John 4:21
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
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(21) Woman (comp. Note on John 2:4), believe me, the hour cometh.—Better, there cometh an hour. The Authorised version of the latter clause gives the correct sense, if it is punctuated as follows: “When ye shall, neither in this mountain nor yet in Jerusalem, worship the Father;” “when ye shall worship, but without the limitation of holy places; when ye shall worship the Father of mankind, before whom Jew, and Samaritan, and Gentile are brethren.” Both these thoughts are suggested by her words. She had referred in the past tense to the worship on Gerizim, when for more than a century and a half the temple had been in ruins, but she refers in the present to the temple at Jerusalem, where the form of worship was every day gone through. From that temple He had just come. The ruins of the one are before Him, the ruins of the other are present to His thoughts (John 2:18-22). Both centres of local worship are to cease. She had referred more than once to the claim which arose from direct descent from the patriarch (John 4:12-20). But the Father is God, and the hour coming, and then present (John 4:23), in Christ’s mission, had the Fatherhood of God and the sonship of humanity as its message to the world.

In this mountain.—Sychar was between Ebal and Gerizim, and she would point out the holy mountain with the ruins of the temple then in sight.

The contrast between “our fathers” and the emphatic “ye” carries back the thoughts to the rival temple and worship on Mount Gerizim from the time of Nehemiah. The enmity took its rise in the refusal to accept the help of the Samaritans in the restoration of the temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 4:2; comp. 2Kings 17:24 et seq.). The next step is recorded in Nehemiah 13:28. Manasseh, the son of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, had married a daughter of Sanballat, and was chased from Jerusalem. Sanballat thereupon supported his son-in-law in establishing a rival worship, but it is not clear that the temple was built until a century later, in the time of Alexander the Great. The authority for the details of the history is Josephus (Ant. xi. 8, § 2), but he seems to confuse Sanballat the Persian satrap, with Sanballat the Horonite. In any case, from the erection of the temple on Mount Gerizim, the schism was complete. The temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus, about B.C. 129 (Ant. xiii. 9, § 1), but the mountain on which it stood continued to be, and is to this day, the holy place of the Samaritans. All travellers in the Holy Land describe their Passover, still eaten on this mountain in accordance with the ritual of the Pentateuch. They claimed that this mountain, and not Jerusalem, was the true scene of the sacrifice of Isaac, and Gentile tradition marked it out as the meeting-place with Melchizedek (Euseb. Prœp. Evang. ix. 22). In accordance with their claim, they had changed in every instance the reading of the Pentateuch, “God will choose a spot” (Deuteronomy 12:14; Deuteronomy 18:6, &c.), into “He has chosen,” i.e., Gerizim. “Ebal,” in Deuteronomy 27:5, had become “Gerizim,” and the Ten Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy are followed by an interpolated command to erect an altar in Mount Gerizim. Jerusalem, on the other hand, had never once been named in the Pentateuch, which was the only part of the Jewish canon which they accepted. It was but a modern city in comparison with the claim that Gerizin was a holy place from the time of Abraham downwards.

John 4:21. Jesus saith to her — In answer to this case of conscience; Believe me — Our Lord uses this expression only once, and that to a Samaritan. To his own people, the Jews, his usual language is, I say unto you. The hour cometh — Which will put an entire end to this controversy; when ye — Both Jews and Samaritans; shall neither worship in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem — As preferable to any other place: nay, when an end will be put to the worship at both places; and the true worship shall be no longer confined to any one place or nation. As if our Lord had said, Thou art expecting the hour to come, when either by some divine revelation, or some signal providence, this matter shall be decided in favour of Jerusalem or mount Gerizim; but I tell thee, the hour is at hand when it shall be no more a question: that which thou hast been taught to lay so much stress on, shall be set aside as a thing indifferent. Our Lord meant that the approaching dissolution of the Jewish economy, and the erection of the evangelical dispensation, should set this matter at rest, and lay all things respecting it in common, so that it should be perfectly indifferent whether in either of those places, or any other, men should worship God. Observe, reader, the worship of God is not now, under the gospel, appropriated to any place, as it was under the law: but it is his will that men should pray, give thanks, and worship and serve him everywhere. Our reason teaches us, indeed, to consult decency and convenience with respect to the places of our worship; but our religion enjoins that we give no preference to one place above another, in respect of holiness and acceptableness to God. They who prefer any act of worship merely for the sake of the house or building in which it is performed, (though it were as magnificent, and as solemnly consecrated as ever Solomon’s temple was,) forget that the hour is come when there should be no difference put in God’s account; no, not between Jerusalem, which had been so famous for sanctity, and the mount of Samaria, which had been so infamous for impiety.

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.Believe me - As she had professed to believe that he was a prophet, it was right to require her to put faith in what he was about to utter. It also shows the importance of what he was about to say.

The hour cometh - The time is coming, or is near.

When neither in this mountain ... - Hitherto the public solemn worship of God has been confined to one place. It has been a matter of dispute whether that place should be Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim. That controversy is to be of much less importance than you have supposed. The old dispensation is about to pass away. The special rites of the Jews are to cease. The worship of God, so long confined to a single place, is soon to be celebrated everywhere, and with as much acceptance in one place as in another. He does not say that there would be no worship of God in that place or in Jerusalem, but that the worship of God would not be "confined" there. He would be worshipped in other places as well as there.

21-24. Woman, &c.—Here are three weighty pieces of information: (1) The point raised will very soon cease to be of any moment, for a total change of dispensation is about to come over the Church. (2) The Samaritans are wrong, not only as to the place, but the whole grounds and nature of their worship, while in all these respects the truth lies with the Jews. (3) As God is a Spirit, so He both invites and demands a spiritual worship, and already all is in preparation for a spiritual economy, more in harmony with the true nature of acceptable service than the ceremonial worship by consecrated persons, place, and times, which God for a time has seen meet to keep up till fulness of the time should come.

neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem—that is, exclusively (Mal 1:11; 1Ti 2:8).

worship the Father—She had talked simply of "worship"; our Lord brings up before her the great Object of all acceptable worship—"THE Father."

Woman, thou ownest me as a prophet, whose office it is to reveal the will of God unto men; it is therefore thy duty to give credit to what I shall reveal to time about the true and right way of worshipping God. The time is coming, yea, at hand, when you shall neither in this Mount Gerizim, (where your fathers have long worshipped God superstitiously without any direction from him), nor yet at Jerusalem, (which is the place which the Lord made choice of for his worship), worship my Father, or your Father. God is putting an end to both these places, and to all that worship which I shall not institute under the gospel.

Jesus saith unto her, woman, believe me,.... In what I am now going to say, since you own me to be a prophet:

the hour cometh; the time is at hand; it is very near; it is just coming:

when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,

worship the Father; that is, God, whom the Jews, and so the Samaritans, knew under the character of the Father of all men, as the Creator and preserver of them; for not God as the Father of Christ, or of the saints by adopting grace, is here intended, which this ignorant woman at least had no knowledge of: and the reason of our Lord's speaking after this manner, signifying, that she need not trouble herself about the place of worship, was, partly, because in a little time Jerusalem, and the temple in it, would be destroyed, and not one stone left upon another; and that Samaria, and this mountain of Gerizim, with whatsoever edifice might be upon it, would be laid desolate, so that neither of them would continue long to be places of religious worship; and partly, because all distinction of places in religion would entirely cease; and one place would be as lawful, and as proper to worship in, as another; and men should lift up holy hands, and pray, and offer up spiritual sacrifices in every place, even from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same, Malachi 1:11.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
John 4:21. Jesus decides neither for the one place nor for the other; nor, on the other hand, does He pronounce both wrong (B. Crusius); but now that His aim is to give her the living water, divine grace and truth, He rises to the higher point of view of the future, whence both the local centres and limitations of God’s true worship disappear; and the question itself no longer arises, because with the triumph of His work all outward localizing of God’s worship comes to an end, not indeed absolutely, but as fettering the freedom of the outward service.

προσκυνήσ.] As spoken to the woman, this refers not to mankind generally (Godet), nor to the Israelites of both forms of religion (Hilgenfeld, comp. Hengstenberg), but to the future conversion of the Samaritans, who thus would be freed from the ritual on Mount Gerizim (which is therefore named first), but were not to be brought to the ritual in Jerusalem, and therefore ἐν Ἱεροσολ. has its warrant with reference to the Samaritans (against Hilgenfeld in the Theol. Jahrb. 1857, p. 517; and in his Zeitschr. 1863, p. 103). The divine ordainment of the temple service was educational. Christ was its aim and end, its πλήρωσις; the modern doctrine of the re-establishing of Jerusalem in its grandeur is a chiliastic dream (see Romans 11:27, note).

τῷ πατρί] spoken from the standing-point of the future converts, to whom God, through their faith in the Reconciler, would be Father: “Tacite novi foederis suavitatem innuit,” Grotius.

John 4:21. Γύναι, πίστευσόν μοιτῷ πατρί. One of the greatest announcements ever made by our Lord; and made to one sinful woman, cf. John 20:16.—ἔρχεται ὥρα a time is coming; in John 4:23 καὶ νῦν ἐστίν is added. A great religious revolution has arrived. Localism in worship is abolished, οὔτε ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ, etc., “neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem,” exclusively or preferentially, “shall ye worship the Father”. What determines this “hour”? The manifestation of God in Christ, and the principle announced in John 4:24 and implied in τῷ πατρί; for God being absolutely “the Father” all men in all places must have access to Him, and being of a like nature to man’s He can only receive a spiritual worship. Cf. Acts 17:29.

21. believe me] This formula occurs here only; the usual one is ‘I say unto you.’

the hour cometh] No article in the Greek; there cometh an hour. Christ decides neither for nor against either place. The utter ruin on Gerizim and the glorious building at Jerusalem will soon be on an equality. Those who would worship the Father must rise above such distinctions of place. A time is coming when all limitations of worship will disappear.

21–24. “We shall surely be justified in attributing the wonderful words of John 4:21; John 4:23-24, to One greater even than S. John. They seem to breathe the spirit of other worlds than ours—‘of worlds whose course is equable and pure;’ where media and vehicles of grace are unneeded, and the soul knows even as it is known. There is nothing so like them in their sublime infinitude of comprehension, and intense penetration to the deepest roots of things, as some of the sayings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:45; Matthew 6:6). It is words like these that strike home to the hearts of men, as in the most literal sense Divine.” S. p. 95.

John 4:21. Πίστευσόν μοι, believe Me) Christ often said to the Jews and His disciples, I say unto you, John 4:35. In this passage alone, to the Samaritan woman, He says, Believe Me, They were more bound to believe than she. The formulæ employed follow this proportion [i.e. are proportioned to their degree of religious privileges respectively].—ὥρα) It is called the hour, not because that whole time is short, but because its beginning is nigh: ch. John 5:25, “The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God,” John 16:2, “The hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”—οὔτε, οὔτε, neither, nor) He does not say, both there, and here; but, neither there, nor here. The Samaritans were not compelled to go to Jerusalem, Acts 8:14, “When the apostles at Jerusalem had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:” and what need was there subsequently of the Cruciati?[84] What need is there of pilgrimages? Here all distinction of places is clearly abolished—a distinction which the ancients had strictly observed: Numbers 23:27, “Balak said unto Balaam, Come I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence;” 1 Timothy 2:8, “I will therefore that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands,” etc. If distinction there still be, these words intimate that our worship ought to be anywhere else rather than at Jerusalem.—προσχυιήσετε, ye shall worship) ye Samaritans and Jews. He fittingly speaks in the second person, not in the first; and there is a προθεραπεία [anticipatory caution], and, as it were, correction of His subsequent speech, which is framed in the first person, in order to suit the apprehension of the woman.—Τῷ ΠΑΤΡΊ, the Father) He admits the woman most familiarly into the stronghold of the faith. Comp. Matthew 6:9, “After this manner pray ye, Our Father which art in heaven.” The antithesis to this is John 4:20-21, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain: Art thou greater than our father Jacob?”

[84] The crusades to rescue Jerusalem were called from the French croises or cross-bearers, each soldier wearing a cross on his right shoulder.—E. and T.

Verses 21-24. -

(d) The spiritual nature of God and his worship. Verse 21. - Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me - a unique expression of Jesus, answering to the Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν, of many other passages, where the acknowledgment of his Divine commission had been virtually ceded; this expression is peculiarly suitable to the occasion - that an hour is coming. He does not add, as in ver. 23, "and now is." The Divine order which links the events of God's providence together, has not made it possible as yet in its fulness, as it will do when the revelation is complete, but the hour is drawing near, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will ye worship the Father. Christ did not say that either Samaritans or Jews were exclusively right in their preference for one local shrine or place of sacrificial worship; but he declared the sublime truth that the worship of the Father would soon prove itself to be independent of both alike and of all the limitations of place and ceremony. Every place would be as sacred and as hallowed as these notable shrines, when the full character and real nature of the object of worship became fully known. The Father was a name for God not unknown to Jew or Gentile; but so overlaid, suspected, defamed, forgotten, that the emphasis which Jesus laid upon it came with the force of a new revelation of God's relation to man. Man is born in the image of God, and partakes of the nature and essence of the Supreme Being, and it is in God's true nature and veritable relations with men that he will be eventually adored. When Christ speaks of "my Father" he refers to the specialty of revelation of the fatherhood in his own incarnation. The Father was only partially known in and by all the dispensations of nature and grace, but he was especially revealed in the whole of the prolonged series of facts and symbols and prophetic teachings which constituted the religion of Israel; and Christ will not allow this great revelation of the Father to pass unaccredited or to be ignored by one whom he essays to teach. John 4:21The hour cometh (ἔρχεται ὥρα)

Rather an hour. There is no article. Is coming; is even now on its way.

Shall ye worship (προσκυνήσετε)

See on Acts 10:25. The word was used indefinitely in John 4:20. Here with the Father, thus defining true worship.

The Father

This absolute use of the title the Father is characteristic of John. He speaks of God as the Father, and my Father, more commonly the former. On the distinction between the two Canon Westcott observes: "Generally it may be said that the former title expresses the original relation of God to being, and specially to humanity, in virtue of man's creation in the divine image; and the latter more particularly the relation of the Father to the Son incarnate, and so indirectly to man in virtue of the Incarnation. The former suggests those thoughts which spring from the consideration of the absolute moral connection of man with God; the latter those which spring from what is made known to us, through revelation, of the connection of the Incarnate Son with God and with man." See John 6:45; John 10:30; John 20:21; John 8:18, John 8:19; John 14:6-10; John 15:8. John never uses our Father; only once your Father (John 20:17), and never Father without the article, except in address.

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