[Note – this is a very live topic in Latin America, and I wrote this for the church there. I also offer it for the English-speaking church].
Every time I write that salvation is for all who believe the gospel; that Gentile believers are not obligated to be circumcised or observe the 613 laws of the Torah; or that we can keep our Gentile names (as Paul, Luke, Silvanus, and so many others did in the early church); or any number of other basic truths of the gospel, someone, inevitably, writes in and says:
But wait! Salvation is of the Jews! It says so in John 4:22!
These people rarely specify what they think this verse means, or proves, or whether it indicates that Gentiles cannot be saved. It seems to be used more as a mantra than as a clear statement of intent.
What do my readers think that Juan 4:22 really means, and why don’t they say so openly and clearly? Why speak indirectly, as does this website: 
“Salvation is from the Jews”. As you can observe, salvation does not come from Catholicism, nor does it come from evangelical Christian churches, neither through the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and much less does it come through Muslims, Adventists, or Mormons. The Messiah Himself, Yahshua [sic] , tells us that Salvation comes through the Jews.
The author implies that you cannot be saved in the Roman Church, nor in the evangelical churches, but only through…what? Converting to Judaism? In another place they urge Gentiles to return to their “Jewish roots”. It’s all very vague. By the way, I don’t believe that anyone is saved by going to meetings of the Catholics, evangelicals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Adventists, Mormons, nor of Messianic groups.
And note that he switches the terms around: Jesus said that salvation comes from the Jews, but it gets changed somehow to “through” the Jews.
I will suggest that those who say that “salvation is only for the Jews” or “only for those who submit to the messianic rabbis of today” misinterpret the meaning of John 4:22; neglect its historical and theological background in Second Temple Judaism; and also are not informed with regard to the actual teachings of rabbinic Judaism for the past 2000 years.
1. Many Messianic teachers of today misunderstand John 4:22
The flow of John 4:22
Readers of my blog will know me, but I will also add that I serve as a consultant for an organization that translates the Bible into the world’s languages, and that the gospel of John is one of our current projects; that I have taught the gospel of John for many years, based on my own research; that I teach among other topics Second Temple Judaism on the graduate level. Therefore I provide my own translation of the passage in question. I also wish to point out that I am looking at John 4 in the original language – not in some faked “Hebrew” original that everyone talks about – but which no-one seems able to show us – but the real Bible text as represented in the earliest available manuscripts. 
Why don’t we begin at the beginning, and study precisely what the Messiah told the Samaritan woman?
The woman tells him: Sir, I see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped [past tense] on this mountain
you [plural] say that Jerusalem is where one should [present] worship.
Jesus tells her: Believe me, woman,
that the hour is coming [future action] when
neither on this mountain
nor in Jerusalem
will they worship [future tense] the Father.
You [plural] worship [present] that which you do not know [present].
We worship [present] that which we do know [present],
because salvation is [present] of the Jews.
the hour is coming [in the future] and now is [present], when
the true worshipers will worship [future] the Father
in the Spirit and in truth.
This is because the Father is seeking [present] such people who will worship him.
God is Spirit,
and those who worship him
in Spirit and truth must [present] worship [him].
The “nevertheless” (in the original, alla o ἀλλά) is key, since Christ is signaling that a major paradigm change was at hand, and in fact had already begun. What is this change? That it doesn’t matter in which temple you worship. It doesn’t matter if you follow the Jewish rite or the Samaritan. All of that is now changing, and in fact, the Jerusalem temple was soon to be demolished by the Romans.
What is the new, true worship? Not with ritual, not with sacrifices, but through the Holy Spirit. Paul would say something very similar in Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”
Looking over the various “Messianic” versions of the Spanish New Testament, we see in general they correctly translate the key phrase in John 4:22 –
Versión Israelita Nazarena – “salvation comes from the Yahudites” (“la salvación procede de los yahuditas”) 
Kadosh Israelita Mesiánica – “salvation comes from the Jews” (“la salvación viene de los Judíos”)
Even the Código Real, which mishandles some passages of the Bible, is acceptable at this point, although it badly mishandles other verses in this section – “salvation comes from the Yehudim” (“la salvación viene de los yehudim”) 
But what precisely do they wish to say here?
- That the Jews give the gift of salvation?
- That from the Jews go forth the message of salvation?
- That from the Jews comes salvation by means of the Messiah?
- That salvation is only for the Jews and for those who convert to Judaism?
- That salvation is for Gentiles, but only if they follow certain Messianic “rabbis” from the 21st century? (I suspect that this is the point – “Follow me, evangelicals, support my sect, or you will be condemned!” What an awful method of gaining followers!)
- That Gentiles cannot teach God’s truth? (Several people have told me that I cannot teach the Bible, since I am not Jewish)
Before we can answer these questions, we must interpret the Word in its historical context.
The historical background of John 4:22
So then – why does Jesus say that “salvation is of the Jew”? Rather than listen to the possibly confused voices of human opinion, let’s look to the Jewish background of the New Testament. In fact, the falsely-messianic interpretation misses out on some important elements, as we shall later see.
First of all, the Jews of Jesus’ day did not regard the Samaritans as true Israelites. Rather, they were a mixture of the northern tribes with pagan peoples whom the Assyrians placed in that region after the exile of Israel.
So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there. The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. (1 Kings 17:23-24)
The Samaritans were considered a mixed race and not truly God’s people. We can rely on Josephus to understand the attitude of the Jews toward the Samaritans in the first century AD – he called them “deserters” and “apostates”:
So when Alexander had thus settled matters at Jerusalem, he led his army into the neighboring cities; and when all the inhabitants, to whom he came, received him with great kindness, the Samaritans, who had then Shechem for their metropolis (a city situate at Mount Gerizzim, and inhabited by apostates of the Jewish nation), seeing that Alexander had so greatly honored the Jews, determined to profess themselves Jews; for such is the disposition of the Samaritans, as we have already elsewhere declared, that when the Jews are in adversity they deny that they are of kin to them, and then they confess the truth; but when they perceive that some good fortune hath befallen them, they immediately pretend to have communion with them, saying, that they belong to them, and derive their genealogy from the posterity of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh. (Josephus, Antiquities 11.8.6 §340 [Whiston])
Jesus himself distinguished between Israel and the Samaritans – “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6).
The Samaritans typically were contrary to the Jews; in fact, they had attacked them – “Apollonius now gathered together Gentiles and a large force from Samaria to fight against Israel” (1 Maccabees 3:10 NRSV). The Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim in the 4th century BC. Part of their animosity toward the Jews can be explained by the fact that John Hyrcanus destroyed it in the year 128 BC. The Samaritans continued their religious rites on the mountain, without a temple, in Jesus’ day – “on this mountain” Gerizim, as the Samaritan woman said, but not “in this temple”.
Although our sources of information for the first century AD are not very reliable, it appears that the Samaritan people had their own expectation of a Messiah, called the Taheb, who would be a prophet like Moses (see Deut 18:15) but not a royal king. But in this story the Samaritans soon found that Jesus was not the Taheb, but the Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanak. The Samaritans did not have the prophets (Nebiim), so they could not by themselves explain who Jesus was in light of the full canon of Scripture.
A tiny remnant of Samaritans still exists today, and they celebrate their festivals on Gerizim. It is the Samaritan, not the Gentile Christian, who is the physical descendant of the Northern Tribes, contrary to what the strange Two Houses of Israel doctrine tries to teach us, and contrary to the so-called Anglo-Israelism notion.
There is a Jewish tradition, which may be as early as the first century AD, which states that no Jew should touch or have interaction with any Samaritan woman. This was explained by the rabbis thus: a woman who is a Samaritan is ritually impure on every day in the same manner that a Jewish woman is impure during the days of her period. The Mishnah records this teaching in m. Nidd. 4:1 – “Samaritan women are deemed menstruants from their cradle.” (Neusner version).
Let’s explore the interaction between the woman and Jesus:
The Samaritan woman states: I know of two systems of worship, the Samaritan, and the Jewish.
Jesus: The Samaritan system is wrong, and the Jerusalem one is right: “We worship that which we do know, because salvation is of the Jews.” In other words, you Samaritans don’t know what you’re doing; righteous Jews (not all Jews, and certainly, not those who are rejecting Jesus) do know about God, because God has revealed his salvation to Jews, not Samaritans.
Jesus did not in any text address the theology of the Essenes, who rejected the Jerusalem temple as being polluted, and instead regarded their community in Qumran as the true spiritual temple of God. He speaks only of Gerizim as pseudo-alternative to Jerusalem.
That is, if there are two options, Jerusalem or Gerizim, then Jerusalem is the correct location, and worship there is carried out according to Torah. And these are the only two options on the table in John 4. Jerusalem versus Gerizim, not Jerusalem versus the evangelical church. As an ancient commentator said, The Jews in that moment had an advantage over the Samaritans; but not for long!
Jesus’ point is not that Gentiles need to become Jews to be saved, but that the Samaritan system is in the wrong. And as we read in Acts, neither Samaritans (Acts 8) nor Gentiles (Acts 10-11) needed to convert to Judaism – that is because the “nevertheless” had already taken place, and now God is only interested in who serves him in Christ, through the Spirit. No-one has to go to this mountain Gerizim or the mountain in Jerusalem or any mountain.
You don’t need a person with a college degree, or rabbi training, or who flings around Hebrew words, to tell you what this passage means; you just have to read it in its context.
Jesus is not calling on people to leave evangelical churches, as states the website we quoted at the beginning; he is not telling Gentile Christians that they cannot teach the Bible; he is telling people that Samaritanism is wrong, but that already, 2000 years ago, the question of which worship center is best should be left behind – we are now, all, temples of God.
About Gentile Christians who teach the Bible? Gentile Christians have done the bulk of gospel-preaching for the last 2000 years. And God approved this when he inspired the Gentile Luke to write a gospel (1/4 of the New Testament was written by this Gentile!). Also when through his apostle he affirms the mission and teaching work of Epaphras, Luke, Demas (Col 4:12-14); also Titus (Gal 2:1-5) and Trophimus (Acts 21:29); plus many others who are listed as God’s servants in Romans 16.
When Trophimus visited the city of Jerusalem in AD 58, as a member of Paul’s team, he was not permitted to enter into the Court of Israel in the temple; the reason the Jews rioted is that they falsely assumed that Paul had taken him to a place where only Jewish men were allowed (Acts 21:29). Oh sure, he could visit the outer area, the Court of the Gentiles, but not go beyond the barrier to the inner area. But did it matter? It did not. Trophimus – uncircumcised, not Torah observant – was already a temple of God, and he would be no closer to God if he illegally pushed past the gate in order to get closer to the sanctuary. For him, the Temple held interest as a tourist destination, since already had come “the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit.”
Let us now look at the gospel of John and to the Tanak for some very important background issues.
First, whom does John hold up as the source of salvation? Israel is not the Savior; Judaism is not the savior; John, as the prophets before him, states that salvation is from God.
Salvation comes from Yahweh –
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. Yahweh, Yahweh himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. (Isa 12:2)
Our God is a God who saves; from the Lord Yahweh comes escape from death. (Psalm 68:20)
And of course, Yeshua means “he – that is, Yeshua himself – shall save”.
The gospel of John agrees with the Tanak:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (3:17)
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. (10:9)
For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (12:47)
Salvation comes from God, through Jesus. Jesus came forth from Israel, to whom God had given the covenants and the Scriptures. But it isn’t Israel that saves, but God-in-Jesus, who comes from Jewish stock.
The new Samaritan believers in Jesus understood correctly that it was Jesus, not the Jews, who were the Savior – “we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (4:42). Salvation is from Jesus of Nazareth.
A second issue of theological background has to do with the point, what does it mean to worship God “in Spirit” or “in the Spirit” (which is a better rendering than “in spirit”, as most English versions have it, except the CEV, NAB, NIV 2011)?
The Jews hold out to us the Hebrew Scriptures concerning “salvation”, which contain the following:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezek 36:26)
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29)
For Israelites who received the Holy Spirit, this meant that the Torah would be internalized (Ezek 36:27); but the new revelation that came to the apostles was that Gentiles would receive the Holy Spirit and be added to God’s people, and that they did not have to obey the 613 laws of Torah, neither before or after their being accepted by God through faith in Christ.
Not everyone has thought so – the false teachers of Galatia tried to get the Gentile Christians there to receive circumcision, as the entry point to obeying the entire Torah – but as Paul retorted: “Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised.” And in fact, Gentiles did not have to receive this circumcision-Torah package, since “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” (Gal 6:12, 15); that is, the new person, who has been born of the Spirit.
The gospel of John says the same in 6:63 – “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” Again, in 3:6 – “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” This is the same new life promised in the prophets, and without the work of the Holy Spirit no-one would have eternal life. Without God’s direct power in us, we cannot do the works of God, and we will always fall back into the works of the flesh (in Hebrew, basar).
2. Messianic teachers today who say that only Jews or proselytes to Judaism may be saved do not understand Judaism itself
As mentioned in the beginning, it is useful to know something of rabbinic Judaism, stretching from the Second Temple period to today. And ironically, this area is often misunderstood by so-called messianic teachers themselves!
Contrary to what you might have heard,
Judaism does not teach that Gentiles must convert in order to be saved.
Let me repeat that:
Authentic Judaism has not and does not hold that Gentiles must convert to Judaism in any way or fashion in order to be saved.
In the time of the early church, for example, Cornelius was a God-fearer, meaning that he believed in Yahweh but was uncircumcised and was not under obligation to obey the other rites of Torah (Acts 10-11). A few rabbis (perhaps of the school of Shammai) might have told him that he was going to be damned, but this was the opinion of a tiny minority. Rabbis for 2000 years have followed the teaching of Hillel, the teacher of Paul’s teacher, who taught that pious Gentiles may be saved as Gentiles. Ask any rabbi today – a genuine one, not a Messianic pseudo-rabbi, please! – if a Gentile needs to convert to Judaism in order to be saved. I can almost guarantee that he will give you a negative answer: he will tell you to live as a righteous Gentile, and if the rabbi believes in the world to come – not all Jews do – then he will assure you that righteous Gentiles have a place in it. He might go further and tell you to obey the seven commandments that God gave to Noah, but that is all.  Many rabbis try to discourage people from converting, not only because it is difficult, but because they do not believe that the person’s soul is at stake! Thus: today’s false version of Messianic Judaism not only misunderstands the gospel, it also fundamentally misconstrues thousands of years of rabbinic Judaism.
Perhaps it should not surprise us, then, that authentic Jewish rabbis do not hold the pseudo-rabbis to be authentic: it’s because they were not born Jewish, did not properly convert, and what is more, fundamentally misrepresent Judaism!
According to rabbis of his own day, and rabbis for 2000 years, Cornelius would be resurrected and enter the age to come, the olam-habba, by virtue of his righteousness. He did not have to convert to Judaism, nor keep Torah, consisting of 613 commandments, according to the popular enumeration of Moshe ben Maimon (or Maimonides, or RaMBaM).
According to pseudo-rabbis of today, a Cornelius would be damned, since he did not obey the Torah or follow the many rabbinic traditions. Yet God himself (Acts 10:4) affirmed that he was already living righteously! And since this point often arises, let’s point this out: as a (truly) Messianic believer, Peter kept kosher his whole life (Acts 10:14); so did Paul (1 Cor 9:20), and we can deduce, so did Timothy, since he became circumcised (Acts 16:3) and was thus obliged to obey the whole Torah. But Titus no (Gal 2:3), nor the Gentile Christians in Rome, to whom Paul said “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17) – that is, worship God in Spirit, not with food choices! And Cornelius seems to have eaten non-kosher as well: since he was uncircumcised, he was not obligated to obey the laws of kashrut.
Salvation is of God through the Messiah, period. It is not of the Samaritans with their mixture of paganism and Torah and rejection of the prophets’ word about the Messiah; salvation comes through God’s work through Jesus, the Son of Abraham and Son of David, as testified by the Jewish prophets who predicted his coming.
This is why when Jesus sent out his disciples to evangelize the nations, he told them to begin in Jerusalem (see Acts 1:8). This was not, as popular belief holds it, because Jerusalem was the home town of the Twelve; rather, they were from Galilee. Rather, it was to fulfill ancient prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanak –
Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms [the Torah, Nebiim, and Ketubim are the source of the word Tanak]…The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:44, 46-47).
When Philip preached in Samaria, he didn’t preach Torah, or that the Samaritans should start going to Jerusalem to worship. Rather: “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.” (Acts 8:5). And the apostles prayed that they would receive the Spirit: “Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (8:17) From then on they needed to worship, not “on this mountain” nor in Jerusalem, but “in the Spirit and in truth”. God sent them the gift of the Spirit, despite the fact that they were not aligned with Judaism. They enjoyed the comforting of that same Spirit later on, along with their brother Christians among the Jews: “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.” (Acts 9:31)
If a so-called messianic rabbi tells you that only he and his group have God’s permission to teach the Bible, and that a Gentile does not, they are standing in the place of God and spreading a grave error. It is the very definition of a false sect, when a teacher(s) tell his people that they should listen only to him and maybe a few others who agree with him.
God entrusted the full Scriptures to the Jews, not the Samaritans; the Messiah fulfills God’s plan as foretold in the Tanak; and the gospel went forth from Zion, not from Gerizim. “Salvation is of the Jews” means that, no more and no less.
 http://estudioskehilavirtualmundial.blogspot.com/2013/01/la-salvacion-viene-de-los-judios.html “…la salvación viene de los Judíos.” Como pueden observar, La Salvación no viene por el catolicismo, no viene por las iglesias cristianas evangélicas, tampoco por los testigos de jehová [sic] y mucho menos por los musulmanes, los adventistas o mormones. El Propio Mesías, Yahshua, nos dice que la Salvación viene por los judíos.” By reading other pages on their blog, one deduces that Gentiles do not exactly have to convert to Judaism in order to be saved, but precisely what they do have to do remains vague.
 The Hebrew version of Jesus’ was not Yahshua (which is based on a misreading of the Hebrew name) or Yahushua but Yeshua, meaning “he saves” or “he will save”. This is precisely the translation given in Mateo 1:21, that “he – Yeshua – will save his people from their sins.” See blog on topic
 Despite the claims of some, the original manuscripts of John 4:22 are all in Greek; only in the second century AD were there translations into other languages. The earliest copies of John 4 are found in the papyri p66 (approx 200 AD); p45 (approx. 250 AD); p75 (2nd o 3rd century AD); the earliest manuscript, p52 [approx 125 AD] is a fragment, and contains only a portion of John 18). All of the ancient manuscripts of 4:22 are in exact agreement, letter for letter, with the modern critical text NA-28 and also with the Textus receptus (Stephanus, 1550).
 Why “yahuditas” in the VIN and “yehudim” in the Código Real? I cannot say for sure, but it is certain that Messianic “versions” of the Bible prefer to use unusual and unknown terms instead of plain Spanish. In part this is to give the reader the impression that they have gone really deeply into the original language, but in fact it is a matter of semantics.
 I cannot go on without mentioning an astonishing, deceptive mistranslation of John 4:23-24 that is found uniquely in the Código Real:
“But an hour comes, and has already arrived, when the true servants will serve the Father with the correct motivation and according to the Torah, because such people the Father is seeking so that they will serve him. Elohim is spirit, and those who serve him, in spirit and according to the Torah must serve him.” [In Spanish – 23 “Pero viene una hora, y ya ha llegado, cuando los verdaderos servidores, servirán al Padre con la motivación correcta y según la Torah, porque a los tales el Padre busca para que le sirvan. 24 Elohim es espíritu, y los que le sirven, en espíritu y según la Torah deben servirle.”]
The reader might be wondering about two phrases in v. 23 – “the correct motivation” and, even worse, “according to the Torah”, which also shows up in v. 24. Where does the phrase “according to the Torah” come from? Solely from the fertile imagination of the book’s author. It is nowhere to be found in any single manuscript of the gospel of John. Let us not be deceived by scholars who simply invent words to add to God’s blessed Word! The original says “in truth”, not “according to the Torah”. Neither is “with the correct motivation” found anywhere in this verse in any one of the 6000 manuscripts of the gospel of John. It says “in spirit” or better “in the Spirit”, and it is the exact same phrase that John uses in v. 24, where the CR translates “in spirit”. So, why is it that the author feels free to change the Bible by translating the same exact words as “with the correct motivation” in v. 23 and then “in spirit” in v. 24? This is all passing strange. And the CR misses the important repetition found in v. 23 – “true worshipers worship…truly”.
The KIM gets this correct with “in the Ruach and truly”, although there is no need to use the Hebrew “Ruach” when the Spanish word for “Spirit” is perfectly clear and understandable to the reader, see note .
 The seven Laws of Noah, or the Noachide or Noahide Laws, are derived from God’s instruction to Noah in Genesis 9. See the description here – https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Seven_Noahide_Laws.html. They may have formed the basis of the rules for the Gentiles in Acts 15:20, 29, 20; 21:25, although this is not certain.
“Yeshua? Iesous? Jesus? Some other form? Who’s right?”
“Does John 4:22 say that salvation is just for Jews?” by Gary S. Shogren, Ph. D., professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica
I agree any one other than the true Isarelities should not try to teach the Bible, this Bible was given to Israel. Men have taken Israel’s book and taken out the true people of God and painted themselves in it.
Hi and blessings.
I can’t agree with you, for several reasons.
1. The New Testament is full of gentiles who are teaching the Bible (Luke and Titus to begin with, many others). The gentile Luke wrote 26% of the NT. I do not think the apostles were mistaken in working with gentiles, nor was the Spirit in having Luke write so much of the canon.
2. I cannot accept that the ability to serve God and teach the Bible is based on race, or color, or nationality.
3. I cannot accept that one’s race is more important than the power of the Holy Spirit to gift his people.
4. God is the God of people from all nations, not just one.
5. The true people of God are those who believe in Christ. It is not genetic or racial.
6. Besides all this! The “Messianic” teachers I run into typically were not born Jewish, nor did they convert to Judaism in any way recognized by the rabbis. They have assumed the title in order to give themselves more authority and in order to exclude people they don’t agree with from the competition.