The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 8


(John 4:1-14)


1.    If you would like to be a soulwinner – and I hope you do – then your best teacher is the Lord Jesus Christ.

2.    The Bible says: “He that winneth souls is wise” (Pro.11:30).

3.    So if you want to be wise, you must study the life of our Lord and see how He won souls.

4.    In John 3 we read of his conversation with Nicodemus, and in John 4 we read of his conversation with the woman at the well.  Notice the contrast:

        He was a moral man; she was an immoral woman.

        He was a Jew; she was a Samaritan.

        He was a respected leader; she was an outcast.

        He came by night; she came in the day.

        He was very cautious; she was very bold.

        He faded away unnoticed; she went back to her people.

        We hear from him again (7:50; 19:39); her we do not.

5.    A great many books have been written on soulwinning, but nothing can compare with the Gospel of John.

6.    The key verses in this passage are 4:13, 14.  The things of this world are only temporary and can never bring true satisfaction.

7.    But when a person comes to Christ he shall never thirst spiritually.  He will find true peace and contentment, true joy and happiness, true security, and best of all – eternal life.

8.    This evening, I would like for us to look at the wonderful story of the woman at the well.







1.    You will notice that the Bible says that our Lord “must needs go through Samaria” (4:4).  Why?  Normally the Jews would go miles out of their way to avoid going through Samaria!  But this is different, it was determined that our Lord would go through Samaria and meet the woman at the well.

2.    Spurgeon said the woman at the well “was an object of electing love, but she was not yet regenerated.”

3.    This ancient well, called “Jacob’s well” (cf. 4:5, 6), is still around, being one of the few Biblical sites which can still be positively identified today.

4.    To really understand the significance of this story you have to know a little about the history of the Samaritan people (cf. II Kings 17:24-41).

5.    The Jews hated the Samaritans and considered them half-breeds with a heathenistic religion, a hodgepodge of truth and error.

6.    The Samaritans had their own system of worship, which included their own temple on Mt. Gerizim (John 4:20-22).

7.    You will notice that this Samaritan woman was familiar with the peculiar teachings of her Samaritan religion (4:20).  There are many people who all about the peculiar doctrines and customs of their religion – but they do not know Jesus (4:25, 26).  It is our responsibility to point them to Jesus.

8.    There are barriers to overcome (4:27).  An example of Jewish hostility towards the Samaritans is found later on in John 8:48.

9.    It must be emphasized that it was part of our Lord’s plan to go through Samaria and save this lost soul.  He chose this woman at the well.  There are many others out there just like her!



1.    Back then it was not considered proper for a man to speak to a woman in public, especially for a Jewish teacher to speak to a woman in public – and especially to a Samaritan woman (4:7-9, 27).

2.    Our Lord broke down the barriers by offering her “living water” (4:10), i.e. salvation – “the gift of God” (4:10; cf. 7:37-39).

3.    The woman at the well did not understand our Lord’s use of figurative language (4:11-14; cf. 3:3, 4).

4.    “Everlasting life” (4:14) is the key to John’s Gospel (cf. 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47).

5.    Let’s look closely at our Lord’s method of leading her to salvation:

A.  He told her salvation was a free gift of God (4:10).

B.  He dealt with her sin (4:15-18).  Only those who recognize that they are lost can truly be saved.  When trying to win people to Christ we should never avoid the sin question.

C.  Sinners must be brought face to face with the fact that they are dead in trespasses and sins, that they need a Saviour, that they cannot save themselves, that their religion cannot save them, and that the Lord Jesus Christ will save them if they repent of their sin and trust in Him.

D.  He let her know that He was the Messiah (4:10, 25, 26).

6.    Notice that when our Lord brought up the sin problem, she started talking about religion (4:16-20).  This is a common tactic – shift the conversation from repentance to religion.

7.    Many people like to talk about religion (e.g. their church, the pope) but they do not want to talk about their need for salvation. 

8.    Our Lord corrected this Samaritan woman when she explained her religious tradition (4:20-24).  This is in sharp contrast with the average minister or priest today who would agree with her, assuring her that we are all in the “family of God,” or we’re all worshipping the same God, or some other nonsense.

9.    But her form of worship was not authorized by God, neither was it approved by God.  It was invented by lost men and was contrary to God’s Word.  It had no Scriptural basis and no Scriptural authority, like many of the cults and so-called churches today.

10. God wants us to worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (4:23, 24), not in ritualism or formalism. 

11. Please notice that there are three “musts” in John 3 and two “musts” here in John 4 (3:7, 14, 30; 4:4, 24).

12. Our Lord explained that “the Father seeketh” after sinners (4:23b).  Perhaps God is seeking after some one here tonight.



1.    After our Lord explained that He was the Messiah, she ran off and left her waterpot (4:25-28).

2.    It is obvious that she got saved because she immediately started telling others about Jesus (4:28, 29).

3.    According to the Bible, women should not be preachers but they certainly can be great soulwinners (4:39-42).

4.    Brethren, let me ask you something: if she could drop everything and go out to tell others about Jesus, why can’t you?

5.    Christians make excuses – for example: “I have no experience.”  What experience did she have?  In any endeavor, you must start somewhere!

6.    Some Christians are too cautious.  I heard of two young fellows who both liked the same girl, one was Mr. Tact and the other was Mr. Contact.  Mr. Tact went to the young lady’s house, knocked on the front door and spent hours telling her parents what a wonderful daughter they had.  Meanwhile, Mr. Contact went around and knocked on the back door.  When the young lady answered, he asked her to marry him.  Guess who she married?

7.    You can be so overly cautious that you will never win anyone to the Lord!  I am not saying that tact is unimportant; I am simply saying that we can become so careful that we accomplish nothing while millions of souls perish.

8.    Another excuse is that it is too difficult to win souls.  God would never give us a job to do if He felt that we were unable to do it!  I read that the average insurance salesman contacts 45 people before he gets a customer.  Cults like the JW’s and Mormons talk to hundreds of people before they get one convert.

9.    Yet many Christians get discouraged and give up on soulwinning because a few people slammed the door in their face.

10. God has commanded us to go out and win souls – what must He think of such feeble excuses?  Many years ago, a young preacher told the Duke of Wellington that he considered it a waste of time for Christians to try and evangelize India.  The Duke quoted Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” and then he said to the preacher: “These are your marching orders, sir.” 



1.     I heard an old story about a motorist who was killed by a train at a RR crossing.  At the trial, the signalman in charge of the crossing insisted that he waved his lantern back and forth frantically but the car would not stop.

2.     The prosecuting attorney cross-examined him but no matter how hard he pressed him, the signalman would not waver.

3.     The next day the superintendent of the railroad called the signalman into his office and said, “Tom, you did well in court yesterday.  I was afraid at first that you might waver.”

4.     Tom replied, “No sir – not me.  But I was afraid that the lawyer was going to ask me whether or not my lantern was lit.”

5.     Beloved, Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

6.     Hudson Taylor had a good friend who was a Chinese pastor. Taylor often told the story about how this pastor said to a new convert, “How long have you been saved?”

        “About three months now.

        “And how many people have you won to Christ?”

        “Oh, none…I am only a novice.”

        “I see.  Do you have any candles in your home?”


        “Do you expect the candle to begin to shine when it is burned halfway down?”

        “No, as soon as it is lit.”

7.     Hudson Taylor said the young convert got the point and went out after souls.  Within a few months he had won several people to Christ.  That is why there are now millions of Christians meeting quietly in homes now in China. 

<< Back                                       Next >>