Answer: “Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God who came into the world to bear witness to the truth and to give his life so that all people might have the opportunity of receiving eternal life through faith in him.” (Marshall, New Testament Theology)

CHARACTERS

Question: What characters are involved?

Answer: Crowds? None. Individuals?

1. Jesus (4:4)

2. A Samaritan woman (4:7). “The Samaritans were regarded by the Jews as despised half-breeds, the offspring of the resettlement policies of the cruel Assyrians. ... The Jewish desire for a pure and loyal people of God, particularly after the return from the Babylonian exile, led Ezra to develop a segregation policy that excluded Samaritans and others of mixed backgrounds (Ezra 9–10)” (Borchert, John 1–11)

3. Jacob (4:5)

4. Joseph (4:5)

5. Prophet (4:19)

6. God as Father (4:20–21, 23)

7. Samaritans (inferred from 4:22)

8. Jews (4:22)

9. Messiah (4:25). Since Samaritans only viewed the first five books of the Bible as authoritative, “a Messiah from the house of David could not be anticipated, as no evidence for such could be found in the Pentateuch. Rather, the Samaritans awaited a ‘prophet like Moses’ based on Deuteronomy 18:15–18.” (Tyndale Bible Dictionary)

LOCATION

Question: Where does the story take place?

Answer:  Location? A well (4:6) City? Sychar (4:5) Region? Through Samaria (4:4). “This was the shortest route from Judea to Galilee but not the only way. … In Jesus’ day the Jews … normally took the eastern route in order to avoid Samaria. But Jesus chose the route through Samaria in order to reach the despised people of that region” (Bible Knowledge Commentary, 284). Other locations? Jerusalem and “this mountain” (4:20–21). “Gerizim remains the sacred mount of the Samaritans’ for they have ‘worshiped on this mountain’ [Jn. 4:20] for countless generations, ascending it to [keep] the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. According to Samaritan tradition, Gerizim is Mt Moriah [Gn. 22:2] and the place where God chose to place his name [Dt. 12:5]” (New Bible Dictionary, 406).

EVENTS

Question: What happens in the story?

Answer: Is it a teaching (e.g., a parable or instruction)? No.

What is the sequence of events?

1. Jesus shows care and concern for a Samaritan woman in spite of her ethnicity, gender, and sin.

2. Jesus corrects the Samaritan woman’s view of God and worship.

3. Jesus confirms to her that He is the Messiah.

TIME

Question: Where does the story take place?

Answer: “The sixth hour [4:6] would be noon, the hottest part of the day. It was unusual for a woman to visit the well alone.” (New Bible Commentary) Yet this Samaritan woman does exactly that, perhaps because her reputation (4:18) had made her a social outcast. How much time has passed? Same day. Described by a proper name (e.g., Passover, Sabbath, Feast of Tabernacles)? No.

SUMMARY

Question: How would you summarize the purpose of this story?

Answer: This passage teaches us about Jesus, the Living God.

God exposes the contents of our hearts, not for our shame, but for our good.

Jesus communicated care before He communicated content.

Jesus worked with what the woman already knew. He didn’t argue about what books were included in her Bible, but He was not hesitant to correct her view of God.