John 4:4-26: Part 2. Worship In Spirit And Truth

Some might say, “Brian, you interpret the conversation as an allegory!” Rather, I think it was a staged conversation. Whether the actual conversation happened is not the point. Rabbis often recited staged conversations to illustrate a point (e.g. B. Sanhedrin 91a, Geviha ben Pesisa stories). I think John’s Jewish audience would be familiar with the background I laid out in part 1 and would also recognize it as a staged conversation.

Picking up at verse 21, Yeshua tells her about the coming Messianic Era. In the Messianic Era, we will finally all be filled with the Messiah’s Spirit and be in our resurrected bodies. As Jeremiah (31:34) says, no one will have to say, “Know the LORD!”, for true Worship is knowledge of HaShem. We will walk out Torah all of the time, and we will do His Torah wherever we happen to be. The Temple will still be in Jerusalem, but true worship is knowledge of HaShem and doing His will.

Yeshua saying, “Salvation is from the Jews”, is an affirmation of Pharisaic Jewish belief. The Messiah will rule and reign over the Jewish people and also over the nations. But the fullness of Yeshua’s Kingdom is not recognized yet. Only at the recognition of Messiah’s 2nd coming will the full revelation of the Kingdom happen. Despite the delay, we who believe still have early access to some aspects of the Kingdom by faith.

I think, “in Spirit”, refers to being born again into the Messianic Era by the Spirit of Messiah. His Spirit will animate our resurrected bodies, which are referred to as “in Truth”. HaShem wants to always be in our presence, and we will need to die and transition to the resurrection for that to happen.

Here is a midrash I wrote: “Truth” in Hebrew is אֶמֶת (’emet). Aleph and Tav are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. They are also the first and last letters in the word ’emet. The Messiah is the Aleph and the Tav, or the Alpha and Omega in Greek (cf. Rev 21:6). In ’emet, the letter Mem is in between them, and is roughly in the middle of the alphabet. We are born from אָדָם, ‘adam, man in Hebrew, which is represented by the first letter, Aleph. The next two letters in ’emet are interpreted two ways, Mem Tav, or Mem and then Tav. First, Mem Tav spells “MeT” in Hebrew, which is death. For some, the truth is simply life then death. Just as there are two letters in MeT, so there are two deaths for those who believe there is no resurrection (cf. Rev 20:14-15). For others, however, death is not the end but the gate that leads to resurrected life: Mem (i.e. death) and then Tav (i.e. resurrection). When we die, represented by the Mem, we have not reached the end yet. We still have the resurrection, תְחִיַת הַמֵתִים in Hebrew, the Tav being the first letter in Techiyat hammetim. The complete cycle is birth, death and then the resurrection; that is the whole “Truth.”

In conclusion, to worship in Spirit and in truth is to enter into the Messianic Era. Not everyone will enter. For the Samaritan woman, she realized that she and her people had to repent of their hostility toward the Jews and ignorance of HaShem, and then believe the words of the Messiah who was speaking to her and to worship HaShem in Spirit and Truth; that is, to know the God of the Jews who resurrects the dead!

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