God Is Spirit.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24 NKJV
He describes the evangelical worship which alone God would accept and be well pleased with. Having shown that the place is indifferent, he comes to show what is necessary and essential--that we worship God in spirit and in truth, John 4:23,24. The stress is not to be laid upon the place where we worship God, but upon the state of mind in which we worship him. Note, The most effectual way to take up differences in the minor matters of religion is to be more zealous in the greater. Those who daily make it the matter of their care to worship in the spirit, one would think, should not make it the matter of their strife whether he should be worshipped here or there. Christ had justly preferred the Jewish worship before the Samaritan, yet here he intimates the imperfection of that. The worship was ceremonial, Hebrews 9:1,10. The worshippers were generally carnal, and strangers to the inward part of divine worship. Note, It is possible that we may be better than our neighbours, and yet not so good as we should be. It concerns us to be right, not only in the object of our worship, but in the manner of it and it is this which Christ here instructs us in. Observe,
The great and glorious revolution which should introduce this change: The hour cometh, and now is--the fixed stated time, concerning which it was of old determined when it should come, and how long it should last. The time of its appearance if fixed to an hour, so punctual and exact are the divine counsels the time of its continuance is limited to an hour, so close and pressing is the opportunity of divine grace, 2 Corinthians 6:2. This hour cometh, it is coming in its full strength, lustre, and perfection, it now is in the embryo and infancy. The perfect day is coming, and now it dawns.
The blessed change itself. In gospel times the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. As creatures, we worship the Father of all: as Christians, we worship the Father of our Lord Jesus. Now the change shall be, In the nature of the worship. Christians shall worship God, not in the ceremonial observances of the Mosaic institution, but in spiritual ordinances, consisting less in bodily exercise, and animated and invigorated more with divine power and energy. The way of worship which Christ has instituted is rational and intellectual, and refined from those external rites and ceremonies with which the Old-Testament worship was both clouded and clogged. This is called true worship, in opposition to that which was typical. The legal services were figures of the true, Hebrews 9:3,24. Those that revolted from Christianity to Judaism are said to begin in the spirit, and end in the flesh, Galatians 3:3. Such was the difference between Old-Testament and New-Testament institutions. In the temper and disposition of the worshippers and so the true worshippers are good Christians, distinguished from hypocrites all should, and they will, worship God in spirit and in truth. It is spoken of (John 4:23) as their character, and (John 4:24) as their duty. Note, It is required of all that worship God that they worship him in spirit and in truth. We must worship God, In spirit, Philippians 3:3. We must depend upon God's Spirit for strength and assistance, laying our souls under his influences and operations we must devote our own spirits to, and employ them in, the service of God (Romans 1:9), must worship him with fixedness of thought and a flame of affection, with all that is within us. Spirit is sometimes put for the new nature, in opposition to the flesh, which is the corrupt nature and so to worship God with our spirits is to worship him with our graces, Hebrews 12:28. In truth, that is, in sincerity. God requires not only the inward part in our worship, but truth in the inward part, Psalm. We must mind the power more than the form, must aim at God's glory, and not to be seen of men draw near with a true heart, Hebrews 10:22.
Thirdly, He intimates the reasons why God must be thus worshipped.
Because in gospel times they, and they only, are accounted the true worshippers. The gospel erects a spiritual way of worship, so that the professors of the gospel are not true in their profession, do not live up to gospel light and laws, if they do not worship God in spirit and in truth.
Because the Father seeketh such worshippers of him. This intimates, That such worshippers are very rare, and seldom met with, Jeremiah 30:21. The gate of spiritual worshipping is strait. That such worship is necessary, and what the God of heaven insists upon. When God comes to enquire for worshippers, the question will not be, "Who worshipped at Jerusalem?" but, "Who worshipped in spirit?" That will be the touchstone. That God is greatly well pleased with and graciously accepts such worship and such worshippers. I have desired it, Psalm 132:13,14; Song of Solomon 2:14. That there has been, and will be to the end, a remnant of such worshippers his seeking such worshippers implies his making them such. God is in all ages gathering in to himself a generation of spiritual worshippers.
Because God is a spirit. Christ came to declare God to us (John 1:18), and this he has declared concerning him he declared it to this poor Samaritan woman, for the meanest are concerned to know God and with this design, to rectify her mistakes concerning religious worship, to which nothing would contribute more than the right knowledge of God. Note, God is a spirit, for he is an infinite and eternal mind, an intelligent being, incorporeal, immaterial, invisible, and incorruptible. It is easier to say what God is not than what he is a spirit has not flesh and bones, but who knows the way of a spirit? If God were not a spirit, he could not be perfect, nor infinite, nor eternal, nor independent, nor the Father of spirits. The spirituality of the divine nature is a very good reason for the spirituality of divine worship. If we do not worship God, who is a spirit, in the spirit, we neither give him the glory due to his name, and so do not perform the act of worship, nor can we hope to obtain his favour and acceptance, and so we miss of the end of worship, Matthew 15:8,9. - Matthew Henry