Matthew Poole's Commentary
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.John 15:1-11 Under the parable of a vine Christ sets forth God’s
government of his church, and exhorts his disciples
to abide in his faith and doctrine.
John 15:12-17 He commands them to love one another, according to
the great love he had showed for them,
John 15:18-25 forewarns them of the hatred and persecution of the world,
John 15:26,27 and telleth them of the testimony which the Holy
Ghost, and they also, should bear to him.
As our Saviour in the former chapter had chiefly spent his discourse for the relief of his disciples under their trouble for the want of his bodily presence, so he seemeth in this chiefly to bend his discourse for the comfort of them under their disturbance, for fear they should, together with the want of the comfort they had in his bodily presence, want also his spiritual influences; to prevent which, he compares himself to a vine, then to the branches; and showeth by that similitude the near union they had with him, and the influence he would and must have upon them, so long as they did abide with him. From John 15:18-27, he comforts them by a variety of arguments against that black storm of persecution, which he had so often told them would arise after his departure from them, from the hatred of the world, of wicked men, both Jews and Gentiles, that were enemies to the cross of Christ; as to which he comforts them by a variety of arguments to the end of the chapter, and counteth his discourse of that nature also in the following chapter.
Christ had but newly come from his last supper, wherein he had sanctified the fruit of the vine, by setting it apart as one of the elements in that holy sacrament, and told them, that he would no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God should come, Luke 22:18. This (as some suppose) gave occasion to this parable, or discourse about the vine. Others think, that in this passage from the guest chamber to the Mount Olivet he saw a vine, which gave occasion to this discourse, it being with him very ordinary to graft spiritual discourses upon sensible objects occasionally occurring; as, John 4:1-39, he raised a discourse of living water upon the sight of the water at Jacob’s well, and the woman’s discourse about it; and, John 6:1-14, he founded another discourse concerning the bread of life, upon the loaves that were multiplied. Whatever the occasion was, (of which we can affirm nothing certainly), certain it is, that the notion of a vine, with respect to the root and body of it, (for he calls his disciples the branches) excellently agreeth to Christ, whether in respect of his present low condition, and mean appearance to the world, (as a vine hath less beauty than most plants), or in respect of its exceeding fruitfulness; or as it is the basis and foundation of the branches, in which they are, and thrive, and are fruitful; which seemeth here to be chiefly intended; as all the branches are united to the vine, in it they live, bud, bear fruit. There are three principal things which our Saviour teacheth us by this similitude:
1. That we have no ability to do good but from Christ.
2. That believers have a trite and real union with the Lord Jesus, which while they uphold by faith and holiness, they shall not want his influence upon them, nor his Father’s care over them, in purging them, that they may bring forth much fruit.
3. That if any professing him prove unfruitful, God will take them away; they shall wither, be cast into the fire, and burned.
He calls himself the true vine, to show them that their fruit was not in themselves, but must be found in him; or that their fruit could not proceed from Moses, the observance of the ritual or moral law given them by him; but it must flow from their spiritual union with him and that influence of grace which should flow from that union. Or else
true (as sometimes it doth in Scripture) may signify excellent. As he compares himself to
the true vine, by which he signifieth to us that he is the true root and support of our spiritual life and fruit; so he compares his Father to
the husbandman, to let us know, that his people are not only under his, but under his Father’s care; which he afterwards more particularly openeth. He also, John 15:2, compares believers, or members of the church, to branches in a vine.
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.And concerning his Father’s care, he tells us, that as the good vine dresser cutteth off those branches in the vine which bring forth no fruit, so his Father will take away such branches in him as bring forth no fruit. But here ariseth a question, viz. Whether, or how, any can be branches in Christ, and yet bring forth no fruit?
1. Some say, there is no need of translating the words so, which may as well be translated, Every branch not bringing forth fruit in me. Indeed no true fruit can be brought forth but in Christ; but yet much that looks like fruit, much that men may call fruit, may be brought forth without any true spiritual union with Christ. All acts of moral discipline, or any acts of formal profession in religion, may be brought forth without any true root and foundation in Christ; and God will in the end discover and cut off those who bring forth no other fruit. But:
2. Men may be said to be branches in him, by a sacramental implantation, being baptized into him, Romans 6:3; and are hereby members of the visible church, and make a visible profession of adhering to him, with respect to their own good opinion and persuasions of themselves, though they be not so in respect of any true, spiritual, and real implantation. But those who in the last sense are not in him, bring forth no fruit unto perfection, and God will cut them off, either by withdrawing his restraining grace, and giving them up to strong delusions to believe lies; or to a reprobate mind, and vile lusts and affections; or by taking away their gifts; or some way or other, so as they shall never have an eternal communion with God in glory. But if any man bringeth forth true spiritual fruit in Christ, him God the Father will purge, by the sprinkling of Christ’s blood yet further upon his conscience, Hebrews 10:22; and by his Holy Spirit working on him like fire, to purge away his dross, and like water, to purge away his filth; and by his word, 1 Peter 1:22, by faith, Acts 15:9, by crosses and trials. Isaiah 1:25 Isaiah 27:9; that he may be more fruitful in works of holiness and righteousness.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.Now that the traitor is gone out from you, ye are all clean; not by any works which you do, much less upon the account of any legal and ceremonial rites and purifyings; but through my word, your believing and obeying, Ephesians 5:26 1 Peter 1:22. Our cleansing is in holy writ attributed sometimes to the blood of Christ, sometimes to the Spirit, sometimes to the word. By the blood of Christ we are made clean as to justification, washed; but yet we had need wash our feet, contracting soil every day in a sinful world, from which we are cleansed by the purifying virtue of the Holy Spirit, working by and together with the word, which purgeth us of our dross, and maketh us obedient to the will of God.
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.This our abiding in Christ is expounded, by an abiding in his words, John 15:7, by abiding in his love, John 15:10, an abiding in his Spirit, 1Jo 2:27, a walking as Christ walked, 1Jo 2:6, an abiding in the light, John 15:10, not sinning, 1Jo 3:6. The exhortation is, without doubt, to a holiness of life and conversation, by which our union and communion with Christ is upheld and maintained, and which is in itself an abiding in the love of Christ: nor is there a want of sufficient reason for this exhortation, though our union with Christ cannot be dissolved, nor our communion with him wholly interrupted; because,
1. It must be upheld and maintained on our part by the exercises of faith and holiness.
2. The sense of it in our souls may be eclipsed, and wholly fail, Psalm 22:1.
3. We may fall away foully, though neither totally, (as Lutherans say), because the seed of God abideth in the believer; nor yet finally (as papists say).
We had need therefore of all exhortations and arguments imaginable, to persuade us to do what in us lieth that we may abide in him. We have a great encouragement to the use of all possible endeavours to abide in the love of God, from the promise annexed,
and I in you; that is, I will abide in you; do you strive, and I will help you to perfect; do you fight, and I will help you to overcome; I will continue to you such gradual influences of grace, as shall be sufficient for you; grace wherein and whereby you shall stand, Romans 5:2. You shall be kept by the power of God through faith to salvation, 1 Peter 1:5. But look as it is with the branch, it cannot bear fruit of itself; but if it be once separated from the influences of the stock, it dies and withers; so it will be with you, you can bring forth no fruit unless you abide in me.
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.I am the vine, ye are the branches; that is, I am as the vine, you are as the branches: without the continual influence of the vine upon the branches, they bring forth no fruit; but that influence continuing, no plant is more fruitful than a vine is: so without the continual influence of my Spirit of grace upon you, you will be altogether barren and unfruitful; but if you have that influence, you will not be fruitful only, but very fruitful: for without my continuing such influence, you will not only be able to do little, but you will be able to do nothing that is truly and spiritually good and acceptable in the sight of God.
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.Our Lord yet pursueth the metaphor of the vine, the branches, and the husbandman: Look (saith he) its it is with a vine, when the time of pruning the vine cometh, the vine dresser cutteth off the fruitless, luxuriant branches, and throws them by; which being done, their greenness presently abates, and they wither, and after a time some come and gather them up, and cast them into some fire, where they are burned: so it will be with you; if you do not bring forth fruit, God will take from you his common influences, which have for a while made you to look speciously; and your profession, or your parts and gifts, will wither and decay; and in the day of judgment the angels shall gather you up, and God shall cast you into hell, Matthew 13:40,41, where you shall perish as miserably, nay, infinitely more miserably, than if you were burned with fire.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.Here our Lord expounds what he meaneth by that abiding in him which he before mentioned by another phrase,
and my words abide in you, my precepts and promises; so its you by faith embrace the promises, and by obedience live up to the precepts which I have given you: for without these, though the words of Christ may come unto men in the preaching of the gospel, their ears may receive the sound of them, yet the word doth not dwell and abide in the soul: but if the word abides in the souls of men and women, then they may in prayer ask of God what they will, keeping to the conditions and limitations elsewhere required in holy writ, according to God’s will, 1Jo 5:14, believing, Matthew 21:22, in the name of Christ, John 14:13,14, for the honour and glory of God, (to which end all our actions must be directed), and they shall be granted to them.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.Here are two arguments to press his disciples’ abiding in him, that so they might bring forth much fruit.
Herein (saith our Saviour) is my Father glorified. The glorifying of God is the great end of our lives, 1 Corinthians 10:31. God is glorified by men and women’s bringing forth much fruit, Matthew 5:16, the fruit unto holiness, Romans 6:22: fruit is the product of the plant, from the natural moisture that is in it, nourished and augmented by the fatness of the earth in which it stands, and by the warmth of the sun drawn out to the producing of such effects, according to the nature of the plant. According to the different nature of plants they bring forth various fruits, Matthew 7:16-18. Hence we read of the fruit of sin unto death, and the fruit of righteousness unto life. The first is every man’s natural fruit, until he be ingrafted into Christ: being ingrafted into him, the soul having a new nature given to it, being regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost, it no longer bringeth forth fruit from its old principle, and according to its old nature, but from its new principle, and according to its new nature. As the cultivated earth, that is ploughed and harrowed, doth not bring forth weeds and ordinary grass, according to its nature, but bringeth forth fruit according to the seed that is cast into it, yet not without the influence of heaven, both with respect to the dew of it, and the warmth which it hath from the sun; so the soul, being regenerated, the fallow ground of it being ploughed up, and the seed of righteousness being sown in it, no more brings forth the weeds of lusts and corruptions, or only ordinary acts of human nature, but it brings forth fruits according to its new nature, and the new seed of the word now sown in it, and dwelling in it. And look, as it tendeth to the honour of the husbandman, when the ground by him ploughed and manured brings forth much fruit; so it tendeth to the honour and glory of God, when the souls renewed, manured, and influenced by him, bring forth much of the fruit of righteousness and holiness. And though men must be Christ’s disciples before they bring forth any fruit, yet their bringing forth much fruit is that which alone can evidence and make them appear to be the disciples of Christ. And often in Scripture being signifieth appearing, as John 8:31 Romans 3:4.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.What our Saviour before called an abiding in him, and his words abiding in us, and a bearing and bringing forth much fruit, he here calleth a continuing in his love; though indeed this phrase also may be interpreted by a continuance in the favour of God and Christ, in that state of love into which God bath put the souls of those who are his true disciples: but I had rather interpret it of that love wherewith they loved Christ, than that wherewith Christ loved them. So the former words are an argument to persuade perseverance, or a continuance in those acts of holiness by which men alone can show their true love to Jesus Christ, from Christ’s love to them, which he there expresses,
As the father hath loved me, so have I loved you; where the particle as is only a note of comparison, but doth not denote an equality; only signifieth truth and greatness; as truly and sincerely as the Father loveth me: or, I have loved you with a great love, bearing some proportion to the love wherewith my Father loveth me. The Father’s love to Christ is eternal immutable, constant, full and perfect, wise and just, free: in all these respects Christ loveth his people as the Father loveth him: this ought: to engage them again to love him, and so to walk as they may continue in that state of favour into which his goodness hath advanced them.
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.Abiding in Christ’s love, in this verse, may be interpreted as before; either actively, you shall continue your love to me, according to what we had, John 14:15; obedience to the commandments of Christ being the only way to show and declare the truth of our love to Christ. Or else passively, you shall keep yourselves in my favour, I will love you. Thus I abide in my Father’s love; I do not show love to my Father by my words and expressions only, nor by performance of some ceremonial ritual services, which he hath required; but by fulfilling his whole will and counsel, by yielding an obedience to him in all things. I love you as my Father loveth me; and you must abide in my love by the same ways and means that I abide in my Father’s love. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.The end of my pressing so much the duty of holiness upon you, under the notions of abiding in me, abiding in my love in my words, bringing forth much fruit, &c. is, that I might have a continual cause to rejoice in you. Joy is nothing else but the satisfaction of the reasonable soul in its union with an object which it loved and desired. Christ, willing and desiring the perfection of his disciples, according to the rational workings of human nature, is properly said to rejoice in the satisfaction of his will; in which sense joy and rejoicing are often in Scripture attributed to God. Nor doth Christ press them to this, that he might rejoice in them, but also that their joy might be full; that joy and peace which attends and follows believing, Romans 15:13; called the peace of God, Colossians 3:15; a peace which passeth all understanding, Philippians 4:7. No man maketh Christ to rejoice over him, but he thereby also procures unspeakable joy and peace to himself; as no man grieves his Spirit, but also purchases grief and sadness to himself in the latter end.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.This is that which our Lord called the new commandment. John 13:34: See Poole on "John 13:34". He had before pressed the keeping of his words, continuing and abiding in his words, keeping his commandments, &c. Here he tells them what was his commandment: not his only commandment, but that which he laid a very great stress upon; a commandment most necessary to be pressed, because so necessary to keep up and uphold his church in the world, (love being the very ligament of that society), and because there was a greater failure in obedience to this than in some others, as may be learned from our Saviour’s correction of the Pharisees’ interpretation of that law, Matthew 5:1-48. This he presseth to a higher degree, as he had loved them; not that it is possible that our love to our brethren can rise up in any proportion to that love wherewith Christ hath loved us; but to mind us to eye him, to press forward toward this mark.
As here again doth not signify equality, but a comparison; as truly and sincerely as I have loved you, and pressing after the highest degree of love.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.The reason of this is because life is the greatest earthly good to men under ordinary circumstances: Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life, Job 2:4. Now it is impossible that a man should show a greater love to another, than by parting with the greatest good he is in possession of for his sake. Hence our Saviour proves, that he loved them with the greatest love, because he for their sake was about to part with what in the common judgment of men is the greatest good. The greatness of the love of Christ to us is from hence often commended to us in Scripture; and our mutual love to our brethren is pressed upon this argument, Ephesians 5:2 1Jo 3:16. But how did Christ lay down his life for his friends, when the Scripture tells us, that the just died for the unjust, 1 Peter 3:18, and that while we were enemies, we were reconciled unto God by the death of his Son, Romans 5:10?
Answer. Friends must not here be taken as a name of relation, but only as it signifieth the objects of love; persons we have set our love upon, whether they mutually love us or not; as the world was the object of that love in God, which moved him to send his only begotten Son, John 3:16. Though they for whom Christ died were enemies by their wicked works, yet by his death they were reconciled. But possibly the first answer is best; for by Christ’s death they were only meritoriously reconciled, and after this enemies to God, till they received the word of reconciliation, and believed in Christ.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.Our Lord presseth obedience to his commandments as a means, and indeed the only means, by which we can declare our love to Christ; and also useth a new argument to press their obedience, from his assuming them into the state and dignity of his friends.
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.By his saying, I call you not servants, he doth not discharge them of that duty and service which they owed to him; for in pressing them to obey his commandments, he declares that duty they owed to him; he only showeth that they were no ordinary servants, but taken into a state of dignity, favour, and familiarity, beyond that of servants, and that he had not treated them like servants, but like intimate, familiar friends. For look as ordinary masters in the world communicate their counsels and whole heart to their friends, especially in things which are of any concern, or may be of any advantage for them to know and understand; whereas they keep themselves at a distance from servants, and they only know so much of their minds as is by them to be done in their masters’ service: so he had not only revealed to them their duty, what was to be by them done in his service, but had been more free, giving to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, as he told them, Matthew 13:11; as well telling them his Father’s counsels on the behalf of them, and whatsoever he might communicate to them, as his Father’s will, what he would have them to do in obedience to his commandments.
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.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".
These things I command you, that ye love one another.This is but the repetition of the same precept we before had; unless we will understand it as a more special charge upon them, considered as ministers of the gospel; the mutual love of ministers being highly necessary for the good and peace of the church of God, over which God hath set them.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.In the latter part of this chapter our Lord cometh to comfort those who were his true disciples, against that third trouble, from the prospect they had of that hatred which the world would pour out and execute upon them, as soon as he should be withdrawn from them. Hatred is rooted and originated in the heart, and is properly a displeasure that the mind taketh at a person, which, fermenting and boiling in the mind, breeds an abhorrence of that person, anger, and malice, and a desire to do him mischief, and root him out; and then breaks out at the lips, by lying, slanders, calumnies, cursings, wishing of evil, &c.; and is executed by the hands, doing to such persons all the harm and mischief within the power of him that hateth: all this is to be understood under the general term
the world here must be meant wicked men, in opposition to good men, who are often in Scripture called the world, because they are of the earth, earthly; they relish and savour nothing but worldly things, and pursue nothing but worldly designs. Against this our Saviour comforts them; first by telling them, that this part of the world hated him before it hated them, which must needs be so, because they hated them as his disciples, and for that very reason.
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.Men and women may be in the world, yet not of the world.
Of the world here signifies carnal men, such as are like to the men of the world in their studies, designs, counsels, affections; as of the devil, and of God, signifies, John 8:44,47. If you had affections, lusts, and dispositions like them, and drove no other designs than they drive, you might expect, that as it is of the nature of all men to love such as are like to them in manners and studies; so they would love you, take a delight in you, be kind to you, and do you all offices of love: but because you are not of such tempers, dispositions, and inclinations; but that I, having chosen you out of the world, have given you new hearts, new frames and dispositions, quite contrary to theirs; therefore the world, disliking you, and seeing that your principles are quite opposite to theirs, abhor and hate you, and will be ready to do you all that evil and mischief, which is the product of a rooted hatred and malice in the heart. This is a second argument by which our Lord comforts them. It is drawn from the cause and root of that hatred which they would meet with: it was not for their faults or sins, but because they were the objects of Christ’s love, which being also shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, produced again in them holy affections and dispositions, making them wholly unlike to men in the world.
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.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.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.For my name’s sake here signifies no more than for my sake, as Matthew 10:22; for your preaching, owning, and professing me and my gospel. And this they would not do, if they had any true knowledge of faith in or love for him that sent me: for knowing, (as hath been often said), in holy writ, and particularly in this Gospel, signifieth not the bare comprehension of the object by our understanding, but such a comprehension of it as is operative and efficacious to the bringing forth of all such effects as are proper to such a knowledge and comprehension. So as this text containeth two arguments more to arm them against the hatred of the world: the first, from the honourableness of the cause, for Christ’s name’s sake; the second, from the ignorance and blindness of the persons.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.They had not had this particular sin, of not knowing him that sent me; or they had not had such degrees of sin as they now have; or they had had more to say in excuse, or for a cover for their sin. Ignorance of the will of God will not excuse sinners wholly, but it will excuse them in part. And this last seemeth to be the sense of the words by the latter part of the verse, because it is opposed to a having no cloak nor excuse for their sin. If Christ had not come in his incarnation, in his preaching the gospel, &c, they could not have been guilty of that hatred and malice which they showed against him, which was their greatest guilt; and they would have had this to say, Lord, we knew not what Christ was, as Matthew 25:44: but now, saith our Saviour, they have no cloak, no colour, no pretence; I am come, I have revealed my Father’s mind and will to them, yet they will not receive me; no, though I have done those works before them which no man ever did, nor could do but by a Divine power.
He that hateth me hateth my Father also.This agreeth with what we had, John 5:23. It is a common error of the world, that many in it would pretend to love God, while yet they are manifest haters of Christ and his gospel. Now, saith our Saviour, this is impossible; whosoever hateth him who is sent, hateth also him that sent him. God the Father and Christ are one, and no man can hate Christ, or be an enemy to Christ, but he must be an enemy to his Father: and as this is an aggravation of their sin, so it is a great argument of consolation to the disciples of Christ, that those who should be their enemies were such as were in reality God’s enemies.
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.Our Saviour often appeals to his works, both to own his mission from God, and also to prove the Jews inexcusable in their not receiving and embracing him; for which latter purpose he mentions them here, and saith, that he had done such works as no man did, and by his own power and virtue. Christ did some works such as we do not read that ever man did; as the multiplying of the loaves, the giving sight to those that were born blind, the healing of so many desperate diseases: and for such as he did which God had also given men a power to do, he did them in a quite different manner from that in which men did them. Elisha raised the Shunammite’s child to life; but it was by prayer. Peter cured the lame man, Acts 3:6; but it was in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We read indeed of Christ’s praying at the raising of Lazarus; but his ordinary way was by his word of command, which was a quite different way than that used by those men by whom miracles had been wrought. Besides, it is manifest that the generality of the Jews did not look upon Christ as one sent from God, though many of them did: and admit that there had been nothing in the miracles wrought by Christ, more than Elijah, or Elisha, or the prophets had done; yet it had been sufficient for to have convinced them, that he acted by a Divine power, and must be sent and authorized by and from God to do what he did. Now saith our Saviour, If I had not done before their faces such works as no man could do but by a power derived from God, and some such as God never authorized men to do, their sin had been nothing to what now it is: but now they have understood that I am sent from my Father; and knowing this, yet going on in their most malicious designs against me, they both declare a hatred and malice against my Father who sent me, and me as sent by him.
But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.The particle that here again denotes not the final cause, but only the consequent; and the law here signifieth not strictly the law of Moses, but the whole Scripture, in which sense we have once and again met with the term. Saith our Saviour, This is no more than was prophesied of me by the prophet David; or no more than was fulfilled in me, being first done to David as my type: which also hath the force of another argument to uphold and encourage his disciples under their sufferings, that they were but the fulfilling of prophecies, no more than was foretold in holy writ.
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:Concerning the Holy Ghost as a Comforter we have spoken largely, John 14:16,26; as also his mission from the Father and the Son, and in what sense he is called
the Spirit of truth: See Poole on "John 14:16". See Poole on "John 14:26". What proceeding from the Father is here meant, is questioned amongst divines: some understand it only of his coming out from the Father, and being poured out upon the disciples in the days of Pentecost: others understand it of the Holy Spirit’s eternal proceeding. Those that interpret it of the first, urge the use of the Greek word, here used to signify God’s manifestation of himself by some external sign, as they say the Septuagint useth the same word. They also urge the same use of a parallel word, John 8:42 16:28. But the generality of the best interpreters think it is best understood of the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit:
1. Because Christ here distinguishes the Spirit’s proceeding from the Father from his sending.
2. Having himself promised to send the Spirit, he seemeth further to describe him as proceeding from the Father.
3. The word here used is not any where used in the New Testament to signify a temporal mission.
Some will say: But doth not the Spirit proceed from the Son?
Answer. The Greek Church in latter ages hath denied this, and this is the principal text they rest on; but those churches that are more orthodox have constantly affirmed it:
1. Because he here saith he would send it.
2. Because he is often called the Spirit of Christ, Romans 8:9 Galatians 4:6.
3. Because otherwise there were no personal relation between Christ and the Spirit.
Our Saviour here having first said he would send him, here only nameth his proceeding from the Father; that they might not suspect his testimony, or think that he spake arrogantly.
He shall testify of me; the Spirit, he saith, should testify of him, both by those gifts with which he was to fill the apostles, and to the hearts of God’s people.
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.He adds also, they should testify, &c.: the apostles, and their successors, by the preaching of the gospel; but particularly the apostles, Acts 10:39 1Jo 1:2,3, being chosen witnesses, Acts 10:41. And they were competent witnesses, because they had been with Christ from the beginning of his public ministry. We shall find the testimony of his apostles and of the Holy Ghost both joined together, Acts 5:32.