What does John 4:38 mean?
ESV: I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
NIV: I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.'
NASB: I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have come into their labor.'
CSB: I sent you to reap what you didn't labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor."
NLT: I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.'
KJV: I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
Verse Commentary:
The prior verses are meant to be both comforting and challenging to Christians. In a physical field, it is not uncommon for one person to plant the seeds, while another eventually harvests the finished goods. Harvest is a time of joy, and so the work of the harvester tends to get more glory. And yet, both are required in order for the crops to be brought in.

Jesus has made a comparison between fields ready for harvest and the approaching crowd of Samaritans (John 4:35). These particular men are approaching thanks to the testimony of a Samaritan woman (John 4:29–30). There's good reason to think that these people have heard something of the gospel from others (John 4:25). In other words, this is a field which has been seeded and only needs to be harvested. The disciples didn't teach the Samaritans about the Messiah, and they certainly didn't bring anyone back to meet Jesus.

This is why Jesus reminds them that their task: "reaping" for the sake of heaven, is not something they themselves worked for. Others have done the work to this point, but now the responsibility is on the disciples to finish.
Verse Context:
John 4:27–45 is an object lesson for the disciples. Jesus has just finished a conversation with a Samaritan woman, while the disciples were in town buying food. As it turns out, this supposedly unclean woman will soon bring back many people to meet Christ, while the disciples have brought no one. Jesus explains that some work to plant spiritual seeds, while others might be the ones collecting the harvest. Both are valuable and we should be ready for opportunities in either case.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman who is drawing water from a well. Jesus both confronts her about her sin, and comforts her with the truth of the gospel. In particular, He explains that even though He knows her sins, He still seeks after her, and those like her. The woman returns to town, eventually bringing many people to meet Jesus. The disciples, meanwhile, have to be reminded of the purpose of their mission. Jesus also heals the son of a government official in a way that demonstrates the importance of trusting faith, rather than reliance on spectacle.
Chapter Context:
John chapter 4 continues the use of contrast. Jesus goes from conversing with an educated, powerful, prestigious man to talking to an outcast, unlearned, self-conscious woman. The combination of this passage, along with Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus, makes an important spiritual point. The gospel is for all people, in all places, and all times. Christ can reach each person exactly where he or she needs to be reached.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
Accessed 4/18/2024 12:57:54 AM
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