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  • Chad Werkhoven

John 4:19-26 - The Unlikely Theologian

Jesus gives the deepest theological insights to people just like you.

John 4:19–26 (1984 NIV) CONTEXT: Jesus is speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well. We're jumping in near the end of their conversation.

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 1

We all believe in our hearts

and confess with our mouths

that there is a single

and simple spiritual being,

whom we call God—







completely wise,


and good,

and the overflowing source of all good.



One of the beefiest books I have on my shelf is called Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkhof. It weighs in at nearly 1,100 pages of very small type, and as its title implies, it explains in significant detail what the Bible says about God.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, Berkhof is forced to admit that "the Bible does not give us a definition of God." The Bible certainly explains quite a bit about God's attributes, character and the things He's done, but nowhere does it provide a stand alone description of exactly what God is.

So when Jesus says in v24 that "God is spirit," it ought to get your attention. This is the fullest definition you'll find for God anywhere. Notice here exactly what Jesus said and what He didn't say. He didn't say that God is a spirit, He just said that God is spirit.

This makes sense in light of the name God gave Himself: I AM. Just like He does with His other attributes, God defines that which He is.

Dig Deeper

The format in which Jesus explains what God is adds to our understanding. Jesus doesn't give a speech at a theological conference attended by religious elites, or package His explanation in an 1,100 page book, or even post a series of binge-worthy podcasts. It's not that those formats aren't good and even necessary things, it's just that the context of this conversation deepens the meaning of the one word definition Jesus gives of God.

Jesus speaks these invaluable words to a fallen, broken, outcast woman - a Samaritan woman at that! And He does so right after calling her out for her sin and deception.

Do you see what this means? It means that knowing God is not just a lofty ideal, attainable only by self righteous monks who climb the religious mountain, so to speak. Theology - knowing what God is and what He has done and is doing - is for common, ordinary, sinful folks; people just like you and me.

Nor is theology an optional thing for Christians. You can't just hold onto the Bible's warm fuzzies like love, joy and peace without a firm grasp of the Bible's dogmatic claims. In fact, the very next thing that Jesus says here is that those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and truth.

The Christ has come - the one which this sinful woman knew would be able to explain everything to us (v25). He's given us His Word, that we might fully know Him and worship Him in that truth.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father God, who is spirit;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for giving us the truth in His Word, and pray that you would know it well so you can fulfill your purpose of worshipping Him;



    Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Mark 5   


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