John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 4:4 - 4:4

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 4:4 - 4:4


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

44.For Jesus himself testified. The apparent contradiction which strikes us here at first sight, has given rise to various interpretations. There is an excess of subtlety in the explanation given by Augustine, that Christ was without honor among his own countrymen, because he had done more good among the Samaritans in two days only than he had done, in a long time, among the Galileans; and because, without miracles, he gained more disciples in Samaria than a great number of miracles had gained him in Galilee. Nor am I satisfied with the view of Chrysostom, who understands Christ’ country to be Capernaum, because he dwelt there more frequently than in any other place. I rather agree with Cyril, who says that he left the city of Nazareth, and departed into a different part of Galilee; for the other three Evangelists mention Nazareth, when they relate this testimony of Christ. The meaning might indeed be that, while the time of full manifestation was not yet come, he chose to remain concealed in his native country, as in a more obscure retreat. Some, too, explain it to mean, that he remained two days in Samaria, because there was no reason why he should hasten to go to a place where contempt awaited him. Others think that he went straight to Nazareth, and immediately left it; but, as John relates nothing of this sort, I do not venture to yield to that conjecture. A more correct view of it is, that when he saw himself despised in his native city Nazareth, he rather withdrew to another place. And, therefore, it immediately follows (verse 46) that he came into the town of Cana. What is next added — that the Galileans received him — was a token of reverence, not of contempt.

A Prophet hath no honour in his own country. I have no doubt that this saying was common, and had passed into a proverb; (88) and we know that proverbs are intended to be a graceful expression of what commonly and most frequently ( ἐπὶ τὸ πολὶ) happens. In such cases, therefore, it is not necessary that we should rigidly demand uniform accuracy, as if what is stated in a proverb were always true. It is certain that prophets are usually more admired elsewhere than in their own country. Sometimes, too, it may happen, and in reality does happen, that a prophet is not less honored by his countrymen than by strangers; but the proverb states what is common and ordinary, that prophets receive honor more readily in any other place than among their own countrymen.

Now this proverb, and the meaning of it, may have a twofold origin; for it is a universal fault, that those whom we have heard crying in the cradle, and whom we have seen acting foolishly in their boyhood, are despised by us throughout their whole life, as if they had made no progress, since they were boys. To this is added another evil — envy, which prevails more among acquaintances. But I think it probable that the proverb arose from this circumstance, that Prophets were so ill-treated by their own nation; for good and holy men, when they perceived that there was in Judea so great ingratitude towards God, so great contempt of his word, so great obstinacy, might justly utter this complaint, that nowhere are the Prophets of God less honored than in their own country. If the former meaning be preferred, the name Prophet must be understood generally to denote any teacher, as Paul calls Epimenides a prophet of the Cretians, (Titus 1:12.)



(88) “Commune, et qui etoit passee en proverbe.”