You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit…
That these words refer in the first place, and indeed, in their complete application, altogether to the apostles, seems unquestionable. Yet there is a great principle embodied in them which has its working out in the experience of all Christ's people in every place and through the whole dispensation.
I. THE DIVINE SELECTION. Notwithstanding that the Lord Jesus had just expressly repudiated speaking of and treating his disciples as servants, and had just designated them his friends, it is plain that nothing could be further from his thought than any intention to place them upon an equality with himself. They were given clearly to understand that, if they were his friends, it was because he had chosen and designated them to this position. This relation is indeed not arbitrary, being, like every Divine act, the expression of perfect wisdom. Yet it is impossible for us to comprehend the reasons why Jesus chose those whom he did choose in preference to others. Not all were worthy of his choice, and amongst those who adhered to him there were degrees of attachment, degrees of merit, degrees of usefulness. Considering the case of the twelve, we observe:
1. Their call. This took place early in the Lord's public ministry. And it was by the presentation of his own Person, by the utterance of his own voice, that Jesus called his apostles. There was not only the outward call; there was the inner, the spiritual summons, which they felt in their souls, and the authority of which they readily recognized.
2. Their appointment or ordination. This was a gradual choice, but it was formally completed when, after our Lord's resurrection, he expressly commissioned them to go among Jews and Gentiles, proclaiming the gospel of salvation by faith and of obedience unto life eternal.
3. There is what corresponds to this gracious election in the experience of all Christ's friends and servants. It is his summons which bids them forsake their sins and their self-confidence, and follow him. Thus their spiritual life begins by a holy and an effectual calling. He calls, and the souls of his people respond to the voice from heaven. And whilst Jesus calls his people to the privileges, he calls them also to the consecrated service of the new life. There is a ministry, a mission, though not an apostleship, for every true Christian. Our work for Christ is only authorized by Christ himself.
II. THE PURPOSE OF THE DIVINE SELECTION. The first apostles were chosen and ordained for a purpose. The design of the Lord was that they should "go and bear fruit." This involves:
1. Effort and activity. To go, when sent, is to acknowledge the authority of the Sender, and to put forth endeavors to do his will. Religion does not consist in simply receiving truth and enjoying privilege; it comprises what is done in response to truth received and privilege enjoyed.
2. Fruitfulness, as may be learned from the earlier verses of the chapter, consists in a holy character and life, and in benevolent and Christ-like labors for the welfare of our fellow-men. Divine choice and ordination have respect to the Church universal and to the world. Men are elected to posts of honor, of service.
3. The permanence of this fruit is the sign of a veritable election by God. Some work is only apparent and temporary, but that which God blesses and approves is real and lasting. The life which is rooted in God issues in fruit which remains in time and eternity. The fruits of the Spirit endure forever.
III. THE PRIVILEGE INVOLVED IN THE DIVINE SELECTION. This is the assured answer to prayer. The connection appears to be this: the purpose of election being that fruit may be borne to the Divine glory, grace is obviously needed in order that this purpose may be realized, that a blessing may rest upon faithful toil; and Christians are assured that whatsoever they may need in order to this end is within their reach. The wonderful language in which our Savior assures us of this privilege demands our careful attention.
1. On God's side the promise is unlimited. "Whatsoever ye shall ask" shall be given. This corresponds with the munificent provision of Divine bounty assured in the statement, "All things are yours."
2. On man's side there is a stipulation and condition imposed by Christ as of indispensable necessity; what is asked must be asked in Christ's Name. That is to say, requests must be in accordance with his will, must be presented in reliance upon his advocacy, and will be granted for his sake. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: You didn't choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.