John Chapter 15
Joh 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Perhaps the vines which they met with, on their road from Bethany to Gethsemane, might have given rise to this discourse. Some of the disciples were probably making remarks on the different kinds of them, and our Lord took the opportunity of improving the conversation, according to his usual manner, to the instruction of their souls. He might here term himself the true vine, or vine of the right sort, in opposition to the wild and barren vine. Some MSS. and several of the fathers read the verse thus: I am the true vine, ye are the branches, and my Father is the husbandman. (Clarke)
Joh 15:2 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.
I stand in the same relation to my followers, and they to me, as the vine to the branches, and the branches to the vine.
When pruning a grape in the winter (time of non-growth), it is pruned right back to the main stem—keeping any shoots close to the stalk. All dead wood is trimmed off.
In pruning trees any branch that grows straight up (that is—stands proud) is lopped off. Any branch that crosses another is also removed as it any branch that grows inward.
The whole purpose is to keep the vine or tree strong, free from disease and growing outward
It is interesting that when two branches cross each other it is a place where disease can breed, just as when two Christians come into an unhealthy tangle. Something needs to be done to preserve the tree (or church as a whole).
There is also another interesting thing about pruning. If one was to make scores on the side of a branch (deep scrape)—it causes the tree to send out a branch in that area. So we can see the cuts and scrapes that we receive in our Christian walk cause of us to grow spiritually.
Joh 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Now ye are clean - Ye are pruned. As our Lord has not changed the metaphor, it would be wrong to change the expression.
Through that word - that doctrine of holiness which I have incessantly preached unto you, and which ye have received. Perhaps our Lord more immediately refers here to the words which he had spoken concerning Judas, Joh_13:21-30, in consequence of which Judas went out and finished his bargain with the chief priests; he being gone off, the body of the apostles was purified; and thus he might say, Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
It is God’s Word that will keep us close to him or will drive us away depending on how honest our heart is.
Joh 15:4 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.
If we truly love Jesus, we will keep close. We will dwell in the Word and in his commandments –that is how we “abide” in him. It is only that Jesus gives us a covering of righteousness that we have the merit of his blood applied to our sinful nature. If we take off that robe—we take of Christ and then will stand in our own filthy rags.
Isa_64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Joh 15:5 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.
For a branch to live, thrive, and bring forth fruit, while cut off from that tree from which it not only derives its juices, but its very existence also. The Vine and its branches have such a oneness that wherever we touch a branch we touch the Vine itself. It is one vine composed of branches, and so is the Body of Christ one body, composed of many members.
"In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths." (Pro_3:6) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phi_4:13) Each should more carefully watch for the leadings of divine providence and realize that only as he is a co-worker together with Christ can he accomplish anything.
Joh 15:6 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.
We should never take for granted our relationship with Jesus and with God. To make light of it or be careless with our covenant with Him can only lead to us not abiding in him and when that happens, he will cast us off. If we get to that point then there is no more sacrifice for sins and we will merit the second death.
Heb 10:26-27 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Jesus has just spent more than one chapter explaining what it means to “abide in him” and how serious it is to fail to “abide in him”. Our very life depends on us abiding in him.
It is not an easy road. It wasn’t an easy road for Jesus either and should we be above our master? But there is a lifeline—prayer.
Here he promises to give us what we want. But think about it for a moment.
Someone who is “abiding in Jesus” will not ask for a new house, a new car, to win the lottery. So if you are praying for those things, you need to reexamine your relationship with Jesus—chances are you are not “abiding in him” if you were ever really abiding in him.
There are plenty of other scriptures that deal with prayer that someone who is “abiding in Jesus” ought to know. And if they don’t that should be another red flag on your spiritual relationship with Jesus. There are things a Christian can and cannot ask for. This scripture does not make those scriptures void.
Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Herein is my Father glorified - Or, honored. It is the honor of the husbandman to have good, strong, vigorous vines, plentifully laden with fruit: so it is the honor of God to have strong, vigorous, holy children, entirely freed from sin, and perfectly filled with his love.
The Lord will be glorified the more in proportion as our fruit increases. It is a part of our covenant relationship that we will grow in grace.
Verse 2 talks about bearing fruit and being pruned to bear more fruit. Verse 8 takes it even further for what the Father expects of us and to glorify Him, we need to bear “much” fruit. As we grow in grace, knowledge and fruit we bring glory to God, and here Jesus says that what it means to be his disciple.
Joh 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Joh 15:10 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.
Many like to dispute faith and works, but in we see that Jesus emphasized both. We must bear fruit (that is a work produced by faith), now he is telling us we must keep his commandments (again more works that come about by faith.). Work in first you need to know what the commandments are and that comes by studying God’s Word. That is an act of faith or working of faith. First you have to have the faith to believe in God’s Word, then you have to study it to know God’s Will and Mind. Abiding in that relationship takes work (just like a marriage takes work—you get out of it what you put into it).
It is only abiding, keeping close to Jesus that we stay in his love. Do we think that if we call ourselves a Christian and then hang out in bars, fornicate and live a very worldly lifestyle that Jesus will love us? If we live that lifestyle are we abiding in the vine? Are we keeping the commandments? Are we bearing any fruit? These are extreme examples, that are a reality for some people, but if it isn’t a reality for us that doesn’t mean we are bearing fruit, abiding in the vine and keeping his commandments.
Are we allowing people to push our buttons, which in turn causes us to talk to other people about it (which is called evil speaking/gossip)? Do we harbor resentment in our heart for one of our brethren? Do we waste time watching TV or playing computer games instead of studying God’s Word? These are all little foxes that nibble at the vine. Folks we are the vine. They are not nibbling at Jesus, but us to detach us from the vine.
Son_2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
While I don’t suffer from the first examples I gave, I do struggle with the second grouping. Only by overcoming those “little foxes” can those tender grapes come to be a ripe fruit to glorify God.
Joh 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
These are some very interesting comments on this verse that I have gathered.
Our Lord's instructions and commandments are not intended to terrify us, nor to deprive us of happiness.
The Lord cares for our joy and comfort. He asks only what is for our good, "reasonable service," and yet he asks all--"your bodies a living sacrifice." (Rom_12:1) Self-denial, under the Lord's direction, is the surest means of happiness.
In harmony with this we find the Scriptures testifying that the followers of Jesus were always rejoicing, in everything giving thanks, even in trials, difficulties and persecutions.
Might be full -- We are not to expect the full results of joy in doing the Father's will in the beginning of our experiences, nor are we to feel discouraged if in the beginning the motive be duty-love instead of a love for principles.
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
It is interesting that John is the only gospel writer to zero in on this discourse of Jesus in his final hours to love one another. Jesus really harps on this and as I look at my own inadequacies, I feel he is talking to me. And if you are his disciple as well he is talking to you.
Love of the brethren is very important. And by love of the brethren, Jesus doesn’t mean love some of the brethren, those that are easy to love and who love you, but even love those that are crusty or soggy around the edges.
And what does he mean by love? We can say, “I do love the brethren!” and get all defensive or proud over it, but do we really?
Let’s talk about those crusty brethren who just grate you the wrong way, or those high maintenance soggy brethren who sap the energy out of you. I am talking to myself as well because I tend to love them from a distance and avoid.
Br. Crusty is old and gruff and no matter what you do he thinks you don’t like him or when you say something he always takes it the wrong way. Is loving Br. Crusty optional? If Br. Crusty is in the vine of Christ and struggling with his own issues—he is still our brother, doesn’t matter where he is in the, fruit, more fruit and much fruit bearing, it is our commandment to love him.
Sr. Soggy is always crying and moaning about something. Nothing every goes her way and there is a black cloud over her head or at least she thinks there is. Then if that isn’t bad enough she wants to you know every painful detail. Sr. Soggy will bring you down and sog you up. But guess what, she is still our sister in Christ and we are commanded to love her.
So now that we know we are commanded to love them—what does that mean?
We sometimes here those harping on “loving the brethren”—but when we look at their example of it, we don’t see it.
So and so is sick in the hospital or nursing home or ready to have an operation---should we not take time and visit this person? Would that be considered loving the brethren? I think so. If may be a sacrifice for us, it may stretch us out of our comfort zone, but that is what bearing fruit is all about isn’t it? We have to come to the conclusion “it’s not all about us”, God’s commandments are bigger than us and don’t always fit into our agenda.
If Br. Crusty can no longer drive or get out of the house—do we bring him some groceries, cut his lawn, bring in his mail? Send him a card? Visit and pray with him? Bring the Bible study to him so that his New Creature is fed by the word?, or bring him to Bible Study or Fellowship if he is able to get out with assistance?
If a group of brethren are getting together to have a Bible study, do we only invite our favorites (which you can have personal Bible studies—I am not talking about that), or do we include our not so favorites as well? Or do we not invite one or another because they don’t see everything exactly the way we do? Do we discriminate with our brethren on trivial interpretations? (and by trivial I mean non-fundamental and not a matter of making our calling and election sure).
I hope that I stir the brethren up with this, and I recently have been stirred myself and see that I need work. Jesus says that this is vital to our relationship with him. Let’s not trivialize or marginalize the importance and scope of loving the brethren.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus will in a mere few hours give his disciples a practical example of this.
The scope of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice affects the whole human race from Father Adam. Yes, Jesus died for Adam as the Apostle Paul explains the technical or legal aspect of the “ransom” in how Jesus only had to die for Adam and all who are in Adam (that is the entire human race) and how those who come into Christ will get life. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6 explains the timing of the application).
Other scriptures give us the “love” side of the sacrifice. The parable of the treasure hid in the field (this is not a parable about land ownership). This is a parable about Jesus and his love for his disciples (the treasure) hid in the field (the world as we are told when Jesus explains the parable of the Wheat and Tares).
Jesus desired his bride (the treasure) and he bought the whole field (through the ransom) to get the treasure. Sold all that he had—gave his life for his friends.
His flesh he gives for the world—field (John 3:16; 6: 33, 51), but the blood is for the bride (Luke 22:20; Eph 5:25; Heb 10:20)
1Jn 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
So, looking at Jesus’ example of laying down his life for us—is it really a big problem to visit the sick brethren in the hospital or those who are shut in or going through different trials and persecutions? Can we remember to pray for those who have asked for it and even for those who have not? Can we send a card of encouragement once in a while to someone who needs it, can we just sit and cry with those who need that?
Joh 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Joh 15:15 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.
This is very simple—he is telling them that he will show them the way. His command it love one another—simple (but not always easy). Lay down your life for the brethren. If we can’t do it in the little ways, then we will never do it in bigger ways). He who is faithful in least is faithful in much.
We need to use our imagination and come up with ways to be a service or friend to our brethren in Christ. We also need to be thankful if we are on the receiving end of these displays of love and not let our pride hinder us from the blessings to be received by us and the one who is sacrificing for us.
This is also a promise that the Lord will not leave us in ignorance. He will show us ways we can lay down our lives for our brethren and when we do that it is a service to the Lord that we are truly doing. These are opportunities for service to the Lord and if we don’t take advantage of it, then he will give the blessing of doing it to another.
Joh 15:16 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.
At this time Jesus was speaking directly to the 11 Apostles, Apostles being (an ambassador, one who is sent or commissioned), chosen and placed in that position and they are commanded as we all are to bring forth fruit and that the fruit stays—it is not a momentary obligation. We send Br. Crusty a card and we did our good deed for the week and we are good—that is the wrong way of looking at things—that is not a remaining of the fruit.
Many like to use this scripture to say that God is obligated to give us what we pray for. That is called cherry picking. This verse as well as those in context explain that:
1) We have to be in the vine (Jesus)
2) We have to abide in the vine
3) We have to bear fruit—much fruit
4) We have to obey his commandments
5) His Words have to Abide in us
6) We have to love our brethren
7) We have to lay down our lives is some form for our brethren
So unless you are doing all these things—guess what, God is not obligated to give you what you ask for. In fact we find out from our previous verses that we may be removed from the vine if we are living too much apart from these principles.
Joh 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Joh 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
Clarke--As the followers of Christ were to be exposed to the hatred of the world, it was no small consolation to them to know that that hatred would be only in proportion to their faith and holiness; and that, consequently, instead of being troubled at the prospect of persecution, they should rejoice, because that should always be a proof to them that they were in the very path in which Jesus himself had trod.
Love and hate are opposite emotions, but both can be just as passionate. The love that we have for God, Jesus and our brethren should be fervent. That love will have an adverse reaction upon those on the outside—the world and they will hate it. Real hate—not love less as we like to water down the word. As Clarke said above the more fervent our love, the more fervent their hatred.
Joh 15:19 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.
We don’t have to say anything to the world—they know we are different. They know we are not like them. If we are living a truly righteous life with fervent love for the Lord and all that is his they will feel slighted. They will get jealous or resentful.
This verse is not saying that we cannot love our families who are not in Christ. It is not saying we cannot visit with them, go on a picnic or park or whatever. We make time for our family, we don’t neglect them. Jesus tells us that if we don’t provide for our families then we are worse than an unbeliever.
1Ti_5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Then you have to ask yourself—what does it mean “provide”. Does that only apply to a roof over their head or food in their stomachs? I don’t think so. There are other needs, physical and emotional that our “own” needs.
There are two groups talked about in this Timothy scripture: 1) his own, and 2) those of his house.
Those of his house are easy to identify. It is those who live under your roof. “His own” are those who are close in relationship but who don’t live under the roof. Can be parents, grown children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters.
Jesus is not teaching that we neglect our families. He is teaching us to prioritize. God first! Jesus second, the Brethren next, those under our roof, and then branching out from there.
We have another scripture that attests to this as well:
Gal_6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
In other words, we look for opportunities to be with our brethren and do lay down our lives for them by giving of our time, talents and hearts. But at the same time we do not neglect our families who are not of the household of faith.
If our natural brother wants to hold a picnic or special event on the day we have our worship and Bible study—then they need to understand we won’t be there or we will come late. It only takes a few times of you holding your ground that they accept it. And if it is really important to them that you are there, they hold it at a more convenient time.
But that is also not to say if there is a once in a lifetime event that comes up and is in conflict with our scheduled Bible Study that it is between us and the Lord if we decide we need to be with the family on that occasion.
Jesus is talking about life choices, our character and not a single event in our lives. Our entire lives should reflect him. Should show our love for the brethren. And if we have to miss one meeting to show honor to parents or something special then our brethren should not get all bent out of shape over it—as it is between God and the individual.
We have to be careful of “lording it over the brethren”, the Nicolaitan spirit. This sinful spirit is not just found in a clergy mentality, but sometimes we like to have the brethren see everything our way on all matters of life and spirituality. This is not “loving the brethren.”
Joh 15:20 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.
This verse and many more flies in the face of those who teach smooth things like the prosperity gospel. Jesus promises his faithful f0llowers persecution—not riches and new cars. If we are following the prosperity gospel message—we are not following Christ. We are warned to abide in Christ and cling to our brethren. Not to follow cunningly devised fables and false teachers.
Our leader was hunted and crucified. Our brethren in history were hunted and tortured, burned at the stake, ripped apart by the rack, thrown in dungeons and on and on.
Why would we think that God will change the rules for us? Why do we dismiss the scripture that even says it will be worse for those at the end of the age? “Pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the sabbath!” “Pray that you are worthy to escape the things to come!” God tells us in Revelation 7 that the Great Multitude have to go through the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation is the winter and the sabbath and the things to come. Yet we heap to ourselves teachers with itching ears to tell us lies! “If you give us your last dollar—God will bless you and give you a new car.”
Come on people! Can you really fall for that malarkey?
Search the scriptures!
Joh 15:21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
They may pretend that they know God—but their actions expose them as liars or hypocrites. We see most of the persecution in the scriptures comes from those who claim to speak for God. Whether false prophets in the Old Testament or the Scribes and Pharisees in the New.
We see throughout church history—how the Catholic Church hunted down anyone who disagreed with them and perfected many a torture device on our brethren. The inquisition was led by those that purported to be God’s representative—even so far as to think they were God on earth, the vicar of Christ. Anyone who didn’t go along with that was murdered.
Jesus tells us right here that they are not of God.
Joh 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
Joh 15:23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
Joh 15:24 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.
Joh 15:25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
Jesus is now bringing the conversation from love one another to what is about to happen with his crucifixion.
He even quotes a Psalm that is prophetic of his experiences: Psa 69:4 They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.
The religious element who will be responsible for Jesus’ death, did it knowingly and with eyes wide open. I am speaking of the ring leaders, certainly there was those who were opposed as we would think Nicodemus and Joseph of Aramathea. Most likely when they gathered together to carry out their sin in the middle of the night—they only invited those who saw things their way.
Consider Jesus’ parable:
Mat 21:37-40 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
Jesus is telling us not to expect anything different in our lives.
Joh 15:26 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:
Jesus previously told them that he needs to go away in order for the comforter to come. Here was see the comforter is not a person, but something that comes directly from God. God’s holy Spirit. God will cover us with His spirit to give us comfort to go though all these trials Jesus warned are coming to all his true followers.
This Spirit will testify of Jesus, because this Spirit of God is also a spirit of remembrance.
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The past three and a half years was jam packed with lesson after lesson from the Lord. They would need help in putting it all together. They would need help remembering what was said. Jesus promised them that help.
Joh 15:27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
When they got that help, they would then be witnesses for Christ, proclaiming him wherever they went.
Later in John’s life, this verse would have much meaning as some of the brotherhood started going against John and the teachings of the Apostles. John had to remind the brethren that he was one of the ones that was with Jesus from the beginning. He saw Jesus in the flesh, he ate with him he fellowshipped in person with Jesus—unlike those who were revising the teachings of Christ, but claiming they had the authority to do so. John flat out called them liars.