VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
The Lord. See on Matt. xxi. 3.
Knew (egnw), or perceived. See on ii. 24.
Pharisees. John never alludes to the Sadducees by name. The Pharisees represented the opposition to Jesus, the most powerful and dangerous of the Jewish sects.
Made and baptized. Both verbs are in the present tense. The narrator puts himself at the scene of the story: is making and baptizing.
Baptized. The imperfect tense: it was not His practice to baptize.
Again. See i. 44.
City. Not implying a place of great size or importance. Compare xi. 54; Matt. ii. 23.
Sychar. Commonly identified with Schechem, the modern Nablous, and regarded as a corruption of Sichem. Some modern authorities, however, argue that a place so famous as Schechem would not be referred to under another name, and identify the site with Askar, about two miles east of Nablous. The name Sychar means drunken-town or lying-town.
Parcel of ground (cwriou). A diminutive from cwra a region.
Wearied (kekopiakwv). See on Luke v. 5.
Thus. Just as He was; or, as some explain, being thus wearied.
Sat. The imperfect tense; was sitting, when the woman came.
Sixth Hour. According to the Jewish reckoning, mid-day. According to the Roman mode, between 5 and 6 P.M. See on i. 39. Evening was the usual time for drawing water.
To draw. See on ii. 8.
Askest (aiteiv). See on Matt. xv. 23.
Have no dealings (ou sugcrwntai). Have no familiar or friendly intercourse with. That they had dealings of some kind is shown by the disciples going into the city to buy provisions. Some authorities omit for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. The Jews treated the Samaritans with every mark of contempt, and accused them of falsehood, folly, and irreligion. The Samaritans sold Jews into slavery when they had them in their power, lighted spurious signals for the beacon-fires kindled to announce the beginnings of months, and waylaid and killed pilgrims on their road to Jerusalem.
Asked (hthsav). Jesus uses the same word for ask which the woman had employed of his asking her, the word expressing the asking of the inferior from the superior. Here it is the appropriate word.
Living water (udwr zwn). Fresh, perennial. A familiar figure to the Jews. See Jer. ii. 13; xvii. 13; Zech. xiv. 8. Not necessarily the same as water of life (udwr zwhv, Apoc. xxi. 6; xxii. 1, 17).
Well (frear). See on ver. 6. It may have been fed by living springs (phgai).
That living water (to udwr to zwn). Literally, the water the living.
Our father Jacob. The Samaritans claimed descent from Joseph, as representing the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
Children (uioi). Rev., correctly, sons.
Cattle (qremmata). Only here in the New Testament. From (trefw) to nourish. A general term for whatever is fed or nursed. When used of animals - mostly of tame ones - cattle, sheep, etc. It is applied to children, fowls, insects, and fish, also to domestic slaves, which, according to some, is the meaning here; but, as Meyer justly remarks, "there was no need specially to name the servants; the mention of the herds completes the picture of their nomadic progenitor."
Shall never thirst (ou mh diyhsei eiv ton aiwna). The double negative, ouj mh, is a very strong mode of statement, equivalent to by no means, or in nowise. It must not be understood, however, that the reception of the divine life by a believer does away with all further desire. On the contrary, it generates new desires. The drinking of the living water is put as a single act, in order to indicate the divine principle of life as containing in itself alone the satisfaction of all holy desires as they successively arise; in contrast with human sources, which are soon exhausted, and drive one to other fountains. Holy desire, no matter how large or how varied it may become, will always seek and find its satisfaction in Christ, and in Christ only. Thirst is to be taken in the same sense in both clauses, as referring to that natural craving which the world cannot satisfy, and which is therefore ever restless. Drusius, a Flemish critic, cited by Trench ("Studies in the Gospels"), says: "He who drinks the water of wisdom thirsts and does not thirst. He thirsts, that is, he more and more desires that which he drinks. He does not thirst, because he is so filled that he desires no other drink." The strong contrast of this declaration of our Lord with pagan sentiment, is illustrated by the following passage from Plato:
"Socrates: Let me request you to consider how far you would accept this as an account of the two lives of the temperate and intemperate: There are two men, both of whom have a number of casks; the one man has his casks sound and full, one of wine, another of honey, and a third of milk, besides others filled with other liquids, and the streams which fill them are few and scanty, and he can only obtain them with a great deal of toil and difficulty; but when his casks are once filled he has no need to feed them any more, and has no further trouble with them, or care about them. The other, in like manner, can procure streams, though not without difficulty, but his vessels are leaky and unsound, and night and day he is compelled to be filling them, and if he pauses for a moment he is in an agony of pain. Such are their respective lives: And now would you say that the life of the intemperate is happier than that of the temperate? Do I not convince you that the opposite is the truth?
"Callicles: You do not convince me, Socrates, for the one who has filled himself has no longer any pleasure left; and this, as I was just now saying, is the life of a stone; he has neither joy nor sorrow after he is once filled; but the life of pleasure is the pouring in of the stream.
"Socrates: And if the stream is always pouring in, must there not be a stream always running out, and holes large enough to admit of the discharge?
"Socrates: The life, then, of which you are now speaking is not that of a dead man, or of a stone, but of a cormorant; you mean that he is to be hungering and eating?
"Socrates: And he is to be thirsting and drinking?
"Callicles: Yes, that is what I mean; he is to have all his desires about him, and to be able to live happily in the gratification of them" ("Gorgias," 494). Compare Apoc. vii. 16,17.
Shall be (genhsetai). Rev., better, shall become, expressing the ever-developing richness and fresh energy of the divine principle of life.
In Him. A supply having its fountain-head in the man's own being, and not in something outside himself.
A well (phgh). The Rev. retains well, where spring would have been more correct.
Springing up (allpmenou). Leaping; thus agreeing with shall become. "The imperial philosopher of Rome uttered a great truth, but an imperfect one; saw much, but did not see all; did not see that this spring of water must be fed, and fed evermore, from the 'upper springs,' if it is not presently to fail, when he wrote: 'Look within; within is the fountain of good, and ever able to gush forth if you are ever digging'" (Plutarch, "On Virtue and Vice").
Unto everlasting life. Christ in a believer is life. This life ever tends toward its divine source, and issues in eternal life.
Come hither (ercwmai enqade). The best texts read diercwmai, the preposition dia having the force of through the intervening plain.
A prophet. See on Luke vii. 26. The order is a prophet art thou; the emphasis being on prophet.
This mountain. Gerizim, at the foot of which lies the well. Here, according to the Samaritan tradition, Abraham sacrificed Isaac, and met Melchisedek. By some convulsion of nature, the central range of mountains running north and south, was cleft open to its base at right angles to its own line of extension, and the deep fissure thus made is the vale of Nablus, as it appears to one coming up the plain of El Mukhna from Jerusalem. The valley is at least eighteen hundred feet above the level of the sea, and the mountains on either hand tower to an elevation of about one thousand feet more. Mount Ebal is on the north, Gerizim on the south, and the city between. Near the eastern end the vale is not more than sixty rods wide; and there, I suppose, the tribes assembled to hear the "blessings and cursings" read by the Levites (Deuteronomy 27, 28). The panorama seen from the top of Gerizim is about the most extensive and imposing in all Palestine. The summit is a small level plateau. In the midst of the southern end is a sloping rock, said by the Samaritans to be the site of the altar of their temple, and on approaching which they remove their shoes. At the eastern edge of the plateau, a small cavity in the rock is shown as the place on which Abraham offered up Isaac. Ebal is three thousand and seventy-nine feet above the sea-level, and more than two hundred and thirty feet higher than Gerizim. 24 Ought to worship (dei). Better, must worship. She puts it as a divine obligation. It is the only true holy place. Compare ver. 24.
Shall ye worship (proskunhsete). See on Acts x. 25. The word was used indefinitely in ver. 20. Here with the Father, thus defining true worship.
The Father. This absolute use of the title the Father is characteristic of John. He speaks of God as the Father, and my Father, more commonly the former. On the distinction between the two Canon Westcott observes: "Generally it may be said that the former title expresses the original relation of God to being, and specially to humanity, in virtue of man's creation in the divine image; and the latter more particularly the relation of the Father to the Son incarnate, and so indirectly to man in virtue of the Incarnation. The former suggests those thoughts which spring from the consideration of the absolute moral connection of man with God; the latter those which spring from what is made known to us, through revelation, of the connection of the Incarnate Son with God and with man." See vi. 45; x. 30; xx. 21; viii. 18, 19; xiv. 6-10; xv. 8. John never uses our Father; only once your Father (xx. 17), and never Father without the article, except in address.
We. Jesus here identifies Himself With the Jewish people. The essence of the true Jewish worship is represented by Him.
Know what we worship (proskunoumen o oidamen). Literally, and as Rev., we worship that which we know. On know, see on ii. 24. The neuter that which, is used of the true as of the unreal object of worship, perhaps for the sake of correspondence with the preceding clause, or because the object of worship is conceived abstractly and not personally. Compare xiv. 9.
Salvation (h swthria). The word has the article: the salvation, promised and to be revealed in Christ.
Is of the Jews. Rev., rightly, from the Jews (ek). Not therefore belongs to, but proceeds from. See Genesis 12; Isa. ii. 3; Micah iv. 2. Even the Old Testament idea of salvation is bound up with Christ. See Rom. ix. 4, 5. The salvation is from the Jews, even from that people which has rejected it. See on i. 19. On the characteristic is from, see on i. 46. The passage illustrates John's habit of confirming the divine authority of the Old Testament revelation, and of showing its fulfillment in Christ.
True (alhqinoi). Real, genuine. See on i. 9.
Worshippers (proskunhtai). Only here in the New Testament.
In spirit and in truth (en pneumati kai ahqeia). Spirit (pneuma) is the highest, deepest, noblest part of our humanity, the point of contact between God and man (Rom. i. 9); while soul (yuch) is the principle of individuality, the seat of personal impressions, having a side in contact with the material element of humanity as well as with the spiritual element, and being thus the mediating element between the spirit and the body. The phrase in spirit and in truth describes the two essential characteristics of true worship: in spirit, as distinguished from place or form or other sensual limitations (ver. 21); in truth, as distinguished from the false conceptions resulting from imperfect knowledge (ver. 22). True worship includes a spiritual sense of the object worshipped, and a spiritual communion with it; the manifestation of the moral consciousness in feelings, motions of the will, "moods of elevation, excitements," etc. It includes also a truthful conception of the object. In Jesus the Father is seen (xiv. 9) and known (Luke x. 22). Thus the truthful conception is gained. He is the Truth (xiv. 6). Likewise through Him we come to the Father, and spiritually commune with Him. No man can come in any other way (xiv. 6). To worship in truth is not merely to worship in sincerity, but with a worship corresponding to the nature of its object.
For the father (kai gar o pathr). The A.V. fails to render kai also, and Rev. places it in the margin. It emphasizes the conclusiveness of the reason assigned: "for the Father also, on His part, seeketh," etc. For a similar use of kai, see on Matt. viii. 9; also Matt. xxvi. 73; Acts xix. 40. Seeketh such to worship Him (toioutouv zhtei touv proskunountav auton). A rather peculiar construction. Literally, seeketh such as those worshipping him: as His worshippers. Such: i.e., those who worship in spirit and in truth, and are therefore real (alhqinoi) worshippers of the real God (alhqinon Qeon).
Which is called Christ. Added by the Evangelist. Compare i. 41.
He is come (ekeinov). Emphatic; pointing to Messiah as contrasted with all other teachers.
He will tell (anaggelei). Literally, proclaim or announce. The compounded preposition ajna, the radical meaning of which is up, signifies throughout, from bottom to top. The verb is used in xvi. 13, of the revelations of the Comforter.
Compare Matt. viii. 4; xvi. 20.
This incident furnishes a notable illustration of our Lord's love for human souls, and of His skill, tact, and firmness in dealing with moral degradation and ignorant bigotry. He conciliates the woman by asking a favor. Her hesitation arises less from prejudice of race than from surprise at being asked for drink by a Jew (compare the story of Zacchaeus). He seizes upon a near and familiar object as the key-note of His great lesson. He does not overwhelm her with new knowledge, but stimulates question and thought. He treats her sin frankly, but not harshly. He is content with letting her see that He is aware of it, knowing that through Him, as the Discerner, she will by and by reach Him as the Forgiver. Even from her ignorance and coarse superstition He does not withhold the sublimest truth. He knows her imperfect understanding, but He assumes the germinative power of the truth itself. He is not deterred from the effort to plant His truth and to rescue a soul, either by His own weariness or by the conventional sentiment which frowned upon His conversation with a woman in a public place. Godet contrasts Jesus' method in this case with that employed in the interview with Nicodemus. "With Nicodemus He started from the idea which filled every Pharisee's heart, that of the kingdom of God, and deduced therefrom the most rigorous practical consequences. He knew that He had to do with a man accustomed to the discipline of the law. Then He unveiled to him the most elevated truths of the kingdom of heaven, by connecting them with a striking Old Testament type, and contrasting them with the corresponding features of the Pharisaic programme. Here, on the contrary, with a woman destitute of all scriptural training, He takes His point of departure from the commonest thing imaginable, the water of the well. He suddenly exalts it, by a bold antithesis, to the idea of that eternal life which quenches forever the thirst of the human heart. Spiritual aspiration thus awakened in her becomes the internal prophecy to which He attaches His new revelations, and thus reaches that teaching on true worship which corresponds as directly to the peculiar prepossessions of the woman, as the revelation of heavenly things corresponded to the inmost thoughts of Nicodemus. Before the latter He unveils Himself as the only-begotten Son, but this while avoiding the title of "Christ." With the woman He boldly uses this term; but he does not dream of initiating into the mysteries of incarnation and redemption a soul which is yet only at the first elements of religious life and knowledge" ("Commentary on the Gospel of John").
He talked (elalei). The imperfect tense, he was speaking. So Rev..
The woman. Rev., correctly, a woman. They were surprised, not at his talking with that woman, but that their teacher should converse with any woman in public. The Rabbinical writings taught that it was beneath a man's dignity to converse with women. It was one of the six things which a Rabbi might not do. "Let no one," it is written, "converse with a woman in the street, not even with his own wife." It was also held in these writings that a woman was incapable of profound religious instruction. "Rather burn the sayings of the law than teach them to women."
Is not this the Christ (mhti estin)? Rather, as Rev., can this be. The particle suggests a negative answer. Surely this cannot be, yet with some hope.
Went out - came unto Him (exhlqon - hrconto prov auton). Went out is the aorist tense, denoting the coming forth from the city as a single act at a point of time. Came is the imperfect, denoting action in progress. The observance of the distinction makes the narrative more graphic. They were coming. Unto should be toward (prov). The imperfect also is required by the following words: "In the mean while" (while the woman was still absent and the Samaritans were coming toward Him) "the disciples were praying" Him to eat. This last imperfect is overlooked by the Rev..
Know not of (ouk oidate). Incorrect. Rev., rightly, ye know not; i.e., you do not know its virtue.
One to another. Fearing to ask Jesus.
To do (ina poiw). Literally, in order that I do. Emphasizing the end and not the process. Frequently so used in John. See on iii. 19.
Finish (peleiwsw). Better, as Rev., accomplish. Not merely bring to an end, but perfect. From teleiov, perfect. The verb is characteristic of John, and of the Epistle to the Hebrews. See v. 36; xvii. 4; xix. 28; 1 John ii. 5; iv. 12; Heb. ii. 10; v. 9, etc.
Harvest (qerismov). See on Luke x. 2.
White (leukai). See on Luke ix. 29.
Already unto harvest. Spiritual harvest. The crowd of Samaritans now pouring out toward the well was to Jesus as a ripe harvest-field, prefiguring the larger harvest of mankind which would be reaped by His disciples. By the best texts the already is joined with the next verse, and the kai, and, at the beginning of that verse is omitted: Already he that reapeth receiveth, etc.
Wages (misqon). See on 2 Pet. ii. 13.
Unto life eternal. This is explained either, which shall not perish but endure unto eternal life, or into life eternal, as into a granary. Compare ver. 14.
Together (omou). The construction is peculiar: that both the sower may rejoice together and the reaper. Together signifies not in common, but simultaneously. So quickly does the harvest follow the gospel-seed sown among the Samaritans, that the sower and the reaper rejoice together.
Is that saying true (o logov estin o alhqinov). Rev., properly, the saying; the common proverb. True: not only says the truth, but the saying is completely fulfilled according to the ideal in the sowing and reaping of which Jesus speaks. The literal rendering of the Greek, as given above, is, "the saying is the true (saying);" but several high authorities omit the article before true.
Labored (kekopiakasi). The perfect tense. Rev., rightly, have labored, their labor showing its effects in the present case. On the word labor, see on Luke v. 5. Compare Josh. xxiv. 13.
Saying (lalian). Another word is designedly substituted for logon, word (vv. 39, 41). In ver. 39 logov, word, is used of the woman, from the Evangelist's standpoint, as being a testimony to Christ. Here the Samaritans distinguish between the more authoritative and dignified word of Jesus, and the talk of the woman. Rev., speaking. Compare the kindred verb lalew, in vv. 26, 27; also viii. 43; Matt. xxvi. 73.
The Christ. The best texts omit.
The Savior (o swthr). John uses the word only here and 1 John iv. 14. See on Jesus, Matt. i. 21. It is significant that this conception of Christ should have been first expressed by a Samaritan.