A historical perspective on the Samaritan woman in John 4 by Alaa QasasfaFebruary 23, 2021
By Gabriel Hanna, Deputy Dean at Bethlehem Bible College
Many civilizations and kingdoms have come and gone throughout history, such as the Pharaonic, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian. These civilizations and empires that occupied the lands and countries of the world firmly dominated the ancient continents. The intent of rulers has remained the same in wanting to control people and to maintain and extend influence. Kingdoms and civilizations do not disappear in the modern era. In the present day, they may take on a new color and form. However, their essence and nature are similar to the old kingdoms. Through research and investigation, I see only one influential kingdom on all levels of the spirit, soul, and practical application of life. This kingdom did not vanish like the rest of the kingdoms, and its leader is still alive. His influence remains until now.
Today, we can learn about and research civilizations through many sources available to us, such as social media, books, and the Internet search engine “Google”. We can analyze each of these civilizations and the extent of their impact on people and societies in terms of culture, traditions, and thought. We cannot deny that every civilization or kingdom has many strengths and weaknesses. People’s hopes for change were great, and for the presence of leaders and saviors who would rid them of tyranny and raise their status, and restore their stolen dignity—but failed every time.
Undoubtedly, civilizations have had many achievements on the intellectual, cultural, and architectural levels as well. The Greeks encouraged and practiced culture, science, and philosophy. Roman society and their government learned from the Greeks. Everyone knows the importance and ingenuity of the roads built by the Roman Empire, which facilitated movement throughout their realms, as well as architectural and artistic achievements. The Romans built many castles, palaces, bridges, temples, and Roman amphitheaters. They were accomplished in music, drama, etc.
The distinction between the layers of societies in civilizations reflected an image that was not ideal; for example, the presence of the aristocracy, the middle classes, people experiencing poverty, and enslaved people created breaches between humanity in terms of inequality and injustice.
However, many of these civilizations were disappointing, especially in the degrading practices of human treatment.
Many individual leaders who their peoples honored came because of their great power in waging wars, controlling and uniting tribes, such as Genghis Khan the Great, and before him Caesar of Rome, Alexander the Macedonian, but they soon went and their reigns ended.
While these civilizations were gaining power, unfortunately their greed imposed captivity, slave trade, theft of goods, polygamy, racism, oppression, and destruction on many peoples. The ambition of its leaders was to extend influence, show strength, and satisfy their desires for glorification, pride in their deeds, and “heroics” they carried out.
“The Roman leaders began to taste strength, so they began to use their armies not only for external conquests but also to support their internal strength.”
In addition, it is said that Alexander the Great was ambitious, “But things changed with the advent of Philip of Macedon, who began to break down the barriers separating the cities, so that from the scattered countries of Greece one state. Then his son Alexander followed him, so he crossed the borders of Greece and conquered a wide area of the world to turn it all into a vast, colossal empire, and he was not limited to conquest and political expansion. Still, he was concerned with the majority in spreading the culture of his people, i.e., the Hellenistic culture, in all the countries he opened, applying it in the form of language, thinking, and returns, and this culture mixed with other indigenous cultures in those nations. 
Through these lines, we cannot include or know all the information and details, but we can be sure of the main things in the goal of any human being in control and power.
Man has cried out since ancient times, and the cry of the oppressed is still present, heard by all, and ignored by the many. Today, the poor and marginalized in the civilizations of China, India, America, the Arab world, and in particular Palestine are still crying out for equality, justice, and peace, which humanity demands, and are rejected by those in power. Discrimination and domination still oppress the people of the world.
We cannot enumerate or understand the extent of the tragedies and difficulties that have occurred to people during multiple eras of civilizations and occupations. Still, through the general historical context of any society, we can know the positive and negative impacts on people’s lives, and what is the quality of the kingdom affecting our lives. In return, we show submission and respect.
Christ came more than two thousand years ago, and we study about our Lord, and compare Him with all the leaders born in history who were glorified by their peoples and mentioned in their books. Unlike most leaders, Jesus came poor, simple, and peaceful, extending mercy and salvation to all without exception. He did not discriminate in dealings with anyone; he saved the Samaritan woman and touched the leper. He came doing good for everyone. He did not kill or take captives, and today we see his impact on people’s hearts in development, construction, planning, and institutional work that serves humanity. His goal was precise and perfect in love and intent, often at odds with other leaders and kings’ intentions and thoughts.
He did not burn, kill, or torture his opponents, like most emperors and leaders of other kingdoms. He was not proud when he performed miracles. Rulers and people conspired against the Lord Jesus and tried to kill him, but he did not resist, unlike the other kings whose armies and guards took turns protecting them and killing anyone who dared threaten them.
Christ did not seek to spread or promote himself. Fahim Aziz says:
“Jesus is the first and foremost center of the New Testament. All the writings revolve around him, including the Gospels, histories, letters, and other books. Nevertheless, we must admit that Jesus himself did not leave anything written, and no one has found any document or means that reveals any writings that he made. He was teaching and entrusting his teachings to a group of disciples, qualifying them in every way to carry his message to the world. He cared about them and focused all his efforts on their formation. Thus, it is clear that Jesus’ first concern was not the book but the messenger; it was not the document but the person.” ‘
This kingdom is embodied in its human work through individuals or the Church, the group of believers. Rafik Khoury says:
“The incarnation of the Church is one aspect of the mystery of the incarnate Christ. The Church is a divine and human reality that lives within the scope of time and space with all its historical, geographical, social, and cultural aspects. To take from it the features of her distinctive face and character, the Church is immersed in this tangible human reality. Private, and this is reflected in the form of the practice of her call and message now and here.”
Father Rafik confirms when the Lord Christ identified the multiple aspects of His redemptive work. He emphasized service as a defining characteristic of his message. He is the king who “came to be serve, not to be served.” “The royal service of the Lord Christ was manifested in its highest form on the cross when He offered what He had, Himself, and His life for the sake of those He loves. He came to serve and to redeem the people.”
And the Lord Jesus called on his followers to follow him and, in his footsteps, do well in various fields.
Yes, Christians have made mistakes in their policies throughout the ages, in their political occupations, and in government control. Yes, the Church erred in its policies, greed, and corruption, which are mentioned in history books and publicly known to all. This was not the spirit of Christ the Savior. The human heart is weak, loving the world, pleasures, and fame, so they were a stumbling block to many nations because of sin and transgression. Christ clarified the way of life, the right sublime way of living, and the love of God and neighbor. The true Church is the group of believers who live the truth and are not affiliated with a particular party but follow a lifestyle as their Savior. All mistakes and evil practices are not from the spirit of the heavenly kingdom of truth but rather the transgressive and disobedient human instinct that exploits everything.
Patriarch Michel Sabbah said in an interview on social media, “Man needs his humanity. Man needs his freedom and dignity. This land is not built on death, nor is it built on end. God calls man; God created him with the ability to love like God. This is man’s call. He loves not to destroy, but to build through love and to find his security, independence, freedom, and full self-fulfillment in love.”
The true heavenly kingdom seeks for the sake of others, not for itself, and at the expense of the weakness of humans. This is the distinguished leader who is for others, not for himself. This is God’s intention from the beginning to win everyone to Him. It is an inclusive kingdom for all, not for a particular race or ethnicity. The true kingdom of God does not discriminate between its citizens, and loves goodness and justice for all creation. It is not a party, state, or rule over an area of land, but rather a way of life with thought, heart, and action that serves God and humanity with the depth of its teachings that is based on sincere love between the members of all creation, each other, and with its Creator.
I end this essay with the words of John Stott, “The kingdom of God is the dynamic rule of God who, through Jesus, burst into human history, confronting evil, defeating it, overcoming it, and spreading the fullness of personal and collective good.”
Sources and references
-Tenney, Merrill. A Comprehensive Survey of the New Testament.
Translated by: Hani Khoury. Beirut: Baptist Publishing House, 1987.
– Stott, John. Christianity and Contemporary Issues. Translated by: Naguib Jarjour. Egypt: House of Culture, 2007.
-Khoury, Rafik. Six new tenses. Jerusalem: Latin Patriarchate Press, 2008.
-Aziz, Fahim. Introduction to the New Testament. Egypt: House of Culture, 1980.
 Tenney, Merrill. A comprehensive survey of the New Testament, pg. 26
 Aziz, Fahim. Introduction to the New Testament, pg. 60
 Aziz, Fahim. Introduction to the New Testament. p. 76
 Khoury, Rafik. Six new times. p. 156
 Stott, John. Christianity and Contemporary Issues, pp. 32-33