Gospel of John 2015 – 03 Lesson 3 John ch. 4, 5



Anderson, Paul. N.  The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel: An Introduction to John.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2011).


Brown, Raymond E.   The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times.  (Paulist Press, New York, 1979).


________________.   The Gospel According to John I – XII.    Volume 29 of the Anchor Bible Series, Series edited by W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman.   (Doubleday, Garden City NY, 1966).


________________.   The Gospel According to John XIII – XXI.    Volume 29A of the Anchor Bible Series, Series edited by W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman.   (Doubleday, Garden City NY, 1970).


Elowsky, Joel C. editor.  John 1 – 10.  Volume IVa of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series edited by Thomas C. Oden.  (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2006).


__________________.  John 11 – 21.  Volume IVb of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series edited by Thomas C. Oden.  (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2007).


Keener, Craig S.   The Gospel of John: A Commentary  Volume One(Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA, 2003).


_______________  The Gospel of John: A Commentary  Volume Two(Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA, 2003).


Lewis, Scott M.  The Gospel According to John and the Johannine Letters. Part of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary series edited by Daniel Durkin O.S.B.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 2005).


Maloney S.D.B., Francis J.   The Gospel of John.   Volume 4 of the Sacra Pagina series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J.   (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1998).


Martyn, J. Louis.  History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel.  One of the Classics in the New Testament Library series whose editorial board is C. Clifton Black, John T. Carroll, and Beverly Roberts Gaventa.  Third Edition.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).


O’Day, Gail R.  The Gospel of John: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections.  In Volume IX of the New Interpreter’s Bible whose editorial board is convened by Leander Kick.  (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995).


Sloyan, Gerard.   John.   Part of the Interpretation series edited by Mays, Miller, Achtemeier.

(John Knox Press, Atlanta GA, 1988).






John Chapter 4


Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself was not baptizing, just his disciples), he left Judea and returned toGalilee. He had to pass throughSamaria.


So he came to a town ofSamariacalled Sychar,  near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.


A woman ofSamariacame to draw water.

Jesus said to her,

“Give me a drink.”

His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.


The Samaritan woman said to him,

“How can you, a Jew,

ask me, a Samaritan woman,

for a drink?”

(For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.)


Jesus answered and said to her,

“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.”


(The woman) said to him,

“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;

where then can you get this living water?

Are you greater than our father Jacob,

who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his



Jesus answered and said to her,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;

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.”





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.”


Jesus said to her,

“Go call your husband and come back.”

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.’

For you have had five husbands,

and the one you have now is not your husband.

What you have said is true.”


The woman said to him,

“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.

Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;

but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”


Jesus said to her,

“Believe me, woman,

the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this

mountain nor in Jerusalem.

You people worship what you do not understand;

we worship what we understand,

because salvation is from the Jews.


But the hour is coming,

and is now here,

when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;

and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”


The woman said to him,

“I know that the Messiah is coming,

the one called the Anointed;

when he comes,

he will tell us everything.”

Jesus said to her,

“I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”


At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said,

“What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?”


The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people,

“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.

Could he possibly be the Messiah?”

They went out of the town and came to him.


Meanwhile, the disciples urged him,

“Rabbi, eat.”

But he said to them,

“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”

So the disciples said to one another,

“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”


Jesus said to them,

“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.

Do you not say,

‘In four months the harvest will be here’?

I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.

The reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life,

so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.

For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’


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.”


Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified,

“He told me everything I have done.”

When the Samaritans came to him,

they invited him to stay with them;

and he stayed there two days.


Many more began to believe in him because of his word,

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.”



After the two days, he left there forGalilee.

For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place.

When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done inJerusalemat the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast.




Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.

Now there was a royal official whose son was ill inCapernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee fromJudea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death.


Jesus said to him,

“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

The royal official said to him,

“Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus said to him,

“You may go; your son will live.”

The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.


While he was on his way back,

his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.

He asked them when he began to recover.

They told him,

“The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.”

The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,

“Your son will live,”

and he and his whole household came to believe.

(Now) this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee fromJudea.



John Chapter 5


After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up toJerusalem. Now there is inJerusalemat the Sheep (Gate) a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.


When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time,

he said to him,

“Do you want to be well?”

The sick man answered him,

“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up;

while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”

Jesus said to him,

“Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”

Immediately the man became well,

took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.





So the Jews said to the man who was cured,

“It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”

He answered them,

“The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'”

They asked him,

“Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”

The man who was healed did not know who it was,

for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.


After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,

“Look, you are well;

do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”

The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well.

Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.

But Jesus answered them,

“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”


For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him,

because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,

“Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own,

but only what he sees his father doing;

for what he does, his son will do also.

For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does,

and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed.


For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,

so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.

Nor does the Father judge anyone,

but he has given all judgment to his Son,

so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.

Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.


Amen, amen, I say to you,

whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me

has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,

but has passed from death to life.


Amen, amen, I say to you,

the hour is coming and is now here

when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,

and those who hear will live.




For just as the Father has life in himself,

so also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself.

And he gave him power to exercise judgment,

because he is the Son of Man.


Do not be amazed at this,

because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

and will come out,

those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life,

but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.


“I cannot do anything on my own;

I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,

because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.


“If I testify on my own behalf,

my testimony cannot be verified.

But there is another who testifies on my behalf,

and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.

You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.


I do not accept testimony from a human being,

but I say this so that you may be saved.

He was a burning and shining lamp,

and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.


But I have testimony greater than John’s.

The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,

these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.


Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.

But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,

and you do not have his word remaining in you,

because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.


You search the scriptures,

because you think you have eternal life through them;

even they testify on my behalf.

But you do not want to come to me to have life.


“I do not accept human praise;

moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.

I came in the name of my Father,

but you do not accept me;

yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.



How can you believe,

when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes

from the only God?

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:

the one who will accuse you is Moses,

in whom you have placed your hope.

For if you had believed Moses,

you would have believed me,

because he wrote about me.

But if you do not believe his writings,

how will you believe my words?”






Recurring symbol of water used

  • John the Baptists – I baptize with water
  • Jesus – water into wine at Cana, messianic age
  • Nicodemus is told – must be born of water and Spirit
  • Later – John chapter 6 – walks on water; John chapter 7 – rivers of living water
  • Later – Water to wash the disciples feet
  • Later – water poured from his side
  • Our own experience of water – quench thirst, cleanliness, growth, ice / danger, recreation – swimming etc., baptism


Here – Samaritan woman – water in well and Jesus’ ‘living water’.

  • Firstly fresh running water in stream.
  • In OT – metaphor for the Torah Sirach 24, Isaiah 55:1


Sirach 24

It overflows, like the Pishon, with wisdom,

and like the Tigris at the time of first fruits.

It runs over, like the Euphrates, with understanding,

and like the Jordan at harvest time.

It floods like the Nile with instruction,

like the Gihon at vintage time.


Isaiah 55:1

All you who are thirsty,

come to the water!

You who have no money,

come, buy grain and eat;

Come, buy grain without money,

wine and milk without cost!



  • God as the source of living waters.
  • In summary: Fullness of the Law, salvation, God Himself are the associations.


“Give me a drink”  He is thirsting.

“Sir, give me this water”.   She is thirsting


She was given knowledge of herself, and Jesus reveals God to her as well.  First is required for the second.


Abandoned water jar as a symbol – she left her own past, caught up in excitement of the new life shown to her.


In chapter 5 – at waters of the pool – another sign of who He is.

Doesn’t use the water, speaks a word – “Rise, take up your mat and walk.”


Healing on the Sabbath – claim of equality with God.  Then, God as his own Father.


Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath.


How do we keep the Sabbath kept holy today?  TV and internet – not before noon in his household.





Samaritan Woman at the well


Sloyan p. 51: …, belief in Jesus by a religiously ostracized group is what the story is about.  Hence all moralizing about the woman’s irregular life or Jesus’ relations with women, interesting as they are, are not especially useful as an exposition of the text.  The story is about religious tensions and a church which, in its origins, sought to overcome them, even while the attempt itself caused new tensions.  John 4 should be preached in the spirit in which it was written.  If it is not, the Gospel is betrayed.”


Disciples go to get food /   discussion of drink with woman   /    disciples return with food


Lewis p. 24: “By entering a Samaritan village and speaking with this woman, Jesus has crossed ethnic, religious, and gender boundaries.”


other important well scenes with men and women:

  • Genesis 24 (Abraham’s servant and Rebekah – a beautiful young virgin),
  • Genesis 29 (Jacob and Rachel), and
  • Exodus 2 (Moses and the 7 daughters of the priest of Midian, one of which becomes his wife).

There are many parallels between these stories and the story in the gospel.  The women in them become key figures for passing on Judaism – the Samaritan woman in passing on Christianity?


living water is running water (i.e. a stream), in contrast with the water of a well.


the text establishes that Jesus is superior to Jacob / Israel – the common ancestor for both Jews and Samaritans.  The Jews were expecting a Messiah / descendant of David; the Samaritans a Ruler / Teacher like Moses had been to begin a final era / end of time.  In the text John points to Jesus who fulfils both roles.


Sloyan p. 54: “The female member of a people despised by Jews is provided with a disorderly life to make her trebly a minority person: woman, Samaritan, polygamist.  The contrast is with Jacob whose credentials are in impeccable order.  The paradox is that the water even Jacob could not supply she shall have.”


Lewis p. 27: Jesus tells the woman that not simply in the Temple in Jerusalem or on Mt. Gerizim but in his very being the Spirit lives and come forth.


Keener points out the irony and contrast – the well-educated and faithful Nicodemus doesn’t get it, a badly educated outcast woman DOES get it.


See Kings II 17:30 – 42 for the five idolatrous nations in the eyes of the Jews.  Jewish tradition identified the Samaritans as Cuthites, one of the listed nations.  Now worshipping on Mt. Gerizim they have become a sixth idolatrous offense to the LORD.



Cure of the Officials Son


The text is not clear if the royal official is Jewish or not.  Could have been.  Either way – the typical Jew or Christian would have regarded him with suspicion – the powerful normally took advantage of people.


This second miracle of Cana ties back to the first one, functions as a bookend around the differing faith responses to Jesus.  Both Mary and the royal official are persistent and get past a first rebuke by Jesus.  In the first story the disciples begin to believe, in the second the whole household believes.


Lewis p. 30: Activity in this and future chapters is bounded by four feasts:

  • Sabbath (chapter 5)
  • Passover (chapter 6)
  • Tabernacles (Booths) (chapter 7 to 10)
  • Dedication (re-dedication of the Temple, modern Hannukah) (chapter 10)





Cure of the lame man on the Sabbath, controversy

Keener p. 634: “The water of the pool ofBethesda, like the ritual water in most of the preceding chapters, is ineffectual, leaving a man paralyzed for thirty-eight years until Jesus comes to heal him.  While the water of such a pool would not be used in official Jewish ritual, its significance on a popular level must have been great.”


Lewis p. 31: “Unlike the Samaritan woman in chapter 4, his encounter with Jesus has not resulted in faith or even curiosity.  Jesus warns him not to sin anymore, implying that there is a link between sin and illness, as in Mark 2:5-7.  This link is denied in the case of the man born blind in Chapter 9, suggesting that Jesus’ warning is meant for this man in particular and is not to be taken as a universal statement.”


Mark 2:5-9:

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?


Lewis p. 31: “Jesus does not deny or denigrate the Sabbath, but because of his status transcends it.  Birth and death occur even on the Sabbath; therefore a long Jewish tradition insists that God continues to sustain and give life and to judge.”   Not only a Sabbath violation but blasphemy as well.


Remembering the hypothesis that this gospel is oriented to catechumens preparing for baptism:  previous water uses in John:

  • John baptizes with water, one coming after me with the Holy Spirit
  • Cana– water into wine
  • Nicodemus – must be born of water and spirit
  • Samaritan woman at the well – give me a drink, living water,

Keener p. 638: “Jesus replaces not only John’s baptism (1), ritual purity (2), proselyte baptism (3), and the Samaritan water of Jacobs well (4) but also the water of a popular healing cult.”



Sloyan p. 84: “One sees the main lines of first-century argument from the Christian side: It is systematic, it is apologetic, it is accusatory.  Those who believe in Jesus as the Son are assumed to be in the right.  Those who resist such belief are in the wrong.  As this applies to contemporaries we have the expression by the author of an aspiration, a hope (and an awful dread) rather than an accomplished fact.”


Note that the lame man does not become a follower despite his cure.  He ends up betraying Jesus – prefiguring Judas.  Again – application to John’s community and us.













  • Ponder in prayer: “What are your strongest associations with water?”
  • Read and pray over John chapter 6.
  • Read the commentary pages 34 to 42.
  • Ponder and pray over the questions page 20 – 22, make notes as you do so.  Pay special attention to these:
    • #4: “Is John portraying Jesus as the Good Shepherd in the story of the loaves and fishes?”
    • #16 “What are some of the ‘hard sayings’ / ‘hard beliefs’ of faith today?


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