John 15a

 

 

The Parable of the Vine and the Branches (vs. 1-10)

 

The most simple explanation of this parable is that the vine was the image of Israel.

The prophets and psalms abound with this reference (Isaiah 5.; Ezekiel 19:10;

Psalm 80:8-19), so that our Lord was giving a new meaning to a familiar figure.

“The vine” was the beautiful image of that theocratic and sacramental community,

which had its center in the altar and ark of testimony and the holy place;

and the fruit of the vine was conspicuous in all the symbolic relations

which, through priesthood and ritual enactments, brought individual

Israelites into relation with the reconciled God. Here Christ says, “I;” but

we see from v. 5 that the branches, which by reason of relation to Him

have and draw their life from Him (or, to use His own words, “I and the

branches,” and “the branches in me”), constitute the veritable “vine”

of the covenant.

 

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”

The vine of the Lord of hosts (Psalm 80.) brought forth wild

grapes (Isaiah 5., Ezekiel 19:10); Israel became an empty vine”

(Hosea 10:1). The failure of Israel to realize the ideal leads our Lord,

as the true Israel of God, to say, I am the veritable (or, ideal) vine,

including (as the context shows) in the idea of His complete Personality all

the branches that derive their life from Him. I with the branches, I involving

my relation to the branches, and theirs to me — I as the Life-principle of

humanity, together with those who are living in me — constitute and are

the veritable vine of prophecy, the true Israel of God. So that this passage,

from vs. 1-10, denotes and expounds with all detail the idea elsewhere

expressed by the head and the members of a body. Sometimes the idea of

the parts predominates over the idea of the unity, and sometimes the unity

triumphs over the parts; but in the relation between Christ and the people

of His love they are often lost sight of in Him, and He becomes the only

Personality. The “I” of this passage is not that of the eternal Logos, nor is

it the mere humanity, nor is it simply the Divine-human Personality, but the

new existence which, by union with Him, formed one personage with Him,

— the believer being united to Him as He to the Father. My Father is the

Husbandman, not simply the ajmpelourgo>v ampelourgosvinedresser, -

but also gewrgo>v - georgos -  the owner -  of the land as well. It is a term

applied in connection with the traditional significance of the vine to the head

of the theocratic family. In Isaiah 5. it is the “Lord of hosts;” in II Chronicles

26:10 and in the parable of the vinedressers it is applied to the rulers of the

people.  The Arians were wrong in concluding from this a difference of essence

between the Father and Son. The vine dearly includes the branches; and the

owner of the vineyard, who is also the dresser of the vine, deals here with

the whole reality. All, however, which the Husbandman is said in v. 2 to

effect is the taking away of the fruitless though proud branch, and the

cleansing and gentle pruning of the branch that beareth fruit. Now, Christ,

as the Son, has all judgment committed to Him, and, as the great Organ of

Divine providence and rule in the Church, He is the Administrator of

discipline. Christ is not disclaiming the operations which He in other places

assumes, nor representing His own Personality as perfectly passive in the

matter, but He is claiming for Jehovah of hosts the same relation to the true

Vine as He sustained to the degenerate vine of the old covenant; but He

calls him “my Father.” The material creations of God are only nferior examples

of that finer spiritual life and organism in which the creature is raised up to

partake of the Divine nature.

 

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; i.e. this unity of life between me and mine

is graciously handled by the Father — my Father! The branches are of two

kinds:

 

  • unfruitful and
  • fruitful.

 

The indefinite statement, in nominative absolute, calls great attention to it.

“Every branch in me that beareth no fruit.”  Then it is possible to come into

this organic relation with the true Vine, to be in it and to be a part of it, and to

bring forth no fruit. If it were not for v. 5 we might say that these branches

were nations, customs, institutions, and the like; but the context forbids it. The

relation to Him must therefore be one that is insufficient to secure life, or fruit,

or continuance. Baptized, communicating, professing, partially believing

Christians there may be in abundance, who, though in Him, yet cannot

continue in Him. (See stony ground, thorny ground, and unripe ears, of the

parable of the sower; and the bad fish caught in the net (Matthew 13.;

I John 2:19, etc.). He taketh away (compae  John the Baptist: “Every tree

that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,” Matthew 3:10; and

Deuteronomy 32:32; Micah 7:1). What is done with the valueless

prunings is said afterwards (v.6). Every branch that beareth fruit, He pruneth

(or, cleanseth), that it may bring forth more fruit. Let the non-reappearance

of ejn ejmoi<  - en emoiin me -  be observed.  The words ai]rei aireiHe

is taking away -  and kaqai>rei kathaireiHe is cleansing -  rhyme with each

other; but the latter word is not connected with kaqai>rew kathaireo -  to

pull down - a compound of ai[rew aireo -  nor is it equivalent to katai>rei

 katairei - the true compound of kata< kata -  with ai]rw airo -  but it is

derived from kaqaro>v katharosclean - and means “to cleanse 

with libations,” and perhaps “to prune with the knife.” The Husbandman

aims at more fruit, more of meekness, gentleness, love, and faithfulness, in

fact, all those fruits of the Spirit enumerated in Galatians 5:22-23. The

word klh~ma klaema -  used for “branch” in these verses, occurs nowhere

else in the New Testament. The word klado<v klados - elsewhere used

(Matthew 13:32; 21:8; 24:32; Mark 4:32; 13:28; Romans 11:16-21), means the

smaller “branches” of a tree. The term means here vine-branch, the

essential constituent elements of the vine itself, and is so used in

Ezekiel 15:2).

 

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

Now ye are clean — pruned, purged, cleansed, of the Divine Owner —

by reason of the word (lo>gon – logos) which I have spoken to you.

The Father has been operating this cleansing process upon you by the

whole of the rJh>mata>  rhameta words - (see v. 7), which are gathered

together into one  mighty, quick, and active Logos. As we find in Hebrews 4:12,

the Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, and capable of dealing summarily

with “thoughts and intents of the heart.” Augustine, on this passage, admits

that it is the Logos which gives all its value to the water of baptism. “This

purifying, sanctifying process has been performed upon you,” says Christ.

Then since “He who sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one,”

(Ibid. 2:11) this continuance remains as the gracious possibility. The vital sap

Proceeds from Christ alone, and not from our corrupted nature, which must be

grafted into His life and become part of Him. Many may seem to be a part of

Christ, to be sacramentally or outwardly united to Him, and even to be

drawing some real advantages from the contact, and yet their end is

fruitlessness, rottenness, removal, fire. The branches which bear fruit never

bring forth all they might produce, never realize their ideal. The pruning,

cleansing process must pass over every soul, that it may more adequately

fulfill its destiny. The cleansing, searching power of the Word will be freely

exercised by the Divine Husbandman.

 

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.”

But there is a continuance of most intimate relations to be

sustained between Christ and His disciples. If the two clauses are

“imperative,” or rather concessive, as many suppose, the finest meaning is

evolved. Let these be the reciprocal conditions, let it be that you abide in

me, and I in you. There is a mutual abiding or indwelling. The life-principle

circulates through the branches, just as they perpetuate the living connection

between the branch and the center of the life. The mutual relations show that

human nature is in infinite need, and, APART FROM THE NEW LIFE

PRINCIPLE, WILL PERISH!   The abiding of the branch in

the vine suggests the continuance of vital connection’ with the living stem,

and supposes that connection kept up by constant faith, so that the believer

is in a position to draw life from the legitimate source. The abiding of the

vine in the branch — “I in you” —is the perpetual inflow into the

subordinate life, of the living grace which makes the believer’s life one with

his Lord’s. As He said (ch.14:19), “Because I live, and ye shall live;”

so now, As the branch cannot bear fruit from itself — from its own

inherent vitality — except it abide in the vine — except this connection is

maintained — in like manner no more (or, so neither) can ye, except ye

abide in me.

 

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.”  Christ returns to the main theme of the previous verse, but here

discriminates more forcibly the vine from the branches, and yet holds and

binds them into a unity. I am the vine, ye are the branches; which shows

that He treated the disciples themselves as the organs of His earthly fruit-

bearing; and then draws a larger circle and makes a complete and

comprehensive statement on which the very existence of the “true vine,”

the “body of Christ, including the Head,” depends, viz. He that abideth in

me, and I in him i.e. whenever the conditions of which I have spoken

to you are fulfilled; wherever there are human souls deriving from their

connection with me the full advantage of the life ever streaming forth from

me — the same beareth much fruit; the entire end of their new life is

secured. He beareth “much fruit.” In other words, many of those blessed

fruits of the supernatural life appear, which the great Husbandman desires

to receive. And this strengthens the position of the previous verse, which

threatened excision from the vine to such as bear no fruit. Such, though in

one sense “in the Vine,” do not abide in Him. Because apart from 

severed from — me ye can do nothing. The o[ti hotithat - suggests the

question — Can the negative result justify the positive assertion? It does in

this way.  There are two premises: the first is, “I am the Vine, and ye are the

branches,” and the second is, “Severed front me a branch can effect

nothing,” having no independent fruitfulness or stability. All its powers are

derived from this supernatural source, and depend on Christ’s faithfulness

to His own nature and functions; therefore, “He that abideth in me, and I in

him, bringeth forth much fruit.” The language here does not repress the

endeavor of the human will after righteousness, nor pronounce a judgment

on the great controversy between Augustinians and Pelagians. These

words are not addressed to unconverted men, but to disciples, who have to

learn their constant need of spiritual contact with their invisible Lord. Let a

believer, let an apostle, sever himself from Christ, and live on his own past

reputation or his supposed strength, on the clearness of his intellect, the

vigor of his body, the eminence of his position, he can and will do nothing.

 

 

Apart from Christ (v. 5)

 

Our Lord does not say, “Apart from my doctrine ye can do nothing;”

important though it is that Christian people should apprehend and receive

His truth. Nor does He say, “Apart from my Church ye can do nothing;”

though, if we understand the term “Church” aright, this would be

manifestly true. But He says, “Apart from me.” Christ is, then, Himself

everything to His people.  He is the Power, the Wisdom, the Salvation, of

God, and consequently, could we be sundered from Him, we should be

rendered poor and powerless.

 

  • TO BEAR FRUIT, IS THE END OF TRUE RELIGION, AND THE

RESULT AND PROOF OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. When substituted for

faith, “doing” is bad; but when it is the effect of faith, it is good and

precious. Where do we look for evidence of the goodness of the tree? Is it

not sought in fruit, good fruit, much fruit? The doing, or fruit-bearing, here

commended by the Lord Jesus:

 

Ø      is the performance of the will of God,

Ø      is the imitation of the Master’s own example,

Ø      is the fulfillment of the behests of an enlightened conscience.

 

It comprises personal holiness and active usefulness.

 

  • SEVERANCE FROM CHRIST RENDERS MEN POWERLESS FOR

GOOD WORKS. The conduct and service which are distinctively Christian

are only possible through personal union with the Savior.

 

Ø      This assertion places in a clear light the unequalled dignity of the Lord

Jesus. This is a declaration which none but He could make. Yet, being

The Son of God and the Source of spiritual life to men, He could justly

advance a claim so vast. The disciple is nothing without His master, the

servant nothing without his lord, the soldier nothing without his

commander, the hand nothing without the head, the Christian

nothing without Christ.

Ø      This assertion brings out into clear light the absolute dependence of

Christians. Without our Lord’s teaching and example, we, should

have no conception of the highest moral excellence. Without His

love, we should not feel the mightiest motive that can influence the

soul to consecration and service. Without His mediation, we should

not enjoy the favor of God, our Ruler and Judge. Without His Spirit,

we should be strangers to the spiritual power which alone can enable

feeble man to do the will of God. Without His promises, we should

lack the encouragement and inspiration we need to cheer us amidst

the difficulties, perplexities, and trials from which no earthly life is

ever exempt. Without Him, there would be no deliverance from the

bondage of sin, and no prospect of what is truly the eternal life.

“Neither,” says Peter, “is there salvation in any other.”  (Acts 4:12)

 

  • UNION WITH CHRIST IS THEREFORE UNSPEAKABLY

PRECIOUS, AND FOR THE CHRISTIAN ABSOLUTELY NEEDFUL.

As to the nature of this connection, there should be no misunderstanding.

External privileges and professions are all insufficient. A spiritual and vital

union is necessary, such as in the vegetable kingdom joins the branch to the

vine-stock, such as in architecture unites the temple to its foundation. This

union is effected:

 

Ø      on the human side by a believing reception of the gospel of Christ;

Ø      on the Divine side by the impartation of the quickening Spirit of

God.

 

Such union is capable of increase in degree; a closer spiritual fellowship

with the Divine Redeemer is the means of increased fitness for

holy and acceptable service. The experience of the Apostle Paul was an

illustration of this principle. He could say, “I can do all things through

Christ who strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).  He who would work

more diligently, and wait more patiently, must come nearer to Christ,

and so obtain the spiritual power he needs.

 

  • PRACTICAL LESSONS.

Ø      If this union with the living Vine be not formed, LET IT BE

FORMED AT ONCE!

Ø      If it be suspended or enfeebled, LET IT BE RENEWED!

Ø      If it be existing and vitally active and energetic, LET IT

BE PRIZED AND CULTIVATED!

 

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 any one abide net in me, he is cast forth as the branch

perhaps away from the vineyard, as well as from proximity to the vine —

and is withered. The two aorists, ejblh>qh eblaethaehe was cast - and

ejxhra>nqh exaeranthae -  is withered - are simply  cases of a common daily

experience. These are the inevitable consequences of not abiding in the Vine.

We may imagine two ways in which this nonabiding in Christ, this severance

from Him, may be effected:

 

  • the pruning-knife may have lopped them off because of their lack of

fruitfulness; or,

  • they may have withered on the stem, and, by their deficiency of

strength and life, have suffered from some external assault which

they have not had energy to resist. 

 

The aorists are indicative of what will happen should branches in Christ cease

to derive life from Him. And they gather them, and cast them into the fire,

and they are burned. The vine is one of the noblest of all trees, and produces

the most abundant fruit; but it is one of its peculiarities that all its strength

is spent on the fruit, and that its branches are utterly valueless for all other

purposes. Heaps of burning vine-prunings may have suggested the awful

image which the embodied Love of God here adopts. Some have supposed

that the fire is here the last judgment, which our Lord looks upon as come.

But the present tense, following the two aorists, suggests the immediate

consequence of such severance from Christ:

 

  • the fiery trials,
  • the fierce temptations,
  • the terrible judgments,

 

always overtaking the unfruitful and unfaithful servants, and preluding the awful

consummation of DIVINE JUDGMENT,  of which our Lord had often spoken

(Matthew 13:42, 50; 25:41; Luke 16:24), and which the apostle of love described

in Revelation 20:15; 21:8.

 

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.”  In this verse Jesus returns once more on

the principle of union with Himself, and of what will come out of it. The

disciples may be sorely distressed at this possible doom, for whatever may

be the lot of those who do not obey the gospel and are ignorant of the Law of

God, the curse here uttered falls heavily upon those who have been once

enlightened, etc., and have apostatized (Hebrews 6:4-6). The anxiety of the

apostles is grievous, and they desire deliverance from this doom. And our

Lord next unfolds the principle of prayer which laid such hold on the mind of

The Apostle John: If ye abide in me (and then, instead of adding, “And I abide

in you,” he says); and my words abide in you; i.e. if my teaching so abide

with you as to control your thoughts and ideas, remain in you as your

guide and inspiration, then ask  whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done

to you.  In such harmony with Christ as these words supply, all the conditions

of acceptable prayer are present. The believer in Christ:

 

·         full of His words,

·         evermore consciously realizing union with Christ,

·         charged with the thoughts,

·         burning with the purposes,

·         filled with words of Jesus,

 

will have no will that is not in harmony with the Divine will.

Then faith is possible in the fulfillment of his own desire, and

prayer becomes a prophecy and pledge of the answer. The apostle, after

many years of pondering and of putting these principles into practice,

confirms the truth of them (I John 5:14-16). This is the true philosophy

of prayer. The psalmist had gone a long way in the same direction

(Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee thy

heart’s desire”).

 

8 “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be

my disciples.”  Here the Lord shows what He knows will be and must be the

dominant desire of the man who abides in Himself, in whom His own word

abides. Such a man will seek, yearn, ask, that he should bear much fruit.

This prayer will be heard, and in this sublime synthesis between Christ and

His disciples, says Christ, was my Father glorified. “In the fruitfulness of

the vine is the glory of the husbandman,” and in the answer of your

prayers, and the regulation of all your desires, so ye shall become my

disciples.   “Discipleship” is a very large word, never altogether realized.

Just as faith leads to faith, and love to love, and light to light, so does

discipleship to discipleship. As Bengel says, discipleship is the

fundamentum et fastigium of Christianity. On earth the vine reveals itself in

the branches, and thus conceals itself behind them. This explains why the

diffusion of spiritual life makes such slow progress in the world — the

Vine effects nothing but by means of the branches, and these so often

paralyze instead of promoting the action of the Vine..

 

 

 

The Vine and the Branches (vs. 1-8)

 

This discourse of our Lord had relation to the new position of the disciples

that would be created by His departure.

 

  • THE NATURE OF THE NEW SITUATION CREATED BY

PENTECOST. “I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman.”

 

Ø      Christ is the true and essential Life of His people. He lives in His

people by His Spirit. He is at once the Root and the Stock from

which the branches derive their sap and nourishment.

Ø      The Father is the Husbandman, at once Proprietor and Cultivator.

He engrafts the plants into the vine, as He supports and guards the

vine itself, that it may bring forth fruit abundantly. Christ is

“the Plant of renown” (Ezekiel 34:29);  “the Branch thou

madest strong for thyself.”  (Psalm 80:15)

Ø      The operations of the Husbandman.

o       He cuts off the unfruitful branch. “Every branch that

beareth not fruit in me He taketh away.” This refers to

seeming members of the Church, for none are in Christ

but such as are “new creatures.”  (II Corinthians 5:17)

§         God knows the inner character of every man.

§         Fruit, as the result of growth, is the end of the plant.

Therefore a fruitless man has lost the end of his

being.

§         God takes away the fruitless man:

ü      by death,

ü      by judgment.

o       He purges the fruitful branch, so as to concentrate the sap

in the cluster that is preparing the fruit. So true members

of Christ are purged:

§         by afflictions and

§         temptations

that they may not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge

of Christ.

Ø      The instrumentality of this purging process. “As for you, ye are

clean already because of the Word which I have spoken unto you?

The Word of Christ is sharper than any two-edged sword for this

severe discipline; it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of

the heart. It thus enables the believer to see the plague of his own

heart.  (Hebrews 4:12; I Kings 8:38).

 

  • THE NECESSITY OF A PERMANENT FELLOWSHIP WITH

CHRIST. “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.”

 

Ø      The union of the branch with the vine is the very law of its life and

fruitfulness. “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Ø      The union is continuously sustained in the believers soul by constant

acts of faith and love.

Ø      The absolute dependence of the believer upon Christ for all his power.

Apart from me ye can do nothing.”

 

  • THE TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF LIVING OUTSIDE THIS

FELLOWSHIP. “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.”

 

Ø      The man who rejects Christ is himself rejected.

Ø      The faculty that is disused loses its vitality, and is ultimately

extirpated.

Ø      There is final judgment which ends in unquenchable fire.

 

  • THE GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE OF THOSE IN FELLOWSHIP

WITH CHRIST. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye

shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

 

Ø      The privilege is the abundant answer to prayer. Those who abide

in Christ receive of His fullness; for all that is in Christ Jesus is

theirs, through federal relationship and vital identification with Him.

Ø      The condition of the privilege.

o       The believer must continue in the fellowship of Christ.

o       The Word of Christ is at once the means and the evidence

of this fellowship.

 

  • THE RESULT OF THIS CHRISTIAN FRUITFULLNESS. Herein is

my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and ye shall become my

disciples.”

 

Ø      The Fathers glory is identified with the fruit-bearing vitality of the

believer. It displays the glory of His power, grace, and mercy.

All the fruits of righteousness are by Christ, to the praise and

glory of God.

Ø      Christ is honored by a fruitful discipleship.

 

 

No. 2 - The Vine and the Branches  (vs. 1-8)

     

  • THE VINE IN ITSELF IS A SUITABLE EMBLEM OF CHRIST. Its

beauty, as planted, trained, or trellised; its grateful shade; its fruit, whether

fresh and luscious or dried; its wine, “that maketh glad the heart of man;”

(Psalm 104:15) —all render it not only interesting, but suitable to set forth

in symbol the excellence of the Redeemer, His nobility, beauty, preciousness,

and use to man. Palestine was a land of vineyards: witness the grapes of

Eshcol; Judah binding his foal to the vine, etc. Hence most naturally the vine

was used in Old Testament Scripture as an emblem of the chosen nation,

and hence Jesus in His parables put the noble plant to the same use. No

wonder that our Lord applied to Himself and to His people a designation

so instructive.

 

  • THE VINE IS AN EMBLEM OF CHRIST, ESPECIALLY AS THE

SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE.

 

Ø      He is the divinely appointed Root and Stem upon which the branches

depend; the Superior with which they, the inferior, are related in

dependence. The vine-stock survives even if the branch be cut off and

left to die. We are dependent upon Christ; He is not dependent upon us.

Ø      A close and vital union joins the branches to the vine, and Christians to

their Lord. The life which is naturally Christ’s becomes ours through our

union by faith with Him.

Ø      Yet it is a mutual indwelling. As Jesus Himself has said, “I in you; you

in me.” What condescension and kindness in this marvelous provision

of Divine wisdom!

 

  • THE BRANCHES ARE INDEBTED TO THE VINE FOR THEIR

FRUITFULLNESS; SO ARE CHRISTIANS TO THEIR LORD. The

branches of the living vine evince the life and health of the plant first by

their vigor, their verdure, their luxuriance, their comeliness; signs of

spiritual life are manifested in the Church of God by the peace, the

cheerfulness, the spiritual prosperity, of its members. But the great aim of

the husbandman’s care and culture is that fruit may be yielded in

abundance. What shall we understand by spiritual fruit, the fruits of the

Spirit?

 

Ø      Perfection of Christian character.

Ø      Abundance in Christian usefulness.

 

  • THE TREATMENT OF UNFRUITFUL AND FRUITFUL

BRANCHES FIGURES THAT OF THE NOMINAL AND THE

REAL DISCIPLES OF CHRIST.

 

Ø      The cause of unfruitfulness is stated. “Severed from me ye can do

nothing.”

Ø      The doom of unfruitfulness is anticipated. To be cast out and burnt,

like the vine-parings in the Kedron valley.

Ø      The condition of fruitfulness is mentioned. Close union with Christ.

Ø      The means of increased fruitfulness is also explained. Divine pruning

and discipline, i.e. affliction and trouble tending to spiritual strength

and fertility.

 

  • THE MOTIVES TO CHRIST-ABIDING AND FRUIT-BEARING

ARE URGED. Stress is laid here upon two.

 

Ø      Thus the heavenly Husbandman, the Divine Father, is glorified.

Ø      Thus Jesus secures for Himself true and worthy disciples. What

powerful motives to induce Christians to be “neither barren

nor unfruitful”!

 

9 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in

my love.”  Even as the Father loved me, I also loved you; a fact of stupendous

interest and transcendent claim. Heaven had opened over the incarnate Word,

and other ears as well as His own had heard the Father say, “Thou art my

beloved Son,” etc. The Lord was conscious of being the Object of this

infinite love before the foundation of the world (John 17:24), and of

reciprocating and responding to it; and this love of the Father to Him on His

assumption of His mediatorial functions was the well-spring of His obedience

unto death and after it (see ch.10:17, note). Now, if the kajgw< kagoand I;

also I -  is to be translated as above, Christ declares that even as the Father

has loved Him, He has’ loved His disciples. Again and again He has

emphasized this love to them (ch.13:34), but here He asserts a loftier

claim, viz. that His love to them corresponds with the eternal Father’s love

to Himself. The one great fact is the ground on which He commands them

to abide in His love. This is obviously a more explicit and more intelligible

form of the commandment to abide in Him.  “The love that is mine “is not

the love to Christ, nor the love of Christ exclusively, but a blending of the

active and passive idea in “the love that is mine” — in the “love” lavished

upon me from eternity, and to which I have eternally responded, which I

have made known to you and expended on you and received back again

from you. Abide in that love that is mine.

 

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.

This is the method and secret, the stimulus and proof, of abiding in the love

of Christ. This is not exactly the converse of “If ye love me,

keep my commandments.” Doubtless there is a love which dictates

obedience to the loved One’s will. Our Lord here avers, however,

something further, viz. that obedience issues in a higher love. The

obedience here described is the outcome of love, but the power is thus

gained to continue, dwell, in the Divine love, to abide, that is, in the full

enjoyment and fullness of MY DIVINE LOVE TO YOU!   This is obvious

from the confirmatory clause: Even as I have kept my Father’s

commandments, and abide in His love. The Lord kept the Father’s

commandment always, doing those things which please Him, offering up

His precious life, laying it down that He might take it again; and the

consequence is that He then and there knew that He was filled with

all the fullness of the Divine love. The very impressive line of thought

pervades this passage, that what the Father was to Him, that He would

prove to His disciples. What the love of God was to the Christ,

the love of Christ was to His disciples.

 

  The Results of the Union between Christ and His Disciples (vs. 11-16)

 

The Lord moves into another and wider development of the union between

Himself and His disciples. He drops the metaphor of the vine and the branches,

and comes to the essence of the relation between them; that is, He does much

to explain the meaning and nature of His abiding in them, and the character of

the fruit which they were expected by the great Husbandman and Father to bring

forth and ripen. A connection between the second section and the first is revealed

in the new beginning.

 

11 “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in

you, and that your joy might be full.”  These things I have spoken, and

am still speaking, to you (perfect, not aorist) with this purpose, that the joy

that is mine may be in you.   Christ communicates to his disciples His own

absolute and personal joy. “The joy that is mine,” like “the peace which is

mine,” is graciously bestowed. A joy was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2),

the joy of perfect  self-sacrifice, which gave to His present acts an

intensity and fullness of bliss. It was this, in its motives and character and

supernatural sweetness, which would be in them. If they receive His life into

them, it will convey not only His peace, but that peace uprising and

bursting into joy; and He adds, in order that your joy may be fulfilled,

i.e. perfected, reach its highest expression, its fullness of contents and

entire sufficiency for all needs. I John 1:1-4 is the best commentary on

this last clause. The Old Testament prophets had often spoken of Jehovah’s

joy in His people, comparing it to the bridegroom’s joy, and the bride’s

(Isaiah 62:5; Zephaniah 3:17). This entire idea is linked with v.10; where the

keeping of His commandments, from motives of love, will enable the disciples

to “abide in his love.” He now passes the whole law of the second table into

the light of His joy and the power of His example.

 

 

Divine Joy (vs. 11)

 

It seems at first sight singular that our Lord’s conversation, just at this

solemn and pathetic crisis of His ministry, should be of joy. It seems as if

consolation and peace were timely and appropriate themes, but as if the

contrast between Christ’s approaching sufferings and the joy which He

claims to possess and to impart were too marked. This, however, is a

glorious paradox.

 

  • THE ELEMENTS OF OUR SAVIOR’S JOY. His was:

 

Ø      The joy of self-sacrifice, which is unknown to the world, but of

which Jesus has given us the one sublime example.

Ø      The joy of benevolence. He lost Himself in those for whom He lived

And died; their salvation was the inspiration of His endurance and

the joy of his anticipation.  (“who for the joy that was set before

Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on

the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2)

Ø      The joy of harmony with the Father’s purpose and of securing the

Father’s approval.

 

  • THE IMPARTATION OF OUR SAVIOR’S JOY.

 

Ø      It comes through the identification of the disciples, through faith,

with the Master.

Ø      It consists in living sympathy with His mind and purposes.

(“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”-

Philippians 2:5)

Ø      It increases and is fulfilled through their active employment in His

service. The joy of the Lord is commenced in fellowship of labor,

and consummated in the vision and recompense of heaven.

 

  • THE SUPERIORITY OF OUR SAVIOR’S JOY. If it is contrasted

with the joy of the worldly and sinful, such a comparison will bring out

its immeasurable superiority.

 

Ø      For it is joy dignified and worthy of a moral and spiritual nature,

whilst worldly joy is largely that of the inferior part of our being.

Ø      It is satisfying (“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall

give him shall never thirst” ch. 4:14),  whilst He that drinketh

of the springs of earth thirsts again.

Ø      It is eternal, being not only progressive upon earth, but consummated

in heaven. “Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories fade away.” But Christ’s

joy is the joy which is immortal.

 

12 “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I loved you.”

This (ch. 13:34) was given as a “new commandment;” now He gathers the

many commandments into one, as though all were included in it (I John 3:16).

This thought is further vindicated by an endeavor to explain in what sense and

way He was loving them.

 

13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for

his friends.”  Greater love than this (love) no one hath, namely (i[na hina

that), that one should lay down his life for his friends. Meyer and Lange

endeavor to maintain even here the telic force of i[na, “The love to you is

of so consummate a character, that its object and purpose is seen in my

laying down my life for my friends;” and Hengstenberg thinks so because

probably a reference here is made to Isaiah 53:10, that our Lord was

pointing to His atoning death — to a death needed alike by enemies and

friends. Such an interpretation supposes the lofty purpose of the greatest

love. To me, however, it seems more probable that the translation given

above places the argument upon a surer; because more common, human,

experience. The disposition to die for ungodly and for enemies is exalted

by Paul (Romans 5:8) above the self-sacrifice involved in dying for

the good. Still, which may be shown, and has often been shown in self-

sacrificing death for those who are beloved, whatever other and wider ends

may be discerned afterwards and spoken of in other connections, He is here

asserting that the love of friendship is quite strong and intense enough to

secure such a sacrifice. And He adds –

 

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

Just because I command you. So the natural conclusion will be, “I am

showing you the highest possible fruit of my friendship — I am laying

down my life for you. This is how I have loved you; therefore after this

manner you are to love one another” (I John 3:16; Ephesians 5:1-2).

Our Lord then explains more and more to them how they can and do

claim this glorious designation.

 

  • They will vindicate the position for themselves if they are absolutely

trustful and obedient.

  • But they can have a new and nobler proof.

 

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.”

No longer do I call you servants, bond-slaves. True, He had

in this very discourse spoken of them as His dou~loi douloi slaves –

(ch. 13:13, 16).  Again and again in His parabolic teaching He had spoken of

His disciples as servants of a Lord (Matthew 13:27; 22:4; Luke 12:37; and

ch. 12:26, where another word is used). And moreover, later on in this very

chapter (v. 20), the word and thought return, so that this relation to Him,

gloried in by Paul (Philippians 1:1; I Corinthians 7:22), James (James 1:1), Jude

(Jude 1:1), and even John (Revelation 1:1), could be sustained in its integrity,

even after it had been transfigured, and penetrated through and through with

the light of love. Because the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth. The

slave is an instrument, doing by commandment, not from intimate knowledge,

his Lord’s behests. But you I have called (ei]rhka eiraeka – I have called) —

on previous occasions (see ch.11:11, “Our friend Lazarus” and compare Luke

12:4);  friends, for whom it is joy to die, and I have effected the transfiguration

of your service into love. I have raised you by the intimacy of the relations

into which 1 have drawn you from the position of slave to that of friend.

You may be, you must be, my servants still; I am your Master and Lord;

but you will be servants from a higher motive and a more enduring link and

bond of union. For all things which I heard of my Father. Notice the

source of the Savior’s teaching. He was sent from God, trained and taught,

as a man; he chose thus, humanly, to learn step by step, thing by thing,

what to reveal of His own nature, of His purpose and plan in redeeming

men, concerning the essence of the Father Himself, and the entire

significance of His self-manifestation. That which I heard I made known

unto you. This is only in apparent contradiction with ch.16:12,

where He implies that there will be more for them to learn in the future,

when the mystery of His death, resurrection, and ascension shall have been

accomplished. The limitation of the pa>nta a} h]kousa panta a aekousa -  

all things that I have heard - does not consist in doctrines as opposed to

practical duties, nor in the plan of salvation for individuals as antithetic to

principles of His kingdom, nor in principles as distinguished from what may

ultimately be found in them, but in the capacities and circumstances of the

disciples themselves (ch.16:12 is a corollary of this solemn assurance). The

reason of the present assertion is the proof that it thus supplies of their dearness

to Him. “Ye are my friends.”  He had told them all that they could bear. He

had lifted the veil high enough for their truest joy and noblest discipline. He

had bared His heart to them. He had kept back nothing that was profitable.

He had proved His own friendship, and thus given a conclusive reason for

His complete self-devotion on their account.

 

 

Christ’s Friendship for His People (vs. 12-15)

 

Human friendship is both beautiful to perceive and precious to enjoy. If

affection and sympathy were thrust out of life, and if interest alone bound

men together, how uninteresting and dismal would this world of humanity

become! (Is it not just becoming this in the 21st century – a world apart

from Christ – CY – 2013).  Every instance of friendship has its charm. The

young, who share their pursuits and confidences; the middle-aged, who are

guided by the same tastes, or principles, or occupations; the old, who

interchange their recollections of bygone years; — all furnish examples of the

power and the beauty of friendship even amongst faulty and imperfect beings.

Who is not grateful for friends? Who would be without them? Who has not

found friendship a charm, a stimulus, a power, in life? But whether earthly

friends are few or many, faithful or unkind, there is a Divine, a heavenly Friend,

whose love is declared to us by His own language, and proved by His own

acts and sufferings. Christ deigns to call His disciples friends!

 

  • CHRIST’S FRIENDSHIP TOWARDS HIS PEOPLE IS A

WONDERFUL FACT, DECLARED BY HIMSELF. The wonder is

apparent when we consider who we are; when we reflect that we are poor,

sinful, and helpless beings, who could not, apart from His assurances,

venture to claim or to hope for the friendship of Christ. For who is He?

Jesus is not merely the best of beings; He is the Son of God. It is hard for

us to realize that “God is Love.” But in the Person of Christ the eternal

and supreme Lord comes down to our level, walks our way, dwells on our

earth, reveals to us His love. He is the friend, the Well-wisher, of sinners;

He is the Friend, in a fuller sense, of those who know and love Him. If this

is a wonderful truth, it is also a delightful truth.

 

  • CHRIST’S FRIENDSHIP IS PROVED BY HIS INTIMACY AND

HIS CONVERSATIONS. Men’s talk with one another often indicates

their relationship. There is conversation which is ordinary and casual, and

there is conversation which is confidential and intimate. There is the speech

of acquaintances, upon common subjects; there is the speech of the master

to the servant, conveying orders; there is the speech which is distinctive of

close and affectionate friendship, upon matters of personal interest and

concern. Now, the intimacy between the Divine Father and the Divine Son

is of the most confidential and unreserved nature. The Son is “in the

bosom” of the Father, i.e. is in possession of the counsels and feelings of

His mind; He is “one” with the Father.  It is very observable that, according

to our Lord’s own declaration, He, having perfect knowledge of the

Father’s thoughts, communicates those thoughts to His people. As the

Father has no secrets from the Son, so the Son has no secrets from His

disciples. This is a conclusive proof of our Lord’s friendship for us. He

makes known to us “all things” which the Father purposes that bear upon

our salvation and eternal life. This accounts for the unexampled power of

our Lord’s language, its sublimity, its tenderness, fits authority. The words

of the Redeemer are the communications of His friendship, the tokens of His

brotherly love. To the unspiritual and unsympathetic, Christ’s words are

now, as they were when they were first spoken, uninteresting and without

value. But the true friends of Jesus feel their sweetness and their might;

applied by the Spirit of God, they are the lessons, the counsels, the

promises, of a Divine and faithful Friend. How could He better prove His

friendship than by revealing to us in His words the thoughts and the

purposes of the Father’s heart? There is one way even more effective, and

this our Lord describes.

 

  • CHRIST’S FRIENDSHIP IS FURTHER PROVED BY HIS SELF-

SACRIFICING BENEVOLENCE. Self-denial is a recognized element in

true love and friendship. Men are found willing to give up money, time,

rank, etc., for the benefit of their friends. But it is the highest proof of love

when one is found ready to resign life to secure the life of a friend.

“Peradventure for a good man one would even dare to die”  (Romans

5:7).  This is the proof of self-sacrificing friendship which the Lord Jesus

was resolved to give. He laid down His life for the sheep. “Greater love

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

(v. 13).  Jesus not only gave us knowledge by His teaching; He gave us

salvation by His death. This willing sacrifice was in order to win our

hearts, to make us His friends indeed, to bring to bear upon our nature

a spiritual, principle and power, to bind us to Himself for ever by the

chains of gratitude and devotion.

 

  • CHRIST’S FRIENDSHIP IS PROVED BY HIS WHOLE

DEMEANOR AND HIS WHOLE TREATMENT OF US NOW

THAT HE HAS ASCENDED.

 

Ø      In His ministry He taught us,

Ø      by His death He saved us,

Ø      in His mediatorial life He blesses us.

 

He is a sympathizing Friend, touched with a feeling of our infirmities.

He is a forbearing and patient Friend, who is not repelled by the

imperfect response He meets with on our part. He is a practical and helpful

Friend, who expresses His friendship in deeds and spiritual ministrations.

He is an unchanging and eternal Friend. “Who shall separate us from

the love of Christ?”   (Romans 8:35)

 

 

Our Friendship for Christ (vs. 12-15)

 

Friendship is a relation between two parties. On both sides it is voluntary.

It is mutual and reciprocal. We have seen how Christ shows His friendship

towards us. We have to consider how we prove our friendship towards

Christ, what He justly expects and requires from us.

 

  • OUR FRIENDSHIP FOR CHRIST IS SHOWN IN THE FEELINGS

OF OUR HEARTS TOWARDS HIM.

 

Ø      We admire His character. In varying degree we admire the

principles, the dispositions, the conduct, of our earthly friends.

But inasmuch as there is no imperfection in the character of

Immanuel, there is no qualification in our love towards Him.

Ø      We are attracted by the congeniality of His nature. There is a

“drawing” of heart towards Him, which originates in some

sympathy of disposition, and which issues in a more complete

sympathy.

Ø      We delight in His society. Great was the privilege of the chosen

twelve, who were permitted to enjoy the company of their Lord

during His earthly ministry. But this fellowship is a privilege open

to us, who, not having seen Jesus, yet love him. The above are

ordinary manifestations of friendship.  But the relation between

Jesus and His people is unique, and evokes feelings altogether

special. Thus:

Ø      We revere His Divine dignity and glory. This is growingly

apprehended with growing knowledge of Christ and with

growing conformity to Christ.  As we approach a mountain

we realize its magnitude; the nearer we draw to Christ, the

more majestic and venerable does He appear to our spiritual

vision.

Ø      We are grateful for his love and sacrifice. Gratitude does not

enter as an element into ordinary human friendship, which is

rather interfered with than promoted by obligations. But our

indebtedness to the Lord Jesus is immeasurable, and gives its

own color to the friendship subsisting between Him and us.

Ø      We cherish devotion to Him. As Christ is infinitely the superior

in this spiritual kindred, it is natural that He should receive from

us the consecration of heart and life.

 

  • OUR FRIENDSHIP FOR CHRIST IS SHOWN IN OUR

OBEDIENCE TO HIM

 

Ø      This is a paradox. It seems at first sight altogether incongruous

that obedience should be required of friends. The master

commands his servant, but he does not command his friend.

And in this very passage Jesus says, “I call you not servants,

but friends”

Ø      Yet Jesus makes this service and submission a proof of His

disciples’ friendship. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever

I command you.” Our Lord cannot divest Himself of His

authority. Our Friend is a King, and He does not cease to be

a King even when He toils and suffers for us.

Ø      The Divine law is this: Love is the best motive to obedience, and

obedience is the best proof of love. A forced, mechanical service

is not what Christ wants, is not what Christ will accept. It is a

willing, cheerful, cordial service which He asks, and without

which no worthless words and formal acts can satisfy Him.

It is the part of the Christian to serve his Master, but not in the

spirit of a bondman; rather in that of a grateful and

affectionate friend.

 

  • OUR FRIENDSHIP FOR CHRIST IS THE BASIS OF OUR

MUTUAL FRIENDSHIP AMONG OURSELVES.

 

Ø      Here we find the motive to the friendship which is appointed as

`the mark of true discipleship. It is our Lord’s new commandment

that His disciples love one another. In this love all is comprised;

it is the fulfilling of the Law  (Romans 13:10).  The true Church of

Christ is the society which is cemented by reciprocal confidence

and by brotherly love.

Ø      Here, too, we find the model of Christian friendship. “As I loved you.”

Such is the rule, such is the appeal, of our Savior. The powers that tend

to separation, to distrust, to enmity, are many and mighty.  A great,

comprehensive, constant power is needed to counteract and vanquish

these. This power we have in the manifested love and the uttered

commandment of OUR REDEEMING LORD!

 

From vs. 13-15, our Lord, in a brief digression, has justified a portion of the

great commandment of mutual love. That love is to correspond with His love

to the disciples, and to explain His self-sacrifice to them; He proves to them

that they are His “friends,” and therefore the objects of His dying love. Then

the appeal is still further clenched by showing the origin and purport of His

friendship for them.

 

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 did not choose me (ejxele>xasqe... ejxelexa>mhn

exelexastheexelexamaen  - chosen….chosen - are middle, “you chose...

I chose… for yourselves or for myself”), but I chose you. I selected you as

individuals, not excluding thereby a gracious choice of other souls; I destined

you to accomplish work dear to me and essential to my kingdom. Christ has

already told them that He must “go away” from’ them to the Father, and that

they “cannot follow him now, but afterwards;” and He has also convinced

them that, though He go away, He will “come again, and abide with them,”

and also that “severed” from Him they can “do nothing.” Consequently

when He adds, I appointed you (see I  Corinthians 12:28; I Timothy 1:12;

Hebrews 1:2; Acts 20:28,  for similar use of tiqe>nai tithenai - appoint)

as my apostles and representatives, to do work in my Name, there is no

contradiction in His adding, that ye should go forth, depart into the world

with my message and in my Name, as I am“departing to the Father, to

rule over you from a higher and more august position. And bear fruit. A

passing reference to the imagery of the first part of the chapter, showing that

their “going forth or away” upon this mission would not separate them from

His Spirit, or divide the link without which they could bear no fruit at all.

The “fruit” may here, in its issues, suggest another class of ideas. In the

first case the “fruit” was the “fruit of the Spirit,” but here it would seem to

be the abiding consequence of the “greater works” which they would be

called upon to do. This rich fruit includes all the victories they were to win

over souls, and all the effects of their ministry. “Fruit” in either case is only

valuable when it is utilized by the Husbandman and according to his purpose.

“Fruit” is a Divine self-exhaustion of the living organism; it does no good to

the branch nor to the stem; it is the sacred property of the husbandman,

whether for his own joy or for fresh seed. In this case your fruit will abide for

ever, not in the branch, but in the Father’s hands, that (i[na) whatsoever

ye shall ask of the Father in my Name, He may give it you. It now becomes

a question whether the second i[na (that) introduces a clause which is coordinate

with the former or one logically depending on the preceding. By going and

bringing forth fruit we enter into that relation with God from which proceeds

the prayer in the name of the Son which the Father will grant, thus bringing

the passage into close relation with ch.14:13 and 16:23. By their fruit they

would show themselves to be true disciples of Christ, and to such the

Father can deny nothing.

 

 

The Condition of Abiding under the Power of Christ’s Love (vs. 9-16)

 

  • THE SPHERE AND CONDITION OF UNION. “As the Father hath

loved me, I have also loved you: abide in my love.”  (v.9)

 

Ø      The relation between the Father and the Son is the absolute type

of the union between Christ and believers.

Ø      The love of Christ is the sphere or atmosphere in which the disciple

lives. “We love Him, because He first loved us.”  (I John 4:19)

Ø      The disciple is under no other condition than that to which the Son is

subject with the Father. “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” (v.10). Our obedience is the proof of our

love to Christ, while our love in turn assures our obedience.

 

  • THE ISSUE OF UNION — JOY. “These things have I spoken unto

you, that my joy’ might be in you, and that your joy might be full.”  (v.11)

 

Ø      The joy of Christ is the joy of self-sacrifice, in constant obedience

to His Father. This He desires His disciples to enjoy. Thus He

guarantees their true blessedness.

Ø      Their joy will grow in power and depth by their obedience, as

they will thus be drawn closer to Christ.

Ø      The obedience to which they are called is concentrated in brotherly

love. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I

have loved you.”  (v.12)

o       The commandment.

§         It is a new commandment (ch.13:34).

§         It is an old commandment (II John 1:5).

§         It commends itself to the moral nature of man.

§         It is the mainspring of social happiness.

o       Mark the model or pattern: “As I have loved you.”

Jesus loved His disciples with a love which was

§         strong,

§         tender,

§         patient,

§         enduring,

§         self-sacrificing.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life

for his friends.”  (ch.13)

 

  • INTIMACY OF THE RELATION WHICH CHRIST HAS

ESTABLISHED BETWEEN HIMSELF AND HIS DISCIPLES.

“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. I no longer

call you servants; because 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 to you.”  (vs. 14-15)

 

Ø      The relation of God to His people under the Law was that of

Master and servant. But Jesus establishes a new relation, which

heightens the dignity of discipleship.

Ø      The condition of the new relation was a free, unrestrained

Confidence between Christ and His disciples respecting the

full knowledge of Divine things.

Ø      This fuller knowledge would of itself enhance the intensity of love.

 

  • THE DIVINE CHOICE, WITH ITS BLESSED DESIGN AND

EFFECTS. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”

(v. 16)

 

Ø      Whether the election is to salvation or apostleship, the ground

or cause was not in man. The blessed initiative was taken by

Christ.

Ø      Design of the election. And appointed you, that ye should go

 and bear fruit.” These words imply:

o       that the disciples should take an independent place for

themselves (uJpa>ghte - hupagaete - go away; may

be going away);

o       that they should be abundant and effective in labors;

o       and that the effect of their labors should be lasting.

Ø      Encouragement to labor. “That whatsoever ye ask the Father

in my Name, He may give it you.” A fruitful obedience has

its reward in gracious answers to prayer.

 

 

The Results of this Union with Christ to the Unbelieving World (vs. 17-27)

 

 

17 “These things I command you, that ye love one another.” (clearly pointing

back to v. 12). This entire meditation culminates where it began. The digression

comes back to the main theme.  Christ discusses the effect upon the world of that

love to each other and to Him which blended their personalities into one mystic

unity. This verse shows how the new topic links itself with the previous discussion.

His dying for them, thus proving His friendship for them, and all the other signs of

His interest and confidence, have been set before them to this great end; for while

the world is full of outrage and mutual animosities, the motive of His own entire

self-manifestation is to awaken a new and higher type and model of humanity.

Well may the familiar legend of John in the churches of Ephesus

confirm this sublime truth. From this point to the end of the chapter,

Christ unfolded the consequences, to the unbelieving world, of the

sacred union between Himself and His disciples, and He discussed the

reciprocal relations between His own disciples and the world, seeing that

they are united with Him in such a close incorporation.

 

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

You need net be surprised if the world hate you.The world,” ko>smov

kosmos  (five times used in strongly emphatic manner), is humanity

apart from grace. This world will despise and hate your mutual love, will

scorn your love to itself for my sake; will detest the higher and unworldly

standard which you will set up. But here is some consolation. Know

(ginw>skete ginoskete – ye are knowing -  imperative, as mnhmoneu>ete

mnaemoneuetebe ye remembering -  in v. 20) that it has hated me

before (it hated) you. “Me first, me most.”  The superlative

contains the comparative. “This hatred is a community of

destiny with me.” You know how it has hated me, and hunted me

from Bethlehem to Egypt, from Nazareth to Capernaum, from Gergesa to

Jerusalem. Be not surprised if it hate you.

 

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 i.e. still a part

of it, deriving your life, maxims, and pleasures from it; if you could sympathize

with its vulgar passion, and its temporary fleeting excitements, partisanships,

and bigotries the world would be loving (ejfilei< - ephilei – would love;

was fond -  notice the form of the conditional sentence, a supposition contrary

to fact, therefore anticipating the negative clause that follows, “but ye are

not of the world;” notice also that fi>lew phileo - the love of affection, not

ajgapa>w agapao - the love of reverence and profound regard, which you

are to show to one another and to me) — would be loving its own. The world

loves its priests and mouthpieces, its own organization (“Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod,

and Judas, and all devils,” Luther); the world loves its own offspring. But

because ye are not of the world, but I chose you, withdrawing you for my

service, out of the world (the two meanings of ejk ek -  here differ; the first

ejk denotes origin, the second corresponds with the compound ejk in

ejkle>gomai eklegomaipick out; select; to choose), therefore the world

hateth you. I have caused you to break with it, and you are no longer “its 

own.” Just in proportion as you are one with me, you draw upon yourself

its hatred of me. “The offence of the cross” is not ceased. Thoma

comments on the harmony between this statement and that of the Acts,

Epistles, and Apocalypse, whose colors and features are here, as he thinks,

drawn upon. It is profoundly interesting to trace the fulfillment of the

Lord’s prescient words in earlier Scripture (I Peter 4:17; Romans 8:17;

Galatians 6:17; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 12:3).

 

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 which I spake to you (see Matthew 10:24, but especially

Ch. 13:16, where Christ used the proverb), The servant is not greater than his

lord. In (Ibid.)  the idea was used to enforce the spirit of humility and mutual

service; it applies also here, but in another sense. The disciples are not to expect

better treatment from the world than their Lord met with. If they (used of

“the world”, in its special concrete manifestations; “they” of Nazareth and

Capernaum and Jerusalem correspond with the “they” of Lycaonia, Ephesus,

Thessalonica, and Rome) persecuted me, they will persecute — drive away

from them — you also. The “if” is remarkably explicit; there is no doubt

about it in Christ’s case, and the supposition is one of definite and acknowledged

fact, and the conditional sentence most positively assures them of antagonism

and persecution. It is probable, though not certainly known, that these disciples

all endured a living martyrdom, if not a cruel death in His cause. Then

follows a sentence which has by some unwisely been supposed to be

ironical, and by others to refer to another subject. If they kept my word,

they will keep yours also.  The whole contact with the world was not an utter

failure. Christ did win persons from all classes, and they loved Him, with a

passionate love; and so the apostles, and all who “go forth to bear fruit,”

may hope for some victories, and will travail in birth with the souls of men.

 

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. By way of consolation, He added, in view of the antagonism which

the world would deliberately pursue towards them, For my Name’s sake.

Many suppose that the consolatory element is emphasized in this clause.

However, the idea contained in the dia< to< ojnoma> mou dia to onoma mou

through the name of me - has been already expressed in the  previous verses, and

the whole of the verse so far merely gathers it up for a new and suggestive

explanation. For the Name of Christ these disciples will not only pray, labor,

suffer, and die, but in the power of it they will transmute their sorrows into

raptures, their tribulations into glory. Because they know not Him that sent me.

If they had known the heart and nature of the Sender, they would have

understood the mission of the Savior, and would neither have hated Him nor

His representations.  It is utter grief to Jesus that the WORLD HAS BEEN

IGNORANT OF THE FATHER.  This ignorance explains its antagonism to

the representatives of Christ, and is the most appalling witness to its own

depravation. No fact is more patent in the entire history of human thoughts

about God than this, that “THE WORLD BY WISDOM KNOWS HIM

NOT” (I Corinthians 1:21) nay, it:

 

  • travesties His Name,
  • misrepresents His character,
  • distrusts,  fears, and flees from the face of God.

 

It was left to Christ to reveal the Father. In many different mental

tendencies even Christendom has obscured or denied the Fatherhood.

 

 

The World’s Hatred (vs. 18-21)

 

Our Lord enjoined that within the Church there should prevail love and

brotherhood. But at the same time He foretold that from without Christians

should meet with hatred and opposition, enmity and persecution.

 

  • EVIDENCES OF THE WORLD’S HATRED OF CHRISTIANS.

 

Ø      We are constrained by facts to rank with the world, in this respect,

the adherents of the Jewish system. As His own countrymen were

our Lord’s opponents and in truth His real murderers, so were the

Jews the earliest opponents of the Church of Christ.   (Even today,

secular Jews have been greatly involved in attacks on God and the

family in their involvement in the American Civil Liberties Union –

I typed in – Jewish involvement in the ACLU – in my browser

a minute ago and evidence of this was immediately forthcoming

on the internet – CY – 2013),   The Book of the Acts of the

Apostles exhibits the hostility of the leaders of Israel to the society

which was called by Christ’s  Name whose crucifixion they had

brought about. The Jews attempted to silence the first preachers of

Christianity. And this they did under the influence of hate towards

Christ Himself. They regarded the new religion — for such it

seemed to them — as subversive of their own, not discerning that it

was the fulfillment of what was Divine in Judaism. And

they hated a doctrine which, by laying stress upon the personal and

spiritual elements in religion, imperiled their own rulers’ authority, and

the whole system of form and ceremony with which they were

associated.

Ø      Our Lord doubtless looked forward to the time when the vessel of the

Church should quit the narrow straits of Judaism, and should sail out

into the open seas of the world, there to encounter fiercer storms. Then

He foresaw the hatred of the world should take a more formidable,

though not a more virulent, shape. In the Roman empire, Christianity,

we know as matter of history, encountered fierce hostility mainly

because of its exacting, exclusive claims, because of its open hostility

to all that savored of idolatry, and because of its rapid, and (to the

heathen) UNACCOUNTABLE PROGRESS!   Hence the several

persecutions which arose under successive emperors, verifying the

predictions uttered by the Divine Founder of our faith. Hence the

long roll of confessors and martyrs who sealed their testimony with

their blood  (Revelation 6:9-11). 

Ø      But it must not be overlooked that, where persecution is impossible,

hatred often prevails, and manifests its presence and power in many

distressing forms. There are at the present time, even in the midst of

professedly Christian communities, not a few who are suffering from

that hate which our Lord here foretold.

 

  • EXPLANATIONS OF THE WORLD’S HATRED OF CHRISTIANS.

 

Ø      The world knows not God, and hence hates the Church which is in

possession of this knowledge. Had the world known God, it would

have recognized among Christians the tokens of the Divine presence

and operation.

Ø      Christians are not of the world. The world loves its own, but hates

that which is out of harmony with it. If Christians do not adopt the

world’s spirit and language and habits, this singularity and

nonconformity naturally EXCITES DISLIKE AND PROVOKES

TO ILL TREATMENT.

Ø      It cannot but be that the world must be rebuked by the presence of the

Church, confronting and reproving it. Whether by:

o       a public protest against the world’s sins, or

o       by the silent protest of a pure and upright life,

Christians are bound to a course of action which will bring down

upon them, now and again, the enmity and the anger of the world.

 

  • CONSOLATION FOR CHRISTIANS UNDER THE WORLD’S

HATRED. All true comfort comes from that personal relation to the

Lord Jesus upon which such stress is laid in these discourses recorded by

John, and which is exhibited as the inspiration not only of consecrated

activity but also of patient endurance.

 

Ø      The hatred which besets Christians was first directed against Christ

Himself.

Ø      The servant must expect to follow in his Master’s steps, and to meet

with the same treatment.

Ø      When Jesus says, “For my Name’s sake,” He presents to us a motive

to patience which is divinely fortifying and persuasive.

 

22 “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but

now they have no cloak for their sin.”  If I had not come, as the incarnate

Word of God, if I had not fulfilled the promises and come forth from God

into the world to reveal the Father, and spoken to them, made known to

them the thought and Spirit of God, made it possible for them to know the

essence of the only true God, they had had no sin; they would not have

resisted the highest love, their alienation in this respect would not have

been a violation of the most solemn and gracious demands of the Father.

The greatest sin is the refusal of THE MOST COMPLETE

REVELATION and by the side of this all other sin becomes comparatively

trivial. Our Lord could not have spoken of the hatred of Himself or His disciples

as this sin, because it would have been obviously impossible to hate a non-existent

revelation or revealer. It is the deeper fall which is consequent upon A

DELIBERATE REJECTION OF THE HIGHEST LOVE.  Formerly, they

would have been in the condition of those whose sins of ignorance God

overlooks (Acts 17:30), and to whose aJmarth>mata hamartaemata – sin –

in the past God has exercised pa>resiv – paresis – remission -, in anticipation

of the coming grace. But now (Luke in numerous places uses this expression to

form a strong contrast) they have no excuse or pretext for their sin, or concerning

their sin. They can plead no justification. The word pro>fasiv propharsin

pretense; cloak  - is an lego>menon hapax legomenonone time saying –

and is not “cloak or covering,” but  palliation or excuse” for manifest sin.

So long as men have seen no deeper into the nature of God than they can go

with the aid of mere phenomena or ratiocination on the details of creation,

their fears and even their hatreds formulated into grim legend, or uncouth

idols, or repellent hypothesis, are A NATURAL OUTCOME OF A

NATURE SO CORRUPT,  but they ought to have found in Christ a deeper

revelation, a summons to service and adoring love. In rejecting the idea of God

which I have set before them THEY HAVE NO EXCUSE. Paul (Romans 1:20)

declares that those who have defamed the great characteristic of God which

may be learned from nature are without excuse.

 

23 “He that hateth me hateth my Father also.”  And by implication will hate you,

The hatred of goodness in me, the refusal to accept my representation of their

Father and mine, becomes a distinct hatred of God Himself as I have revealed

Him. A God of war, a God of partisan jealousy for the honor of Israel, a God

who would palliate fratricidal feud, and overlook blasphemous indifference to

His true character, they might have tolerated; but the Father-God, whom they

might have heard and seen in Christ, IS HATED BY THEM!

 

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 works which none other

did.   Here He comes down from “Word” to “work,” and indicates the

lower agency, that of works, which are neither inoperative nor valueless,

and which transcend all other similar deeds. They are works of the Son of

God, works of creation and of healing, triumphant conflict with the forces

of nature and the malice of the devil, of a kind which may be compared

with, but which exceed all human and angelic ministry. They had not had

sin, but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.

The works as well as the words of Christ might have softened their hearts,

but the Divine claims, which were thus pressed home upon the conscience,

provoked their malice. “They took counsel to kill Him;” “They took up

stones to stone Him.” They hated God as God, and goodness and truth just

because they were goodness and truth. The awful condemnation is here

pronounced, “that men loved darkness rather than light.” They positively

saw their Father, and hated him. This is the most terrible condemnation

that can be pronounced on moral beings.

 

25 “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is

written in their law, They hated me without a cause.”

Strange is it that even here the ancient psalmist, in portraying

the ideal Sufferer (Psalm 69:4; 35:19), had seized this feature, and thus

anticipated the treatment of the Son of God. But this cometh to pass

(some clause of this kind must be introduced to give true force to ajlla<

alla – but; all - and i[na hina – that ) that the word might be fulfilled

that has been written in their Law. Not only here but elsewhere Jesus

speaks of the Psalms as a part of the Law (see note, ch.10:34). Other passages

may, from their similarity, have been in Christ’s mind, as receiving fulfillment

or abundant illustration in their conduct. The use of the expression, “the Law,”

the Law in which they pride themselves, the Law which is ever in their mouths,

the Law which itself contains the portraiture of their spirit: They hated me

gratuitously; causelessly. The true Christ was, when He came, the object

of reasonless, causeless hate and opposition.  Jesus knew, when He claimed

to be the Christ, that He would have to complete and fulfill the solemn

portraiture of the suffering, burden-bearing, and rejected Christ, as well as

that of the triumphant Christ and King.

 

In vs. 26-27, a new source of consolation now appears. Already twice

over He has spoken of the Paraclete (ch.14:16 and 26),

 

  • as being sent by the Father in answer to His prayer, to be the

compensation to His disciples for His personal departure, and also

  • as the Instructor and Leader into all truth.

 

Once more He promises great things and mighty aid in their conflict with

the world’s hate by the mission of the Comforter. This great mission is said

to be HIS OWN!

 

 

The Sin of Neglecting the Savior  (vs. 22-25)

 

With regard to the Jewish nation, this is referred to by our Lord:

 

  • AS A SIN OF THE GREATEST ENORMITY. There are degrees in sin

as in virtue. The sin of rejecting the Savior is the greatest. It stands alone in

the black category. “If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not,”

etc. What does this mean? Whether that they would not have that

particular sin? or that, in comparison with this, others are small, and almost

fade into nothingness? Its enormity will appear if we consider:

 

Ø      It is the greatest insult to THE GREATEST AND BEST BEING!

Who is disbelieved and rejected? The eternal Son and the eternal

Fatherthe supreme Being whom they professed to acknowledge

and worship. For the rejection of the Son involves the rejection of

the Father. He that hateth me,” etc. No one can so insult and

grieve the Father as by insulting his Son; and the greatest insult

to the Son is the rejection of His Person, Word, and redemptive

grace. Thus the Divine truth and honor are impugned. “He that

believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not,

the record that God gave of His Son.”   (I John 5:10)

 

Ø      It is the greatest insult to the Supreme Being while in the nearest

contiguity to them. The Father was in the Son; and the Son was in

the flesh, in their very nature; therefore God was in their nature,

speaking and acting among them. He was never so near before.

They never had such a vision of Him. He was face to face with them.

He could not come physically nearer, neither could they have a

clearer physical vision of Him. So clear it was that our Lord could

with propriety say, “They have seen me and my Father.” In Him the

Father was seen, and yet they rejected Him. Thus the insult was MOST

DIRECT and DARING. They insulted Him to His very face.

 

Ø      It is the greatest insult to the Supreme Being, under circumstances

which were calculated in the highest degree reproduce different effects.

The circumstances we have already indicated, and they are quite unique.

Even in the wonderful history of the Jewish nation, and in the history

of the nations of the world, they were such as they alone enjoyed, and

involved such Divine light and evidence as were calculated in the

highest degree to produce the readiest faith in and the warmest

reception of the Son of God.  It was the natural conclusion of the

Divine Father: “They will honor my Son”  (Matthew 21:37).

Although they have maltreated my prophets, yet they will honor my

Son. In His life and actions they saw the Father, yet rejected him, and

sinned against THE GREATEST LIGHT!

 

Ø      It is the greatest insult against the Supreme Being in the very

attempt of conferring upon them the greatest benefit. And this

involved the exercise of the greatest condescension and love.

The object in view and the love manifested are set forth in the

familiar but matchless words,” God so loved the world, that He

gave His only begotten Son,” etc. Can imagination conceive of a

greater sin and insult than the rejection of the manifestation of

such Divine love, whose object is to save from THE MOST

INEVITABLE AND TERRIBLE RUIN, and the bestowment

of THE BESTOWMENT AND THE GREATEST AND MOST

UNDESERVING GIFT:   Sin against the truth, justice and holiness

of the supreme Being, separately considered, is nothing to the sin

against DIVINE AND SELF-SACRIFICING LOVE!   Jesus was

the incarnation of Divine love, manifested to bless and to save;

but while in the very act of salvation He was most insultingly

rejected.

 

Ø      It is the greatest insult to the supreme Being, assuming THE

MOST MALIGNANT FORM!   “And hated both me and my

Father”  (v. 24).  While this indicates the cause of their rejection,

the enmity of the carnal mind against God  (Romans 8:6), it also

reveals its extreme malignity. It is not merely negative and

defensive, but most MALIGNANTLY AGGRESSIVE  and

decided. And hatred is:

o       the most virulent form of REJECTION,

o       the most daring form of UNBELIEF,

o       the most insulting RESISTANCE TO THE DIVINE

BEING and

o       the most FATAL DEFIANCE TO DIVINE LOVE,

                                    which in this case resulted in THE CRUEL CRUCIFIXION

OF THE SON OF GOD!

 

Ø      The greatest insult to the supreme Being, which resulted in THE

MOST FATAL CONSEQUENCES.   By their malignant rejection

they made the greatest general blessing the greatest personal curse,

turned the greatest boon into the greatest bane; so that it would be

infinitely better for them if the Son of God had not come to them

at all — their sin would be less, and their fate less disastrous. They

attempted to stem and poison the river of life in its flow to fallen

humanity, and succeeded as far as they were concerned. They

set an unparalleled example of unbelief and moral obduracy to all

succeeding ages, the result of which was SOCIAL and SPIRITUAL

RUIN!

 

  • AS A SIN OF THE GREATEST ENORMITY WITH THE LEAST

EXCUSE. What excuses are supposable in this case?

 

Ø      If He had not come to them at all. This would be a complete excuse.

But He came, appeared to them, and dwelt among them.

 

Ø      If He had no right to come. They would have a perfect right to reject an

intruder and an impostor, who had no right to their faith and acceptance.

But Jesus was not such. He had an absolute right to come. He came in

accordance with the Divine will, as well known to Him, and well known

to them as revealed in their Scriptures. He came in the way and at the

very time and for the purpose indicated. And His coming was absolutely

right and essential in order to fulfill the Divine plan and satisfy human

need.

 

Ø      Want of adequate knowledge of Him. This would be a valid excuse.

But this they could not plead. He not only sent the Baptist to herald

His immediate coming, but came Himself in person, and spoke to them,

taught daily in their streets and synagogues, availed Himself of every

opportunity to address them in the most homely and clear language

as to His Divine origin and mission as the Son of God and their

Messiah. And He taught “as One having authority;” and it was

the testimony of all His unprejudiced hearers, “Never man spake

like this Man.  (Matthew 7:29; ch. 7:26)

 

Ø      Want of adequate proofs of his claims. Although His teaching was

full, clear, and Divine, yet, without the further evidence of miracles,

there would be a legitimate excuse. Jesus allows this. “If I had not

done,” etc.  They demanded a sign. This demand was most fully

and readily granted:

o       In such works of power and mercy as no other man had

 ever before performed. They professed to believe Moses

and the prophets on the evidence of miracles; but their

miracles were very few in number, and inferior in quality

as compared with those performed by Him whom they

rejected.

o       In such works of power and mercy as were in perfect

keeping with His claims and character as their Messiah

and Savior. There was a perfect correspondence between

His teaching and His works. He suited the word to the deed,

and the deed to the word. His testimony was complete.

o       In such works of power and mercy as clearly revealed Him

and the Father — revealed Him as the Son of God, and

God as His Father. His works were so Divine that even

they themselves could not deny their supernatural

character; but, rather than admitting their natural

conclusion, attributed them to a demon. So transparently

Divine were His works, that in their light, not only He as

the Divine Son could be seen, but also His Divine

Father; still they malignantly rejected both.

 

Ø      Want of natural ability to comprehend the evidences of His claims.

The deaf have a sufficient excuse for not hearing, and the blind for

not seeing. The want of common intelligence and natural ability

would be an excuse for intellectual and moral unbelief. But they

could not plead this, neither did they. And when our Lord hinted

at their moral blindness they were greatly insulted, and asked

with contempt, “Are we also blind?”  (ch. 9:40)  Our Lord

tacitly accepts their explanation, but pointed them to the inevitable

consequence, “Your sin remaineth  (Ibid. v. 41).  They were

entirely responsible, and claimed it. It was not because they could

not, but BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT!

 

Ø      Any really objectionable qualities in His character or conduct. They

would be justified in rejecting a cruel tyrant, a vile impostor, or a

vicious teacher; but they had none of these excuses in the least degree.

Not only they had no reason to hate Him, but the strongest reasons

possible to love and welcome Him with delight. His character was

DIVINELY TRANSPARENT and HIS LIFE ABSOLUTELY PURE!  

His discourses were pregnant with life and light, and His words and

actions full of grace and truth. His conduct towards all was invariably

respectful and tenderly kind, and even to His most inveterate foes He

was most patient, indulgent, and forgiving. There was no cause for

hatred in Him. It must have been entirely in them; and His experience

was that of the psalmist, recorded in their Scripture, “They hated me

without a cause”  (Psalm 35:19; 69:4).  They could not find an excuse

for their sin, neither could Jesus find one. In spite of his terrible

indictment against them, he seems to be in search of an excuse for

them. “If I had not come,” etc.; “but now,” etc. As far as they were

concerned, He almost wished He had not come and spoken

to them. He who prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive,” etc., was

ever ready to find the least legitimate excuse for sinners, and even

for His most inveterate foes; but in this case could find none.

THERE WAS NONE AND THERE IS NONE!

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The gospel, with regard to the rejecters of Christ, reveals

A TERRIBLY CORRUPT STATE OF THE HEART! 

The gospel does not cause sin, but reveals it, and in relation to

the disobedient occasions the greatest guilt. It would be

better for them not to have enjoyed its light.

 

Ø      With regard to its rejecters, it reveals A TERRIBLE POWER OF

A CORRUPT WILL to resist the Divinest evidence and refer the

most loving overtures of Heaven, as well as its own highest good.

 

Ø      Although it would be far better for the disobedient if Christ had not

come and spoken to them, yet those who sigh for and are ready to

receive Him are not deprived of Him on this account  (See

Ezekiel 9:4).  Shall not the sun rise because many evil-doers prefer

darkness, and may avail themselves of but little of its light? And

shall Jesus keep away because many will disobey, and even

hate Him? No; let Him come and save.

 

Ø      The worlds awful responsibility UNDER THE GOSPEL!

The responsibility of increasing light and grace. Our destiny

hangs upon our RECEIVING or NOT RECEIVNG CHRIST!

Beware of rejecting Him. Beware of the excuseless sin.

 

Ø      Our great Advocate can find an excuse for every sin BUT THIS!

 For this there is no defense; for He is rejected for whose sake

God alone can forgive. There is in Him no cause of hatred or

rejection; but there is in Him an infinitely extending pardon to

THE VILEST PENTITENT.   Some of His murderers

availed themselves of this. (“Lord, remember me when thou

comest into thy kingdom.”  - Luke 23;42).  And it is ever available

and infallible:  (“Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be

with me in paradise.”  - Ibid. v. 43)  “Come now, and let us

reason together, saith the Lord,   though your sins be as

scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be

red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”  (Isaiah 1:18)

 

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:  27 And ye also shall bear witness, because

ye have been with me from the beginning.”  Whensoever the Paraolete of

whom I have spoken shall have come, whom I will send to you from (the side

of, para< para) the Father, the Spirit of the truth, which proceedeth from

(para<) the Father, He (ejkei~nov ekeinos – that One) shall bear witness

concerning me, and you also bear witness because ye are with me from the

beginning of the Messianic work (ajp ajrch~v ap archaes – from original;

from the beginning -  not ejn ajrch~ – en archae – in the beginning). This is

the great text on which the Western Church and the Greeks have alike relied

for their doctrine concerning the “procession of the Spirit,” the timeless,

premundane relations among the Personalities of the Godhead. The expression

ejkporeu>etai ekporetai   proceedeth; is going out – only occurs in this place,

and from it ejkporeu>siv ekporeusos became the ecclesiastical term for the

relation which the Holy Spirit sustains to the Father, just as gennh>siv

gennaesis  was the especial term to denote the peculiarity of the Son, and just

as ajgennh>sia agennaesia -, the condition of unbegottenness and paternity

was that used to denote the  Father’s own hypostatic distinction. THE HOLY

SPIRIT IS EVER PROCEEDING, ISSUING FORTH FROM, SENT

BY THE FATHER ON HIS WORK OF DIVINE SELF-MANIFESTATION

AND DIVINE ACTIVITY IN THE UNIVERSE!  Of this there can be no

question, and the Nicene symbol originally expressed it without

amplification, and the Greeks founded upon it their conception of the

Trinity. The relation of the Son and Spirit to the Father were believed to be

co-ordinate; and, though both were of the same eternal substance, yet both

were equal to the Father. But the Western Church in after-years —

notwithstanding the tremendous anathemas against all alteration which

guarded the Nicene and Chalcedonian formulae — felt that the whole truth

concerning the Divinity of the Son was concealed, if the idea was not also

conveyed which our Lord utters side by side with the ejkporeu>etai para<

tou~ Patro>v ekporeuetai para tou Patrosfrom the Father is going out –

in this verse. Christ says, “I will send Him -  para< tou~ Patro>v,” and this

must be compared with (ch.14:26), “whom the Father will send in my Name;”

and the Latins, to express this thought, added filioque to .the phrase, “proceeding

from the Father,” and claimed our Lord as equally the Source of the Divine Spirit

with the Father, so that it runs, “proceeding from the Father and the Son.” In the

endless discussions that arose, the two Churches probably meant to effect the same

thing, viz. to affirm the glory and perfect Deity of the Lord Christ. The

Greeks, in ancient times, never limited their statement to proceeding from

the Father only;” nor did they object to add, “through or by the Son;” but it

is probable that Augustine and the Western Church, and the liturgical

forms that arose in it, approach a little more closely to the reality and

quality of Him who said, “I and my Father are one” in this respect, that the

Spirit proceedeth from the Father and Son, when He comes into human

hearts and testifies of Christ. There are those who urge that these passages do

not bear at all upon the internal relations of the Godhead, but simply refer to

the temporal mission of the Holy Spirit. “The words must be understood

historically, not metaphysically, and much may be said in favor of this view.

If this verse does not furnish the basis of an argument, there is no other which

can be advanced to establish the view either of the Eastern or Western Church.

The witness of the Paraclete is said here to cover the gravest difficulties

and provide the richest consolations. If the Lord intended to teach the

fundamental nature of the Holy Spirit, the literal statement would be a

powerful defense of the Greek doctrine; but if the passage here speaks of

the official work and temporal mission, the words have no direct bearing

upon that doctrine. The denial of the filioque has the logical tendency to

make the Spirit and Son co-ordinate and subordinate emanations of the

Father, and so to go back to the monarchianism from which the Church

escaped at Nicaea. The supernatural power of the Holy Spirit will

counteract the hatred in the world by regenerating individuals within it.

More than that, said Christ, He (ejkei~nov that One) will bear

witness to me, in the Divine strength and courage which He will give to

you, in the new and corrective ideas which He will supply, in the great

works seen to be mine, which you will have grace to initiate (see Acts

1:8; 2.; 4:31; 5:32, — passages where the “Acts of the Apostles” are seen

to be “Acts of the Risen Jesus”); and ye also bear witness, etc. Your own

experience of me from the commencement of my ministry will give you a

class of testimony which will leave AN INDELIBLE IMPRESSION

UPON THE HEART OF THE WORLD!

 

 

The Disciples and the World (vs. 17-27)

 

Our Lord turns to a new thought — the relation of His disciples to the world.

 

  • THE SCOPE OF ALL CHRIST’S TEACHING IS TO DEVELOP

LOVE. “These things I command you, that ye may love one another.”

(v. 17)

 

Ø      This love is to be the characteristic of the new kingdom, and

thus the strong attraction of the gospel.

Ø      Yet, essentially noble as it is, it will challenge the hostility of

A WORLD OUT OF ALL SYMPATHY WITH CHRIST!

 

  • THE CAUSE OF THE WORLD’S HATRED TO BELIEVERS.

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

(v.18)

 

Ø      It is a terrible indictment against the Jews that they should

represent in their relations to Christ the overt hatred of 

“the world.”

Ø      The hatred in question is a proof of the union between Christ

and His disciples. He is the Head, they are the members of

the persecuted body.

Ø      The thought of this union ought to strengthen the disciples

in view of the worlds hatred.

Ø      The principle of this hatred. “If ye were of the world, the

world would love its own.”  (v.19)

o       The world’s love is selfish; it loves what is consonant

to itself in idea and feeling.

o       The disciples, not being of the world, but “chosen

out of the world,” had the distinction of attracting to

themselves the natural hostility of a world out of all

sympathy with their hopes.

Ø      The worlds hatred traced to its true source. “But all these

things will they do unto you for my Name’s sake, because

they know not Him that sent me.”  (v. 21)

o       The disciples were led to expect persecution as their

inevitable lot.

o       It would be immediately caused by their attachment

to Christ’s cause.

o       Its true source was THE WORLD’S IGNORANCE

OF GOD!

 

  • THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WORLD FOR ITS HATRED. It

had no excuse for its hostility.  (“Because that which might be known

of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For

the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly

seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His

eternal power and Godhead; SO THAT THEY ARE WITHOUT

EXCUSE!”  (Romans 1:19-20,etc.)

 

Ø      There was the testimony of Christs teaching, making the Father

known, which would judge the world. “If I had not come and

spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no

excuse for their sin.”  (v. 22)

o       It is a fearful thing to sin against light.

o       It is impossible to escape the just judgment of God.

Ø      There was the testimony of His miracles. “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

me and my Father.”

o       The miracles were like no other miracles in respect of

their nature and effects.

o       The miracles were the revelation of the Father through

the Son; yet the Jews ascribed them to the power of evil.

o       The prophetic solution of their hatred. “But this is that

the word might be fulfilled that is written in their Law,

They hated me without a cause”  (v. 25; Psalm 35:19;

69:4).

There was nothing to justify the hatred OF SUCH A PURE

AND LOVING SPIRIT!

 

  • THE NEW POWER THAT IS TO SUSTAIN THE DISCIPLES IN

THEIR CONFLICT WITH THE WORLD — THE HOLY GHOST.

 

Ø      The mission of the Comforter. “But when the Comforter is come,

whom I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of truth,

who proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me.”  ( v. 26)

o       The qualifications of the Comforter for His office.

·         He proceeds eternally from the Father. His witness,

therefore, will be that of the Father Himself.

§         He will be sent by the Son. This implies the

approaching departure of Christ to another world.

§         He possesses, communicates, and applies the truth;

for He is the Spirit of Truth.

o       The testimony of the Comforter. “He shall testify of me.”

§         To the apostles, who will thenceforth understand

the truth;

§         to the world, in the dispersion of its darkness, in

the new light thrown upon the Person and work of

Christ, and in all the blessings of AN UNDERSTOOD

GOSPEL.  “He witnesseth with our spirits that we

are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).

Ø      The testimony of the apostles themselves. And ye also shall bear

witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”

(v. 27)

o       It was necessary to have their personal testimony respecting

the facts of His life from the beginning of His ministry.

Christianity is more than a life; it is more than a system of

doctrines; it is a record of historical facts, which give the

doctrines all their meaning, and the life all its blessedness.

o       The gospel was to be received by faith in all future ages.

The earliest witnesses were to guide the faith of the Church.

o       The apostles accordingly distinguished between their own

experience and the internal witness of the Spirit (Acts 5:32).

 

 

The Joint Witnessing (vs. 26-27)

 

Christianity is not a religion to be propagated by force or by sedulous

tradition. Nothing but the force of truth planted Christianity; and only the

force of truth preserves it, extends it, and ensures the prospect of its

universality. Not without significance is this constant reference to

witnessing found in the New Testament. Jesus submits His gospel to the

keenest examination. He comes before the world as a well-equipped suitor

goes into a court of justice, sure that He has witnesses ample for the

success of His cause. Christianity presents phenomena that shirk no

scrutiny. It has no weak and treacherous places to be kept as much as

possible from view. A witness, to be all a witness ought to be, must have

nothing to conceal, nothing to avoid.  (We are to “speak the truth in love”-

Ephesians 4:15 and Jesus has promised to be with us “even to the end

of the world!”  - Matthew 28:20 – CY – 2013)

 

  • THERE MUST BE THE RIGHT SPIRIT IN THOSE WHO LISTEN

TO THE TESTIMONY. The minds of men may be set against truth and

the search for truth, and then where will the witnesses be? The gospel

presumes on the part of man an awakening to the need of reality, stability,

and continuance in all that he may rightly aim to make his own. Men have

believed the world and believed their own hearts, and they have been

disappointed; and now, if they seek Jesus, it is with the assurance meeting

them that they shall not be disappointed again. If men fail to be attracted

by Jesus or profess to be disappointed with Him, it is because they are

disinclined to take the trouble of seeking deep enough.

 

  • EACH WITNESS HAS HIS OWN TESTIMONY. There is a

witnessing by the Spirit of Jesus which cannot be effected by any

multiplication of human witnesses. And similarly a testimony comes by

reading the evangelists and Epistles, which is felt to be something

independent of the force which comes on us by the operation of the Spirit.

How many, reading the New Testament just with thoughtful earnestness,

have said to themselves, “Here is something to be searched into. Here is a

part of some great possibility, and I must seek for the other part!”  Careful

and repeated reading of what apostles have written is very likely to drive a

man to his knees, seeking to have the full body of testimony completed, by

what the Holy Spirit will impress on his heart. We should ever be on the

outlook for testimony to Jesus and His truth. The more we expect it the

more it will come:

Ø      fortifying us against our own doubts,

Ø      cheering us with hopes of coming certainties, and

Ø      making us more ardent in persuading others to like precious faith.

 

  • THE RESPONSIBILITY THUS LAID ON US. Unbelief deludes

itself with the plea that there is lack of evidence. Nay, in its more arrogant

forms it will even maintain that the evidence is the other way. What if we

be in the position of those who clamor for more, and will not use what they

have? If we are not to be persuaded by the joint witnessing of the Spirit

and the apostles, neither shall we be persuaded though one rose from the

dead.  (Luke 16:31)

 

  • OUR OWN WITNESS-BEARING. We may and ought to be joined

to the cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). If Jesus told the first company

of disciples that they were to be witnesses, then assuredly there must be

something of the witness-bearing faculty in us.

 

 

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