|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:9-17 Those whom God loves as a Father, may despise the hatred of all the world. As the Father loved Christ, who was most worthy, so he loved his disciples, who were unworthy. All that love the Saviour should continue in their love to him, and take all occasions to show it. The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment, but the joy of those who abide in Christ's love is a continual feast. They are to show their love to him by keeping his commandments. If the same power that first shed abroad the love of Christ's in our hearts, did not keep us in that love, we should not long abide in it. Christ's love to us should direct us to love each other. He speaks as about to give many things in charge, yet names this only; it includes many duties.
Verse 13. - Greater love than this (love) no one hath, namely (ἵνα), that one should lay down his life for his friends. Meyer and Lange endeavor to maintain even here the telic force of ἵνα, "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 St. 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 -
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Greater love hath no man than this,.... By these words our Lord shows, how far love to another should extend, even to the laying down of our lives for the brethren; which is the highest instance of love among men;
that a man lay down his life for his friends; and in which believers, should not come short of them; and also his great love to his people, and explains what he had just said, "as I have loved you", John 13:34; which in a little time would be seen, by his laying down his life for them: for he not only came down from heaven, and laid aside his glory and royal majesty, but he laid down his life; not his gold and silver, and the riches of this world, which were all his, but his life; than which, nothing is dearer to a man, is himself, his all: and besides, Christ's life was not a common one, it was not the life of an innocent person only, or the life of a mere man, but of a man in union with the Son of God; it was the Lord of glory and Prince of life, who was crucified, and slain; a life that was entirely at his own dispose; it had never been forfeited by sin, nor could it have been forced away from him by men or devils; it was laid down of and by himself, freely and voluntarily; and that "for", in the room, and instead of his people, as a ransom for them; he being their surety and substitute, and standing in their legal place and stead, he took their sins upon him, bore the curse of the law, sustained his Father's wrath, and all the punishment due to sin; and so suffered death, the death of the cross; the just, in the room and stead of the unjust; the persons for whom be laid down his life, are described as "his friends"; not that they were originally so; being enemies and enmity itself to God, when he laid down his life for them, and reconciled them; they were not such as had carried themselves friendly, or had shown any love and affection to him, but all the reverse: but they are so called, because he had chosen them for his friends; he had pitched upon them, and resolved to make them so; and by dying for them, reconciled them who were enemies; and in consequence of this, by his Spirit and grace, of enemies makes them friends; so that his love in dying for his people, is greater than any instance of love among men: he laid down his life for his enemies, without any sinister selfish views, and that freely and voluntarily; whereas among men, when one man has laid down his life for others, either they have been very deserving, or he has been forced to it, or it has been done with the view of popular applause and vain glory.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends—The emphasis lies not on "friends," but on "laying down his life" for them; that is, "One can show no greater regard for those dear to him than to give his life for them, and this is the love ye shall find in Me."
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