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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
John 15

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. XV.

The consolation and mutual love between Christ and his members, under the parable of the vine. A comfort in the hatred and persecution of the world. The office of the Holy Ghost, and of the apostles.

Anno Domini 33.


Verse 1

John 15:1. I am the true vine, Our Lord, having gone with his disciples to the mount of Olives, (see the last note of the former chapter,) spent the remaining hours of his ministryin preaching to his disciples a long and excellent sermon, recorded in this and the following chapter. He began with the parable of thevine, taken from the vines that were growing around them on the mount of Olives. In this parable he taught them the excellency of his religion, and the nature of the relation which they stood in to him by their profession, and genuine experience thereof. Moreover, he explained to them the advantages which accrued to them from this relation. As the branches of the vine draw nourishment, and are made fruitful by their union to the stock, and by the care of the dresser; so the disciples of Christ, by the cordial belief of his religion, by the divine influences of the Spirit, and by the care of Providence, are made fruitful in holiness.


Verse 2

John 15:2. Every branch in me, &c.— "Though by the outward profession of my religion you become members of the visible church of God, you must never forget, that this, of itself, is not sufficient to constitute you true members of the spiritual church of God, of the mystical body of Christ: you must be accepted through the Beloved; and you must answer the end of your high dispensation, by bringing forth the fruit of holiness; otherwise my Father will cut you off, depriving you of all the advantages which true disciples reap from the sincere profession, experience, and practice of the Christian religion." Our Lord told them further, that, as the husbandman prunes the bearing branches of his vines; so God, among other methods, suffers the lovers of Christ and holiness, to be spoiled of the conveniences of this life, or to be tried in some other way, for no other reason but that their graces may grow the stronger, and become the more fruitful. Every branch that beareth fruit, he pruneth it, (so the word should be rendered,) cuts off from it every thing superfluous, that it may bring forth more fruit. "In the course of his providence, my Father sends a variety of afflictions upon every one who sincerely makes profession of my religion, experiences its power, and diligently endeavours to obey its precepts; spoiling him of those temporal possessions or enjoyments which engage his affections, and render him unfruitful." This passage suggests a very sublime and importantthought; namely, that one of the nobler rewards which God can bestow on former acts of obedience, is to make the soul yet more holy, and fit for further and more eminent service; though it should be by such painful afflictions as resemble the pruning of a vine. Jesus said these things to reconcilehis disciples to the persecutions which were coming on them. And doubtless he had also in his view the other methods which God makes use of, for purifying his people; for, in the following verse, he represents his disciples, as cleansed or pruned, through the word that he had spoken unto them.


Verse 3

John 15:3. Now ye are clean, &c.— "The doctrine that I have preached to you, by the power of divine grace, has inspired you with holy desires; has invigorated you with good resolutions; and, in a measure, has cleansed you from evil affections; so that, like the pruned branches of the vine, you are fitted to bring forth fruit."


Verse 4-5

John 15:4-5. Abide in me, and I in you. "Continue steadfast in your love and attachment to me, live in constant communion with me, let your hearts be stayed upon me with habitual and full confidence and faith, and I will abide in you; for this is the methodtoderivefrommeallneedful supplies, particularly the influences of my Spirit, ch. John 14:26 the comfortof my presence, John 14:23 the protection of my providence, John 14:27 and the direction of my word, John 15:7." As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, &c. no more can ye, &c. "Your continuing in this union with me; this faith and confidence upon me; this exercise of my divine presence, this habitual communion with me, is as necessary to the production of all the internal and external works of righteousness, as the continuing of the branches in the vine is to their fruitfulness. To make you sensible of this was what I proposed, when I told you that I am the true vine, and you the branches, John 15:5. I must therefore repeat it again, that union and communion with me, sincerity in the belief, steadfastness in the profession, and diligence in the practice of my religion, accompanied as they always are with my blessingand assistance, and the inspiration of my Spirit, are the only means of making a man fruitful in holiness. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, — χωρις εμου,— separate from me,—(in allusion to the vine and its branches)—you can do nothing. If you apostatize from me, and are deprived of my influences, you can do nothing for your own sanctification and salvation."


Verse 6

John 15:6. If a man abide not in me, "To shew you further the necessity of abiding steadfastlyin this union and communion with me, and, ofcourse, in the experience of the power of my religion, producing the fruits of holiness internal and external, I would propose to your consideration the dreadful effects and punishment of apostacy. By apostacy you separate yourselves from me, and deprive yourselves of the advantages which flow from the influences of my Spirit, the direction of my word, the protection of my Providence, the pardon of your sins, and the enjoyment of heaven. Nor is this all: you shall be punished as apostates; for you shall be cast out of the presence of God, and gathered into hell, where you shall be burned as withered branches, as persons fit only for the flames." The loppings of the vines, in those countries where they are cultivated, are carefully gathered, and make a considerable part of their fuel. See Ezekiel 15:2; Ezekiel 15:4.


Verse 7

John 15:7. If ye abide in me, &c.— "If, on the contrary, you steadfastly cleave to me, and I dwell in your hearts by faith, and by means of my word, as a principle that guides and governs, quickens and establishes you; whatsoever you, as thus abiding in me, and depending on me, shall ask according to my will, for the glory of God, and your own edification and fruitfulness, you shall receive it, even to the utmost of your desires and wants."


Verse 8

John 15:8. Herein is my Father glorified, "By your thus abiding in me, and my abiding in you, and by your petitions being thus granted, the glory of my heavenly Father's wisdom, faithfulness, and grace, is exalted ( ινα, ) to the end that you may abound in fruits of righteousness, whereby he may be still further glorified; and so shall you appear with evidence to others, and to your own consciences, and I will esteem and own youto be my true disciples, that have vital union with me, and are an honour to me, ( εμοι .)" The word herein, εν τουτω, seems to refer back to what Christ had been saying concerning himself as the vine, and believers as branches in him: and ινα, that, being a final particle, naturally leads our thoughts to the sense which I have given in the beginning of this note: but, as all our fruits of righteousness are, by Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God, I have likewise preserved the thought of God's being glorified by them.


Verse 9

John 15:9. Continue ye in my love. Or, "Keep your place in my affection: continue to deserve my love." So again in the next verse, As long as ye keep my commandments, ye shall continue in my love; that is "I shall continue to love you."


Verse 11

John 15:11. These things have I spoken "I have spoken these things, hoping they will influence you to keep my commandments, whereby you will continue the objects of my love; and, in the consciousness thereof, will be filled with the same kind of joy which I feel from obeying my Father's commandments, and from the consciousness of his love. I have spoken these things likewise, that your eternal joy may be full in heaven, where you shall shine as stars, because you have turned many to righteousness." Many translate the passage thus: These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy in you may remain, &c. "I have spoken these things, that, by your diligence in obeying them, I shall always have cause to rejoice, on account of your behaving as my apostles and disciples ought to behave; and you cause to rejoice in my friendship, in the honour I have conferred upon you, and in the eternal possession of heaven."


Verse 12

John 15:12. This is my commandment, "As I told you before, ch. John 13:34.—the chief of all the commandments which I enjoin you, whether as apostles or private Christians, is, that ye love one another.—I do not mean after the hypocritical manner of the world, who often love in word, and in tongue, while nothing is more remote from their heart;—but in the sincere, tender, constant, manner of my love to you." Our Lord was thus earnest in pressing them to mutual love, not only because the great design of his gospel is to promote mutual love, but because this grace, exercised by the apostles among themselves, and towards all mankind, was one great means of making their preaching successful; just as the immense love of Christ to men will always have a great influence in drawing them to him. "They who are sensible of the great importance of this precept (says Dr. Heylin,) will not think the repetition of it here tautology."


Verse 13-14

John 15:13-14. Greater love hath no man than this, "My love to you is stronger than death; for I will lay down my life for you: a greater degree of love than this never existed in the world; this is the love that I bear towards you, and which I recommend as the pattern of your love to one another. Ye are my friends, John 15:14 for whom I will lay down my life, if ye do what I have commanded you." Jesus had commanded them, John 15:12 to love one another, as he loved them: in John 15:13 he informs them, that he loved them so, as to lay down his life for them: wherefore, in this 14th verse, he tells them, he would reckon them his friends, if they laid down their lives, or were ready to lay down their lives, for one another. The plain proposition of this precept might have terrified the apostles; but to insinuate it in the beautiful manner that our Lord has done, was altogether necessary for the direction of those, who, by preaching the gospel, were to put their lives in jeopardy every hour; and who, at last, were to lose their lives in that cause, for the benefit of the world. A commentator on the 14th verse observes, "Mark the condition upon which you are my friends:—if you do what I command you. This is a thunderbolt for Antinomianism."


Verse 15

John 15:15. Henceforth I call you not servants; "Though the distance that is between you and me, and your obligations to obey me, might have warranted me to treat you as servants, and particularly to conceal from you my counsels and designs, I have not acted in this manner towards you; but I have treated you as friends use to be treated. I have admitted you into all the familiarities of friendship; for I have communicated to you, as far as was convenient, and as much as in your present circumstances you could bear, the most important of those gracious councils, which my Father has imparted unto me his eternal Son and most intimate counsellor. Nay, I have commissioned you to reveal them to the world, and have made you not only my friends, but my assistants in the great work of saving the world. From this consideration therefore, as well as out of gratitude to me, you ought to lay down your lives in the cause." See the next note.


Verse 16

John 15:16. Ye have not chosen me, "You have not, as principals in this affair, adopted me as your associate; but I, the great author of the gospel, have adopted you as my associates, to share with me in the honour and happiness of giving a new dispensation of grace to the world. For I have ordained you my apostles, that you should go out into the world, fraught with the doctrines of salvation; by the preaching of which you shall produce a general reformation and renovation, both in the opinions, hearts, and manners of the heathens, greatly to the glory of God, inasmuch as the Christian religion, thus planted by you, shall remain to all ages. Further, I have clothed you with the dignity of my apostles, that whatsoever miracle you shall ask of my Father, or whatsoever petition you shall put up in my name, for the confirmation of your doctrine, or for the success of it, the consideration of your character, and the end for which you ask it, may induce him to grant it." See on John 15:7. What our Lord says, that He ordained them, that they should go and bring forth fruit, was a security to them, that they should be preserved from immediate danger, and that their life should be guarded by his providence, till very important services had been accomplished by their means. When he adds, that your fruit should remain, he may allude, agreeably to the preceding parable, to the custom of keeping rich and generous wines a great many years; so that, in some cases, (which was especially applicable to the sweet eastern wines,) they might prove a cordial to those, who were unborn when the grapes were produced. In this view, there is a beautiful propriety in the representation, which we hope will be particularly felt by those who are truly zealous for the salvation of immortal souls, when these reviving chapters are r


Verse 17-18

John 15:17-18. These things I command you, ' Εντελλομαι υμιν, I inculcate upon you."I haveexplained to you the high nature and vast importance of your office, as my apostles; and I have put you in mind of my loving you so as to die for you, that I may inspire you with ardent love to one another; and you will much need the help of this principle in the execution of your office. It will animate you to be diligent; it will inspire youwith fortitude; it will enable you to lay down your life in the cause; for that you will meet with opposition and persecution while you preach the gospel, is certain: but this cannot surprize you, when you consider how I your Master have been hated and persecuted by the Jews." Dr. Lardner would render the original of the last clause, John 15:18 it hated me your chief, — εμε πρωτον υμων,— which certainly makes the expression more lively, and exactly parallel to Matthew 10:24-25. Thus the expression, ων πρωτος ειμι εγω, is well translated, of whom I am chief, 1 Timothy 1:15.


Verse 19

John 15:19. If ye were of the world, &c.— "If your dispositions and actions were like those of the bulk of mankind; if you flattered men in their vices, and framed your doctrines into a consistency with their passions and interests, no doubt you would meet with general approbation, and be much caressed: but because your dispositions and actions are very different from those of the world, and because I have separated you from secular affairs, and commissioned you to oppose all false religions, to reprove men's vices, and to press the necessity of a general reformation and renovation of heart, therefore the bulk of mankind every where will hate and persecute you." This verse seems a strong intimation that, even in nations which profess Christianity, if true religion fall, as it possibly may, to a very low ebb, they who exert themselves remarkably for the revival of it, must, on the very principle here laid down, expect hatred and opposition; and that the passages in scripture relating to persecution are not so peculiar to the first ages, and to Christians living in idolatrous countries, as some have supposed. It would be happy if the narrow-minded malignity to be found in some professing Christians against their brethren, did not too plainly illustrate this remark. Men will probably experience the truth of it, in proportion to the degeneracy of those around them, and to the vigour and resolution with which they bear their testimony against prevailing errors and vices.


Verse 20

John 15:20. If they have kept my saying, "Had they received the truth in the love of it from me, no doubt but they would do the same from you."


Verse 21

John 15:21. But all these things will they do, &c— "None of the evils which you shall suffer on my account, or the gospel's, will flow from any deficiency in the evidences of my divine mission, or from any fault that can justly be found with the gospel. They will allflow from your persecutors being wilfully ignorant of the nature and perfections of my heavenly Father who has sent me into the world, of my eternal union with him, and of the doctrines published to them under former dispensations."


Verse 22

John 15:22. If I had not come and spoken, &c.— "The ignorance of the Jews in particular will not however excuse them, (see the last note,) since they have had more than sufficient means of information. If I had not appeared in person among them, agreeablyto their own prophesies, and proved my divine mission by arguments which put it beyond all reasonable doubt, they would not have been so much to blame for rejecting the gospel: they had not had sin; that is, their sin would have been comparatively much less than it now is: (see John 9:41.) But now that all the things foretold by Moses and the prophets are fulfilled in me; now that my gospel is every wayworthy of God, and that my mission from my Father issufficiently proved by my miracles, they have no plea whatever, [ προφασιν ], to palliate or excuse their unbelief."


Verse 23

John 15:23. He that hateth me, &c.— How much is it to be wished, that those who make light of Christ, while they pretend a great veneration for the Father, would seriously attend to this weighty admonition, lest haply they be found even to fight against God! Acts 5:39.


Verse 24

John 15:24. If I had not done among them "If I had not done among them such extraordinary works as no other person ever did,—not even their prophets, or Moses himself,—they had not had any degree of sin, comparable to that which they now lie under: but now, as they have rejected my superior miracles, which they have seen with their own eyes, at the same time that they acknowledge the evidence of those which Moses wrought, of which they have heard only by distant report, they manifest such an obdurate perverseness of temper, that I may truly say, they have both seen and hated both me and my Father; and my Father himself will justly resent and punish it as an indignity which shews their enmity to him." The words ofthe blind man, ch. John 9:32 are a fine comment on the first part of this verse: Since the world began, was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.


Verse 25

John 15:25. That the word might be fulfilled "Be not surprised that I, who am the Messiah, have been rejected of the Jews: it has happened according to the prediction of their own prophets, and particularly that of David, Psalms 35:19." See also Isaiah 53:3-9. Daniel 9:26 and Zechariah 12:10.


Verse 26

John 15:26. But when the Comforter is come, "For your encouragement, however, Iassure you, that all of them will not continue thus obstinately bent against me and my religion. When he who is to comfort you under all your troubles by his divine inspiration and the aid he will afford you, and who, on that account, is justly styledthe Comforter; when this divine Person is come, whom I will find unto you from the Father, to remain always with you, he shall bear witness to me and to my religion so effectually, that many of the Jews shall be converted." Our Lord says of this Spirit of truth, that he proceedeth,εκπορευεται,— from the Father: which denotes the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit; whereby the manner of his subsistence is defined, as that of the Son is by the word generation, as far perhaps as it can be to us in this mortal state. The Spirit's coming, and being sent by our Lord, from the Father, to testify of him, are personal characters, and plainly distinguish him from the Father and Son: and his title, as the Spirit of truth, together with his proceeding from the Father, can apply to none but a divine person: for this title is too high for a creature; and I cannot see any sufficient reason why his proceeding from the Father is mentioned in the present tense, in the midst of a sentence, where Christ's sending him, and his testifying of Christ, are spoken of as future; unless it be to intimate his necessary, unbeginning, and never ending procession from the Father, in such a sublime manner as lies beyond the reach of all our ideas, but is some way answerable to what is called eternal generation with regard to Christ, in correspondence to his character as the Son: and yet that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father, may be fairly, clearly, and fully argued from his being called the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of the Son, as well as of the Father, (1 Peter 1:11. Galatians 4:6.) and from his being here said to be sent by Christ from the Father, as well as sent by the Father in his name, ch. John 14:26. And this, at the same time, shews the equal divinity of the Father and Son, inasmuch as they have equal power of sending the Holy Spirit to bear the peculiar part, and to have the glory that belongs to him, in the work of salvation: so that the Sacred Three are here represented both in their personal characters, and in their divine and oeconomical glories.


Verse 27

John 15:27. And ye also shalt bear witness, "In process of time men's eyes shall be opened, to discern the authority of your testimony. They shall give credit to your reports concerning me, because you have been my companions from the very first, consequently eye and ear-witnesses of all that I have done and said; so that after a while, you shall bear witness concerning me, and preach my divine religion far more successfully, than it would be in your power to do at present." See 1 John 1:1; 1 John 1:10.

Inferences.—From this discourse every sincere reader may learn to regard Christ at all times as the spiritual Head, from whom life and vigour are to be derived to all believers. By the exercise of an unfeigned faith it behoves all such to abide in him, as the true vine, always sensible that without him we can do nothing; that all things are possible to him who believeth; but that, if we are in him by an external profession only, we are not only in danger of being cut off and taken away, but shall, in the end, be cast into the fire.

May we rather be thoroughly purged and pruned, though it were with the most painful dispensations of providence, if by this means our fruitfulness may be promoted, to the glory of God, and the benefit of the world! May his word operate upon us, to cleanse us from our remaining pollutions!—And, if we thus desire to be clean, let us take heed to our way, according to the tenor of this parable.

We see our encouragement to pray; it is Christ who offers it; and, taking it at his hand, we need never be dismayed, nor yield to unbelieving suspicions. As the Father hath loved Christ, so doth he also love his faithful people. Be it our care then to preserve and cultivate this sacred affection; and, whatever it may cost us, to endeavour for a continuance in his love, and to avoid whatever would forfeit the invaluable blessing; making it, above all things, our care to keep his commandments.

Christ, always observing the will of his heavenly Father, cannot but always and invariably continue the object of his love and delight. May our conduct be the transcript of his glorious pattern; such as that he may see reason to rejoice in us, and then we also shall have the surest foundation for a sublime and solid joy!

The Son of God condescends to speak under the character of a friend! O with what humble gratitude should sinful man attend to his gracious words! Behold, he lays aside the majesty of a sovereign, to assume this more tender and endearing relation: surely then our overflowing hearts must inquire, "Blessed Jesus, what shall we do, to express the friendship incumbent on our side?"—Let us but observe what he has here declared, and trust his fidelity for its acceptance; Ye are my friends indeed, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Lord, we will gladly run the way of thy commandments, when, on this noblest principle, thou shalt have enlarged our hearts.

Jesus, the friend of sinners, hath loved us with an affection so unexampled, as hath approved itself stronger than death; and, in return, he requires us to love one another after the pattern of his blessed example. How gracious a command! how divine a stipulation! how merciful, not to our fellow-creatures only, but to ourselves also; who surely must feel the benefit of such a practice, in the delight inseparable both from the interchange of benevolent affections, and the circulation of kind and friendly offices.

Who would not imagine that the whole admiring world must feel and obey the charm, thus mercifully applied by the Son of God? Yet, instead of this, behold they even hate Christ, and persecute his servants for his sake, though without a cause, and against the strongest engagements to mutual charity and tenderness.—Miserable creatures! who, by a necessary consequence, whatever they may fondly imagine, hate, by so doing, the Father also, and stand continually exposed to all the terrors of an almighty Enemy!

Where is the wonder if the world hate us, or what believer need regard its harshest injuries? If we are of that blessed company who are not of the world, let us remember that neither is the servant greater than his Lord. But surely the opposition which the gospel brings with it is nothing, when compared with those blessings which it entails by an everlasting covenant upon all who faithfully and perseveringly embrace it. Were the sufferings and difficulties attending it, a thousand times greater than they are, we ought at any rate to esteem the pearl of great price as the most happy purchase of the soul; and daily to be returning our most thankful acknowledgments that Christ was pleased to send forth his apostles, qualified with such a knowledge of himself, assisted by such power from his Holy Spirit, and appointed to go, and to bring forth such fruit, as should remain to the remotest ages.

Through his guardian care it still remains, and we trust shall for ever remain abundantly in the world! Oh may it flourish more and more amongst us! may its efficacy in our hearts and lives be more universally apparent! and may divine grace convince those who now reject and oppose the kingdom of Christ within them, that amid such various evidences of his having come, and done, and spoken unto them, as none other man ever did,—they have no cloak for their sin: for alas! with whatever fond excuses such may venture to amuse themselves and others, it will but too quickly appear, as the prophet emphatically expresses it, that the bed is too short to stretch themselves upon, and the covering too narrow to wrap themselves in it. See John 15:22 and Isaiah 28:20.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have a continuation of Christ's farewell discourse to his disconsolate disciples.

1. He represents himself under the figure of a vine. I am the true vine; as a vine, mean and weak in his outward appearance, yet spreading on every side; sending his salvation to the ends of the earth, and bringing forth the most reviving fruits, pleasing to God, and cheering to man: the true vine, the life-giving source of spiritual influences, conveyed from him to all the branches of his body mystical: and my Father is the husbandman, who planted it in the earth, and with watchfulness and care every moment preserves and waters it; supporting Christ in the exercise of his divine offices, with complacence delighting in him, and guarding him and every faithful member of his church, who are grafted upon him, and persevere in their union to him, from every evil.

2. His people are the branches, on whom the great husbandman employs his care. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away. Some bear not the true fruits of grace and holiness; these the Lord taketh away. In time of persecution they fall off; or they turn aside into errors in principle, or immoralities in conduct; or, if they be spared to the last, by death they are cut off, and perish. And every branch in me that beareth fruit, bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God; he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit: by his word, his Spirit, his afflictive providences, he purifies, sanctifies, and guards the soul, removing out of the heart all the obstructions which might prevent a constant intercourse and communion between the believer and himself; and bearing away or removing those external objects, which he foresees would alienate the soul from God: and he also encourages, cultivates, and increases the gracious dispositions which he hath implanted, that they may shoot forth more vigorously, and bring forth more abundantly in all good conversation and godliness.

3. As he had now purged out Judas from among them, he exhorts them to approve their fidelity. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you, your hearts being purified by faith, which is the way whereby the word becomes effectual to all Christ's faithful disciples in every age, purging out the dross of indwelling evil, and sanctifying the soul. Abide in me, as the root and stock whence all spiritual supplies of grace are drawn; placing all your dependance on my infinite merit and intercession, my Spirit and power; and I will then abide in you, as the living principle of all goodness. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself; except it abide in the vine, and maintain a constant communication with the root, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. The best of men must maintain habitual communion with Jesus, if they would continue to bring forth fruit unto God. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, in the constant exercise of faith, and I in him, by the powerful operations of my Spirit, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, separate from me, and for a moment destitute of my quickening influence, ye can do nothing truly good and acceptable to God, but must wither, droop, and die, as a branch deprived of communication with the living root. Without Christ we can do nothing towards our justification, sanctification, or glorification; he must be to us all and in all.

4. He warns them of the fatal consequences of departure from him. If a man abide not in me; basely desert my cause, and make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience; he is cast forth as a branch; excommunicated from the company of the pious here below, if his iniquities are brought to light; or, at farthest, cut off at death from the society of the blessed, and is withered; his gifts wither; his zeal grows cold; his devotion dies; his reputation decays; his hopes perish; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned; and thus shall the angels of God at the last gather out of Christ's kingdom all that offend and do iniquity, when apostates will have their portion with the unbelievers and impenitent, and the whole be cast together into everlasting burnings. Let us read and tremble.

5. He assures them that the prayers of all his faithful people should be heard and answered. If ye abide in me, steadily cleaving to me under all discouragements; and my words abide in you, and habitually influence your conduct; ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you; whatever is for his glory and our good shall be granted. And herein is my Father glorified, by your abiding in me; and asking and receiving out of my fulness; that ye bear much fruit of grace, which will redound to his praise; so shall ye be my disciples, evidently prove to be such by your good conversation and approved fidelity; and shall be acknowledged by me in the day of my appearing and glory.

2nd, We have,

1. The love of Christ towards his faithful people. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; and this love of his appeared most eminent:

[1.] In his laying down his life for them. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends; but greater even than this has been the love of Jesus: when we were enemies, Christ died for us.

[2.] In his kindness towards them, admitting them into his favour and friendship. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you, and herein shew yourselves faithful to me. Henceforth I call you not servants; though to be employed by such a Master, and that he condescends to accept our services, is abundant honour; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, nor is admitted to any such intimacy and familiarity as you have been indulged with: but I have called you by the honourable name of friends, and have treated you with the most cordial affection and confidence; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you; all things that as Mediator he came to preach and teach, respecting the salvation of sinners, and the counsels of grace; he had kept back nothing from them, and his Spirit would shortly give them a clearer knowledge of what he had revealed to them.

[3.] In his ordaining them to the high dignity of apostleship. Ye have not chosen me, and by your choice laid any obligations on me to return the kindness: but I have chosen you first, from the rest of the Jews, to bear witness of me, John 15:27 and to be my apostles: and ordained you, that is to say, appointed you, to your apostleship, that ye should go abroad into the world, and bring forth much fruit, in the purity of your conversation, and the abundant success of your ministry; and that your fruit should remain in a succession of genuine Christians; so that the blessed effects of your labours, preaching, and writings, should continue to the later ages.

[4.] In his granting them all their petitions. That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you; and the assurance of being heard is the great inducement and encouragement to us to pray. How can we but be happy to draw near to God, when we are thus assured of receiving an answer of peace?

2. He exhorts them, from the consideration of his love to them, to make a due and grateful return to him, by loving and serving him and one another. Continue ye in my love; steadfastly and perseveringly cleave to me, and then, believe me, my regard to you will be invariable. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; if you approve your fidelity, you shall have increasing supplies of grace ministered to you, yet farther to establish, strengthen, and settle you: even as I have kept my Father's commandments, with unabating ardour and constancy; and abide in his love, am now, and shall for ever be, the object of his highest delight and complacence, as you in such case shall be of mine. And next to your love of me, this is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you; and again, John 15:17 this being among the best proofs of real love to Jesus, and the great commandment which he especially enjoins, as the distinguishing badge of true discipleship. Note; (1.) The love of Christ known and believed, can alone engage our hearts to a return of love. (2.) The firm purpose of universal obedience to Christ's commands, is the sure evidence of love without dissimulation. (3.) No duty is more frequently and earnestly urged upon us, than Christian love; because in nothing do we more resemble him, whose nature and name is Love; and nothing is more ornamental to our profession.

3. They who will be faithful to the Saviour, must expect the enmity of a sinful world; where wicked men, many and mighty, will unite in hatred, opposition, and persecution against them.

[1.] The followers of Jesus may expect to be hated, persecuted, despised. Since the original enmity put between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, never was there, I believe, one truly godly man, but more or less experienced the like treatment.

[2.] So dealt they with our great Lord and Master, whose example should reconcile us to suffer with him. If the world hate you, wonder not; ye know that it hated me before it hated you: never was character so spotless as his, never one suffered so much from the enmity of the world.

[3.] The reason of the world's hatred of us is evident. If ye were of the world, conformed to it in your tempers, manners and practice, the world would love his own, would caress and esteem you; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you; because you are members of my mystical body, and my faithful ministers, and your heavenly minds and conversation cannot but witness against and reprove their vain and wicked ways, therefore their anger rises. Note; The men of the world have not only a hatred to Christians in general, but an especial enmity against gospel ministers, whose preaching and rebukes exasperate those who reject the counsel of God against their own souls.

4. He reminds them, that this was no more than he had all along taught them to expect. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord, nor may expect more respectful treatment. If they have persecuted me, with all manner of rancour, reviling, and injuries, they will also persecute you, my ambassadors, who hear the same message, and go forth into the same world that lieth in wickedness: if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also: but in general they have not kept my word, and therefore the gospel that you preach will be despised and rejected, and your words be misrepresented, cavilled at, and ridiculed, as mine in general have been. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because you have an interest in my love, vindicate my honour, and preach my gospel, whatever other pretences they may feign as the ground of their opposition; because they know not him that sent me, their minds are blinded by pride and prejudice, ignorant of the true God and his Messiah. Note; (1.) The faithful ministers of the gospel must not be surprised, if their preaching is treated with contempt or ridicule; their Lord was so insulted. (2.) Persecutors often pretend other causes to cover their enmity against God's people; but whatever be their pretext, the true reason is his image in them which they cannot bear, and his gospel which they abhor.

5. Christ suggests the inexcusable guilt of those who reject him and his gospel. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, comparatively speaking; but now they have no cloak for their sin, their infidelity is most wilful, their impenitence obstinate. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also; the hatred shewn to his person, ministers, and gospel, ultimately centres in God himself. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, such stupendous miracles as incontestably proved my divine mission, they had not had sin; they might have had some cloak for their unbelief; but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father; rejecting the testimony that he thus hath borne to me, and fixed in a rooted aversion to me and him. 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. Note; (1.) They are left most inexcusable, and their guilt is most aggravated, who obstinately persist in unbelief, and go to hell with bibles in their hands. (2.) They who hate the gospel, and Christ, the author of it, whatever they may pretend, truly hate God. Enemies to the Christian religion, are enemies to all religion; and Deist is really but another name for Atheist. (3.) Enmity against Christ and his gospel is most absurd and unreasonable; it is quarrelling with our own mercies, and being, in fact the worst enemies to ourselves.

3rdly, Though the enemies of the true disciples of Jesus are many and mighty, he has provided such supports for his faithful people, as shall enable them to triumph over all opposition.

1. His Spirit shall be their comfort and strength. But when the Comforter is some, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. On the day of Pentecost, the most abundant influences of the Holy Ghost were to be poured forth upon them, he being the third Person in the sacred Trinity, proceeding from the Father and the Son, whose peculiar office in the oeconomy of man's salvation is to testify of Christ, as the Spirit of truth speaking in the apostles, and bearing witness to the divine glory and grace of the Redeemer, and making the preaching of the gospel effectual to the consciences of men. He is the advocate, convincing men of sin, righteousness, and judgment; the Comforter, filling the souls of Christ's faithful people with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

2. They shall themselves hereby be enabled to bear a noble testimony for Christ. Ye shall bear witness, preaching my gospel in the face of all opposers, and confirming it by the miraculous powers with which you shall be invested: and your evidence cannot be justly excepted against, because ye have been with me from the beginning, and speak the things of which you yourselves have the most undoubted assurance. Note; Ministers can then powerfully preach Christ, when they have themselves experimentally known him, have been with him in faith and love, and for a season have walked in a state of communion with him.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 15:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-15.html. 1801-1803.

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