I spoke earlier of the Samaritan woman to whom Jesus revealed himself as the source of life and the Messiah, a woman who in a missionary role brought men to him on the strength of her word. In the scene in 4:27, we are told that when Jesus' male disciples saw him speaking to her, they were surprised that he was dealing in such an open way with a woman. In researching the evidence of the fourth Gospel, one is still surprised to see to what extent in the Johannine community women and men were already on an equal level in the fold of the Good Shepherd. This seems to have been a community where in the things that really mattered in the following of Christ there was no difference between male and female—a Pauline dream (Gal 3:28) that was not completely realized in the Pauline communities.
But even John has left us with one curious note of incompleteness: the disciples, surprised at Jesus' openness with a woman, still did not dare to ask him, "What do you want of a woman?" (4:27). That may well be a question whose time has come in the Church of Jesus Christ.--Raymond E. Brown, "Roles of Women in the Fourth Gospel."