The Sixth Hour
John 4:1-42
When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,…

I think that the "sixth hour," in the text before us, means twelve o'clock, for the following reasons.

1. It seems exceedingly improbable that St. John would reckon time in a manner different to the other three gospel-writers.

2. It is by no means clear that the Romans did reckon time in our way, and not in the Jewish way. When the Roman poet, Horace, describes himself as lying late in bed in a morning, he says, "I lie till the fourth hour." He must surely mean ten o'clock, and not four in the afternoon.

3. It is entirely a gratuitous assumption to say that no woman ever came to draw water except in the evening. There must surely be exceptions to every rule. The fact of the woman coming alone, seems of itself to indicate that she came at an unusual hour, and not in the evening.

4. Last, but not least, it seems far more probable that our Lord would hold a conversation alone with such a person as the Samaritan woman at twelve o'clock in the day, than at six o'clock in the evening. The conversation was not a very short one. Then the woman goes away to the city, and tells the men what has happened, and they all come out to the well to see Jesus. Yet by this time, in all reasonable probability, it would be quite dark, and the night would have begun. And yet, after all this, our Lord says to the disciples, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields" (John 4:35). There is a special seemliness in the fact that our Lord held His conversation with such a person as this Samaritan woman at noon, day. When He talked to Nicodemus, in the preceding chapter, we are told that it was at night. But when He talked to a woman of impure life, we are carefully told that it was twelve o'clock in the day. I see in this fact a beautiful carefulness to avoid even the appearance of evil, which I shall entirely miss if the sixth hour meant six o'clock in the evening. I see even more than this. I see a lesson to all ministers and teachers of the gospel, about the right mode of carrying on the work of trying to do good to souls like that of the Samaritan woman. Like their Master, they must be careful about times and hours, especially if they work alone. If a man will try to do good to a person like the Samaritan woman, alone and without witnesses, let him take heed that be walks in his Master's footsteps, both as to the time of his proceedings as well as to the message he delivers.

(Bp. Ryle.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

WEB: Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John

The Self-Abnegation of Christ
Top of Page
Top of Page