John 4:10
Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water.
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(10) If thou knewest the gift of God.—Expositors differ very widely as to the meaning to be given to “the gift of God” and “living water.” See, e.g., the summaries of views in the notes of Meyer and Godet, both of which are now translated into English. Yet there can be little doubt of the true meaning if we observe the turn given to her question by the emphatic pronouns, “Thou wouldest have asked of Him.” You stand by this deep well that for centuries has been God’s gift of refreshment to man and beast; you have the means of drawing the water, and are thus the apparent benefactor to Him who asks for your aid. It is not really so. There is a deep well of spiritual truth in communion with God, as necessary for man’s true life as water is for the natural life. I stand here with the means to draw, with the power to enter the depths hidden from man, and reveal to your spirit the Being of God. It is really you that are the traveller in the journey of life, weary with the burning heat of its trials, and travel-stained by the sins through which you have passed, thirsting in the hopes and fears of that spirit that cannot rest apart from God, helpless at the very side of the well, for the Eternal is ever near you, and you know Him not. If you knew this gift of God, and knew Who it is that is now here to reveal it to you, you would have asked, and He would have given you that Spirit, which would have been in you as a fountain of living water.



John 4:10

This Gospel has two characteristics seldom found together: deep thought and vivid character-drawing. Nothing can be more clear-cut and dramatic than the scene in the chapter before us. There is not a word of description of this Samaritan woman. She paints herself, and it is not a beautiful picture. She is apparently of the peasant class, from a little village nestling on the hill above the plain, come down in the broiling sunshine to Jacob’s well. She is of mature age, and has had a not altogether reputable past. She is frivolous, ready to talk with strangers, with a tongue quick to turn grave things into jests; and yet she possesses, hidden beneath masses of unclean vanities, a conscience and a yearning for something better than she has, which Christ’s words awoke, and which was finally so enkindled as to make her fit to receive the full declaration of His Messiahship, which Pharisees and priests could not be trusted with.

I need scarcely do more than remind you of the way in which the conversation between this strangely assorted pair began. The solitary Jew, sitting spent with travel on the well, asks for a draught of water; not in order to get an opening for preaching, but because He needs it. She replies with an exclamation of light wonder, half a jest and half a sarcasm, and challenging a response in the same tone.

But Christ lifts her to a higher level by the words of my text, which awed levity, and prepared for a fuller revelation. ‘Thou dost wonder that I, being a Jew, ask drink of thee, a Samaritan. If thou knewest who I am, thy wonder at My asking would be more. If thou knewest what I have to give, we should change places, and thou wouldest ask, and I should bestow.’

So then, we have here gift, Giver, way of getting, and ignorance that hinders asking. Let us look at these.

I. First, the gift of God. Now it is quite clear that our Lord means the same thing, whatever it may be, by the two expressions, the ‘gift of God’ and the ‘living water.’

For, unless He does, the whole sequence of my text falls to pieces. ‘Living water’ was suggested, no doubt, by the circumstances of the moment. There, in the well, was an ever-springing source, and, says He, a like supply, ever welling up for thirsty lips and foul hands, ever sweet and ever sufficient, God is ready to give.

We may remember how, all through Scripture, we hear the tinkle of these waters as they run. The force of the expression is to be gathered largely from the Old Testament and the uses of the metaphor there. It has been supposed that by the ‘living water’ which God gives is here meant some one specific gift, such as that of the Holy Spirit, which sometimes is expressed by the metaphor. Rather I should be disposed to say the ‘living water’ is eternal life. ‘With Thee is the fountain of life.’ And so, in the last resort, the gift of God is God Himself. Nothing else will suffice for us, brethren. We need Him, and we need none but Him.

Our Lord, in the subsequent part of this conversation, again touches upon this great metaphor, and suggests one or two characteristics, blessings, and excellences of it. ‘It shall be in him,’ it is something that we may carry about with us in our hearts, inseparable from our being, free from all possibility of being filched away by violence, being rent from us by sorrows, or even being parted from us by death. What a man has outside of him he only seems to have. Our only real possessions are those which have passed into the substance of our souls. All else we shall leave behind. The only good is inward good; and this water of life slakes our thirst because it flows into the deepest place of our being, and abides there for ever.

Oh! you that are seeking your satisfaction from fountains that remain outside of you after all your efforts, learn that all of them, by reason of their externality, will sooner or later be ‘broken cisterns that can hold no water.’ And I beseech you, if you want rest for your souls and stilling for their yearnings, look for it there, where only it can be found, in Him, who not only dwells in the heavens to rule and to shower down blessings, but enters into the waiting heart and abides there, the inward, and therefore the only real, possession and riches. ‘It shall be in him a fountain of water.’

It is ‘springing up’-with an immortal energy, with ever fresh fulness, by its own inherent power, needing no pumps nor machinery, but ever welling forth its refreshment, an emblem of the joyous energy and continual freshness of vitality, which is granted to those who carry God in their hearts, and therefore can never be depressed beyond measure, nor ever feel that the burden of life is too heavy to bear, or its sorrows too sharp to endure.

It springs up ‘into eternal life,’ for water must seek its source, and rise to the level of its origin, and this fountain within a man, that reaches up ever towards the eternal life from which it came, and which it gives to its possessor, will bear him up, as some strong spring will lift the clods that choked its mouth, will bear him up towards the eternal life which is native to it, and therefore native to him.

Brethren, no man is so poor, so low, so narrow in capacity, so limited in heart and head, but that he needs a whole God to make him restful. Nothing else will. To seek for satisfaction elsewhere is like sailors who in their desperation, when the water-tanks are empty, slake their thirst with the treacherous blue that washes cruelly along the battered sides of their ship. A moment’s alleviation is followed by the recurrence, in tenfold intensity, of the pangs of thirst, and by madness, and death. Do not drink the salt water that flashes and rolls by your side when you can have recourse to the fountain of life that is with God.

‘Oh!’ you say, ‘commonplace, threadbare pulpit rhetoric.’ Yes! Do you live as if it were true? It will never be too threadbare to be dinned into your head until it has passed into your lives and regulated them.

II. Now, in the next place, notice the Giver.

Jesus Christ blends in one sentence, startling in its boldness, the gift of God, and Himself as the Bestower. This Man, exhausted for want of a draught of water, speaks with parched lips a claim most singularly in contrast with the request which He had just made: ‘I will give thee the living water.’ No wonder that the woman was bewildered, and could only say, ‘The well is deep, and Thou hast nothing to draw with.’ She might have said, ‘Why then dost Thou ask me?’ The words were meant to create astonishment, in order that the astonishment might awaken interest, which would lead to the capacity for further illumination. Suppose you had been there, had seen the Man whom she saw, had heard the two things that she heard, and knew no more about Him than she knew, what would you have thought of Him and His words? Perhaps you would have been more contemptuous than she was. See to it that, since you know so much that explains and warrants them, you do not treat them worse than she did.

Jesus Christ claims to give God’s gifts. He is able to give to that poor, frivolous, impure-hearted and impure-lifed woman, at her request, the eternal life which shall still all the thirst of her soul, that had often in the past been satiated and disgusted, but had never been satisfied by any of its draughts.

And He claims that in this giving He is something more than a channel, because, says He, ‘If thou hadst asked of Me I would give thee.’ We sometimes think of the relation between God and Christ as being typified by that of some land-locked sea amidst remote mountains, and the affluent that brings its sparkling treasures to the thirsting valley. But Jesus Christ is no mere vehicle for the conveyance of a divine gift, but His own heart, His own power, His own love are in it; and it is His gift just as much as it is God’s.

Now I do not do more than pause for one moment to ask you to think of what inference is necessarily involved in such a claim as this. If we know anything about Jesus Christ at all, we know that He spoke in this tone, not occasionally, but habitually. It will not do to pick out other bits of His character or actions and admire these and ignore the characteristic of His teachings-His claims for Himself. And I have only this one word to say, if Jesus Christ ever said anything the least like the words of my text, and if they were not true, what was He but a fanatic who had lost His head in the fancy of His inspiration? And if He said these words and they were true, what is He then? What but that which this Gospel insists from its beginning to its end that He was-the Eternal Word of God, by whom all divine revelation from the beginning has been made, and who at last ‘became flesh’ that we might ‘receive of His fulness,’ and therein ‘be filled with all the fulness of God.’ Other alternative I, for my part, see none.

But I would have you notice, too, the connection between these human needs of the Saviour and His power to give the divine gift. Why did He not simply say to this woman, ‘If thou knewest who I am?’ Why did He use this periphrasis of my text, ‘Who it is that saith unto thee, “Give Me to drink”‘? Why but because He wanted to fix her attention on the startling contradiction between His appearance and His claims-on the one hand asserting divine prerogative, on the other forcing into prominence human weakness and necessity, because these two things, the human weakness and the divine prerogative, are inseparably braided together and intertwined. Some of you will remember the great scene in Shakespeare where the weakness of Caesar is urged as a reason for rejecting his imperial authority:-

‘Ay! and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans Mark him, and write his speeches in their books, Alas! it cried, “Give me some drink, . . . Like a sick girl.”‘

And the inference that is drawn is, how can he be fit to be a ruler of men? But we listen to our Caesar and Emperor, when He asks this woman for water, and when He says on the Cross, ‘I thirst,’ and we feel that these are not the least of His titles to be crowned with many crowns. They bring Him nearer to us, and they are the means by which His love reaches its end, of bestowing upon us all, if we will have it, the cup of salvation. Unless He had said the one of these two things, He never could have said the other. Unless the dry lips had petitioned, ‘Give Me to drink,’ the gracious lips could never have said, ‘I will give thee living water.’ Unless, like Jacob of old, this Shepherd could say, ‘In the day the drought consumed Me,’ it would have been impossible that the flock ‘shall hunger no more, neither shall they thirst any more, . . . for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall lead them to living fountains of water.’

III. Again, notice how to get the gift.

Christ puts together, as if they were all but contemporaneous, ‘thou wouldst have asked of Me,’ and ‘I would have given thee.’ The hand on the telegraph transmits the message, and back, swift as the lightning, flashes the response. The condition, the only condition, and the indispensable condition, of possessing that water of life-the summary expression for all the gifts of God in Jesus Christ, which at the last are essentially God Himself-is the desire to possess it turned to Jesus Christ. Is it not strange that men should not desire; is it not strange and sad that such foolish creatures are we that we do not want what we need; that our wishes and needs are often diametrically opposite? All men desire happiness, but some of us have so vitiated our tastes and our palates by fiery intoxicants that the water of life seems dreadfully tasteless and unstimulating, and so we will rather go back again to the delusive, poisoned drinks than glue our lips to the river of God’s pleasures.

But it is not enough that there should be the desire. It must be turned to Him. In fact the asking of my text, so far as you and I are concerned, is but another way of speaking the great keyword of personal religion, faith in Jesus Christ. For they who ask, know their necessity, are convinced of the power of Him to whom they appeal to grant their requests, and rely upon His love to do so. And these three things, the sense of need, the conviction of Christ’s ability to save and to satisfy, and of His infinite love that desires to make us blessed-these three things fused together make the faith which receives the gift of God.

Remember, brethren, that another of the scriptural expressions for the act of trusting in Him, is taking, not asking. You do not need to ask, as if for something that is not provided. What we all need to do is to open our eyes to see what is there. If we like to put out our hands and take it. Why should we be saying, ‘Give me to drink,’ when a pierced hand reaches out to us the cup of salvation, and says, ‘Drink ye all of it’? ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come . . . and drink . . . without money and without price.’

There is no other condition but desire turned to Christ, and that is the necessary condition. God cannot give men salvation, as veterinary surgeons drench unwilling horses-forcing the medicine down their throats through clenched teeth. There must be the opened mouth, and wherever there is, there will be the full supply. ‘Ask, and ye shall receive’; take, and ye shall possess.

IV. Lastly, mark the ignorance that prevents asking.

Jesus Christ looked at this poor woman and discerned in her, though, as I said, it was hidden beneath mountains of folly and sin, a thirsty soul that was dimly longing for something better. And He believed that, if once the mystery of His being and the mercy of God’s gifts were displayed before her, she would melt into a yearning of desire that is certain to be fulfilled. In some measure the same thing is true of us all. For surely, surely, if only you saw realities, and things as they are, some of you would not be content to continue as you are-without this water of life. Blind, blind, blind, are the men who grope at noon-day as in the dark and turn away from Jesus. If you knew, not with the head only, but with the whole nature, if you knew the thirst of your soul, the sweetness of the water, the readiness of the Giver, and the dry and parched land to which you condemn yourselves by your refusal, surely you would bethink yourself and fall at His feet and ask, and get, the water of life.

But, brethren, there is a worse case than ignorance; there is the case of people that know and refuse, not by reason of imperfect knowledge, but by reason of averted will. And I beseech you to ponder whether that may not be your condition. ‘Whosoever will, let him come.’ ‘Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life.’ I do not think I venture much when I say that I am sure there are people hearing me now, not Christians, who are as certain, deep down in their hearts, that the only rest of the soul is in God, and the only way to get it is through Christ, as any saint of God’s ever was. But the knowledge does not touch their will because they like the poison and they do not want the life.

Oh! dear friends, the instantaneousness of Christ’s answer, and the certainty of it, are as true for each of us as they were for this woman. The offer is made to us all, just as it was to her. We can gather round that Rock like the Israelites in the wilderness, and slake every thirst of our souls from its outgushing streams. Jesus Christ says to each of us, as He did to her, tenderly, warningly, invitingly, and yet rebukingly, ‘If thou knewest . . . thou wouldst ask, . . . and I would give.’

Take care lest, by continual neglect, you force Him at last to change His words, and to lament over you, as He did over the city that He loved so well, and yet destroyed. ‘If thou hadst known in thy day the things that belong to thy peace. But now they are hid from thine eyes.’John 4:10-12. Jesus answered — And in his answer shows her that he was not under the power of such common prejudices; If thou knewest the gift of God — Which he is now bestowing on mankind by his Son; meaning the Holy Spirit and its fruits, styled, as here, δωρεα του Θεου, the gift of God, Acts 8:20, and η δωρεα, the gift, Acts 11:17; and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink — How great a person he is who is now conversing with thee. Instead of scrupling to grant him so small a favour, thou wouldest have asked Συ αν ητησας, thou surely wouldest have asked; of him, and he — Without objecting to thee on account of the people unto whom thou belongest; would readily have given thee living water — Water incomparably better than that which thou art drawing. By this our Lord intended to signify his ability and readiness to communicate those influences and graces of the Holy Spirit, which refresh the soul that earnestly desires them, as water refreshes a thirsty person. The influences of the Holy Spirit are termed living water also, John 8:38; and water of life, Revelation 21:6; and Revelation 22:1; Revelation 22:17; and clean water, Ezekiel 36:26-27. The phrase, living water, frequently signifying, in the language of Judea, only springing water, or running water, in opposition to that which stagnates, the woman mistook his meaning and replied, Thou hast nothing to draw with Ουτε αντλημα εχεις, thou hast not a bucket, nor any other instrument wherewith thou canst draw the water; and this well — The only spring hereabout; is deep: from whence then hast thou — Whence canst thou obtain; that living water — Of which thou speakest? Or, what is the extraordinary supply which thou declarest may be had from thee? Mr. Maundrell tells us, that the well, now shown as Jacob’s, is thirty- five yards deep. Art thou greater — “Art thou a person of greater power, or more in favour with God; than our father Jacob — That thou canst procure water by supernatural means? He was obliged to dig this well, in order to provide drink for himself and his family: canst thou create water?” Although this woman speaks of Jacob as the father, or progenitor of the Samaritans, they were in truth not his progeny, but the descendants of those nations which the king of Assyria placed there in the room of the Israelites, whom he carried away captive, 2 Kings 17:24; who gave us the well — In Joseph their supposed father; and drank thereof himself — So even he, great and holy as he was, had no better water than this. Observe here, reader, the reason why men are indifferent about the inestimable gift of God here spoken of, the Holy Spirit, and either do not sincerely and earnestly apply to God in prayer for it, or apply without success, is not their knowledge, and their preservation thereby from enthusiasm, but their ignorance, and their being destitute of all true religion through that ignorance. If, as Jesus says of this woman, they knew this gift of God, knew its nature, excellence, necessity, and attainableness, and together therewith the way of attaining it; and that Christ has received it for them, and how willing, as well as able, he is to bestow it, they surely would ask it of him, and he would not fail to give them this living water.4:4-26 There was great hatred between the Samaritans and the Jews. Christ's road from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria. We should not go into places of temptation but when we needs must; and then must not dwell in them, but hasten through them. We have here our Lord Jesus under the common fatigue of travellers. Thus we see that he was truly a man. Toil came in with sin; therefore Christ, having made himself a curse for us, submitted to it. Also, he was a poor man, and went all his journeys on foot. Being wearied, he sat thus on the well; he had no couch to rest upon. He sat thus, as people wearied with travelling sit. Surely, we ought readily to submit to be like the Son of God in such things as these. Christ asked a woman for water. She was surprised because he did not show the anger of his own nation against the Samaritans. Moderate men of all sides are men wondered at. Christ took the occasion to teach her Divine things: he converted this woman, by showing her ignorance and sinfulness, and her need of a Saviour. By this living water is meant the Spirit. Under this comparison the blessing of the Messiah had been promised in the Old Testament. The graces of the Spirit, and his comforts, satisfy the thirsting soul, that knows its own nature and necessity. What Jesus spake figuratively, she took literally. Christ shows that the water of Jacob's well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever partakes of the Spirit of grace, and the comforts of the gospel, shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul. Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. Give it me, saith she, not that I may have everlasting life, which Christ proposed, but that I come not hither to draw. The carnal mind is very ingenious in shifting off convictions, and keeping them from fastening. But how closely our Lord Jesus brings home the conviction to her conscience! He severely reproved her present state of life. The woman acknowledged Christ to be a prophet. The power of his word in searching the heart, and convincing the conscience of secret things, is a proof of Divine authority. It should cool our contests, to think that the things we are striving about are passing away. The object of worship will continue still the same, God, as a Father; but an end shall be put to all differences about the place of worship. Reason teaches us to consult decency and convenience in the places of our worship; but religion gives no preference to one place above another, in respect of holiness and approval with God. The Jews were certainly in the right. Those who by the Scriptures have obtained some knowledge of God, know whom they worship. The word of salvation was of the Jews. It came to other nations through them. Christ justly preferred the Jewish worship before the Samaritan, yet here he speaks of the former as soon to be done away. God was about to be revealed as the Father of all believers in every nation. The spirit or the soul of man, as influenced by the Holy Spirit, must worship God, and have communion with him. Spiritual affections, as shown in fervent prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, form the worship of an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. The woman was disposed to leave the matter undecided, till the coming of the Messiah. But Christ told her, I that speak to thee, am He. She was an alien and a hostile Samaritan, merely speaking to her was thought to disgrace our Lord Jesus. Yet to this woman did our Lord reveal himself more fully than as yet he had done to any of his disciples. No past sins can bar our acceptance with him, if we humble ourselves before him, believing in him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.The gift of God - The word "gift," here denotes "favor." It may refer to Jesus Himself, as the gift of God to the world, given to save men from death John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15, or it may refer to the opportunity then afforded her of seeking salvation. If thou knewest how favorable an opportunity God now gives thee to gain a knowledge of himself, etc.

And who it is ... - If thou knewest that the Messiah was speaking.

Living water - The Jews used the expression "living water" to denote springs, fountains, or running streams, in opposition to dead and stagnant water. Jesus here means to denote by it his doctrine, or his grace and religion, in opposition to the impure and dead notions of the Jews and the Samaritans. See John 4:14. This was one of the many instances in which he took occasion from common topics of conversation to introduce religious discourse. None ever did it so happily as he did, but, by studying his example and manner, we may learn also to do it. One way to acquire the art is to have the mind full of the subject; to make religion our first and main thing; to carry it with us into all employments and into all society; to look upon everything in a religious light, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak, Matthew 12:34.

10. If thou knewest, &c.—that is, "In Me thou seest only a petitioner to thee but if thou knewest who that Petitioner is, and the Gift that God is giving to men, thou wouldst have changed places with Him, gladly suing of Him living water—nor shouldst thou have sued in vain" (gently reflecting on her for not immediately meeting His request). Many by the gift of God here understand Christ, whom God gave to the world, John 3:16; and who is the greatest gift that God ever gave to the world; so as the latter words, who it is, &c., expound the former.

Thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee, either a true knowledge of the doctrine or the grace tendered in the gospel; or the Holy Spirit, called water, because it washes and cleanses the soul; and

living water, because it is always running and flowing. Jesus answered and said unto her,.... In a very serious manner, in a different way from hers:

if thou knewest the gift of God; meaning, not the Holy Spirit with his gifts and graces, as some think, but himself; for the following clause is explanatory of it;

and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; and Christ is also spoken of in the Old Testament, as the gift of God, Isaiah 9:6 and he had lately spoken of himself as such, John 3:16 and he is, by way of eminency, "the gift of God"; which is comprehensive of all others, is exceeding large, and very suitable to the wants and cases of men; and is irrevocable, unchangeable, and unspeakable: for he is God's gift, as he is his own and only begotten Son; and he is given for a covenant to the people, with all the promises and blessings of it; and as an head, both of eminence and influence; and to be a Saviour of them, and a sacrifice for their sins; and as the bread of life, for them to feed and live upon; of which gift, men are naturally ignorant, as this woman was: they know not the dignity of his person; nor the nature and usefulness of his offices; nor the way of peace, righteousness, and salvation by him; nor do they see any amiableness, or loveliness in him; and whatever notional knowledge some natural men may have of him, they know him not spiritually and experimentally, or as the gift of God to them:

thou wouldst have asked of him; a favour and benefit; for such who truly know Christ, the worth and value of him, and their need of him, will apply to him for grace, as they have encouragement to do; since all grace is treasured up in him, and he gives it freely, and upbraideth not; and souls are invited to ask it of him, and take it freely; nor is it to be had anywhere else: but knowledge of Christ, is absolutely necessary, to asking anything of him; for till he is known, he will not be applied to; but when he is made known to any, in his fulness and suitableness, they will have recourse to him, and ask grace and mercy of him; and which is freely had: the Vulgate Latin very wrongly adds, "perhaps"; reading it, "perhaps thou wouldst have asked"; whereas our Lord's meaning is, that she would certainly have asked:

and he would have given thee living water; pardoning and justifying grace, every branch of sanctifying grace, and all the supplies of it; so called, because his grace quickens sinners dead in sin, and dead in law, and in, their own apprehensions; and causes them to live in themselves, and before God; and because it refreshes and comforts, revives and cheers, and is like rivers of water in a dry land; and because it maintains and supports spiritual life in their souls; and it ever abides, and continues, and springs up unto everlasting life: for the allusion is to spring water, that bubbles up in a fountain, and is ever running; for such water the Jews call "living water"; see Genesis 26:19; where in the Hebrew text it is "living water"; which we, and also the Chaldee paraphrase, render "springing water". So living waters with them, are said to be always flowing, and never cease (t).

(t) Bartenora in Misn. Negaim, c. 14. sect. 1.

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest {d} the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee {e} living water.

(d) By this word the we are shown that Christ speaks of some excellent gift, that is to say, even about himself, whom his Father offered to this woman.

(e) This everlasting water, that is to say, the exceeding love of God, is called living or of life, to make a difference between it and the water that should be drawn out of a well: and these metaphors are frequently used by the Jews.

John 4:10. Jesus certainly recognised at once the susceptibility of the woman; allowing, therefore, His own need to stand in abeyance, He began the conversation, which was sufficiently striking to excite at once the full interest of her sanguine temperament, though at the outset this interest was nothing but feminine curiosity.

τὴν δωρ. τ. θεοῦ] the gift of God, which you may now partake of by conversation with me. Not certainly the person of Jesus Himself (the Greek Fathers, Erasmus, Beza, and most others, even Hengstenberg and Godet), to which he refers only as the discourse advances with the καί of closer definition.

σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας ] thou wouldest have prayed Him (i.e. to give you to drink), and He would have, etc. Observe the emphatic σύ (the request would have come from you).

ὕδωρ ζῶν] The woman takes this to mean spring-water, מַיִם חַיִּים, Genesis 26:19, Leviticus 14:5, Jeremiah 2:13, as opposed to water in a cistern. Comp. vivi fontes and the like among the Romans; see Wetstein. Christ does indeed mean spring-water, but, as in John 7:38, in a spiritual sense (comp. John 4:14), namely, God’s grace and truth (John 1:14), which He, who is the possessor of them, communicates by His word out of His fulness, and which in its living, regenerating, and, for the satisfying of spiritual need, ever freshly efficacious power, is typified by water from the spring. Comp. analogous passages, Sir 15:3; Sir 24:21; Bar 3:12; Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 2298. He does not mean Himself, His own life (Olshausen, Godet, following Epiphanius and most others), in the same manner as He speaks of Himself as the bread of life, John 6:35, for this is not indicated in any part of the present colloquy; nor does He mean faith (John 3:15), as Lücke thinks, nor the Spirit (Calovius, Baumgarten Crusius, Luthardt, Hofmann), the gift of which follows the communication of the living water. Any reference to baptism (Justin, Cyprian, Ambrose, and most others) is quite remote from the text. Calvin is substantially right when he sees typified totam renovationis gratiam.John 4:10. Ἀπεκρίθηὕδωρ ζῶν. “If thou knewest;” the pathos of the situation strikes Jesus. The woman stands on the brink of the greatest possibilities, but is utterly unconscious of them. Two things she did not know: (1) τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ, the free gift of God. This is explained in the last words of the verse to be “living water”; but in its first occurrence it is indefinite: “If thou knewest the freeness of God’s giving, and that to each of His children He has a purpose of good”. But in God’s direction the woman cherished no hope. (2) She did not know τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι, Δός μοι πιεῖν. So long as she thought Him an ordinary Jew she could expect nothing from Him. Had she known that Jesus was the bearer of God’s free gift to men, she would have asked of Him. σὺ ἀν ᾔτησας αὐτόν, σὺ is emphatic. You would have anticipated my request by a request on your own behalf. And instead of creating difficulties I would have given thee living water.—ὕδωρ ζῶν, by which the woman understood that He meant spring water. What He did mean appears immediately. John 4:11. λέγει αὐτῷτὸ ζῶν; She addresses Him with κύριε, perhaps fancying from His saying, “If you had known who it is that says to you,” that He was some great person in disguise. But her answer breathes incredulity: οὔτε ἄντλημα ἔχεις. She began her sentence meaning to say, “You neither have a bucket, nor is the well shallow enough for you to reach the water without one,” but she alters its construction and puts the second statement in a positive form. The depth of the well is variously given. Conder found it 75 feet.—πόθεν … She is mystified, μὴ σὺ μείζωνθρέμματα αὐτοῦ. Jesus had spoken as if independently of the well He could procure living water: but even Jacob (claimed by the Samaritans as their father, and whose bones lay in their midst), great as he was, used this well.—θρέμματα. “What is nourished.” Kypke adduces several instances in which it is used of “domestics”. Plato, Laws, 953 E, uses it of “nurslings of the Nile,” the Egyptians. But Wetstein adduces many instances of its use in the sense of “cattle”. Theophylact thinks this points to the abundant supply of water.10. the gift of God] What He is ready to give thee, what is now held out to thee, thy salvation. For ‘knewest’ read hadst known. Comp. John 11:21; John 11:32, John 14:28, where we have the same construction; and contrast John 5:46 and John 8:19, where the A. V. makes the converse mistake of translating imperfects as if they were aorists.

thou wouldest have asked of him] instead of His asking of thee: ‘thou’ is emphatic. ‘Spiritually our positions are reversed. It is thou who art weary, and foot-sore, and parched, close to the well, yet unable to drink; it is I who can give thee the water from the well, and quench thy thirst for ever.’ There is a scarcely doubtful reference to this passage in the Ignatian Epistles, Romans VII. See on John 6:33, to which there is a clear reference in this same chapter. The passage with these references to the Fourth Gospel is found in the Syriac as well as in the shorter Greek versions of Ignatius; so that we have almost certain evidence of this Gospel being known as early as a.d. 115. See on John 3:3.John 4:10. Εἰ ἤδεις, if thou hadst known) Ignorance is a hindrance; but the disclosure of her ignorance shows the compassion of the Lord, and kindled a longing desire in the woman’s heart.—τὴν δωρεάν, the gift) The gift is the living water.—τίς ἐστιν, who it is) He speaks in the third person, modestly. It is the prerogative of Him, who saith this, to give the living water. Subsequently He discloses, who it is; John 4:26.—σὺ ἂν ἤτησαςκαὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν) thou wouldest ask—and He would give: or rather, thou wouldest have asked, and He would have given, i.e., not only would you not wonder at my asking, but even you of your own accord would have asked of Me. The pronoun σὺ, thou, employed in this place in particular, rather than with the verb ᾐδεις, hadst known, forms an emphatic opposition to that αἰτεῖς, dost thou ask? [John 4:9]. John is wont to put the imperfect tense with the particle ἄν, where the sentence requires that very time: ἐπιστεύετε ἄν, ἠγαπᾶτε ἄν, οὐκ ἂν εἴχετε, ἐφίλει ἄν, ἠγωνίζοντο ἄν, ch. John 5:46, John 8:42, John 9:41, John 15:19, John 18:36. But the Aorist has the same force as the Pluperfect, οὐκ ἂν ἐτεθνήκει, οὐκ ἂν ἀπέθανε, ch. John 11:21; John 11:32; though in Eph. 1 Chronicles 2:19, he employs the Pluperfect itself, μεμενήκεισαν ἄν. The passages therefore may possibly seem doubtful in meaning ch. John 14:2; John 14:28, and here, ch. John 4:10 : εἶπον ἄν: εἶπον ἄν, I would say, or I would have said; ἐχάρητε ἄν, ye would rejoice, or ye would have rejoiced; ᾔτησας ἄν, ἔδωκεν ἄν, thou wouldest seek, and He would give; or, thou wouldest have sought, and He would have given. But, however, since he might have written, and yet he does not write ἔλεγον, ἐχαίρετε, ᾔτεις, ἐδίδου; we understand the Aorist as a Pluperfect, as also at ch, John 18:30, [εἰ μὴ ἦν οὗτος κακοποιὸς, οὐκ ἄν σοι παρεδώκαμεν αὐτόν], we would not have delivered Him up: Galatians 4:15; ἐδώκατε ἄν, ye would have given. The Lord then saith, Thou wouldest have asked from Me, before that I said to thee, Give Me to drink. And, He had said, Give Me to drink, that, conversely, the woman might learn to ask from Himself the living water.—ἔδωκεν ἄν) This ἄν depends on the former particle ἄν being previously brought into action.—ὓδωρ, water) In a similar way Jesus takes an allegory from bread, ch. John 6:27, etc. [Having fed 5000 with a few loaves, and being therefore followed by the crowd, He proceeds, “Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat, which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you,”] etc.: and from light, ch. John 8:12 “I am the light of the world:” [an image suggested perhaps by the sun then rising: comp. John 4:2], “early in the morning”: which things are in nature the first, the most elementary, necessary, common to all and salutary.—ζῶν) which is living, and thence life-imparting; John 4:14; “The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life:” ch. John 7:38; “He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of water.” The expression living water, is here used in a more exalted sense, than at Leviticus 14:5, מים חיים, ὓδωρ ζῶν, [the priest commanding the bird to be killed “over running water”].Verses 10-15. -

(b) The living water offered and misunderstood. Verse 10. - Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou hadst known the gift of God (but thou dost not; - this conclusion is involved in the form of the conditional sentence), and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink. Many suggestions are offered as to the meaning here of the "gift of God." Elsewhere (John 3:16) Christ is himself God's Gift, and St. Paul speaks of Christ as God's unspeakable Gift (Hengstenberg). Paul also declares that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ." The living water, the refreshing, life-giving stream of blessedness which Christ is opening in this wilderness, is the meaning put back by some into these memorable words as they first fell from the lips of Jesus. So Lampe and Godet. But Augustine and others point to John 7:39, where John tells us that the living water of which Jesus speaks as welling up like a river in the heart of a believer, in the bosom of one who has come to him to slake his otherwise quenchless thirst, is "the Spirit," which those who believe on him should receive when Jesus would be glorified. This sublime renewal of the greatest gift of God by the Spirit is set forth under similar imagery in Isaiah 44:3 and Joel 2:28. However, words are functions of two minds; what they must or might have meant to her must have been Christ's meaning when he uttered them. The explanatory clause, Who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, solves the perplexity. That the Son of God, that the Logos in flesh, should have so emptied himself of his eternal glory as to ask for water from a Samaritan, and a woman, is in itself a gift, the supreme gift, of God. She did not know the fulness of his nature. So Lange, Grotius, and others. A remark by Dr. Yeomans is singularly suggestive: "The context shows that 'the gift of God' is a gift which God had already given, rather than one yet held in reserve - the actual gift of his condescension, rather than the offered gift of living water, or the Holy Ghost." Had she known it and put the two thoughts together in the rudest fashion, she would have known the gift of God, and she would have become the suppliant at once and he the Giver. Thou wouldest have asked (prayed, taken the position of the inferior) of him, and he would have given to thee living water. (For the phrase, "living water," see Genesis 26:19; and for its application, Zechariah 14:8; Jeremiah 2:13; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:1.) The Divine supply of heaven-sent life, which will slake all thirst for lesser gifts, and which will constitute the perennial blessedness of saved and glorified spirits. The gift of God is the full discovery of personal relations with the veritable Source of all life. This becomes life eternal as it leads to knowledge of the only God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent; and assists a full realization of the life, the Source and End of which are God. It is interesting to notice that Philo, in many places, declares these wells of water (Genesis 29:2) to mean "true philosophy or wisdom, deep and only with difficulty drawn upon." "Flowing water is the Logos himself, 'cisterns' represent memories of past knowledge;" but the Old Testament usage quoted above is a far more rational justification of the language used by our Lord. If thou knewest, etc.

Answering rather something latent in the question than the question itself, as in Jesus' first answer to Nicodemus.

The gift (δωρεὰν)

Only here in the Gospels, though Luke uses it in Acts four times, and the kindred adverb, δῶρημα, freely, is found once in Matthew. The word carries the sense of a bountiful, free, honorable gift. Compare δῶρημα, gift, and see on James 1:17.

Asked (ᾔτησας)

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 (ὕδωρ ζῶν)

Fresh, perennial. A familiar figure to the Jews. See Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Zechariah 14:8. Not necessarily the same as water of life (ὕδωρ ζωῆς, Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:1, Revelation 22:17).

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