John 4:39
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(39) Many of the Samaritans of that city believed.—The willingness to receive the truth on the part of the Samaritans, is contrasted with the rejection of it on the part of the Jews. They refused the witness of a great prophet; these accept the witness of a woman. Their minds were prepared by the general expectation of the Messiah; and this woman witnesses that Jesus had revealed to her the whole past of her life. There is here a sign they do not question.

John 4:39-40. Many of the Samaritans believed on him — That is, believed him to be a divinely-commissioned teacher, and even the true Messiah, as appears from John 4:42; for the saying of the woman, who testified, He told me all that ever I did — A declaration which both struck and convinced them: so is God sometimes pleased to use very weak and unlikely instruments for the beginning and carrying on of a good work. And our Lord, by instructing one poor woman, here spread instruction through a whole town. Let not ministers, then, be either careless or discouraged in their preaching, because their hearers are few and mean; for by doing good to them, good may be conveyed to more, and to persons of greater influence. If believers teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, a great number may learn, and these again may teach others. Philip preached the gospel to a single person in his chariot upon the road, and he not only received it himself, but carried it into his country, and propagated it there. We see here also the good effect of speaking experimentally of Christ, and of the things of God. This woman could say little of them, but what she did say, she spake from the heart, and feelingly. Those are most likely to do good to others, who can tell what God has done for their own souls. When the Samaritans were come to him — Being greatly taken with the manner of his deportment, and the tenor of his discourse; they besought him to tarry with them — For some time at least, as being desirous of a further acquaintance with him, and of receiving further benefit from his instructions. For the meanness of his appearance, when they saw him, and the manifest poverty of his outward condition, did not lessen their esteem of him, and expectations from him. Observe, reader, we may entertain good hopes of those who have got over the vulgar prejudices that men have against true worth in a low estate. Blessed are they that are not offended in Christ at the first sight. The evangelist seems to lay an emphasis on their being Samaritans. See also Luke 10:33; Luke 17:16. The Samaritans had not that reputation for religion that the Jews had; yet the Jews, who saw Christ’s miracles, drove him from them, while the Samaritans, who saw not his miracles, nor had shared in his favours, invited him to them! The proof of the gospel’s success is not always according to probability, nor what is experienced according to what is expected. And he — Ever ready to lay hold on every opportunity of doing good, went with them to their city; and abode there two days — Which was a proper medium between entirely neglecting them, and giving them so much of his time and company as would have broken in upon the design of his journey into Galilee, or might have given umbrage to the Jews.

4:27-42 The disciples wondered that Christ talked thus with a Samaritan. Yet they knew it was for some good reason, and for some good end. Thus when particular difficulties occur in the word and providence of God, it is good to satisfy ourselves that all is well that Jesus Christ says and does. Two things affected the woman. The extent of his knowledge. Christ knows all the thoughts, words, and actions, of all the children of men. And the power of his word. He told her secret sins with power. She fastened upon that part of Christ's discourse, many would think she would have been most shy of repeating; but the knowledge of Christ, into which we are led by conviction of sin, is most likely to be sound and saving. They came to him: those who would know Christ, must meet him where he records his name. Our Master has left us an example, that we may learn to do the will of God as he did; with diligence, as those that make a business of it; with delight and pleasure in it. Christ compares his work to harvest-work. The harvest is appointed and looked for before it comes; so was the gospel. Harvest-time is busy time; all must be then at work. Harvest-time is a short time, and harvest-work must be done then, or not at all; so the time of the gospel is a season, which if once past, cannot be recalled. God sometimes uses very weak and unlikely instruments for beginning and carrying on a good work. Our Saviour, by teaching one poor woman, spread knowledge to a whole town. Blessed are those who are not offended at Christ. Those taught of God, are truly desirous to learn more. It adds much to the praise of our love to Christ and his word, if it conquers prejudices. Their faith grew. In the matter of it: they believed him to be the Saviour, not only of the Jews but of the world. In the certainty of it: we know that this is indeed the Christ. And in the ground of it, for we have heard him ourselves.And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him, ... - There is seldom an instance of so remarkable success as this. From a single conversation, in circumstances, in a place, and with an individual little likely to be attended with such results, many sinners were converted; many believed on the testimony of the woman; many more came to hear, and believed because they heard him themselves. We should never despair of doing good in the most unpromising circumstances, and we should seize upon every opportunity to converse with sinners on the great subject of their souls' salvation. 39-42. many … believed, &c.—The truth of Joh 4:35 begins to appear. These Samaritans were the foundation of the Church afterwards built up there. No miracle appears to have been wrought there (but unparalleled supernatural knowledge displayed): "we have heard Him ourselves" (Joh 4:42) sufficed to raise their faith to a point never attained by the Jews, and hardly as yet by the disciples—that He was "the Saviour of the world" [Alford]. "This incident is further remarkable as a rare instance of the Lord's ministry producing an awakening on a large scale" [Olshausen]. That city was Sichem, or Sychar, but it was within the province of Samaria, from whence it is that they had the name of Samaritans as well as Sichemites.

Many of them, upon the testimony of the woman; That he had told her such secret passages of her life, as he could not have told her if he had not been able, if he had pleased, as well to have told her all things,

believed on him; that is, they owned him as a prophet, and agreed to what the woman said in that particular, and were by it excited to come to see and further discourse with Christ. This justifieth what our Saviour said, that there was then a people prepared for the Lord, the fields were white unto the harvest; that they were thus far wrought upon by the discourse of a woman, and she one not of the highest reputation, and only telling them that he had told her all things she had done. Small means have great effects when God’s time of working is come.

And many of the Samaritans of that city,.... Of Sychar, which was a city of Samaria;

believed on him; that he was the true Messiah he had told the woman he was; and she put it to them whether he was or not: before they saw him, or had any conversation with him themselves, they believed in him; see John 20:29;

for the saying of the woman which testified, he told me all that ever I:did: the account she gave was so plain, and honest, and disinterested, that they could not but give credit to it; and since the person was an utter stranger to her, and yet had laid before her the whole series of her past life and conversation, they concluded he could be no other than the Messiah, who should tell all things; and being of quick understanding or smell, was able to disclose the secrets of men.

{7} And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

(7) The Samaritans most joyfully embrace that which the Jews most stubbornly rejected.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 4:39 ff. Resumption of the historical narrative of John 4:30, which here receives its elucidation, to which then the continuation of the history attaches itself, John 4:40-42. As to the position of the words πολλοὶ ἐπ. εἰς αὐτ. τῶν Σαμ., see Buttmann, N. T. Gr. p. 332 [E. T. p. 388].

ὅτι εἶπέ μοι πάντα, κ.τ.λ.] Indication of conscience ratifying John 4:18.

διὰ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ] on account of His own word (teaching). No mention is made of miracles, but we must not infer from this that there was no need of miracles among the Samaritans; see, on the other hand, Acts 8:6 ff. Jesus found that in this case His word sufficed, and therefore upon principle (see John 4:48) He forbore to work miracles, and His mighty word was all the mightier among the unprejudiced people.

διὰ τὴν σὴν λαλιὰν] on account of thy discourse. This is the meaning of λαλιά invariably in classical Greek. The term is purposely chosen, as from the standing-point of the speaker; whereas John, as an impartial narrator, with equal appropriateness, writes τὸν λόγον in John 4:39. As to λαλιά in John 8:43, where Jesus thus designates His own discourse, see in loc. Observe, besides, the emphatic σήν as contrasted with the λόγος of Jesus which they themselves (αὐτοί) have now heard.

ἀκηκόαμεν] the following ὅτι refers to both verbs. They have heard that Jesus was the Messiah, for this became evident to them from His words.

ὁ σωτὴρ τοῦ κόσμου] not due to the individuality of John (1 John 4:14), and put into the mouths of the people, as Lücke and Tholuck are inclined to suppose, but a confession quite conceivable as the result of the two days’ ministry of Jesus; universalism, moreover, being more akin to the Messianic faith of the Samaritans (see Gesenius, de Samar. theol. p. 41 ff.) than to that of the Jews, with their definite and energetic feeling of nationality.

Note.

The prohibition in Matthew 10:5 militates neither against this narrative of John 4 in general, nor in particular against the promise of John 4:35 ff. It had merely a temporary force, and was abrogated again by Matthew 28:19-20, and Acts 1:8; and, moreover, it presented no insuperable barrier to restrict Jesus in His work (for He did not wholly exclude even Gentiles from His teaching). Acts 8:5 ff. is no proof whatever that this history in John is of mythical origin; it is, on the contrary, the fulfilment of the promise given here. Its several features are so original, and so pyschologically true, and the words of Jesus (see especially John 4:21-24) come so directly from the living depths of His soul, that the exceptions taken against certain particulars (as, for instance, against the misunderstandings on the part of the woman; against the words concerning the food, John 4:32; against the command of Jesus, “Go, call thy husband;” against the woman’s question concerning the place of worship; against the faith of the Samaritans, which is said to contradict Luke 9:53) are of no real weight, and are explicable only by the very authenticity of the narrative, not by the supposition of an intentional poetizing. This is in answer to Strauss, B. Bauer, and partly Weisse; also to Scholten, who considers that the author’s object was to describe in a non-historical picture the spirit which actuated Jesus even towards the Samaritans. As a full guarantee for that part of the narrative, which the disciples, being absent, could not have witnessed, we may, considering the vivid impress of genuineness which marks it, fairly assume that Jesus Himself communicated it to the evangelist, and there is no need for the unfounded supposition that (John 4:8) John was left behind with Jesus (Hengstenberg, Godet). When, finally, Baur (p. 145 ff.; comp. also Hilgenfeld) resolves our history into a typus,—“the Samaritan woman being a figure of heathendom, susceptible, readily opening itself to faith, and presenting a wide harvest field,” a contrast to Nicodemus, the type of unsusceptible Judaism,—with all this arbitrariness on the part of the inventor, it is passing strange, if this were his object, that he did not bring Jesus into contact with a real heathen woman, for this would have been quite as easy to invent; and that he should keep the words of the woman so free from the least tinge of anything of a heathen nature (John 4:20 ff.), and have put into her mouth so clear an expression of Messianic hope (John 4:25; John 4:42),—this bungling is quite out of character on the part of such an inventor.

John 4:39-42 briefly sum up the results of the Lord’s visit.

39. many of the Samaritans] Strong proof of the truth of John 4:35. These Samaritans outstrip the Jews, and even the Apostles, in their readiness to believe. The Jews rejected the testimony of their own Scriptures, of the Baptist, of Christ’s miracles and teaching. The Samaritans accept the testimony of the woman, who had suddenly become an Apostle to her countrymen.

John 4:39. Ἐπίστευσαν, believed) Wonderful openness to conviction! They had not yet seen Jesus; comp. John 4:40, “So when the Samaritans were come to Him.” Her testimony must have been given by the woman with great efficacy and power [among those souls, which were athirst, and had never before experienced such things.—V. g.]

Verses 39-42. -

(4) The harvest of the Lord's sowing, and the Saviour of the world. Verse 39. - This harvest is described in vers. 39-42. As this sublime discourse was proceeding, the impression produced by the word of the woman was becoming deeper. The breath of God was moving them mightily. They were prepared by a thousand untraceable influences for faith in the great Deliverer and Teacher. Many of the Samaritans from that city, in the first instance, had been summarily convinced of the presence among them of the long looked-for Prophet, and believed on him by reason of the word (or, discourse) of the woman, who testified, He told me all things that I ever did. Not merely is this one saying referred to, but the whole report of the words of Jesus of which that saying was the crowning or most startling expression. They are the first specimens of men who believe by the testimony of those who know. "Blessed are they who have not seen, but yet believe." John 4:39The saying (τὸν λόγον)

Rev., better, the word. It does not refer merely to the woman's statement, He told me, etc., but to her whole testimony (μαρτυρούσης) concerning Christ.

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