Remember the word that I said to 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Remember the word that I said unto you.—Comp. John 13:16, where the saying is used in a different sense; and Matthew 10:24, where it is used in the same connection in which we find it here.
If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying . . .—The meaning is exactly that which is expressed in the rendering of the English version. The two things are necessarily united, as Christ and His disciples are united. His word is their word. The relation of the world to the one would be that which it had been to the other.Matthew 10:24-25. The word that I said unto you, John 13:16, to press you to humility, and a mutual serving of one another in love; and which I spake to you, Matthew 10:24, when I first sent you out; and I spake it then to you upon the very same account that I now speak it. You that are my servants cannot look to fare better with the world than I that am your Master; you know they have hated me, you must expect they should persecute you: if there be any of them whose hearts God shall incline to keep my sayings, they will also keep your words, which are but my sayings explained to them, and further pressed upon them. John 13:16; to teach them humility, self-denial, and brotherly love, and elsewhere, as in Matthew 10:24; for the same purpose as here; namely, to engage them patiently to bear the hatred of men, and all indignities and insults from them, for his name's sake:
the servant is not greater than the Lord: nor so great, and consequently not more, nor so: much deserving of respect, or to be treated in a better manner; suggesting, that Christ was their Lord and master, as he was, and they were his servants; and therefore were not greater than him, but much inferior to him, and could not expect better usage from men than he had:
if they have persecuted me; as they did, both by words and deeds, as before observed:
they will persecute you; and so they did in like manner, and from place to place:
if they have kept my saying; which is either ironically spoken, or designs that insidious malicious observation of Christ's words, made by the Jews, with an intent to catch and lay hold on something to improve against him: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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 15:20. A recalling of John 13:16, presupposing, however, a different application than in that passage—namely, a slave has no better lot to claim than his lord (comp. Matthew 10:24-25).
If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my word, they will also keep yours. Which of these two cases will in general occur, Jesus leaves to the judgment of the disciples themselves, since they in truth knew from experience how it had gone with Him. To take the second clause ironically (“quasi dicat: non est, quod hoc speretis,” Grotius, Lampe), is appropriate neither to the seriousness of the first, nor to the tone of the whole passage. Olshausen’s view is incorrect (comp. B. Crusius, Maier, Godet), “if many, etc.,” where, in the first half, according to Godet, we should have to think of the mass of the people. But the variation of the subjects is a pure importation. Finally, when Bengel and other older expositors (in Wolf) interpret τηρεῖν as watch, this is quite opposed to the Johannean usage of τὸν λόγ. τηρεῖν (John 8:51, John 14:23-24, and frequently), comp. John 15:10, and it would also be too weak a conception after the first half of the verse. Irrespective of this, usage would not stand in the way of such rendering, Genesis 3:15 (according to the usual reading); Dem. 317 ult., 1252. 8; Soph. O. R. 808; Arist. Vesp. 364; Thuc. iv. 108. 1, vii. 80. 1; Lys. iii. 34.John 15:20. μνημονεύετε τοῦ λόγου … αὐτοῦ. μνημονεύετε (from μνήμων, mindful), “be mindful of,” sometimes used pregnantly, as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Galatians 2:10; “the words which I said to you,” viz., in John 13:16, and Matthew 10:24-25. The outcome of the principle is seen in 2 Timothy 2:11, and 1 Peter 4:13. That He should speak of them as “servants” so shortly after calling them “friends,” shows how natural and appropriate both designations are, how truly service characterises His friends, and how He must at all times be looked upon as Supreme Lord. εἰ ἐμὲ ἐδίωξαν … τηρήσουσιν. “If they persecuted me, you also will they persecute; if they kept my word, yours too will they keep.” In so far as they are identified with Him, their experience will be identical with His. The attitude of the world does not alter. Bengel takes ἐτήρησαν in a hostile sense, “infensis modis observare,” referring to Matthew 27:36, but in John τὸν λόγον τηρεῖν is regularly used of “observing” in the sense of “keeping,” practising, see John 8:51, John 9:16, John 14:23; 1 John 2:3-5, etc.; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 3:8, etc.20. Remember] See note on John 13:16 : of the passages noticed there Matthew 10:24 is similar in meaning to this. Christ may here be alluding to the occasion recorded in Matthew 10:24. On the blessedness of sharing the lot of Christ comp. 1 Peter 4:12-13.
if they have kept my saying, they will keep] Better, If they kept (comp. John 13:14, John 18:23) My word, they will keep. ‘Keep’ must not be exchanged for ‘watch, lay wait for,’ in a hostile sense; as if both halves of the verse were alike instead of being opposed. The phrase ‘keep the word (or words)’ of any one is frequent in this Gospel (John 8:51-52; John 8:55, John 14:23-24, John 17:6); always in the sense of the parallel phrase ‘keep my commandments’ (John 14:15; John 14:21, John 15:10). Both phrases form a link not only between the Gospel and the First Epistle (John 2:3-5, John 3:22; John 3:24, John 5:2-3), but also between these two and the Apocalypse (Revelation 3:8; Revelation 3:10, Revelation 12:17, Revelation 14:12, Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:9). Comp. John 9:16; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:3. (See on John 11:44, John 19:37, John 20:16). All these passages shew that it is impossible to take ‘keep’ in a hostile sense. The phrase ‘to keep the word’ of any one occurs in S. John’s writings only. ‘To keep the commandments (or commandment)’ occurs elsewhere only Matthew 19:17 (comp. Matthew 28:20) and 1 Timothy 6:14. The meaning of the verse as a whole is that both in failure and in success they will share His lot. For the construction comp. John 13:14, John 18:23.John 15:20. Εἶπον, I said) ch. John 13:16; Matthew 10:24.—εἰ—ἐδίωξαν· εἰ—ἐτήρησαν, if they have persecuted: if they have watched) The if is not a mere condition, but has the force of affirming [As surely as they have]: and τηρεῖν in tins passage is to watch in a hostile manner, as in Matthew 27:36, “Sitting down, they watched Him there” (ἐτήρουν, at the crucifixion); Genesis 3:15, “The seed of the woman shall watch with hostile intent thy head, and thou shalt watch His heel:” αὐτός σου τηρήσει κεφάλην, καὶ σὺ τηρήσεις αὐτοῦ πτέρναν. They persecuted Him when ‘doing’ good, John 15:24; they watched Him whilst He was ‘speaking,’ John 15:22.—καὶ, also) Matthew 10:25. Both are contained in the πάντα, all these things, John 15:21.
 I confess I prefer the Engl. Vers. If they have kept, i.e. as surely as they have not kept, etc. For τηρέω is used in this very ch. ver. 10 in this sense, and is never found in any other sense in connection with λόγον, ἐντολάς, etc. Παρατηρέω is the word used when a hostile intention is designed, Luke 4:7; Luke 14:1, etc.—E. and T.Verse 20. - Remember the word which I spake to you (see Matthew 10:24, but especially John 13:16, where Christ used the proverb), The servant is not greater than his lord. In John 13:16 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 7, 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 - others, or many, or some - kept (i.e. "observed," "obeyed," not as Bengel supposed, "laid in wait," or "kept maliciously") my word, they will keep yours also Why should irony be interpolated here? Surely the whole con[act 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.
The verb means originally to put to flight; thence to run swiftly in order to overtake or attain, as the goal or the competitor in the race. Thus Sophocles ("Electra," 738): "He urged his swift steeds vehemently with shouts that pierced their ears, and makes for him (διώκει)." Compare I follow after (διώκω, Philippians 3:12). Hence to pursue with hostile intent, and, generally, to molest, harass, persecute. Persecute is from the equivalent Latin persequor, to follow up, and is used earlier, in the sense of pursue, while pursue, in turn, is used in the sense of persecute. Thus Wyc, Matthew 5:44, for men pursuing you. Sir Thomas More ("Utopia"), "Whiles their enemies rejoicing in the victory have persecuted (i.e., pursued) them."
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