Matthew Henry breaks down the chapter as follows: It was, more than any thing else, the glory of the land of Israel, that it was Emmanuel’s land (Isa. 8:8), not only the place of his birth, but the scene of his preaching and miracles. This land in our Saviour’s time was divided into three parts: Judea in the south, Galilee in the north, and Samaria lying between them. Now, in this chapter, we have Christ in each of these three parts of that land. I. Departing out of Judea (v. 1-3). II. Passing through Samaria, which, though a visit in transitu, here takes up most room. 1. His coming into Samaria (v. 4-6). 2. His discourse with the Samaritan woman at a well (v. 7-26). 3. The notice which the woman gave of him to the city (v. 27-30). 4. Christ’s talk with his disciples in the meantime (v. 31-38). 5. The good effect of this among the Samaritans (v. 39-42). III. We find him residing for some time in Galilee (v. 43-46), and his curing a nobleman’s son there, that was at death’s door (v. 46-54).
Jesus’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well is one of those back and forth banters that common in John’s early Gospel writing (Nicodemus CHapter 3). What is important for us today are the final five verses:
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
Matthew Poole in his commentary notes:
God is not a corporeal being, made up of blood, and flesh, and bones, having senses as bodies have, to be pleased with sensible things; but he is a spiritual Being, the Father of spirits, and requireth a spiritual service proportioned to his being; and therefore those that pay a religious homage to him, must do it with their spirits, and according to the rule that he hath prescribed, in truth and reality. This is now the will of God; and though he required of his people under the law a more ritual, figurative service, yet that is now to cease; and therefore the woman of Samaria need not trouble herself which was the truest worship, that at Mount Gerizim, or at Mount Zion, for both of them were very suddenly to determine, and a new and more substantial spiritual worship was to succeed, to the learning of the way and method of which she was more to attend, and not to spend her thoughts about these things which were of no significance, and tended only to minister questions of no use.
John Gill comments on v.24 saying:
God is a spirit,…. Or “the Spirit is God”; a divine person, possessed of all divine perfections, as appears from his names, works, and worship ascribed unto him; :-; though the Arabic and Persic versions, and others, read as we do, “God is a spirit”; that is, God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: for taking the words in this light, not one of the persons is to be understood exclusive of the other; for this description, or definition, agrees with each of them, and they are all the object of worship, and to be worshipped in a true and spiritual manner. God is a spirit, and not a body, or a corporeal substance: the nature and essence of God is like a spirit, simple and uncompounded, not made up of parts; nor is it divisible; nor does it admit of any change and alteration. God, as a spirit, is immaterial, immortal, invisible, and an intelligent, willing, and active being; but differs from other spirits, in that he is not created, but an immense and infinite spirit, and an eternal one, which has neither beginning nor end: he is therefore a spirit by way of eminency, as well as effectively, he being the author and former of all spirits: whatever excellence is in them, must be ascribed to God in the highest manner; and whatever is imperfect in them, must be removed from him:
and they that worship him; worship is due to him on account of his nature and perfections, both internal and external; with both the bodies and souls of men; and both private and public; in the closet, in the family, and in the church of God; as prayer, praise, attendance on the word and ordinances:
must worship him in spirit and in truth; in the true and spiritual manner before described, which is suitable to his nature, and agreeably to his will.
The end result for us is simple GOD is the only focus of worship. Unlike the observation made in the following quote:
Today’s Christianity is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men.
The image of God currently popular, is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heart-broken desperation to get people to accept a Savior of whom they feel no need, and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers, God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable.
This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show!A.W. Tozer
Here are some resources to help in the study of this topic:
The Axe at the Root—A Testimony Against Puseyite Idolatry – Sermon C.H. Spurgeon