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Bible Commentaries
John 15

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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John 15:4 . Tisch. has the forms μένῃ and μένητε ; similarly, John 15:6 , μένῃ . Lachm. also has the latter and μένητε , John 15:4 . Considering the divided state of the evidence (A. B. א . in particular agree in favour of μεν .), no decision can be come to.

John 15:6 . τὸ πῦρ ] Elz. Lachm. have merely πῦρ , against preponderating testimony. In the passages of similar meaning, Matthew 3:10 ; Matthew 7:19 , Luke 3:9 , there is likewise no article found, which, consequently, was more readily omitted than added.

John 15:7 . αἰτήσεσθε ] A. B. D. L. M. X. Curss. Verss. Chrys.: αἰτήσεσθε . Recommended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. This preponderant attestation, the reference of the word to the fut., and the immediate proximity of the future tense, decide in favour of the genuineness of the aorist.

John 15:8 . γενήσεσθε ] Rinck and Lachm.: γένησθε . The witnesses are greatly divided. But the conjunctive is a correction after φέρητε .

John 15:11 . μείνῃ ] A. B. D. Curss. Vulg. It. et al.: ᾖ . Recommended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. Rightly; after the previous frequent recurrence of the verb μένω , μείνῃ very readily and involuntarily arose here out of the last syllable of ΥΜΙΝ and the following ᾖ .

John 15:13 . The deletion of τις (Tisch.) is too weakly supported. It came to be passed over as being superfluous.

John 15:14 . ὅσα ] D. L. X. א .: ἅ . So Lachm. Tisch. The singular ὅ is found in B. Codd. of It. Goth. Aeth. Cypr. Lucif. The witnesses alone are decisive, and that for the plural, more precisely for ἅ .

John 15:15 . The order λέγω ὑμᾶς (Lachm. Tisch.) is accredited by preponderating evidence.

John 15:21 . ὑμῖν ] Lachm. and Tisch.: εἰς ὑμᾶς , after B. D.* L. א .** 1, 33, Verss. Chrys. Rightly; the more current and customary dative flowed of itself from the copyists’ pens, as it was also added in John 16:3 .

John 15:22 . εἶχον ] Here and in John 15:24 Lachm. and Tisch. have the Alexandrine form εἴχοσαν , according to B. L. Π .** א . 1, 33, Or. Cyr. Not to be adopted, since this form is certainly found only in Romans 3:13 , in a citation from the O. T. ( ἐδολιοῦσαν ), while here the evidence is not sufficiently strong (not found even in A.). Buttmann, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1858, p. 491 f., supposes that εἴχοσαν arose from the original εἶχον ἄν . Yet of ἄν no further trace is found in the critical witnesses, and its (rhetorical) omission (see Buttmann, l.c. p. 489) is quite free from doubt.

John 15:24 . πεποίηκεν ] A. B. D. J. K L. X. Π . א . Curss. Chrys.: ἐποίησεν . So Lachm. Tisch. The testimony in favour of this rendering is decisive.

Verse 1

John 15:1 . Since the picture is introduced altogether without any intermediate reference, it is natural to assume some external occasion for it, which John has not related. [160] That which most obviously suggests itself is the look at the cup of wine (comp. Matthew 26:29 : τὸ γέννημα τοῦ ἀμπέλου ), which precisely at this supper had assumed so great significance. Comp. Grotius and Nösselt, Opusc . II. p. 25 ff., also Ewald. Had Jesus spoken what follows on the way (see on John 14:31 ), or even, as G. Hier. Rosenmüller (in F. E. Rosenmüller, Repert . I. p. 167 ff.) supposed, in the temple, then in the former case the walk through vineyards (comp. especially Lange, who assumes the existence of garden-fires by night, and Godet), and in the latter case the golden vine at the gate of the temple (Joseph. Antt . xv. 11. 3, Bell . v. 5. 4), might be supposed to present a suitable occasion. It is more arbitrary to suppose (Knapp, Tholuck) a vine whose tendrils had crept into the room (comp. Psalms 128:3 ), or: that there was at full moon a view of the vineyards from the room (Storr), or of the golden vine of the temple (Lampe). Most arbitrary of all, however, is the supposition that John may have placed the similitude, in itself genuine, here in the wrong place (De Wette). If the thought of the cup at the meal just concluded did not so spontaneously suggest itself, it would be safer, with Lücke and B. Crusius, to assume no external occasion at all, since the figure itself was so frequent in the O. T. (Isaiah 5:1 ff.; Jeremiah 2:21 ; Ezekiel 15:1 ff; Ezekiel 19:10 ff.; Psalms 80:9 ff.; comp. also Lightfoot and Wetstein); and therefore (comp. Matthew 21:33 ff.) the disciples who were standing around Him could immediately, and of themselves, see Jesus set forth under this venerable figure (Luthardt and Lichtenstein, following Hofmann, also Ebrard).

ἡ ἀληθινή ] the actual, i.e . containing the reality of the idea, which is figuratively set forth in the natural vine (comp. on John 1:9 , John 6:35 ), not in antithesis to the unfruitful vine, i.e . the degenerate people of Israel (Ebrard, Hengstenberg), which is here remote, since the Lord is designating Himself as ἄμπελος , not His ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑ (this is regarded as in antithesis to the Jewish). Christ is the Vine in relation to His believing ones (the branches), whose organic connection with Him is the constant, fruitful, and most inward fellowship of life. Quite similar as to the thing is the Pauline figure of the head and the members (Ephesians 5:30 ; Colossians 2:19 ). The vine-dresser ( γεωργός , Matthew 21:23 , et al. ; Aelian, N. A . vii. 28; Aristaen. i. 3) is God; for He has sent Christ, and established the fellowship of believers with Him (John 6:31 , et al. ), and tends it in virtue of His working through Christ’s word, and (after His departure) through the power of the Holy Spirit.

[160] Almost throughout the entire chapter (as far as ver. 18) the particles of connection between the individual utterances are wanting, and this is in keeping with deeply stirred and intense emotion.

Verse 2

John 15:2 . As on the natural vine there are fruitful and unfruitful branches ( i.e. tendrils , Plat. Rep . p. 353 A; Pollux, vii. 145), so there are in the fellowship of Christ such as evince their faith by deed as by faith’s fruit, and those amongst whom this is not the case.

The latter, who are not, with Hengstenberg, to be taken for the unbelieving Jews (as is already clear from ἐν ἐμοί and from John 15:5 ), but for the lip-Christians and those who say Lord! Lord! (comp. those who believe without love, 1 Corinthians 13:0 ), God separates from the fellowship of Christ, which act is conceived from the point of view of divine retribution (comp. the thing, according to another figure, John 8:35 ); the former He causes to experience His purging influence, in order that their life of faith may increase in moral practical manifestation and efficiency. This purification is effected by means of temptations and sufferings, not solely , but by other things along with these.

πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοί ] Nominat. absol. as in John 1:12 , John 6:39 , John 17:2 , with weighty emphasis.

αἴρει ] takes it away with the pruning-knife. It forms with καθαίρει a “suavis rhythmus,” Bengel.

τὸ καρπ . φέρ .] which bears fruit; but previously μή φέρ .: if it does not bear.

καθαίρ .] He cleanses, prunes . Figure of the moral καθαρισμός , continually necessary even for the approved Christian, through the working of divine grace, John 13:10 .

For a political view of the community under the figure of the vine, see in Aesch. adv. Ctesiph . 166; Beck.: ἀμπελουργοῦσί τινες τὴν πόλιν , ἀνατετμήκασί τινες τὰ κλήματα τὰ τοῦ δήμου .

Verse 3

John 15:3 . Application of the second half of John 15:2 to the disciples , in so far as they belong to the κλήματα ; as a preparation for the exhortation in John 15:4 . “Already are ye clean” (such purified κλήματα ); already there has taken place in your case , that which I have just said. The ἤδη ὑμεῖς glances at the multitude of those who were yet to become καθαροί in the future . That their purity originally is intended, not excluding the necessary continuance and practical further development of the relation (comp. John 13:10 ), is understood as a matter of course, and see John 15:4 . The mundi cease not to be mundandi .

διὰ τ . λόγον ] διά , as John 6:57 of the ground ; hence: on account of the word, i.e . because the word (“provided it be received and apprehended in faith,” Luther, comp. Acts 15:9 ) is the power of God (Romans 1:16 ), in virtue of which it effects its καθαίρει , John 15:2 ; James 1:18 ; 1 Peter 1:23 . Comp. Fritzsche, ad Rom . II. p. 162, I. p. 197; Nägelsbach, z. Ilias , p. 39 f., Exodus 3:0 . The word , however, is the whole word, the entire doctrine which Jesus has delivered to them (comp. on John 8:43 ), not the utterance in John 13:10 (Hilgenfeld, Ebrard).

Verse 4

John 15:4 . To this purity, however, must be added the continuous faithful persistence in my living fellowship.

ἐν ἐμοί ] here: on (not in ) me , συμπεφυῶτες ἐμοί (Nonnus), as is required by what follows, hanging on me as the branches hang on the vine, John 15:2 . Euth. Zigabenus aptly remarks: συγκολλώμενοί μοι βεβαιώτερον διὰ πίστεως ἀδιστάκτου καὶ σχέσεως ἀῤῥήκτου .

κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν ] to the fulfilment of the requirement [161] is attached the promise: and I will abide on you

συνὼν τῇ δυνάμει , Euth. Zigabenus with the whole power of spiritual life, which I impart to my faithful ones; I will not separate myself from you, like the vine, which does not loosen itself from its branches. On ΜΕΝῶ as a supplement, see Bornemann in the Sächs. Stud . 1846, p. 56. The harsher mode of completing the sense: and cause that I abide on you (Grotius, Bengel), is not demanded by John 15:5 , where ὁ μένων … αὐτῷ is the fulfilled μείνατε … ὑμῖν .

ἘᾺΝ ΜῊ ΜΕΊΝῌ , Κ . Τ . Λ . ] If he shall not have abided , etc., refers merely to οὐ δύναται καρπὸν φέρειν (as in John 5:19 ), and is so far a more exact definition of the ἈΦʼ ἙΑΥΤΟῦ , “ vi aliqua propria , quam habeat extra vitem,” Grotius.

οὕτως οὐδὲ ὑμεῖς ] so neither you , namely δύνασθε καρπ . φέρειν ἀφʼ ἑαυτῶν , i.e . ποιεῖν τι χωρὶς ἐμοῦ , John 15:5 . Bengel well remarks: “Hic locus egregie declarat discrimen naturae et gratiae,” but also the possibility of losing the latter.

[161] Comp. Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 74.

Verse 5

John 15:5 . Abide on me , I say, for I am the vine, ye the branches; thus then only from me (not ἀφʼ ἑαυτὼν , John 15:4 ) can you derive the living power for bearing fruit. And you must abide on me, as I on you: so ( οὗτος : he , no other than he ) will you bring forth much fruit. In this way, by means of ἐγὼ … κλήματα the preceding ἐν ἐμοί , and by means of ὁ μένων , κ . τ . λ ., the preceding μείνητε is confirmed and brought into relief. Hence also the emphatic position of ἐγώ and μένων .

κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ ] Instead of καὶ ἐν ᾧ ἐγὼ μένω , this clause not relative, but appending itself in an easy and lively manner is introduced. See on this classic idiom, Bernhardy, p. 304; Nägelsbach, z. Ilias , p. 6, Exodus 3:0 ; Buttmann, N. T. Gr . p. 327 f. [E. T. p. 382].

χωρὶς ἐμοῦ ] χωρισθέντες ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ , out of living fellowship with me. Comp. Ephesians 2:12 ; Tittmann, Synon . p. 94. Antithetic to ἐν ἐμοὶ μένειν .

ποιεῖν οὐδέν ] effect nothing , bring about nothing, passing from the figure into the proper mode of presentation. The activity of the Christian life in general is meant , not merely that of the apostles, since the disciples are addressed, not especially in respect of their narrower vocation, but generally as κλήματα of Christ, which standing they have in common with all believers. The utter incapacity for Christian efficiency without the maintenance of the living connection with Christ is here decidedly and emphatically expressed; on this subject, however, Augustine, and with him ecclesiastical orthodoxy, has frequently drawn inferences too wide in favour of the doctrine of moral inability generally (see especially Calovius); since it is only the ability for the specifically Christian ποιεῖν τι (the καρπὸν φέρειν ) which is denied to him who is χωρὶς Χριστοῦ . For this higher moral activity, which, indeed, is the only true one, he is unable (John 3:6 ), and in this sense it may be said with Augustine, that Christ thus spoke, “ ut responderet futuro Pelagio ;” where, however, a natural moral volition and ability of a lower grade in and of itself (comp. Romans 2:14-15 ; Romans 7:14 ff.) is not denied, nor its measure and power more exactly defined than to this effect, that it cannot attain to Christian morality, to which rather the ethical power of the living fellowship with Christ here depicted, consequently the new birth, is indispensable. Luther well says: “that He speaks not here of the natural or worldly being and life, but of fruits of the gospel.” And in so far “nos penitus privat omni virtute, nisi quam suppeditat ipse nobis,” Calvin.

Verse 6

John 15:6 . Νῦν λέγει καὶ τὸν κίνδυνον τοῦ μὴ ἐν αὐτῷ μένοντος , Euth. Zigabenus; and how terrible in its tragic simplicity!

ἐὰν μή τις ] nisi quis manserit . See Baeumlein, Partik . p. 289. Comp. John 3:3 ; John 3:5 .

ἐβλήθη ἔξω , κ . τ . λ .] The representation is highly vivid and pictorial. Jesus places Himself at the point of time of the execution of the last judgment , when those who have fallen away from Him are gathered together and cast into the fire, after they have been previously already cast out of His communion, and become withered (having completely lost the higher true ζωή ). Hence the graphic lively change of tense: In case any one shall not have abided on me; he has been cast out like the branch, and is withered (already before the judgment), and (now what takes place at the last day itself ) they gather them together , etc. The aorists therefore neither denote what is wont to be (Grotius), nor do they stand for futures (Kuinoel, B. Crusius, and older expositors), nor are they to be explained “par la répétition de l’acte aussi longtemps que dure l’opération de la taille” (Godet); nor are they designed, as in Matthew 18:15 , to express that which is at once done or appointed to be done with the non-abiding (so most expositors, including Lücke, Winer, Tholuck, De Wette, Luthardt, Weiss, Hengstenberg; comp. Hermann, de emend. Grammat . p. 192 f.; Buttmann, N. T. Gram . p. 172 [E. T. p. 199]). To the latter interpretation is opposed the circumstance that, in point of fact, the being cast out and being withered cannot be appointed or effected immediately at and with the falling away, but that conversion and re-adoption must remain open (comp. ἡ πρόσληψις , Romans 11:15 ), if ἐὰν μή τις , κ . τ . λ . is not to have in view the time of the judgment at the last day. The ἐβλήθη , κ . τ . λ . appears as a definite result and as a completed act of the past , [162] and that, as the further pictorial description, κ . συνάγουσιν , κ . τ . λ ., shows, from the standpoint of the last day (comp. also Hebrews 6:8 ; Hebrews 10:27 ), and further in such a way that it is accomplished between the beginning of the falling away and the last day on which the gathering together and burning is now performed. [163]

ὡς τὸ κλῆμα ] as the branch , which has not remained on the vine, but has been broken off or cut off, and cast out of the vineyard. But the vineyard represents the fellowship of the Messianic people of God, out of which he who has fallen away from Christ has been thrust. Hence ἔξω refers to the vineyard , so far as this is the community . Outside it, the ζωή of the man who has fallen away, which he had derived from Christ, has completely perished and is dead. This is expressed by ἘΞΗΡΆΝΘΗ , by which the man is identified with the withered branch, which is his image. Euth. Zigabenus well remarks: ἈΠΏΛΕΣΕΝ ἫΝ ΕἾΧΕΝ ἘΚ Τῆς ῬΊΖΗς ἸΚΜΆΔΑ ΧΆΡΙΤΟς .

ΚΑῚ ΣΥΝΆΓ . ΑὐΤᾺ , Κ . Τ . Λ . ] Jesus now represents as present what is done with these cast-out and withered branches at the last day. The polysyndeton (comp. John 10:3 ; John 10:12 ; Matthew 7:27 , et al. ) and the simply solemn expression has much in it that seizes the imagination. The subject of συνάγ . and ΒΆΛΛ . is understood of itself; in the figure it is the servants of the γεωργός , as to the thing, the ΑἸΘΈΡΙΟΙ ΔΡΗΣΤῆΡΕς (Nonnus), the angels , are intended (Matthew 13:41 ).

εἰς τὸ πῦρ (see critical notes): into the fire , already burning for this purpose, by which, in the interpretation of the figure, Gehenna is intended (Matthew 13:42 ; Matthew 25:41 ; Matthew 3:10 ; Matthew 7:19 ; Matthew 5:22 , et al. ), not also the fire of the divine anger generally (Hengstenberg).

καὶ καίετα Ι ] and they burn! The simple form ( οὐ μὴν κατακαίονται , Euth. Zigabenus) as in Matthew 13:40 . “Magna vi positum eximia cum majestate,” Bengel.

[162] Hence the aorist, instead of which the perfect was not required, as Luthardt objects. The ἤδη κέκριται of John 3:18 is conceived of differently.

[163] The reading μένῃ (see critical notes) would not essentially alter the sense; it expresses: nisi quis manet , i.e. until the judgment.

Verse 7

John 15:7 . After thus deterring from non-abiding, in John 15:6 , now again an inducement to abiding. But the figure now ceases, and leaves in what follows some further scarcely accordant notes (John 15:8 ; John 15:16 ) behind.

ἐὰν μείν . ἐν ἐμοί ] Still in the sense of the figure, as the branches on the vine; but with καὶ τὰ ῥήμ . μ . ἐν ὑμῖν ( in animis vestris ), expressing the necessary consequence of a man’s abiding on Jesus, the language at once becomes proper , no longer figurative.

ὃ ἐὰν θέλ .] stands first with emphasis; but such an one wills and prays simply and solely in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14 ), and cannot do otherwise.

Verse 8

John 15:8 . A further carrying out of this incitement to abiding on Him, and that by bringing out the great importance, rich in its results, of this granting of prayer, which is attached to the abiding required.

ἐν τούτῳ ] Herein , to this a forward reference is generally given, so that ἵνα , κ . τ . λ . is the contents of τοῦτο . But thus understood, since ἵνα is not equivalent to ὅτι , this ἵνα would express, that in the obligation (you ought , John 15:12 , comp. on John 6:29 ), or in the destination to bear much fruit, the δόξα of the Father is given. This is not appropriate, as it is rather in the actual fruit-bearing itself that that δόξα must lie, and hence ὅτι must have been employed. To distinguish ἵνα , however, merely by supplying “as I hope” (Lücke) from ὅτι , does not satisfy the telic nature of the word. [164] Hence (and not otherwise in 1 John 4:17 ) ἐν τούτῳ , as in John 4:37 , John 16:30 , is to be taken as a retrospective reference (so also Lange), and that not to the μένειν in itself, but to the immediately preceding ἘᾺΝ ΘΈΛΗΤΕ ΑἸΤΉΣΑΣΘΕ Κ . ΓΕΝΉΣ . ὙΜῖΝ , so far , namely, as it takes place in him who abides in Christ. In this granting of prayer allotted to the μένειν ἐν ἐμοί , says Jesus, a twofold result and this a high incentive to that ΜΈΝΕΙΝ is given, namely, (1) when what you ask falls to your lot, then in this result my Father has been glorified ( ἔλλαχε τιμήν , Nonnus), that you for that is God’s design in this His δοξάζεσθαι may bear much fruit (which is just to be the actual further course of that granting of prayer, comp. John 15:16 ); and (2) you will , in virtue of the fulfilment of all your prayers, become , in a truly proper and specific sense, my disciples , who belong to no other (note the emphatic possessive ἐμοί , as in John 13:35 ), since this hearing of prayer is the holy characteristic simply and solely of my disciples (John 14:13-14 ).

The future γενήσεσθε may depend on ἵνα (comp. on ἸΆΣΟΜΑΙ , John 12:40 , see also on 1 Corinthians 9:18 ; Ephesians 6:3 ), as Ewald connects it; independently, however, of ἽΝΑ , and therefore connected with ἘΝ ΤΟΎΤῼ , the words convey more weight in the independence appropriate to their distinctive contents. The Lord, however, does not say ἜΣΕΣΘΕ , but He sees the full development of His discipledom beginning with the ἐν τούτῳ .

[164] Cyril already rightly recognised that ἵνα cannot be an explanation of ἐν τούτῳ , but only a statement of the purpose of ἐδοξ . ὁ πατ . μ . But quite irrelevantly he referred ἐδοξ . ὁ πατ . μ . to the mission of the Son .

Verses 9-10

John 15:9-10 . But as μαθηταί of Christ, they are the object of His love ; hence, in addition to the general exhortation to abide on Him , there comes now, further, the particular, to abide in His love , which is done by keeping His commandments, according to the archetype of His morally harmonious relation to the Father .

As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you ( aorists , because Jesus, at the boundary of His life, stands and looks back, John 13:1 ; John 13:34 ); abide (keep yourselves continually) in my love. [165] When others extend the protasis to ὑμᾶς , and first begin the apodosis with μείνατε (Maldonatus, Grotius, Rosenmüller, Olshausen, and several others), this is opposed by the fact that between καθὼς ἠγάπ . με ὁ π . and μείνατε , κ . τ . λ . no correlation exists; for the ἀγάπη ἡ ἐμή is not love to me (Maldonatus, Grotius, Nösselt, Kuinoel, Baeumlein, and several others), but: my love to you , as is clear from ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς and from the analogy of ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμή , John 15:11 ; [166] comp. John 15:12-13 . Olshausen mingles the two together, the active and passive love.

ἘΝ Τῇ ἈΓΆΠῌ ΜΟΥ ] = ἘΝ Τῇ ἈΓΆΠῌ Τῇ ἘΜῇ . But the latter purposely lays emphasis on the thought that it was nothing less than His love, that love so great and holy, as He had just expressed by καθὼς ἨΓΆΠ ., Κ . Τ . Λ ., in which they were to abide.

ΤΕΤΗΡΗΚΑ ] Self-witness in the retrospect which He takes of His whole ministry on the threshold of its accomplishment.

Κ . ΜΈΝΩ ΑὐΤΟῦ ἘΝ Τ . ἈΓΆΠῌ ] Consequence of ΤΕΤΉΡΗΚΑ . The prominent position of ΑὐΤΟῦ corresponds to the consciousness of the happiness and the dignity of abiding in the love which His Father bears to him (John 10:17 , John 17:24 ). The present includes continuance also for the future; hence it is not, with Ewald, to be accented μενῶ .

[165] Instead of μείνατε . Ewald conjectures μείνητε , which he still makes depend on ἵνα , ver. 8; but this is unsuitable, since καθώς appears without καί .

[166] That ἡ ἀγάπη ἡ ἐμή might denote love to me , should not have been called in question, as being contrary to the genius of the language. Comp. φιλίᾳ τῇ σῇ , Xen. Anab. vii. 7. 29; Thucyd. i. 137. 4 : διὰ τὴν σὴν φιλίαν , Romans 11:31 .

Verse 11

John 15:11 . Conclusion of the section John 15:1-10 ( ταῦτα ).

ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ , κ . τ . λ .] Note the juxtaposition of ἡ ἐμή and ἐν ὑμῖν ; that my joy may be in you, i.e . that the same joy which I have may be yours . The holy joyous tone of soul is intended, the conscious moral courage of joy, which also rises victorious over all suffering, as Christ, in virtue of His fellowship with the Father and of His obedience towards Him, must and did possess it (comp. John 17:13 ), and as it is so often audible in Paul’s writings also in the sense of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:30 ; 2 Corinthians 13:11 ; Philippians 2:17-18 ; Philippians 4:4 ; Romans 14:17 ; Galatians 5:22 ). Yet ἡ ἐμή is not: the joy produced by me (Calvin, De Wette), or of which I have opened to you the spring (Tholuck), which is forcing a meaning on the simple possessive expression (comp. John 3:29 , John 17:13 ; 2 Corinthians 2:3 ), and does not satisfy the significant juxtaposition of ἡ ἐμή and ἐν ὑμῖν (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:3 : ὅτι ἡ ἐμὴ χαρὰ πάντων ὑμῶν ἐστιν ). The explanations: mea de vobis laetitia (corresponding to χαίρειν ἐν ; so Augustine, Schoettgen, Lampe, Kuinoel, Ebrard, Hengstenberg, and several others), or even: gaudium vestrum de me (Euth. Zigabenus, Grotius, Nösselt, Klee, and several others), are to be rejected because the correct reading is ᾖ (see critical notes). Luthardt: that my joy may have its cause and object in you (not in anything else). This is grammatically correct ( ἐν of causal foundation): the πληρωθῇ , however, which is subsequently said of the joy of the disciples, presupposes that in the first clause the joy of the disciples themselves , the consummation of which is intended, is already indicated; πληρωθῇ otherwise would remain without corresponding correlation. Had the object been merely to express the reciprocity of the joy, we would necessarily have expected in the second half simply: καὶ ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν ἐν ἐμοί . See, in answer to Luthardt, also Hofmann, Schriftbew . II. 2, p. 325 f.

If Christ’s joy is in His own, their joy will be thereby completed (comp. John 3:29 ), developed to its full measure in contents, purity, strength, victoriousness, etc. Comp. John 16:24 ; 1Jn 1:4 ; 2 John 1:12 . Hence: κ . ἡ χαρὰ ὑμ . πληρωθῇ .

Verses 12-13

John 15:12-13 . Now, for the purpose of furnishing a more exact guide to this joy, is given the precept of reciprocal love, founded on the love of Christ (John 13:34 ), which is the sum of the conception of the ἐντολαί , John 15:10 , Jesus’ peculiar, specific precept ( ἡ ἐμή ).

ἵνα ] you should (see on John 6:29 ).

John 15:13 characterizes the καθὼς ἠγάπ . ὑμᾶς . A greater love than this (just designated by καθὼς ἠγάπ . ὑμᾶς ) no one cherishes; it is the greatest love which any one can have, such as, according to the divine purpose, shall impel to this ( ἵνα ), that (after my example) one (indefinite) should give up his soul for the advantage of his friends . For a like readiness to self-sacrifice the greatness of my love shall be the motive, 1 John 3:16 . The ordinary interpretation, according to which ἵνα is taken as expository of ταύτης , does not correspond to the idea of purpose in ἵνα , and the attempts to preserve this conception ( e.g . De Wette: in ἀγάπη there lies a law, a will, comp. Luthardt, Lange; Godet: the culminating point of loving effort lies therein) are unsatisfactory and forced expedients. On τιθέναι τ . ψυχ ., see on John 10:11 ; on τὶς , corresponding to the universal one ( man , Ger.), any one , see Nägelsbach, z. Ilias , p. 299, Exodus 3:0 .

The difference between the present passage and Romans 5:6 ff. ( ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν ) does not rest upon the thing itself, but only on the different point of view, which in Romans is general, and here is limited, according to the special connection, to the circle of friends, without excepting the friends from the general category of sinners. To designate them, however, by that quality, was not relevant in this place. Against the weakening of the idea of φίλων : “those who are actually objects of His love” (Ebrard), John 15:14 should have been a sufficient guard.

Verse 14

John 15:14 . “ For his friends ,” Jesus had just said. There was a presumption implied in this, that He also would die for His friends (Euth. Zigabenus briefly and correctly points out the sequence of thought by supplying at the end of John 15:13 : καθὼς ἐγὼ ποιῶ νῦν ). And who are these? The disciples ( ὑμεῖς ), if they do what He commands them.

The conception of the φίλοι is that of the loving confidential companionship with Himself, to which Christ has raised them; see John 15:15 . Later on, He designates them even as His brothers , John 20:17 .

Verse 15

John 15:15 . The dignity , however, which lies in this designation “friends,” was to become known to them.

οὐκέτι ] No more , as before (John 12:26 , John 13:13 ff.). No contradiction to John 15:20 , where Jesus does not anew give them the name of δοῦλοι , but only reminds them of an earlier saying; nor with Luke 12:4 , where He has already called them friends, which, however, is also not excluded by the present passage, since here rather the previous designation is only indicated a potiori , and the new is intended in a pregnant sense, which does not do away with the objective and abiding relationship of the disciples, to be δοῦλοι of Christ, and their profound consciousness of this their relationship (Acts 4:29 ; Romans 1:1 ; Galatians 1:10 ; Philippians 1:1 , et al. ); as generally Christians are at once δοῦλοι and ἀπελεύθεροι κυρίου (1 Corinthians 7:22 ), at once δοῦλοι and yet His brothers (Romans 8:29 ), at once δοῦλοι and yet His συγκληρονόμοι (Romans 8:16 ).

αὐτοῦ ὁ κύρ .] Although he is his lord.

τί ποιεῖ ] Not: what he intends to do (Grotius, Kuinoel, and several others), which is not appropriate in the application to Jesus, whose work was in full process of accomplishment, nay, was so near to its earthly consummation, but the action itself , whilst it is going on. The slave, although he sees it externally, is not acquainted with it , does not know the proper nature of the action of his master (comp. Xen. ep. i. 3), because the latter has not taken him into his confidence in respect of the quality, the object, the means, the motives, and thoughts, etc.; “servus tractatur ut ὄργανον ,” Bengel.

εἴρηκα ] John 15:14 . πάντα ἃ ἤουσα , κ . τ . λ .] does not refer to all the doctrinal teaching, nor again is it elucidated from the quite general saying, John 8:26 (Tholuck); and just as little does it require the arbitrary and more exact definition of that which is necessary to salvation (Calvin), of the principles (De Wette), of that designed for communication (Lücke, Olshausen), by which it is sought to avoid the apparent contradiction with John 16:12 ; but [167] it alludes to that which the Father has laid upon Him to do , as appears from the context by the correlation with ὅτι ὁ δοῦλος οὐκ οἶδε , κ . τ . λ . He has made known to the disciples the whole saving will of God, the accomplishment of which had been entrusted to Him on His being sent from the pre-existent state into the world; but that does not by any means also exclude instructions standing in the context, which they could not bear at the present time, John 16:12 .

[167] This, at the same time, in answer to Beyschlag, p. 101, who considers a reference here to the pre-existent state as absurd. Comp. also against the same, Johansson, de Chr. praeexistentia , p. 14.

Verse 16

John 15:16 . Along with this dignity, however, of being Jesus’ friends, they were not to forget their dependence on Him, and their destiny therewith appointed.

ἐξελέξασθε … ἐξελεζάμην ] as Master … as disciples, which is understood of itself from the historical relation, and is also to be gathered from the word chosen (John 6:70 , John 13:18 ; Acts 1:2 ). Each of them was a σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς of Christ (Acts 9:15 ); in each the initiative of this peculiar relation lay not on his but on Christ’s side. Hence not to be taken merely in a general sense of the selection for the fellowship of love (Euth. Zigabenus, Luther, and several others, including Luthardt, Lange).

ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς ] have appointed you , as my disciples , consequence of the ἐξελεξάμην . The “ dotation spirituelle ” (Godet) goes beyond the meaning of the word, although it was historically connected with it (Mark 3:14-15 ). Comp. on τιθέναι , instituere, appoint (not merely destine , as Ebrard thinks), 1 Corinthians 12:28 ; 1Ti 1:12 ; 2 Timothy 1:11 ; Hebrews 1:2 ; Acts 20:28 , et al. ; Hom. Od . xv. 253, Il . vi. 300; Dem. 322. 11, et al. The rendering of Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, is incorrect: I have planted you (Xen. Occ . xix. 7, 9). The figure of the vine has in truth been dropped, and finds only an echo in the καρπὸν φέρειν , which, however, must not be extended to ἔθηκα , since the disciples appear not as planted, but as branches , which have grown and remain on the vine. Quite arbitrarily, Bengel and Olshausen see here a new figure of a fruit-tree .

ἵνα ὑμεῖς ὑπάγ .] that you on your side may go away , etc., is by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, in consequence of their interpretation of ἔθηκα , erroneously explained by ἵνα ἐκτείνησθε αὐξανόμενοι . Nor does it merely denote “ independent and vital action” (De Wette, Lücke, Baumgarten-Crusius, Luthardt, Godet; comp. Luther: “that you sit not still without fruit or work”), or “ continual movement ” (Hengstenberg), with which sufficient justice is not done to the peculiarity of this point, which, in truth, belonged in the most proper sense to the disciples’ calling. According to Ebrard, it is said to be simply an auxiliary verb, like ire with the supine. It signifies rather the execution of the ἀποστολή , in which they were to go away into all the world, etc. Comp. Luke 10:3 ; Matthew 28:19 .

μένῃ ] comp. John 4:36 . The results of their ministry are not again to decline and be brought to naught, but are to be continuous and enduring even into the αἰὼν μέλλων .

The second ἵνα is co-ordinated with the first. See on John 15:7-8 . It is in truth precisely the granting of prayer here designated which brings about the fruit and its duration in all given cases. Comp. the prayers of Paul, as in Colossians 1:9 ff.; Ephesians 3:14 ff.

ἐν τῷ ὀνόμ . μ .] See on John 14:13 .

Verse 17

John 15:17 . At the close (comp. John 15:11 ) of this section, John 15:12-16 , Jesus refers once more to its main point, reciprocal love .

ταῦτα ] points backwards , as in John 15:11 , namely, to what is contained in John 15:12-16 , so far as the contents are of a preceptive nature. And that which is therein enjoined by Jesus on the disciples has for its object ( ἵνα ), etc., as He had in truth required this duty at the very beginning of the section. The remainder of the section (John 15:14-16 ) was indeed not directly of a preceptive nature, but in support and furtherance of what had been enjoined.

Verses 18-19

John 15:18-19 . But now your relation to the world! as far as John 15:27 .

In your fellowship, love; from without, on the part of the unbelieving, hatred against you! Consolation for you: γινώσκετε (imperat.) ὅτι ἐμὲ πρῶτον ὑμῶν (John 1:15 ), μεμίσηκεν . Comp. 1 Peter 4:12-13 . This hatred is a community of destiny with me . A further consolation: this hate is the proof that you no longer belong to the world , but to me through my selection of you (John 15:16 ); therein exists the reason for it. How must that fact tend to elate you! Comp. 1Jn 3:13 ; 1 John 4:5 .

The fivefold repetition of κόσμος is solemn. Comp. John 3:17 .

τὸ ἔδιον ] “ Suum dicitur pro vos , atque sic notatur interesse mundi,” Bengel. Comp. John 7:7 . They have become a foreign element to the world, and therewith the object of its antipathy; χαίρει γὰρ τῷ ὁμοίῳ τὸ ὅμοιον , Euth. Zigabenus; comp. Plat. Lys . p. 214 B; τὸ ὅμοιον τῷ ὁμοίῳ ἀνάγκη ἀεὶ φίλον εἶναι .

Verse 20

John 15:20 . A recalling of John 13:16 , presupposing, however, a different application than in that passage namely, a slave has no better lot to claim than his lord (comp. Matthew 10:24-25 ).

If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my word, they will also keep yours . Which of these two cases will in general occur, Jesus leaves to the judgment of the disciples themselves, since they in truth knew from experience how it had gone with Him. To take the second clause ironically (“quasi dicat: non est, quod hoc speretis,” Grotius, Lampe), is appropriate neither to the seriousness of the first, nor to the tone of the whole passage. Olshausen’s view is incorrect (comp. B. Crusius, Maier, Godet), “if many , etc.,” where, in the first half, according to Godet, we should have to think of the mass of the people. But the variation of the subjects is a pure importation. Finally, when Bengel and other older expositors (in Wolf) interpret τηρεῖν as watch , this is quite opposed to the Johannean usage of τὸν λόγ . τηρεῖν (John 8:51 , John 14:23-24 , and frequently), comp. John 15:10 , and it would also be too weak a conception after the first half of the verse. Irrespective of this, usage would not stand in the way of such rendering, Genesis 3:15 (according to the usual reading); Dem. 317 ult., 1252. 8; Soph. O. R . 808; Arist. Vesp . 364; Thuc. iv. 108. 1, vii. 80. 1; Lys. iii. 34.

Verse 21

John 15:21 . Ἀλλά ] antithesis to the consolation against this state of persecution: ταῦτα πάντα π . εἰς ὑμ ., however, presupposes that the second of the cases supposed in John 15:20 is not the actual one. The consolation lies in διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου : because my name is your confession . “The name of Christ from your mouth will be to them nothing but poison and death,” Luther. Comp. Acts 4:17 ; Acts 9:14 ; Acts 27:9 . This thought: it is for the sake of Christ’s name that I suffer (Acts 9:16 ), ought to exalt the persecuted ( πρὸς τιμὴν μὲν ὑμῖν τοῦτο ποιοῦσιν , Ammonius), and did exalt them (Acts 5:41 ; Acts 21:13 , et al. ), and they boasted of these sufferings (Romans 5:3 ; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff; 2 Corinthians 12:10-11 ; 1 Peter 4:12 ff.), which constituted their holy pride (Galatians 6:17 ) and their joy (Philippians 2:17-18 ). Comp. Matthew 10:22 ; Matthew 24:9 ; Matthew 5:11 . According to others (including Lücke, De Wette, Hengstenberg), ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι , κ . τ . λ ., has the emphasis. But in that case the moment διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου is arbitrarily set back, and rendered unnecessary, although throughout the whole of the following discussion the reference of the persecutions to Christ is the prominent and dominant point (see especially John 15:25-27 ). Hence ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι , κ . τ . λ ., is to be taken as subordinated to διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου , as giving, that is, the explanation thereof. Had they possessed the true acquaintance with God, they would, because God has sent Christ, have also known Christ (comp. Luke 23:34 ), and would not for His name’s sake have persecuted His disciples.

Verses 22-24

John 15:22-24 . Sinfulness , not of this non-acquaintance with God (Ebrard, Ewald, Godet), but, as John 15:23-25 show, of this hatred of the name of Jesus, in respect of which they are inexcusable, since He has come and spoken to them (John 15:22-23 ), and done before their eyes His Messianic works (miracles), John 15:24 .

ἁμαρτ . οὐκ εἶχον ] For their hatred of my name would then be excusable , because, without my appearance and discourses, the true knowledge of Him who sent me and the non-acquaintance with whom is in truth the ground of their hatred (John 15:21 ) would have remained inaccessible to them. My appearance and discourses ought to have opened their eyes, and brought them to the knowledge of Him who sent me; but since this has not taken place, their hatred against me, which flows from their non-acquaintance with Him who sent me, is inexcusable; it is the hatred of hardened blindness before God’s revelation of Himself in my advent and discourses.

The moment of the protasis lies in ἧλθον and ἐλαλ . αὐτοῖς together (not merely in the latter); ἦλθον is the Messianic ἔρχεσθαι , correlative to the preceding τ . πέμψαντά με . The ἁμαρτία , however, referable to the μισεῖν , [168] must not be referred merely to unbelief , which does not correspond to the context in John 15:19 ; John 15:21 ; John 15:23-25 (in answer to Bengel, Luthardt, Lange, Hengstenberg, and several others). The words ἁμαρτ . οὐκ ἔχειν , John 9:41 , were spoken of unbelief .

The non-occurrence of ἄν with ΕἾΧΟΝ is as in John 8:39 .

ΝῦΝ ΔΈ ] But thus , since I have appeared and have spoken to them .

πρόφασιν οὐκ ἔχουσι , κ . τ . λ .] In that supposed case they would have no sin , so far, namely, as their hatred would be only an excusable peccatum ignorantiae; but as the matter stands, they have no pretext in respect of their sin (to which they are subject through their hatred); they can allege nothing by way of escape . πρόφασιν ἔχειν , to have evasions, exculpations , only here in N. T., very frequently in the classics; Dem. 526. 15; Plat. Pol . v. p. 469 C; Xen. Cyr . iii. 1. 27. Antithesis: ἀφελεῖν πρόφασιν , Deuteronomy 26:2 , 635. 24. Euth. Zigabenus well remarks: ἈΠΟΣΤΕΡΕῖ ΤΟῪς ἸΟΥΔΑΊΟΥς ἉΠΆΣΗς ΣΥΓΓΝΏΜΗς ἘΘΕΛΟΚΑΚΟῦΝΤΑς .

John 15:23 . And how exceedingly great is this sin! Comp. v. 23.

John 15:24 , parallel to John 15:22 , as there from the discourses, which the unbelieving have heard , so here similarly from that which they have seen , revealing their guilt.

οὐδεὶς ἄλλος ] that is, according to their nature and appearance, divine works, John 5:36 , John 9:3-4 , John 10:37 , John 14:10 , et al.

νῦν δὲ καὶ ἑωράκασι κ . τ . λ .] But thus ( νῦν δέ , as in John 15:22 ), they have actually seen (as John 6:36 ), and yet hated both me and my Father . Not merely μεμισ ., but also already ἙΩΡΆΚ ., is connected with ΚΑῚ ἘΜῈ , Κ . Τ . Λ . ; in the works they have seen Christ (John 10:25 ) and the Father (John 14:10 ); for both have revealed themselves in them, which, indeed, the unbelieving have seen only as an external sensuous occurrence, not with the inward understanding, giving significance to the outward σημεῖα ; not with the eye of spiritual knowledge and inward being, John 6:26 .

[168] Hence, too, on the question as to the salvation of the heathen, to whom Christ has not been preached, nothing is to be gathered from the present passage; and one may now, with Augustine, decide in favour of mitiores poenas for them, or, in confirmation of their condemnation, propose, with Melanchthon, to extend the words of Christ to the protevangelium in paradise, and bring in at the same time the natural moral law, Romans 2:0 .

Verse 25

John 15:25 . Yet this hatred against me stands in connection with the divine destiny, [169] according to which the word of Scripture must be fulfilled by their hatred: they have hated me groundlessly . The passage is Psalms 69:4 , or Psalms 35:19 , where the theocratic sufferer (David?) utters that saying which has reached its antitypical Messianic destination in the hatred of the unbelieving against Christ (comp. on John 13:18 ). The passage Psalms 109:3 , which Hengstenberg further adduces, does not correspond so literally, as is also the case with Psalms 119:161 (Ewald).

ἀλλʼ ] sc . μεμισήκασίν μ Ε , as the ground-thought of what precedes.

ΔΩΡΕΆΝ ] חִוָּם immerito , according to the LXX., but opposed to the Greek signification ( gratis ). Comp. 1 Samuel 19:5 ; Psalms 34:7 (where Symmachus has ἈΝΑΙΤΊΩς ); Sir 20:21 ; Sir 29:6-7 .

The irony which De Wette discovers in ἐν τῷ νόμῳ αὐτῶν : “they comply faithfully with what stands in their law,” is an erroneous assumption, since ἵνα πληρ . is the usual formula for the fulfilment of prophecies , and since ΝΌΜΟς here, as in John 10:34 , stands in a wider sense, while ΑὐΤῶΝ is to be taken as Τῷ ὙΜΕΤΈΡῼ , John 8:17 (see in loc .), comp. ὑμῶν , John 10:34 . Bengel well says: “ in lege eorum , quam assidue terunt et jactant.”

[169] Which, as a matter of course, and according to vv. 22 24, does not do away with responsibility. Comp. Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 151.

Verses 26-27

John 15:26-27 . Over against this hatred of the world, Jesus further appeals confidently, and in the certainty of His future justification, to the testimony which the Paraclete , and also the disciples themselves , will bear regarding Him. The Paraclete was to give testimony of Christ through the disciples , in speaking forth from them (Matthew 10:20 ; Mark 13:11 ). But the testimony of the disciples of Christ was at the same time also their own , since it expressed their own experiences with Christ from the beginning onwards, John 1:14 ; 1 John 1:1 ; Acts 1:21-22 . Both were, in so far as they, filled and enlightened by the divine πνεῦμα , delivered His instructions (John 14:26 ), and what they themselves had heard and seen of Jesus, both consequently ἐν πνεύματι , one witness; it is, however, separated into its two actual factors (comp. Acts 1:8 ; Romans 8:16 ; Romans 9:1 ), and they are kept apart.

ὃν ἑγὼ πέμψω ὑμ . παρὰ τοῦ πατρ .] How? see John 14:16 . As ἐγώ is used with the weight of authority, so also has the more exact definition: τὸ πνεῦμα τ . ἀληθ . (see on John 14:17 ), and the addition ὃ π . τ . πατρ . ἐκπορ ., in emphatic confirmation of the above παρὰ τοῦ πατρός , the pragmatic weight of causing to be felt the truth and validity of the Spirit’s testimony, which thus goes back to the Father . The general expression ἐκπορ ., however, which is without any definite limitation of time, does not refer to the immanent relation of subsistence ( actus hypostaticus ), but, agreeably to the connection, to the being efficaciously communicated outwards [170] from the Father, by means of which, in every case that occurs, the Spirit is received. “Itaque hujusmodi testimonia nec a Graecis (against the filioque ) nec contra Graecos (against the διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ ἐκ τοῦ πατρός ) … satis apposite sunt citata,” Beza. For the dogmatic use in the interest of the Greek Church, see already in Theodore of Mopsuestia. Recently, Hilgenfeld especially has laid great stress on the hypostatic reference, and that in the sense of a Gnostic emanation.

ἘΚΕῖΝΟς ] opposed to the Christ-hating world.

ΠΕΡῚ ἘΜΟῦ ] of my Person, my work, etc. Comp. 1 John 5:6 .

ΚΑῚ ὙΜΕῖς ΔΈ ] atque vos etiam . Comp. on John 6:51 , John 8:17 .

μαρτυρεῖτε ] ye also are witnesses, since ye from the beginning (of my Messianic activity) are with me (consequently are able to bear witness of me from your experience). Jesus does not say μαρτυρήσετε , because the disciples were already the witnesses which they were to be in future. They were, as the witnesses, already forthcoming . ἐστέ denotes that which still continues from the commencement up to the present moment. Comp. 1 John 3:8 . ΜΑΡΤΥΡ . taken as imperative would make the command appear too abrupt; considering its very importance, a more definite unfolding of it was necessarily to be expected, which, however, is not missed, if the words are only a part of the promise to bear witness (in answer to B. Crusius and Hofmann, Schriftbew . II. 2, p. 19). An echo of this word of Christ regarding the united testimony of the Spirit and of the apostles is found in Acts 5:32 , also in Acts 15:28 .

[170] The Spirit goes out if He is sent , John 14:16 ; John 14:26 ; Galatians 4:6 . Comp. the figurative expression of the outpouring . Seo also Hofmann, Schriftbew . I. p. 203 f.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on John 15". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/john-15.html. 1832.
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