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In the Gospel of John, we are told of the reaction by the Samaritans of the city to the woman from the well:

John 4:39-42: "From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all the things that I have done.' 40So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41Many more believed because of His word; 42and they were saying to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'"

These last comments seem ungrateful. The woman introduced the entire city to the Savior. Are these intended to slight the woman? Is there some reason we are told: "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world"?

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  • All it says is that they believed what the woman told them about what Christ told her(he told me all that I ever did), before hearing his message for themselves, and believing. Also, if she was really a proselyte why would Jesus have grouped her with the unfaithful(v.21)?
    – user21676
    Aug 23, 2021 at 21:40
  • @user21676 As I mentioned to another contributor, perhaps my question should be clarified: "Why is this recorded for us to read?" The Gospel seems to be making a point that everyone was skeptical of her. Maybe they had good reason? It could be the case that she had a very bad reputation in the city (quite possible). The verse that you referenced appears before she finally realized the identity of Christ. Many, including her, then believed.
    – Xeno
    Aug 23, 2021 at 21:50
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    The denigration, ungratefulness, and backhandedness you mention exist in your mind alone; the text's point (4:41-42) is to dispel the notion that the gospel(s) might be biased in their portrayal of Christ, by intentionally cherry-picking positive testimonies of distinct individuals, which might ultimately be personal or subjective, but not objectively shared or independently confirmed by countless others.
    – Lucian
    Aug 24, 2021 at 13:39
  • What would make this question not opinion based is some evidence that the response was rude for the culture of the time period. Then we could discuss that evidence. As it stands, this is just soliciting opinions about 21st century feels of a 1st century event.
    – Robert
    Aug 30, 2021 at 5:50
  • @Robert Thanks for the comment. The point I've been trying to emphasize is that, irrespective of the culture in which one lives, a snide comment by the people to the woman: "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves" strikes me as unnecessary and gratuitous -- as though they ridiculed her with disfavor and contempt, perhaps for good reason because of her sexual promiscuity. However, remember this exchange is recorded for hundreds of generations to scrutinize and impugn, as though the rest of the Samaritans were pillars of righteousness.
    – Xeno
    Aug 30, 2021 at 17:20

2 Answers 2

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Answer to why is John 4:39-42 recorded for us to read

  1. V39: It shows how the Gospel is spread, from faith shared to faith received.

  2. V40: It shows the beginning of the Gospel being spread from the Jews to the Samaritans, the first step toward the Gentiles, "the Savior of the world." V42

  3. V41-42: It shows faith becoming personal to the Samaritans.

Answer to original question

I don't see this as ungrateful, degrading, or an insult. For anyone I have pointed to Christ, the greatest complement would be for them to say this.

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 indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:41–42, ESV)

What teachers want their students to only learn what they taught them? What teachers are not proud when their students grow and excel long after leaving their class? Every Christian needs to have their own faith. Not a faith dependent on other people.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor. 3:1–6, ESV)

It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me (John 6:45, ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:31–34, ESV)

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  • I guess my question should be clarified: "Why is this recorded for us to read?"
    – Xeno
    Aug 23, 2021 at 21:18
  • Excellent answer indeed. Many thanks. +1.
    – Dottard
    Aug 23, 2021 at 21:41
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Some believed from hearing the woman speak, but many more believed when they heard Jesus himself. One of the major themes of these early chapters of John is the authority of Jesus's words, which authenticated him as the Son of God.

  • John 1:43-51: Jesus astounds Nathanael by saying that he saw him under the fig tree, leading to Nathanael's confession that Jesus is the Son of God.
  • John 2:1-11: Jesus instructs the servants at the wedding to draw wine out of water jars, performing a sign just with his words.
  • John 2:18-22: Jesus's prophetic words about his own death and resurrection lead his disciples to believe in him afterwards.
  • John 3:1-15: Jesus contrasts his words and teachings with that of the Pharisees, who should have understood more than they did.
  • John 4:1-42: Jesus demonstrates his authority by speaking the secrets of this woman, and through further unspecified teachings to all the people of the town.
  • John 4:46-53: Jesus heals at a distance through the speaking of a word.
  • John 5:8-9: Jesus instructs a crippled man to stand and he is healed at once.
  • John 5:16-47: In what could be seen as a conclusion to this part of the Gospel, Jesus explains that his testimony and works come from his Father, and that he speaks with the authority and power of the Father.
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  • Interesting. I had not considered several of these points, especially that of the authority of Christ's spoken word (only) in these early chapters. +1.
    – Xeno
    Aug 24, 2021 at 1:28

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