John Chapter Fifteen
I. Content of the Chapter
the Son of God the Savior is the True Vine
A. The Parable of the True Vine:
1. The relationship among Christ, God and believers (v.1-3).
2. The mystery of bearing more fruits ---- to abide in the Lord (v.4-8).
B. The Positive Signals of Abiding in the Lord:
1. Abiding in the Lord’s love (v.9-11).
2. Believers love one another (v.12-17).
C. The Negative Signals of Abiding in the Lord:
1. Being hated and prosecuted by the world (v.18-21).
2. They should bear their sins (v.22-25).
D. The Commission of Abiding in the Lord ---- to bear witness of the Lord (v.26-27).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
John. 15:1 “"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”
YLT: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman;”
Meaning of Words: “true”: truthful; “vinedresser”: husbandman, land – worker;
The Background: in the Old Testament, the vine was usually employed to symbolize the people of Israel, showing that they were the unique race who was chosen and cultivated by God, who expected they would bear more fruits for Him. However, they disappointed God so much (see Ps 80:8-19; Is 5:1-7; Jer 2:21; Ezek 15:2-4; 19:10-14) that they finally became the nominal vine.
Literal Meaning: “I am the true vine.” ---- In the original, it is that “I am the vine, the true one.” The Lord makes a comparison between Himself and the vine (the Israelite) in the Old Testament. He is the “true” vine, and life is in Him (see 1:4). Therefore He can fulfill the purpose of God’s planting.
“And My Father is the vinedresser.” ---- “The vinedresser” refers to the one who plants and cultivates the vine ---- loosens the soil, irrigates the land, fertilizes, prunes, weeds and etc.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “I am the true vine”, Christ is the true origin of all the provision. Grace and truth come through Christ (see 1:17).
2) “And My Father is the vinedresser.” ---- It means that God personally takes the responsibility of cultivation and nursing. Since the Almighty and only wise God looks after our life in Christ, is there anything we should worry about?
3) Christ and the church is the centre of God’s dispensation of the ages (see Eph 3:4-11).
John. 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
YLT: “every branch in me not bearing fruit, He doth take it away, and every one bearing fruit, He doth cleanse by pruning it, that it may bear more fruit;”
Meaning of Words: “take away”: carry, put away; “prune”: renew;
The Background: vine has two kinds of branches: (1) one is the branch of futility ---- it absorbs water and nutrients of the vine but bears no fruit, only making itself grow up for nothing. (2) The other one is that which bears fruit ---- it bears fruit, but the amount of each vine is different.
Literal Meaning: “every branch in Me that does not bear fruit”, there are two opposite explanations among the Bible exegetes about such branch: (1) the “true believers” who have been saved, but the divine life has not been distinctly manifested. (2) The nominal “false believers” who have not been really saved.
Those who regard it as “the true believer” provide the reasons as below: (1) “in Me” was spoken by the Lord Himself. He would never regard the false believer as the one who was of Him. (2) The Lord said these words to His disciples (including not Judas), and these words had surpassed the stage of salvation. Instead, they further encouraged believers in the matter of “witness”. (3) The phrase “take away” does not mean being rejected by the Lord forever, but that they can no longer obtain the provision of life from the vine since they have lost the function of life. (4) “He is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (v.6).” ---- It does not mean the eternal destruction, but that they become withered because of losing the provision and watering of life and will be punished by the Lord and be cast out, having no part with the enjoyment of the Kingdom (see Matt25:30). They shall be saved, but so as through fire. (see 1Cor 3:15).
Those who regard it as “the false believer” provide the reasons as follows: (1) “In Me” was only nominal, they had no real relation of life with the Lord. (2) “Take away” refers to the judgment of the Lord. The real situation will be revealed sooner or later. If they do not leave voluntarily for being unable to prevail against the temptations, enticements or persecutions, they will be taken away in the completion of the age, like gathering the darnel from the filed of the wheat (see Matt 13:40). (3) “They gather them and throw them into the fire (v.6)”, it refers to the punishment of the lake of fire, and the darnel will be cast into the furnace of fire (see Matt 13:42). If they are true believers, they will not suffer such punishment. (4) The Lord will not allow any of the true believers be lost (see 6:39; 10:27-28).
To make a comprehensive view of the above-mentioned reasons, the author believes that according to whole paragraph of the Scripture the branch that does not bear fruit may refer to the “failing true believers”. It indicates the real situation. Today, in the church, how many Christians ---- the branch that does not bear fruit ---- there are!
“He takes away”, the branch which is taken away does not refer to the nominal believer who has not really been born again, but the one who is of the Lord. However, since he has not borne fruit, he is taken away and is unable to obtain the provision of life from the vine, thus becoming withered. Therefore, “being taken away” does not mean being rejected for ever, but being temporarily separated from the fellowship with the Lord.
“Take away”, if one takes away the branch, the branch will receive more sunshine and air, which makes it easier to bear fruit. Therefore, it can also be regarded as the motivation and encouragement to the branch that does not bear fruit.
“Every branch that bears fruit”, “fruit” is the manifestation of the inner life. Every good tree produces good fruits, but the worthless tree produces bad fruits (see Matt 7:17). Christians absorb the abundant life from Christ who is the true vine, and thus are bound to bear the fruit of the divine life.
The “fruit” that Christians bear have at least such kinds as below: (1) the fruit of the divine life ---- which is the spontaneous manifestation of the divine life, making other see God or Christ Himself (see Matt 7:20; 1Tim 3:16; Phil 1:20). (2) The fruit of the daily life ---- which means the natural manifestation, revealing every good virtues (see Gal 5:22-23, Eph 5:9; Phil 1:10; James 3:17-18). (3) The fruit of the works ---- which means bring men to believe the Lord (see Rom 1:13). (4) The fruit of the lips ---- which refers to the praise and thanks to God (see Heb 13:15).
“He prunes”, “prunes” means removing the superfluous leaves, branches and etc. In other words, remove everything that is a hindrance to the growth of life and bearing fruit.
“That it may bear more fruit”, it indicates that the purpose of pruning is to make the branches bear fruit.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) In the same vine, there are branches bearing fruit and not bearing fruit. The condition of the branches decides whether the vine bears fruit or not. The Lord grants us a significant right to decide what kind Christians we want to be.
2) “And every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” ---- “Pruning” refers to not only cleaning off, but also taking away. Therefore, we have to not only remove every sin from us, but also receive the necessary work of the cross to get rid of those obstacles which prevent us from bearing fruit or more fruit.
3) Branches should be pruned to bear more fruit. A Christian must pay great cost so that he will become a useful vessel for the Lord and bear witness of the Lord. One who has been dealt with by the Lord all the time can help others to receive the salvation.
4) If the Lord does not prunes us but let us grow without restraint, we will lose the special quality of Christian life. If we leave the Lord but live in our own way, we will lose the characteristic of Christian life.
5) Bearing fruit is the best manifestation of the life of vine, and is also the greatest satisfaction of the husbandmen.
6) Though branches that bear fruit are good, they are still not the best, for they should bear more fruit. “Bearing more fruit” should be the aim of every Christian.
7) The Father chastens for profit, in order to the partaking of His holiness (see Heb 12:10-11), so we should not be afraid of the chastening of God.
8) The worms, mildew and fungus in the vine should be removed. We Christians should also clean off the unnecessary things in us.
John. 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. ”
YLT: “already ye are clean, because of the word that I have spoken to you;”
Meaning of Words: “word”: the abiding word (logos); “clean”: clear, purify;
Literal Meaning: “clean”, it means that the Lord has forgiven our sins, and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (see 13:10; 1John1:9). This verse indicates that the disciples have been saved because of receiving the Lord’s teaching.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) One shall be purified through the washing of water by “word” (see Eph 5:26), not the works of themselves.
2) If a believer, after being saved, wants to get rid of everything from the old creature in life and grow up in the new creature, he should have the words of the Scripture, which provides the power and function of purification.
3) One shall be purified through the word (the Scripture) of the Lord, which is profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete fully fitted to every good work. (Tim 3:16-17).
John. 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. ”
YLT: “remain in me, and I in you, as the branch is not able to bear fruit of itself, if it may not remain in the vine, so neither ye, if ye may not remain in me.”
Meaning of Words: “abide”: continue, dwell, and endure;
Literal Meaning: “abide in Me.” ---- Because of being jointed to the Lord, believers receive the provision of His life and dwell in Him.
“In the Lord” is different from “abiding in the Lord”. The former concerns the matter of receiving the salvation, and the latter concerns the matter of fellowship. Once we have been saved, we are in the Lord. But only abiding in Him may lead us into the intimate fellowship with the Lord.
“And I in you.” ---- The life of the Lord continually works, manages, instructs and guides in us.
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine.” ---- The branch cannot bear fruit through the union of mere one time or absorbing the abundant sap. Branches can not survive without the water and nutrients provided by the vine continually, or let alone bear fruit! Likewise, believers should be jointed to the Lord and receive provision of life from the Lord continually so that they can bear fruit.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Abide in Me”, a Christian has already been in Christ, to whom he belongs. He should keep close fellowship with the Lord everyday. We, who are in Christ, shall enjoy the presence of the Lord constantly through reading the Bible, praying, keeping the word of the Lord and having fellowship with Him.
2) “Unless it abides in the vine, neither can you”, the fruit of life is truly not borne by ourselves, so we should hold the status, abide in the Lord and keep intimate fellowship with the Lord.
John. 15:5 “"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. ”
YLT: “`I am the vine, ye the branches; he who is remaining in me, and I in him, this one doth bear much fruit, because apart from me ye are not able to do anything;”
Meaning of Words: “without”: beside, by itself, apart;
The Background: It is meaningful in the Bible that it uses the vine to symbolize our relationship with the Lord. A vine has none other functions except for bearing fruit: (1) the flower of the vine is very small, which men can scarcely see. Besides, the florescence is short, so it does not live to be appreciated. (2) The trunk of the vine is not firm, which cannot be used as walking stick, and is even useless to be the material of burning. (3) There is none other byproduct of the vine for men to utilize except for grapes or fruit of grapes (raisins, juice of the grape, the wine and etc). Obviously, the vine lives for only bearing fruit.
Literal Meaning: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” ---- The relationship between the vine and the branches just indicates the close relationship between the Lord and us, who are inseparable: (1) the vine without branches cannot be called vine, and the branches without the vine will be withered immediately. (2) There is a relation of the inner life between the vine and branches ---- the Lord is the provision of our life, and we are the manifestation of His life. (3) The vine and branches have the same life. We Christians have also the same life of God in Christ.
“For without Me you can do nothing.” ---- One can do nothing without the Lord, for the origin of life has been cut off.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “I am the vine, you are the branches.” ---- How the life, quality and vitality of the vine manifest in the branches, so as that of Christ in His believers.
2) “I am the vine, you are the branches.” ---- How the provision of the branches rests with the vine, so as that of us rests with Christ. His is everything for us. Blessed is he who is jointed to Him!
3) “I am the vine, you are the branches.” ---- How the vine relies on the branches to bear fruit, so as the Lord even needs us to bear fruit for Him. We need the Lord, so does He. The Lord needs us to manifest His life on the earth.
4) “You are the branches.” ---- No matter how infirm and failing, or how terrible and falling you are, you are still a “branch” of the Lord and a man who is jointed to the Lord, as long as you have been saved.
5) “You are the branches.” ---- The word “are” is much precious. Seeing that we “are” the branches will bring a favorable turn to our spiritual life. The founder of China Inland Mission, James Hudson Taylor, was tormented by the question that how to abide in the Lord but achieved nothing. However, since he saw that he “was” the branch, he became a new James Hudson Taylor from then on.
6) “He who abides in Me, and I in him”, if we abide in the Lord, He will abide in us. The Lord abides in us to be our life, power, joy, peace and everything, thus making us enjoy Himself and the riches of His life in the practical experience.
7) When we preach the glad tidings, we shall not only rely on power, but also life. The condition and nature of the life decide that of the fruit. One should usually have sweet fellowship with the Lord in life, so that he can bear fruit.
8) The branches of the vine have only one responsibility of bearing fruit. He who preaches the glad tidings bears fruit. Therefore, every Christian should do his duty to preach the glad tidings and save sinners in the daily life.
9) What is important is not the branches live for the vine, but the life of the vine should be conveyed to the branches. The more one enjoys Him, the more he can do for Him. If a man (branch) lives in the vine more, the life of the vine will be more conveyed to Him. When the sap of the vine flows through the branches, they will bear fruit thereafter. This is what the Lord asks us to do.
John. 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
YLT: “if any one may not remain in me, he was cast forth without as the branch, and was withered, and they gather them, and cast to fire, and they are burned;”
Meaning of Words: “wither”: dry up, pine away; “gather”: assemble;
Literal Meaning: “he is cast out as a branch and is withered”, the branch is withered, for it is unable to absorb water and nutrients from the trunk. The “withered” branch does not refer to the false Christians, for the whole parable refers to the true Christians.
“And they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” ---- “Are burned”, it does not mean the eternal perdition, but that if a believer does not abide in the Lord, he will be worthless like a branch separated from the trunk. It becomes a withered branch, which can be only used to burn. Men shall not respect those Christians who have lost the testimony, and even regard them as a word of shame, which makes them ashamed, just like being burned.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If the fellowship of a believer with the Lord is cut off, he will be in need of the working, flowing, and provision of life, thus causing his spiritual life be withered.
2) Those believers whose spiritual life is withered not only have little worth in the Lord, and even men in the world also despise him.
John. 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. ”
YLT: “if ye may remain in me, and my sayings in you may remain, whatever ye may wish ye shall ask, and it shall be done to you.”
Meaning of Words: “abide”: the transient word. “will”: desire; “ask”: require, call for; “do”: become, come to pass;
Literal Meaning: “and My words abide in you”, it means the word of the Lord dwell in them richly (see Col 3:16), so that the Lord’s word becomes the standard of life, the guidance of their thought, the motivation of their deeds and the basis of their choices.
“You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” ---- The word “will” here means the will of men desires something actively. “Ask” indicates it is a concentrated prayer. Therefore, it shows that if one desires something actively and asks the Lord, the matter will be done. In other words, the Lord believes that the will of some men confirms to the will of God.
The word of the Lord in this verse indicates that since a believer abides in the Lord, the word of the Lord will abide in him also. Therefore, from the Lord’s word, he will know what the will of God is, and what is not. Finally, what such men desires is what God desires, and their prayer will be according to their inner knowledge. Such prayer surely conforms to the will of God. Therefore, once they ask, it shall be done by the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) A man who abides in the Lord will not be in want of the revelation of the Lord’s word.
2) The right prayer of Christians is based on the right knowledge about the Lord’s word.
3) We can see in this verse that abiding in the Lord and having fellowship with Him are the conditions that prayers shall be granted. Our prayer shall conform to the will of the Lord, so that it will be fulfilled. If we want to pray according to the will of the Lord, we should abide in the Lord and have fellowship with the Lord, thus enabling us to know the will of the Lord.
4) The secret of prayers being granted is that ---- if God wants to something, He will firstly convey His will to men’s heart through the fellowship of the spirit. Then men pray according to this will, He will fulfill it.
5) Whether will our prayer be granted is decided by two points: one is we should abide in Him, and the other is His word should also abide in us. Therefore, here it mentions that we can pray with the word of the Scriptures. Reading the Scripture and praying to the Lord are indispensable for a normal Christian.
6) Here, the word of the Lord is first and prayer afterwards. But in the Book of Psalms, the prayer of waking up at first and later is the meditation of the Lord’s word (see Ps 119:147-148). Sometimes, we read the Bible first, and then pray. And sometimes, we pray first and read the Bible afterwards. Both of them shall be parallel and complementary.
7) When you read the word of God, it enlightens you inwardly and will become the burden and guidance of your prayer. This prayer is a pray out of God Himself, which is easily to be granted.
8) If a man learns to have fellowship with the Lord and live in the Lord, the word of the Lord will abide in Him. A man who reads the Scripture in a right and normal way should be a man who abides in the Lord.
9) A man who prays should be a man who abides in the Lord. When a man lives before the Lord, which is obviously good, it is still possible that he has not been really jointed to the Lord. Only when a man abides in the Lord will he and the Lord become one. Then, he can tell the Lord that he does not pray in himself, the Lord and himself pray together.
10) If a prayer has none impact to my life, and has not made me the one who can bear more fruit, it will not be true prayer.
11) To abide in the Lord is the secret of a good prayer. The closer we are to the Lord, the more we have the mind of Christ in us. The more we know Him in His word, the more we will know His will, the nearer is our will to God’s will, and the surer that our prayer must be granted.
12) The most spiritual prayer of believers is the Lord Himself prays in us ---- His will becomes our will, and His word becomes our word.
John. 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. ”
YLT: “`In this was my Father glorified, that ye may bear much fruit, and ye shall become my disciples.”
Literal Meaning: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit”, “glorify” means God has been revealed (see Ex 34:34). Bearing more fruit is making the life of God be manifested. Therefore, God has been manifested when believers bear more fruit, thus He has been glorified.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God is glorified by the work of the Son (see 13:31-32) as well as the believers who bear fruit. In fact, fruit borne by believers is the fulfillments of the works of the Lord.
2) No matter manifesting the life of God or multiplying the life of God, the ultimate purpose is to glorify God. Glorifying God is the purpose as well as the value of our existence.
John. 15:9 “"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. ”
YLT: “According as the Father did love me, I also loved you, remain in my love;”
Literal Meaning: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you.” ---- The Lord’s love to us is the same as the Father’s love to the Son. Both of them are the same in the quality and amount.
“Abide in My love.” ---- “Abiding in the Lord’s love” is receiving the refreshment and motivation of the Lord’s love, and regarding the Lord’s love as the basic motivation of our daily life.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We should feel the Lord’s love continually, and enjoy this love in our life.
2) For the love of the Christ constrains us, having judged this: that one died for all, and then all have died. And he died for all, that they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who died for them and has been raised (see 2Cor5:14-15).
3) Only abiding in the love of the Lord will have more chance to enjoy the Lord’s love and love others by such love of the Lord.
John. 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. ”
YLT: “if my commandments ye may keep, ye shall remain in my love, according as I the commands of my Father have kept, and do remain in His love;”
Literal Meaning: “If you keep My commandments”, when believers abides in the Lord, the word of the Lord also abides in us (see v.7). Then the Lord’s word has become his commandment that we should keep.
“You will abide in My love”, the basic motivation of keeping the Lord’s commandment is the Lord’s love. Only abiding in the Lord’s love will enable us to keep the Lord’s word.
“Just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” ---- The Lord’s word indicates that: (1) He sets Himself as an example to others and takes the lead in keeping the commandment of the Father. (2) His experience has proved that keeping the commandment of the Father will surely abide in the Lord’s love. (3) His commandment is not difficult to keep, just as the Father’s commandment is not difficult to keep too. (4) His love is precious, just as the Father’s love is precious too.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) He who has not kept the commandment has no love. Keeping the commandment and love are indispensible.
2) Life that is jointed to the Lord is a life guided by love. This life shows the obedience to the Lord’s commandment, thus the Lord’s love in us has been manifested.
3) How the Father sees Christ, Christ will see us in like manner. How the Father loves Christ, Christ will love us likewise.
John. 15:11 “"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. ”
YLT: “these things I have spoken to you, that my joy in you may remain, and your joy may be full.”
Literal Meaning: “these things I have spoken to you”, “these things” refer to the matters concerning “abiding in the Lord” and “abiding in the Lord’s love”.
“That My joy may remain in you”, note that “My joy” is the Lord’s joy. It pointes that: (1) “abiding in the Lord” and “abiding in the Lord’s love” will bring joy to the Lord. (2) The Lord’s joy will be transferred into us and have immediate influence to ourselves, and thus we may have the Lord’s joy fulfilled in us (see 17:13).
“And that your joy may be full”, it indicates that: (1) whether the joy of the Lord can remain in Christians or not decides whether Christians have joy or not. A man without the Lord’s joy has no joy. (2) Our joy produced by the Lord’s joy is full joy.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord’s joy is out of the heaven, which is not easily effected by the earthly environment.
2) Love is the origin of joy. If we want to taste the joy, we shall only let us be immersed in the Lord’s love.
3) The way of Christians should never be covered with dark clouds, for the Lord is willing to let us be filled with His joy.
John. 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. ”
YLT: “`This is my command, that ye love one another, according as I did love you;”
Literal Meaning: “you love one another”, “love”: the divine love (agapao), the sacrificing love. “Loving one another” of the believers is different from that of the world (see 13:34).
“As I have loved you”, the Lord’s love is the model and standard of loving one another for believers.
“This is My commandment.” ---- In other words, if we have the two conditions as below, we have already disobeyed the Lord’s commandment: (1) we have not loved one another. (2) We do not love others as we love the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Love hangs the commandments, and love is the greatest commandment of the law (see Matt 22:37-40).
2) Whether a man loves God or not can be judged from his love to others. For he that does love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen (see 1John 4:20)?
3) There are three points concerning loving one another of believers: (1) they love in the same life of the Lord. (2) They love in the same love of the Lord. (3) They love in the same commission of the Lord.
John. 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. ”
YLT: “greater love than this hath no one, that any one his life may lay down for his friends;”
Meaning of Words: “life”: soul
Literal Meaning: “lay down one's life for his friends”, “friends” refers to those who the Lord loves.
“Greater love has no one than this”, it is the greatest action of love that one dies for his beloved ones. According to the context, it does not emphasize men’s love sacrificing for men, but the Lord’s life, which is sacrificed because of love, is matchless and surpassing.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The love of Christ is not only manifested in His words, but also His sacrificing death. Let us not love with word, nor with tongue, but in deed and in truth (1John 3:18).
2) For scarcely for just will one die, for perhaps for good some one might also dare to die. But God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us (Rom 5:7-8).
John. 15:14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. ”
YLT: “ye are my friends, if ye may do whatever I command you;”
Literal Meaning: keeping what the Lord has commanded is the necessary condition and responsibility for a man to be the Lord’s friend.
John. 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. ”
YLT: “no more do I call you servants, because the servant hath not known what his lord doth, and you I have called friends, because all things that I heard from my Father, I did make known to you.”
Literal Meaning: “a servant does not know what his master is doing”, a servant usually does what his master commands, but many times is ignorant of the master’s heart.
“But I have called you friends”, the relationship of friend is based on the mutual trust and love. They withhold nothing from each other, pour out their heart, and share their personal feeling without any preservation. They discuss any matter together.
“For all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you”, it means that they have been guided by the Lord to know the will of God the Father, and have received the divine truth and teaching. Such grace is unduplicated ever before.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “But I have called you friends”, the Lord called us “friends” ---- it on one hand shows that how humble the Lord is, since He comes to be in the same status with us. On the other hand, it unveils that He shows mercy to us on everything, sympathizes with us, helps us and even “delivers His life” to us (see v.13).
2) Men usually desire to be the Lord’s friends instead of the Lord’s servants. In fact, if a man wants to be the Lord’s friend, he shall be His servant first. He who is unwilling to be the Lord’s servant shall not be the Lord’s friend. The true servant of the Lord is the true friend of Him.
3) We shall be the Lord’s servants as well as His friends. We should not only be the fellow-workmen of the Lord together, but also be of the same mind with Him, as well as abide with Him and walk with Him.
John. 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. ”
YLT: “`Ye did not choose out me, but I chose out you, and did appoint you, that ye might go away, and might bear fruit, and your fruit might remain, that whatever ye may ask of the Father in my name, He may give you.”
Meaning of Words: “choose”: make choice, select; “appoint”: ordain, put, set (forth), settle;
Literal Meaning: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you”, among the Jews, the disciples usually chose the rabbis whom they wanted to follow. However, the Lord’s disciples were different, for the Lord chose them Himself.
“And appointed you that you should go and bear fruit”, having been chosen, disciples should be appointed before working for the Lord, namely, the stage of being appointed. Note that the word of “go” in the original carries a meaning of “departing for another place”. Therefore, “bearing fruit” here emphasizes the fruit of the spiritual works ---- to bring men to believe the Lord, not the fruit of disposition.
“And that your fruit should remain”, the works of believers follow with them for ever (see Rev 14:13), so the fruit of bringing men to believe the Lord remains for ever (see Luke 16:9).
“In My name”, the Lord’s name is the Lord Himself. Therefore, in the name of the Lord means being jointed to the Lord and withdrawing the authority of the Lord in Him.
“Whatever you ask the Father He may give you”, note that we usually expect good praying life so that we can bear more fruit. However, here the order is contrary ---- the Lord firstly makes us bear fruit, and then the Father in the heaven hears our prayer.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We follow the Lord, for the Lord has chosen us, not for occasional reasons.
2) It is not because we have good insight to choose the Lord, but the Lord has chosen us first in His eternal love. The gifts and the calling of God are not subject to repentance (see Rom11:29).
3) We shall not only go out to bring men to believe the Lord (“go and bear fruit”), but also look after and feed believers who have been just granted the grace, thus they can not stumble (the fruit should remain).
4) Ask in the Lord’s name means that we will be jointed to the Lord concerning what we have prayed. Only praying in this way shall be serviceable to the Lord and easy to receive the answer and fulfillment of the Lord.
5) When we come to approach the Lord, we can not pray in ourselves, for our natural life is unacceptable to God. Therefore, we should pray in the Lord and in His name, thus our prayer will be granted.
6) If we want to ask in the name of the Lord, we should have intimate fellowship with Him. Otherwise, we will not understand the Lord’s will. The closer we are to the Lord, the more we will know His will.
John. 15:17 “These things I command you, that you love one another. ”
YLT: “`These things I command you, that ye love one another;”
Literal Meaning: there some Bible exegetes hold that this verse is not the conclusion of verse 16, but its foundation. Only by “loving one another”, believers can: (1) bear fruit that remains; (2) experience that their prayers are granted by God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Love is the motivation of keeping what the Lord has commanded. Love is also the necessary condition of fulfilling the Lord’s commission.
2) The Lord asked His disciples to love each other, for they must be hated by men in the world (see v.18). Therefore, we should use love to testify that we are different from the world.
John. 15:18 “"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. ”
YLT: “if the world doth hate you, ye know that it hath hated me before you;”
Literal Meaning: “If the world hates you”, “the world”, it refers to the system that Satan uses to withstand God. Here, it especially refers to the religious world.
“It hated you”, “hate”, the perfect tense in the original presented a fixed attitude, which was continual, and so this “hating” attitude was extended to His disciples. The “hating” attitude carries a meaning of “rejection”.
John. 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. ”
YLT: “if of the world ye were, the world its own would have been loving, and because of the world ye are not -- but I chose out of the world -- because of this the world hateth you.”
Literal Meaning: “If you were of the world”, the main distinct point of believer is his new life of God, so they are different from those who reject God.
Enlightenment in the Word: once we have been jointed to Christ, our relationships with the world have been automatically broken off. That’s why the world hates us. Therefore, even the persecutions may prove that we have been truly jointed to Christ. As far as one’s experience concerned, if he has none scars of being persecuted, he may have lost the union with the Lord.
John. 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, "A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. ”
YLT: “`Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his lord; if me they did persecute, you also they will persecute; if my word they did keep, yours also they will keep;”
Literal Meaning: “A servant is not greater than his master.” ---- Since we are the servants of the Lord, we shall not expect the world treat us better that the Lord.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” ---- If we are persecuted by the world, it is not abnormal. Instead, it proves that we are of the Lord, so we have the same experience with the Lord. The Lord says blessed is he who is persecuted, and so rejoices (see Matt 5:10-12).
2) All the children of God are servants of God. The words of the Lord tell us that “a servant is not greater than his master”. Therefore, as the way of the Lord on the earth is, so are ours on the earth. Everything that He had suffered on the earth, we would also suffer afterwards.
John. 15:21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. ”
YLT: “but all these things will they do to you, because of my name, because they have not known Him who sent me;”
Literal Meaning: “for My name's sake”, the Lord’s name stands for the Lord and all the teachings of Him. When believers bear witness of the Lord’s name and walk like Him, the world must hate them.
“All these things they will do to you”, “all these things” refer to all the things about hating and persecuting the disciples. Since Christians are not of the world, persecutions from the world are unavoidable. The most fundamental reason is that the world refuses and does not know the Father (see 16:3).
John. 15:22 “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. ”
YLT: “if I had not come and spoken to them, they were not having sin; but now pretext they have not for their sin.”
Meaning of Words: “excuse”: pretext, pretence;
Literal Meaning: “If I had not come and spoken to them”, they had seen the Son of God, and had heard His words.
“But now they have no excuse for their sin”, right and responsibility are linked together. The Jews had the privilege of the presence of the Son of God, and had received the special revelation of God from the Old Testament. Therefore, their rejection of the Lord condemned them, and they had no excuse. If the Lord Jesus had not come to them, they were still sinners, but did not have the sin of refusing the Lord directly (see v.24).
Enlightenment in the Word: if men disobey the Lord’s word because of ignorance, it is sin. However, if they still disobey even though they have known the Lord’s word, their sin is even worse.
John. 15:23 “He who hates Me hates My Father also. ”
YLT: “`He who is hating me, doth hate also my Father;”
John. 15:24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. ”
YLT: “if I did not do among them the works that no other hath done, they were not having sin, and now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father;”
John. 15:25 “But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, "They hated Me without a cause.'”
YLT: “but -- that the word may be fulfilled that was written in their law -- They hated me without a cause.”
Meaning of Words: “without a cause”: freely, for nothing, in vain
Literal Meaning: “the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law”, “their law” here generally refers to the Old Testament. Even though the sinners thought they have perfectly rebelled against the Lord, the determinate counsel of God would ultimately be fulfilled.
“They hated Me without a cause.” ---- It is quoted from the Book of Psalm (35:19; 69:4).
John. 15:26 “"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. ”
YLT: “`And when the Comforter may come, whom I will send to you from the Father -- the Spirit of truth, who from the Father doth come forth, he will testify of me;”
Literal Meaning: “the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father”, “from the Father”, in the original it means not only “from” the Father, but also “with” the Father. The Holy Spirit comes to us and has not left the Father who is the origin, but comes to us with the Father together.
“When the Helper comes, He will testify of Me.” ---- The main work of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness of Christ, and He testifies in this way: (1) to be our Helper ---- who helps and defends us when we are persecuted (see v.18-25). (2) To be the truth of the Father and the Son ---- who reveals God and Christ to us and enables us to experience the reality of the divine Trinity.
Enlightenment in the Word: the Lord Jesus was the first Helper sent by God (see 1John 2:1). When he ascended to the heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be the second Helper ---- who replaces and represents the Lord on the earth. In fact, the Holy Spirit who is the Helper is the embodiment of Christ. He comes to abide in us, bears witness of Christ, reveals Christ into us, makes us know Him and is our life.
John. 15:27 “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
YLT: “and ye also do testify, because from the beginning ye are with me.”
Literal Meaning: “And you also will bear witness”, this is emphatic. Believers receive the testimony of Christ that is borne by the Holy Spirit (see v.26), and thus they will also bear witness of Christ.
“Because you have been with Me from the beginning.” ---- The word “because” indicates that the apostles are responsible to bear witness, for they are especially chosen and taught by Christ and are the eye-witnesses of His glory. “From the beginning” referred to the time when the Lord came to preach openly.
Enlightenment in the Word: the Holy Spirit comes to testify of Christ (see v.26). We have been jointed to Christ in the Holy Spirit in order to bear witness of Christ. Therefore, the union with the Lord is not only to resolve our problems ---- to receive the infinite origin, but also to fulfill the glorious will of God ---- the testimony of Christ. If we have seen this mystery, we must be willing to and be able to fulfill this divine commission.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
I. The Three Great Relationships of Christians
A. The relationship with Christ (v.1-11).
B. The relationship with believers (v.12-17).
C. The relationship with the world (v.18-27).
II.The Conditions of Bearing Fruit
A. In the Lord (v.2a).
B. Being pruned by the Lord (v.2b-3).
C. Abiding in the Lord (v.4)
D. The Lord is also in him (v.5).
E. The Lord’s words abide in him, and his pray is granted (v.7-8).
F. Obeying the Lord (v.16).
III. The Different Situations of Bearing Fruit
A. Bearing fruit (v.2b).
B. Bearing much fruit (v.2c).
C. Bearing more fruit (v.5, 8).
D. Remaining fruit (v.16).
IV. The Purposes of Bearing Fruit
A. He will not be taken away (v.2) ---- to keep the fellowship of life.
B. Glorifying God (v.8a) ---- to manifest God.
C. Proving that he is the disciple of Christ (v.8b) ---- to manifest Christ.
D. Making the fruit remain (v.16 b).
E. Whatever I ask anything in the Lord’s name, He will do it (v.16c).
V. The Meanings of Abiding in the Lord
A. Keeping the union of life with the Lord (v.4)
B. Having the Lord’s words (v.7a)
C. Being of the same mind with the Lord through praying (v.7b).
D. Abiding in the love of the Lord and keeping the commandment of the Lord (v.9-10).
E. Being the friends of the Lord and knowing what He is doing (v.14-15).
VI. The Several “Abiding”s in This Chapter
A. Abiding in the Lord (v. 4a).
B. The Lord abides in us (v.4b).
C. The Lord’s words abide in us (v.7b).
D. Abiding in the Lord’s love (v.10).
E. The Lord’s joy remains in us (v.11).
F. The fruit that has borne “remains” (which is “abide” in Greek) (v.16)
VII. The Signals of Abiding in the Lord
A. The Positive Signals:
1. The Lord abides in him (v.4-5) ---- he has the obvious presence of the Lord.
2. The one will bear more fruit (v.5) ---- the divine life has been manifested, and the glad tidings have been preached.
3. The Lord’s words abide in him (v.7b) ---- he usually obtains the revelation and guidance of the Lord’s words.
4. He asks, and it shall be done for him (v.7c) ---- the prayer is efficacious.
5. The one abides in the love of the Lord (v.9-10) ---- he is often moved by the Lord’s love.
6. Keeping the Lord’s commandment (v.10) ---- he is able to keep the Lord’s words.
7. The Lord’s love remains in us, and our joy may be full (v.11)
8. Loving one another (v.12).
9. Being the Lord’s friends and knowing what the Lord is doing (v.13-15).
10. Bearing witness of the Lord (v.27).
B. The Negative Signals:
1. Being hated by the world (v.18-19).
2. Being persecuted by the world (v.20).
VIII. The Advantages of Abiding in the Lord
A. Bearing more fruit (v.5).
B. The Lord’s words abide in us (v.7b).
C. We will ask what we desire, and it shall be done for us (v.7b).
IX. The Relationships of the Lord With the Believers
A. The vine and the branches (v.5) ---- the relationship concerning the inner life
B. The teacher and the disciples (v.8) ---- the relationship concerning the way
C. Friends (v.14-15) ---- the relationship concerning the life.
D. The master and the servant (v.15) ---- the relationship concerning the work.
X. Three Special Blessings for Believers
A. Their prayers must be fulfilled (v.7, 16c).
B. Their joy shall be full (v.11).
C. Their fruit shall remain (v.16b).
XI. The Effects of Loving One Another
A. The Lord’s joy may remain in us (v.11a).
B. Our joy may be full (v.11b).
C. Keeping the Lord’s commandment (v.12).
D. Being the Lord’s friends (v.13-15).
E. Whatever we ask God in the Lord’s name He may give us (v.16-17).
XII. The Testimony of the Lord’s Love
A. He laid down His life for believers (v.13).
B. He revealed all things about the Father to believers (v.15).
C. He chose and appointed the believers (v.16).
XIII. The Reasons that the World Hated Christians
A. For they hate Christ (v.18).
B. For Christians are not of the world (v.19).
C. For they persecute the Lord (v.20).
D. For they do not know God (v.21).
E. For they hate without a cause (v.25).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou