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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

John 15

Verses 1-27



John 15:1John 16:15

(Pericope for Exaudi Sunday John 15:26John 16:4; John 16:5-15 Pericope for Cantate Sunday)

1. The love of Jesus as the source of love to Him (John 15:1-10)

1I am the true vine,1 and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away [αἴρει, cutteth off]: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth [χαθαιρει, cutteth partially, pruneth, cleanseth] it, that it may bring forth [bear] more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through [Ye are clean already because of, by reason of] the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more [so neither] can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth 6[beareth] much fruit; for without [apart from] me ye can do nothing. If a man [any one] abide not in me, he is cast forth as a [the] branch, and is withered; and men [they] gather them, and cast them into the fire,2 and they are burned [they burn (quickly and readily). 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall [may]3 ask what [whatsoever] ye will, and it shall [will] be done unto you. 8Herein [Therein] is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be [and ye will become (thus for the first time truly)4] my disciples.

9As the Father hath loved me, so [thus also] have I loved you: continue [abide] ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall [will] abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

2. Joy (John 15:11-17)

11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain [may be]5 in you, and that your joy might be full [may be made full, filled up]. 12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have [omit have] loved you. 13Greater love hath no man [no one] than this, that a man [he] lay down his life for his 14,15 friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever [what]6 I command you. Henceforth I call you not [No longer do I call you] servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of [which I heard from] my Father I have [omit have] made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you [Ye did not choose me, but I chose you], and ordained [appointed] you, that ye should [may] go and bring forth [bear] fruit, and that your fruit should [may] remain; [in order] that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, [in order] that ye [may] love one another.

3. Steadfastness in view of the hatred of the world (John 15:18-25)

18If the world hate you, ye [omit ye] know that it [hath] hated me before it hated 19[omit it hated] you.7 If ye were of the world, the world would love his [its] own [in you]; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have [omit have] persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying [if they kept my word] they will keep yours also. 21But all these things will they do unto you8 for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin [would have no sin9]; but now they have no cloak [pretext, excuse] for their sin. 23He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works which none [no] other man did,10 they had not had [they would have no] sin: but now have they [they have] 25both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that [But in order that] the word might [may] be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause (Psalms 35:19; Psalms 69:4).

4. Promise of the Holy Ghost as the strength of martyrdom (John 15:26 to John 16:6)

26But11 when the Comforter. [Paraclete] is come, whom I will [shall] send unto you from the Father, even [omit even] the Spirit of truth, which [who] proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify [will bear witness, μαρτυρήσει] of me: 27And ye also shall bear witness [But ye also bear witness, or, are witnesses, χαὶ ύμεῖς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε]12 Joh 16:1 because [for] ye have been [are] with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should [may] not be offended [fall 2through offence]. They shall [will] put you out of the synagogues [excommunicate you]: yea the time [hour] cometh, that whosoever [when every man that] killeth you will think that he doeth God service [a sacrificial service, or, that he is offering service to God]. 3And these things will they do unto you [omit unto you],13 because they have not known the Father, nor me [they neither know the Father nor me]. 4But these things have I told you [But I have spoken these things unto you], that when the time shall come [when the (their)14 hour cometh], ye may remember that I told you of them [ye may remember them as I told you, or, ye may remember that I myself told you of them].15 And these things I said not unto you [I told you not] at the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I go my way [ὑπάγω, see John 15:7] to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6But [Yet] because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

5. The Holy Ghost as the strength of the victory over the world (John 15:7-11)

7Nevertheless [But] I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away [depart, ἀπέλθω]; for if I go not away [do not depart], the Comforter [the Paraclete] will not come unto you; but if I depart [go, shall have gone, πορευθῶ],16 I will send him unto you. 8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment [he will convince and convict the world, or, bring conviction to the world concerning, or, in regard to sin, and to righteousness, and to judgment, ἐλέγξει τὸν κόσμον περὶ ἁμαρτίας καὶ περὶ δικαιοσύνης καὶ περὶ κρίσεως].17 9Of [In regard to] sin (that it is rooted and essentially consists in the fact), because 10[that18] they believe not on me; Of [In regard to] righteousness (that it becomes manifest in the fact), because [that] I (glorified) go to my [the] Father, and ye see 11me no more (whereby grace and judgment are indicated); Of [In regard to] judgment, because [that] the prince of this world is [hath been] judged (in the work of redemption).

6. Promise of the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of the glorification of Christ, and the revelation of the future (John 15:12-15.)

12, 13I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. How beit [But] when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth [all the truth, or, the whole truth, εἰς τὴν 19]: for he shall [will] not speak of [from] himself; but whatsoever he shall hear [he heareth],20 that shall he speak [he will speak about]: and he will shew you [tell you, proclaim to you] things to 14come. He shall [will] glorify me: for he shall receive of mine [he will take of what is mine, ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται], and shall shew [will tell, proclaim] it unto you. 15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I [for this cause I said], that he shall take of mine [he taketh of what is mine, ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λαμβἀνει],21 and shall shew [will tell, proclaim] it unto you.


[The parabolic discourse or allegory of the Vine and the Branches is the second of the two παροιμίαι recorded in the Gospel of John; the other being the parable of the Good Shepherd, John 10:0. See the remarks p. 317 f. It illustrates, under the figure of the noblest of fruit-bearing plants, the precious truth of the organic life-union of Christ with believers: He is the only source of their spiritual life and fruitfulness; they live in Him and of Him; and apart from Him they must inevitably wither and die, like the branches cut off from the parent stem, although they may retain for a little while a deceitful greenness and appearance of life. The same truth is set forth by Paul under the similitude of the head and the members, Ephesians 5:30; Colossians 1:23; Colossians 2:19; Rom 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Corinthians 12:27. In Archbishop Trench’s Studies on the Gospels, pp. 273–286, there is a suggestive exegetical essay on John 15:1-6.—P. S.]

John 15:1. I am the true vine, etc. [Ἐγώ εἰμιἄμπελος ἡ , καὶπατήρ μουγεωργός ἐστι].—The new meditation takes for granted a preceding pause; the figure chosen by the Lord presupposes a particular inducement to its selection. Various conjectures as to the inducement:

1. It was presented by the golden vine on the door of the temple (Josephus Ant. XV. 11, 3; De bello Jud. V. 5, 4), viewed during a stay in the temple (Jerome, Rosenmüller), or seen from a distance in the moonlight (Lampe). [This golden vine was one of the chief ornaments of Herod’s temple and no doubt a symbol of the theocracy which is called ‘a noble vine’ (Jeremiah 2:21; comp. Isaiah 5:1 ff.; Ezekiel 19:10 ff.; Psalms 80:8-19); yet Christ would scarcely set Himself over against a dead image of man’s workmanship.—P. S.]

2. The sight of the wine-cup at the Lord’s supper (see Matthew 26:28; Grotius, Nösselt, Meyer). [Ewald, Trench. The Communion wine, the γέννημα τοῦ (Matthew 26:28), which He had declared to be the symbol of His blood shed for the remission of sins, presented undoubtedly the nearest motive for this discourse on the closest union between Christ and His people, which is embodied in the sacrament of union with Christ and His people. Yet this does not exclude an external occasion such as is suggested by Lange, sub 6.—P. S.]

3. A vine which, from the house, had shot its tendrils into the guest-chamber (Knapp, Tholuck).
4. The view of vineyards reposing outside in the full moon (Storr).

5. Only the mental recollection of the Old Testament figure (Isaiah 5:1; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:2; Ezekiel 19:10; Psalms 80:8; Lücke, Baumg. -Crusius. [Alford who, however, combines with this the second conjecture] considered as relating to Christ and the disciples who were about Him (Hofmann).

6. The walk down to Kedron through the vineyards (Lampe, Lange) [in his Leben Jesu, followed by Godet (II. 406), who supposes that Christ, seeing a vine with branches, stopped on the way, gathered His disciples around Him and spoke this parable.—P. S.]

We, however, in upholding this latter view, proceed from the supposition that there were burning along the sides of the valley of Kedron nocturnal vineyard-fires,—for the burning of the cut-off branches is a principal point of consideration. It was 1. the time of year for the vineyard-fires, 2. for the cleansing of the vine, 3. for the burning of the offal from the Paschal lamb; this last was strictly commanded (Exodus 12:10; Numbers 9:12) and might easily have been performed in connection with the duties appertaining to vine-dressing (see Leben Jesu II. 3, p. 1425). The Easter-fires which the Gallic and British Churches caused to be kindled in the night following Maundy-Thursday, point to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper as obtaining in Asia Minor and, through this, back to the Jewish Paschal-fires.

Jesus’ discourse concerning the vine is neither an allegory nor a parable, but a parabolic discourse, and that a symbolical one (see chap. 10).
The essential Vine, not the “real.” [Comp. on ἀληθινός the first Textual Note.—P. S.] That which the earthly vine is figuratively as a symbol, that which the people of Israel was as a type (Psalms 80:8; Jer. ii. 21), Christ is in radical essentiality; He is the trunk-root and stem of the kingdom of love, of its invigorating and inspiriting fruit and effect: festive joy doth the vine represent in an earthly figure, more a child of the heavenly sun than of earthly soil. [The comparison with the O. T. theocracy (defended also by Ebrard and Hengstenberg who find in ἀληθινή an antithesis to the unfruitful vine of the Jewish theocracy) is not so natural here, since Christ represents Himself, and not His Church, as the true Vine, i.e. the reality of the idea which is figuratively represented in the natural vine.—P.S.]

Ye the branches [ὑμεῖς τὰ κλήματα, John 15:5.—P. S.] 1. Christ the principle of discipleship, bearing and quickening all through His Spirit; 2. they an organic whole with Him, through the communion of His Spirit.

The husbandman. [γεωργοίς, the owner of the vineyard as well as the laborer, is a more dignified term than ἀμπελουργός, i.e. the vine dresser or actual cultivator of the vine. King Uzziah is called γεωργοίς, 2 Chronicles 26:10, and the leaders of the Jewish theocracy γεωργοί, Matthew 21:31-41. Trench: “Not that the γεωργοίς need be assumed to ‘purge’ or prune only by the hand of others. The labor of the vineyard is exactly of that lighter kind, in which the proprietor might be well pleased himself to take a share.” Wordsworth: “He tills our hearts with the ploughshare of His word, and scatters the seeds of His precepts there, and sends us the dew and rain of the Spirit, that He may reap the fruits of holiness.”—P. S.] God’s rule over the world Isaiah 1. a personal government; 2. a teleological government: establishment, culture, perfection of the kingdom of love; 3. a government exercised upon Christ as the centre of the world and upon His disciples as His organs; a strict and wise government corresponding with the noble nature of the Vine; a government realizing the destiny of the Vine, partly through a cutting off of the useless, partly through a pruning of the serviceable, branches (judgments and purifyings). [Arians used this passage, as implying that the Son was a creature and entirely subordinated to the Father. But Christ calls Himself the true Vine, not in His eternal divine nature, but in His historical mediatorial character and work. Augustine: Quamvis autem Christus vitis non esset, nisi homo esset, tamen istam gratiam palmitibus non præberet, nisi etiam Deus esset.—P. S.]

John 15:2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away [ΙΙᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μὴ φέρον καρπόν, αἳρει αὐτσ́].—In Me; namely in organic intimacy, ἐν ἐμοί.22 Antithesis of the non-fruit-bearing and fruit-bearing branches. The circumstance that the fruit-bearing branches are not placed in the fore-ground, is indicative of the occasion which suggested the figure: the view of the vineyard-fires. The ground of unfruitfulness is declared in the following, John 15:4. The natural degeneracy of the proud shoots (Luther) which are not governed by the noble impulse of the vine, but are common, useless wood, is made a figure of the moral misconduct of such of Christ’s members as stand in the external connection of discipleship, without, however, remaining internally connected with Him. [The fruits of the Spirit are enumerated Galatians 5:22.—P. S.]

Every (branch) that beareth fruit, he pruneth (cleanseth) it [καθαίρει αὐτό].—Seeming to attack their lives also with the knife, as is indicated by the similarity of sound: αἴρει, καθαίρει.23 The purgings here mentioned are to be referred to the providences of the Father. Chrysostom calls them πειρασμοί; Augustine: castigationes dei (“sunt emendatoriæ, non interfectoriæ”). [Bengel: afflictiointerna et externa; Trench and others refer the purging to the whole process of sanctification which includes temptations and afflictions.—P. S.] The purging itself is not, indeed, accomplished without the co-operation of the internal judgment of the Spirit (Galatians 2:19); here, however, Christ has in view those divine judgments, such as overtook the disciples in the Passion-night.—That it may bear more fruit [ἳνα καρπο͂ν πλείονα φέρῃ].—The relation between Christ and His disciples is here indicated in such general terms as to render it impossible for the branches to denote only the Apostles, or the fruits official fruits merely. The general fruits of spiritual fellowship with Christ, particularly as fruits of love, constitute the meaning. Such fruits were, doubtless, to make their first appearance as results of the ministry of the Apostles, there being, indeed no true official fruits independent of the fruits of their labors.

John 15:3. Ye are clean already [Ἤδη ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε, clean by virtue of your connection with the root and stem, and yet in need of being cleansed as branches, John 15:2 (καθαίρει); mundi atque mundandi…quis enim in hac vita sic mundus, ut non sit magis magisque mundandus? (Augustine). Clean objectively, as being justified in Christ, in need of cleansing subjectively, as to sanctifieation.—P. S.]—See John 13:10. It is a question whether the idea presented is that of men already purified in antithesis to those whose purification is yet future (Meyer), or that of an internal principial purification, which they already possess, in antithesis to the external purification which they still lack and must now receive (Leben Jesu, Tholuck). We regard the latter antithesis as the one intended and agreeing with the context.—The noble vine-branch is clean in respect of its inward vitality, but, nevertheless, it must be purged from wild outgrowths, shoots and appendicles. The purifying word of Jesus that made the disciples clean from within (see John 6:57), must be supplemented from without by the Father’s school of suffering; the latter, however, was not to give them the principle of purity, but to strengthen it and free it from the danger of degeneration. In this school of suffering their purification must be rendered complete through their abiding in Him.

[By reason of the word which I have spoken to you, διὰ τὸν λόγονδιὰ indicates the ground or reason, as John 6:57. The living word of Christ received by faith into the heart and dwelling there (comp. John 15:7, τᾶ ῥήματά μου ἐν ὑμῖν μείνοντα) is the principle of regeneration and purification (John 17:17; Jam 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Ephesians 5:26). It is not said by reason of baptism; the apostles were not baptized (except with the preparatory baptism of John), and regeneration is possible still without water baptism, which receives its force and efficacy only from the word and power of the Spirit present with it and working through it. Augustine who otherwise, as most of the fathers, has an exaggerated view of the efficacy and necessity of water baptism, remarks: “Why did Ho not say: ‘Ye are clean by baptism?’ Because it is the word which cleanses in the water. Take away the word, and what is the water? Add the word to the element, and it becomes a sacrament. Whence is this power of the water that it touches the body and the heart is cleansed? Whence, but because the word operates not merely in being spoken, but in being believed.”—P. S.]

John 15:4. Abide in Me and I in you [Μείνατε ἐν ἐμοί, κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν].—Not “on Me” (Meyer) but “in Me,” i e. in the true internal vital connection of spiritual communion with Christ. The abiding in Him is the condition whereon depends His ability to abide in them. The interpretation: “Take heed that I may abide in you” (Grotius), likewise converts the promise into a condition, and that the one already declared: “Abide in Me.” [Meyer supplies to κἀγὼ ε̇ν ὑμῖν, with Lange, μενῶ, I shall abide; but Bengel, Godet, Trench supply, with Grotius, μείνω, I abide. Bengel: Facite ut maneatis in me, et ut ego maneam in vobis. Trench: “Take heed that ye abide in Me, and that I abide in you.” This is supported by John 15:7 (μείνῃ), but it is grammatically less natural than the usual interpretation, which makes the second clause a promise.—P. S.]

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself [καθὼς τὸ κλῆμα οὐ δύναται καρπὸν φέρεινἑαυτοῦ].—The thing treated of here is, manifestly, the abiding of the branch as a noble branch in the vine, not merely as a shoot on the vine. This is the condition of fruit-bearing. The same law applies to the disciples: so neither can ye [οὔτως οὐδὲ ὑμεῖς, ἐὰν μὴ ἐν ἐμοὶ μένητε].—It is no question here of the natural inability of the old man (Augustine), but of the simple organic dependence of the believer on Christ; though with this dependence, the effect of such inability, or the constant danger of turning into a proud shoot again, is taken for granted also. The sort of synergism expressed under the supposition of abiding in Christ is explained by the figure itself; nothing without Him, everything in connection with Him. This is fulfilled, in the case of the branch, in organic vitality; in the case of the disciples, in free personality.

John 15:5. I am the Vine, ye are the branches [Ἐγώ εἰμιἄμπελος τὰ κλήματα].—The positive antithesis to the negative declaration John 15:4. At the same time, however, an emphasizing of the organic contrast: I the Vine=principle; ye the branches=organs entirely conditional upon the Vine and dependent upon it.—And I in him, abide, namely.—For apart from Me.—Without fellowship with Me [χωρὶς ἐμοῦ = χωρισθέντεςἐμοῦ, separate from Me, which is more than without Me.—P. S.]—Ye can do nothing [οὐ δύνασθε ποιεῖν οὐδέν].—Properly, ye cannot be productive and creative as vine-branches. Hence, Christ is speaking of specifically Christian labors and achievements. Christian vital activity is entirely dependent upon vital communion with Christ. Even such noble things as precede conversion are, so far as they are noble, done in the truth of the Logos (Olshausen); but it is only through communion with the Christ of history that a man attains to the performance of Christian acts, new works, deeds of faith, God-like deeds,—or, in fine, that a man brings forth fruit. Luther: “He doth not here speak of a natural or worldly life and conduct, but of fruits of the Gospel.”

[The passage plainly asserts the total spiritual inability and unfruitfulness of man without vital connection with Christ, and so far is a strong proof-text for Augustinian and against Pelagian views. Augustine says that Christ spoke thus “ut respondent futuro Pelagio.” Calvin: “Non tantum co-operantis suæ gratiæ auxilium hic commendat, sed nos penitus privat omni virtute nisi quam suppeditat ipse nobis.” Yet the passage has frequently been applied without proper discrimination. Christ speaks here not of natural morality and civil righteousness, which has nothing to do with man’s salvation, but of spiritual righteousness and fruits of the gospel; nor does He speak of unconverted men, but of Christians who even after their conversion are in constant need of His grace for the performance of any Christian work. Christ is the beginning, middle and end of spiritual life; we can do nothing without Him, but much, yea, every thing with Him. Trench says: “It is a poor and inadequate interpretation of the words ‘Without Me’ to make them to mean, ‘Ye can do nothing until ye are in Me and have My grace.’ It is rather, ‘After ye are in Me, ye can even then accomplish nothing except ye draw life and strength from Me. . . . From first to last it is I that must work in and through you.’ We have a warning here to the regenerate man that he never seek to do aught of himself; not a declaration that the unregenerate is unable to do aught.”—P. S.]

John 15:6. If any one abide not in Me [ἐὰν μή τις μένἐν ἐμοί].—Properly, shall not have abode.—He is cast forth [ἐβλήθη ἔξω ὡς τὸ κλῆμα καὶ ἐξαράνθη, καὶ συνάγουσιν αὐτὰ καὶ εἰς τὸ πῦρ βάλλουσιν, καὶ καίεται].—I.e. already cast forth (or cast out, ἔξω, viz. from the vineyard, i.e. the true Church), like the branch [τὸ κλη̇μα, sc. τὸ ἄχρηστον (Euthym.), the useless branch.—P. S.] The article, as well as what follows, very distinctly intimates that Jesus and His disciples are viewing the burning up of withered branches. He is cast forth and is withered, and is now, in company with other similar branches, gathered for the fire. Interpretations of the Aorists [ἐβλήθη and έξαράνθη]:

1. As is the custom (Grotius);
2. They have a Future signification (Kuinoel, Baumg.-Crusius);
3. They are expressive of what is immediately to happen: very soon, etc. (Beza, Lücke, etc.);24

4. The events described are things past as viewed in presence of the Last Day. The fire, therefore, meaning the fire of the final judgment (Meyer).25

But we should not permit our interpretation to be biased by this allusion tο the last fiery judgment, since fiery judgments manifold in their nature precede that final one, and every trial is directly converted into a fiery judgment to him who has not stood the test, Malachi 3:3; Matthew 3:12. Therefore the Aorists are indicative of time past, because the things which they denote are viewed from the stand-point of judgments already present in time. When we see branches gathered together and blazing up, we know that these were withered because they were cut off, and they were cut off because they had not abode in the vine. Jesus is induced to select this tense: 1. by the sight of the burning branches; 2. by proximate reference to Judas who but now is being gathered up together with the withered branches of the Sanhedrin. Hence the fire is, primarily, only a prelude to the fire of Gehenna, though, at the same time, it points towards it; and the gatherers26 are all divinely ordained instruments of judgment, and not merely the angels at the end of the world, Matthew 13:41 (Matthew 24:31; Rev. 19:24); see Psalms 104:4. Similarly Tholuck in reference to Hebrews 6:8.

And they burn [καὶ καίεται, sc. τὰ κλήματα].—Emphatic. Like dry brush they flame up quickly and are speedily consumed. Indicative of the conspicuous, rapid and shocking ruin of apostates, or, in general, of dead members of Christ.

[They burn, is more graphic and terrible than the E. V., they are burned; comp. the Pass. part. καιόμενος, burning, flaming, and Ezekiel 15:5, where it is said of the wood of the vine-tree:

‘Lo, to the fire it hath been given for fuel,
Its two ends have the fire eaten,
And its midst has been scorched!’
Bengel: “Magna vi positum eximia cum majestate.” Trench: “All which is here expressed or implied, of ‘the fire’ (Matthew 3:10), ‘the flame’ (Luke 16:24), ‘the flaming fire’ (2 Thessalonians 1:8), ‘the furnace of fire’ (Matthew 13:42; Matthew 13:50), ‘the gehenna of fire’ (Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:43), ‘the lake of fire’ (Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8), ‘the everlasting fire’ (Matthew 25:41; Judges 7:0), with all the secrets of anguish which words like these, if there be any truth in words, must involve, demands rather to be trembled at than needs to be expounded.”—P. S.]

John 15:7. If ye abide in Me, etc. [Ἐὰν μείνητε ἐν ἐμοὶ καὶ τὰ ῥήματά μου ἐν ὑμῖν μείνη, ὅ ἐὰν θέλητε αἰτήσασθε (imperative, which some MSS. have changed into the future tense καὶ γενήσεται ὑμῖν]. The shocking judgment of the withered branches inspires them with the ardent wish that they may be preserved from a like catastrophe. The Lord’s answer anticipates the expression of this wish. Ye shall not only be preserved, but the most glorious gain shall accrue to you; but ye must pray aright. Βut in order to pray aright, ye must retain my words within you,—and for this end, again, ye must steadfastly continue in the true fellowship of love with Me, 1 John 5:14.—What ye will (ὅ ἐὰν θέλητε, emphatically put first).—I.e. not in the sense of arbitrary choice, but in the way of love and of Christ’s word [or “in the way of God’s will and as tending to πολὺν καρπὸν φέρειν” (Alford) ]. In this direction (in His name) no request which they may venture, can be too bold. How far did their deliverance and exaltation by means of the night of the Passion exceed all that they could ask or understand! [They who abide in Christ, can only pray in conformity or at least in entire submission to His will, and for things which tend to His glory and the salvation of souls. Such prayers must be heard, as to their true spiritual intent, although very often they are heard at a time and in a manner which differs widely from our short-sighted vision. God sometimes hears the substance of our prayers best by denying their form. On prayer in Christ’s name, see notes on John 14:13 f.—P. S.]

John 15:8. Therein is My Father glorified [Ἐν τούτῳ ἐδοξάσθηπατήρ μου).—We agree with Meyer in considering ἐν τούτῳ as relating not to the ἴνα following it (Lücke), but to the verse preceding it: “by this granting of prayer, conceded to the fulfilling of the condition,—the μένειν ἐν ἐμοί.”27 The first object to be accomplished by the granting of the disciples’ prayers is the glorification of the Father, in pursuance of the glorification of the Son,—the latter being accomplished subsequently to the effusion of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples. This, the Father’s glorification, should, however, react upon the disciples, causing them to bear much fruit and to become, more thoroughly than ever, the disciples of Jesus. The bearing of much fruit was not to be the means of their entering into new discipleship with Him; the two things were to appear simultaneously.—So shall ye grow up to be true disciples to Me.—[καὶ γενήσεσθε (Codd. Sin. and A., text. rec., Tischend. 8, Mey., etc.), or γένησθε (B. D., etc., Lachm., Treg., Alf., Westcott and Hort) ἐμοὶ μαθηταί.—P. S.]. It is most fitting to interpret γενήσεσθε as a consecutive promise, not as a further demand; hence it is independent of ἴνα. [This is preferable. Τεςήσεσθε expresses the results of πολύν καρπὸν (φέρειν) with the additional idea of a gradual process of growth. Discipleship of Christ is the beginning and the end, or, as Bengel has it, the foundation and top (fundamentum et fastigium), of Christianity. Μαθηταί here is, of course, pregnant, such as are worthy of Me and worthy of the name of Christians which means followers or imitators of Christ.—P. S.]

John 15:9. As My Father hath loved Me. [Kαθὼς ἠγάπησέν μεπατήρ, κἀγὼ υμᾶς ἡγάπησα].—The apodosis commences, not at μείνατε (Grotius) but at κἀτώ, as is demonstrated by the distinction John 15:10. Aside from this fact, the construction of Grotius would certainly afford a good sense. According as My Father hath loved Me, i.e. in accordance with the mystery of the Trinity,—and as I have loved you, i.e. in accordance with the mystery of redemption. Continue in My love [μείνατε ἐν τῇ ]. Thus the whole weight would rest in the modification of the continuing. The continuing, however, has already been the subject of discourse; this continuing in Christ is modified here as a continuing in His love. It is a question whether the Aorists are employed because Jesus is standing upon the boundary of His life and looking back (Meyer), or whether the meaning of the expression is not: recognized in love, conceived a love for, as, similarly, the term πεπἰστευκα means: I have become a believer. We take the latter for granted; in this view of the case, the Aorists mark the love of God and Jesus as an accomplished fact, not simply from the boundary of Jesus’ life, but from the whole future of the disciples. In the glorification of Jesus they should contemplate the fact of the Father’s love to the Son; also, however, the measure of the Son’s love to them—a love which was analogously to glorify them. They must continue, must take root in the contemplation of this love; their regeneration, their fruits, their discipleship, shall all spring from their thus abiding (i.e. it shall be the source of their justification). The ἀγάπηἐμή not love to Jesus (Grotius and others), though grammatically the expression might have this signification, but the love of Jesus to them, as is proved by the foregoing (John 15:11χαρὰἐμή). Love to Jesus is here, as throughout the section, expressed by the continuing in Him.

John 15:10. If ye keep My commandments.—The commandments of Jesus are, in this place as elsewhere, the provisions that He has made for the spiritual regulation of men’s lives: precepts, promises, instructions, consolations and warnings in a mass. The warmth and sincerity of vital communion is conditioned by fidelity in “will-oneness” (Tholuck). But, again, the singleness of our view of the life of Christ is conditioned by our faithful perception of His word in detail. True unity is conditioned by the plenitude of manifoldness, true synthesis by analysis, fidelity in great things by fidelity in small things.—Even as I have kept My Father’s commandments.—The obedience of Jesus even to the death upon the cross; the conservation of the love the Father bore His human form and conduct.

John 15:11. These things have I spoken unto you.—Now follows the section bearing upon the joy that the new life in brotherly love and friendship with Jesus brings. The discourse upon the love of Christ was to be the means of developing joy within them. Thus it is written of the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22 : love, joy.—That My joy might be in you [ἵναχαρὰἐμὴ ἐν ὑμῖν ᾖ . Observe the collocation of ἡ ἐμή and ἐν ὑμῖν].—Interpretations:

1. My joy in you [mea de vobis lætitia] (χαίρειν ἐν; Augustine, Lampe: the joy inspired by His viewing their life as pictured in predestination,—which joy was always perfect). That I may rejoice in you,—that ye may be a cause and subject for my joy (Luthardt).

2. Your joy over Me [gaudium vestrum de me] (Euth. Zigab., Grotius, Piscator; over Christ’s merit).

3. That the joyfulness occasioned by Me may be in you (Calvin, De Wette).

4. The joy experienced by Christ Himself, the joy of His own Spirit (Cyril, Lücke, Meyer [Alford]). Doubtless this is the meaning of the passage. The holy joyfulness of Christ, the untrammeled, glad upsoaring of His soul in the midst of all His tribulations shall, through the Spirit, by means of the communication and awakening of love, devolve upon the disciples themselves (see 1 John 3:21; 1 John 4:17; Gosp. John 16:22; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 4:4 and many passages in the epistles of St. Paul). It is impossible to maintain the distinction of a joy that Christ tastes in Himself (Chrysostom, Bengel), and of one which He occasions (Calvin, Hofmann, Tholuck); for Christ communicates to, and occasions in, His people precisely that which He possesses in Himself. That, moreover, Christ’s joy itself was first made humanly complete in His exaltation and communication of salvation to the world, is certainly a fact to be insisted upon, in accordance with Chrysostom and Bengel, although they specialize individual considerations too much. From the following it also results that Christ’s joy in the redeemed is likewise particularly treated of. “And good pleasure in men.”—In you, i.e. as a new and resident vital principle. They have not this perfect joyfulness yet; it must come to them from Christ; and for this reason also the reading ῇ is better than [μέινη.—And your joy may be made perfect [καὶχαρὰ ὑμῶν πληρωθῇ].—Man’s natural impulse to joy has, even in the disciples, already developed into the beginnings of a sacred joy; these beginnings are, however, as yet imperfect; through Christ’s joy, their joy shall be made complete [“uplifted and ennobled even to fulness—to the extreme of their capability and satisfaction” (Alford)]. And, again, the joy shall be theirs, existing under a peculiar phase in each one. For the dominion of Christ’s personality in the hearts of His people does not destroy, but quicken, develop and glorify their own personality, 1 John 1:4; 2 John 1:12.

John 15:12. This is My commandment, That ye love one another.—Christ does not here pass to another exhortation (Tholuck, Meyer); He does but declare the vital law whose aim is the perfection of their joy. It must be grounded on His love, developed in mutual brotherly love. As the 14th chapter is an exposition of the words John 13:33 : “whither I go, ye cannot come,”—i.e. an exposition of the heaven beyond this present world, so here the exposition of the saying John 13:34 appears as the full explanation of the heaven upon earth treated of in John 15:0 : that earthly heaven, with its heavenly joy, is to be revealed in mutual brotherly love. This ἐντολή is the sum of the ἐντολαί John 15:10; comp. Romans 13:8.—As I have loved you.—Ι. e. first qualitatively: as personalities destined for salvation they must love one another sub specie, æterni; for only such loving constitutes true love; thus doing, however, they will always be quantitatively approaching the true sacrificial joyfulness of His love.

John 15:13. Greater love hath no man than this, etc. [Μείζονα ταύτης ̇ει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αυ̇τοῦ],—Difficulty is here occasioned by the ἵνα, and the different construction of this leads to a different interpretation of the verse. The ordinary explanation considers it an exposition of ταύτης. This makes the whole verse a generalized description of the love of Christ. “A greater love than I bear to you hath no man, namely, that he layeth down his life for his friends.” Meyer, on the other hand, maintains that ἵνα is expressive of purpose even in this place; he interprets thus: Greater love than My love to you. hath no man: the divine purpose (ἴνα) which My love is destined to accomplish, is, that a man shall surrender his life for his friends. Opposed to this view is, however, the grammatical objection that ἴνα would then in reality be the beginning of a new sentence; another objection is the logical one that the love of Christ would then be cited merely as an example. Moreover, in the subsequent verse the Lord calls the disciples His friends, after having given utterance to the idea of a man’s dying for his friends. Hence we must doubtless assume, with De Wette, that ἀγάπη, in conjunction with its meaning of love, contains the idea of an impulse of the will, a law;28 and in like manner we must accept the supposition of Lücke, that the case of a sacrificing of life is put to express the ideal of love. The proper meaning of the saying is this: greater love hath no man than that which goes to the point of causing him to lay down his life for his friends. It is a picture of the love of Christ—generalized, however, because this love, after the pattern of Christ, should be to His people a law of their lives, and because foretokens of this love may make their appearance in the realm of the noble, even amongst the unchristianized of mankind.

Yet another interpretation were this: a love, great like this, hath no man beside,—in order that One there might be to give proof of such by laying down His life, etc. The dearth of love in all others renders the great love-sacrifice of the One necessary. Still, it is the intention of Christ to represent His self-sacrificing love as a pattern for the disciples, and therefore the usual interpretation seems advisable.

The passage Romans 5:6 is apparently acquainted with a still higher degree of love. But dying for men who have been sinners and enemies is a dying for men who shall be friends; Christ dies for sinners who are to be friends; or, again, He dies in a special sense for sinners who have already become friends, in a general sense for friends who are still sinners. Be it observed, moreover, that He is not delineating His death under its unique form of an expiatory death, but under its representative form as a death of self-sacrificing friendly love.

John 15:14. Ye are My friends [ὐ μεῖς φίλοι μου ἐστέ, ἐὰν ποιῆτεἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν],—Christ, with these words, applies the general proposition of the preceding verse to His relation to the disciples. I look upon you as friends for whom I die; but ye too must prove yourselves My friends by doing after My commandment, i.e. loving one another according to the degree set forth by My sacrificial love, in so far as that is designed as a pattern for you. And hence the idea of φίλοι is not merely that of “passive recipients of love”—and indeed the word must always, from the nature of the case, mean something more than that.

John 15:15. Now no more—servants.—Neither did He officially call them servants before, but they were such in accordance with the conception of Rabbinical discipleship, and but a short time previous to this He had expressly brought out this characteristic of their relation. This is now at an end; but their emancipation and conversion into freedmen does not estrange them from Him; on the contrary, it elevates them into the category of friends. As, however, the idea of disciple is connected with that of servant, so the condition of friends is implicative of that of apostles. What Christ understands by the term friends, He explains by the antithesis of servants. A distinction must undoubtedly be made between the stricter and the broader sense of friend as well as of servant. Friends though they were before (Luke 12:4; John 11:11), from this time forth they become such in a higher sense; and though now ceasing to be His servants in a legal sense, yet, in the sense of free obedience, they do now become servants of His more truly than ever (John 15:20; Acts 4:29; Romans 1:1, etc.); just as the Son of God was, as such, also the Servant of God κατἐξοχγ́ν. In what respect, then, do they cease to be His servants in the former sense?

The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, etc.—The servant executes the individual orders of his master but is not privy to the whole idea which informs his government; moreover he executes the individual order simply as under authority, without being in full unison with it, because it is not instilled into him as an idea and a motive,—and in respect of this fact, it is his master that does such and such things through him; still less does he understand what his master does personally, or through the medium of other servants. He, with his unfree individual performances, does not understand the free doings of his lord, Romans 7:15. The friend, on the other hand, is the confidant of the thought of his friend and exerts himself in harmony with him. And so the exaltation of the disciples from Christ’s service to friendship is accomplished by His confiding to them the fundamental idea of His life, His sacrificial death of love in accordance with the loving counsel of God; it was by this confidence that He sought to arouse them to a loving activity that should rejoice in sacrifice. They are initiated into His foundation of the personal kingdom of love and consecrated to assist in the extension of the same.—And in this respect He has made known to them all (πάντα) that He has heard from the Father,—not extensively (see John 16:12), but intensively; in the Father’s counsel of love all lies enfolded. Lücke makes this distinction: All that I have heard that was meant to be communicated to you; Meyer distinguishes the will of salvation and the further instructions connected with it. The distinction between a principle and its development is also intimated, Ephesians 1:17 ff. Be it observed that also in Luke 12:4 as well as in John 11:11, the name of friend is placed in connection with joyfulness in death. Friendship with Christ is co-partnery in His loving, self-sacrificing dying-courage in the strength of the thought of self-sacrificing love.

John 15:16. Ye did not choose Me, etc.[Οὐχ ὑμεῖς με ἐξελέξασθε, ἀλλἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς, κ. τ. λ. “A wholesome memento after the lofty things He had just said about their mutual indwelling, and the unreservedness of the friendship they had been admitted to” (David Brown).—P. S.]—Though sharers with Him in the perfect vital fellowship of joy, though placed on an equal footing with Him as friends, their relation is still not one of caprice and individual extravagance. For the principle of their friendship is not resident in them, but in His love. He has chosen them to be His friends,—not out of an abstract liking for their individuality, but in the light of the moral destiny of their personality. The election of Christ is not identical with the election to the kingdom on the part of God, in the Pauline sense (Augustine and others), though, in respect to these faithful disciples, the former election is pre-suppositive of the latter; the choosing spoken of by Christ is the election to the apostolic office (see John 6:70; John 13:18); in a more general sense it is here expressive of Christ’s election of any and all of His disciples to render friendly service to Him as co-workers in His kingdom of love (Euth. Zig., Luthardt).

And appointed you.—This ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς presents with greater distinctness the idea of the apostolic calling. The election to friendship is, viewed from the stand-point of their moral destiny, a now still more settled calling or ordination to apostolic labors (τιθέναι, 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Timothy 1:12, etc.) Hence not: I have planted you (Chrysostom and others); this interpretation does not correspond with the preceding figure of the branches and still less does it harmonize with the following ἴνα ὑπάγητε. To suit this interpretation of ἔθηκα, the latter words were constrained to mean the reaching forth of plants (Chrysostom and others). They are expressive of the forth-going of the disciples by virtue of their mission as apostles (Meyer, Tholuck); at the same time, however, they imply a personal laboring, carried on in independent life (Luther, Lücke, etc.)—Meyer, without grounds, denies that this is the case. The repetition of ὑμᾶς countenances the view we have just set forth. Hence it results, however, that an oxymoron is contained in the antithesis ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς, ἴνα ὑμεῖς ὑπάγητε. I have set you right firmly in your place, in order that ye might sally forth right independently and travel far and wide, knowing no bounds. In the farewell discourses the item of the ordination, like a series of similar Preterites, is expressive of the imminent sending of the Comforter as a fact already determined; and thus we may regard the whole matter of the farewell discourses as a, pre-celebration of the Pentecostal festival.

And that your fruit may remain.—Their institution into the fellowship of His love should result in their going forth under the impulse of love; this going forth should be followed by their bringing forth fruit, their work and ministry of love. This fruit, again, in its virtue of keeping and being propagated everlastingly, should be demonstrated to be a foundation imperishable, established by love. Undoubtedly the fruit is to remain unto eternal life (John 4:36; Tholuck, Meyer); but here the proximate idea is the remaining of the apostolic fruit in the world and in face of the world,—as results from the following.

That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father [ἴνατι ἄν αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου, δῷ ὑμῖν].—The Lord having previously made the bearing of fruit in work dependent upon prayer (John 15:7-8), Lücke, Tholuck, Meyer, infer that the second ἵνα is here not co-ordinate with the first, but subordinate to it, whilst Chrysostom and others deem that the hearing of prayer is here declared to be the fruit of faithful activity. It is, however, possible that a good reason exists for the change in the succession of these two considerations. As prayer must precede work, so work, again, must become the basis of a more extended, bolder asking. This is what Christ has in view, He being upon the point of setting His disciples, with their work of love and fellowship of love, in array against the entire hatred of the whole world.

John 15:17. That ye may love one another [ἴνα ].—With these words the Lord sums up the fundamental thought presented John 15:11-17 in one concluding utterance. Everything that He has told them of His perfect joy, His friendship, His election and their calling, is intended to become to them a vital law of mutual love. Brotherly love, concord, unity—are to form the close-banded fellowship of the disciples of Jesus, in which fellowship they may confront the hatred of the world and vanquish it.

John 15:18. If the world hate you [Εἰκόσμος ὑμᾶς μισεῖ.]—Saying concerning the hatred of the world and their defensive attitude towards it, reaching from John 15:18-27, in its more extended bearing, to John 16:6.—Know that it hath hated Me before you [γινώσκετε—imperative, not indicative—ὄτι ἐμὲ πρῶτον ὐμῶν μεμίσηκεν].—Me as the first, in advance of you. Before (above) you all. Together with its reference to time, the expression is indicative of causality and comparison: Me first, Me most; Me as the predecessor for whose sake it hateth you. Tholuck: “The superlative comprehends the comparative” (seeJohn 13:16; John 13:16; Matthew 10:24; 1Pe 2:21; 1 Peter 4:12; 1 John 3:13-14).

John 15:19. If ye were of the world [Εἰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ῆ̓τε].—“The five times repeated κόσμος is solemn” (Meyer). It is at the same time a strong emphasizing of the idea. Mankind is a world in its sympathy in sin, in the ungodly tendency in which individuals, as personalities, are dissolved. As a world, they hate believers; their individual antipathy to Christianity results from that sympathy with ungodliness wherein they stand.

John 15:20. The servant is not greater, etc.—John 13:16; comp. Matthew 10:24.

If they persecuted Me.—The hypothetical el is εἰexceedingly apodictical here. It expresses in a concrete manner the certainty of the fact that they, as disciples of Christ, must experience the same treatment at the hands of the world which Christ has met with. They must, therefore, be able to see by Christ what fate is awaiting them, since the life of Christ is the same in Christ and in them, and since the world, for its part, continues the same, as world. The first “if,” then, reveals to them the positive prospect of persecution; the second tells them how scant a hope they need entertain of a contrary course of proceeding. It is inadmissible to apprehend τηρεῖν, as do Bengel and others, in the sense of: to lurk for. That, on the other hand, it contains an element of irony (Grotius), is not inconsistent with the gravity of the discourse; and neither is it inconsistent with the strength of the negation, that the second clause leaves them a ray of hope in regard to some with whom they may have to do (Olshausen, Baumg.-Crusius), since the subject here is not the world, but individual men.

John 15:21. But all these things will they do unto you, etc.—The reference is to the first clause, that prophetic of persecution. Consolatory explanation of persecution: Worldly men persecute the disciples for Christ’s name’s sake, just as they persecute Christ because they have turned away from God who sent Him. Hence it follows that the persecuted have their Christ and God Himself on their side (see John 8:19; John 16:3). The name of Christ, in accordance with the full extent of its meaning, is the confession of the disciples. Now this name is odious to the children of the world for the reason that the originator of it, the Father, is unknown to them. The first clause is declarative of the world’s guilt, the second of at least so much palliation of its guilt as to leave hope for its conversion; yet but in part.

John 15:22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they would have no sin [comparatively]. [Εἰ μὴ ῆ̓λθον καὶ ἐλάλησα αὐτοῖς, ἀμαρτίαν οὐκ εἴχοσαν (Alexandrian form for εἶχον)].—This is expressive of the depth of His origin, the glory of His being, the holiness of His mission.—And spoken to them (ἐλάλησα). This is expressive of the perfect familiarity, clearness, fulness, warmth and condescension appertaining to the revelation He has made of Himself and of God. They would not have sin. i.e. in respect to this sin, they would be relatively sinless, guiltless. Unbelief, “the new and deeper fall,” John 3:16. Meyer seeks in vain to put a distinction between unbelief (Bengel and others) and hatred of the name of Jesus.

No pretext or excuse [νῦν δὲ πρόφασιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν].—I.e. every attempt at an apology comes to nought. It melts away in face of the revelations of judgment. Had Jesus not come, or not yet come, they would still be under the πάρεσις (Romans 3:25) of the olden time; now their sin has become guilt, has become a new παράβασις. The objection to this view, urged by De Wette: As a matter of course they would not have fallen into this sin without the coming of Christ, overlooks the indicated graduation of sin; in changing the hatred of Christ into a hatred of the divine cause, he mistakes the spirit of this Gospel in particular,—John’s special characteristic being the merging of things in persons. As little is Tholuck (with Meyer) in the right in contesting that this new guilt is not the sin of unbelief in specie (in opposition to Augustine: hoc est peccatum quo tenentur cuncta peccata, quod unusquisque, si non habet, dimittuntur ei peccata; similarly Zwingli, Luther, Stier, Luthardt). The citations John 8:21; John 8:34; John 9:41 also speak of sins of self-blinding, which are identical with unbelief.—But now they have no pretext.—It can not be inferred from this that the heathen, to whom Christ has not yet spoken, are guiltless; such a supposition is the less tenable from the fact that the crucifixion perpetrated upon Christ by the Jews must be regarded as an act of the whole world. What does result from the passage is, not that they incur a lesser (damnation) punishment (Augustine), but that decision in regard to them is still reserved until the time of their own decision. If damnation be made dependent upon the antithesis to a revelatio universalis, facta ab initio mundi (Cyril, Melanchthon), the natural inference must be that that revelatio might have been sufficient even for salvation.

John 15:23. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also.—In the face of Christ, want of knowledge of the unknown God who sent Him (John 15:21) develops into hatred of the Father whom they do know. The unbelieving Jew, like the unbelieving Gentile, turns in hostility against the idea of the living, personal God of revelation,—and that in the face of Christ’s works, though they be referred in a special manner to the Father.

John 15:24. Not done among them the works.—Climactic gradation of the guilt of unbelievers in accordance with the distinction of degrees of faith: John 5:36; John 10:37; John 14:11.

John 15:25. The word that is written.—The frequently recurring exaltation of Christ’s spirit to a state of calm acquiescence in the providence of God (particularly that exercised over the Messiah), as portrayed centuries before in Holy Writ. The word is found Psalms 35:19; Psalms 69:4; in neither case as a verbal prophecy, but as a mental type. They have cast (חִנָּם) their hatred upon Me without a reason, without a cause. I.e. not ironically: they faithfully follow what is in their law (De Wette), but: as a judgment upon them, there must be a fulfilment of what is written in their Law,—i.e. in their Holy Scriptures which they read with blinded eyes,—concerning their hatred of Messianic piety. The broader sense of νόμος is the one intended, as John 10:34. Αὐτῶν as John 8:17; John 10:34; it upbraids them with the fact that the same Scripture wherein they do continually read, as in their own, has sketched their portraits with so sure a touch (see John 5:45; 2 Corinthians 3:13).

John 15:26. But when the Paraclete is come, etc. [Ὅ ταν (δὲ) ἔλθῃ ὁ παράκλητος].29—Promise of the Holy Ghost as the strength of their martyrdom in the world, John 15:26 to John 16:6 :—If left to their own resources, they would succumb to the hatred of the world and be overcome of evil; but the Holy Ghost shall victoriously meet this hatred and, unmoved, bear testimony to Christ. Repeated promise of the Holy Ghost. John 14:16 ff. He is first promised as the Spirit of faith and of the living knowledge of Christ. (See John 15:26). Here He is promised as the Spirit of steadfast testimony for Christ. John 16:7 as the Spirit of the world-overcoming strength of the gospel. John 16:13 as the Spirit of Christ’s glorification and of the future until the consummation. It is declared in the promise that the Son asks the Father, and the Father sends the Spirit; whilst here the Son sends [ὅν ἐγὼ πέμψω] the Spirit who proceedeth from the Father [ὁ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπ ορεύεται]. For it is only through the intercession of the Son that they receive the Spirit as the Spirit of prayer, and they then know that not only the Father sends the Spirit, but the Son sends Him too. Moreover, the glorification of Christ in the knowledge of believers is pre-eminently a work of the Father; the maintenance of the witness of Christ in the world is a work that He, the faithful Witness (Revelation 3:14), continues through the Holy Ghost.

Upon the disagreement of the Greek and Latin Churches in respect to the procession of the Spirit, comp. the history of doctrinal theology and the notes upon John 14:16. To the Father, doubtless, belongs the honor of being the first ἀρχή from which the Son Himself proceeds; but since the Holy Ghost is at the same time the Spirit of the Son, unto whom (the Son) it is also given to have life in Himself, the διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ (ἐκ τοῦ πατρός) of the Greek theology is not sufficient.

As it regards the ἐκπορεύεται, most of the Lutheran [and Greek] exegetes (also Lücke, Olshausen) understand it as having a theological reference to the trinitarian relations of the Spirit; Beza, Cocceius, Lampe, etc., apprehend it soteriologically as identical with the being sent.30 But if we decline to assume the existence of any tautology in our passage, the soteriological πέμπεσθαι may be referred to its theological basis, the proceeding from the Father; though the proceeding from the Father is also practically designed as an intimation of the Holy Ghost’s invincible power of truth and witness.31 Hence emphatically ἐκεῖνος [as opposed to the world, which hates Christ. Observe also the masculine, though τὸ πνεῦμα …ὅ is neuter. An additional indication of the personality of the Holy Ghost, as distinct from a mere power or influence. His testimony is personal, and distinguished from the personal testimony of the disciples, ὑμεῖς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε.—P. S.]

Will bear witness of Me [μαρτυρήσει περὶ ἐμοῦ].—“Of My person, My work,” [Meyer]; according to the context, however, more particularly of Him as the Vine, of the personal life of love, and of His love.

[This is one of the principal proof-texts for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Both the essential identity and the personal distinction of the Father (παρὰ τοῦ πατρός), of the Son (ἐγὼ πέμψωπερὶ εμοῦ), and of the Holy Spirit (ἔλθῃ ο̇ παράκλητοςἐκπορεύεταιἐκεῖνος μαρτυρήσει) are very clearly stated, especially when compared with John 14:16; John 14:18; John 14:26; John 16:7; John 16:13; John 20:22. Our passage is also the locus classicus for the technical word “procession” of the Holy Ghost. The noun ἐκπόρευσις, processio, nowhere occurs in the New Testament, and belongs to the ecclesiastical language, but it is legitimately formed from the verb ἐκπορεύομαι, which is here (and here alone) used of the Holy Ghost and denotes the characteristic individuality (ἰδιότης, proprietas, character hypostaticus) of the person (not the essence, which is the same in all Persons) of the Holy Spirit, as Sonship or eternal Generation γεννησία, γέυνησις, generatio, filiatio) is the propriety of the Son, unbegotten Paternity (paternitas, ἀγεννησία) the propriety of the Father. The Nicene orthodoxy refers the procession of the Spirit to the eternal, metaphysical procession from the Father. Christ speaks here no doubt mainly of the Trinity of revelation and of the historic mission of the Holy Ghost in the Christian Church and in believers (comp. John 20:22; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; 2 Corinthians 3:17, etc.). Yet it is significant that while He speaks of His sending of the Spirit in the future tense (πέμψω), He speaks of the procession of the Spirit from the Father in the present (ἐκπορεύεται), as if He intended to intimate a permanent relation of the Spirit to the Father. The effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is the historic manifestation of His eternal procession from the Father, and bears a similar relation to the latter as the incarnation of Christ does to the eternal generation. At all events we have a right to deduce the œconomical Trinity from the ontological or immanent Trinity; the former is the revelation of the latter; for God manifests Himself as He is (or, as Godet, II. 514, well expresses it: “Les faits de la révélation reposent sur les relations trinitaires. Ils en sont comme les reflets.”). Comp. Lange above.—As to the difference between the Greek and Latin churches on the subject of the procession of the Spirit, Beza, Meyer, Alford and others deny that our passage can be used either in favor of the Greek formula διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ ἐκ τοῦ πατρός, or the Latin clause filioque; Godet maintains that the passage teaches both the homoousia and the subordination of the Son. Dr. Lange briefly intimates the true view. The original Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed affirms the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father not with an exclusive intent, but rather in opposition to the Pneumatomachi; and in this sense it is that Athanasius, Basil, the two Gregories maintain it; some Greek fathers, as Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria, expressly teach the procession of the Spirit from the Son as well as the Father, while Theodore of Mopsueste, Theodoret and the later Greek church maintain the exclusive procession from the Father alone. The Latin doctrine of the procession of the Spirit from the Son as well as the Father, is logically derived from the dogma of the homoousia, or the essential unity of the Father and the Son, and is exegetically based on the words ὅν ἐγὼ πέμψω in our passage, and πέμψω John 16:7, compared with John 16:26πέμψειπατήρ ἐν τῷνάματὶ μου. Augustine refers also to John 20:22, where Christ breathes the Holy Ghost on His disciples (De trinit. IV., c. 20; Tract. in Joh. 99, § 9); but after all he makes the Spirit proceed mainly from the Father (de patre principaliter, see De trinit. XV. 26; Serm. 71, c. 16; comp. Gangauf: Des h. Aug. specul. Lehre von Gott dem Dreieinigen, Augsb., 1866, p. 371). Dr. Waterland (Works, vol. III. p. 237 f.) thus briefly and clearly sums up this controversy: “The Greeks and Latins have had many and tedious disputes about the procession. One thing is observable, that though the ancients appealed to by both parties, have often said that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, without mentioning the Son, yet they never said that He proceeded from the Father alone; so that the modern Greeks have certainly innovated in that article in expression at least, if not in real sense and meaning. As to the Latins, they have this to plead, that none of the ancients ever condemned their doctrine; that many of them have expressly asserted it; that the oriental churches themselves rather condemn their taking upon them to add anything to a creed formed in a general Council, than the doctrine itself; that those Greek churches that charge their doctrine as heresy, yet are forced to admit much the same thing, only in different words; and that Scripture itself is plain, that the Holy Ghost proceeds at least by the Son, if not from Him; which yet amounts to the same thing.”—P. S.]

John 15:27. But ye also bear witness [or are witnesses, καὶ ὑμεῖς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε,—the present indicating their past and present experience, as the foundation of their future testimony; hence not ye shall bear (μαρτυρήσετε), E. V. Hofmann takes μαρτυρεῖτε in the imperative, which is abrupt and contrary to καὶδέ, vos etiam.—P. S.].—It is their constant duty to testify of Him from this time forth, i.e. to the same degree in which the coming of the Spirit, an event which is to take place after a little while, is realized in this anticipatory festival. The reason:—forbecause ye are with Me from the beginning [ὄτι .ἀπ̓ α̇ρχῆς μετ̓ ἐμοῦ ἐστέ,—the present ἐστέ indicates the relation as continuing; hence not have been, E. V. ἀπἀρχῆς, relatively, from the beginning of the Lord’s ministry,—an important qualification of the apostles as witnesses (comp. Acts 1:21-22; Acts 10:40-41; Acts 13:31), which in the case of Paul was made up by a direct call of the exalted Saviour.—P. S.].—Comp. Acts 1:21. How are the testimony of the Holy Ghost and the testimony of the disciples distinguished?

1. The Holy Ghost shall testify by miracles, in particular by the Pentecostal miracle, by the conversion of the masses; the Apostles by the word (Theod., Mopsueste, Gerhard, al.).

2. The two sides of the unitous testimony of the Apostles are mentioned in company with one another (Augustine; see Acts 5:32; Acts 15:28). Similarly

3. The testimony borne by the Holy Ghost within the Apostles and designed especially for them; the testimony of the Apostles through the Holy Ghost—a testimony addressed to the world (Luthardt).
4. The testimonium divinum, through the power of the divine word, and the testimonium historicum, founded upon the fact that the Apostles were eye-witnesses of Jesus (Luke 1:1; Acts 1:8; Lücke, p. 646). Meyer [p. 545]: “One testimony; with a distinction, however, in respect of its two actual factors (comp. Acts 1:8; Romans 8:16; Romans 9:1) as Acts 5:32; comp. also Acts 15:28.” [Similarly Webster and Wilkinson: “The Spirit’s testimony, as distinguished from theirs, consisted in their inspired utterances concerning the nature, office, and work of Christ, attested by the miracles which the Spirit enabled them to perform (Matthew 10:20; John 16:8; John 16:14); also in His action upon others besides themselves. Their additional testimony—‘and moreover ye’—consisted in their attestation of the facts of His life, death, and resurrection.” Alford: “The witness is one and the same—the Spirit will witness in and by them.” The historical witness of the apostles forms “the human side of this great testimony of the Spirit of truth, and of which our inspired gospels are the summary; the divine side being His own indwelling testimony in the life and heart of every believer in all time. But both are given by the self-same Spirit;—neither of them inconsistent with, nor superseding the other.”—P.S.]

Along with the last-mentioned interpretation, in particular, the following thought demands our consideration: the personality of the Holy Ghost is not, in the Montanistic sense, to convert the disciples into involuntary, mechanical organs; on the contrary, under His influence their personal life shall attain its full development, so that they too do now stand forth as personal witnesses (μάρτυρες) in accordance with their own peculiar historical and spiritual experience. [Godet makes a similar remark.—P. S.]. Μαρτυρεῖτε is not the Imperative (Hofmann), but the Indicative, for the entire passage bears the character of a sure promise.



John 15:1; John 15:1.—[Dr. Lange translates ὴ ἅ μ π ε λ ο ς ἡ , “der wesentliche Weinstock” the essential vine, and inserts the gloss: “Wurzel und Stamm des persönlichen Liebesreichs,” root and stem of the personal love-kingdom. We have no precise equivalent in English for ἀληθινός, wahrhaftig, veritable, to distinguish it from ἀ λ η θ ή ς, true. Ἀληθιν́ός, verus, is true in the sense of true to the idea, genuine, primitive, essential, as distinct from what is derived, copied, typical, shadowy and more or less imperfect: while ἀληθής, verax, is true in opposition to false. Christ is the true, veritable, perfect Light, Bread, Shepherd, Vine, in distinction from all reflected light, etc., as well as in opposition to false light, etc. See the remarks on John 1:9; John 6:32, and Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament, § 8. Our true has both meanings and is therefore retained by most translators.—P. S.]

John 15:6; John 15:6.—With the article τὸ πῦρ, in accordance with Codd. A. G. K. Sin., etc., Tischendorf; the Recepta and Lachmann, in accordance with B. D., etc., have πῦρ without the article. The passage is not, as Meyer thinks, to he estimated in accordance with Mark 9:22, as here a particular fire is in view. See the exegesis.

John 15:7; John 15:7.—The Aorist αίτήσασθε, in accordance with A. B. D., etc., Lachmann, Tischendorf, instead of the Future αἰτήσασθε. [Codd. א. E. G. H., etc., have the latter reading].

John 15:8; John 15:8.—The reading γενήσεσθε [אּ] A. E. G., etc., Tischendorf, was probably changed into γένησθε (Codd. B. D. L., etc., Lachmann) on account of the strangeness of the expression. Also in accordance with the φέρητε (Meyer).

John 15:11; John 15:11.—In accordance with Codd. A. B. D., etc, Vulgate, Lachmann, Tischendorf, ᾗ instead of μείνῃ. [Cod. א. gives the latter. Tregelles, Tischend., ed. 8th, Alford, Westcott and Hort, following A. B. D., agree in reading ᾗ.—P. S.]

John 15:14; John 15:14.—The 15th verse seems to favor the Recepta ὅσα (Cod. A., etc.) more than the ἅ (Codd. B. D. Sin., etc.) received by Lachmann and Tischendorf. [Tischendorf, in ed. 1859, gives ὅ, in accordance with what he declares to be the reading of B.; in Exodus 8:0, he gives ἅ.]

John 15:18; John 15:18.—[Tischendorf, Exodus 8:0, in accordance with א.* D., etc., reads: γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐμὲ πρῶτον (without ὑμῶν) μεμί σηκεν, but Tregelles, Alford, Westcott and Hort retain ὑμῶν, which is sufficiently supported by א.c A. B. L. N. X., etc.—P. S.]

John 15:21; John 15:21.—In accordance with Codd. [א.a] B. D.* L., etc., Lachmann, Tischendorf [Alford, etc.], we should read εἰς ὑμᾶς instead of ὑμῖν [text. rec].

John 15:22; John 15:22.—[Or lit.: would not have sin, ἁ μ α ρ τ ί α ν ο ὐ κ ε ἵ χ ο σ α ν. The Alexandrian form εἴχοσαν or εἷχον is sustained by א. B. L. N.* II. Orig., Cyr., and adopted by Lachm., Tischend., Treg., Alf., Westc. and H. So also in John 15:24. Meyer (p. 530) objects for the reason that the Alexandrian form is established only in one passage, Romans 3:13, in a quotation from the Sept. (ἐδολιοῦσαν). Buttmann (as quoted by Meyer) conjectures that εἴχοσαν arose from the original εἷχον ἄν, but of ἄν there is no trace in the critical authorities, nor is it necessary.—P. S.]

John 15:24; John 15:24.—[Lange, Lachm., Tischend., Exodus 8:0, Alf., Treg., read ἐποίησεν did, in accordance with א. A. B. D., etc., instead of the lect. rec. π ε π ο ί η κ ε ν, has done—P. S.]

John 15:26; John 15:26.—[Tischendorf, Exodus 8:0, omits δὲ, in accordance with א. B. Δ., etc. Alford brackets it.—P. S.]

John 15:27; John 15:27.—[δέ after ὐμεῖς is omitted by D., Vulg., Syr., but retained by Tischend., Alf., etc.μαρτυρεῖτε, on account of καίδέ, and the reason ὅτι κ. τ. λ., must be taken as indicative, not as imperative, which is too abrupt.—P. S.]

[13] John 16:3.—̔Υμῖν is omitted in accordance with decisive authorities. [Codd. A. B. T. Δ., etc., omit; א. D. L., etc., give it.]

John 16:4; John 16:4.—The ἠ ὥρα αὐτῶν [their hour] in Lachmann in accordance with A. B., etc., seems to be occasioned by the second αὐτῶν, which probably originally stood before μνημονεύητε (Meyer). [א. D., etc., Tischend., Exodus 8:0, omit αὐτῶν, Alford, Westcott and Hort retain it.—P. S.]

John 16:4; John 16:4.—[Some MSS. omit the second αὐτῶν, others ὐμῖν. See the apparatus in Tischend., Exodus 8:0, who reads μνημονεύητε αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἐγώ εἷπον ὑμῖν.—P. S.]

John 16:7; John 16:7.—[The E. V. reverses the distinction between ἀπέλθω, to depart (from earth), and πορεύομαι, to go (to heaven). The one here signifies the starting point, the other the goal, of Christ’s journey; as Bengel, with his usual sagacity, suggests: “ἀπέλθω, πορευθῶ, abiero, profectus ero. Differunt verba; illud terminum a quo, hoc terminum ad quem magis spectat.” In German the difference is well rendered by De Wette and Lange: weggehen, hingehen.—P. S.]

John 16:8; John 16:8.—[The E. V. reprove is certainly too weak for ἐλέξει, which implies both a convincing unto salvation and a convicting unto condemnation. See the Exeg. Notes, and the remarks of Meyer (p. 551), who likewise ascribes to the ἔλεγξις the double aim of conversion (1 Corinthians 14:24 f.) and condemnation (Acts 24:25; Romans 11:7 ff.), in opposition to Erasmus, De Wette, etc., who confine it to the latter. The first example of the ἔλεγξις of the Spirit as effected through the apostles, is the pentecostal sermon of Peter, Acts 2:0 and its double effect. Webster and Wilkinson: “ἐλέγξει means (1) convince by proof, (2) convict, (3) reprove or rebuke … The passage is to be interpreted by the preaching of the apostles, or rather, of the Spirit by them (Matthew 10:20). In their discourses, recorded in the Acts, these three objects are the most prominent: (1) Christ the only Saviour, and rejection of Him fatal and damning sin. (2) Righteousness or justification, through the exaltation and intercession of Christ. (3) The kingdom of Christ, instead of Satan’s, now, and to be perfected in the final judgment.”—P. S.]

John 16:8; John 16:8.—[I have given in this verse the translation of Lange with his explanatory insertions. He takes ὅτι in the demonstrative sense (=τοῦτο ὅ, τι), as pointing out the object of the preceding words. Alford and Noyes retain the A. V. because (ὅτι, causal=διὰ τοῦτο ὅ, τι). It can also be rendered “in that,” or “inasmuch as” (ὅτι εἰς ἐκεῖνο ὅτι on, John 2:18; John 9:17; John 11:51). See the Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

John 16:13; John 16:13—The reading εἰς τὴν in Codd. A. B., Origen, etc., Lachmann. [Tischendorf reads ἐν τῇ (which is more common after ὁδηγέω), in accordance with א. D. L., Bas., Epiph., Tert., Nov., Hil. The text. rec: εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν . Tregelles, Alford, Westc. and Hort agree with Lachm. and Lange in reading εἰς τὴν .—P. S.]

John 16:13; John 16:13. [The text; rec. reads ἀκούσῃ; Tischendorf, ed. of 1859, Tregelles, Alford, Westc. and H., give ἀκούσει in accordance with B. D. E*.; Tischend., in Exodus 8:0, gives ἀκούει with א. L. Lange translates: hath heard (historical transmission.)—P. S.]

John 16:15; John 16:15. In accordance with Codd. A. B., Lachmann, Tischendorf λαμβάνει instead of the Recepta λήψεται. [א.c A. have the latter reading (or rather λήμψεταί), but λαμβάνει is better supported, and adopted by Tischend., ed. 8th, Treg., Alf., Westc. and H.—P. S.]

[22][Trench emphasizes the ἐν ἐμοί. “All infants baptized into Christ are in Him; planted together in the likeness of His death, but it remains for themselves to determine whether by believing and obeying they shall make the potential blessings of this position actually their own; whether that fellowship with Christ, which has been so freely given to them, shall unfold itself into the new creation.”—P. S.]

[23][Bengel: “suavis rhythmus.” Yet no more than a rhythm, for καθαίρω is not derived from αἵρω (which would require καταίρω), but is a technical term for pruning or cleansing a vine or tree of useless branches. But there is a connection between καθαίρειν and καθαρός: we are purified by being pruned. “Cleanliness and fruitfulness,” says Bengel, “mutually assist one another.” The two πάν κλῆμα are absolute nominatives emphatically placed first, as John 1:12; John 6:39; John 17:2.—P. S.]

[24][So also Winer, Tholuck, De Wette, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Wordsworth.—P. S.]

[25][Meyer (p. 535) refers to Hebrews 6:8; Hebrews 10:27. So also Alford: “The aorists I take with Meyer as a consequence of the whole being spoken by our Lord as if the great day were come: hence also the presents, βάλλουσιν and καίεται.” Alford regards this verse as “a most important testimony against supra-lapsarian error, showing us that falling from grace is possible, and pointing out the steps of the fall.”—P. S.]

[26][The subjects in συνάγουσιν and βάλλουσιν. In the image they are the servants of the vineyard, in the application the instruments of God generally in the execution of His judgments, but especially the angel reapers.—P. S.]

[27][Comp. ἐν τούτῳ, John 4:37; John 16:30, where it likewise has a retrospective reference, while John 6:39 may be quoted for the prospective reference, which is also adopted by Alford and Barnes. But Lange and Meyer are right, for ἵνα is not=ὅτι, and in its proper teleological sense it would here convey the wrong idea that God is glorified by the intention (instead of the actual fact) of bearing fruit.—P. S.]

[28][Similarly Godet: “ἵνα conserve la notion de but: ‘le plus haut point auquel puisse aspirer l’amour dans cette relation, est,’ ” etc. Alford rejects the idea of will and takes ἵνα. Simply=scilicet ut.—P. S.]

[29][Lange translates παράκλ. throughout Vertreter Representative. See the Exeg. Notes on John 14:16, p. 140 f.—P. S.]

[30][So also Luthardt, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson, who understand the whole of the œconomical Trinity, or the Trinity of revelation. Luthardt (II. 335): “The words must be understood historically, and not metaphysically, of the immanent relation of subsistence, or in the sense of Gnostic emanation. For the expression, παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, is parallel to the other, ὅν ἐγὼ πέμψω παρὰ τοῦ πατρός. He is with the Father, and comes from the Father. The present tense (πορεύεται) does not express the timeless nature of the Spirit, but is determined by πέμψω.” So also Meyer (p. 545): “The Spirit proceeds if He is sent.”—P. S.]

[31][Stier likewise regards the first clause (ὃν ἐγω πἑμψω) as spoken œconomically of the office of the Spirit in the Church, the second clause (ἐκπορεύεται) as referring to the ontological or essential relation of the Spirit to the Holy Trinity. Godet entirely agrees with Lange (II. 513), and emphasizes the difference in the future, πέμψω, and the present, ἐκπορεύεται.—P. S.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on John 15". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.