John 4:1-54

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Home > The New Testament > John > Chapters 1b-12 > Chapter 4
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This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • John 4:9. The Samaritan is surprised that Jesus asks her to get water because she is a Samaritan and the Jews do not deal with Samaritans. The fact that she says "a woman of Samaria" may also suggest that there was something out of the ordinary in the way Jesus addresses her given that she is a woman.
It is interesting to compare Jesus' visit to this Samaritan woman with Nicodemus' visit to him in previous chapter. In both cases it appears that something is happening that goes against what is expected culturally. But in Jesus' case he visits in the day. In Nicodemus' case he comes by night.
  • John 4:15. Although she does not understand Jesus' words in the beginning, her understanding gradually seems to increase (cf. verses 19, 25, 26).
  • John 4:24. Modern translations disagree over whether the first part of verse 24 should be translated from the Greek as "God is spirit" or "God is a spirit."
  • John 4:24. In the Joseph Smith Translation, verse 24 is rendered as follows: "For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth."
  • John 4:35: Already. The phrase "[the fields] are white already to harvest" can sounds like "the fields are white all ready to harvest." That leads us to think that what is being said is that the fields are completely ready to harvest. That's incorrect, though harmless. (It is likely because the point of this verse works just as well under the misreading that partly explains why this misreading is perpetuated.) The Greek ἤδη (ēdē) means, just as it is translated, now or already. The misreading occurs because of the unexpected word order. We expect already to come before white. It is further complicated because even if we put already before white the language still sounds odd since we would expect to hear for harvest instead of to harvest. In fact, when you make both of those changes you get the translation of the New King James Version: "[the fields] are already white for harvest."

Unanswered questions[edit]

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  • John 4:3. Traveling through Samaria would not only be dangerous, it was also abnormal (the normal route between Judea and Galilee was the eastern bank of Jordan). Why did Jesus choose this route?
  • John 4:3. If this was not the normal route, why would the scriptures say "he must needs go through Samaria" (emphasis added)?

Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • John 4:20-23. Note the woman’s concern over the location of worship. What does Jesus mean by, “we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews”? How does Jesus respond to the woman’s concern in verse 23? How does his answer relate to Luke 2:19-21?
  • John 4:31-38. What lesson does Jesus want his disciples to learn? Note the progress from symbolic “water” to “meat” in this chapter. What does verse 38 say about how Jesus viewed the law of Moses (and the Old Testament, in our terminology, by implication)?
  • John 4:46. Cana is about 18 miles from Capernaum. Is there a special point to be made by this miracle? How is it an appropriate follow-up to the meeting with the Samaritans?
  • John 4:48. Is Jesus chastising or making a statement? Whatever his position, what do you think was Jesus’ purpose?


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Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

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