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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
John 15

 

 

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Verse 1

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. By a figure familiar to Jewish ears (Isaiah 5:1-7; Ezekiel 15:1; etc.) Jesus here beautifully sets forth the spiritual Oneness of Himself and His people, and His relation to them as the Source of all their spiritual life and fruitfulness.

I am the true vine - of which the natural vine is no more than a shadow.

And my Father is the farmer - the great Proprietor of the Vineyard, the Lord of the spiritual Kingdom.


Verse 2

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

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away [ airei (G142)]; and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it [ kathairei (G2508)], that it may bring forth more fruit. There is a verbal play upon the two Greek words for "taketh away" and "purgeth" [ airein (Greek #142) ... kathairein (Greek #2508)], which it is impossible to convey in English. But it explains why so uncommon a word as "purgeth," with reference to a fruit tree, was chosen-the one word no doubt suggesting the other. The sense of both is obvious enough, and the truths conveyed by the whole verse are deeply important. Two classes of Christians are here set forth-both of them in Christ, as truly as the branch is in the vine; but while the one class bear fruit the other bear none. The natural husbandry will sufficiently explain the cause of this difference. A graft may be mechanically attached to a fruit tree, and yet take no vital hold of it, and have no vital connection with it.

In that case, receiving none of the juices of the tree-no vegetable sap from the stem-it can bear no fruit. Such merely mechanical attachment to the True Vine is that of all who believe in the truths of Christianity, and are in visible membership with the Church of Christ, but, having no living faith in Jesus nor desire for His salvation, open not their souls to the spiritual life of which He is the Source, take no vital held of Him, and have no living union to Him. All such are incapable of fruit-bearing. They have an external, mechanical connection with Christ, as members of His Church visible; and in that sense they are, not in name only but in reality, branches "in the true Vine." Mixing, as these sometimes do, with living Christians in their most sacred services and spiritual exercises, where Jesus Himself is, according to His promise, they my come into such close contact with Him as those did who "pressed upon Him" in the days of His flesh, when the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of His garment.

But just as the branch that opens not its pores to let in the vital juices of the vine to which it may be most firmly attached has no more vegetable life, and is no more capable of bearing fruit, than if it were in the fire; so such merely external Christians have no more spiritual life, and are no more capable of spiritual fruitfulness, than if they had never heard of Christ, or were already separated from Him. The reverse of this class are those "in Christ that bear fruit." Their union to Christ is a vital, not a mechanical one; they are one spiritual life with Him: only in Him it is a Fontal life; in them a derived life, even as the life of the branch is that of the vine with which it is vitally one. Of them Christ can say, "Because I live, ye shall live also:" of Him do they say, "Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." Such are the two classes of Christians of which Jesus here speaks.

Observe now the procedure of the great Husbandman toward each. Every fruitless branch He "taketh away." Compare what is said of the barren fig tree, "Cut it down" (see the notes at Luke 13:1-9, Remark 5 at the close of that section). The thing here intended is not the same as "casting it into the fire" (John 15:6): that is a subsequent process. It is 'the severance of that tie which bound them to Christ' here; so that they shall no longer be fruitless branches in the true Vine, no longer unclothed guests at the marriage-feast. That condition of things shall not last always. "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." (Psalms 1:5). But "every branch that beareth fruit" - in virtue of such living connection with Christ and reception of spiritual life from Him as a fruitful branch has from the natural vine - "He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." Here also the processes of the natural husbandry may help us.

Without the pruning knife a tree is apt to go all to wood, as the phrase is. This takes place when the sap of the tree goes exclusively to the formation and growth of fresh branches, and none of it to the production of fruit. To prevent this, the tree is pruned; that is to say, all superfluous shoots are lopped off, which would have drown away, to no useful purpose, the sap of the tree, and thus the whole vegetable juices and strength of the tree go toward their proper use-the nourishment of the healthy branches and the production of fruit. But what, it may be asked, is that rankness and luxuriance in living Christians which requires the pruning knife of the great Husbandman? The words of another parable will sufficiently answer that question: "The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful" (see the notes at Mark 4:19). True, that is said of such hearers of the word as "bring no fruit to perfection" at all. But the very same causes operate to the hindrance of fruitfulness in the living branches of the true Vine, and the great Husbandman has to "purge" them of these, that they may bring forth more fruit; lopping off at one time their worldly prosperity, at another time the olive plants that grow around their table, and at yet another time their own health or peace of mind: a process painful enough, but no less needful and no less beneficial in the spiritual than in the natural husbandry. Not one nor all of these operations, it is true, will of themselves increase the fruitfulness of Christians. But He who afflicteth not willingly, but smites to heal-who purgeth the fruitful branches for no other end than that they may bring forth more fruit-makes these "chastenings afterward to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness" in larger measures than before.


Verse 3

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

Now ye are clean through the word , [ Eedee (Greek #2235) humeis (Greek #5210) katharoi (Greek #2513) este (Greek #1510) dia (Greek #1223) ton (Greek #3588) logon (Greek #3056), 'Already are ye clean by reason of the word'] which I have spoken unto you.} He had already said of the Eleven, using another figure, that they were "clean," and "needed only to wash their feet." Here He repeats this, reminding them of the means by which this was brought about - "the word which He had spoken to them." For "as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." He "purified their hearts by faith," and "sanctified them through His truths; His word was the truth." (See the note at John 17:17.) Such, then, being their state, what would He have them to do?


Verse 4

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

Abide in me, and I in you. The latter clause may be taken as a promise: 'Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.' (So Calvin, Beza, Meyer, Lucke, Luthardt understand it.) But we rather take it as part of one injunction: 'See to it that ye abide in Me, and that I abide in you;' the twofold condition of spiritual fruitfulness (So Grotius, Bengel, Tholuck, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson view it.) What follows seems to confirm this.

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. Should anything interrupt the free communication of a branch with the tree of which it is a part, so that the sap should not reach it, it could bear no fruit. In order to this it is absolutely necessary that the one abide in the other, in this vital sense of reception on the one hand, and communication on the other. So with Christ and His people.


Verse 5

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

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. This is just the positive form of what had been said negatively in the previous verse. But it is more. Without abiding in Christ we cannot bear any fruit at all; but he that abideth in Christ, and Christ in him, the same bringeth forth-not fruit merely, as we should expect but - "much fruit:" meaning that as Christ seeks only a receptive soul to be a communicative Saviour, so there is no limit to the communication from Him but in the power of reception in us.

For without me (disconnected from Me, in the sense explained), ye can do nothing - nothing spiritually good, nothing which God will regard and accept as good.


Verse 6

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

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. This withering, it will be observed, comes before the burning, just as the withering is preceded by the taking away (John 15:2). The thing intended seems to be the decay and disappearance of all that in religion (and in many cases this is not little) which even an external connection with Christ imparts to those who are destitute of vital religion. And [men] gather them. Compare what is said in the parable of the Tares: "The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matthew 13:41).

And cast them into the fire, and they are burned. The one proper use of the vine is to bear fruit. Failing this, it is useless, except for fuel. This is strikingly set forth in the form of a parable in Ezekiel 15:1-8, to which there is here a manifest allusion: "Son of man, what is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?" - Why is it planted in a vineyard, and dressed with such care and interest, more than any other tree except only for the fruit which it yields? - "Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will a man take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?" - Does it admit of being turned to any of the purposes of woodwork, even the most insignificant? - "Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel" - that is the one use of it, failing fruit; - "the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned" - not an inch of it is fit for anything else: "Is it meet for any work?"


Verse 7

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

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you. Mark the change from the inhabitation of Himself to that of His words. But as we are clean through His word (John 15:2), and sanctified through His word (John 17:17), so He dwells in us through "His words" - those words of His, the believing reception of which alone opens the heart to let Him come in to us. So in the preceding chapter (John 14:23), "If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." And so in the last of His letters to the churches of Asia, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice" - and so my words abide in him, "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).

Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. A startling latitude of asking this seems to be. Is it, then, to be understood with limitations? and if not, would not such boundless license seem to countenance all manner of fanatical extravagance? The one limitation expressly mentioned is all-sufficient to guide the askings so as to ensure the answering. If we but abide in Christ, and Christ's words abide in us, "every thought" is so "brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," that no desires Will rise and no petition be offered but such as are in harmony with the divine will. The soul, yielding itself implicitly and wholly to Christ, and Christ's words penetrating and moulding it sweetly into conformity with the will of God, its very breathings are of God, and so cannot but meet with a divine response.


Verse 8

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

Herein is my Father glorified [ edoxasthee (Greek #1392) - on which special use of the aorist, see the note at John 10:4],

That ye bear much fruit. As His whole design in providing "the True Vine," and making men lives branches in Him, was to obtain fruit; and as He purgeth every branch that beareth fruit, that it may bring forth more fruit; so herein is He glorified, that we bear much fruit. As the farmer feels that his pains are richly rewarded when the fruit of his vineyard is abundant, so the eternal designs of Grace are seen to come to glorious effect when the vessels of mercy, the redeemed of the Lord, abound in the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God, and then the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ "rests in His love and joys over them with singing."

So shall ye be, [ geneesesthe (G1096), or 'become'] my disciples - that is, so shall ye manifest and evidence your discipleship.


Verse 9

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

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. See the notes at John 17:22; John 17:26.

Continue (or 'abide') ye in my love - not, ' continue ye to love Me,' but 'abide ye in the possession and enjoyment of My love to you;' as is evident from what follows.


Verse 10

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

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love - the obedient spirit of true discipleship attracting and securing the continuance and increase of Christ's loving regard.

Even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. What a wonderful statement is this which Christ makes about Himself. In neither case, it will be observed, is obedience the original and proper ground of the love spoken of. As an earthly father does not primarily love his son for his obedience, but because of the filial relation which he bears to him, so the love which Christ's Father bears to Him is not primarily drawn forth by His obedience, but by the Filial relation which He sustains to Him. The Son's Incarnation neither added to nor diminished from this. But it provided a new form and manifestation of that love. As His own Son in our nature, the Father's affection went out to Him as the Son of Man; and just as a human father, on beholding the cordial and constant obedience of his own child, feels his own affection thereby irresistibly drawn out to him, so every beauty of the Son's Incarnate character, and every act of His Human obedience, rendered Him more lovely in the Fathers eye, drew down new complacency upon Him, Human obedience, rendered Him more lovely in the Fathers eye, drew down new complacency upon Him, fresh love to Him.

Thus, then, it was that by the keeping of His Father's commandments Jesus abode in the possession and enjoyment of His Father's love. And thus, says Jesus, shall it be between you and Me: If ye would retain My love to you, know that the whole secret of it lies in the keeping of My commandments: Never need ye be without the full sunshine of My love on your souls, if ye do but carry yourselves in the same obedient frame toward Me as I do toward My Father.


Verse 11

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

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain ('abide') in you, and that your joy might be full , [ pleeroothee (Greek #4137)] - or 'be fulfilled.' We take "these things which Christ had spoken unto them" to mean, not all that Christ uttered on this occasion-as interpreters generally do-but more definitely, the things He had just before said about the true secret of His abiding in His Father's love and of their abiding in His love. In that case, the sense will be this: 'As it is My joy to have My Father's love resting on Me in the keeping of His commandments, so have I told how ye yourselves may have that very joy of Mine abiding in you and filling you full.'


Verse 12

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

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. See the notes at John 13:34-35.


Verse 13

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

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. The emphasis here lies, not on "friends," but on "laying down his life" for them: q.d., 'One can show no greater regard for those dear to him than to give his life for them, and this is the love ye shall find in Me.'


Verse 14

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

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you - `if ye hold yourselves in absolute subjection to Me.'


Verse 15

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

Henceforth I call you not servants - that is, in the restricted sense explained in the next words; for servants He still calls them (John 15:20), and such they delight to call themselves, in the sense of being "under law to Christ" (1 Corinthians 9:21);

For the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth - knows nothing of his master's plans and reasons, but simply receives and executes his orders.

But I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you - `I have admitted you to free, unrestrained fellowship, keeping back nothing from you which I have received to communicate.' (See Genesis 18:17; Psalms 25:14; Isaiah 50:4).


Verse 16

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

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you - a wholesome memento after the lofty things He had just said about their mutual indwelling, and the unreservedness of the friendship to which He had admitted them.

And ordained [ etheeka (G5087), or 'appointed'] you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit - that is, ye are to give yourselves to this as your proper business. The fruit intended, though embracing all spiritual fruitfulness, is here specially that particular fruit of "loving one another," which John 15:17 shows to be still the subject spoken of. And that your fruit should remain - showing itself to be an imperishable and ever-growing principle. (See Proverbs 4:18; 2 John 1:8.)

That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. See the note at John 15:7.


Verse 17

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

These things I command you, that ye love one another. Our Lord repeats here what He had said in John 15:12, but He recurs to it here in order to give it fresh and affecting point. He is about to forewarn them of the certain hatred and persecution of the world, if they be His indeed. But before doing it, He enjoins on them anew the love of each other. It is as if He had said, 'And ye will have need of all the love ye can receive from one another, for outside your own pale ye have nothing to look for but enmity and opposition.' This, accordingly, is the subject of what follows.

The substance of these important verses has occurred more than once before. (See the notes at Matthew 10:34-39, and Remark 2 at the close of that section; and at Luke 12:49-53, and Remark 4 at the end of that section.) But the reader will do well to mark the special light in which the subject is here presented.


Verse 18

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

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


Verse 19

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

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, [ exelexameen (G1586)], therefore the world hateth you. Here Jesus holds Himself forth as the Hated and Persecuted One; and this, not only as going before all His people in that respect, but as being the great Embodied Manifestation of that holiness which the world hates, and the Fountain of that hated state and character to all that believe in Him. From the treatment, therefore, which He met with they were not only to lay their account with the same, but be encouraged to submit to it, and cheered in the endurance of it, by the company they had and the cause in which it lighted upon them. Of course, this implies that if their separation from the world was to bring on them the world's enmity and opposition, then that enmity and opposition would be just so great as their separation from the world was, and no greater. Observe again that Christ here ascribes all that severance of His people from the world, which brings upon them its enmity and opposition, to His own 'choice of them out of it.' This cannot refer to the mere external separation of the Eleven to the apostleship, because Judas was so separated. Besides, this was spoken after Judas had voluntarily separated himself from the rest. It can refer only to such an inward operation upon them as made them entirely different in character and spirit from the world, and so objects of the world's hatred.


Verse 20

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

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. See the notes at Matthew 10:24-25.


Verse 21

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

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

Here again are they cheered with the assurance that all the opposition they would experience from the world as His disciples would arise from its dislike to Him, and its estrangement in mind as well as heart from the Father that sent Him. But to impress this the more upon them, our Lord enlarges upon it in what follows.


Verse 22

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

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin , [ ouk (Greek #3756) eichon (Greek #2192)] - rather, 'would not have sin;' that is, of course comparatively: all other sins being light compared with the rejection of the Son of God.

But now they have no cloak, [ profasin (G4392), or pretext] for their sin. But now they have no cloak, [ profasin (G4392), or pretext] for their sin.


Verse 23

He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

He that hateth me hateth my Father also - so brightly revealed in the incarnate Son that the hatred of the One was just naked enmity to the other.


Verse 24

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

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did , [ epoieesen (Greek #4160) is beyond doubt the true reading: the received text - pepoieeken (Greek #4160), 'hath done'-has but inferior support].

They had not had sin - rather as before, 'would not have sin,' comparatively:

But now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father: they saw His Father revealed in Him, and in Him they hated both the Father and the Son. In John 15:22 He places the special aggravation of their guilt in His having "come and spoken to them;" here He makes it consist in their having seen Him do the works which none other man did. See the notes at John 14:10-11, where we have the same association of His works and His words, as either of them sufficient to show that the Father was in Him and He in the Father.


Verse 25

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

But [this cometh to pass], that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law (Psalms 69:4), They hated me without a cause. The New Testament references to this Messianic psalm of suffering are numerous (see John 2:17; Acts 1:20; Romans 11:9-10; Romans 15:3), and this one, as here used, is very striking.


Verse 26

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

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father. How brightly are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-in their distinct Personality, brought here before us! While the 'procession' of the Holy Spirit, as it is called, was by the whole ancient Church founded on this statement regarding Him, that He "proceedeth from the Father," the Greek Church inferred from it that, in the internal relations of the Godhead, the Spirit proceedeth from the Father only, through the Son; while the Latin Church insisted that He proceedeth from the Father and the Son: and one short word (Filioque), which the latter would exclude and the former insert in the Creed, was the cause of the great schism between the Eastern and the Western Churches. That the internal or essential procession of the Holy Spirit is the thing here intended, has been the prevailing opinion of the orthodox Churches of the Reformation, and is that of good critics even in our day. But though we seem warranted in affirming-in the technical language of divines-that the economic order follows the essential in the relations of the Divine Persons-in other words, that in the economy of Redemption the relations sustained by the Divine Persons do but reflect their essential relations-it is very doubtful whether more is expressed here than the historical aspect of this mission and procession of the Spirit from the Father by the Agency of the Son.

He shall testify of me - referring to that glorious Pentecostal attestation of the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus which, in a few days, gave birth to a flourishing Christian Church in the murderous capital itself, and the speedy diffusion of it far and wide.


Verse 27

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

And ye also - as the other witness required to the validity of testimony among men (Deuteronomy 19:15)

Shall bear witness, [ martureite (G3140) or 'do bear witness'] because ye have been, [ este (G1510), or 'are'] with me from the beginning. Our Lord here uses the present tense - "do testify" and "are with Me" - to express the opportunities which they had enjoyed for this office of witness-bearing, from their having been with Him from the outset of His ministry (see the note at Luke 1:2), and how this observation and experience of Him, being now all but completed, they were already virtually a company of chosen witnesses for His Name.

Remarks:

(1) If the strain in which our Lord spoke of Himself in the foregoing chapter was such as befitted only Lips Divine, in no less exalted a tone does He speak throughout all this chapter. For any mere creature, however lofty, to represent himself as the one Source of all spiritual vitality in men, would be insufferable. But this our Lord here explicitly and emphatically does, and that at the most solemn hour of His earthly history-on the eve of His death. To abide in Him, he says, is to have spiritual life and fruitfulness; not to abide in Him is to be fit only for the fire - "whose end is to be burned." What prophet or apostle ever ventured to put forth for himself such a claim as this? Yet see how the Father's rights and honours are upheld. My Father, says Jesus, is the Husbandman of that great Vineyard whose whole spring of life and fruitfulness is in Me; and herein is My Father glorified, that all the branches in the True Vine do bear much fruit. Then, again, such power and prevalency with God does He attach to His people's abiding in Him, and His words abiding in them, that His Father will withhold nothing from such that they shall ask of Him. In a word, so perfect a manifestation of the Father does He declare Himself to be in our nature, that to see Him is to see Both at once, and to hate Him is to be guilty in one and the same act of deadly hostility to Both.

(2) When our Lord said, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you," He must have contemplated the preservation of His words in a written Record, and designed that, over and above the general truth conveyed by His teaching, the precise form in which He couched that truth should be carefully treasured up and cherished by His believing people. Hence, the importance of that promise, that the Spirit should "bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said unto them." (See the note at John 14:26.) And hence, the danger of those loose views of Inspiration which would abandon all faith even in the words of Christ, as reported in the Gospels, and abide by what is called the spirit or general import of them-as if even this could be depended upon when the form in which it was couched is regarded as uncertain. (See the note at John 17:17.)

(3) If we would have Christ Himself abiding in us, it must be, we see, by "His words abiding in us" (John 15:7). Let the word of Christ, then, dwell in you richly in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16).

(4) How small is the confidence reposed in that promise of the Faithful and True Witness, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" - if we may judge by the formal character and the languid and uncertain tone of the generality of Christian prayers! Surely, if we had full faith in such a promise, it would give to our prayers such a definite character and such a lively assured tone as, while themselves no small part of the true answer, to prepare the petitioner for the divine response to his suit. Such a manner of praying, indeed, is apt to be regarded as presumptuous by some even true Christians, who are too great strangers to the spirit of adoption. But if we abide in our living Head, and His words abide in us, our carriage in this exercise, as in every other, will commend itself.

(5) Let Christians learn from their Master's teaching in this chapter whence proceeds much, if not most, of their darkness and uncertainty as to whether they be the gracious objects of God's saving love in Christ Jesus. "If ye keep My commandments," says Jesus, "ye shall abide in My love, even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love." Habitual want of conscience as to any one of these will suffice to cloud the mind as to the love of Christ resting upon us. Take, for example, that one commandment which our Lord so emphatically reiterates in this chapter: "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. These things I command you, that ye love one another." No ordinary love is this. "As I have loved you" is the sublime Model, as it is the only spring of this commanded love of the brethren. How much of this is there among Christians? To what extent is it characteristic of them-how far is it their notorious undeniable character? (See the note at John 17:21.) Alas! whether we look to churches or to individual Christians, the open manifestation of any such feeling is the exception rather than the rule.

Or let us try how far the generality of Christians are like their Lord by the world's feeling toward them. We know how it felt toward Jesus Himself. It was what He was that the world hated: it was His fidelity in exposing its evil ways that the world could not endure. Had He been less holy than He was, or been contented to endure the unholiness that reigned around Him without witnessing against it, He had not met with the opposition that He did. "The world cannot hate you," said He to His brethren, "but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil" (John 7:7). And the same treatment, in principle, He here prepares His genuine disciples for, when He should leave them to represent Him in the world - "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than His lord. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Is it not, then, too much to be feared that the good terms which the generality of Christians are on with the world are owing, not to the near approach of the world to them, but to their so near approach to the world, that the essential and unchangeable difference between them is hardly seen? And if so, need we wonder that those words of Jesus seem too high to be reached at all - "If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love"? When Christians cease from the vain attempt to serve two masters, and from receiving honour one of another, instead of seeking the honour that cometh from God only; when they count all things but loss, that they may win Christ, and the love of Christ constraineth them to live not unto themselves, but unto Him that died for them and rose again: then will they abide in Christ's love, even as He abode in His Father's love; His joy shall then abide in them; and their joy shall be full.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 15:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-15.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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