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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
John 15



Other Authors
Verse 1

The true vine ( ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινὴ )

Literally, the vine, the true (vine). True, genuine, answering to the perfect ideal. See on John 1:9. The vine was a symbol of the ancient church. See the passages cited above, and Hosea 10:1; Matthew 21:33; Luke 13:6.

Husbandman ( γεωργός )

From γῆ , the earth, and ἔργω , to work. The vine-dresser is ἀμπελουργός , occurring only at Luke 13:7; but the office of the vine-dresser is a subordinate one, while γεωργός may indicate the proprietor. See 2 Chronicles 26:10(Sept.), where the word is applied to King Uzziah. So of Noah, Genesis 9:20. In Matthew 21:33-41, the γεωργοὶ represent the chiefs and leaders of the Jews. Wyc., an earth-tiller.

Verse 2

Branch ( κλῆμα )

Occurring only in this chapter. Both this and κλάδος , branch (see on Matthew 24:32; see on Mark 11:8) are derived from κλάω , to break. The word emphasizes the ideas of tenderness and flexibility.

Purgeth ( καθαίρει )

Cleanseth, Rev.

Verse 3

Clean ( καθαίρει )

Etymologically akin to καθαίρει , purgeth. The Rev. indicates this by rendering καθαίρει , cleanseth.

Verse 4

Of itself ( ἀφ ' ἑαυτοῦ )

Properly, from itself. See on John 7:17.

No more can ye ( οὕτως οὐδὲ ὑμεῖς )

Literally, so neither can ye. So Rev.

Verse 5

Without me ( χωρὶς ἐμοῦ )

Properly, apart from me. So Rev. Compare John 1:3; Ephesians 2:12.

Verse 6

He is cast forth ( ἐβλήθη ἔξω )

The aorist tense. Literally, was cast forth. The aorist, denoting a momentary act, indicates that it was cast forth at the moment it ceased to abide in the vine. Forth signifies from the vineyard; ἔξω , outside.

As a branch ( ὠς τὸ κλῆμα )

Strictly, the branch: the unfruitful branch.

Is withered ( ἐξηράνθη )

The aorist, as in was cast forth. Wyc, shall wax dry.

Men gather

Or, as Rev., they gather. Indefinite. Compare Isaiah 27:11; Ezekiel 15:5.

Verse 7

Ye shall ask ( αἰτήσεσθε )

The best texts read the imperative, αἰτήσασθε , ask.

Shall be done unto you ( γενήσεται ὑμῖν )

Literally, it shall come to pass for you.

Verse 8

Herein ( ἐν τούτῳ )

Commonly referred to what follows. My Father is glorified in this, namely, that ye bear much fruit. It is better to refer it back to John 15:7. In the perfect unity of will between the Son and the disciple, which results in the disciple's obtaining whatever he asks, the Father is glorified. To this effect is John 14:13, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The design of this glorification is that ( ἴνα ) you may bear much fruit. This retrospective reference of ἐν τούτῳ , in this, or herein, occurs in John 4:37; John 16:30; 1 John 4:17.

Is glorified ( ἐδοξάσθη )

The aorist tense; was glorified. As in John 15:6, marking the point when the Father's glory was realized in the perfect union of the believer's will with Christ's.

So shall ye be ( καὶ γενήσεσθε )

Literally, and ye shall become. Some editors, however, read γένησθε , and connect, in the same construction with the preceding clause, rendering, “Herein is (was) my Father glorified, that ye might bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Note that the word is become, not be. Christian discipleship implies progress and growth.

Verse 9

In my love ( ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ )

Literally, in the love, that which is mine. Not only the love of the disciple for Christ, nor the love of Christ for the disciple, but the Christ-principle of love which includes both. See the same form of expression in the joy that is mine, John 15:11; John 3:29; John 17:13; the judgment (John 5:30; John 8:16); the commandments (John 14:15); peace (John 14:27).

Verse 11

My joy

The joy that is mine; characteristic of me. See on John 15:9.

Might remain ( μείνῇ )

The best texts read ᾖ , may be.

Might be full ( πληρωθῇ )

Rev., more correctly, may be fulfilled. The A.V. loses the distinction between the absolute joy which is Christ's, and the progressive, but finally consummated joy which is the disciple's.

Verse 12

My commandment ( ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ ἐμὴ )

The commandment which is mine.

That ye love ( ἵνα )

Indicating not merely the nature of the commandment, but its purport.

Verse 13

Greater love hath no man than this, that ( ἵνα )

Some of the more subtle phases of John's thought cannot be apprehended without a careful study of this often-recurring conjunction. It is still claimed by some grammarians that it is used to mark, not only design and end, but also result. But it may fairly be claimed that its predominant sense is intent, purpose, purport, or object. Hence that, as representing ἵνα , is to be taken in the sense of to the end or intent that; in order that. Here the use of the word is very subtle and suggestive, as well as beautiful. No man hath greater love than this (love), which, in its original conception, was intended and designed to reach to the extent of sacrificing life for a friend. Christ, therefore, here gives us more than a mere abstract comparison and more than a merely human gauge of love. He measures love according to its divine, original, far-reaching intent.

Lay down his life

See on John 10:11.

Verse 14

I command ( ἐντέλλομαι )

Of several words for command in the New Testament, this one is always used of giving a specific injunction or precept. The kindred noun, ἐντολή , means an order, a charge, a precept and hence is used of a separate precept of the law as distinguished from the law as a whole ( νόμος ). See Matthew 22:36, Matthew 22:38. It is, however, sometimes used of the whole body of the moral precepts of Christianity. See on John 13:34. The sense of specific commands here falls in with the reading of the Rec. Text, ὅσα , whatsoever, literally, as many things as.

Verse 15

Henceforth - not ( οὐκέτι )

Rev., better, no longer. No longer servants, as you were under the dispensation of the law. Compare Galatians 4:7.

Servants ( δούλους )

Strictly, bond-servants.

Knoweth not ( οὐκ οἶδέ )

Has no instinctive perception. See on John 2:24.


The position of the pronoun in the Greek is emphatic: “You I have called friends.”

Verse 16

Ye - chosen

The pronoun is emphatic: “It was not ye that chose me.”

Ordained ( ἔθηκα )

Rev., appointed is better, because it divests the word of its conventional meaning. Ordain is from the Latin ordinare, and means to set in order. Thus, Robert of Gloucester's “Chronicle:” “He began to ordain his folk,” i.e., set his people in order. Hakluyt, “Voyages:” “He ordained a boat made of one tree.” The Greek verb means to set, put, or place. Hence of appointing one to service. See 1 Timothy 1:12. Wyc., Matthew 24:47: “Upon all his goods he shall ordain him.”

Should go ( ὑπάγητε )

Withdraw from His personal society and go out into the world.

That whatsoever, etc. ( ἵνα )

Coordinated with the preceding ἵνα , that, as marking another result of their choice and appointment by Christ. He has appointed them that they should bring forth fruit, and that they should obtain such answers to their prayer as would make them fruitful.

Verse 17

That ( ἵνα )

All my teachings are to the end that you should love one another.

Verse 18

If the world hate ( εἱ μισεῖ )

Literally, hates. The indicative mood with the conditional particle assumes the fact as existing: If the world hates you, as it does.

Ye know ( γινώσκετε )

This may also be rendered as imperative: Know ye.

It hated ( μεμίσηκεν )

The perfect tense, hath hated. The hatred continues to the present time.

Before it hated you ( πρῶτον ὑμῶν )

Literally, first in regard of you. See on John 1:15.

Verse 19

Of the world ( ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου )

Sprung out of the world. See on of the earth, John 3:31.

Would love ( ἂν ἐφίλει )

The verb for natural affection. See on John 5:20.

Verse 20

Persecuted ( ἐδίωξαν )

The verb means originally to put to flight; thence to run swiftly in order to overtake or attain, as the goal or the competitor in the race. Thus Sophocles (“Electra,” 738): “He urged his swift steeds vehemently with shouts that pierced their ears, and makes for him ( διώκει ).” Compare I follow after ( διώκω , Philemon 3:12). Hence to pursue with hostile intent, and, generally, to molest, harass, persecute. Persecute is from the equivalent Latin persequor, to follow up, and is used earlier, in the sense of pursue, while pursue, in turn, is used in the sense of persecute. Thus Wyc, Matthew 5:44, for men pursuing you. Sir Thomas More (“Utopia”), “Whiles their enemies rejoicing in the victory have persecuted (i.e., pursued ) them.”

Verse 21

For my name's sake ( διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου )

Literally, on account of my name. The name of Christ represented the faith, the attitude, the claims, and the aim of the disciples. His name was their confession. Luther says: “The name of Christ from your mouth will be to them nothing but poison and death.”

Verse 22

Had sin ( ἁμαρτίαν εἶχον )

See on John 9:41; see on 1 John 1:8.

Cloke ( πρόφασιν )

From πρό , before, in front of, and φημί , to say or affirm. Hence something which is placed in front of the true cause of a thing, a pretext. Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:5; Acts 27:30. Pretext carries the same idea, Latin, proetextum, something woven in front, with a view to concealment or deception. Rev., excuse. Wyc, excusation. The A.V. follows Tyndale: nothing to cloke their sin withal. Latimer (“Sermons”): “By such cloaked charity, when thou dost offend before Christ but once, thou hast offended twice herein.” The word appears in the low Latin cloca, a bell (compare the French cloche, and English clock ), and the name was given to a horseman's cloak because of its resemblance to a bell. The word palliate is from the Latin pallium, a cloak.

Verse 25

Without a cause ( δωρεάν )

Gratuitously. Akin to δίδωμι , to give. Their hatred was a voluntary gift.

Verse 27

Shall bear witness ( μαρτυρεῖτε )

Present tense, bear witness. So Rev. Or, it may be taken as imperative: bear ye witness.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 15:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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