I teach an intermediate Greek class at DTS which I love because it affords me opportunities every time we meet to discuss grammar but also to think exegetically. Today we wrestled with John 4:7:
A Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.”
We centered our discussion around the word "Give" which Jesus spoke to the woman. Today's topic was mood, and this is an imperative. Imperatives in Greek function a lot like they do in English. You can issue a command or make a request using that verb form. The question I posed to the students here is, which do you think Jesus was doing and - more importantly - why? In other words, is Jesus issuing a command to the woman or a request, and how would you defend your answer?
What's interesting in this particular instance is that both are possible and can be defended but for different reasons. We might naturally think of a command here because Jesus was a man speaking to a woman. In many cultures in the ancient world, Judea included, men had a higher social status than women and any imperative on the part of a man to a woman would most naturally be understood as a command. But a request is also possible here because of what occurs after this in the narrative. Jesus seeks to draw the woman to faith in a gentle manner. A request in v. 7 fits that following context quite nicely. A decision between the two has to weigh the broader cultural context of gender roles against the following context of their interaction in the narrative. There's nothing in the grammar as such, no key word or particle, which answers the question. It's a matter of which context takes precedence.
In my judgment, we can phrase the question this way with a theological twist: Did Jesus stoop to speak to the Samaritan woman? In his wording and tone did he communicate that he was in authority over her, or did he request something from her with gentleness and level the playing field, so to speak? Based upon the following narrative, which shows Jesus interacting with the woman gently on so many levels, I opt for a request here. Jesus requested something from the woman, he stooped down to meet her where she was, and in so doing began to draw her to faith in himself.