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Exegetical Commentary on John 15

OUTLINE:

    [4 A The Book of Glory: Jesus accomplishes his return to the Father (13:1-20:31)]

      [2 B The Last Supper: Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure (13:2-17:26)]

        [2 C The Last Discourse (13:31-17:26)]

          2 D The relationship of the disciples to Jesus and to the world after his departure (15:1-16:33)

            1 E Jesus exhorts his disciples to remain in him as the True Vine (15:1-17)

        1 F The Vine and the branches (15:1-10)

        2 F The elevation in status of the disciples: from slaves to friends (15:11-17)

            2 E The hatred of the world for Jesus and his disciples (15:18-16:4a)

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Brown, R. E., “‘Other Sheep not of this Fold’: The Johannine Perspective on Christian Diversity in the Late First Century,” Journal of Biblical Literature 97 (1978): 5-22.

Dillow, J. C., “Abiding is Remaining in Fellowship: Another Look at John 15:1-6,” Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (1990): 44-53.

Hawkin, D. J., “Orthodoxy and Heresy in John 10:1-21 and 15:1-17,” Evangelical Quarterly 47 (1975): 208-13.

Jacobs, L., “‘Greater Love Hath No Man…’ The Jewish Point of View of Self-Sacrifice,” Judaism 6 (1957): 41-47.

Johnston, G., “The Allegory of the Vine,” Canadian Journal of Theology 3 (1957): 150-58.

Laney, J. C., “Abiding is Believing: The Analogy of the Vine in John 15:1-6,” Bibliotheca Sacra 146 (1989): 55-66.

Lee, G. M., “John 15,14: ‘Ye are my friends’,” Novum Testamentum 15 (1973): 260.

O’Grady, J. F., “The Good Shepherd and the Vine of the Branches,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 8 (1978): 86-89.

Rosscup, J. E., Abiding in Christ: Studies in John 15 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973).

Smith, C. R., “The Unfruitful Branches in John 15,” Grace Journal 9 (1968): 3-22.

Stanley, D. M., “‘I Am the Genuine Vine,’ (John 15:1),” Bible Today 8 (1963): 484-91.

DETAILED EXEGETICAL NOTES:

          2 D The relationship of the disciples to Jesus and to the world after his departure (15:1-16:33)

            1 E Jesus exhorts his disciples to remain in him as the True Vine (15:1-17)

A Note on the Background of the Vine and Branches Imagery:

There are numerous Old Testament passages which refer to Israel as a vine: Ps 80:8-16, Isa 5:1-7, Jer 2:21, Ezek 15:1-8, 17:5-10, 19:10-14, and Hos 10:1. The vine became symbolic of Israel, and even appeared on some coins issued by the Maccabees.

The Old Testament passages which use this symbol appear to regard Israel as faithless to Yahweh and/or the object of severe punishment. Ezek 15:1-8 in particular talks about the worthlessness of wood from a vine (in relation to disobedient Judah). A branch cut from a vine is worthless except to be burned as fuel. This appears to fit more with the statements about the disciples than with Jesus’ description of himself as the vine.

Ezek 17:5-10 contains vine imagery which refers to a king of the house of David, Zedekiah, who was set up as king in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah allied himself to Egypt and broke his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar (and therefore also with God), which would ultimately result in his downfall (17:20-21). Ezek 17:22-24 then describes the planting of a cedar sprig which grows into a lofty tree, a figurative description of Messiah. But it is significant that Messiah himself is not described in Ezekiel 17 as a vine, but as a cedar tree. The vine imagery here applies to Zedekiah’s disobedience.

        1 F The Vine and the branches (15:1-10)

15:1 =Egwv eijmi hJ a[mpelo" hJ ajlhqinhV Jesus’ description of himself as the “true Vine” in John 15:1 ff. is to be seen against this background, but it differs significantly from the imagery we have surveyed above. It represents new imagery which differs significantly from OT concepts; it appears to be original with Jesus. The imagery of the vine underscores the importance of fruitfulness in the Christian life and the truth that this results not from human achievement, but from one’s position in Christ. Jesus is not just giving some comforting advice, but portraying to the disciples the difficult path of faithful service. To some degree the figure is similar to the Head-Body metaphor used by Paul, with Christ as Head and believers as members of the Body. Both metaphors bring out the vital and necessary connection which exists between Christ and believers.

oJ pathvr mou oJ gewrgov" ejstin Notice Jesus’ characteristic reference to the Father. Jesus is never portrayed as independent from his Father in the Gospel of John; they are always co-operating in every activity (cf. 5:19-23).

A Note on the Use of =Egwv eijmi in 15:1 and 15:5:

Once again we have another of the ejgwv eijmi statements of the Fourth Gospel. It occurs with a predicate as also in 6:35 and 6:48 (“I am the Bread of Life”), 8:12 (“I am the Light of the world”), 10:7 and 10:9 (“I am the Door”), 10:11 and 10:14 (“I am the Good Shepherd”), 11:25 (“I am the Resurrection and the Life”), 14:6 (“I am the Way”), and here and 15:5 (“I am the Vine”). Only in the last two uses (here in chapter 15) is there further development of the affirmation by additional predication: “my Father is the gardener” in 15:1 and “you are the branches” in 15:5. The stress in all these statements where predicates are included is not solely on the “I,” because the predicate in each instance tells something about what Jesus is in relation to mankind. Each affirmation tells something of what was involved in the Father’s sending of the Son into the world. Jesus appears in these statements as the source of eternal life (resurrection, life, vine), as the means of entry into life (door, way), as the guide who leads people to life (shepherd), as the source of nourishment for eternal life (bread), and as the illumination which lights the way in the darkness (light).131

15:2 pa'n klh'mamhV fevron karpoVn ai[rei aujtov The verb ai[rw can mean “lift up” as well as “take away,” and it is sometimes argued that here it is a reference to the gardener “lifting up” (i.e., propping up) a weak branch so that it bears fruit again. In Johannine usage the word occurs in the sense of “lift up” in 8:59 and 5:8-12, but in the sense of “remove” it is found in 11:39, 11:48, 16:22, and 17:15. In context (theological presuppositions aside for the moment) the meaning “remove” does seem more natural and less forced (particularly in light of verse 6, where worthless branches are described as being “cast out”—an image that seems incompatible with restoration).

One option, therefore, would be to understand the branches which are taken away (verse 2) and thrown out (verse 6) as believers who forfeit their salvation because of unfruitfulness. This interpretation encounters problems with the Johannine teaching on the security of the believer, however, especially 10:28-29. Thus it is appropriate to turn to other possibilities for the meaning of the removal of branches.

This leaves two basic ways of understanding Jesus’ statements in 15:2 and 15:6 :

  • These statements may refer to an unfaithful (disobedient) Christian, who is judged at the judgment seat of Christ “through fire” (cf. 1 Cor 3:11-15). In this case the “removal” of 15:2 may refer (in an extreme case) to the physical death of a disobedient Christian.
  • These statements may refer to someone who was never a genuine believer in the first place (e.g., Judas and the Jews who withdrew after Jesus’ difficult teaching in 6:66), in which case 15:6 refers to eternal judgment.

Evaluation:

  • In either instance it is clear that 15:6 refers to the fires of judgment (cf. OT imagery in Ps 80:16 and Ezek 15:1-8). But view (1) requires us to understand this in terms of the judgment of believers at the judgment seat of Christ. This concept does not appear in the Fourth Gospel, because from the perspective of the Evangelist, the believer does not come under judgment: note especially 3:18, 5:24, 5:29. The first reference (3:18) is especially important because it occurs in the context of 3:16-21, the section which is key to the framework of the entire Fourth Gospel and which is repeatedly alluded to throughout.
  • A similar image to this one is used by John the Baptist in Matt 3:10— “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Since this is being addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming to John for baptism, it almost certainly represents a call to initial repentence. More importantly, however, the imagery of being cast into the fire constitutes a reference to eternal judgment, a use of imagery which is much nearer to the Johannine imagery in 15:6 than the Pauline concept of the judgment seat of Christ (a judgment for believers) mentioned in point [a].
  • The use of mevnw in 15:6 also supports view (2). When used of the relationship between Jesus and the disciple and/or Jesus and the Father, it emphasizes the permanence of the relationship (6:56, 8:31, 8:35, 14:10). The branch who has not remained is Judas, who departed in 13:30. He did not bear fruit, and is now in the realm of darkness, a mere tool of Satan. His eternal destiny, being cast into the fire of eternal judgment, is still to come.

We conclude, therefore, that the branches who do not bear fruit and are taken away and burned are not genuine believers. They are those who profess some sort of allegiance to Jesus but who in reality do not belong to him. In the Gospel of John, the primary example of this category is Judas. In 1 John 2:18-19 the “antichrists” fall into the same category; they too may be thought of as branches that did not bear fruit. They departed from the ranks of the Christians because they never did really belong, and their departure shows that they did not belong.

pa'n toV karpoVn fevron kaqaivrei aujtoV Consistent with our conclusions above, this statement would then refer to the Fathers work in the lives of believers to make them more “productive.” Kaqaivrei is not the word we would have expected here, but it provides the transition from the vine imagery to the disciples—there is a word-play (not reproduceable in English) between ai[rei and kaqaivrei in this verse. While the purpose of the Father in cleansing his people is clear, the precise means by which he does so is not immediately obvious. This will become clearer, however, in the following verse.

15:3 h[dh uJmei'" kaqaroiv ejste Now it becomes clear what kaqaivrei in the preceding verse means: it refers to cleansing from sin. This phrase occurs elsewhere in the Gospel of John only at the washing of the disciples feet in 13:10, where Jesus has used it of the disciples being cleansed from sin. There we also find further confirmation for our understanding of 15:2 and 6 (discussed above) since Judas is specifically excluded from this statement.

15:4 meivnate ejn ejmoiv How are we to understand the imperative and the statement by Jesus about himself which follows it? Morris takes the following statement as a continuation of the command: “Remain in me, and see that I remain in you.”132 However, the Evangelist has used a conditional imperative in a similar construction before, in 2:19: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” It seems best to understand the same conditional force here: “If you remain in me, then I also will remain in you.” The point is that the relationship between Jesus and the disciple is reciprocal: if as genuine believers they remain in him, then he promises to remain in them also.

toV klh'ma ouj duvnatai karpoVn fevrein ajf= eJautou' The branches will produce nothing unless they remain connected to the vine, from which their life and sustenance flows. As far as the disciples are concerned, they will produce no fruit from themselves if they do not remain in their relationship to Jesus, because the eternal life which a disciple must possess if he is to bear fruit originates with him; he is the source of all life and productivity for the disciple.

15:5 ou|to" fevrei karpoVn poluvn What is the fruit mentioned here and in 15:2, 4, and 8? One’s initial impression is to interpret the imagery in terms of good deeds or character qualities, relating it to passages elsewhere in the NT like Matt 3:8 and 7:20, Rom 6:22, Gal 5:22, etc. This is not necessarily inaccurate, but we must remember that for John, to have life at all is to bear fruit, while one who does not bear fruit shows that he does not have the life (once again, conduct is the clue to paternity, as in 8:41; compare also 1 John 4:20— “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen”).

15:6 sunavgousinbavllousin The general meaning of this verse was discussed under verse 2 above. We are not told who it is who does the gathering and casting into the fire, but it is probable in light of the passives ejblhvqh and ejxhravnqh that sunavgousin and bavllousin are actives substituted for passives. Although some claim that realized eschatology is so prevalent in the Fourth Gospel that no references to final eschatology appear at all, the fate of these branches seems to point to the opposite. The imagery is almost certainly that of eschatological judgment, and recalls some of the OT vine imagery which involves divine rejection and judgment of disobedient Israel (Ezek 15:4-6, 19:12).

15:7 o} ejaVn qevlhte aijthvsasqe Jesus is addressing his own again, the disciples from whom the traitor Judas has already departed (13:30). They are already clean (cf. 13:10). Thus there is a change to a more positive note from the “if anyone” (ejaVnti") of verse 6 to “if you” (ejaVn meivnhte) in the present verse. Once again Jesus promises the disciples that they may ask whatever they will, and it will be done for them. This recalls 14:13-14, where the disciples were promised that if they asked anything in Jesus name it would be done for them. The two thoughts are really quite similar, since here it is conditioned upon the disciples’ remaining in Jesus and his words remaining in them. According to our understanding of mevnw in the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles (see the discussion under verse 2 above) the first phrase relates to the genuineness of their relationship with Jesus. The second phrase relates to their obedience. When both of these qualifications are met, the disciples would in fact be asking in Jesus name and therefore according to his will.

15:8 i{na karpoVn poluVn fevrhte How are we to understand the i{na-clause? It is best to take it as substantival in apposition to ejn touvtw/ at the beginning of the verse. The Father is glorified when the disciples bring forth abundant fruit. Just as Jesus has done the works which he has seen his Father doing (5:19-29) so also will his disciples.

gevnhsqe [genhvsesqe] The original reading is difficult to determine, because the external evidence is rather evenly divided. The aorist subjunctive gevnhsqe is supported by most Alexandrian manuscripts including (apparently) 66, along with the Western uncial D. The future indicative genhvsesqe is supported by and the majority of manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type (). On the basis of the external evidence alone the second reading has some credibility because of the unusual alliance between and the Byzantine text. Some who accept the future indicative see a consecutive (or resultative) sequence between fevrhte in the i{na-clause and genhvsesqe, so that the disciples’ bearing much fruit results in their becoming disciples. It seems more likely, however, that the second verb (regardless of whether it is read as aorist or future) is to be understood as coordinate in meaning with the previous verb fevrhte.133 Thus the two actions are really one and the same: bearing fruit and being Jesus disciple are not two different actions, but a single action. The first is the outward sign or proof of the second—in bearing fruit the disciples show themselves to be disciples indeed (cf. 15:5). As far as the textual reading is concerned, it appears preferable to accept the aorist subjunctive reading (gevnhsqe).

15:9-10 meivna'te ejn th'/ ajgavph/ th'/ ejmh'/ Jesus begins in verse 9 by affirming his love for the disciples (comparing it to the Father’s love for him). He then commands the disciples to remain (meivnate) in his love (cf. 15:4). In verse 10 Jesus goes on to explain what he means by remaining in his love: it is indicated by obedience to his commands. Obedience and love are inseparably linked and are mutually dependent upon one another. A similar idea may be seen in 1 John 4:20 (“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen”), when we realize that loving one’s brother involves obeying the command to “love one another” (John 13:34, 15:12, 17). Thus 1 John 4:20 is really addressing an attempt to separate obedience to God’s commands and love for God, much as Jesus is talking about keeping his commandments and remaining in his love being interrelated here.

kaqwV" ejgwV taV" ejntola'" tou' patrov" mou tethvrhka… Jesus illustrates his statements to the disciples about the interrelationship of love and obedience by comparing their love for him and obedience to his commands to his love for the Father and his obedience to the Father’s commands.

        2 F The elevation in status of the disciples: from slaves to friends (15:11-17)

15:11 i{na hJ caraV hJ ejmhV ejn uJmi'n h/ The purpose for Jesus saying these things to the disciples is so that his joy may reside in them and their joy may be complete. Although it is mentioned only in passing here, the theme of joy will be resumed again at greater length in 16:20-24.

15:12 Au{th ejstiVn hJ ejntolhV hJ ejmhv Now the reference to the commandments (plural) in 15:10 have been reduced to a singular commandment: the disciples are to love one another, just as Jesus has loved them. This is the new commandment of 13:34, and it is repeated in 15:17. The disciples’ love for one another is compared to Jesus’ love for them. How has Jesus shown his love for the disciples? This was illustrated in 13:1-20 in the washing of the disciples’ feet, introduced by the statement in 13:1 that Jesus loved them to the end (eij" tevlo" hjgavphsen). In the Notes on 13:1 it was explained how in context this constitutes a reference to Jesus self-sacrificial death on the cross on their behalf; the love they are to have for one another is so great that it must include a self-sacrificial willingness to die for one another if necessary. This is exactly what Jesus is discussing here, because he introduces the theme of his sacrificial death in the following verse. In 10:18 and 14:31 Jesus spoke of his death on the cross as a commandment he had received from his Father, which also links the idea of commandment and love as they are linked here.

One final note: it is not just the degree or intensity of the disciples’ love for one another that Jesus is referring to when he introduces by comparison his own death on the cross (that they must love one another enough to die for one another) but the very means of expressing that love: it is to express itself in self-sacrifice for one another, sacrifice up to the point of death, which is what Jesus himself did on the cross (cf. 1 John 3:16).

15:13 i{na ti" thVn yuchVn aujtou' qh'/ In the context this must refer primarily to Jesus’ own self-sacrificial death on the cross on behalf of his followers, whom he will describe in the next verse as his friends. Some have questioned whether love for enemies is not greater than love for friends, but that is not the point here, since in the context in which Jesus is speaking these words only friends are present (recall that Judas departed in 13:30).

15:14 uJmei'" fivloi mouv ejste This verse really explains 15:10 in another way. Those who keep Jesus commandments are called his friends, those friends for whom he lays down his life (verse 13). It is possible to understand this verse as referring to a smaller group within Christianity as a whole, perhaps only the apostles who were present when Jesus spoke these words. Some have supported this by comparing it to the small group of associates and advisors to the Roman Emperor who were called “Friends of the Emperor.” Others would see these words as addressed only to those Christians who as disciples were obedient to Jesus. In either case the result would be to create a sort of “inner circle” of Christians who are more privileged than mere “believers” or average Christians. In context, it seems clear that Jesus’ words must be addressed to all true Christians, not just some narrower category of believers, because Jesus sacrificial death, which is his act of love toward his friends (verse 13) applies to all Christians equally (cf. 13:1).

15:15 oujkevti levgw uJma'" douvlou" There is a sense in which the follower of Jesus may legitimately be thought of as a servant (dou'lo"); this is what Jesus in Luke 17:10 taught the disciples to call themselves, and this is a term which Paul commonly applies to himself and to others in his letters. But here Jesus is talking about more than just service rendered; here he is talking about intimacy with God. From this perspective the Christian is far more than just a servant, because he has been taken into God’s confidence in an intimate relationship (cf. 1:12 in the Prologue, along with 1:18). Everything Jesus has heard from his Father he has passed along to the disciples. Thus they have a privileged relationship with him and with the Father; they are no longer servants but friends (see the note above on the previous verse).

15:16 ajll= ejgwV ejxelexavmhn uJma'" If the disciples are now elevated in status from servants to friends, they are friends who have been chosen by Jesus, rather than the opposite way round. Again this is true of all Christians, not just the Twelve, and the theme that Christians are “chosen” by God appears frequently in other NT texts (e.g., Rom 8:33; Eph 1:4ff.; Col 3:12; and 1 Peter 2:4). Putting this together with the comments on 15:14 we may ask whether the Evangelist sees any special significance at all for the Twelve. Jesus has said in 6:70 and 13:18 that he chose them, and 15:27 makes clear that Jesus in the immediate context is addressing those who have been with him from the beginning. It seems most probable that in the Fourth Gospel the Twelve, as the most intimate and most committed followers of Jesus, are presented as the models for all Christians, both in terms of their election and their mission.

i{na uJmei'" uJpavghte kaiV karpoVn fevrhte The purpose for which the disciples were appointed (“commissioned”) is that they go and bear fruit, fruit which remains. The introduction of the idea of “going” at this point suggests that the fruit is something more than just character qualities in the disciples own lives, involving fruit in the lives of others, i.e., Christian converts. There is a mission involved (cf. 4:36). The idea that their fruit is permanent, however, relates back to verses 7 and 8, as does the reference to asking the Father in Jesus name. It appears that as the imagery of the Vine and the branches develops, the “fruit” which the branches produce shifts in emphasis from qualities in the disciples own lives in 15:2, 4, 5 to the idea of a mission which affects the lives of others in 15:16. The point of transition would be the reference to fruit in 15:8.

15:17 i{na ajgapa'te ajllhvlou" This verse is a restatement of the idea of 15:12 (see discussion above). This brings to a close the parable of the Vine and the branches.

            2 E The hatred of the world for Jesus and his disciples (15:18-16:4a)

15:18 Eij oJ kovsmo" uJma'" misei' In contrast to Jesus’ love for his disciples is the world’s hatred for them. There is no doubt at all that the world will hate the disciples of Jesus; as E. Hoskyns states, “The implacable hatred of the World for the friends of Jesus is the sign of the verity of that friendship.”134 Or as R. Brown states, “To belong to Jesus is not to belong to the world, and the world can love only what belongs to it.”135 There will be a point at which the disciples loving obedience to Jesus makes them so much like him, that the world will respond to them just as it responded to Jesus himself. This will mean persecution. As L. Morris states, “It is not without its significance that the disciples are to be known by their love, the world by its hatred.”136

This same theme (the world’s hatred for Jesus, and because of their likeness to him, for his disciples as well) was foreshadowed by Jesus’ words to his unbelieving brothers in 7:7.

15:19 ajll= ejgwV ejxelexavmhn uJma'" ejk tou' kovsmou Two themes are brought together here. In 8:23 Jesus had distinguished himself from the world in addressing his Jewish opponents: “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” In 15:16 Jesus told the disciples “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…”. Now Jesus has united these two ideas as he informs the disciples that he has chosen them out of the world. While the disciples will still be “in” the world after Jesus has departed, they will not belong to it, and Jesus prays later in 17:15-16 to the Father, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” The same theme also occurs in 1 John 4:5-6: “They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us”.

Thus the basic reason why the world hates the disciples (as it hated Jesus before them) is because they are not of the world. They are born from above, and are not of the world. For this reason the world hates them.

15:20 oujk e[stin dou'lo" meivzwn tou' kurivou aujtou' Jesus now recalls a statement he has made to the disciples before, in 13:16. As the master has been treated, so will the servants be treated also. If the world has persecuted Jesus, then it will also persecute the disciples. If the world has kept Jesus’ word, it will likewise keep the word of the disciples. In this statement there is the implication that the disciples will carry on the ministry of Jesus after his departure; they will in their preaching and teaching continue to spread the message which Jesus himself had taught while he was with them. And they will meet with the same response, by and large, that he encountered.

15:21 o{ti oujk oi[dasin toVn pevmyantav me Now the reason for the world’s rejection of the disciples’ message and its persecution of them becomes clear: it is because they do not know the one who sent Jesus into the world. In the final analysis it is the world’s ignorance of God that causes them to respond to Jesus and to his followers so. Jesus came into the world to reveal the Father to men (1:18, 14:9); in rejecting him they have rejected the Father also. But had they known the Father (had they been open to revelation from God—had “the Jews” in 8:42 been true sons of Abraham—) then they would have received Jesus and his revelation of what God is like gladly. Instead they rejected him, and in so doing showed that they did not know the one who sent him. Here Jesus has extended to “the world” the same charge he made against “the Jews” in 5:37 and 7:28: they are ignorant of God.

15:22 nu'n deV provfasin oujk e[cousin periV th'" aJmartiva" aujtw'n' Jesus now describes the guilt of the world. He came to these people with both words (15:22) and sign-miracles (15:24), yet they have remained obstinate in their unbelief, and this sin of unbelief is without excuse. Jesus is not saying that if he had not come and spoken to these people they would be sinless; rather he is saying that if he had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of the sin of rejecting him and the Father he came to reveal. Rejecting Jesus is the one ultimate sin for which there can be no forgiveness, because the one who has committed this sin has at the same time rejected the only cure that exists. Jesus spoke similarly to the Pharisees in 9:41—”If you were blind, you would have no sin [same phrase as here], but now you say ‘We see’ your sin remains.”

15:23 oJ ejmeV misw'n Hatred of Jesus amounts to hatred of his Father as well. The opposite was stated positively in 13:20.

15:24 eij taV e[rga mhV ejpoivhsa ejn aujtou'" a} oujdeiV" a[llo" ejpoivhsen Jesus continues his description of the world’s guilt for its rejection of him and the One who sent him. It seems that the sign-miracles he performed are particularly in view here. Had Jesus not done these things, which testified to who he was, the world would again not be guilty of rejecting him and the Father who sent him. But now they have seen and rejected, and their sin remains upon them unatoned. The world has both seen and hated Jesus, and in him it has seen (and hated) the Father too.

15:25 i{na plhrwqh'/ oJ lovgo" oJ ejn tw'/ novmw/ aujtw'n gegrammevno" The ultimate reason for the world’s rejection of Jesus and his revelation of the Father is found in the OT scriptures: the word which is written in their law must be fulfilled. As a technical term novmo" is usually restricted to the Pentateuch, but here it must have a broader reference, since the quotation is from Ps 35:19 or Ps 69:4. The latter is the more likely source for the quoted words, since it is cited elsewhere in the Fourth Gospel (2:17 and 19:29, in both instances in contexts associated with Jesus’ suffering and death).

15:26-27 oJ paravklhto"ejkei'no" marturhvsei periV ejmou': The world has rejected Jesus and the one who sent him, even though it has heard his words and seen his works. But when Jesus departs from the world, he will not leave it without a continuing witness. In fact, there will be two: the Paraclete whom Jesus will send will continue to testify concerning him (verse 26), and the disciples will also continue to testify to the world (verse 27). These two witnesses in combination will produce even further hatred and hostility by the world (16:1-4a).

o}n ejgwV pevmyw uJmi'n paraV tou' patro" Jesus said in 14:16 that the Father would send the Paraclete in answer to Jesus’ prayer, and in 14:26 Jesus said that the Father would send the Paraclete in Jesus’ name. Now in 15:26 Jesus says that he himself will send the Paraclete from the Father. What are we to make of these seeming discrepancies in the accounts? They are probably merely indicative of the intimate union between the Father and the Son—the two are so closely identified in their activities in sending the Paraclete that this degree of interchange is possible.

o} paraV tou' patroV" ejkporeuvetai What does this phrase say about the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit? Probably not too much—the context is not concerned with the eternal mutual interrelationships of the persons of the Trinity, but with the continuation of the mission of the Son once he has departed from the world. B. F. Westcott is most likely correct when he states that had the eternal procession of the Spirit been in view here, the preposition used would have been ejk, indicating source, rather than parav, which indicates relationship (cf. 1:1).137 The preposition parav is used in 16:27 and 17:8 to describe the mission of the Son.


131 For fuller discussion of the ejgwv eijmi statements of the Fourth Gospel see Brown, The Gospel According to John, Appendix IV, 533-38.

132 Morris, The Gospel According to John, 670.

133 M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek Illustrated by Examples (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1963), 342.

134 E. Hoskyns, The Fourth Gospel, ed. F. N. Davey, 2d ed. (London: Faber, 1947), 479.

135 Brown, The Gospel According to John, 692.

136 Morris, The Gospel According to John, 678.

137 B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John, 224-25.

Related Topics: Christology, Spiritual Life