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John 4:22 ASV says, Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews.

What did Jesus mean with his statement "salvation is from the Jews"?

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  • Messiah was to come from the tribe of David, and salvation through this Messiah, i.e. through Him, who was that very Messiah. Although, majority of Jews understood Messiah in political terms as liberator of Jews from political oppressors, Romans, in that particular setting. However, the Lord Jesus Christ gave liberation from sins, which is only God's prerogative. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 9:43

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“Salvation is from the Jews.” The statement has a general form, but Jesus was particularly telling the Samaritan woman that between the Jewish and Samaritan ways of worship, the Jewish way was the true way and from it came salvation.

The Jews regarded Samaritans as heretics because the latter believed God's dwelling place to be Mt. Gerizim (Jn 1:20) near Sychar (where the Samaritan woman lived) instead of Mt. Zion in Jerusalem (1 Kgs 8:29). The Samaritans believed Mount Gerizim was where Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, although Scripture records that location as Mount Moriah (Gn 22:1–19). They also believed Gerizim was where Jacob had his dream, rather than in Bethel farther south (Gn 28:10–22.)

Samaritans were said to observe Jewish rites and practices superficially, but did not know the meaning (spirit) of such practices. (Jn 4:22)"You Samaritans worship what you do not know." And that might be the reason she could not get out of the rut of sin, for the Jews accused Samaritans of having demons. (Jn 8:48). On the other hand, the Jews’ rites and practices were the true and correct form (Jn 4:22) "we worship what we do know."

However, Jesus said there will come a time when neither Jewish nor Samaritan religions will be sufficient to obtain salvation, but only the kind that “worships the Father in spirit and in truth.” (Jn 4:23)

The woman agreed and believed the Messiah would come but until then, there was no need to trouble herself with the spiritual and true worship (Jn. 4:25). Jesus said, “There will come a time, and the TIME IS NOW…” (Jn 4:23) and this led to his revealing himself as the Messiah.(Jn 4:26)

“Salvation is from the Jews.” Aside from the obvious reason that Our Lord Jesus Christ was from the Jews, the Apostles’ preaching of the Gospel also started in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:6-9)

It is true that salvation came from the Jews but it did not stay with them. “He came to his own but his own received him not.” (Jn 1:11) “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, (Jn 1:12) “to those who believe in his name (whether Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free, doesn’t matter - Gal. 3:28), "who were born not by natural generation (not of Jewish ancestry) nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.” (Jn 1:13).

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    Welcome to BH and thanks for this contribution. Do read the tour to see how this site works. You say "Samaritans were heretics" but do not give a Bible reference to back this up. You might like to consider editing in some more references so that we can see where every assertion is coming from.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 13:17
  • Thanks for the suggestions, C. Stroud. I hope my edits are satisfactory for now. Merry Christmas, and God bless you. Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 19:15
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Here are some related background questions:

Orthodox Jews take Deut. 12:5 to refer to the temple in Jerusalem. How should we?

Why did the Samaritan woman use the term, Messiah, in John 4:25?

What did Jesus mean in John 4:22, ὑμεῖς προσκυνεῖτε ὃ οὐκ οἴδατε?

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:22, ESV)

Jesus, the Messiah, who brought salvation, available to the world, was a Jew, from the linage of David. By saying this Jesus also said the rest of the Tanakh (the prophets and the writtings), not just the Torah (5 books of the Law) were valid scriptures. The Samaritans only accepted the Torah as authoritative.

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 4:42, ESV)

Commentaries

Salvation is from the Jews, He did not mean that all Jews were saved or were especially pious. “Salvation is from the Jews” in the sense that it is available through Jesus, who was born of the seed of Abraham. -- Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 286). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

For salvation is from the Jews (ὁτι ἡ σωτηρια ἐκ των Ἰουδαιων ἐστιν [hoti hē sōtēria ek tōn Ioudaiōn estin]). “The salvation,” the Messianic salvation which had long been the hope and guiding star of the chosen people (Luke 1:69, 71, 77; Acts 13:26, 47). It was for the whole world (John 3:17), but it comes “out of” (ἐκ [ek]) the Jews. This tremendous fact should never be forgotten, however unworthy the Jews may have proved of their privilege. The Messiah, God’s Son, was a Jew. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (John 4:22). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

For salvation is from the Jews.—[ἐστίν, the present, not ἕσται, for salvation was already at hand in the person of the Saviour.—P. S.] Σωτηρία: (1) Chrysostom, et al.: All benefits of salvation; (2) Erasmus: The prophetic knowledge of salvation; (3) The true Jews worship the God of continuous revelation. The proof of this lies in the fact that salvation breaks forth out of Judaism (Leben Jesu, II. p. 533). Similarly Tholuck, Meyer. In ἐκ τῶν (see Rom. 9:4 ff) are intimated (1) the personal issuing of salvation out of Judaism, (2) its inward connection with Judaism, (3) its distinction from it. The expression is an evidence that John names the Jews not in a hostile sense alone.

[By this declaration Christ sets the seal of His authority on the Jewish religion as a divine revelation to prepare mankind for His coming, and sets aside all other religions as false, or at best as groping in the dark after “the unknown God.” This preparation by law, types, and prophecy, running back in unbroken succession to Abraham, and even to the very gates of paradise lost (Gen. 3:14), forms one of the most convincing evidences of Christianity, as the final and perfect religion of mankind—P. S.] -- Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (p. 161). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

4:22. Jesus is not neutral; he accepts the correctness of the Jewish position, although he does not allow that to remain as an ultimate barrier to racial reconciliation (4:23). In a Gospel addressing Jewish Christians rejected by their synagogues (see the introduction), this point is significant. -- Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Jn 4:22). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

for salvation is from (ἐκ) the Jews. Literally he says the salvation; i.e., that specific rescue from the guilt, pollution, and punishment of sin, and that sum-total of every spiritual endowment, which God grants to his people on the basis of the redemptive work of his Son. That this salvation proceeds from the Jews is clear from Ps. 147:19, 20; Isa. 2:3; Amos 3:2; Mic. 4:1, 2; Rom. 3:1, 2; 9:3–5; 9:18. -- Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 1, pp. 166–167). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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What did Jesus mean when he said salvation is from the Jews?

1/ The Jews' were entrusted with the words of God that could lead to salvation. That is why Jesus could say to the Samaritan woman;

John 4:22 NET "You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews."

Romans 3:1-2 NASB

Then what [a]advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First, that they were entrusted with the actual words of God.

2/The Messiah would come from God's chosen people, the Jews, and anyone wanting to serve God had to associate with God's people.

Genesis 22:18 NASB

18 And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

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What did Jesus mean when he said salvation is from the Jews?

I understand this from the point of view of contrast. The setup of this contrast started in John 4:

9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )

First, the contrast was between Jews and Samaritans.

22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we [Jews] worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

This same contrast was repeated.

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Now Jesus broadened the contrast to Jews vs Gentiles. Peter echoed this in Acts 4:

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Among all mankind, salvation was from the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ.

What did Jesus mean with his statement "salvation is from the Jews"?

Salvation is not from the Gentiles.

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The answer to this question is probably answered by Paul in Rom 9:5, 6 -

the people of Israel.

  • Theirs is the adoption as sons;
  • theirs the divine glory
  • and the covenants;
  • theirs the giving of the law,
  • the temple worship,
  • and the promises.
  • Theirs are the patriarchs,
  • and from them proceeds the human descent of Christ ...

Paul might have also added that from the Jews also came the inspired sacred Scriptures.

Little wonder that Jesus could say, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). He also said:

  • John 14:6 - Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Peter stated the same truth this way:

  • Acts 4:11, 12 - This Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Ellicott adds this:

(22) For salvation is of the Jews.—This verse has sorely tried critics who seek to construct the Gospel out of their judgments of what it should be. It can be no difficulty to those who seek to form their judgments from the Gospel as it is. Assume that the Gospel belongs to the Greek thought of the close of the second century, and the verse must be omitted, though it is certainly part of the original text; accept the Gospel as belonging to the Hebrew thought of the first century, and this touch of Jewish theology is in entire harmony with it. The contrast between the Samaritan and the Jewish worship lay in its history, its state at that time, and its rejection of the fuller teaching of the prophetical books of the Old Testament. “In every way the Jews had much advantage, but chiefly that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Little as they knew the treasure they possessed, they were the guardians of spiritual truth for the world, and in a sense deeper than they could fathom, “salvation was of the Jews.” (Comp. Romans 3:2; Romans 9:4-5, Notes; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2.)

Similarly, Benson:

For salvation is of the Jews — All the prophets spoke of the Saviour as one that should come out of the Jewish nation, and that through him the knowledge of the true God, and of the true way of worshipping and serving him, should be communicated to the rest of mankind. For, as the author of salvation came of the Jews, appeared among them, and was sent first to bless them, affording them, in an extraordinary way, the means of salvation; so the word of salvation was of them, and was delivered to them, to be derived from them to other nations. This was a sure guide to them in their worship, and they who followed it knew what they worshipped. As they, therefore, were thus privileged and advanced, it was presumption for the Samaritans to vie with them.

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Like the USA, Korea, Ireland and other countries, The United Kingdom of Israel was divided up into a Northern Kingdom and a Southern Kingdom. Samaria was the capitol of the Northern Kingdom aka Israel, and Jerusalem was the capitol of the Southern Kingdom aka Judah. The word translated "Jews" in the scriptures refers to the Judeans.

The Northern Kingdom fell into Ba'al worship, so the LORD eliminated them from the Sinai covenant. However, the Southern Kingdom, Judah, whose capital was Jerusalem, remained in covenant. Jesus alludes to this:

[Hos 1:3-7 KJV] [3] So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. [4] And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little [while], and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. [5] And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel. [6] And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And [God] said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. [7] But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.

So Israel is the vessel of wrath and Judah will be miraculously saved. However, Ezekiel promised a day would come when the Messiah would come and seek out these Lost Sheep of the House of Israel and bring them into the Promised Land, resurrect them and reunite them with Judah:

[Eze 37:11-23 NASB95] [11] Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.' [12] "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. [13] "Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. [14] "I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it," declares the LORD.'" [15] The word of the LORD came again to me saying, [16] "And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.' [17] "Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. [18] "When the sons of your people speak to you saying, 'Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?' [19] say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."' [20] "The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. [21] "Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; [22] and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. [23] "They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.

But only a divinely selected remnant would return of the Northern Kingdom:

[1Ki 19:17-18 NASB95] [17] "It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. [18] "Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him."

[Rom 11:1-10 NASB95] 1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. [2] God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in [the passage about] Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? [3] "Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE." [4] But what is the divine response to him? "I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL." [5] In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to [God's] gracious choice. [6] But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. [7] What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; [8] just as it is written, "GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY." [9] And David says, "LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP, AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM. [10] "LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT, AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER."

So Israel 2.0 became God's People aka the Israel of God. They became the foundation of the Kingdom of God, the 144,000 while branches were broken off of the Judah tree, to make way for them:

[Rev 7:4-8 NASB95] [4] And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: [5] from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand [were] sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, [6] from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, [7] from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, [8] from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand [were] sealed.

So in the time before the death, resurrection and return of Christ to inflict the utter destruction and depopulation of Jerusalem, the capitol of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), Judah was covenant-Beloved, and so "the house of prayer for all nations."

However, in Paul's conversation with the Samaritan woman at the Jacob's well, Jesus says that the United Kingdom of God would be restored (which is called in English Bibles, "the regeneration," and for her, this was happening presently, because Christ was speaking to her:

[Jhn 11:19-26 NASB95] [19] and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning [their] brother. [20] Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. [21] Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. [22] "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." [23] Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." [24] Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." [25] Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

The sequence of birth pains -> birth is reversed, with birth pains (c. 70 AD/CE) would precede the birth of United Israel 2.0 aka The Israel of God.

[Mat 24:8 NET] [8] All these things are the beginning of birth pains.

[Mar 13:8 NET] [8] For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines. These are but the beginning of birth pains.

[Gal 4:27 NET] [27] For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren woman who does not bear children; break forth and shout, you who have no birth pains, because the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband."

[Jer 22:23 NET] [23] You may feel as secure as a bird nesting in the cedars of Lebanon. But oh how you will groan when the pains of judgment come on you. They will be like those of a woman giving birth to a baby.

[Rev 12:2 NET] [2] She was pregnant and was screaming in labor pains, struggling to give birth.

The background of all that is this:

[Isa 66:7-13 NKJV] [7] "Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child. [8] Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? [Or] shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children. [9] Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?" says the LORD. "Shall I who cause delivery shut up [the womb]?" says your God. [10] "Rejoice with Jerusalem, And be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; [11] That you may feed and be satisfied With the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory." [12] For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On [her] sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on [her] knees. [13] As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."

It would take a few books to be able to explain all of this, so I'll avoid TLDR and just leave you with this:

[Mat 19:28 NKJV] [28] So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Point to ponder: When did Jesus sit upon the shiny throne? Upon his ascension? When did he return?:

[1Co 15:24-28 NKJV] [24] Then [comes] the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. [25] For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. [26] The last enemy [that] will be destroyed [is] death. [27] For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under [Him]," [it is] evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. [28] Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

[Mat 16:28 NKJV] [28] "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

It was left to Paul to gather the gentiles.

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