Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
DISCOURSE AT THE
1-8. The spiritual oneness of Christ and His people, and His
relation to them as the Source of all their spiritual life and
fruitfulness, are here beautifully set forth by a figure familiar
to Jewish ears
I am the true vine--of whom the vine of nature is but a shadow.
my Father is the husbandman--the great Proprietor of the vineyard, the
Lord of the spiritual kingdom. (It is surely unnecessary to point out
the claim to supreme divinity involved in this).
2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit . . . every
branch that beareth fruit--As in a fruit tree, some branches may be
fruitful, others quite barren, according as there is a
vital connection between the branch and the stock, or no
vital connection; so the disciples of Christ may be spiritually
fruitful or the reverse, according as they are vitally and
spiritually connected with Christ, or but externally and
mechanically attached to Him. The fruitless He "taketh away"
the fruitful He "purgeth" (cleanseth, pruneth)--stripping it, as
the husbandman does, of what is rank
"that it may bring forth more fruit"; a process often painful, but no
less needful and beneficial than in the natural husbandry.
3. Now--rather, "Already."
ye are clean through--by reason of.
the word I have spoken to you--already in a purified, fruitful
condition, in consequence of the long action upon them of that searching
"word" which was "as a refiner's fire"
(Mal 3:2, 3).
4. Abide in me, and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit of
itself, except it abide in the vine, &c.--As all spiritual
fruitfulness had been ascribed to the mutual inhabitation, and
living, active interpenetration (so to speak) of Christ and His
disciples, so here the keeping up of this vital connection is made
essential to continued fruitfulness.
5. without me--apart, or vitally disconnected from Me.
ye can do nothing--spiritually, acceptably.
6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch
. . . withered . . . cast into the fire
. . . burned--The one proper use of the vine is to
bear fruit; failing this, it is good for one other
How awfully striking the figure, in this view of it!
7. If ye abide in me, and my words . . . in you--Mark
the change from the inhabitation of Himself to that of His
words, paving the way for the subsequent exhortations
(Joh 15:9, 10).
ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you--because this
indwelling of His words in them would secure the harmony of their
askings with the divine will.
8. glorified that ye bear much fruit--not only from His delight in
it for its own sake, but as from "the juices of the Living Vine."
so shall ye be my disciples--evidence your discipleship.
9-11. continue ye in my love--not, "Continue to love Me," but,
"Continue in the possession and enjoyment of My love to you"; as is
evident from the next words.
10. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love--the obedient
spirit of true discipleship cherishing and attracting the continuance
and increase of Christ's love; and this, He adds, was the secret even of
His own abiding in His Father's love!
12-16. That ye love one another, &c.--(See on
Joh 13:34, 35).
13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
for his friends--The emphasis lies not on "friends," but on
"laying down his life" for them; that is, "One can show no greater
regard for those dear to him than to give his life for them, and this is
the love ye shall find in Me."
14. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you--hold
yourselves in absolute subjection to Me.
15. Henceforth I call you not servants--that is,
in the sense explained in the next words; for servants He still calls
and they delight to call themselves so, in the sense of being "under
law to Christ"
the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth--knows nothing of his
master's plans and reasons, but simply receives and executes his
but . . . friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have
made known unto you--admitted you to free, unrestrained fellowship,
keeping back nothing from you which I have received to communicate.
16. Ye have not chosen me, but I . . . you--a wholesale memento after
the lofty things He had just said about their mutual indwelling, and the
unreservedness of the friendship they had been admitted to.
you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit--that is, give yourselves
and that your fruit should remain--showing itself to be an imperishable
and ever growing principle. (Compare
that whatsoever ye shall ask, &c.--(See on
17-21. The substance of these important verses has occurred more
than once before. (See on
22-25. (See on
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had
sin--comparatively none; all other sins being light compared
with the rejection of the Son of God.
now they have no cloak for their sin--rather, "pretext."
24. If I had not done . . . the works which none other
. . . did--(See on
25. that the word might be fulfilled . . . They hated me
without a cause--quoted from the Messianic
applied also in the same sense in
Ro 11:9, 10; 15:3.
26, 27. (See on
27. ye also shall bear witness--rather, "are witnesses"; with
reference indeed to their future witness-bearing, but putting
the emphasis upon their present ample opportunities for
acquiring their qualifications for that great office, inasmuch as they
had been "with Him from the beginning." (See on