9 Then the woman of Samaria said to (Jesus), “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” . . . 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (Jn4:9-24NKJV)
The two themes I want out to draw out from this passage have been underlined (vv14+22). The first concerns the nature of “eternal life” and what the Bible means by it. Many understand it to refer to “going to heaven when you die” which is absolutely not the case albeit those who possess it will do just that. But not only they, for as this passage makes clear “eternal life” is a gift of God that was not available until the Word of God became incarnate. It pertains to a state of being not a heavenly destination: “the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” For “this is eternal life, that they might know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn17:3). Eternal life pertains to experiencing a living relationship with Jesus Christ whilst still incarnate – a privilege offered to the Christian alone. That is not to say it does not impact upon one’s eternal destiny for it prepares those who possess it jointly to inherit with Christ “an exceeding and eternal weight of glory”, a concept currently beyond human comprehension (2Cor4:17).
Those who do not possess this divine gift (the vast majority of humanity) are described by Paul as being “dead”, inhabiting as they do “the body of this death” considered in the previous post. Their souls will not be delivered from this condition until their spirit is freed at death: “Then the dust will return to the Earth as it was and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccles12:7). In the meantime, though most (not all) aspire to live worthy lives, like Paul before his conversion “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Rom7:23). That is the nature of the spiritual death Paul was referring to – not “damnation” (which pertains to those who are dead in the Pauline sense in body and spirit – Jude1:12) but the concupiscent instincts of the flesh conspiring with the more noble instincts of the “inner man” resulting in an inability to serve and worship God “in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (v23). For that to happen individuals need to be “saved” from the ravages of their earthly vessel, Paul’s “body of this death”. Those predestined to do so are chosen “not on the basis of any works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit3:5).
Jesus the Jew
“You (Samaritans) worship what you do not know; WE know what WE worship, for salvation is from the Jews” In case anyone should be in doubt the Man Christ Jesus regarded Himself as a Jew: “We (Jews) know what we worship”. Jesus was the Jewish Messiah who came “to save His people from their sins” (Mt1:21) – “His people” being the Jews. Others might be pardoned (i.e. saved from the punishment their sins deserved) but that is not what this particular verse is saying – it is speaking of deliverance from the power of sin. Many may “go to Heaven when they die” but under Plan A only the Jews were to be saved in the gospel sense that I have been describing above. This is to all intents and purposes spelt out by Paul himself in Romans 11 (vv11,12,15 and 30) if only the apostle were believed and taken at his word! He summarises the situation in Eph3:8-11, the “fellowship of the secret (plan)” passage that my book focusses on as well as in the following passage from Colossians: “The secret which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but NOW has been revealed to His saints to whom God willed to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery AMONG THE GENTILES which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col1:26-27).
In terms of salvation history this is the age of the universal church offering salvation to Jew and Gentile alike – but that was not the published plan set out in the Old Testament as Paul has just confirmed (“the secret (plan) which has been hidden from ages and from generations). When the full implications of this mystery are grasped it has profound implications to broader providence. It is also able to resolve numerous scriptural and doctrinal tensions as hopefully I demonstrate in my book (freely available as a PDF HERE).