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John 4:31

ESV Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
NIV Meanwhile his disciples urged him, 'Rabbi, eat something.'
NASB Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, 'Rabbi, eat something.'
CSB In the meantime the disciples kept urging him, "Rabbi, eat something."
NLT Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, 'Rabbi, eat something.'
KJV In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

What does John 4:31 mean?

Jesus had asked the disciples to go into town to buy food (John 4:8). He had stayed behind at the well outside of town in order to rest (John 4:6). Naturally, when the disciples returned, their primary concern was making sure that Jesus' hunger and thirst were taken care of. The fact that this verse says the men were "urging" Jesus to eat suggests that He was not accepting whatever food they had offered. Jesus, as was typical, takes the opportunity to make an everyday event into a profound spiritual lesson.

Virtually all English translations of John 4:31 use the word "meanwhile," or "meantime." This actually comes from an entire phrase in Greek, en tō metaxy. This explicitly means that there has been a passage of time. The prior verses described the Samaritan woman returning to town, telling others about Christ, and asking them to come and see Him. This verse implies that while all of this was going on, the disciples are trying to get Jesus to eat, and He is not interested in physical food. It's entirely possible He was waiting for the events described in verses 39–42, to make His upcoming lesson all the more meaningful.

The term "Rabbi" means "teacher," and was a title of respect. This was the same term used even by the Pharisee Nicodemus in reference to Jesus (John 3:1–2).
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