John 4: The Woman at the Well

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 78–79


Jesus and His disciples had been in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When it was time to return to Galilee they went through a part of the country called Samaria (see accompanying map). The Samaritans and the Jews were not friendly toward one another. The Jews considered the Samaritans “unclean” (see Bible Dictionary, “Samaritans,” p. 768). Sometimes a Jew would even travel a day or two out of his way to avoid Samaria. As you read John 4, consider what Jesus taught about those traditions, both by what He said and by what He did. Be sure to note the important Joseph Smith Translation changes for this chapter.

Understanding the Scriptures

John 4

Sixth hour (v. 6)About noon 
Draw water (v. 7)Get water out of the well 
Perceive (v. 19)See, understand 
Messias (v. 25)Messiah (see “Understanding the Scriptures” for John 1:41, p. 76) 
Upon this (v. 27)At this time 
Meat (v. 32)Food (in the scriptures, the word meat almost always means “food”; the word for what we call meat is usually flesh) 
Ought (v. 33)Anything 
Reapeth (v. 36)Harvests 
Besought (vv. 40, 47)Asked 
Ere (v. 49)Before 
Amend (v. 52)Get well 
Seventh hour (v. 52)About 1:00 P.M.  

John 4:12—“Our Father Jacob”

The Samaritans and the Jews were both descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Father means “forefather,” or ancestor.

John 4:22—“Salvation Is of the Jews”

Jesus did not mean that the religion of the Jews, as practiced by the Pharisees and Sadducees, would bring people salvation. At one time it contained the saving ordinances, doctrines, and practices but men had changed them. Jesus was a Jew by His mother, and it was He who brought salvation. The name Jesus means “salvation.”

John 4:24—“God Is a Spirit”

We know from other passages of scripture, and especially from modern revelation, that God’s spirit is clothed in a resurrected and glorified body of flesh and bones (see Genesis 1:26–27; Luke 24:39; D&C 130:22). Notice how the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies the meaning of this verse (see JST,John 4:26).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study John 4.

Activity A iconA Gradual Conversion

As you read John 4:5–42 you can learn how one woman came to gain a testimony that Jesus is the Messiah, or Christ.

  1. 1.

    List what the Samaritan woman called Jesus in verses 9, 11, 15, 19, and 29?

  2. 2.

    What do you notice about what she called Jesus the more she talked with Him and the more she came to know about Him?

  3. 3.

    What did she do after she understood who He really was? What was the result? (see especially vv. 28–30, 39–42).

  4. 4.

    Write about ways your testimony has grown. Include something about why you think it has grown.

Activity B iconBe a Missionary

What would you say to an investigator who asked you to explain why we teach that God has a physical body when John 4:24 says that “God is a Spirit.” Use at least two scriptures in your response. (You may want to use the Topical Guide for help.)

Activity C iconA Journal Entry

Imagine you were one of the disciples with Jesus during the events told in John 4. Write what might be part of your journal entry telling what you learned by being with Jesus that day. Include something about what Jesus directly taught in verses 31–38. Also try to include some less obvious lessons.