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John 15-17 Listen
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
So, how does this spiritual kingdom work? (John 15:1-17)
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 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.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 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.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 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.
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.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Chapter 15 is a continuation of the discourse of John 14 (see notes). This all took place on the eve of the crucifixion after they observed the Passover supper which actually began in John 13 (see notes). Jesus has been talking about individual entry into the spiritual kingdom i.e. personal salvation.
Now, specifically, here's how this spiritual kingdom operates. Jesus is the vine; God is the vine dresser (verse 1). Verse 2 begins, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:" I'm convinced that this speaks of the disobedient, unprofitable Believer whose physical life is cut prematurely short because of continued disobedience. Such is the case with the disobedient Believers in Corinth referenced in I Corinthians 11:30 (see notes). Verse 2 continues, "...and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." This purging or pruning of verse 2 is undoubtedly the maturing process of trial (see notes) that obedient Believers undergo in the process of living the Christian life. The Word of God is the pruning instrument.
Verse 3 is a universal statement of fact with regard to the purifying effect of God's Word on Believers. It's simple: Staying in God's Word makes one spiritually clean and strong. Verses 4-5 indicate that our entire success as Believers rests upon the empowerment of Jesus Christ through the cleansing effect of the Word of God in verse 3. In other Words, one cannot "abide" (verses 4-5) without the continual cleansing effect of the Word.
Verse 6 is a little difficult. Jesus may be presenting one of three scenarios:
In order to assist the student in making an informed decision regarding this verse 6, following is a word-for-word Greek-to-English substitution for the words of this verse:
"If a certain one might not remain in me,"
[As an aorist subjunctive, it could be "If a certain one might not have remained in me,"]
"he [she, it] was cast out [without] as the branch,"
[This is an aorist passive verb meaning the action was performed on the subject at a point in time.]
"and he [she, it] was dried up,"
[This is another aorist passive verb meaning the action was performed on the subject at a point in time.]
"and they gather the same, and into fire they cast,"
[Both of these verbs are present active indicative third person plural in form, indicating continuous, present action.]
"and he [she, it] is being burned."
[This verb is a present passive indicating that a continuous present action is being performed on the subject.]
It is interesting to me that the Greek aorist tense is used in the verse up to the words "dried up," but the present tense is used for the balance of the verse. While the Greek aorist indicates a point in time (usually past tense) rather than continuing action (present tense), the tense change is curious. That would seem to lend credibility to scenario #3 as listed above. Maybe Jesus is addressing the Judas-betrayal issue.
Verses 7-8 indicate that the natural process of the Believer is to bear fruit. But what is this fruit? This fruit is obviously the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 (see notes), "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." That's the kind of fruit we expect a Believer to bear. It is important to note that "bear" and "bring forth" (KJV) fruit both come from the exact same Greek word (phero) in this passage found in verses 2,4,5,8 and 16. Therefore, the "bring forth fruit" of verse 16 cannot refer to winning people to Christ as some have taught. Jesus would not have changed definitions of the same word within the context of the same discourse. Instead, it refers to the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in Believers' everyday lives.
Notice the emphasis on brotherly love Jesus makes in verses 11-17. Here's the reality: When the Holy Spirit is working in Believers' lives, it's because they are abiding in Christ through the cleansing of the Word of God and subsequently being led by the Holy Spirit. Since the leadership of the Holy Spirit manifests itself in love (Galatians 5:22-23, see notes), such a Believer will naturally love other Believers. That linkage is further supported by the fact that earlier in this discourse, Jesus said this in John 13:34-35 (see notes), "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." There, a few minutes earlier, he cites brotherly love as the commandment he makes reference to in John 15:10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fathers commandments, and abide in his love." So...the first attribute of Holy Spirit leadership listed in Galatians 5:22 is "love," which just happens to be the commandment of John 15:10 and John 13:34-35.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 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.
20 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.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 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.
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26 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:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
The world hated Christ; they will hate his followers as well. Understand this; the world today ridicules Christ and Christians. When Believers stand up for their principles, the world order of our day (and Jesus' day) does everything it can to discredit us. Jesus quotes from Psalms 69:4 (see notes) in verse 25, "But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause." Back then they hated Jesus because he disrupted their religious practice - practice that emphasized form over sincerity, actions over attitude; they practiced a hypocrisy that really didn't focus on the true worship of God. Regarding Christians in this world, here's how Paul expressed it in II Timothy 3:12 (see notes), "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." And John said it like this in I John 3:13 (see notes), "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."
It's clear: Taking an uncompromising stand for the principles of Jesus Christ will draw fire from the established world order - in Jesus' day and ours. Whenever you find someone living for Christ 24/7, he is usually categorized as a religious fanatic! And the religious-form-over-substance people take offense. People, for the most part, want just enough religious activity in their lives to relieve some guilt, but thats the extent of it. When they see someone who takes his Christian lifestyle seriously, the sense of guilt they feel often causes them to want to characterize the normal as abnormal.
What about those religions that proclaim a love for God at the exclusion of Jesus Christ? Notice verse 23, "He that hateth me hateth my Father also." That's consistent with the words of Jesus earlier that same evening in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." It's definitely a package deal; there is no favor with God without the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as one's Savior.
Jesus puts his comments into perspective (John 16:1-4)
1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
Chapter 16 is a continuation of the discourse of John 14 (see notes). This theme regarding the world's disdain for our faith continues from the end of chapter 15. Don't be caught by surprise when the world does not warm up to your walk with Christ. What might one expect? Notice these sobering words in verse 2, "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." Let's face it - Believers who "abide" in Christ are just never going to be very popular with the worldly crowd.
Earlier in this discourse, Jesus referenced the Holy Spirit as the "Comforter" that would soon come in John 14:16, 26 (see notes). He mentions it again here in verse 26 (see below) in the context that the Holy Spirit will bring us comfort when Believers are hated by the world. Jesus will elaborate additionally in John 16:7 (see below).
5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?
18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.
19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?
20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
Earlier in this discourse, Jesus had told them that he was leaving to prepare a place for them in John 14:1-6 (see notes). He points out here in verses 5-6 that his disciples seem to be focused on the loss of presence of Jesus rather than Jesus' destination and future work. For that reason, Jesus goes into some detail regarding the coming empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Notice verse 7, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." The word "comforter" used here comes from the Greek word "parakletos." It is only used five times in the New Testament (John 14:16, 26, see notes; John 15:26, see above; 16:7; I John 2:1, see notes) and is translated "comforter" in the KJV each time except in I John 2:1 where it is translated "advocate. Jesus clearly identifies this "comforter" to be the Holy Spirit in John 14:26. Therefore, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Believer is the equivalent of the presence of Jesus Christ. It is important to understand that all Believers have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. The Holy Spirit facilitates our salvation to begin with according to I Corinthians 12:13 (see notes). Without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, there can be no salvation. As a matter of fact, Paul says so directly in Romans 8:9 (see notes), "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." A further benefit of the Holy Spirit's presence in Believers is spiritual understanding. Look at verse 13. He will guide Believers to understand spiritual things.
Verses 8-11 seem a little cryptic:
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
John 16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
John 16:10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
John 16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Here's the sense I think we derive from these verses. The Holy Spirit comes after Jesus has ascended on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2, see notes). The Holy Spirit will identify distinctions - three listed here: (1) Sin for those who have rejected Christ as Savior; (2) Righteousness for those who accept Jesus as the finished work for salvation; (3) Condemnation ("judgment") has been passed on the ruler ("prince") of this world (i.e. Satan). The Old Testament looked for Messianic redemption - an act that Satan was determined to thwart. At the sacrificial death of Jesus and subsequent glorification, Satan's attempts failed. Incidentally, the Greek word for "prince" (archon) in verse 11 is never used as a description of Jesus. Moreover, "the prince" is rather clearly identified by Jesus in John 14:30 (see notes), "Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." Paul refers to Satan as the "prince of the power of the air" in Ephesians 2:2 (see notes).
Jesus also attributes these activities to the Holy Spirit after Jesus has ascended to Heaven:
It is clear that the Holy Spirit is the key to sound doctrine as well as Godly Christian living.
In verses 16-22 Jesus goes into some detail about his crucifixion and ascension. Verse 20 frames the discussion, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." The disciples will be sad when Jesus is crucified, but Satan's forces will be happy. However, in the final outcome, "sorrow shall be turned into joy."
23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.
26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:
27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.
30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The disciples are starting to understand the necessity of the crucifixion, the physical absence of Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that will follow. Prayer power will be experienced by anyone who prays in the name of Jesus. Many Believers are confused about what it means to pray "in Jesus' name" (verse 24). Click here to see the notes on John 14:12-14 for a clear explanation of this concept. His disciples then indicate that they are beginning to get the picture in verses 29-30. Jesus then explains to them the persecution that is upon them and prophesies that they will scatter. Verse 33 is an assurance verse for them (and us), "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Jesus offers this prayer prior to entering the Garden of Gethsemane. THIS IS NOT the prayer in Gethsemane reported in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:36-45; Mark 14:32-41; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1, see notes).
This prayer of Jesus is divided into three parts:
It is not until this prayer is finished that Jesus and his disciples enter the Garden of Gethsemane in John 18:1 (see notes).
One might ask, "If Jesus is God, why did he pray?" The answer is to be found in Philippians 2:5-8 (see notes):
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus "took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:" That was the mortal state of Jesus at the time of this prayer and leading up to his crucifixion. At that point in time, he communicated with God in prayer just as we do.
In his prayer, Jesus declares in verses 17-19 that we, as Believers, are sanctified (set apart) through the cleansing of the Word of God. Thus, we are sanctified by the truth of the Word of God because Jesus sanctified (Greek: "hagiazo" means "set apart") himself for the crucifixion. It is vitally important that Believers understand the value of embracing and studying God's Word (the Bible) as a regular routine in their Christian walk. Strong Believers spend regular time daily reading and studying God's Word. And...that's why I'm committed to providing this commentary to all Believers everywhere.