

[4] 4:52 That is, at 1 p.m.

GREEK: Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

5ερχεται ουν εις πολιν της σαμαρειας λεγομενην συχαρ πλησιον του χωριου ο εδωκεν ιακωβ [τω] ιωσηφ τω υιω αυτου: 6ην δε εκει πηγη του ιακωβ. ο ουν ιησους κεκοπιακως εκ της οδοιποριας εκαθεζετο ουτως επι τη πηγη: ωρα ην ως εκτη. 7ερχεται γυνη εκ της σαμαρειας αντλησαι υδωρ. λεγει αυτη ο ιησους, δος μοι πειν: 8οι γαρ μαθηται αυτου απεληλυθεισαν εις την πολιν, ινα τροφας αγορασωσιν. 9λεγει ουν αυτω η γυνη η σαμαριτις, πως συ ιουδαιος ων παρ εμου πειν αιτεις γυναικος σαμαριτιδος ουσης; {ου γαρ συγχρωνται ιουδαιοι σαμαριταις.} 10απεκριθη ιησους και ειπεν αυτη, ει ηδεις την δωρεαν του θεου και τις εστιν ο λεγων σοι, δος μοι πειν, συ αν ητησας αυτον και εδωκεν αν σοι υδωρ ζων. 11λεγει αυτω [η γυνη], κυριε, ουτε αντλημα εχεις και το φρεαρ εστιν βαθυ: ποθεν ουν εχεις το υδωρ το ζων; 12μη συ μειζων ει του πατρος ημων ιακωβ, ος εδωκεν ημιν το φρεαρ και αυτος εξ αυτου επιεν και οι υιοι αυτου και τα θρεμματα αυτου; 13απεκριθη ιησους και ειπεν αυτη, πας ο πινων εκ του υδατος τουτου διψησει παλιν: 14ος δ αν πιη εκ του υδατος ου εγω δωσω αυτω, ου μη διψησει εις τον αιωνα, αλλα το υδωρ ο δωσω αυτω γενησεται εν αυτω πηγη υδατος αλλομενου εις ζωην αιωνιον. 15λεγει προς αυτον η γυνη, κυριε, δος μοι τουτο το υδωρ, ινα μη διψω μηδε διερχωμαι ενθαδε αντλειν. 16λεγει αυτη, υπαγε φωνησον τον ανδρα σου και ελθε ενθαδε. 17απεκριθη η γυνη και ειπεν αυτω, ουκ εχω ανδρα. λεγει αυτη ο ιησους, καλως ειπας οτι ανδρα ουκ εχω: 18πεντε γαρ ανδρας εσχες, και νυν ον εχεις ουκ εστιν σου ανηρ: τουτο αληθες ειρηκας. 19λεγει αυτω η γυνη, κυριε, θεωρω οτι προφητης ει συ. 20οι πατερες ημων εν τω ορει τουτω προσεκυνησαν: και υμεις λεγετε οτι εν ιεροσολυμοις εστιν ο τοπος οπου προσκυνειν δει. 21λεγει αυτη ο ιησους, πιστευε μοι, γυναι, οτι ερχεται ωρα οτε ουτε εν τω ορει τουτω ουτε εν ιεροσολυμοις προσκυνησετε τω πατρι. 22υμεις προσκυνειτε ο ουκ οιδατε: ημεις προσκυνουμεν ο οιδαμεν, οτι η σωτηρια εκ των ιουδαιων εστιν. 23αλλα ερχεται ωρα, και νυν εστιν, οτε οι αληθινοι προσκυνηται προσκυνησουσιν τω πατρι εν πνευματι και αληθεια: και γαρ ο πατηρ τοιουτους ζητει τους προσκυνουντας αυτον. 24πνευμα ο θεος, και τους προσκυνουντας αυτον εν πνευματι και αληθεια δει προσκυνειν. 25λεγει αυτω η γυνη, οιδα οτι μεσσιας ερχεται, ο λεγομενος χριστος: οταν ελθη εκεινος, αναγγελει ημιν απαντα. 26λεγει αυτη ο ιησους, εγω ειμι, ο λαλων σοι. 27και επι τουτω ηλθαν οι μαθηται αυτου, και εθαυμαζον οτι μετα γυναικος ελαλει: ουδεις μεντοι ειπεν, τι ζητεις; η, τι λαλεις μετ αυτης; 28αφηκεν ουν την υδριαν αυτης η γυνη και απηλθεν εις την πολιν και λεγει τοις ανθρωποις, 29δευτε ιδετε ανθρωπον ος ειπεν μοι παντα οσα εποιησα: μητι ουτος εστιν ο χριστος; 30εξηλθον εκ της πολεως και ηρχοντο προς αυτον. 31εν τω μεταξυ ηρωτων αυτον οι μαθηται λεγοντες, ραββι, φαγε. 32ο δε ειπεν αυτοις, εγω βρωσιν εχω φαγειν ην υμεις ουκ οιδατε. 33ελεγον ουν οι μαθηται προς αλληλους, μη τις ηνεγκεν αυτω φαγειν; 34λεγει αυτοις ο ιησους, εμον βρωμα εστιν ινα ποιησω το θελημα του πεμψαντος με και τελειωσω αυτου το εργον. 35ουχ υμεις λεγετε οτι ετι τετραμηνος εστιν και ο θερισμος ερχεται; ιδου λεγω υμιν, επαρατε τους οφθαλμους υμων και θεασασθε τας χωρας οτι λευκαι εισιν προς θερισμον. ηδη 36ο θεριζων μισθον λαμβανει και συναγει καρπον εις ζωην αιωνιον, ινα ο σπειρων ομου χαιρη και ο θεριζων. 37εν γαρ τουτω ο λογος εστιν αληθινος οτι αλλος εστιν ο σπειρων και αλλος ο θεριζων. 38εγω απεστειλα υμας θεριζειν ο ουχ υμεις κεκοπιακατε: αλλοι κεκοπιακασιν, και υμεις εις τον κοπον αυτων εισεληλυθατε. 39εκ δε της πολεως εκεινης πολλοι επιστευσαν εις αυτον των σαμαριτων δια τον λογον της γυναικος μαρτυρουσης οτι ειπεν μοι παντα α εποιησα. 40ως ουν ηλθον προς αυτον οι σαμαριται, ηρωτων αυτον μειναι παρ αυτοις: και εμεινεν εκει δυο ημερας. 41και πολλω πλειους επιστευσαν δια τον λογον αυτου, 42τη τε γυναικι ελεγον οτι ουκετι δια την σην λαλιαν πιστευομεν: αυτοι γαρ ακηκοαμεν, και οιδαμεν οτι ουτος εστιν αληθως ο σωτηρ του κοσμου.

2. ANALYSIS: John 4: 5--42

John 4: 39 - episteusan - "Testimony" is important in the fourth gospel
and is best thought of in the forensic sense. A familiar pattern is the
evangelizing of others by one who has become a disciple. This occurs in
Ch. 1 and Ch. 20. The woman does this by telling the other Samaritans,
"Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"
(4:29) The woman is being a good disciple by witnessing to others. But
the testimony of one person in a forensic situation is insufficient.

If there is a problem with the entrance of Samaritans into the Johannine
community, it would be helpful if many more Samaritans can attest to
Jesus bringing them into the community.

4:40 -meinai -"Staying/abiding" is a key theme in John. In 1:33 the Spirit
stayed on Jesus which signified his holiness. The former disciples of the
baptizer stayed with Jesus in 1:39 and this resulted in their belief in
Christ and their holiness as linked to Christ's holiness. In l5:1f. Jesus
tells his disciples to abide in him, and he abides in them. So if one abides
with Jesus, that person is holy, pure and in the group. So the Samaritans
are holy and pure. A requirement for membership in the Johannine
community is "staying" and the Samaritans have it.

4:41 - kai pollo pleious 'episteusan dia ton logon autou -In the early stage
of the Johannine community signs functioned to manifest the identity of
Christ. In our earlier story, 4:4-30, the sign, Jesus reads hearts,
functioned to identify Christ as Jesus revealed himself to the woman. As
the community developed, the "words" of Jesus became more important
than sign belief. Belief in Jesus based on his "words" is the new criterion
for membership in the church. Through the "words" of Christ, God's
salvific plan is revealed. The Samaritans are true members through
hearing and receiving Christ's "words." Note: this is true even if people
don't actually hear the "words" from our Lord's mouth…cf. 20:29.

4:42 - ho soter tou kosmou - "Salvation" in the fourth gospel means Jesus'
revelation or system. Jesus saves, reveals, through his words. This
revelation is coming not only to the Jewish nation, but to the whole world,
including the Samaritans. This concept is consistent with l0:l3-l6,
11:50ff., and l9:20. The new title, "savior of the world" doesn't hint of
preexistence. According to Raymond Brown (THE COMMUNITY OF THE
BELOVED DISCIPLE, p. 37), the Samaritan entrance into the Johannine
community was a catalyst for a higher Christology.

In our text Jesus is replacing narrow Jewish covenant membership
with wider membership on a new basis: belief in his words. "But to all
who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become
children of God; who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor
the will of man, but of God (1:12,13)." The Samaritans are legitimate
members of the Johannine church.

3. STRATEGY: John 4: 5-42

The text is a natural for preaching about membership and perhaps even “Public Theology” issues which come up from time to time in a parish. It might be helpful to point out the
membership problems encountered by the Johannine community and show
how they were resolved through Christ's new basis for membership. The
text lends itself to preaching about ecumenism. (SEE: )

One gets a clear look at the mission of the church universal from
today's reading. A sermon on evangelism is also appropriate. From the
example of the woman at the well, we can see what we are called to do as
disciples of our Lord. Like the woman, we can tell others of Christ, invite
them to hear and receive Jesus' words.

4. REFERENCES: John 4: 5-26(27-38)39-42

New York: Paulist Press, l979.

Malina, Bruce J. THE NEW TESTAMENT WORLD. Atlanta, GA: John Knox
Press, l981.

Neyrey, Jerome H., S.J. "Jacob Traditions and the Interpretation of

Scharen, Christian. Faith As A Way of Life. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: John 4: 5-26(27-38)39-42

If preaching on issues relating to church membership, I suggest HB
525(LBW 369) "The Church's One Foundation" and HB 692 (LBW 497), "I
Heard the Voice of Jesus Say."

For ecumenism or mission themes, HB 469(LBW 290), "There's a Wideness,"
HB 529(LBW359), "In Christ There Is No East Or West" and HB 544 (LBW
530), "Jesus Shall Reign." If you take up the evangelism challenge, I
suggest HB 473 (LBW 377), "Lift High the Cross," HB 537, "Christ For the
World," and HB 659 (LBW 492), "O Master Let Me Walk."

Exegete: The late Lance B. Almeida (†) was an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Eastern Massachusetts and, later, Maine, before his untimely death. We miss him still.




Dartmouth,MA 02747


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