[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning — see top menu for John 1:1-2].
39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
39 Ἐκ δὲ τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτὸν τῶν Σαμαριτῶν διὰ τὸν λόγον τῆς γυναικὸς μαρτυρούσης ὅτι Εἶπέν μοι πάντα ἃ ἐποίησα. 40 ὡς οὖν ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Σαμαρῖται, ἠρώτων αὐτὸν μεῖναι παρ’ αὐτοῖς· καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐκεῖ δύο ἡμέρας. 41 καὶ πολλῷ πλείους ἐπίστευσαν διὰ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ, 42 τῇ τε γυναικὶ ἔλεγον ὅτι Οὐκέτι διὰ τὴν σὴν λαλιὰν πιστεύομεν· αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἀκηκόαμεν, καὶ οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ἀληθῶς ὁ σωτὴρ τοῦ κόσμου.
Bringing in the Sheaves!
By now you must have noticed there are two scenes woven together. The scene with Jesus and the Samaritan woman launched near the beginning of chapter four, and the scene between Jesus and his disciples about the shrunk time between sowing and reaping. The two scenes are brought together here starting in verse 39.
This coming together of the two parts has long been lifted up as a wonderful exhibit of sharing the Gospel with others. At first, people are drawn to Jesus because of our testimony, “Come and see a man that who told me everything I have ever done!” The townspeople, after spending time with Jesus himself, come to believe, not on the basis anymore of the woman’s witness but because of Jesus’ word. The community of Jesus gives witness to the Savior of the world who, when encountered by those who do not know him, have the opportunity to believe because of their direct encounter with him.
The townspeople coming to Jesus, listening to his word, and believing is the quick harvest that comes after the sowing of the seed with the Samaritan woman. The new Messianic era is now approaching!
Two quick things to note. First, we see these rural Samaritans — outsiders — who readily come to faith while there is growing resistance to Jesus from his own people. Jesus’ words about the eschatological harvest is an indication of the kind of ministry the future church and apostles will have: one that goes outside the borders of Judaism.
A second curiosity is the use of Savior of the world in verse 42. While there are some Old Testament references to Yahweh as the salvation of Israel, the expected Messiah wasn’t generally referred to as a coming Savior of the world. In fact, this is the only reference to Jesus as Savior in the Gospels during Jesus’ public ministry. Later, after his resurrection, it would be common and found in Paul’s writings and Acts. While not common as a title for Jesus among the Jews during his ministry, it was used often among Hellenized people of this time in reference to gods, emperors, and heroes. That we find this unusual pre-resurrection word used for Jesus among the Hellenized Samaritans is, perhaps, another hint of a future expansive testimony to Jesus that will extend to all peoples.
And also YOU — Jesus, Savior of the world…including Savior of YOU!