Contrary to common misconception, the Gospel of John, which is the last and most unique of the four biographies of Jesus Christ, was not written by John of Zebedee. On the contrary, the book was written by various people who were keen observers of his teachings. The main reason why this is thought to be so is because, john, who was not only a disciple but also a friend to Jesus would have given a more personal and intimate narration of the events. The book was authored towards the end of the first century of the Christian age. According to most historians concerned with Christianity, the book of John was not authored later than 100 CE. Originally written in Greek, the book is believed to have been authored in Ephesus.
While some theology researchers tend to differ on the specific audience of the book of john, most of them are in consensus that the message in the book was meant for the entire Christian church. The book was, however, more specifically meant for the Christians of Jewish descent that had, at that time, many conflicts with the synagogue. The book, therefore, was meant to guide the Christians of Jewish orientation through the difficult live full of challenges. The book sought to help the Jewish Christians establish religious and social identity in the community.
The fourth chapter of the book is arguably the most prominent, especially considering the weight it carries with regard to salvation and preaching of the gospel. The chapter concerns itself with a meeting between Jesus and Samaritan woman at the well. The Jews considered the Samaritans as enemies and outsiders. For this reason, people from the two communities did not share such things as food. John 7 verse 4 records that Jesus, a Jew, asked for drinking water from the woman, a Samaritan. As at that time, Jews considered Samaritan women as being unclean. They neither partook of their food and drinks. Verse 9 of chapter 4 explains that the woman was surprised that Jesus was asking her for water.
In John 4: 7-9 Jesus is seen stepping beyond the social and traditional norms. He does something that people at that time considered abnormal. While the woman remains in shock, Jesus, in John 4:10 assures the woman that if she knew who was asking her for drinking water, she would surely ask him to give her drinking water. At this juncture, the confusion that arises in the woman is used to explain to all Christians that Jesus was indeed Christ. In John 4:12 Jesus tells the woman that he was capable of performing bigger miracles than Jacob. The verse 18, the issue of the woman’s five husbands comes up, and Jesus acknowledges that the woman is truthful in her answers. In John 4:28-29, Jesus, capacity to tell the woman about what she had done in her life sends the woman to the town, telling all people that Jesus was the son of God.
The book of John quite effectively brings out a powerful message. The theme of unclear statements, such as the “living water” and the “five husbands” are used to elaborate bigger messages. The reaction of the woman to Christ’s encounter symbolizes the reaction of Judaism to Christ. The book exemplifies the importance of word of mouth in spreading the gospel. For instance, the woman goes out spreading the word about the son of God. The allegory and metaphorical explanations are used in the book, to both elaborate the coded meanings, and to contextualize the message for easier comprehension. The Samaritan woman, for instance, is a symbol of growing faith and a person stepping into salvation. Jesus’ decision to challenge the status quo by overstepping the norms symbolizes the strength of the word of God. Symbolically, the five husbands of the Samaritan woman represent the five false gods of the Samaritans. By saying that she had no husband, Jesus meant to say that the gods were false and so the Samaritans had not known their true God.
Bourgeault, Cynthia. The wisdom Jesus: transforming heart and mind : a new perspective on Christ and his message. Boston, Mass: New Seeds Books,2008.
Evans, Craig A. The Bible knowledge background commentary. Colorado Springs, Colo: Victor Books. 2003.
Martyn, James Louis. History and theology in the Fourth gospel. Louisville (Ky.): Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
O'Day, Gail R., and Susan Hylen. John. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press,2006.