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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

John 15

 

 

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Verse 1

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Ver. 1. I am the true vine, &c.] Our Saviour’s way lying (as it is thought) by the vineyards, he takes that occasion of comparing himself to a vine, as he doth elsewhere to many other creatures, everywhere obvious; that therein, as in so many optic glasses, we may see him, and be put in mind of him. Tam Christi meminisse opus est, quam respirare, saith a Father. A bee can suck honey out of a flower that a fly cannot. Fire will be aspiring; so will true grace.


Verse 2

2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Ver. 2. Every branch in me] That thinks himself to be in me, and is so thought to be by others, but proves not to be so. These are said to "deny the Lord that bought them, to trample on the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, to wallow in the mire from which they had been washed," 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:22, Hebrews 10:20. So here, to be branches in Christ, and yet unfruitful. Not that they ever were in Christ, but seemed to be so; as a pole fixed in the earth, but not rooted; as a rotten leg cleaves to the body, but is no part of it; or, as warts and ulcers, which are taken away without loss to it.

He purgeth it] αιρει, καθαιρει, Amputat, putat. Of all possessions, saith Cato, none requires more pains about it than that of vineyards. Grain comes up and grows without the husbandman’s care, Mark 4:27, he knows not how. But vines must be dressed, supported, sheltered, pruned every day almost; lopped they must be ever and anon, lest the juice be spent in leaves. And if it be painful to bleed, it is worse to wither. Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.


Verse 3

3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Ver. 3. Through the word, &c.] Which is the pruning knife, to lop off our luxuriances, rotten boughs, raw grapes, to pare off our gum of pride, moss of formality, Vinitoris cultellus ad sordes purgandas. (Col.) The word hid in the heart keeps from sin, as an amulet, Psalms 119:11, and keeps youth from uncleanness, John 15:9; mixed with faith, it purgeth upon corruption, Acts 15:9, and will not suffer men to rest in sin.


Verse 4

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Ver. 4. As the branch cannot bear fruit, &c.] All our sap and safety is from Christ. The bud of a good desire, the blossom of a good resolution, and the fruit of a good action, all come from him, Gratia praevenit nos ut velimus, et subsequitur ne frustra velimus. (Augustine.)


Verse 5

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Ver. 5. The same bringeth forth much fruit] Christ is a generous vine, a plant of renown; and all his are "filled with the fruits of righteousness," Philippians 1:11, have hearts full of goodness, as those Romans 15:14, and lives full of good works, as Tabitha, Acts 9:33. In Bucholcero vivida omnia fuerunt; vivida vox, vividi oculi, vividae manus, gestus omnes vividi. (Melch. Ad. in Vita.) Nehemiah never rested doing good for his people; he was good all over. Like the Egyptian fig tree, that bears fruit seven times a year; or the lemon tree, which ever and anon sendeth forth new lemons, as soon as the former are fallen off; or the plain of Campania, now called Terra de lavoro, region of labour, which is extolled for the most fruitful plat of earth that is in the universe.

For without me ye can do nothing] This is point blank against the doctrine of freewill. Sub laudibus naturae latent inimici gratiae, Those who hide under the praise of works are enemies of free grace, saith Augustine. These will needs hammer out their own happiness, like the spider, climbing by a thread of her own weaving, with motto accordingly, Mihi soli debeo. I owe only to me. Whereas the apostle demandeth, Who made thee to differ? Grevinchovius the Arminian boldly answers, Ego meipsum discerno, I make myself to differ. This he had learned from heathens belike: What we live, is from God; but that we live well, is from ourselves, saith Seneca. And this is the judgment of all men, saith Cicero, that prosperity is to be sought of God, but wisdom is to be taken up from ourselves. St Augustine was of another judgment, and saith, Ciceronem, ut faceret homines liberos, fecisse sacrilegos. Quod vivamus deorum munus est; quod bone vivamus, nostrum. Iudicium hoc omnium mortalium est, &c. (Cic. de Nat. Deor.; Aug. Civ. Dei. l. 5.)


Verse 6

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Ver. 6. Cast them into the fire, and they are burned] So they must needs be, may some say; but his meaning is, that temporaries, of all others, make the fiercest, hottest fire, because they are trees most seared and fuel fully dry. Nahum tells us that such are but as stubble laid out in the sun to dry, that it may burn the better, John 1:10; or like grapes, let to hang in the sunshine till they be ripe, for the winepress of God’s wrath, Revelation 19:15.


Verse 7

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Ver. 7. Ask what ye will, and it, &c.] Either in money or money’s worth. If ye ask and miss it is because ye ask amiss. One was wont to say of Luther that he could have from God what he would; Vir iste potuit quod voluit. And being one time very earnest with God for the recovery of a godly useful man, he cried out, Fiat voluntas mea, Let thy will be done; and then he falls off sweetly, My will, Lord, because thy will; Mea voluntas, Domine, quia tua.


Verse 8

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Ver. 8. Herein is my Father glorified, &c.] There is not (saith one) so much of the glory of God in all his works of creation and providence as in one gracious action that a Christian performs; how much more in a life full of good fruits! This makes others say, Surely God is in them. Vere magnus est Deus Christianorum, said one Calocenius a heathen. God also accounts that he receives a new being, as it were, by those inward conceptions of his glory, and by those outward honours that we do to him, especially when we study God’s ends more than our own, and drown all self-respects in his glory. Surely, they that do thus may have what they will (saith one), and God even think himself beholden to them.


Verse 9

9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

Ver. 9. Continue ye in my love] In the love wherewith I do dearly love you. As who should say, Suffer yourselves to be loved by me. Lo, the Lord Christ even makes love to the good soul, and woos entertainment.


Verse 10

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Ver. 10. Even as I have kept my Father’s] Christ’s obedience must be our pattern of imitation. All his actions were either moral or mediatory. In both we are to imitate him. In the former by doing as he did, Matthew 11:29; 1 Peter 2:23. In the latter, by similitude, translating that to our spiritual life which he did as mediator; as to die to sin, to rise to righteousness.


Verse 11

11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Ver. 11. These things have I spoken, that, &c.] Sound joy is wrought in the heart by the hearing of the word; "Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken" (with the sense of sin amd fear of wrath) "may rejoice," Psalms 51:8. And God creates the fruit of the lips to be peace, Isaiah 57:19.

That my joy may remain in you] The temporary’s joy, as it is groundless, like weeds that grow on the top of the water, so it is but frothy and flashy, such as may wet the mouth, but not warm the heart, smooth the brow, but not fill the breast: like a sligbt dash of rain, or a handful of brushwood, &c., Ecclesiastes 7:6. The true Christian’s joy is full and firm, solid and substantial, Gaudium in re, gaudium in spe, gaudium de possessione, guadium de promissione. Joy in the matter, joy in hope, joy in the possession, joy in the promise. He hath still enough to make him everlastingly merry under whatsoever misery. He can turn into his counting house, and find there sufficient to sustain him, as David did, 1 Samuel 30:6.


Verse 12

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Ver. 12. This is my commandment] Love is the complement of the law and the supplement of the gospel.


Verse 13

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Ver. 13. Greater love than this, &c.] Of any such love, but in Christ, we shall hardly read. David in a passion may wish, "Would God I had died for thee;" but in cold blood I doubt whether he would have done it. A certain citizen of Toledo, being condemned to die, his son ceased not by prayers and tears to entreat that he might die. for his father; which accordingly he did. (B. Fulg. i.) But this is rare, for life is sweet, and love is cold in this case. Every man is his own next neighbour.


Verse 14

14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Ver. 14. If ye do whatsoever, &c.] In desire and endeavour lifting at the latch, though ye cannot open the door, and looking to both the magnalia great matters and minutuia small matters of the law Boni Catholici sunt (saith Augustine) qui et fidem integram sequuntur, et bonos mores. Good Christians are those who follow a sound faith and good habits. And they are written in the book of life (saith Bernard) that do what they can, though they cannot do what they should. Qui quod possunt, faciunt, etsi quod debent, non possunt.


Verse 15

15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Ver. 15. I call you not servants] And yet it was the top of David’s titles, to be the servant of the Lord; and the height of his ambition, to be a doorkeeper in his house. All his servants are sons, and all his sons heirs.

But I have called you friends] It was a high honour of old to be the king’s friend. Such honour have all his saints: Christ doth freely unbosom himself unto them.


Verse 16

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Ver. 16. And ordained you, that you should go, &c.] Not that ye should lord it over your brethren (as the pope ordained his caterpillars), and get up the best of the land for your private use and pleasure. The pope, when he maketh his cardinals, useth these words, Estote confratres nostri, et principes mundi. You shall be our brothers and leaders in the world. The archbishopric of Toledo is said to be worth a hundred thousand pounds a year: a greater revenue than some kings have.

That whatsoever ye shall ask, &c.] Bernard in his Meditations giveth various rules of strictness, of purging the heart, of being faithful and fruitful, et cum talis fueris (saith he) memento mei, intimating, that then they might have what they would of God, for themselves or others, that were so qualified.


Verse 17

17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

Ver. 17. That ye love one another] That ye hold together, because the world will hate you. A spirit of perversities made way for the ruin of Egypt, Isaiah 19:14; Isaiah 19:16-17. Si collidimur frangimur, if we clash we break. Of the ancient Britons, Tacitus tells us that nothing was so destructory to them as their dissensions, Dum singuli pugnant universi vincuntur. And of the Thracians, Herodotus saith, that if they had been all of one mind they had been invincible. Keep therefore the staff of binders unbroken, Zechariah 11:7; Zechariah 11:14 "Keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace," Ephesians 4:3. In the cause of religion every subdivision is a strong weapon in the hand of the enemy; as in the disagreement of Luther and Zuinglius. The Jesuits have a practice of running over to the Lutherans, pretending to be converts; but it is only to keep up that bitter contention that is between the Calvinists and Lutherans; the virulence whereof is much fomented by these renegade Jesuits.


Verse 18

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

Ver. 18. If the world hate you, &c.] As it will because it is condemned by your contrary practice, and is carried on by a contrary principle. Moab was irked because of Israel, or, did fret and vex at them, Numbers 22:3-4. Bats fly against the light. Some barbarous nations curse the sun when it shines hot upon them, and shoot up their arrows against it.

Ye know that it hated me first] Shall we think to speed better than our betters? Elias is not better than his fathers. Luther was angry with those that set forth his sufferings, since they were nothing to the sufferings of Christ. All our troubles are but as the slivers and chips of his cross.


Verse 19

19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Ver. 19. If ye were of the world, &c.] They jangle among themselves, and intertear one another as dogs fighting. For though there be not a disagreement in hell (being but the place of retribution, not of action), yet on earth there is no sound peace among the wicked. Howbeit let Ephraim be against Manasseh, and Manasseh against Ephraim, they will be soon against Judah; as if a hare ran by dogs that are fighting, they will agree to pursue the hare.

Therefore the world hateth you] As inhospitable savages do those that land on their coasts; as the Cyprians, for an old grudge, slay all Jews they meet with, though but cast upon their coasts by contrary winds. Odio humani generis, et per flagitia invisi, saith Tacitus of Christians. (xv.) Tanti non est bonum, quanti est odium Christianorum. Of such it is not good, how much is the hatred of Christians. David’s adversaries sought not only his life, but his soul, his damnation too; as that monster of Milan, mentioned by Bodinus. Now we commit thy soul to the devil, said the persecutors to John Huss. And Jerome of Prague could hardly obtain a confessor, being, it seems, conscientious that way.


Verse 20

20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Ver. 20. Remember the word, &c.] Else all is lost, 1 Corinthians 15:2. Naturally the word runs through us, as water through a riven vessel: Pleni rimarum sumus, huc atque illuc diffuimus. Our memories are as sieves, that retain the chaff, let go the good grain; or as nets, that keep the pelf, let go the clean water; or as hour glasses, that are no sooner full, but running out again. Beseech we God to put his finger upon the hole, and to make his word an engrafted word unto us, to settle it upon our souls, μηποτε παραρυωμεν, Hebrews 2:1.

If they have kept my saying, &c.] But they will do neither. Holy Melancthon, being himself newly converted, thought it impossible for his hearers to withstand the evidence of the gospel; but after he had been a preacher awhile, it is said he complained that old Adam was too hard for young Melancthon.


Verse 21

21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

Ver. 21. Because they know not him, &c.] For had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. St Paul thanks his ignorance for all his cruelties to Christians. Ignorance is a breeder, and great bellied. Aristotle makes it the mother of all misrule and mischief. (Ethic. iii.)


Verse 22

22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.

Ver. 22. If I had not come, &c.] Here our Saviour shows that their ignorance was affected, as theirs is with us. Qui ut liberius peccent, libenter ignorant, they shut the windows lest the light should come in. (Bernard.) Sic fit, ubi homines maiorem vitae partem in tenebris agunt, ut novissime solem quasi supervacuum fastidiant. (Seneca, Epist.) This is the ignorance to which mercy is denied, Isaiah 27:11.


Verse 23

23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

Ver. 23. He that hateth me] It is wonder how any should, yet we read of God-haters, Romans 1:30, and all sin is a kind of God-slaughter, Omne peccatum est Deicidium. All sin is a a God slayer. The wicked wish there were no God, when David cries out, Vivat Deus, Let God live. Psalms 18:46.


Verse 24

24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

Ver. 24. Works which none other man did] More stupendous, because by my own power, and all to the people’s profit. These were of use in the Church’s infancy, and Papists boast of them still; but those are the devil’s lying wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9. As for our religion, Pudet diabolum Lutheri doctrinam miraculis confirmare, It is shameful that the devil confirms the traching of Luther, saith Gretser the Jesuit. But we answer with Augustine, He that now looks for a miracle is himself a great miracle: Qui adhuc prodigia quaerit magnum est ipse prodigium. Christ was the only Thaumaturgus or wonder worker. This is attested by Josephus the Jew, and confessed by Mahomet.


Verse 25

25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

Ver. 25. They hated me without a cause] So they dealt by David, so by Christ, and so still by his members. There is but the same pageant acted over again as of old. In moribus compositi, et modesti sunt, was the worst the persecutors could say of the Waldenses, those ancient Protestants. They are good in their lives, true in their speeches, hearty in their affections. (Bp. Ussher.) Sed fides eorum est incorrigibilis et pessima, But the faith of those is reformed and corrupt, saith the Dominican Inquisitor, concerning the Hussites. So the Bishop of Aliff, in the Trent Council, said that as the faith of the Catholics was better, so the heretics exceeded them in good life. Hominis vita magno omnium consensu probatur, said Erasmus of Luther, Tanta est morum integritas, ut nec hostes reperiant quod calumnientur. Such is the integrity of of their conduct that neither their enemies may discover what they condmen them of. And yet a friar of Antwerp wished that Luther were there that he might bite out his throat with his teeth, as the same Erasmus testifieth.


Verse 26

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Ver. 26. Whom I will send unto you from, &c] Christ hath satisfied the wrath of the Father; and now the Father, and Christ both, as reconciled, send the Spirit, as the fruit of both their loves, and as an earnest, which is part of the whole sum.


Verse 27

27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Ver. 27. And ye also shall bear witness] Thus Word and Spirit go together, according to the promise, Isaiah 59:21. The manna of the Spirit comes down from heaven in the dews of the ministry of the gospel, Numbers 11:2; 1 Peter 1:22.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 15:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-15.html. 1865-1868.


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Thursday, August 17th, 2017
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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