Research Paper on the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-42)

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Harvey Mudd College
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Research paper
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The deed of Jesus was gaining popularity in different places where the disciples were preaching the gospel. One day, Jesus learned of his popularity among the Pharisees and therefore decided to leave Judea for Galilee. Jesus had to go through Samaria on his way to Galilee. On his journey, Jesus became thirsty and hungry. At noon, Jesus was in Sychar and therefore decided to sit near Jacobs well because he was tired and exhausted1. Fortunately, a Samaritan woman appeared when Jesus was sited near the Well. Jesus asked the woman whether she could give him some water to drink. Samaritan woman was not ready to give water to Jesus because she knew that the Jews and the Samaritans could not drink from the same well. It appears that the Samaritan woman did not understand what Jesus was implying when he asked for water. The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman was philosophical. Jesus answered If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you a living water (John 4:10). The Samaritan woman was shocked at Jesus because his conversation was extra ordinary. The Samaritan woman believed that it was not possible for Jesus to draw water from the well because he did not have a pot and the well was too deep. Jesus started revealing himself to the Samaritan woman through the power of conversation. Jesus talked about the living water that the Samaritan woman needed to drink and never to thirst anymore. The Samaritan woman became interested in the living water and asked Jesus to give her the water. Jesus revealed many things to the Samaritan woman. For example, Jesus knew that the Samaritan woman did not have a legal husband and was living with a husband for another

Woman. The Samaritan woman was shocked that Jesus knew many things about her. At some point, the Samaritan woman came to know that she was talking with Jesus the messiah.

The Samaritan woman was excited to know about the living water and to learn that she was talking with Jesus. The Samaritan woman left for the nearest town to call the people to the scene to see the man who told her of all her history. In that day, many Samaritan believed that Christ had come to the town because of the great testimony from the Samaritan woman. The Samaritans who arrived at the scene where Jesus was sitting believed in Jesus and asked Jesus to stay with them for a while. Jesus was flexible and stayed in Samaria for two days. The people of Samaria not only believed in the testimony from the Samaritan woman but also heard many things from King Jesus2.

Major points in the text

The story carries some strong messages about the mystery of the gospel. Jesus was able to tell the Samaritan woman about her sexual life. The Samaritan woman was convinced with the message of Jesus and that she was ready to call villagers to see the wonders. The Samaritan woman was able to see grace in the gospel of Jesus1. The desire for truth is appealing in the story because despite breaking the laws of visiting the well at the wrong time and speaking to a stranger, the Samaritan woman understood the meaning of grace. She asked Jesus many questions seeking to get a deeper understanding of truth in the word. It is astonishing that many Samaritan came to see Jesus and witnessed the truth in his gospel. Many of the men from Samaria believed in Jesus not because of the testimonies by listening to give the message of hope to the people. It is apparent in the story that there is a drift between the Samaritans and the Jews. There are many cultural differences exhibited in the text. For example, the Jews regarded the Samaritan as hostile despite the fact that they all share similar practices. The Samaritans observe gender roles. The roles of the women in Samaria are to do a domestic duty, which revolves around cooking, taking care of the children and making a home. However, the role of men is to provide for the family and engage in activities such as working in the market and providing security in the compound3.

In the text, there is a close reference to Joseph. After Jesus had talked with the Samaritan woman, we realize that she did have a legal husband. The woman had been living with different men and that her life according to the gospel of Jesus was terrible and meaningless. The life of the Samaritan woman is similar to that of Joseph where his brothers hated him and sold him to the Egyptians. It is apparent from the text that the suffering of the Samaritan woman leads to the Salvation of the Israelites Samaritans. On the other hand, Joseph suffered but later his sufferings brought salvations to the Israelites. It is apparent that the Samaritan woman had an ill reputation. In the text, one will not expect to see a woman go to the well under the scorching sun. Visiting the well under the scorching sun is an indication that the woman was avoiding the company of fellow women who rarely visit the well. It is also paramount to think about Jesus who visited the well in the midday. It is possible to ask a rhetoric questions regarding the visit of Jesus to the well. Why would Jesus sit under a tree and rest? It becomes apparent that Jesus had foreseen her meeting with the Samaritan woman to change her life1.

Historical context

The story of the Samaritan woman depicts some cultural differences between the Jews and the Samaritans. In the story, Jesus asked for water from the Samaritan woman but she resisted. The Samaritan woman knew that it was wrong for her to give water to a Jew. The resistance of the Samaritan woman to give water to Jesus shows how the people were conservative and protect the cultural boundaries. However, the story depicts some irregularities to the readers. The first one is that the Samaritan woman was in the well at the wrong time. In this case, a well is a common place for both men and women, however, according to the Mediterranean cultures women belong to the kitchen and the indoor activities. The activities for men are outdoors in places such as farm, market, and fields. The traditions also do not allow men and women to meet as well. According to the Samaritans, the women come to the well in the evening and in the morning. It was unique for the Samaritan woman to go to the well at noon because it was against the culture of the community. However, one can conclude that it was an appointed time for the Samaritan woman to meet Jesus so that her life could change1.

It was an irregularity for the Samaritan to speak to a strange man sited near the well. It is apparent that the Mediterranean culture did allow women to talk to strangers especially men. The Samaritan woman asked Jesus, How is it that you, a Judean man ask e, a Samaritan woman for, a drink? John 4:9. The statement indicates how gender plays an important role in the Samaria2. Often, it is a suspicious thing for a woman to speak to a strange man in public. It is apparent that after Jesus enlightened the Samaritan woman, the woman did not fear to go the market place, and villages giving her testimony about her meeting with Jesus. It was ironical for the Samaritan woman to visit the places that the culture reserved them for men. The Samaritans and the Jews have had a political, social, and religious difference. In the text, the Samaritan remained Jesus that the Jews and Samaritans do not share and that she was not willing to give water to Jesus3. It is astonishing that the Samaritan woman recognized Jesus as a Jew. In this case, Jews and the Samaritans must be having unique dress codes. In Samaria, people observed the Mosaic Law and the people in must have been putting on fringed garments. The difference in the view of religion would interfere with the gospel of Jesus.

The implications of the story of Samaritan Woman

The story in the gospel of John can be interpreted in different perspectives. The first perspectives are that of the contemporary social scientist. Social scientists will confirm that the story of the Samaritan woman depicts the changing roles of women in our societies. The second perspective for the story regards the spiritual perspective. The theologians will make a spiritual comment on the story to drive the relevance of the story in the life of the modern man. For example, it is clear from the biblical perspective that the Samaritan woman was thirsty for the truth in the gospel of Jesus. It appears from her conversation with Jesus that the Samaritans were anticipating Christ to come and teach the gospel. Jesus used parables in the conversation with Samaritan woman. Jesus explained about the living water that one would not feel thirsty after drinking the living water. Jesus was willing to answer the questions from the Samaritan woman with gentleness without regarding her as a woman. He ensured that the woman shifted from ignorance to an understanding of the mystery of the gospel2. The smooth transition from the ignorance to the enlightenment shows the evolutions of gender roles that are apparent in the contemporary society.

The Samaritan woman took the message to both men and women about Jesus. The men replied to the Samaritan woman that It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves. The compliment from the Samaritan men on the testimony of the Samaritan woman shows how was gender oriented. This context is controversial because the Samaritan woman was observing the provisions of the culture but Jesus was looking at the grace given to men by God5.

The story of the Samaritan woman depicts the life of Christians today with their character of disbelieve. Jesus had to answer the Samaritan woman with gentleness to help her out of the disbelief. For example, Jesus gave a clear illustration regarding the difference between the water from the well and the living water. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that everyone who drinks the water from the well would be thirsty again. Later, Jesus gave a promise to the Samaritan woman that not anyone who drinks the water that Jesus gives would thirsty anymore. In this case, Jesus used simple words to change the perspective of the Samaritan woman from the daily life to eternal life. The message that Jesus gave to the Samaritan woman was transformative in nature. For example, the woman was motivated to hear from Jesus when she realized the grace in the message. It is a common phenomenon for the Christians to overlook the spiritual needs and focus in the satisfactions of the physical needs4.


Barnes, Bernadine. "The understanding of a woman: Vittoria Colonna and Michelangelo's Christ and the Samaritan Woman." Renaissance Studies 27, no. 5 (2013): 633-653.

Chesnut, Robert A. Meeting Jesus the Christ Again: A Conservative Progressive Faith. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2017.

Maier, Rudi. "Under the Sacred Bo Tree: Enhancing a Ministry That Is More than Preaching." Journal of Adventist Mission Studies 10, no. 1 (2014): 105-114.

McGrath, James F. "Woman at the Well." Bible Odyssey (2014).

Victor, Royce. "Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: Liberation of a Dalit." Asia Journal of Theology 30, no. 2 (2016).

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