Worship in Truth

My previous two articles have focused on what it means to worship in spirit and how we worship in spirit. Now, we turn to worship in truth. Again, looking to the context in which this statement occurs (John 4:23–24), I’d always thoughts of truthful worship being the things we do in worship, but that was rather covered when we examined how we worship in spirit since we, the church, offer spiritual sacrifices as temples of the living God. Worship in truth, so I might suggest, is best understood by John 4:22 when Jesus said to the woman at the well, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”

Sadly, the material both scriptural and historic that we have on the Samaritans are from the fourth century onward, so to pinpoint their beliefs by the New Testament era can be difficult. However, we do know that the Samaritans kept the Law of Moses, though they did not so much regard the prophets. Based on Christ’s statement that salvation was of the Jews, the Samaritans must have believed that they were the chosen people given their attachment to the land given to their fathers as in the very well of Jacob at which Jesus and this woman met. Their attachment through the lands would have been more so through the tribes associated with Joseph, a more narrow view than what the Israelites held. Also, this woman referred to a rival sanctuary on Mount Gerizim as greater than Jerusalem (John 4:19–21), and history attests to their belief that their priesthood, which they traced through Eleazar, was greater than the Israelite priesthood.

With all of this said, worship in truth, I would conclude, hinges on something which we take for granted. Worship in truth is worship in Christ Himself (John 14:6). This is a given seeing that we Christians acknowledge Jesus as our Lord, that He came from the loins of David through Abraham, and that He was of the tribe of Judah who was said to have been a royal tribe (Gen. 49:10). Considering the conversation Jesus was having with the Samaritan woman, He undoubtedly meant to point her to the reality that Samaritan religion was not in truth because they had a rival place, priesthood, and people through whom they believed salvation derived. This is likely why we later see the Jewish apostles sojourn to Samaria to give them the Holy Spirit upon the gospel being preached there—to prove that what Christ had said was, in fact, true (Acts 8:4–21).

Steven Hunter (PhD, Faulkner University) is the preaching minister for the Glendale Road Church of Christ in Murray, KY. He's also authored several books for Start2Finish, and Classically Christian explores Christianity from a church-historical perspective. Steven enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and is a practitioner of Goshin Ryu Jujutsu—a traditional Japanese martial art.