John 4:22
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
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(22) For salvation is of the Jews.—This verse has sorely tried critics who seek to construct the Gospel out of their judgments of what it should be. It can be no difficulty to those who seek to form their judgments from the Gospel as it is. Assume that the Gospel belongs to the Greek thought of the close of the second century, and the verse must be omitted, though it is certainly part of the original text; accept the Gospel as belonging to the Hebrew thought of the first century, and this touch of Jewish theology is in entire harmony with it. The contrast between the Samaritan and the Jewish worship lay in its history, its state at that time, and its rejection of the fuller teaching of the prophetical books of the Old Testament. “In every way the Jews had much advantage, but chiefly that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Little as they knew the treasure they possessed, they were the guardians of spiritual truth for the world, and in a sense deeper than they could fathom, “salvation was of the Jews.” (Comp. Romans 3:2; Romans 9:4-5, Notes; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2.)

The “we” of this verse is in answer to the “ye” of John 4:20. She identifies Him with those who claim Jerusalem as the place of worship. That “ye” contained its own answer. In using it she had said that the Messiah was of the Jews.

John 4:22. Ye worship ye know not what — Or rather, as the original words, υμεις προσκυνειτε ο ουκ οιδατε, ye worship what ye know not, that is, ye Samaritans are ignorant, not only of the place, but, in a great measure, also of the very object of worship. They believed indeed, in a sense, in the one living and true God, as the Jews did; drawing their knowledge of him from the five books of Moses, the authority of which they acknowledged. But as they did not receive the writings of the prophets as canonical, or of divine inspiration, it is not to be supposed that they were, in general, so well acquainted with God, and the service he required, as the Jews were. On the contrary, it is probable that they were sunk into a state of gross ignorance in these respects. For, if the writings of the prophets were of importance for conveying to mankind the knowledge of the perfections and will of God, the Samaritans, who rejected all those writings, must, on this head, have been more ignorant than the Jews. Doubtless, many of them were like their progenitors, of whom we read, (2 Kings 17:32,) that they feared the Lord, namely, after a fashion; but, at the same time, served their own gods, that is, they joined the worship of idols with his worship: or worshipped him merely as a local deity, as is plainly intimated, John 4:26-27 of that chapter, where they twice term him, the God of the land. We know what we worship — Or rather, as the Greek is, we worship what we know, or, we know the God we worship. Our Lord and his disciples, and such Jews as were pious, certainly knew the God they worshipped; and the Jews in general had much more correct ideas of the nature and attributes of God than the Samaritans had. Christ elsewhere condemns the corruptions of the Jewish worship; yet here defends their worship with regard to its object: for we may be right with respect to the object of our worship, even when there is much that is faulty and corrupt in the manner of it. For salvation is of the Jews — All the prophets spoke of the Saviour as one that should come out of the Jewish nation, and that through him the knowledge of the true God, and of the true way of worshipping and serving him, should be communicated to the rest of mankind. For, as the author of salvation came of the Jews, appeared among them, and was sent first to bless them, affording them, in an extraordinary way, the means of salvation; so the word of salvation was of them, and was delivered to them, to be derived from them to other nations. This was a sure guide to them in their worship, and they who followed it knew what they worshipped. As they, therefore, were thus privileged and advanced, it was presumption for the Samaritans to vie with them.

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.Ye worship ye know not what - This probably refers to the comparative ignorance and corruption of the Samaritan worship. Though they received the five books of Moses, yet they rejected the prophets, and of course all that the prophets had said respecting the true God. Originally, also, they had joined the worship of idols to that of the true God. See 2 Kings 17:26-34. They had, moreover, no authority for building their temple and conducting public worship by sacrifices there. On all these accounts they were acting in an unauthorized manner. They were not obeying the true God, nor offering the worship which he had commanded or would approve. Thus, Jesus indirectly settled the question which she had proposed to him, yet in such a way as to show her that it was of much less importance than she had supposed.

We know - We Jews. This they knew because God had commanded it; because they worshipped in a place appointed by God, and because they did it in accordance with the direction and teaching of the prophets.

Salvation is of the Jews - They have the true religion and the true form of worship; and the Messiah, who will bring salvation, is to proceed from them. See Luke 2:30; Luke 3:6. Jesus thus affirms that the Jews had the true form of the worship of God. At the same time he was sensible how much they had corrupted it, and on various occasions reproved them for it.

22. Ye worship ye know not what—without any revealed authority, and so very much in the dark. In this sense, the Jews knew what they were about. But the most glorious thing here is the reason assigned,

for salvation is of the Jews—intimating to her that Salvation was not a thing left to be reached by any one who might vaguely desire it of a God of mercy, but something that had been revealed, prepared, deposited with a particular people, and must be sought in connection with, and as issuing from them; and that people, "the Jews."

You have no certain rule for your worship, but only do things which your fathers did, without any revelation of the Divine will, by which you may be assured that what you do is acceptable to God. We know that God hath revealed his will, that his people should worship him at Jerusalem by such rites and performances as he himself hath instituted in his word, so as we are certain that what we do is acceptable to God: for unto the Jews (of old) were committed the oracles of God, the ordinary means of salvation; Out of Zion went forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, Isaiah 2:3.

Ye worship ye know not what,.... However, as to her question, he more directly replies by condemning the Samaritans, and their ignorance in worship, and by approving the Jews; and so manifestly gives the preference to the Jews, not only with respect to the place, and object of worship, but with respect to knowledge and salvation. As for the Samaritans, he suggests, that they were ignorant, not only of the true object of worship, but knew not what they themselves worshipped; or, at least, were not agreed in it. The original inhabitants of those parts, from whence these Samaritans sprung, were idolatrous Heathens, placed by the king of Assyria in the room of the ten tribes he carried away captive; and these feared not the Lord, for they "knew not the manner of the God of the land": wherefore lions were sent among them which slew many of them; upon which the king of Assyria ordered a priest to be sent to instruct them: but notwithstanding this, they had everyone gods of their own, some one, and some another; and so served divers graven images, they and their children, and their children's children, to the time of the writer of the Book of Kings; see 2 Kings 17:24. And though after Manasseh, and other Jews were come among them, and they had received the law of Moses, they might have some knowledge of the true God, yet they glorified him not as God; and though they might in words profess him, yet in works they denied him; and even after this they are very highly charged by the Jews with idolatrous practices on this mount. Sometimes they say (g) the Cuthites, or Samaritans, worshipped fire; and at other times, and which chiefly prevails with them, they assert (h), that their wise men, upon searching, found that they worshipped the image of a dove on Mount Gerizim; and sometimes they say (i), they worshipped the idols, the strange gods, or Teraphim, which Jacob hid under the oak in Sichem; which last, if true, may serve to illustrate these words of Christ, that they worshipped they knew not what, since they worshipped idols hid in the mount.

"R. Ishmael bar Jose, they say (k) went to Neapolis, (Sichem, called Naplous,) the Cuthites, or Samaritans came to him (to persuade him to worship with them in their mountain); he said unto them, I will show you that ye do not "worship at this mountain", but "the images which are hid under it"; for it is written, Genesis 35:4; "and Jacob hid them" under the oak which was by Shechem.''

And elsewhere (l) it is reported of the same Rabbi, that he went to Jerusalem to pray, as before related on John 4:20, and after what passed between him, and the Samaritan he met with at Mount Gerizim, before mentioned, he added;

"and said to him, I will tell you what ye are like, (ye are like) to a dog that lusts after carrion; so because ye know the idols are hid under it, (the mountain,) as it is written, Genesis 35:4 and Jacob hid them, therefore ye lust after it: they said--this man knows that idols are hid here, and perhaps he will take them away; and they consulted together to kill him: he arose, and made his escape in the night.''

But this was not the case of the Jews:

we know what we worship; Christ puts himself among them, for he was a Jew, as the woman took him to be; and, as man, was a worshipper of God; he feared, loved, and obeyed God; he trusted in him, and prayed unto him; though, as God, he was the object of worship himself: and the true worshippers among the Jews, of which sort Christ was, knew God, whom they worshipped, spiritually and savingly; and the generality of that people had right notions of the God of Israel, having the oracles, and service of God, and being instructed out of Moses, and the prophets:

for salvation is of the Jews; the promises of salvation, and of a Saviour, were made to them, when the Gentiles were strangers to them; the means of salvation, and of the knowledge of it, as the word, statutes, and ordinances, were enjoyed by them, when others were ignorant of them; and the Messiah, who is sometimes styled "Salvation", see Genesis 49:18, was not only prophesied of in their books, and promised unto them, but came of them, as well as to them; and the number of the saved ones had been for many hundreds of years, and still was among them; the line of election ran among them, and few among the Gentiles were called and saved, as yet.

(g) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 5. 2.((h) Maimon. in Misn. Beracot, c. 8. sect. 8. & Bartenora in ib. c. 7. sect. 1. & in Nidda, c. 4. sect. 1.((i) Shalshelet Hakkabala, fol. 15. 2.((k) T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4. (l) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 81. fol. 71. 1.

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
John 4:22. Jesus has answered the question as to the where of worship; He now turns, unasked, to the object of worship, and in this He pronounces in favour of the Jews. The chain of thought is not: “as matters now stand,” and so on (Lücke and most others); such a change of time must have been indicated.

ὃ οὐκ οἴδατε] ye worship what ye know not. God is meant, who is named not personally, but by the neuter, according to His essence and character, not as He who is worshipped, but as that which is worshipped (comp. the neuter, Acts 17:23, according to the more correct reading); and this is simply God Himself, not τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ or τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν (Lücke), which would not be in keeping with the conception expressed in προσκυνεῖν; for what is worshipped is not what pertains to God, but God (comp. John 4:21; John 4:23-24). The οὐκ οἴδατε is to be understood relatively; comp. John 7:28. As the Samaritans received the Pentateuch only, they were without the developed revelation of God contained in the subsequent books of the O. T., particularly in the Prophets, especially the stedfast, pure, and living development of Messianic hope, which the Jews possessed, so also they had lost, with the temple and its sacred shrines, the abiding presence of the Deity (Romans 3:2; Romans 9:4-5). Jesus, therefore, might well speak of their knowledge of God, in comparison with that of the Jews (ἡμεῖς), who possessed the full revelation and promise, as ignorance; and He could regard this great superiority of the Jews as unaffected by the monotheism, however spiritual, of the Samaritans. According to de Wette, whom Ebrard follows, the meaning is: “ye worship, and in so doing, ye do what ye know not,”—which is said to refer to the arbitrary and unhistorical manner in which the Samaritan worship originated. According to this, the would have to be taken as in ὃ δὲ νῦν ζῶ, Galatians 2:20 (comp. Bengel), so that it would denote the προσκύνησις itself, which is accomplished in the προσκυνεῖν (see Bernhardy, p. 106). But in that case it would have been more logical to write ὃ ὑμεῖς προσκυνεῖτε, οὐκ οἴδατε. Tittmann, Morus, Kuinoel, also erroneously say that stands for καθʼ ὅ, Proverbs vestra ignorantia. It is the accusative of the object, in which is included the dative, or even the accusative of the demonstrative (for προσκύν. is construed in both ways; see Lobeck, ad Phyrn. p. 463).

ἡμεῖς] i.e. Jews, without a conjunction, and hence all the more emphatic. According to the whole connection, it must mean we Jews, not Christians, as if ἡμεῖς were intended in the Gnostic sense to denote, as something altogether new, the distinctively Christian consciousness, as contrasted with the unconscious worship of the Israelitish race in its Samaritan and Jewish branches (Hilgenfeld, comp. his Zeitschr. 1863, p. 213 ff.). That Jesus, being Himself a Jew (Galatians 4:4; John 1:11), should reckon Himself among the Jews, cannot be thought strange in the antithesis of such a passage as this. But in what follows, the Lord rises so high above this antithesis between Samaritan and Jew, that in the future which He opens up to view (John 4:23-24), this national distinctiveness ceases to have any significance. Still, in answer to the woman’s question, He could simply and definitely assign to the Jews that superiority which historically belonged to them before the manifestation of that higher future; but He could not intend “to set her free from the unreality of her national existence” (Luthardt), but rather, considering the occasion which presented itself, could make no concession to the injury of the rights of His patriotism as Messiah, based as this was upon historical fact and upon the divine purpose (Romans 1:16).

ὅτι ἡ σωτ., κ.τ.λ.] because salvation (of course, not without the σωτήρ, though this is not named) proceeds from the Jews (not from the Samaritans),—a general doctrinal statement, incontestably true, based upon the promise to Abraham, Genesis 12 (comp. Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2), concerning the σωτηρία of the Messiah’s kingdom, whose future establishment is represented as present, as is natural in such an axiomatic statement of historic fact. As salvation is of the Jews, this design of their existence in the economy of grace constitutes the reason (ὅτι) why they, as a nation, possessed the true and pure revelation of God, whose highest culmination and consummation is that very σωτηρία; comp. Romans 9:4-5. It must not, indeed, be overlooked that ἡμεῖςοἴδαμεν was not true of every individual of the ἡμεῖς (not of those who rejected the σωτηρία), but refers to the nation as a whole in its ideal existence as the people of God, whose prerogative as such could not be destroyed by empirical exceptions. Thus the invisible church is hidden in the visible.

John 4:22. ὑμεῖς προσκυνεῖτε ὃ οὐκ οἴδατε. The distinction between Jewish and Samaritan worship lies not in the difference of place, but of the object of worship. The neuter refers abstractly to the object of worship. “You do not know the object of your worship;” suggested by the τῷ πατρί of the preceding clause. Cf. Acts 17:23. ἡμεῖς προσκυνοῦμεν ὃ οἴδαμεν. The Jews worshipped a God who had made Himself known to them in their history by His gracious and saving dealings with them. That it is this knowledge which is meant appears in the following clause: ὅτι ἡ σωτηρία ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐστίν, that is to say, God has manifested Himself as Saviour to the Jews, and through them to all. “A powerful repudiation of the theory which makes the author of this Gospel a Gentile of the second century with a Gnostic antipathy to Judaism and Jews,” Reynolds.

22. ye know not what] Or, that which ye know not. The Samaritan religion, even after being purified from the original mixture with idolatry (2 Kings 17:33; 2 Kings 17:41), remained a mutilated religion; the obscurity of the Pentateuch (and of that a garbled text) unenlightened by the clearer revelations in the Prophets and other books of O.T. Such a religion when contrasted with that of the Jews might well be called ignorance.

we know what we worship] Or, we worship that which we know. The first person plural here is not similar to that in John 3:11 (see note there), though some would take it so. Christ here speaks as a Jew, and in such a passage there is nothing surprising in His so doing. As a rule Christ gives no countenance to the view that He belongs to the Jewish nation in any special way, though the Jewish nation specially belongs to Him (John 1:11): He is the Saviour of the world, not of the Jews only. But here, where it is a question whether Jew or Samaritan has the larger share of religious truth, He ranks Himself both by birth and by religion among the Jews. ‘We,’ therefore, means ‘we Jews.’

salvation is of the Jews] Literally, the salvation, the expected salvation, is of the Jews; i.e. proceeds from them (not belongs to them), in virtue of the promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18) and Isaac Genesis 26:4). This verse is absolutely fatal to the theory that this Gospel is the work of a Gnostic Greek in the second century (see on John 19:35). That salvation proceeded from the Jews contradicts the fundamental principle of Gnosticism, that salvation was to be sought in the higher knowledge of which Gnostics had the key. Hence those who uphold such a theory of authorship assume, in defiance of all evidence, that this verse is a later interpolation. The verse is found in all MSS. and versions.

John 4:22. Ὃ οὐκ οἴδατε) Ye know not what. He shows under how great ignorance they labour; wherefore He also adds, τῷ Πατρί, the Father, which the woman had not added. Although , what, inasmuch as it is not repeated in the subsequent member of the sentence, does not seem to denote the object of worship, but the form; in this sense, Ye know not what worship ye practise; we know, what is our worship.—ἡμεῖς, we) He speaks as an ordinary Jew; inasmuch as not being yet known to the Samaritan woman.—ἡ σωτηρία, Salvation) Truly so! The very derivation of the name Jesus, whom the woman calls a Jew, John 4:9. Comp. John 4:42, [The Samaritans] “We know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”—ἔστιν, is) For such was the promise: that the Saviour and the knowledge of Him would originate from the Jews, and that from the Jews that knowledge would be extended to others. [Jesus speaks of the Jews in more glorifying terms when addressing foreigners than when addressing Jews.—V. g.]

Verse 22 - Ye worship that which (not "him whom") ye know not. "That which" points to the essence and inner character of the object of their worship. They gave him a name, but they were comparatively ignorant of, and confessedly hostile as a people to, the revelation that the Father had made. They fell back on a past of rigid orthodoxy but of limited range. They rejected every portion of the Old Testament with the exception of the Pentateuch, i.e. the entire historical treatment of the primeval faith; even that very essence of it which involved the progressive and expanding conception of the character of God - the perpetuity and continuous renovation of relations, the prophetic insight into providence, the sublime liturgy of a ceaseless worship, the prediction of a Messianic glory which, in the fulness of the times, should complete and complement all that preceded. They were, by their prejudices and hostility, kept ignorant of and unacquainted with the Name that was above every name. In contradistinction from this, we Jews, to whom as a nation you rightly conclude I belong, and as a representative of whom I speak - We worship that which we know. Christ in this place, more distinctly perhaps than in any portion of the four Gospels, places himself as a worshipper side by side with his hearers. Here, moreover, he identifies himself with the Jews - becomes their interpreter and mouthpiece and representative. When a question arises, which of the two has the larger amount of truth, Jew or Gentile, Jew or Samaritan, he pronounced in stringent terms in favour of the Jew. The revelation advancing beyond the narrow limitations of Samaritan nationality as to place, and time, and historic fact, with its pregnant ritual, has revealed the Father to us Jews, in this respect and because the salvation of which Moses partly dreamed, but which has been the burden of every prophecy and psalm - the "salvation" which gives meaning to all our knowledge, is from (ἐκ, not "belonging to," but "proceeding from," John 1:46; John 7:22, 52) the Jews. The Jews have been the school where the highest lessons have been taught, the richest experiences felt, the noblest lives lived, the types and shadows of good things to come most conspicuous. We cannot avoid reading between the lines the sublime enthusiasm which Paul gathered from this class of teaching ("To whom pertaineth the adoption,...and covenant,...whose are the fathers, and to whom were committed the oracles of God,... and from whom as concerning the flesh Christ came"). The utterance is profoundly significant, as it is a powerful repudiation of the theory which makes the author of this Fourth Gospel a Gentile of the second century, with a Gnostic antipathy to Judaism and Jews. The contradiction to this theory indubitably involved in this verse has led to the wildest conjectures - even the suggestion of a Jewish gloss on some ancient manuscripts of the Gospel has been one desperate device to save the theory. Taut pis pour les fairs. John 4:22Ye know not what (ὁ οὐκ οἴδατε)

Literally, what ye know not. Rev., rightly, that which ye know not. Compare Acts 17:23, where the correct reading is ὃ, what, instead of ὃν, whom: "what therefore ye worship in ignorance." This worship of the unknown is common to vulgar ignorance and to philosophic culture; to the Samaritan woman, and to the Athenian philosophers. Compare John 7:28; John 8:19, John 8:27. The neuter expresses the unreal and impersonal character of the Samaritan worship. As the Samaritans received the Pentateuch only, they were ignorant of the later and larger revelation of God, as contained especially in the prophetic writings, and of the Messianic hope, as developed among the Jews. They had preserved only the abstract notion of God.


Jesus here identifies Himself with the Jewish people. The essence of the true Jewish worship is represented by Him.

Know what we worship (προσκυνοῦμεν ὃ οἴδαμεν)

Literally, and as Rev., we worship that which we know. On know, see on John 2:24. 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 John 14:9.

Salvation (ἡ σωτηρία)

The word has the article: the salvation, promised and to be revealed in Christ.

Is of the Jews

Rev., rightly, from the Jews (ἐκ). Not therefore belongs to, but proceeds from. See Genesis 12; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2. Even the Old Testament idea of salvation is bound up with Christ. See Romans 9:4, Romans 9:5. The salvation is from the Jews, even from that people which has rejected it. See on John 1:19. On the characteristic is from, see on John 1:46. The passage illustrates John's habit of confirming the divine authority of the Old Testament revelation, and of showing its fulfillment in Christ.

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