John 15:16
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.
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(16) Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.—Comp. Luke 6:12 et seq., and in this Gospel John 6:70; John 13:18. The thought of His love for them, which had exalted them from the position of slaves to friends, from fishermen to Apostles, is made to remind them again (John 15:17) of the duty of love to each other. In John 15:20 he reminds them of the words which accompanied His own act of humility in washing their feet (John 13:15-16). The chiefest Apostle owed all to His gift and election, and should be ready to sacrifice all for his brethren, as He Himself was.

And ordained you.—The word “ordained” has acquired a special sense in modern English which is here misleading, and it will be better, therefore, to read appointed.

That ye should go and bring forth fruit.—Comp. Matthew 13:44; Matthew 18:15; Matthew 19:21, for the idea of going away and doing something. It implies here the activity of the Apostles as distinct from that of Christ. Each one as a branch ever joined to Christ was to grow away from Him in the development of his own work, and was to bring forth his own fruit. The margin compares Matthew 28:19, probably, with the thought of their fulfilling the Apostle’s missionary work. This view has been commonly adopted, but it gives to the word “go’” a fulness of meaning which is scarcely warranted.

And that your fruit should remain.—Comp. Note on John 4:36; and see 2John 1:8, and Revelation 14:13.

That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father.—Comp. Notes on John 15:7-8.

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.Ye have not chosen me - The word here translated "chosen" is that from which is derived the word "elect," and means the same thing. It is frequently thus translated, Mark 13:20; Matthew 24:22, Matthew 24:24, Matthew 24:31; Colossians 3:12. It refers here, doubtless, to his choosing or electing them to be apostles. He says that it was not because they had chosen him to be their teacher and guide, but because he had designated them to be his apostles. See John 6:70; also Matthew 4:18-22. He thus shows them that his love for them was pure and disinterested; that it commenced when they had no affection for him; that it was not a matter of obligation on his part, and that therefore it placed them under more tender and sacred obligations to be entirely devoted to his service. The same may be said of all who are endowed with talents of any kind, or raised to any office in the church or the state. It is not that they have originated these talents, or laid God under obligation. What they have they owe to his sovereign goodness, and they are bound to devote all to his service. Equally true is this of all Christians. It was not that by nature they were more inclined than others to seek God, or that they had any native goodness to recommend them to him, but it was because he graciously inclined them by his Holy Spirit to seek him; because, in the language of the Episcopal and Methodist articles of religion, "The grace of Christ prevented them;" that is, went before them, commenced the work of their personal salvation, and thus God in sovereign mercy chose them as His own. Whatever Christians, then, possess, they owe to God, and by the most tender and sacred ties they are bound to be his followers.

I have chosen you - To be apostles. Yet all whom he now addressed were true disciples. Judas had left them; and when Jesus says he had chosen them to bear fruit, it may mean, also, that he had "chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth," 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Ordained you - Literally, I have placed you, appointed you, set you apart. It does not mean that he had done this by any formal public act of the imposition of hands, as we now use the word, but that he had designated or appointed them to this work, Luke 6:13-16; Matthew 10:2-5.

Bring forth fruit - That you should be rich in good works; faithful and successful in spreading my gospel. This was the great business to which they were set apart, and this they faithfully accomplished. It may be added that this is the great end for which Christians are chosen. It is not to be idle, or useless, or simply to seek enjoyment. It is to do good, and to spread as far as possible the rich temporal and spiritual blessings which the gospel is fitted to confer on mankind.

Your fruit should remain - This probably means,

1. That the effect of their labors would be permanent on mankind. Their efforts were not to be like those of false teachers. the result of whose labors soon vanish away Acts 5:38-39, but their gospel was to spread - was to take a deep and permanent hold on people, and was ultimately to fill the world, Matthew 16:18. The Saviour knew this, and never was a prediction more cheering for man or more certain in its fulfillment.

2. There is included, also, in this declaration the idea that their labors were to be unremitted. They were sent forth to be diligent in their work, and untiring in their efforts to spread the gospel, until the day of their death. Thus, their fruit, the continued product or growth of religion in their souls, was to remain, or to be continually produced, until God should call them from their work. The Christian, and especially the Christian minister, is devoted to the Saviour for life. He is to toil without intermission, and without being weary of his work, until God shall call him home. The Saviour never called a disciple to serve him merely for a part of his life, nor to feel himself at liberty to relax his endeavors, nor to suppose himself to be a Christian when his religion produced no fruit. He that enlists under the banners of the Son of God does it for life. He that expects or desires to grow weary and cease to serve him, has never yet put on the Christian armor, or known anything of the grace of God. See Luke 9:62.

That whatsoever ... - See John 15:7.

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 [1859]Joh 15:7).

Ye have not chosen me to be your Lord, Master, Saviour,

but I have chosen and ordained you; so we have it in our translation; but the Greek is, eyhka, I have set you, or placed you in a station. What choosing Christ here speaks of is doubted amongst various divines. Some think that our Saviour here speaks of his choice of them to the apostleship, as Luke 6:13 John 6:70: those who thus understand it, understand by going and bringing forth fruit, the apostles’ going out, preaching, and baptizing all nations, bringing forth fruit amongst the Gentiles. But others understand it of election to eternal life, and the means necessary to it; for our Saviour brings this as an argument of his greatest love: Judas was in the first sense chosen, yet not beloved with any such love: and this seemeth to be favoured by John 13:18, I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen: and certain it is, Augustine and others of the ancients from hence proved the freedom of election and special grace. Both senses may be united, for the eleven (to whom Christ was now speaking) were chosen in both senses; they were chosen for this end, to bring forth fruit amongst the Gentiles, turning many to righteousness, and that they might bring forth the fruit of holiness, in obedience to the gospel of Christ. Yea, not only to bring forth fruit, but that they might persevere in bringing forth fruit; and that thus doing, they might have a freedom of access to the throne of grace, and obtain whatsoever they should ask of the Father, in the name, for the merits, and through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Poole on "John 14:13". See Poole on "John 14:14".

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,.... Not but that they had made choice of him as their Lord and Master, Saviour and Redeemer; but not first, he was before hand with them; he chose them, before they chose him; so that his choice of them was entirely free, did not arise from any character, motive, or condition in them: the allusion is to a custom of the Jews, the reverse of which Christ acted; with whom it was usual for disciples to choose their own masters, and not masters their disciples: hence that advice of R. Joshuah ben Perachiah, said (r) to be the master of Jesus of Nazareth,

(s), "make", provide, or chose "thyself a master", and get thyself a companion.''

Those words in Sol 2:16; "my beloved is mine, and I am his", are thus paraphrased by the Jews (t);

"he hath chosen me, and I have chosen him:''

which is not amiss, provided the latter choice is thought to be by virtue, and in consequence of the former; if not, our Lord directly opposes the words and sense. This may be understood both of election to salvation, and of choice to the office of apostleship; in both which Christ was first, or chose them before they chose him, that good part, which shall never be taken away; for as they were chosen in him, so by him, before the foundation of the world; being as early loved by him, as by his Father; and in consequence thereof, were chosen by him, for his people and peculiar treasure; he first chose and called them to be his disciples and apostles, to follow him, preach his Gospel, and become fishers of men; and clothed them with full power and authority to exercise their high office:

and ordained you; which may design either ordination to eternal life, or apostleship, before the world began; as Jeremiah was ordained to be a prophet, before he was born; or else the investiture of them with that office, and with all gifts and graces necessary for the discharge of it; for when he called and sent forth his disciples to preach the Gospel, he is said to "ordain" them, Mark 3:14; and the rather this may be meant here, because the former is designed by his choosing them; or he set them, or planted them in himself, a fruitful soil, that they might shoot up and bear much fruit, as it follows:

that ye should go and bring forth fruit; go first into Judea, and then into all the world; and brings forth the fruits of righteousness and holiness in themselves, and be the happy means of the conversion, and so of bringing in a large harvest of souls to Jesus Christ:

and that your fruit should remain; as it has done; for they not only persevered themselves in faith and holiness, in preaching the Gospel, and living according to it, but the persons whose conversion they were instruments of, continued steadfastly in their doctrine, and in the fellowship of the saints; and the Gospel which was preached by them, has remained, though not always in the same place, yet in the world ever since:

that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. This is added, to encourage their perseverance in the work he chose and called them to, which would be attended with many difficulties and discouragements; wherefore as they would stand in need of divine assistance, they might assure themselves of it; for be it what it would they should ask of his Father, making mention of his name and righteousness; whether for a sufficiency of gifts and grace in the discharge of their duty; or for success in it; or for the confirmation of the truths delivered by them; or for liberty and boldness to speak in vindication of themselves, when called to it before kings and governors, it should be given them.

(r) Ganz Tzemach David, fol. 24. 2.((s) Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 6. (t) Zohar in Exod. fol. 9. 1.

{5} Ye {c} 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.

(5) Christ is the author and preserver of the ministry of the gospel, even to the end of the world, but the ministers have above all things need of prayer and brotherly love.

(c) These words plainly teach us that our salvation comes only from the favour and gracious goodness of the everlasting God towards us, and of nothing that we do or can deserve.

John 15:16. Along with this dignity, however, of being Jesus’ friends, they were not to forget their dependence on Him, and their destiny therewith appointed.

ἐξελέξασθεἐξελεζάμην] as Master … as disciples, which is understood of itself from the historical relation, and is also to be gathered from the word chosen (John 6:70, John 13:18; Acts 1:2). Each of them was a σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς of Christ (Acts 9:15); in each the initiative of this peculiar relation lay not on his but on Christ’s side. Hence not to be taken merely in a general sense of the selection for the fellowship of love (Euth. Zigabenus, Luther, and several others, including Luthardt, Lange).

ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς] have appointed you, as my disciples, consequence of the ἐξελεξάμην. The “dotation spirituelle” (Godet) goes beyond the meaning of the word, although it was historically connected with it (Mark 3:14-15). Comp. on τιθέναι, instituere, appoint (not merely destine, as Ebrard thinks), 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:11; Hebrews 1:2; Acts 20:28, et al.; Hom. Od. xv. 253, Il. vi. 300; Dem. 322. 11, et al. The rendering of Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, is incorrect: I have planted you (Xen. Occ. xix. 7, 9). The figure of the vine has in truth been dropped, and finds only an echo in the καρπὸν φέρειν, which, however, must not be extended to ἔθηκα, since the disciples appear not as planted, but as branches, which have grown and remain on the vine. Quite arbitrarily, Bengel and Olshausen see here a new figure of a fruit-tree.

ἵνα ὑμεῖς ὑπάγ.] that you on your side may go away, etc., is by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, in consequence of their interpretation of ἔθηκα, erroneously explained by ἵνα ἐκτείνησθε αὐξανόμενοι. Nor does it merely denote “independent and vital action” (De Wette, Lücke, Baumgarten-Crusius, Luthardt, Godet; comp. Luther: “that you sit not still without fruit or work”), or “continual movement” (Hengstenberg), with which sufficient justice is not done to the peculiarity of this point, which, in truth, belonged in the most proper sense to the disciples’ calling. According to Ebrard, it is said to be simply an auxiliary verb, like ire with the supine. It signifies rather the execution of the ἀποστολή, in which they were to go away into all the world, etc. Comp. Luke 10:3; Matthew 28:19.

μένῃ] comp. John 4:36. The results of their ministry are not again to decline and be brought to naught, but are to be continuous and enduring even into the αἰὼν μέλλων.

The second ἵνα is co-ordinated with the first. See on John 15:7-8. It is in truth precisely the granting of prayer here designated which brings about the fruit and its duration in all given cases. Comp. the prayers of Paul, as in Colossians 1:9 ff.; Ephesians 3:14 ff.

ἐν τῷ ὀνόμ. μ.] See on John 14:13.

John 15:16. οὐχ ὑμεῖςὑμῖν. This is added to encourage them in taking up and prosecuting the work of Jesus. Euthymius says it is ἄλλο τεκμήριον τοῦ ἔχειν αὐτοὺς φίλους ἑαυτοῦ; but it is more. They are invited to depend on His will, not on their own. They had not discovered Him, and attached themselves to Him, as likely to suit their purposes. “It is not ye who chose me.” But “I chose you,” as a king selects his officers, to fulfil my purposes. καὶ ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς, “and I set (or, appointed) you,” cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28, Acts 20:28, etc., see Concordance. The purpose of the appointment is ἵνα ὑμεῖς ὑπάγητε, “that you may go away” from me on your various missions, and thus (resuming the original figure of the vine and branches) καρπὸν φέρητε, may bear fruit in my stead, and supplied by my life. Or to express this purpose in a manner which reveals the source of their power to bear fruit, ἵνα ὅ τι ἂν αἰτήσητεδῷ ὑμῖν, see John 15:7, and John 14:13.

16. Ye have not, &c.] Better, Ye chose Me not, but I chose you: ‘Ye’ and ‘I’ are emphatic; there is no emphasis on ‘Me.’ The reference is to their election to be Apostles, as the very word used seems to imply (comp. John 6:70, John 13:18; Acts 1:2); therefore the aorist as referring to a definite act in the past should be preserved in translation.

ordained you] Better, appointed you (as 2 Timothy 1:11 and Hebrews 1:2), in order to avoid an unreal connexion with ordination in the ecclesiastical sense. The same word used in the same sense as here is rendered ‘set’ in Acts 13:47 and 1 Corinthians 12:28, ‘ordained’ 1 Timothy 2:7, and ‘made’ Acts 20:28.

go and bring forth fruit] ‘Go’ must not be insisted on too strongly as if it referred to the missionary journeys of the Apostles. On the other hand it is more than a mere auxiliary or expletive: it implies the active carrying out of the idea expressed by the verb with which it is coupled (comp. Luke 10:37; Matthew 13:44; Matthew 18:15; Matthew 19:21), and perhaps also separation from their Master (Matthew 20:4; Matthew 20:7). The missionary work of gathering in souls is not specially indicated here: the ‘fruit’ is rather the holiness of their own lives and good works of all kinds. ‘Bring forth’ should be bear as in John 15:5.

should remain] Better, should abide (see on John 15:9). Comp. John 4:36.

whatsoever ye shall ask] See on John 15:7 and John 14:13.

he may give it] The Greek may also mean ‘I may give it’ (comp. John 14:13), the first and third persons being alike in this tense; and several ancient commentators take it as the first.

John 15:16. Ἔθηκα, I have appointed [Engl. Vers. ordained]) Castellio elegantly renders it: destinavi, I have marked out, or assigned you your place, expressing (keeping up) the allegory concerning trees [placed down in their appointed spot].—ὑπάγητε, ye may go your way) So הלך, 2 Samuel 3:1, said of progress, not in reference to place, but to time and degree.—ὑμῶν your,—ὑμῖν, to you) It is for you that the seed is sown, for you that the harvest is reaped.

Verse 16. - From the thirteenth to the fifteenth verse, 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. Ye did not choose me (ἐξελέξασθε... ἐξελεξάμην 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 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 1:2; Acts 20:28, for similar use of τιθέναι) 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 (ἵνα) whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my Name, he may give it you. It now becomes a question whether the second ἵνα introduces a clause which is co-ordinate with the former or one logically depending on the preceding. Meyer concludes the first, viz. that the granting of prayer brings about the fruit and its continuance (so De Wette, Lucke, Stier, Godet); and Olshausen maintains the second, viz. that 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 John 14:13 and John 16:23. Hengstenberg says, "By their fruit they would show themselves to be true disciples of Christ, and to such the Father can deny nothing." But Westcott and Lange endeavor to combine both ideas. The co-ordination of the two clauses requires the inversion of their order, or the introduction of καὶ before the second ἵνα. Moreover, the thought that Christ chose and appointed them in order that whatsoever they should ask God would give, is out of harmony with "the conditions of acceptable prayer" elsewhere insisted on; while the bearing of fruit - in both senses,

(a) that of Christian grace and

(b) Christian usefulness = - completes the idea in a concrete form of abiding in Christ and having His Words abiding in them. Surely the view that the Second clause is conditioned by the First, is far from obscure, as Luthardt Says, while He virtually accepts the same interpretatio," see John 16:24.) John 15:16Ye - chosen

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

Ordained (ἔθηκα)

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

Should go (ὑπάγητε)

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

That whatsoever, etc. (ἵνα)

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

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