VERSE OF THE DAY
John 4:24 (English Standard Version)
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God is spirit anyone who is in worship in him believes and worships in spirit in that of the unseen
24 aGod is a bSpirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in ctruth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that aMessias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will btell us all things.
John 4:24 Re-Examined: Worship in Spirit and in Truth
by Wes | May 2, 2018 | Re-Examined, Theology
Jesus talked with a Samaritan woman at a well about her life, about God, about the Messiah, and about worship. He told her, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). I’ve thrown this verse around a lot and I’ve heard it thrown around a lot, but rarely is it dealt with in context. Let’s take a closer look at this verse as a part of our re-examined series.
How It Is Often Used
Now that I’ve really considered the context and have a better understanding of what I think Jesus was saying to the woman, I feel ashamed of how I’ve often quoted this verse. I have always assumed Jesus was saying “worship in spirit” meant to worship with the right heart and the right attitude; and “worship in truth” meant to worship in the right way, according to the rules God established for how to worship him.
I took Jesus’ words to mean, both your attitude and actions had to be pure in order for your worship to be acceptable to God. But can you see the monumental assumptions being made about what Jesus meant by “spirit” and what he meant by “truth”? Is there evidence to suggest that’s what Jesus meant? Let’s take a look.
When Jesus sat down with the Samaritan woman, he asked her for a drink. She responded, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:9). Jesus’ response is pivotal for understanding the rest of the conversation. He said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” Jesus wanted the woman to know two things. Do you see it? Jesus wanted the woman to know:
1. The gift of God
2. Jesus’ identity
The rest of the conversation revolves around these two things. Once you see that, the passage’s meaning begins to become clear. So take just a moment and read the whole story. Pay attention to how many times Jesus made reference to those two issues: the gift of God and his own identity.
What is the Gift of God?
Jesus said the gift of God was “living water.” In verse 14, Jesus said about the gift of God, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
You could read all of John 4 and still wonder, “What exactly did Jesus mean by living water?” But if you keep reading John’s gospel account, it will quickly become clear. In John 7, Jesus was in Jerusalem and many people began to speculate about him being the Messiah. In John 7:37-38 Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Again Jesus ties together his own identity with the idea of receiving “living water.” But what does that mean? John helps us understand what Jesus meant. John wrote in verse 39, “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
The living water is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus would give to those who believed in him, once he was glorified. The Spirit is the living water. The Spirit is the gift of God. And John 4 says a lot about “Spirit,” doesn’t it? Jesus told the woman, “God is spirit” and true worshipers would worship “in spirit.”
So this discussion, including the part about the “living water” is all about the Spirit being given and worshiping God in the same Spirit.
Who is Jesus?
The book of John is all about Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, the Son of God, the “the Savior of the world” (John 4:41). John said the purpose of his book was, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
This is the great “truth” of the book of John, Jesus is the Son of God. This is the truth which sets people free (John 8:32) and brings life (John 14:6). Over and over again, we read that this is the “truth” people need to believe, Jesus is the Son of God.
When Jesus stood on trial, he said to Pilate, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). And Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”
That is precisely the question John intends to answer, “What is truth?” The answer is simple: Jesus. He is the truth.
What Does it Mean to Worship in Spirit and Truth?
Hopefully, the answer is clear by now. The Spirit in whom we worship is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus has given to those who believe in him. And the truth in which we worship is the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. Those are the two issues around which the entire conversation – and the book of John – revolve.
On the Day of Pentecost, like living water, the Spirit was poured out on Jesus’ apostles and on those who were baptized in his name (see Acts 2). Soon after, the truth of Jesus was spread throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the remotest parts of the world. With this truth, came the Spirit of God. Now the Father has a multitude of worshipers – both Jew and Gentile – who do not worship in Jerusalem or Samaria, but worship in full acceptance of the truth and in the Spirit of God, who lives within us.
As Paul wrote, “We are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:3).
Does This Mean it Doesn’t Matter How We Worship?
I must say a brief word to those who will ask if this means it doesn’t matter how we pray or sing. No, of course, that’s not what this means. It doesn’t mean that, because that isn’t the conversation Jesus was having with this woman. He was having a conversation about the gift of God (Spirit) and who it was who was asking her for a drink (Truth).
I love you and God loves you,
What does John 4:24 mean?
In verse 23, Jesus gave the Samaritan woman a better explanation of what His offer of “water of life” really is. This woman’s greatest thirst seems to have been for acceptance. This is why she stumbled from one bad relationship to the next (John 4:16–18). The kind of relationship she seeks can only be truly found in God, and only through Christ. So, Jesus explains to her that “true worship” of God does not require one to be Jewish, or Samaritan, or in the temple, or on the mountain. Rather, true worship requires spirit and truth, and God is seeking those who want Him in this way.
Verse 24 also makes a clear point that God, Himself, is spirit. God is not simply a more complex physical being, or a limited creature. In other words, God is not restricted to seeing, hearing, or being in a single location, like the false gods of most religions. This also helps to keep Genesis 1:26 in context. The fact that man is created in “the image” of God does not mean we have some physical resemblance to Him. We share his moral and rational nature.
John 4:5–26 describes one of the most famous moments in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Here, He converses with a Samaritan woman. This particular woman is not only an ”unclean” Samaritan, but an outcast among her own people. She attempts to avoid Jesus’ teachings, giving flippant and sarcastic answers. Despite that, and despite knowing all about her sin, Jesus encourages her with the love of God. This breaks through her hard heart; as a result, many others are brought to meet Christ. The disciples are also taught a valuable lesson about the purpose of their mission.
Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman who is drawing water from a well. Jesus both confronts her about her sin, and comforts her with the truth of the gospel. In particular, He explains that even though He knows her sins, He still seeks after her, and those like her. The woman returns to town, eventually bringing many people to meet Jesus. The disciples, meanwhile, have to be reminded of the purpose of their mission. Jesus also heals the son of a government official in a way that demonstrates the importance of trusting faith, rather than reliance on spectacle.
What Does John 4:24 Mean? ►
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Religious men often seek to worship God through symbolic acts; man-made rituals; fleshly works or emotional outbursts.. but God desires a worshipful heart that is clean before Him; dependent upon Him; submissive to Him and full of humility and grace.
God is eternal and God is Spirit and God made man in His own image and likeness and at the innermost core of man’s innermost being we have a human spirit, which was designed for ‘spirit to Spirit’ fellowship with our God: (a mutual, loving communion with our heavenly Father).
God in His grace had slowly and beautifully unveiled Himself to His creation as our Father and Lord – our Provider and Peace, and He revealed Himself as our Healer and Helper – our Shepherd and Shield. And He also disclosed Himself as our Sanctifier; our Righteousness; our Saviour and our King.
But God is Spirit and man is flesh.. and God is not limited by our human failings and fleshly limitation. God is invisible, eternal, omniscient and omnipresent and He is not confined to a particular building.. nor is He impressed by any outward show of religiosity.
And so in the fullness of time God sent His only begotten Son to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to son-ship; be returned into fellowship with our Creator – and learn to worship our Father in heaven.. in spirit and in truth.
God is Spirit and they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth, There must be no hidden agenda; selfish motive; religious pride or hypocritical heart.. and worship does not require a series of religious rituals nor is it necessary to have an appointed place of worship: God is Spirit and they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Though man looks on the outside and is drawn to religious acts of pomp and ceremony, God looks on the heart and delights in the one that approaches Him humbly, reverently and in the fear of the Lord – for God is close to those that are humble in heart; He saves those who are crushed in spirit; He feeds them that are hungry for Him – and streams of His living water will flow in and through the man or woman that worships the Lord in spirit and in truth.