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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
John 15

 

 

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Verse 1

John 15:1. I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. In the Old Testament the vine is the type of Israel, planted by the Almighty as the husbandman to adorn, refresh, and quicken the earth (Psalms 80; Isaiah 5:1; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 19:10; Hosea 10:1). But Israel proved itself ‘the degenerate plant of a strange vine.’ Jesus, therefore, is here the ‘true vine,’ because He is the true Israel of God, in whom is fulfilled all that is demanded of the true vine, whether for beauty and blessing to the world, or for glory to the husbandman. In Him all His people are summed up. He is not merely the stem: He is ‘the vine,’ including in Himself all its parts. He is thus also the ‘true’ (comp. on chap. John 1:9) vine, in contrast not so much with a degenerate Israel within Israel as with Israel after the flesh as a whole, with the ancient Theocracy even in its best and palmiest days. That Theocracy had been no more than a shadow of the true; now the ‘true’ was come, and God Himself had planted it.


Verses 1-33

We have already considered the circumstances under which the two chapters upon which we now enter were spoken; and, if we have been correct in the view taken of them, we are not to imagine that the first figure of chap. 15 was suggested by a vine seen at the moment on the slope of the temple mount, down which the Lord and His disciples were passing. It is equally improbable that it was suggested by a vine penetrating into the room where they were gathered together. Apart from all other considerations, it is enough to say that, at this season of the year, the vine was hardly far enough advanced to supply materials for the different illustrations used. The solemnity of the moment, the fulness of Old Testament thought which dwelt in the mind of Jesus, perhaps even a reminiscence of that ‘fruit of the vine’ of which they had all so recently partaken, are enough to account for the language with which our Lord begins this second part of His last discourse. It is of more importance to observe that it is distinguished from what goes before, not so much by presenting us with matter entirely new, as by applying the same line of instruction in an advanced form to the advanced position in which the disciples are supposed to be. In chap. 14 the main thought is that of the true union brought about by the apparent separation; the chief reference has been to personal experience; and the climax is reached in John 15:20; John 15:23. That is the preparation of the disciples for their work; they ‘are’ in Him, and He in them. The chief thought now is that of ‘abiding,’ and this abiding presupposes difficulty and trial. ‘Being’ in Him is life: ‘abiding’ in Him is life working, triumphing. It is the disciples working, then, that we have before us; and how well does this correspond to what we have already said of the standing attitude in which this discourse was most probably delivered. It will be observed that the advance from chap. 14 to chaps. 15 and 16 consists in the application of principles rather than in any change from one set of principles to another.

The subordinate parts of the section are—(1) chap, 15, John 15:1-17; (2) John 15:18-27; (3) chap. 16, John 15:1-11; (4) John 15:12-15; (5) John 15:16-24; (6) John 15:25-27.


Verse 2

John 15:2. Every branch in me which beareth not fruit, he taketh it away; and all that which beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. Two parts of the husband man’s operations with his vine are here alluded to, the first that of taking away unfruitful branches. Any branch of the vine that is found, and as soon as it is found, to be not fruit-bearing is cut off. It is probable that the allusion is primarily to Judas (comp. chap. John 17:12), but thereafter to all of whom the traitor is the representative, who, taking their places for a time in the number of the disciples, prove by the result that they have no right to be there (comp. 1 John 2:19). They are branches of the vine; but, as only outward and carnal not inward and spiritual, they are taken away, their further fate being not yet mentioned. The second part of the husbandman’s work follows, that of pruning, for which the word cleansing, with its deeper meaning, is appropriately used. The object of the Father is the inward, spiritual, cleansing of His children, in contrast with the outward purifications of Israel (chaps. John 2:6, John 3:25); and the cleansing spoken of (which follows, not precedes, their fruit-bearing) is future and continuous. The means are afflictions, not of any kind but for the sake of Jesus, here especially the afflictions to which the disciples shall be exposed in doing their Master’s work, as He Himself ‘learned obedience by the things which He suffered.’ The attaining of this perfection is, however, a gradual process, and hence the words ‘that it may bear more fruit.’ It is possible that the ‘fruit’ to be borne may include all Christian graces, although it would seem as if the general growth of the Christian life were rather set forth in the growth and strengthening of the ‘branch.’ The considerations already adduced, and the whole strain of the discourse, lead us rather to understand by the ‘fruit’ now spoken of fruit borne in carrying on the work of Jesus in the world (comp. on John 15:16).


Verse 3

John 15:3. Already are ye clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you. On ‘word,’ not ‘words,’ see on chap. John 14:24. The ‘ye’ is emphatic. They were pruned, they were ‘clean;’ and that ‘already,’ because they had already received the word which they were now, in their turn, to communicate. Jesus does not say that they are clean ‘through,’ but ‘because of the word which He had spoken unto them. They have heard (and received) the word of the Holy One of God,’ and because His word is in them they are clean. Thus are they fitted for imparting the means of a like cleansing to others. Not personal piety but Christian action is still in view, and still the ‘cleanness’ which they possess does not exclude the future and continuous cleansing.


Verse 4

John 15:4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. Thus cleansed, one thing more is required, that they maintain their position, that they continue in the vine. It is the law of the branch that, if it is to flourish and bear fruit, there must be a constant and reciprocal action between it and the vine of which it is a part. This is expressed in the two clauses before us. He who will not abide in Christ cannot have Christ to abide in him. How much is made dependent upon the human will!


Verse 5

John 15:5. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; because apart from me ye can do nothing. The transition from John 15:4 to John 15:5 appears to be similar to that from chap. John 5:19-23 to chap. John 5:24,—a transition from the principle to its application to men. In substance the lesson is the same as before; and it has only to be distinctly observed that the words ‘ye can do nothing’ refer to the efforts of one already a believer. The state of faith is presupposed.


Verse 6

John 15:6. If any one abide not in me he is cast forth as the branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they burn. ‘The branch’ here is simply ‘the branch’ of John 15:4, the branch considered in itself: the words ‘cast forth’ and ‘is withered’ are so used in the original as to denote the certainty, the immediateness, of the doom referred to: the last three verbs of the verse carry our thoughts to a later period than that to which the casting out and the withering belong. Instead of exhibiting beauty of leaf and bearing clusters of fruit, these branches shrivel up, die, and are consumed. It is to be observed that, although the branches spoken of are barren, it is not their barrenness that is the immediate thought here, but the fact that they do not abide in the vine.


Verse 7

John 15:7. If ye abide in me, and my sayings abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you. The sudden departure in this verse from the figure which our Lord had been employing is worthy of notice. A somewhat similar departure occurs at John 15:3, and in both cases it takes place in connection with a reference to the ‘word’ or ‘sayings’ of Jesus: these belong to living men. The thought that the ‘sayings’ of Jesus abide in us as the condition of blessedness is fundamentally the same as that expressed previously in John 15:3, ‘because of the word;’ the mode in which the word works is now more fully brought out. Still more worthy of notice is the fact that, in the latter part of the verse, where the asking is spoken of, the words ‘in My name’ do not occur; but in their place we find, ‘If ye abide in Me, and My sayings abide in you.’ This strikingly illustrates what we have already endeavoured to bring out, that ‘in My name implies a union with Jesus by faith, resting on a knowledge of and adherence to the revelation that He has given. The asking spoken of must be understood not in a general sense, but with a special reference to bearing fruit. Were this not the case the verse would be quite isolated.


Verse 8

John 15:8. Herein was my Father glorified, that ye might bear much fruit and become my disciples. The last verse had expressed the highest and closest communion that can be established between the believer and the Father revealed in the Son,—a communion so high, so close, that the former asks whatsoever he will and it is done unto him. But that is the attainment of all God’s purposes, the issue of all His dealings, with His people. The ‘Herein’ of this verse is, accordingly, not to be explained by the words that follow, as if the meaning were that the glory of God is found in His appointing His people to bear much fruit and be disciples of Jesus. That is the result of His purpose rather than the purpose itself. The purpose is union, communion, fellow ship; and out of these flows an ever-increasing bearing of fruit (‘much fruit’), and an ever-growing conformity (‘become’ not ‘be’) of the believer with his Lord, alike in privilege and in life. Herein was my Father glorified belongs, therefore, to the previous verse,—to that abiding in Jesus, and that asking and receiving in Him, which expressed the purpose of the Father (comp. chap. John 14:13). At the point we have reached this is supposed to be accomplished, and as a consequence of such abiding fellowship with the Father and the Son comes the growing fruitfulness, the deepening discipleship, of those who are true branches of the fruitful vine. Hence the rendering ‘was glorified’ seems preferable to ‘is glorified,’ which we retain in chap. John 13:31. It is an ideal state of things with which we are dealing; and the much fruit and the discipleship referred to do not belong only to the present, but, like the ‘cleanness’ spoken of in John 15:3, are also future and continuous.


Verse 9

John 15:9. Even as the Father loved me, I also loved you: abide in my love. By keeping in view what has been said on John 15:8 we shall understand the transition here to the thought of love. The main thought of that verse was, as we have seen, that of union and communion with the Father and the Son; but the main element of that communion is love,—love which flows forth from the Father to the Son, and then from the Son to the members of His body, thus forming that community of love so often spoken of in these chapters. In this love, then (it follows as a necessary consequence), we must ‘abide’ if we would experience its fruits. It is hardly necessary to say that ‘My love’ is the Lord’s love to His people, not theirs to Him.


Verse 10

John 15:10. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept the Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. The disciples have heard the words ‘abide in my love.’ How are they to do so? The words before us are an answer to the question; and they constitute a parallel to those which we have already met at John 14:20-21, only that now we read not merely of ‘being,’ but of ‘abiding,’ the characteristic word of this chapter. It is not simply the doing of special commandments that is thought of (comp. on chap. John 13:34), but a complete adoption of the Father‘s will by the Son and of the Son’s will by us: and this is not spoken of as a proof of love, but as the condition which makes continued love possible. The Father never ceases to love the Son, because the Son’s will is the expression of His own. The Son never ceases to love His disciples, because their will is the expression of His will; and without this harmony of will and act union and fellowship are impossible.


Verse 11

John 15:11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be fulfilled. ‘My joy’ must be interpreted in the same way as ‘My peace’ at chap, John 14:27. It is the joy which Jesus possessed as ‘anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows,’ which flowed from His uninterrupted possession of His Father’s love (John 15:9), which was ever and again renewed as He felt that He was accomplishing His Father’s will (John 15:10), which was crowned in that uninterrupted intercourse with His Father in which He asked and received whatsoever He desired (chap. John 11:42), and which filled His heart amidst all the trials and sorrows of His work on earth (comp. Luke 10:21). That very joy He will communicate to His disciples, and their joy will be then ‘fulfilled.’ Like Him who went before them, they shall ‘see of the travail of their soul and shall be satisfied.’ The arrangement of the words in the original of this verse, by which ‘my’ is brought into the closest juxtaposition with ‘in you,’ is worthy of notice (comp. chap. John 14:1; John 14:3).


Verse 12

John 15:12. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, even as I loved you. The sum of what was to be said in this part of the discourse has been spoken. One point needs further elucidation—love. It is here enjoined and explained anew. The singular ‘commandment’ does not differ materially from the plural of John 15:10 (see on that verse, and comp. on chap. John 14:23-24). Jesus had loved them with a self-sacrificing love; and because He had so loved them He charges them to live in self-sacrificing love for one another. The ‘I loved you’ is not to be resolved into ‘I have loved you.’ As at chap. John 13:34, it is of His love brought back to their minds in His absence that He speaks.


Verse 13

John 15:13. Greater love hath no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. How great His love which showed itself even unto death for them! They must imitate such love if they will ‘keep His commandment’ and exhibit His spirit. There is no contradiction between this statement and that in Romans 5:6-8. Enemies are not here in question. Jesus is alone with His friends, and one friend can give no greater proof of love to another than to die for him. The emphasis rests upon ‘lay down his life,’ not upon ‘friends.’


Verse 14

John 15:14. Ye are my friends, if ye do that which I command you. We have here no second motive to the exercise of brotherly love, based upon the obedience which the friends of Jesus are bound to render to Him. The emphatic ‘Ye’ shows clearly that Jesus would impress upon them with peculiar force that they were His friends. We must accordingly interpret in a manner similar to that applied at chap. John 14:15. The words describe a condition or state: ‘Ye are my friends for whom in love I lay down My life,’ and ye continue such in being led by the power of My love to lay down your lives for one another. This is your new and glorious state, for.


Verse 15

John 15:15. No longer do I call you servants, because the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, because all things that I heard from my Father I made known unto you. At chap. John 13:16 Jesus had spoken of them as ‘servants;’ and (so closely connected with one another are the chapters which we are considering) we can hardly doubt that it is this very passage that He has now primarily in view. Then they had to learn the lesson of the foot-washing: now it is learned; and, animated by a self-sacrificing love like His, they are no longer ‘servants’ but ‘friends.’ In one sense, indeed, they would be always ‘servants’ (comp. John 15:20), and in the other writings of the New Testament we see that even some of those now listening, as well as Paul, delighted to appropriate to themselves the title (2 Peter 1:1; Revelation 1:1; Romans 1:1, etc.); but that is not their only relationship to their Lord. Nor are the two relationships inconsistent with one another. Rather may we say that the livelier our sense of the privilege of friendship the deeper will be our humility, and that the more truly we feel Jesus to be our ‘Lord and Master’ the more shall we be prepared to enter into the fulness of the privilege bestowed by Him. The evidence of this their state (or privilege) is given in the remainder of the verse. Jesus had kept nothing back from them of all that He their Lord was to ‘do;’ He had revealed to them all the will of God, in so far as it related to H is Own mission and theirs for the salvation of men. This was what He ‘heard’ from the Father, wits whose will His will was in such perfect unison that what He heard He did (comp. chap. John 5:30); and now, in the familiarity, the confidence, the fondness, of friendship He makes it known to them.


Verse 16

John 15:16. Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go away and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide. But He had not taught them merely to fill their minds with knowledge. He had ‘heard’ from the Father that He might ‘do.’ They ‘hear’ that they may ‘do’ also. As the Father, having taught, had sent Him, so He, having taught, sends them. He had ‘chosen’ them—a choice having here nothing to do with eternal predestination, but only with choosing them out of the world after they were in it. He had ‘appointed’ them, had put them into the position which they were to occupy on their post of duty. The manner in which their post is described is important. It is by the word ‘go away,’ the word so often used of Jesus Himself in this part of the Gospel. They were to ‘go away;’ that is, they had a departure to make as well as He. This can be nothing else but their going out into the world to take His place, to produce fruit to the glory of the Father, and to return with that fruit to their Father’s house. How manifest is it that here again we have to do with the fruits of active Christian labour, not of private Christian life!

That whatsoever ye ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. This is the culminating-point of the climax, taking us to the thought of that intimacy of communion with the Father which secures the answer to all our prayers, and the supply of all our needs.

Three times now have we met in this discourse the promise just given, and the attentive reader will easily perceive the interesting gradation in the circumstances in which those to whom it is successively given are supposed to be. At John 14:12-13, they are viewed simply as believers; at John 15:7, they ‘abide in Christ, and His sayings abide in them;’ now they have ‘gone away,’ and have borne abiding fruit. To each stage of Christian living and working the same promise in words belongs, but the fulness included in the words is dependent in each case on the amount of need to be supplied. It may be questioned how we are to understand the second ‘that’ of this verse, whether as co-ordinate to the first ‘that,’ and so, like it, dependent on ‘I have chosen you,’ or as expressing a consequence of their bringing forth abiding fruit in their work of Christian love. The latter is undoubtedly to be preferred. Jesus chooses out His disciples for work first, for correspondingly higher privilege afterwards; and those who faithfully bear fruit are here assured that in this sphere of fruit-bearing with all its difficulties, and temptations, and trials, they shall want nothing to impart courage, boldness, hope, to make them overcome the world, as He Himself overcame it.


Verse 17

John 15:17. These things I command you, that ye may love one another. A verse characteristic of the structure of this Gospel, forming like chap. John 5:30 at once a summary (to a large extent) of what has preceded, and a transition to what follows.

All the great truths spoken by Jesus are intended to promote that which is the truest expression of the Divine, that which is the real ground and end of all existence—love. On the other hand, again, the mutual love of believers is that armour of proof in which they shall be able best to withstand the hatred of the world.


Verse 18

John 15:18. If the world hateth you, know that it hath hated me before it hated you. It is the active work of the disciples that has been before us in the preceding verses, but that work always has provoked, and always will provoke the world’s hatred. In such a prospect, therefore, there is need for strength; and strength is given by means of truth presented in one of the double pictures of our Gospel,—the first extending to the close of chap. 15, the second to chap. John 16:15. First of all, in that hatred which they shall certainly experience, let them behold a proof that, engaged in their Master’s service, they are really filling their Master’s place; and let them feel that the trials that befell Him ought surely to be no ‘strange thing’ to them. Their Master, their Friend, their Redeemer trod the same path as that which they must tread. What thought could be more touching or more full of comforting and ennobling influences?


Verse 19

John 15:19. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hateth you. The word ‘of’ here calls attention to the root from which one springs. Did the world behold in them its own offspring, it would love them; they would be its own. The rule is universal and needed no farther exposition; but they were not ‘of’ the world, they were born of a new and higher birth, they had even like their Master to bear witness of the world that its works were evil, and therefore it must hate them as it hated Him (comp. John 7:7, and 1 Kings 22:8).


Verse 20

John 15:20. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord: if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. The word referred to had been spoken at chap. John 13:16, in an apparently different sense, but really, alike there and here, with the same deep oneness of meaning. The disciples are in the position of their Master, are one with Him; therefore are they bound to the same duties and exposed to the same trials. The parallelism between the ‘word’ of Jesus and that of His disciples is instructive. Lying at the bottom of all the language here employed is the great truth that what He has been they are to be.


Verse 21

John 15:21. But all these things will they do unto you because of my name, because they know not him that sent me. Their sufferings shall not only be like those of Jesus, but ‘because of His name,’ because of all that is involved in His Person and work—the Person and the work which they continually hold forth to men. The latter part of the verse contains at once an explanation of the world’s folly and guilt, and a striking comment upon the fulness of meaning involved in the word ‘name.’ It is because the world knows not God that it hates alike the Son and His disciples. It thinks that it knows God, it has even a zeal for His worship; but the spirituality of His nature, the love which is the essence of His being, it does not know; it turns from them and hates them when they are revealed in their true character; how can it do otherwise than hate One who is the very expression of that spirituality and love; and, hating Him, how can it fail to hate those who continue His work?


Verse 22

John 15:22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. But in so doing the world is without excuse. Its unbelief, with all that hatred of the disciples to which it led, is its own deliberate act, its ground of condemnation at the bar of God, to be in due time the terrible ground of its own self-condemnation. Everything had been done, alike by the word and the works (John 15:24) of Jesus, to lead it to the truth and to a better mind. The revelation of the Father, given by the Son, was not only the highest that could be given, it was such that it ought to have found an answer in that voice which even in the heart of the world echoes to the Divine voice. That it did not do so was the world’s sin,—a sin self-chosen, without ground, without excuse. There is not merely instruction, there is also consolation to the persecuted followers of Jesus in the thought.


Verse 23

John 15:23. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. Nay more, in hating Jesus the world was also setting itself against that very God whom it professed to honour. It was really hating not the Son only but His Father whom He revealed. This was the disastrous issue of its course of action! Not they who inflicted suffering, but they who suffered, were the conquerors.


Verse 24

John 15:24. If I had not done among them the works which none other did, they would not have sin; but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. Jesus had spoken in John 15:22 of his ‘words’ as sufficient to deprive the world of all excuse in rejecting and hating Him. He now turns to His ‘works’ as effecting the same end. The words of Jesus were the Father’s words as well as His own (chap. John 3:34); of the same character are the ‘works,’ which here, as elsewhere, are not to be confined to miracles. They include all that Jesus did, and their appeal had been to the same internal eye which ought to have seen the force and beauty of the ‘word.’ But that eye the world had closed, and for the same reason as before, so that it was again without excuse.


Verse 25

John 15:25. But this cometh to pass, that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. The quotation is in all probability from Psalms 69:4, with which Psalms 35:19; Psalms 109:3 may be compared. On the ‘fulfilment’ spoken of see what has already been said on chaps, John 2:17 and John 12:38. The quotation is made for the purpose of bringing out the aggravated guilt of those who were rejecting Jesus. They had condemned their fathers because of the persecutions to which God’s Righteous Servant of old had been exposed: yet they ‘filled up the measure of their fathers.’ Their pride and carnal dependence upon outward descent from Abraham blinded their eyes to the distinction between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, and made them do what they acknowledged in the light of Divine truth, of Scriptures which they honoured, to be worthy of condemnation in their own fathers.

Light is thus thrown upon the words ‘their law,’ which become the Fourth Gospel rendering of Matthew 23:30. The very law of which the Jews boasted, and into which, from imagined reverence for it, they were continually searching,—in that very law they might see themselves. In such a connection of thought might it not he called ‘their law’?


Verse 26-27

John 15:26-27. When the Advocate is come, whom I will send onto you from the Father, the Spirit of the truth, which goeth forth from the Father, he will hear witness concerning me, and ye also bear witness, because from the beginning ye are with me. Up to this point Jesus had encouraged His disciples by the assurance that they shall be strengthened to overcome whatever hatred and opposition from the world they shall have to encounter in the performance of their work. Now He further assures them that this is not all. They shall not merely meet the world unshaken by all that it can do: they shall also receive a Divine power, in the possession of which they shall bear a joyful and triumphant witness even in the midst of suffering. The Advocate shall be with them, and with them in a manner adapted to that stage of progress which they are thought of as having reached. In the promise of the Advocate here given there is an advance upon that of chap. John 14:16; John 14:26. In the latter passage the promise had been connected with the training of the disciples for their work; in the present it is connected with the execution of the work. First of all, the Advocate ‘will bear witness’ concerning Jesus, will perform that work of witnessing which belongs to heralds of the Cross. But He will do this in them. We are not to imagine that His is an independent work, carried on directly in the world, and apart from the instrumentality of the disciples. It is true that there is a general influence of the Holy Spirit by which He prepares the ear to hear and the eye to see—such an influence as that with which He wrought in Judaism and even in heathenism; but that is not the influence of which Jesus speaks in the words before us. It is a specific influence, the power of the Spirit, to which He refers—that influence which, exerted through Himself when He was upon the earth, is now exerted through the members of His Body. In the two last verses of this chapter, therefore, we have not two works of witnessing, the first that of the Advocate, the second that of the disciples. We have only one,—outwardly that of the disciples, inwardly that of the Advocate. Hence the change of tense from the future to the present when Jesus speaks of ‘ye,’—the Advocate ‘will bear witness, ye bear witness.’ The two witnessings are not on parallel lines, but on the same line, the former coming to view only in and by the latter, into which the power of the former is introduced. Hence also the force of the emphatic ‘Ye.’ The personality and freedom of the disciples does not disappear under this operation of the Advocate; they do not become mechanical agents, but retain their individual standing; they are still men, only higher than they could otherwise have been. Hence, finally, the reason assigned for the part given to the disciples in the work; they are from the beginning ‘with Jesus,’ with Him as partners and fellow-workers; and this ‘from the beginning,’ that is, from the beginning which belongs to the subject in hand—the beginning of His ministry.

The 26th verse of this chapter (John 15:26) is often thought to be of great importance in regard to the doctrine of the ‘Procession’ of the Holy Spirit, the Greek Church finding in it its leading argument for maintaining that that ‘Procession’ is only from the Father, not from the Son. So far as this text is concerned, the question resolves itself into the further one, Is Jesus here speaking of the Person or of the office of the Advocate, of the source of His being or of His operation? Attention to the preposition used with ‘the Father’ ought at once to decide this point. It is ‘from’ not ‘out of’ that is employed: it is of office and operation, not of being and essence, that Jesus speaks (comp. chaps. John 1:6; John 1:14, John 7:29, John 9:16, John 10:18, John 16:27, John 17:8). The words ‘which goeth forth from the Father’ are not intended to express any metaphysical relation between the First and Third Persons of the Trinity, but to lead our thoughts back to the fact that, as it is the distinguishing characteristic of Jesus that He comes from the Father, so One of like Divine power and glory is now to take His place. The same words ‘from the Father’ are again added to ‘I will send,’ because the Father is the ultimate source from which the Spirit as well as the Son ‘goes forth,’ and really the Giver of the Spirit through the Son who asks for Him (comp. chap. John 14:16). In the power of this Spirit, therefore, the connection of the disciples with the Father will, in the time to come, be not less close, and their strength from the Father not less efficacious, than it had been while Jesus was Himself beside them. The emphasis on the ‘I’ of ‘I will send’ ought not to pass unnoticed. It is as if Jesus would say, ‘You tremble at the prospect of my going away, you fear that you will be desolate, but it is not so. I will not forget you; I will be to you, through the Spirit, all that I have been; I will send the Advocate to be in you and by your side.’ Could more be necessary to sustain them? The consolation offered reaches here its culminating point; but all has yet to be made clearer, fuller, more impressive; and to effect this, not to introduce new teaching, our Lord proceeds to what we have spoken of as the second of the double pictures of this part of His discourse.

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 15:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-15.html. 1879-90.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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