John iv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver 1. This knowledge which the Pharisees had of our Saviour’s making so many disciples, and baptizing such members, could not prevail upon them to follow him for their salvation; otherwise Christ would not have departed out of Judea. Jesus knew full well that this, their knowledge, would not work their conversion, but only stir up their envy, and excite them to persecute him; and therefore he retired. He could indeed have remained amongst them in security, had he chosen to exercise his power; but he would not: that so he might leave an example to his faithful servants, teaching them to flee from the rage of their cruel persecutors. (St. Augustine)

Ver. 2. St. Chrysostom thinks that this baptism, given by the disciples of Christ, did not at all differ from the baptism of St. John the Baptist; both, in his opinion, being used to prepare the people for Christ; but Alcuin interprets it otherwise. Some will ask, says he, whether the Holy Ghost was given by this baptism, since it is said the Holy Ghost was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified? To this we answer: that the Holy Ghost was given, though not in that manifest manner as after the ascension; for as Christ, as man, had always the Holy Ghost residing within him, and yet after his baptism received the Holy Ghost, coming upon him in a visible manner, in the shape of a dove; so before the manifest and public descent of the Holy Ghost, all the saints were his hidden temples. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Ver. 5. This is what Jacob gave to his son Joseph, when calling him to him just before he died, he said: (Genesis xlviii. ver. 22.) I give thee a portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorrhite, with my sword and bow. (Theophylactus) — It was thirty-six miles from Jerusalem, and the same place as Sichem, (Genesis xxxiv.) the capital of Samaria, now called Neplosa.

Ver. 10. Thou didst know the gift of God; i.e. the favour now offered thee by my presence, of believing in me. — And he would have given thee living water, meaning divine graces; but the woman understood him literally of such water as was there in the well. (Witham)

Ver. 12. The Samaritan woman says, our father Jacob; because the Samaritans claimed lineage from Abraham, who was himself a Chaldean; and they; therefore, called Jacob their father, because he was Abraham’s grandson. (St. Chrysostom) — Or she calls him their father because they lived under the law of Moses, and were in possession of that spot of ground which Jacob had bequeathed to his son Joseph. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 13. Shall thirst again. After any water, or any drink, a man naturally thirsts again; but Christ speaks of the spiritual water of grace in this life, and of glory in the next, which will perfectly satisfy the desires of man’s immortal soul for ever.

Ver. 15. Sir, give me this water. The woman, says St. Augustine, does not yet understand his meaning, but longs for water, after which she should never thirst. (Witham)

Ver. 16. Call thy husband. Christ begins to shew her that he knows her life, to make her know him and herself. (Witham)

Ver. 20. Our fathers adored on this mountain, &c. She means Jacob and the ancient patriarchs, whom the Samaritans called their fathers; and by the mountain, that of Garizim, where the Samaritans had built a temple, and where they would have all persons adore, and not at Jerusalem; now she had a curiosity to hear what Christ would say of these two temples, and of the different worship of the Jews and of the Samaritans. (Witham) — Sichem was at the foot of Mount Garizim. The Samaritans supposed the patriarchs had exercised their religious acts on this mountain. (Bible de Vence) — Josephus (Antiquities, lib. xiii. chap. 6.) gives the dispute between the Jews and the Samaritans. Both parties referred themselves to the arbitration of king Ptolemy Philometer, who gave judgment in favour of the Jews, upon their stating the antiquity of their temple, and the uninterrupted succession of the priesthood, officiating there throughout all ages. In this controversy, the intelligent reader will see some resemblance to that which subsists between Catholics and Protestants. See Dr. Kellison’s Survey of the New Religion, p. 129. — The woman in this place must mean offering sacrifice, for adoration was never limited to any particular place. It is clear from 3 Kings ix. 3. from 2 Paralipomenon vii. 12. that God had chosen the temple of Jerusalem; but the Samaritans rejected all the books of Scripture, except the Pentateuch of Moses. The schism was begun by Manasses, a fugitive priest, that he might hold his unlawful wife thereby, and obtain superiority in schism; which he could not do whilst he remained in the unity of his brethren. How forcibly do these circumstances remind us of a much later promoter of schism, king Henry VIII. It is true the Protestants appeal to the primitive Christians, as the Samaritans appealed to the patriarchs, but in the argument both must stand or fall by the incontrovertible proof of continual succession.

Ver. 22. The Israelites, on account of their innumerable sins, had been delivered by the Almighty into the hands of the king of Assyria, who led them all away captives into Babylon and Medea, and sent other nations whom he had collected from different parts, to inhabit Samaria. But the Almighty, to shew to all nations that he had not delivered up these his people for want of power to defend, but solely on account of their transgressions, sent lions into the land to persecute these strangers. The Assyrian king upon hearing this, sent them a priest to teach them the law of God; but neither after this did they depart wholly from their impiety, but in part only: for many of them returned again to their idols, worshipping at the same time the true God. It was on this account that Christ preferred the Jews before them, saying, that salvation is of the Jews, with whom it was the chief principle to acknowledge the true God, and hold every denomination of idols in detestation; whereas, the Samaritans by mixing the worship of the one with the other, plainly shewed that they held the God of the universe in no greater esteem than their dumb idols. (St. Chrysostom in St. Thomas Aquinas)

Ver. 23. Now is the time approaching, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth, without being confined to any one temple or place; and chiefly in spirit, without such a multitude of sacrifices and ceremonies as even the Jews now practise. Such adorers God himself (who is a pure spirit) desires, which they shall be taught by the Messias. (Witham) — Our Lord foretells her that sacrifices in both these temples should shortly cease, giving her these three instructions: 1. That the true sacrifice should be limited no longer to one spot or nation, but should be offered throughout all nations, according to that of Malachias; (i. 11.) 2. That the gross and carnal adoration by the flesh and blood of beasts, not having in them grace, spirit, and life, should be taken away, and another sacrifice succeed, which should be in itself invisible, divine, and full of life, spirit, and grace; 3. That this sacrifice should be truth itself, whereof all former sacrifices were but shadows and figures. He calleth here spirit and truth that which, in the first chapter, (ver. 17) is called grace and truth. Now this is no more than a prophecy and description of the sacrifice of the faithful Gentiles in the body and blood of Christ; for all the adoration of the Catholic Church is properly spiritual, though certain external objects be joined thereto, on account of the state of our nature, which requireth it. Be careful then not to gather from Christ’s words that Christian men should have no use of external signs and offices towards God; for that would take away all sacrifice, sacraments, prayers, churches and societies. &c. &c. (Bristow)

Ver. 25. I know that the Messias cometh. So that even the Samaritans, at that time, expected the coming of the great Messias. (Witham)

Ver 26. Jesus saith to her: I am he. Christ was pleased to own this truth in the plainest terms to this Samaritan woman, having first by his words, and more by his grace, disposed her heart to believe it. (Witham)

Ver. 27. His disciples … wondered, &c. They admired his humility, finding him discoursing with a poor woman, especially she being a Samaritan. (Witham)

Ver. 29. The Samaritans looked for the Messias, because they had the books of Moses, in which Jacob foretold the world’s Redeemer: The sceptre shall not depart from Juda, nor a leader from his thigh, until he come that is to be sent. (Genesis xlix. 10.) And Moses himself foretold the same: God will raise to thee a prophet of the nations, and of thy brethren. (Deuteronomy xviii. 15.) (St. Chrysostom in St. Thomas Aquinas)

Ver. 34. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me. Such ought to be the disposition of every one who, as a minister of Christ and his Church, is to take care of souls. (Witham)

Ver. 35. For they are white already to harvest. The great harvest of souls was approaching, when Christ was come to teach men the way of salvation, and was to send his apostles to convert all nations. They succeeded to the labours of the prophets, but with much greater advantages and success. And to this is applied that common saying, that one soweth and another reapeth. (Witham)

Ver. 38. By these words our Saviour testifies to his disciples, that the prophets had sown the seed in order to bring men to believe in Christ. This was the end of the law, this the fruit which the prophets looked for to crown their labours. He likewise shews that he himself that sent them, likewise sent the prophets before them; and that the Old and New Testament are of the same origin, and have the same design. (St. Chrysostom in St. Thomas Aquinas)

Ver. 42. This is indeed the Saviour of the world. These Samaritans then believed that Jesus was the true Messias, sent to redeem the world. (Witham)

Ver. 44. For Jesus himself gave testimony, &c. The connexion and reason given here by the word for, is obscure, when it is said, Jesus went into Galilee and gave testimony that a prophet hath no honour in his own country. One would think this should not be a reason for his going into Galilee, but rather why he should not go thither. St. Cyril,[1] and also St. Chrysostom distinguish different parts of Galilee; and say that when Jesus went into Galilee, the meaning is, that he would not at that time go to Nazareth, where he was bred, nor to Capharnaum, where he had lived for a time, but went to Cana, and those other parts of Galilee; and that the word for only gives the reason of this, that he would not go to Nazareth or Capharnaum, because no prophet is honoured in his own country. And for the same reason he again said to the ruler: (ver. 48) Unless you see signs and wonders you believe not: whereas the Samaritans, from whom he was now coming, readily believed without such miracles. (Witham)

Ver. 53. Thy son liveth; i.e. thy son is recovered, at this very moment. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 44. St. Cyril, in Joan. p. 202. Interjacentem Nazareth prÄ™terit, paratrechei ten Nazareth dia tou mesou keimenen. St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxiv. in Joan. tom. 8, p. 203. quare addidit, quia, gar, quod non in Capharnaum, sed in Galileam, et in Cana abiit.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Christ talks with the Samaritan woman. He heals the ruler’s son.

1 When, therefore, Jesus understood that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus maketh more disciples, and *baptizeth more than John,

2 (Though Jesus himself did not baptize, but his disciples,)

3 He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee.

4 And it was necessary he should pass through Samaria.

5 He cometh, therefore, to a city of Samaria which is called Sichar; near the piece of land *which Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. It was about the sixth hour.

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

8 (For his disciples were gone into the city, to buy food.)

9 Then that Samaritan woman saith to him: How dost thou, being a Jew, ask of me to drink, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews do not communicate with the Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered, and said to her: If thou didst know the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink: thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

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

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

13 Jesus answered, and said to her: Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but he that shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst for ever.

14 But the water that I shall give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting.

15 The woman saith to him: Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw.

16 Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

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

18 For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly.

19 The woman saith to him: Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

20 Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say *that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore.

21 Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father.

22 *You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know: for salvation is of the Jews.

23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him.

24 *God is a spirit, and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth.

25 The woman saith to him: I know that the Messias cometh (who is called Christ); therefore when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26 Jesus saith to her: I am he, who am speaking with thee.

27 And immediately his disciples came: and they wondered that he talked with the woman. Yet no man said: What seekest thou, or why talkest thou with her?

28 The woman, therefore, left her water-pot, and went away into the city, and saith to the men there:

29 Come, and see a man who hath told me all things that I have done. Is not he the Christ?

30 They went therefore out of the city, and came to him.

31 In the mean time the disciples prayed him, saying: Rabbi, eat.

32 But he said to them: I have meat to eat which you know not of.

33 The disciples, therefore, said one to another: Hath any man brought him any thing to eat?

34 Jesus saith to them: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work.

35 Do not you say, there are yet four months, and then the harvest cometh? Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries, *for they are white already to harvest.

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

37 For in this is the saying true: that it is one man that soweth, and it is another that reapeth.

38 I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labour: others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours.

39 Now of that city many of the Samaritans believed in him, for the word of the woman giving testimony: that he told me whatsoever I have done.

40 So when the Samaritans were come to him, they desired that he would stay there. And he staid there two days.

41 And many more believed in him, because of his own word.

42 And they said to the woman: We now believe, not for thy saying; for we ourselves have heard him, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.

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

44 *For Jesus himself gave testimony that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

45 *Then, when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things he had done at Jerusalem on the festival day: for they also went to the festival day.

46 He came again, therefore, into Cana of Galilee, *where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum.

47 He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, went to him, and prayed him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death.

48 Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not.

49 The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die.

50 Jesus saith to him: Go thy way; thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way.

51 And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying: that his son lived.

52 He asked, therefore, of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him.

53 The father, therefore, knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

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



1: John iii. 22.

5: Genesis xxxiii. 19. and xlviii. 22.; Josue xxiv. 32.

20: Deuteronomy xii. 5.

22: 4 Kings xvii. 41.

24: 1 Corinthians iii. 17.

35: Matthew ix. 37.; Luke x. 2.

44: Matthew xiii. 57.; Mark vi. 4.; Luke iv. 24.

45: Matthew iv. 12.; Mark i. 14.; Luke iv. 14.

46: John ii. 9.