The Agora
Bible Commentary

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John 15

Joh 15:1

See Lesson, True vine (John 15).

Leaving the Upper Room (Joh 14:31) and crossing the Kedron Valley toward Gethsemane, they pass a vineyard...

TRUE: Alethinos, real, in ct to symbolic (cp Joh 1:9; 6:32; Heb 8:2; 9:24).

VINE: The vine: the best illustration of relationship between Christ and brethren. Christ does not say, "I am stem" -- but "I am vine" -- the entire organic unit: Even the branches are Christ (cp Mat 25:40-45), ie, part of his "Body" (Eph 4:12,16; 1Co 12:12; Col 1:18). Thus, Christ's blood = "fruit of the vine" (Mat 26:29).

Seven "I am's" of John: "the bread of life" (Joh 6:35); "the light of the world" (Joh 9:5); "the door" (Joh 10:9); "the good shepherd" (Joh 10:11); "the way" (Joh 14:6); "the resurrection and the life" (Joh 11:25); and "the vine" (Joh 15:1).

GARDENER: Gr "georgos" = lit, "one who works (ergon) in the earth (ge)". Cp imagery in Psa 80:8-11; Isa 5:1-7; Jer 2:21; Mar 12:1-11. Israel was the imperfect vine, but Christ (together with his brethren) is the true, or genuine, "vine" of God. Cp Hos 14:8: "Your fruitfulness comes from me."

"Our fruit comes from God as to wise husbandry. The gardener's sharp-edged knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree, by thinning the clusters, and by cutting off superfluous shoots. So is it with that pruning which the Lord gives to thee. 'My Father is the husbandman. 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' [Joh 15:1,2]. Since our God is the author of our spiritual graces, let us give to Him all the glory of our salvation" (CHS).

Joh 15:2

HE: That is, "my Father" (v 1): God, not man, cuts off unfruitful branches (1Jo 2:19; Rev 1:16).

PRUNES: May sig "cleanses" (Heb 10:2; Jer 2:22, for washing away fungus). Cp "clean" (v 3 here). For the first 3 years, the fruit of a newly-planted tree is "forbidden", or "uncircumcised" (AV) -- ie, not pruned (Lev 19:23).

Joh 15:3

Cp Joh 13:10.

Joh 15:4

REMAIN IN: Or "abide with": to make one's home with (cp Joh 14:16,17,20,23; 15:5-7.

Joh 15:5

No power of ourselves to: (1) think (2Co 3:5), (2) speak (Num 22:38), or (3) do (Joh 15:5).

HE WILL BEAR MUCH FRUIT: Fruit-bearers abiding IN Christ (Joh 15:5); witness-bearers speaking FOR Christ (Act 1:8); cross-bearers following AFTER Christ (Luk 14:27); burden-bearers being LIKE Christ (Gal 6:2).

Joh 15:6

DOES NOT REMAIN IN ME: Example of Judas, who was "not clean" (v 3; ct Joh 13:10,11), and who did not remain, but "went out" (Joh 13:30)!

BURNED: Fiery judgment: Mat 3:10; Heb 6:8; Eze 15:4-7.

Joh 15:7

Similar to Joh 14:14: ...If your asking conforms to God's will (Mar 14:36) -- ie, if it has to do with "bearing fruit" (vv 1,16 here) and keeping commands (v 10).

Joh 15:8

...Returning to the theme of "glory" in Joh 13:31,32.

BEAR MUCH FRUIT: "By their fruits you will know them": Mat 7:20; Luk 6:43,44.

Joh 15:9

To remain in love = to continue to drink wine of the true Vine -- ie, to partake of the "agape" or "love-feast" (cp Joh 6:53,56)!

Joh 15:10

Joh 15:10.

Repeated from Joh 14:21,24.

Joh 15:11

JOY: Gr chara, as a greeting, equivalent to Heb "shalom" (Joh 14:27).

Joh 15:12

LOVE: Cp Joh 13:34. Perhaps related to the "agape", or "love-feast" (Joh 13:1) of fellowship.

Joh 15:13

Lesson, No greater love.

LAY DOWN: Sw Joh 10:11,15 (Good Shepherd); Joh 13:4 ("laying down" of garments).

FRIENDS: Greek philos = those who are loved (phileo)!

All that God has given us... riches, talents, intelligence, health... diminish with the passing of time. Man grows old and dies. Only love remains, as a bridge between this life and the life to come, a bridge over the chasm of eternal nothingness. Every other gift or talent will fail, just as the Holy Spirit gifts finally ceased. The only thing that endures is the character of a man, engraved in the infinite mind of God.

"Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends." The bridge over that chasm is constructed from the two timbers of the cross. On one is written, "Love God". And on the other, "Love your neighbor as yourself." By those two principles he lived and died, and he asks us to do the same -- to fill up in ourselves, as best we can, the measure of the perfect man. We have been children, petulant and selfish and impatient. Let us now be men, and put away childish things. We have seen in our mirrors blurred images of the perfect man who is striving to be "born" in us, but one day we will see the man himself face to face, and we will know at once by his look whether or not we have made his love our example. For, lest we ever forget, that is the test by which we shall stand or fall.

Joh 15:15

Unlike servants, friends learn what Christ thinks (cp Abraham, God's friend: Jam 2:23; Gen 18:17). Unlike servants, friends are not forced, but may choose to follow/eat with their Leader.

"Friends are God's way of taking care of us."

"True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost" (CC Colton).

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."

"Friendship is one mind in two bodies" (Mencius).

"I'll lean on you and you lean on me and we'll be okay" (Dave Matthews).

"Everyone hears what you say. Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don't say."

"We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere" (Tim McGraw).

"My father always used to say that when you die, if you've got five real friends, then you've had a great life" (Lee Iacocca).

"Hold a true friend with both your hands" (Nigerian proverb). "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

Joh 15:16

"Not... but" = Heb "not only... but also".

Joh 15:18

...Now, dramatically, Jesus switches the theme from love to hate. How closely connected are these two emotions! How easily Christ's love inspires hatred in others!

WORLD: Kosmos, particularly the Jewish "world": Joh 1:10; 6:14; 7:4,7; 8:12,23,26; 9:39; 11:27; 12:19,31; etc.

"Those first believers turned to Christ with the full understanding that they were espousing an unpopular cause that could cost them everything. Shortly after Pentecost some were jailed, many lost all their earthly goods, a few were slain, hundreds were 'scattered abroad.' They could have escaped all this by the simple expedient of denying their faith and turning back to the world. This they steadfastly refused to do.

"To make converts, we are tempted to play down the difficulties and play up the peace of mind and worldly success enjoyed by those who accept Christ. We will never be completely honest with our hearers until we tell them the blunt truth that, as members of a race of moral rebels, they are in a serious jam, and one they will not get out of easily. If they refuse to repent and believe on Christ, they will most surely perish. If they do turn to him, the same enemies that crucified him will try to crucify them" (AWT).

Joh 15:20

As in Joh 13:16, and citing Mat 10:24,25.

THEY WILL ALSO PERSECUTE YOU: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Act 9:4). The vine is one with the branches (Joh 15:1-4).

Joh 15:22

NO EXCUSE FOR THEIR SIN: Lit, "no cloak for sin" (cp and ct with Joh 13:4-12). Hearing Christ's word removes excuse for sin, ie makes one "responsible"...

Joh 15:24

THEY HAVE SEEN THESE MIRACLES: ...And seeing the works of Christ makes one doubly "responsible". Cp Joh 3:2; 5:36; 7:31; 9:30-33; 10:38; 14:11.

Joh 15:25

Psa 35:19; 69:4; 109:3: Primary refs to Ahithophel, the traitor. Irony: The men who best knew the Law were fulfilling that Law by hating the One who himself was the true fulfillment of the same Law (Act 13:27)!

Joh 15:26

COUNSELOR: Paraklete: Used 5 times, all in John's writings: here, Joh 14:16,26; 16:7; 1Jo 2:1. The one who is called to stand alongside, as a legal counselor ("Advocate") or personal "Comforter". The Counselor/Holy Spirit is personified ("he") because it is implemented by an angel. This was the source of inspiration to the apostles who would write the Holy Scriptures.

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