Attention!
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

John 15

Verse 1

The true vine (η αμπελος η αληθινη). "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). Αμπελος in the papyri (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary) is sometimes used in the sense of ampelon (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 Psalms 80:8. "On the Maccabean coinage Israel was represented by a vine" (Dods). Jesus is the genuine Messianic vine.

The husbandman (ο γεωργος) as in Mark 12:1; James 5:7; 2 Timothy 2:6. cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9, θεου γεωργιον (God's field).

Verse 2

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

In me (εν εμο). 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 φερον καρπον) the vine-dresser "takes away" (αιρε) or prunes away. Probably (Bernard) Jesus here refers to Judas.

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

That it may bear more fruit (ινα καρπον πλειονα φερη). Purpose clause with ινα and present active subjunctive of φερω, "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 καθαρο εστε). Potentially cleansed (Westcott) as in John 13:10 which see and John 17:19.

Verse 4

Abide in me (μεινατε εν εμο). Constative aorist active imperative of μενω. 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 (αφ' εαυτου). As source (from itself) and apart from the vine (cf. John 17:17).

Except it abide (εαν μη μενη). Condition of third class with εαν, negative μη, and present active (keep on abiding) subjunctive of μενω. Same condition and tense in the application, "except ye abide in me."

Verse 5

Ye the branches (υμεις τα κληματα). Jesus repeats and applies the metaphor of verse John 15:1.

Apart from me (χωρις εμου). See Ephesians 2:12 for χωρις Χριστου. 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 αυτου).

Verse 6

He is cast forth (εβληθη εξω). Timeless or gnomic use of the first aorist passive indicative of βαλλω as the conclusion of a third-class condition (see also verses John 15:4; John 15:7 for the same condition, only constative aorist subjunctive μεινητε and μεινη in verse John 15:7). The apostles are thus vividly warned against presumption. Jesus as the vine will fulfil his part of the relation as long as the branches keep in vital union with him.

As a branch (ως το κλημα).

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

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

Verse 7

Ask whatsoever ye will (ο εαν θελητε αιτησασθε). Indefinite relative with εαν and present active subjunctive of θελω, to wish, to will, and aorist middle imperative of αιτεω, to ask. This astounding command and promise (γενησετα, future middle of γινομα, 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 τουτω). That is in the vital union and the much fruit bearing. It points here backwards and forwards.

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

Bear (φερετε). Present active subjunctive, "keep on bearing" much fruit.

And so shall ye be (κα γενησεσθε). Rather "become." Future middle indicative of γινομα, though B D L read γενησθε (after ινα like φερητε). "Become" my disciples (learners) in the fullest sense of rich fruit-bearing according to the text in

Verse 9

Abide (μεινατε). Constative first aorist active imperative of μενω, summing up the whole.

In my love (εν τη αγαπη τη εμη). 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 εμος 37 times and always in the words of Jesus (Bernard). But he uses μου also (verse John 15:10).

Verse 10

Ye will abide (μενειτε). Future tense of μενω, conclusion of the third-class condition (εαν and first aorist active subjunctive τηρησητε). The correlative of John 14:15. Each involves the other (love and keeping the commandments of Jesus).

And abide (κα μενω). 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 η). Purpose clause with ινα and the present subjunctive η (some MSS. have μεινη, may remain), Christ's permanent absolute joy in the disciples.

And that your joy be fulfilled (Κα η χαρα υμων πληρωθη). Same construction with first aorist (effective) passive subjunctive of πληροω, consummation of the process preceding.

Verse 12

That ye love one another (ινα αγαπατε αλληλους). Non-final use of ινα, introducing a subject clause in apposition with εντολη (commandment) and the present active subjunctive of αγαπαω, "that ye keep on loving one another." See John 13:34.

Verse 13

Than this (ταυτης). Ablative case after the comparative adjective μειζονα and feminine agreeing with της αγαπης (love) understood.

That a man lay down his life (ινα τις την ψυχην αυτου θη). Object clause (non-final use of ινα in apposition with the ablative pronoun ταυτης and the second aorist active subjunctive of τιθημ. For the phrase see John 10:11 of the good shepherd. Cf. 1 John 3:16; Romans 5:7.

For his friends (υπερ των φιλων αυτου). "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 υπερ see John 11:50; Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Romans 5:7.

Verse 14

If ye do (εαν ποιητε). Condition of third class with εαν and the present active subjunctive, "if ye keep on doing," not just spasmodic obedience. Just a different way of saying what is in verse 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, ενετειλαμην, I commanded) with the very word used here (εντελλομα, I command).

Verse 15

No longer (ουκετ). 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 δουλος (bond-slave).

Servants (δουλους). Bond-servants, slaves.

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

Verse 16

But I chose you (αλλ' εγω εξελεξαμην υμας). First aorist middle indicative of εκλεγω. 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 εκλογης, Acts 9:15). Appointed (εθηκα). First aorist active indicative (κ aorist) of τιθημ. Note three present active subjunctives with ινα (purpose clause) to emphasize continuance (υπαγητε, keep on going, φερητε, keep on bearing fruit, μενη, keep on abiding), not a mere spurt, but permanent growth and fruit-bearing.

He may give (δω). Second aorist active subjunctive of διδωμ with ινα (purpose clause). Cf. John 14:13 for the same purpose and promise, but with ποιησω (I shall do). See also John 16:23; John 16:26.

Verse 17

That ye may love one another (ινα αγαπατε αλληλους). 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 (ε ο κοσμος υμας μισε). Condition of the first class. As it certainly does.

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

Hath hated (μεμισηκεν). Perfect active indicative, "has hated and still hates."

Before it hateth you (πρωτον υμων). Ablative case υμων after the superlative πρωτον as with πρωτος μου in John 1:15.

Verse 19

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

But because ye are not of the world (οτ δε εκ του κοσμου ουκ εστε). 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 (μνημονευετε). Present active imperative of μνημονευω, old verb from μνημων, in John again in John 16:4; John 16:21. See John 13:16 for this word.

If they persecuted me (ε εμε εδιωξαν). Condition of first class. They certainly did persecute (first aorist active of διωκω, 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" (ε τον λογον μου ετηρησαν). The world does praise the word of Jesus, but dreads to follow it.

Verse 21

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

For my name's sake (δια το ονομα μου). See verse 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 μου (Mark 13:9; Luke 21:12). Loyalty to the name of Christ will bring persecution as they will soon know (Acts 5:41; Philippians 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 ειχοσαν). Conclusion of condition of second class without αν because context makes it clear (νυν δε) without it (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1013). The imperfect active indicative with -οσαν instead of -ον (also in verse John 15:24) as common in the LXX, and occurs in the papyri and the inscriptions and the Boeotian dialect.

Excuse (προφασιν). Old word (1 Thessalonians 2:5) either from προφαινω, to show forth, or προφημ, to speak forth. Mere pretence, in John only here and verse John 15:24.

Verse 23

My Father also (κα τον πατερα μου). 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 (κα εωρακασιν κα μεμισηκασιν). Perfect active indicative of οραω and μισεω, 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 (αλλ'). Ellipsis in the Greek (no verb), as in John 9:3; John 13:18.

In their law (εν τω νομω αυτων). Cf. John 8:17; John 10:34 for this standpoint. "Law" (νομος) here is for the whole of Scripture as in John 12:34. The allusion is to Psalms 69:4 (or Psalms 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 πληρωθη (first aorist passive subjunctive of πληροω, to fulfil).

Without a cause (δωρεαν). Adverbial accusative of δωρεα from διδωμ, gratuitously, then unnecessarily or gratis (in two Koine tablets, Nageli) as here and Galatians 2:21.

Verse 26

When the Comforter is come (οταν ελθη ο παρακλητος). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν and the second aorist active subjunctive of ερχομα, "whenever the Comforter comes."

Whom I will send unto you from the Father (ον εγω πεμψω υμιν παρα του πατρος). 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.

Which (ο). Grammatical neuter to agree with πνευμα, and should be rendered "who" like ο in John 14:26.

Proceedeth from the Father (παρα του πατρος εκπορευετα). "From beside the Father" as in the preceding clause.

He (εκεινος). Emphatic masculine pronoun, not neuter (εκεινο) though following ο.

Shall bear witness of me (μαρτυρησε περ εμου). Future active of μαρτυρεω. This is the mission of the Paraclete (John 16:14) as it should be ours.

Verse 27

And ye also bear witness (κα υμεις δε μαρτυρειτε). Present active indicative or imperative (do ye bear witness), same form of μαρτυρεω. "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 (εστε). Progressive present of ειμ, "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". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/john-15.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.