Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

John 15

Verse 1

The true vine (η αμπελος η αλητινηhē ampelos hē alēthinē). “The vine the genuine.” Assuming that the Lord‘s Supper had just been instituted by Jesus the metaphor of the vine is naturally suggested by “the fruit of the vine” (Mark 14:25; Matthew 26:29). ΑμπελοςAmpelos in the papyri (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary) is sometimes used in the sense of ο γεωργοςampelōn (vineyard), but not so here. Jesus uses various metaphors to illustrate himself and his work (the light, John 8:12; the door, John 10:7; the shepherd, John 10:11; the vine, John 15:1). The vine was common in Palestine. See Psalm 80:8. “On the Maccabean coinage Israel was represented by a vine” (Dods). Jesus is the genuine Messianic vine.

The husbandman (τεου γεωργιονho geōrgos) as in Mark 12:1; James 5:7; 2 Timothy 2:6. cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9, theou geōrgion (God‘s field).

Verse 2

Branch (κλημαklēma). Old word from κλαωklaō to break, common in lxx for offshoots of the vine, in N.T. only here (John 15:2-6), elsewhere in N.T. κλαδοςklados (Mark 4:32, etc.), also from κλαωklaō both words meaning tender and easily broken parts.

In me (εν εμοιen emoi). Two kinds of connexion with Christ as the vine (the merely cosmic which bears no fruit, the spiritual and vital which bears fruit). The fruitless (not bearing fruit, μη περον καρπονmē pheron karpon) the vine-dresser “takes away” (αιρειairei) or prunes away. Probably (Bernard) Jesus here refers to Judas.

(καταιρειkathairei). Present active indicative of old verb καταιρωkathairō (clean) as in John 15:3, only use in N.T., common in the inscriptions for ceremonial cleansing, though καταριζωkatharizō is more frequent (Hebrews 10:2).

That it may bear more fruit
(ινα καρπον πλειονα περηιhina karpon pleiona pherēi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and present active subjunctive of περωpherō “that it may keep on bearing more fruit” (more and more). A good test for modern Christians and church members.

Verse 3

Already ye are clean (ηδη υμεις καταροι εστεēdē humeis katharoi este). Potentially cleansed (Westcott) as in John 13:10 which see and John 17:19.

Verse 4

Abide in me (μεινατε εν εμοιmeinate en emoi). Constative aorist active imperative of μενωmenō The only way to continue “clean” (pruned) and to bear fruit is to maintain vital spiritual connexion with Christ (the vine). Judas is gone and Satan will sift the rest of them like wheat (Luke 22:31.). Blind complacency is a peril to the preacher.

Of itself (απ εαυτουaph' heautou). As source (from itself) and apart from the vine (cf. John 17:17).

Except it abide
(εαν μη μενηιean mē menēi). Condition of third class with εανean negative μηmē and present active (keep on abiding) subjunctive of μενωmenō Same condition and tense in the application, “except ye abide in me.”

Verse 5

Ye the branches (υμεις τα κληματαhumeis ta klēmata). Jesus repeats and applies the metaphor of John 15:1.

Apart from me (χωρις εμουchōris emou). See Ephesians 2:12 for χωρις Χριστουchōris Christou There is nothing for a broken off branch to do but wither and die. For the cosmic relation of Christ see John 1:3 (χωρις αυτουchōris autou).

Verse 6

He is cast forth (εβλητη εχωeblēthē exō). Timeless or gnomic use of the first aorist passive indicative of βαλλωballō as the conclusion of a third-class condition (see also John 15:4, John 15:7 for the same condition, only constative aorist subjunctive μεινητεmeinēte and μεινηιmeinēi in John 15:7). The apostles are thus vividly warned against presumption. Jesus as the vine will fulfill his part of the relation as long as the branches keep in vital union with him.

As a branch (ως το κλημαhōs to klēma).

And is withered
(εχηραντηexēranthē). Another timeless first aorist passive indicative, this time of χηραινωxērainō same timeless use in James 1:11 of grass, old and common verb. They gather (συναγουσινsunagousin). Plural though subject not expressed, the servants of the vine-dresser gather up the broken off branches.

Are burned
(καιεταιkaietai). Present passive singular of καιωkaiō to burn, because κληματαklēmata (branches) is neuter plural. See this vivid picture also in Matthew 13:41, Matthew 13:49.

Verse 7

Ask whatsoever ye will (ο εαν τελητε αιτησαστεho ean thelēte aitēsasthe). Indefinite relative with εανean and present active subjunctive of τελωthelō to wish, to will, and aorist middle imperative of αιτεωaiteō to ask. This astounding command and promise (γενησεταιgenēsetai future middle of γινομαιginomai it will come to pass) is not without conditions and limitations. It involves such intimate union and harmony with Christ that nothing will be asked out of accord with the mind of Christ and so of the Father. Christ‘s name is mentioned in John 15:16; cf. John 14:13; John 16:23.

Verse 8

Herein (εν τουτωιen toutōi). That is in the vital union and the much fruit bearing. It points here backwards and forwards.

Is glorified (εδοχαστηedoxasthē). Another gnomic or timeless first aorist passive indicative.

(περετεpherete). Present active subjunctive, “keep on bearing” much fruit.

And so shall ye be
(και γενησεστεkai genēsesthe). Rather “become.” Future middle indicative of γινομαιginomai though B D L read γενηστεgenēsthe (after ιναhina like περητεpherēte). “Become” my disciples (learners) in the fullest sense of rich fruit-bearing according to the text in John 8:31.

Verse 9

Abide (μεινατεmeinate). Constative first aorist active imperative of μενωmenō summing up the whole.

In my love (εν τηι αγαπηι τηι εμηιen tēi agapēi tēi emēi). Subjunctive possessive pronoun, “in the love that I have for you.” Our love for Christ is the result of Christ‘s love for us and is grounded at bottom in the Father‘s love for the world (John 3:16). John has εμοςemos 37 times and always in the words of Jesus (Bernard). But he uses μουmou also (John 15:10).

Verse 10

Ye will abide (μενειτεmeneite). Future tense of μενωmenō conclusion of the third-class condition (εανean and first aorist active subjunctive τηρησητεtērēsēte). The correlative of John 14:15. Each involves the other (love and keeping the commandments of Jesus).

And abide (και μενωkai menō). The high example of Jesus (the Son) in relation to the Father is set before us as the goal.

Verse 11

That my joy may be in you (ινα η χαρα η εμη εν υμιν ηιhina hē chara hē emē en humin ēi). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the present subjunctive ηιēi (some MSS. have μεινηιmeinēi may remain), Christ‘s permanent absolute joy in the disciples.

And that your joy be fulfilled (Και η χαρα υμων πληρωτηιKai hē chara humōn plērōthēi). Same construction with first aorist (effective) passive subjunctive of πληροωplēroō consummation of the process preceding.

Verse 12

That ye love one another (ινα αγαπατε αλληλουςhina agapāte allēlous). Non-final use of ιναhina introducing a subject clause in apposition with εντοληentolē (commandment) and the present active subjunctive of αγαπαωagapaō “that ye keep on loving one another.” See John 13:34.

Verse 13

Than this (ταυτηςtautēs). Ablative case after the comparative adjective μειζοναmeizona and feminine agreeing with της αγαπηςtēs agapēs (love) understood.

That a man lay down his life (ινα τις την πσυχην αυτου τηιhina tis tēn psuchēn autou thēi). Object clause (non-final use of ιναhina in apposition with the ablative pronoun ταυτηςtautēs and the second aorist active subjunctive of τιτημιtithēmi). For the phrase see John 10:11 of the good shepherd. Cf. 1 John 3:16; Romans 5:7.

For his friends
(υπερ των πιλων αυτουhuper tōn philōn autou). “In behalf of his friends” and so “in place of his friends.” “Self-sacrifice is the high-water mark of love” (Dods). For this use of υπερhuper see John 11:50; Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:14.; Romans 5:7.

Verse 14

If ye do (εαν ποιητεean poiēte). Condition of third class with εανean and the present active subjunctive, “if ye keep on doing,” not just spasmodic obedience. Just a different way of saying what is in John 15:10. Obedience to Christ‘s commands is a prerequisite to discipleship and fellowship (spiritual friendship with Christ). He repeats it in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20, ενετειλαμηνeneteilamēn I commanded) with the very word used here (εντελλομαιentellomai I command).

Verse 15

No longer (ουκετιouketi). As he had done in John 13:16. He was their Rabbi (John 1:38; John 13:13) and Lord (John 13:13). Paul gloried in calling himself Christ‘s δουλοςdoulos (bond-slave).

Servants (δουλουςdoulous). Bond-servants, slaves.

I have called you friends
(υμας ειρηκα πιλουςhumas eirēka philous). Perfect active indicative, permanent state of new dignity. They will prove worthy of it by continued obedience to Christ as Lord, by being good δουλοιdouloi Abraham was called the Friend of God (James 2:23). Are we friends of Christ?

Verse 16

But I chose you (αλλ εγω εχελεχαμην υμαςall' egō exelexamēn humas). First aorist middle indicative of εκλεγωeklegō See this same verb and tense used for the choice of the disciples by Christ (John 6:70; John 13:18; John 15:19). Jesus recognizes his own responsibility in the choice after a night of prayer (Luke 6:13). So Paul was “a vessel of choice” (σκευος εκλογηςskeuos eklogēs Acts 9:15). Appointed (ετηκαethēka). First aorist active indicative (κk aorist) of τιτημιtithēmi Note three present active subjunctives with ιναhina (purpose clause) to emphasize continuance (υπαγητεhupagēte keep on going, περητεpherēte keep on bearing fruit, μενηιmenēi keep on abiding), not a mere spurt, but permanent growth and fruit-bearing.

He may give (δωιdōi). Second aorist active subjunctive of διδωμιdidōmi with ιναhina (purpose clause). Cf. John 14:13 for the same purpose and promise, but with ποιησωpoiēsō (I shall do). See also John 16:23, John 16:26.

Verse 17

That ye may love one another (ινα αγαπατε αλληλουςhina agapāte allēlous). Repetition of John 13:34; John 15:12. This very night the disciples had been guilty of jealousy and wrangling (Luke 22:24; John 13:5, John 13:15).

Verse 18

If the world hateth you (ει ο κοσμος υμας μισειei ho kosmos humas misei). Condition of the first class. As it certainly does.

Ye know (γινωσκετεginōskete). Present active second person plural indicative of γινωσκωginōskō or present active imperative (know), same form.

Hath hated
(μεμισηκενmemisēken). Perfect active indicative, “has hated and still hates.”

Before it hateth you
(πρωτον υμωνprōton humōn). Ablative case υμωνhumōn after the superlative πρωτονprōton as with πρωτος μουprōtos mou in John 1:15.

Verse 19

The world would love its own (ο κοσμος αν το ιδιον επιλειho kosmos an to idion ephilei). Conclusion of second-class condition (determined as unfulfilled), regular idiom with ανan and imperfect indicative in present time.

But because ye are not of the world (οτι δε εκ του κοσμου ουκ εστεhoti de ek tou kosmou ouk este). Definite and specific reason for the world‘s hatred of real Christians whose very existence is a reproach to the sinful world. Cf. John 7:7; John 17:14; 1 John 3:13. Does the world hate us? If not, why not? Has the world become more Christian or Christians more worldly?

Verse 20

Remember (μνημονευετεmnēmoneuete). Present active imperative of μνημονευωmnēmoneuō old verb from μνημωνmnēmōn in John again in John 16:4, John 16:21. See John 13:16 for this word.

If they persecuted me (ει εμε εδιωχανei eme ediōxan). Condition of first class. They certainly did persecute (first aorist active of διωκωdiōkō to chase like a wild beast like the Latin persequor, our “persecute”) Jesus (John 5:16). They will persecute those like Jesus. Cf. John 16:33; Mark 10:30; Luke 21:12; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 4:9; Galatians 4:29; 2 Timothy 3:12 for proof that this prophecy came true. But the alternative is true and is stated by Jesus with a like condition of the first class, “if they kept my word” (ει τον λογον μου ετηρησανei ton logon mou etērēsan). The world does praise the word of Jesus, but dreads to follow it.

Verse 21

Unto you (εις υμαςeis humas). Like the dative υμινhumin (Textus Receptus) as in the papyri and modern Greek (Robertson, Grammar, p. 594).

For my name‘s sake (δια το ονομα μουdia to onoma mou). See John 15:20. See this same warning and language in Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; Matthew 24:9; Luke 21:17). There is little difference in meaning from ενεκεν μουheneken mou (Mark 13:9; Luke 21:12). Loyalty to the name of Christ will bring persecution as they will soon know (Acts 5:41; Philemon 1:29; 1 Peter 4:14). About the world‘s ignorance of God see Luke 23:34; Acts 3:17; John 16:3.

Verse 22

They had not had sin (αμαρτιαν ουκ ειχοσανhamartian ouk eichosan). Conclusion of condition of second class without ανan because context makes it clear (νυν δεnun de) without it (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1013). The imperfect active indicative with -οσανosan instead of -ονon (also in John 15:24) as common in the lxx, and occurs in the papyri and the inscriptions and the Boeotian dialect.

Excuse (προπασινprophasin). Old word (1 Thessalonians 2:5) either from προπαινωprophainō to show forth, or προπημιprophēmi to speak forth. Mere pretense, in John only here and John 15:24.

Verse 23

My Father also (και τον πατερα μουkai ton patera mou). Because Christ reveals God (John 14:9) and to dishonour Christ is to dishonour God (John 5:23). The coming of Christ has revealed the weight of sin on those who reject him.

Verse 24

They have both seen and hated (και εωρακασιν και μεμισηκασινkai heōrakasin kai memisēkasin). Perfect active indicative of οραωhoraō and μισεωmiseō permanent attitude and responsibility. The “world” and the ecclesiastics (Sanhedrin) had united in this attitude of hostility to Christ and in reality to God.

Verse 25

But this cometh to pass (αλλall'). Ellipsis in the Greek (no verb), as in John 9:3; John 13:18.

In their law (εν τωι νομωι αυτωνen tōi nomōi autōn). Cf. John 8:17; John 10:34 for this standpoint. “Law” (νομοςnomos) here is for the whole of Scripture as in John 12:34. The allusion is to Psalm 69:4 (or Psalm 35:19). The hatred of the Jews toward Jesus the promised Messiah (John 1:11) is “part of the mysterious purpose of God” (Bernard) as shown by ινα πληρωτηιhina plērōthēi (first aorist passive subjunctive of πληροωplēroō to fulfill).

Without a cause
(δωρεανdōrean). Adverbial accusative of δωρεαdōrea from διδωμιdidōmi gratuitously, then unnecessarily or gratis (in two Koiné tablets, Nageli) as here and Galatians 2:21.

Verse 26

When the Comforter is come (οταν ελτηι ο παρακλητοςhotan elthēi ho paraklētos). Indefinite temporal clause with οτανhotan and the second aorist active subjunctive of ερχομαιerchomai “whenever the Comforter comes.”

Whom I will send unto you from the Father (ον εγω πεμπσω υμιν παρα του πατροςhon egō pempsō humin para tou patros). As in John 16:7, but in John 14:16, John 14:26 the Father sends at the request of or in the name of Jesus. Cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 2:33. This is the Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and from the Son.

(οho). Grammatical neuter to agree with πνευμαpneuma and should be rendered “who” like οho in John 14:26.

Proceedeth from the Father
(παρα του πατρος εκπορευεταιpara tou patros ekporeuetai). “From beside the Father” as in the preceding clause.

(εκεινοςekeinos). Emphatic masculine pronoun, not neuter (εκεινοekeino) though following οho

Shall bear witness of me
(μαρτυρησει περι εμουmarturēsei peri emou). Future active of μαρτυρεωmartureō This is the mission of the Paraclete (John 16:14) as it should be ours.

Verse 27

And ye also bear witness (και υμεις δε μαρτυρειτεkai humeis de martureite). Present active indicative or imperative (do ye bear witness), same form of μαρτυρεωmartureō “Ye also” as well as the Holy Spirit, ye also when filled with and taught by the Holy Spirit the things concerning Jesus. It is here that Christians fail most.

Have been (εστεeste). Progressive present of ειμιeimi “are with me from the beginning of my ministry” as in John 14:9. They were chosen to be with Christ (Mark 3:14).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.