These things I command you, that you love one another.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)These things I command you—i.e., the things of which He has spoken from John 15:1 onwards, and especially from John 15:12-16. After speaking them He comes back to the purpose from which this section started, “that ye love one another.”
We must beware of the not unfrequent mistake of interpreting “these things” of the words which follow, as if it were, “I command you this, viz., to love one another.” The thought is, “I am giving you these precepts that you may love one another.”John 15:17-21. These things I command you, &c. — Again I would remind you, that if you would continue thus to be the objects of these my Father’s gracious regards, you must carefully practise your duty to each other, as well as to him; you must continue to love one another; and this you should the rather do, as you will be the mark of common hatred and persecution. Yet, if the world hate you — You will have no reason to be offended or surprised at it; for ye know that it hated me — Mild and benevolent as my conduct has always been; before it hated you — Before it discharged its venom and malignity on you. If ye were of the world — If your dispositions and actions were like those of the bulk of mankind; or if your doctrines and practices were conformable to its customs and maxims; the world would love its own — No doubt you would meet with general approbation, and be much caressed; but because ye are not of the world — Because your desires and designs, your spirit and conduct, are quite opposite to theirs, and I have chosen you out of the world — Have called you not only to separate yourselves from, but to oppose its vices and follies, and even to be leaders in that holy and necessary opposition; therefore the world hateth you — Notwithstanding that the cause in which you are engaged is most honourable, and your lives most useful and beneficent. And for the very same reason must the world in all ages hate those who are not of the world. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant, &c. — To reconcile you to the persecutions you are to meet with, you ought always to bear in mind what I told you on this subject the first time I sent you out, (see Matthew 10:24,) that no servant can expect to be better treated than his master; and therefore, seeing they have persecuted me, they will naturally persecute you. If they have kept my saying — Have conformed themselves to my doctrine; they will keep yours also — Will be properly influenced by it, and will walk according to it; therefore, by the reception my doctrine meets with, you may judge how yours will be relished. But all these things will they do unto you — All the opposition which they will show to your persons and ministry, will be exerted for my name’s sake — Because of the enmity which they have to me, and the cause in which I am engaged; because they know not him that sent me — Because they are not acquainted with the nature and perfections of that God to whom they boast so near a relation, and who has sent me into the world to declare and establish a religion which shocks their prejudices, and is contrary to their carnal and worldly spirit. And in all ages and nations, they who know not God will, for this cause, hate and persecute those that do.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.These things I command you, that ye love one another.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 15:17. At the close (comp. John 15:11) of this section, John 15:12-16, Jesus refers once more to its main point, reciprocal love.
ταῦτα] points backwards, as in John 15:11, namely, to what is contained in John 15:12-16, so far as the contents are of a preceptive nature. And that which is therein enjoined by Jesus on the disciples has for its object (ἵνα), etc., as He had in truth required this duty at the very beginning of the section. The remainder of the section (John 15:14-16) was indeed not directly of a preceptive nature, but in support and furtherance of what had been enjoined.John 15:17. ταῦτα ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν. “These things” which I have now spoken “I enjoin upon you,” ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους, “in order that ye may love one another”.17. These things I command you, &c.] More literally, These things I am commanding you, in order that ye may love one another. ‘These things’ does not refer to ‘that ye love one another,’ but to what has already been said about being one with Him and with each other. Comp. John 15:11, John 14:25, John 16:25; John 16:33.Verses 17-27. - (b) The results of this union with Christ to the unbelieving world. Verse 17. - These things do I command you - clearly pointing back to Ver. 12 - that ye may love one another. This entire meditation culminates where it began. The digression comes back to the main theme Westcott regards it as the starting-point of a new theme, but our Lord did not return upon the idea of mutual love, but 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 St. John in the churches of Ephesus confirm this sublime truth. From this point to the end of the chapter (Ver. 27) 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.
All my teachings are to the end that you should love one another.
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