John 4:23
But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) But the hour cometh.—Better, as in John 4:21, but there cometh an hour. He adds to this thought, what He could not add to the previous one, “and now is.” Local worship was not yet giving way to spiritual; but a band of true worshippers was being gathered, and some were then following Him.

The true worshippers.—Her distinction of place was of the accident, but the essence was the nature of the worship. What could any worship be to a God who saw the impurity of the heart, and the contradiction of thought and word? What could she know of the worship of which she speaks? Yes; and the temple at Jerusalem was a house of merchandise, instead of one of prayer; what did priest and Levite, scribe and Pharisee, know of true worship?

In spirit and in truth.—The link between human nature and the divine is in the human spirit, which is the shrine of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19). All true approach to God must therefore be in spirit. (Comp. Romans 1:9, and Ephesians 6:18.) Place, and time, and words, and postures, and sounds, and all things from without, are important only in so far as they aid in abstraction from the sensible world, and in elevation of the spirit within. The moment they distract they hinder true worship. Ritual cannot be discussed without risk of spiritual loss. The words “in truth,” already expressed in true worshippers, and repeated in the following verse, are more than “truly.” Sincerity is not a test of acceptable worship, though it is a requisite. Bigots sincerely think they do God’s service. Worship which is “in truth” is in harmony with the nature of the God whom we worship. To think of God in hearing His truth, to kindle the soul by hymns of praise, to realise the earlier portions of collects and prayers which utter His attributes, are necessary to the truth of the petitions, and thanksgivings, and adorations of worship. The model prayer of Christianity brings home to the heart the Fatherhood of God in its first words.

For the Father seeketh such to worship him.—Better, for such the Father also seeketh His worshippers to be. The word “such,” i.e., of this character, is emphatic. The “also” expresses that the worship, on the part of the true worshippers, is in accordance with the divine will: “the Father also (on His part) . . .” The reader will not fail to note the emphasis in this reply on the word “Father” (John 4:21 and twice in this verse). This name of God, which we teach children to lisp in earliest years, came to her, it may be, now for the first time. He is not Vengeance to be appeased, nor Power to be dreaded, but Love to be received. (Comp. Note on John 3:16.) It is when men learn to think of God as Father that merely local and material worship must cease. The universal desire and practice of worship is the witness to a universal object of worship. The yearning of the human spirit is that of a child seeking the author of his being. The seeking is not human only. The Father also seeketh His child, and seeth him when he is a great way off (Luke 15:20).

John 4:23. But the hour cometh and now is — The fixed and stated time, concerning which it was of old determined when it should come, even the accepted time and day of salvation. And when our Lord thus spoke, it was coming in its full strength, lustre, and perfection. As if he had said, The thing you are chiefly concerned to know is, that a dispensation of religion is now beginning, under which all languages, countries, and places being sanctified, men are to worship God, not in Jerusalem, but in their hearts, and by their lives; by offering the sacrifice, not of beasts, but of themselves; the thing signified by every sacrifice and service enjoined in the law, and what alone was acceptable to the Father, even under the legal dispensation; when the true worshippers — And what does it avail to be a false worshipper? shall worship the Father — Shall worship God as a Father, even as a reconciled Father in Christ, who hath made them his children through faith in him, (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26,) by adoption and regeneration, see note on Matthew 6:9; in spirit and truth — In spirit, and therefore in truth: that Isaiah , 1 st, In our spirit, or inwardly in our minds and hearts, adoring his majesty, revering his power, humbled before his purity, confiding in his mercy, praising him for his benefits, loving him for his unspeakable love to us; being subject to his sway, obedient to his will, resigned under his dispensations, devoted to his glory, and aspiring after a closer union with him, and a more full conformity to him. And all this, 2d, Through the illuminating, quickening, and comforting influences of his Spirit; without which our worship is but a shadow without substance, a form without power, a body without a soul: the lifeless image of worship, without truth and reality: nay, a mere lie. For when we ask blessings, which we do not sincerely desire and expect to receive; thank God for favours for which we feel no gratitude; sit down to hear that word of which we neither intend nor desire to be doers, our worship is hypocrisy and a lie: as it is also when we have not within us, during our pretended worship, affections and dispositions suited to his divine attributes, and the relations in which he is pleased to stand to us. For to worship him without reverence and humility, is to say, in effect, that he is not great and glorious, just and holy; to do it without confidence and gratitude, is saying in our spirit that he is not merciful, kind, and beneficent; to worship him without love and obedience, subjection and resignation, is to deny his love to us, and his authority over us, as our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, Redeemer, Saviour, Friend, and Father; and the wisdom, justice, and goodness of his dispensations: that is, it is to worship him in a lie. For whether we say, by our spirit and conduct, that he possesses these perfections or not, it is certain he does possess them, and our not acknowledging it, and being properly influenced thereby, is, in effect, to deny it, and to affirm he is not the being that he is, and does not possess the attributes that he does possess. For the Father seeketh such to worship him — Desires and approves of such worshippers, and sends his word and Spirit, his gospel and his grace, to form such. The expression implies, 1st, That such worshippers are very rare, and seldom found. The gate of spiritual worship is strait. 2d, That such worship is necessary, and what the God of heaven requires and insists upon. When God comes to inquire for worshippers, the question will not be, Who worshipped at Jerusalem? but, who worshipped in spirit and truth? That will be the touchstone, or test, whereby men’s religion will be tried, and whereby they will stand or fall in the day of final accounts.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.But the hour cometh, and now is - The old dispensation is about to pass away, and the new one to commence. "Already" there is so much light that God may be worshipped acceptably in any place.

The true worshippers - All who truly and sincerely worship God. They who do it with the heart, and not merely in form.

In spirit - The word "spirit," here, stands opposed to rites and ceremonies, and to the pomp of external worship. It refers to the "mind," the "soul," the "heart." They shall worship God with a sincere "mind;" with the simple offering of gratitude and prayer; with a desire to glorify him, and without external pomp and splendor. Spiritual worship is that where the heart is offered to God, and where we do not depend on external forms for acceptance.

In truth - Not through the medium of shadows and types, not by means of sacrifices and bloody offerings, but in the manner represented or typified by all these, Hebrews 9:9, Hebrews 9:24. In the true way of direct access to God through Jesus Christ.

For the Father seeketh ... - Jesus gives two reasons why this kind of worship should take place. One is that God sought it, or desired it. He had appointed the old mode, but he did it because he sought to lead the mind to himself even by those forms, and to prepare the people for the purer system of the gospel, and now he sought or desired that those who worshipped him should worship him in that manner. He intimated his will by Jesus Christ.

23. hour cometh, and now is—evidently meaning her to understand that this new economy was in some sense being set up while He was talking to her, a sense which would in a few minutes so far appear, when He told her plainly He was the Christ. Under the gospel, and the kingdom of the Messiah, which is yet further coming, and is already began in the world, the true worshippers of God shall not worship him, as you Samaritans, who worship you know not what, without any rule or prescript of the word; nor yet as the hypocritical Jews, who rest upon their sacrifices and ritual performances, as if they should purge away their sins, Psalm 50:8 Isaiah 1:11 66:3 Micah 6:7; no, nor yet as the more sincere Jews, who indeed do truly and with their hearts worship God; but, while the first tabernacle was yet standing, which was a figure for the time then present, by sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience, —by meats and drinks, and divers ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation, Hebrews 9:8-10. That time of reformation is now come, when the true worshippers of God shall offer up to him a more spiritual worship, not that carnal worship; and a more true, and real, and solid worship: for God my Father seeketh such to worship him, as shall not worship him with a mere bodily labour and homage, but with their hearts and spirits; nor with those ceremonial performances now in use by God’s prescript at Jerusalem, but without them, I being come, whom all those services did but prefigure and point unto. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers,.... The worshippers of the true God, and who worship in a right manner, whether Jews or Samaritans, or of whatsoever nation:

shall worship the Father; the one true God, the Father of spirits, and of all flesh living:

in spirit; in opposition to all carnal conceptions of him, as if he was a corporeal being, or circumscribed in some certain place, dwelling in temples made with hands, or was to be worshipped with men's hands; and in distinction from the carnal worship of the Jews, which lay greatly in the observation of carnal ordinances: and this shows they should not worship with their bodies only, for bodily exercise profiteth little; but with their souls or spirits, with their whole hearts engaged therein; and by, and under the influence and assistance of the Spirit of God, without whom men cannot perform worship, neither prayer, praise, preaching, or hearing, aright:

and in truth; in opposition to hypocrisy, with true hearts, in the singleness, sincerity, and integrity of their souls; and in distinction from Jewish ceremonies, which were only shadows, and had not the truth and substance of things in them; and according to the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation; and in Christ, who is the truth, the true tabernacle, in, and through whom accent is had to God, prayer is made to him, and every part of religious worship with acceptance: so Enoch is said, , "to worship in truth", before the Lord, in the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, in Genesis 5:24. And it may be that the worship of all the three persons in the Godhead, as more distinctly performed under the Gospel dispensation, is here intended: for the words may be thus read, "shall worship the Father, with the Spirit", and with the truth; so the preposition is rendered in Ephesians 6:2; and elsewhere; and then the sense is, they shall "worship the Father"; the first person in the Trinity, who is the Father of Christ, his only begotten Son, and together and equally with him "the Spirit"; the holy Spirit, as the Ethiopic version reads; and Nonnus calls it the divine Spirit: and the rather he may be thought to be intended, since it follows in John 4:24, "the Spirit is God"; for so the words lie in the Greek text; and are so rendered in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions; and therefore is the proper object of religious worship, whose temples the saints are, with whom they have communion, to whom they pray, and in whose name they are baptized: and also together "with the truth"; with Christ the way, the truth, and the life; who is the true God, and eternal life; and who is equally to be worshipped as the Father and Spirit, as he is by the angels in heaven, and by the saints on earth; who pray unto him, trust in him, and are also baptized in his name, as in the name of the other two persons: and the rather this may be thought to be the sense, since Christ is speaking, not of the manner, but of the object of worship, in the preceding verse:

for the Father seeketh such to worship him; it being agreeable to him to be worshipped in the manner, as above related; and his desire is, that the Son and Spirit should be honoured equally as himself; and such worshippers he has found, having made them such, both among the Jews and Gentiles; and such only are acceptable to him; see Philippians 3:3.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in {g} spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

(g) This word spirit is to be taken here as it is set against that commandment which is called carnal in He 7:16, as the commandment is considered in itself: and so he speaks of truth not as we set it against a lie, but as we take it in respect of the outward ceremonies of the law, which only shadowed that which Christ indeed performed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 4:23-24. But[191] this antithesis will also disappear (comp. John 4:21) by the προσκυνεῖν of the true (i.e. answering to the ideal of such, comp. John 1:19) worshippers of God, whose time is coming, yea, already is present (inasmuch as Jesus had already gathered round Him a small band of such worshippers). He could not add καὶ νῦν ἐστιν to the ἜΡΧ. ὭΡΑ of John 4:21.

ἘΝ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ Κ. ἈΛΗΘ.] expresses the element wherein the προσκυνεῖν is carried on in its two closely connected parts, viz.: (1) In spirit; i.e. the worship does not consist in outward acts, gestures, ceremonies, limitations of time and place, or in anything pertaining to the sphere of sense; it has to do with that higher spiritual nature in man which is the substratum of his moral self-consciousness, and the seat of his true moral life, manifesting itself in thoughts, feelings, efforts of will, moods of elevation, excitements, etc.; otherwise the προσκύνησις would belong to the sphere of the ΣΆΡΞ merely, which is the opposite of true worship. Comp. Romans 1:9 : ᾯ ΛΑΤΡΕΎΩ ἘΝ Τῷ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΊ ΜΟΥ. It is self-evident, from both the O. T. and N. T. view, that the ΠΝΕῦΜΑ in which this takes place is influenced by the divine ΠΝΕῦΜΑ (comp. Romans 8:14-16; Romans 8:26); but we must not take ἘΝ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ (John 4:24) to denote objectively the Divine Spirit (Luthardt, Brückner, Bäumlein, following the early expositors). The ΠΡΟΣΚΎΝΗΣΙς ἘΝ ΠΝΕΎΜ. is ΛΟΓΙΚΉ, Romans 12:1; it does not in itself exclude the ritus externos, but it does exclude all mechanical ritualism, and all opus operatum. (2) In truth, not “in sincerity, honesty,” which would be greatly too weak a meaning after οἱ ἀληθινοί, but, so that the worship harmonizes with its object, not contradicting but corresponding with God’s nature and attributes. Otherwise it belongs to the sphere of the ΨΕῦΔΟς, either conscious or unconscious; this ψεῦδος, and not ΣΚΙΆ or ΤΎΠΟΙ, is the antithesis of ἈΛΗΘΕΊΑ.

ΠΡΟΣΚΥΝΗΤΉς
, save only in Eustathius and Hesychius, occurs only in Inscript. Chandl. p. 91.

καὶ γὰρ, κ.τ.λ.] for the Father also, etc. The καί denotes that what the ΠΡΟΣΚΥΝΗΤΑΊ do on their part is also what the Father Himself desires. Luther, B. Crusius, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, and most others, erroneously render it as if it were καὶ γὰρ τοιούτους or ΚΑῚ ΓᾺΡ ΖΗΤΕῖ. The emphasis given by ΚΑῚ in ΚΑῚ ΓᾺΡ always rests upon the word immediately following (even in 1 Corinthians 14:8); Stallbaum, ad Plat. Gorg. p. 467 B. It does not elsewhere occur in John. Usually the καὶ has been overlooked; but the Vulgate rightly renders: “nam et pater.”

ζητεῖ] accordingly He desires. Comp. Herod. i. 94; John 1:39; John 4:27, al. τοιούτους is with marked emphasis put first: of this character He desires His worshippers to be.

πνεῦμα ὁ θεός, κ.τ.λ.] The predicate emphatically stands first (comp. John 1:1 : ΘΕῸς ἮΝ Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς): a Spirit is God, etc. Here God’s nature is added to His will (John 4:23), as a further motive for true worship,[192] to which the nature and manner of the προσκύνησις on man’s part must correspond. How utterly heterogeneous would be a carnal and spurious worship with the perfectly pure and holy nature of God, completely raised above every limit of sense, of place, of particularism, and of all need of gifts, simply because He is Spirit! whereas a spiritual and true worship is θεοπρεπὴς κ. κατάλληλος, Euthymius Zigabenus, and is homogeneous with the idea of God as Spirit.

[191] ἀλλὰ, yet, as contrasted, not with the ἡ σωτηρία ἐκ τ. Ἰουδαίων ἐστίν (Hilgenfeld, as if μὲνδὲ were there), but, as is clear from what follows (the true προσκυνεῖν), with the ὑμεῖςοἴδαμεν. Baeumlein regards it as an intensified addition to ver. 21, “yea, the hour is coming.” But thus ver. 22 would be arbitrarily overleaped.

[192] Πνεῦμα ὁ θεός is not to be conjoined with the assumption of a corporeity belonging to God (in answer to the concessions of Hamberger in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1867, p. 421). Jesus might take it for granted that every one who belonged to the O. T. monotheism understood that God is a Spirit, according to Exodus 20:4, Jeremiah 31:3; and it is by no means necessary to refer to the traces of Samaritan spiritualism, in order to make the expression more intelligible as addressed to the woman (Gesenius, de Theol. Sam. p. 12; de Pentat. Sam. Orig. p. 58 ff). Πνεῦμα must not be regarded as indicating something new in comparison with the O. T. (Lutz, bibl. Dogm. p. 45; Köstlin, Lehrbegr. p. 79), but as something known, and emphasized with corresponding impressiveness on account of its importance. Comp. Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. 68 ff.; Weiss, Lehrbegr. pp. 54, 55.John 4:23. There is this great distinction between Jew and Samaritan, ἀλλʼ ἔρχεται ὥρακαὶ ἀληθείᾳ, but notwithstanding that it is to the Jews God has especially revealed Himself as Saviour, the hour has now come when the ideal worshippers, whether Jew or Samaritan, shall worship the one universal Father in spirit, not in either Gerizim or Jerusalem, and in truth, not in the symbols of Samaritan or Jewish worship, ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ. Two defects of all previous worship are aimed at; all that was local and all that was symbolic is to be left behind. Worship is to be (1) ἐν πνεύματι [on ἐν here, see Winer, 528], in the heart, not in this place or that. The essential thing is, not that the right place be approached, but that the right spirit enter into worship. And (2) it is to be ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, in correspondence with reality, both as regards the object and the manner of worship. The Samaritans had not known the object of their worship: the Jews had employed symbolism in worship. Both these defects were now to be removed. καὶ γὰρ ὁ πατὴραὐτόν. καὶ γάρ is not merely equivalent to γάρ, but must be rendered, “For of a truth”. The characteristics of the ideal worshippers have been declared; and now, in confirmation, Jesus adds, “For of a truth the Father seeks such for His worshippers”.23. the hour cometh] As before, there cometh an hour. What follows, and it is now here, could not be added in John 4:21. The local worship on Gerizim and Zion must still continue for a while; but there are already a few who are rising above these externals to the spirit of true worship, in which the opposition between Jew and Samaritan disappears.

the true worshippers] The same word for ‘true’ as in John 1:9 (see note there); ‘true’ as opposed to what is ‘spurious’ and ‘unreal.’ Worship to be genuine, real, and perfect must be offered in spirit and truth.

in spirit] This is opposed to all that is carnal, material, and of the earth earthy;—‘this mountain,’ the Temple, limitations of time and place. Not that such limitations are wrong; but they are not of the essence of religion, and become wrong when they are mistaken for the essence of religion.

in truth] (Omit ‘in’) i.e. in harmony with the Nature and Will of God. In the sphere of intellect, this means recognition of His Presence and Omniscience; in the sphere of action, conformity with His absolute Holiness. ‘Worship in spirit and truth,’ therefore, implies prostration of the inmost soul before the Divine Perfection, submission of every thought and feeling to the Divine Will.

for the Father seeketh, &c.] Better, for such the Father also seeketh for His worshippers. ‘Such’ is very emphatic; ‘this is the character which He also desires in His worshippers.’ The ‘also’ must not be lost. That worship should be ‘in spirit and truth’ is required by the fitness of things: moreover God Himself desires to have it so, and works for this end. Note how three times in succession Christ speaks of God as the Father (John 4:21; John 4:23): perhaps it was quite a new aspect of Him to the woman.John 4:23. Ἀλλʼ, but) Jesus does not account it enough to have preferred the Jewish worship, knowledge, and religion, to Samaritanism, but further He shows this, that a worship superior not merely to that which was practised on that mountain, but even to that which was practised at Jerusalem, is at hand.—καὶ νῦν ἐστίν, and now is) This [which was not added at John 4:21] “The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain,” etc. is now added, lest the woman should think that in the meantime she must seek a settlement in Judea. It was presently afterwards fulfilled, John 4:39; John 4:41, “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, etc.: many more believed because of His own word.”—οἱ ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταί, the true worshippers) For instance, the Samaritans, John 4:41.—ἐν πνεύματι, καὶ ἀληθείᾳ, in spirit and in truth) There is contained herein a testimony as to the Holy Trinity. The Father is worshipped in the Holy Spirit, and in the Truth accomplished through Jesus Christ. They who worship the Father, as sons, in Spirit and Truth, these are placed above mere considerations of localities, and of all circumstances of that kind.—ζητεῖ, seeks) for they are rare to be met with. The same word occurs, Ezekiel 22:30, “I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge,” etc., ἐζήτουν ἐξ αὐτῶν ἄνδρα.Verse 23. - But the hour cometh, and now is - already the day has dawned, the new conception is breaking like "awful rose of dawn" upon the minds of some - when the veritable worshippers - those who answer to the idea of worshippers, those who actually draw near to the Father in living fellowship and affectionate appreciation of his eternal Name - shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. An old misreading of this text, accepted by some Fathers, and based upon the idea expressed in John 16:13, has found expression in the Sinaitic Codex, "in the spirit of the truth." But "spirit" here does not refer to the Holy Spirit, but to the spirit of man - that part of man's constitution through which he most especially bears the image of God, and with which the Divine Spirit deals, and in which he dwells (Romans 8:26). The worship in spirit is worship contrasted with all mere carnal concomitants, all mere shadows of the good things to come, all mere ritual, all specialties of place, or time, or sacrament, or order. It need not be in despite of a genuine reverence for days, or seasons, or postures, or washings, but in absolute independence of them, and they, without this, will be actually valueless. And in truth; i.e. as dealing with reality, the adequate and veracious expression of genuine desires and veritable emotions; καὶ γὰρ, nam et (ver. 9). For indeed also the Father seeketh such to be his worshippers. Luthardt and Meyer differ as to the emphasis. Meyer insists that the καὶ γάρ lays stress on the word which immediately follows, and he refers to 1 Corinthians 14:8 as not contradicting the rule. He would render, "For the Father also on his part seeketh," etc. Luthardt says that the new thought is to be found in ζητεῖ, and therefore upon this the emphasis is laid. Westcott, by many passages, such as Matthew 8:9; Matthew 26:73; Mark 10:45; Luke 6:32, etc., urges that καὶ γὰρ "alleges a reason which is assumed to be conclusive from the nature of the case." The whole sentence is therefore covered by the expression, "For the Father also on his part seeketh those as worshippers of him who worship him in spirit and in truth." A slight contrast is felt between the regimen of προσκυνεῖν with accusative, here again introduced, following upon that with dative in the first clause. Moulton would render the first clause, "offer worship to the Father," and the second by "worship him." The Father is now seeking, by the ministry of his Son, by the gift of his Spirit, for those who approach him with deeply felt need and true affection, in spirit, not in ceremony, in truth, not in hypocritical or heartless profession. This is another indication of the high truth taught in the prologue (John 1:4, 9; John 3:21; John 18:38, see notes) that there are vast differences among men, even anterior to their reception of the perfect revelation of the Father's heart in Christ Jesus. "The life is the light of men." There are those who "do the truth" and are "of the truth," who "worship God in spirit and in truth." The whole gospel dispensation is a search for these. And now is

This could not be added in John 4:21, because local worship was not yet abolished; but it was true as regarded the true worship of the Father by His true worshippers, for Jesus was already surrounded by a little band of such, and more were soon to be added (John 4:39-42). Bengel says that the words and now is are added lest the woman should think that she must seek a dwelling in Judaea.

True (ἀληθινοὶ)

Real, genuine. See on John 1:9.

Worshippers (προσκυνηταὶ)

Only here in the New Testament.

In spirit and in truth (ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀηθείᾳ)

Spirit (πνεῦμα) is the highest, deepest, noblest part of our humanity, the point of contact between God and man (Romans 1:9); while soul (ψυχή) 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 (John 4:21); in truth, as distinguished from the false conceptions resulting from imperfect knowledge (John 4:22). 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 (John 14:9) and known (Luke 10:22). Thus the truthful conception is gained. He is the Truth (John 14:6). Likewise through Him we come to the Father, and spiritually commune with Him. No man can come in any other way (John 14:6). 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 (καὶ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ)

The A.V. fails to render καὶ 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 καὶ, see on Matthew 8:9; also see on Matthew 26:73; see on Acts 19:40.

Seeketh such to worship Him (τοιούτους ζητεῖ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν)

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 (ἀληθινοὶ) worshippers of the real God (ἀληθινὸν Θεὸν).

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