Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Joh 15:1-27. Discourse at the Supper Table Continued.
1-8. The spiritual oneness of Christ and His people, and His relation to them as the Source of all their spiritual life and fruitfulness, are here beautifully set forth by a figure familiar to Jewish ears (Isa 5:1, &c.).
I am the true vine—of whom the vine of nature is but a shadow.
my Father is the husbandman—the great Proprietor of the vineyard, the Lord of the spiritual kingdom. (It is surely unnecessary to point out the claim to supreme divinity involved in this).
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.
2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit … every branch that beareth fruit—As in a fruit tree, some branches may be fruitful, others quite barren, according as there is a vital connection between the branch and the stock, or no vital connection; so the disciples of Christ may be spiritually fruitful or the reverse, according as they are vitally and spiritually connected with Christ, or but externally and mechanically attached to Him. The fruitless He "taketh away" (see on Joh 15:6); the fruitful He "purgeth" (cleanseth, pruneth)—stripping it, as the husbandman does, of what is rank (Mr 4:19), "that it may bring forth more fruit"; a process often painful, but no less needful and beneficial than in the natural husbandry.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
3. Now—rather, "Already."
ye are clean through—by reason of.
the word I have spoken to you—already in a purified, fruitful condition, in consequence of the long action upon them of that searching "word" which was "as a refiner's fire" (Mal 3:2, 3).
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.
4. Abide in me, and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, &c.—As all spiritual fruitfulness had been ascribed to the mutual inhabitation, and living, active interpenetration (so to speak) of Christ and His disciples, so here the keeping up of this vital connection is made essential to continued fruitfulness.
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.
5. without me—apart, or vitally disconnected from Me.
ye can do nothing—spiritually, acceptably.
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.
6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch … withered … cast into the fire … burned—The one proper use of the vine is to bear fruit; failing this, it is good for one other thing—fuel. (See Eze 15:1-5). How awfully striking the figure, in this view of it!
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
7. If ye abide in me, and my words … in you—Mark the change from the inhabitation of Himself to that of His words, paving the way for the subsequent exhortations (Joh 15:9, 10).
ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you—because this indwelling of His words in them would secure the harmony of their askings with the divine will.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
8. glorified that ye bear much fruit—not only from His delight in it for its own sake, but as from "the juices of the Living Vine."
so shall ye be my disciples—evidence your discipleship.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
9-11. continue ye in my love—not, "Continue to love Me," but, "Continue in the possession and enjoyment of My love to you"; as is evident from the next words.
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.
10. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love—the obedient spirit of true discipleship cherishing and attracting the continuance and increase of Christ's love; and this, He adds, was the secret even of His own abiding in His Father's love!
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
12-16. That ye love one another, &c.—(See on Joh 13:34, 35).
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
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."
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
14. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you—hold yourselves in absolute subjection to Me.
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.
15. Henceforth I call you not servants—that is, in the sense explained in the next words; for servants He still calls them (Joh 15:20), and they delight to call themselves so, in the sense of being "under law to Christ" (1Co 9:20).
the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth—knows nothing of his master's plans and reasons, but simply receives and executes his orders.
but … friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you—admitted you to free, unrestrained fellowship, keeping back nothing from you which I have received to communicate. (Compare Ge 18:17; Ps 25:14; Isa 50:4).
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.
16. Ye have not chosen me, but I … you—a wholesale memento after the lofty things He had just said about their mutual indwelling, and the unreservedness of the friendship they had been admitted to.
you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit—that is, give yourselves to it.
and that your fruit should remain—showing itself to be an imperishable and ever growing principle. (Compare Pr 4:18; 2Jo 8).
that whatsoever ye shall ask, &c.—(See on Joh 15:7).
These things I command you, that ye love one another.
17-21. The substance of these important verses has occurred more than once before. (See on Mt 10:34-36; Lu 12:49-53, &c.).
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
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.
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.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
22-25. (See on Joh 9:39-41).
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin—comparatively none; all other sins being light compared with the rejection of the Son of God.
now they have no cloak for their sin—rather, "pretext."
He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
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.
24. If I had not done … the works which none other … did—(See on Joh 12:37).
But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
25. that the word might be fulfilled … They hated me without a cause—quoted from the Messianic Ps 69:4, applied also in the same sense in Joh 2:17; Ac 1:20; Ro 11:9, 10; 15:3.
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:
26, 27. (See on Joh 14:15; Joh 14:17).
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
27. ye also shall bear witness—rather, "are witnesses"; with reference indeed to their future witness-bearing, but putting the emphasis upon their present ample opportunities for acquiring their qualifications for that great office, inasmuch as they had been "with Him from the beginning." (See on Lu 1:2).