This study deals with Jesus and the outsiders in John 4, with particular focus on John 4:1-42. Methodologically, the study focuses on social identity theory, and asks the question of how Jesus gets the Samaritan woman, who is a member of the outside group, into the insider group. The focus of the study is thus what the behaviour and attitude of the historical and non-conventional Jesus, in the strongly hierarchical social structure of his day, was toward outsiders.
John 4:1-42 is often used in works that focus on missional tendencies in the church. This research attempts to place the missionary responsibility of the church on the table in a new light, resulting from the research results. Firstly, the inter-relational connection between identity, ethos and ethics with regard to Jesus’ attitude toward the outsiders in John 4:1-42 is researched. Secondly, the interpretation history of John is described, whereafter the social-scientific approach and the way in which social identity theory can be applied to John 4:1-42, is described. The purpose of the study is to suggest a new missional approach for the church, based on the research results of the study. In John 4:1-42 Jesus did not only repair the relationship between Him as a Jew and the Samaritan woman, but also the broken relationship between the Samaritans and the Jews - two previously conflicting ethnic groups who are now born into the new family of God (John 1:12). In the narrative, the Samaritan woman becomes a μαρτυρούσης (John 4:39). The result of the Samaritan woman’s testimony (John 4:39) becomes a personal testimony that eventually convinces the others of Jesus’ true identity (John 4:39).
The woman’s testimony provided the initial impetus for them to come to Jesus, but now they have heard for themselves and have drawn their own conclusion.
Many had believed in Jesus on account of the Samaritan woman’s testimony. Many more believed on account of Jesus’ word. Jesus’ harvest among the Samaritans therefore signals the return of a part of the unbelieving world to God as a first sign of the universal scope of Jesus’ saving mission.