John 15

15:1-3 Jesus the True Vine and His Branches


  • ACCS: Like a grapevine hung on the wood of the cross for us (Ambrose), the true vine (Augustine) of David is put through the winepress of the cross (Gaudentius) ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 159). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  • BARCLAY: In the Old Testament, Israel was continually pictured as the vine or the vineyard of God (see Is 5, Jer 2, Ez 15, Hosea 10, Ps 80). The vine had actually become the symbol of the nation of Israel. It was the emblem on the coins of the Maccabees. One of the glories of the Temple was the great golden vine upon the front of the Holy Place… One thing we must remember. It is a first principle of the New Testament that uselessness invites disaster. The fruitless branch is on the way to destruction.
  • BARCLAY – THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES – When Jesus drew his picture of the vine he knew what he was talking about. The vine was grown all over Palestine as it still is. It is a plant which needs a great deal of attention if the best fruit is to be got out of it. It is grown commonly on terraces. The ground has to be perfectly clean. It is sometimes trained on trellises; it is sometimes allowed to creep over the ground upheld by low forked sticks; it sometimes even grows round the doors of the cottages; but wherever it grows careful preparation of the soil is essential. It grows luxuriantly and drastic pruning is necessary. So luxuriant is it that the slips are set in the ground at least twelve feet apart, for it will creep over the ground at speed. A young vine is not allowed to fruit for the first three years and each year is cut drastically back to develop and conserve its life and energy. When mature, it is pruned in December and January. It bears two kinds of branches, one that bears fruit and one that does not; and the branches that do not bear fruit are drastically pruned back, so that they will drain away none of the plant’s strength. The vine can not produce the crop of which it is capable without drastic pruning–and Jesus knew that. Further, the wood of the vine has the curious characteristic that it is good for nothing. It is too soft for any purpose. At certain times of the year, it was laid down by the law, the people must bring offerings of wood to the Temple for the altar fires. But the wood of the vine must not be brought. The only thing that could be done with the wood pruned out of a vine was to make a bonfire of it and destroy it. This adds to the picture Jesus draws.

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.

15: 1a “I am the true vine”

BARCLAY: Jesus calls himself the true vine. The point of that word alethinos (Greek #228), true, real, genuine, is this. It is a curious fact that the symbol of the vine is never used in the Old Testament apart from the idea of degeneration. The point of Isaiah’s picture is that the vineyard has run wild. Jeremiah complains that the nation has turned into “degenerate and become a wild vine.” It is as if Jesus said: “You think that because you belong to the nation of Israel you are a branch of the true vine of God. But the nation it is; a degenerate vine, as all your prophets saw. It is I who am the true vine. The fact that you are a Jew will not save you. The only thing that can save you is to have an intimate living fellowship with me, for I am the vine of God and you must be branches joined to me.” Jesus was laying it down that not Jewish blood but faith in him was the way to God’s salvation. No external qualification can set a man right with God; only the friendship of Jesus Christ can do that.

The Holy Vine of David. Didache (c. 140) : Now, concerning the Eucharist, give thanks as follows. First, concerning the cup: We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you have made known to us through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever (Didache 9.1–2) ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 159). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

The Winepress of the Cross. Gaudentius of Brescia: The wine of his blood, gathered from the many grapes of the vine planted by him, is pressed out in the winepress of the cross, and of its own power it begins to ferment in the capacious vessels of those who receive it with faithful heart. Two Tractates on Exodus. ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (pp. 159–160). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Wine of the Vine, Blood of the Word. Clement of Alexandria: The vine produces wine as the Word produces blood, and both are drunk for the health of men and women—wine for the body, blood for the spirit. Christ the Educator 1.5. ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 160). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Attached to the Vine Through the Spirit. Cyril of Alexandria: He wants to show us how important it is to love, to hold fast to our love toward him and how much we gain from our union with him. This is why he says that he is the vine, by way of illustration. Those united, anchored and rooted in him, who are already partakers in his nature through their participation in the Holy Spirit, are branches. For it is his Holy Spirit who has united us with the Savior Christ since connection with the vine produces a choice of those things that belong to it. And our connection with the vine holds us fast. From a firm resolve in goodness we proceed onward by faith and we become his people, obtaining from him the dignity of sonship.… He says that he is a vine, the mother and nourisher, as it were, of its branches. For we are begotten of him and in him, in the Spirit, to produce the fruits of life. Commentary on the Gospel of John 10.2. ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 160). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 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.

BARCLAY: For some few of us, abiding in Christ will be a mystical experience which is beyond words to express. For most of us, it will mean a constant contact with him. It will mean arranging life, arranging prayer, arranging silence in such a way that there is never a day when we give ourselves a chance to forget him.

BARCLAY: There are two things laid down about the good disciple. First, he enriches his own life; his contact makes him a fruitful branch. Second, he brings glory to God; the sight of his life turns men’s thoughts to the God who made him like that. God is glorified, when we bear much fruit and show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus. The greatest glory of the Christian life is that by our life and conduct we can bring glory to God.

15:9-10 Abiding in Jesus’ Love



11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

The Power of Christian Joy. Cyril of Alexandria: Here it is as though when Jesus says, “All this I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you,” he’s saying that those things which encourage me may give you encouragement as well. You can face danger bravely, fortifying yourselves with the hope of those who will be saved. And, if suffering comes upon you in this work, don’t be brought down into the feebleness of apathy, but rejoice more abundantly when you fulfill the will of him that wills that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. For I too rejoiced at this, [Jesus says], and thought my sufferings very sweet. Commentary on the Gospel of John 10.2. ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 171). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Joy in Rejoicing over Us. Augustine: And what else is Christ’s joy in us except that he is pleased to rejoice over us? And what is this joy of ours that he says is to be made full, but our having fellowship with him?… His joy, therefore, in us is the grace he has bestowed on us, and that is also our joy. But he rejoiced over this joy even from eternity when he chose us before the foundation of the world. Nor can we rightly say that his joy was not full. For God’s joy was never at any time imperfect. But that joy of his was not in us. For we, in whom that joy could exist, had as yet no existence. And even when our existence commenced, it began not to be in him. But in him it always was, who in the infallible truth of his own foreknowledge rejoiced that we should yet be his own. Accordingly, he had a joy over us that was already full when he rejoiced in foreknowing and foreordaining us. And there could hardly be any fear intermingling in that joy of his that might imply a possible failure in what he foreknew would be done by himself. Tractates on the Gospel of John 83.1. ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 171). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

BARCLAY: We are chosen for joy. However hard the Christian way is, it is, both in the travelling and in the goal, the way of joy. There is always a joy in doing the right thing. The Christian is the man of joy, the laughing cavalier of Christ. A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, and nothing in all religious history has done Christianity more harm than its connection with black clothes and long faces. It is true that the Christian is a sinner, but he is a redeemed sinner; and therein lies his joy. How can any man fail to be happy when he walks the ways of life with Jesus?

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

BARCLAY – Chosen: We are chosen for love. We are sent out into the world to love one another. Sometimes we live as if we were sent into the world to compete with one another, or to dispute with one another, or even to quarrel with one another. But the Christian is to live in such a way that he shows what is meant by loving his fellow men. It is here that Jesus makes another of his great claims. If we ask him: What right have you to demand that we love one another? His answer is: “No man can show greater love than to lay down his life for his friends–and I did that.” Many a man tells men to love each other, when his whole life is a demonstration that that is the last thing he does himself. Jesus gave men a commandment which he had himself first fulfilled.

BARLCAY – Friend: Jesus called us to be his friends. He tells his men that he does not call them slaves any more; he calls them friends. Now that is a saying which would be even greater to those who heard it for the first time than it is to us. Doulos (Greek #1401), the slave, the servant of God was no title of shame; it was a title of the highest honour. Moses was the doulos (Greek #1401) of God (Deuteronomy 34:5); so was Joshua (Joshua 24:29); so was David (Psalms 89:20). It is a title which Paul counted it an honour to use (Titus 1:1); and so did James (James 1:1). The greatest men in the past had been proud to be called the douloi (Greek #1401), the slaves of God. And Jesus says: “I have something greater for you yet, you are no longer slaves; you are friends.” Christ offers an intimacy with God which not even the greatest men knew before he came into the world. The idea of being the friend of God has also a background. Abraham was the friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). In Wisdom of Solomon 7:27 Wisdom is said to make men the friends of God. But this phrase is lit up by a custom which obtained both at the courts of the Roman Emperors and of the eastern kings. At these courts there was a very select group of men called the friends of the king, or the friends of the Emperor. At all times they had access to the king: they had even the right to come to his bedchamber at the beginning of the day. He talked to them before he talked to his generals, his rulers, and his statesmen. The friends of the king were those who had the closest and the most intimate connection with him. Jesus called us to be his friends and the friends of God. That is a tremendous offer. It means that no longer do we need to gaze longingly at God from afar off; we are not like slaves who have no right whatever to enter into the presence of the master; we are not like a crowd whose only glimpse of the king is in the passing on some state occasion. Jesus gave us this intimacy with God, so that he is no longer a distant stranger, but our close friend.

The World’s Hatred

18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.


  • “No one can please God and God’s enemies” ~ Gregory the Great.

  • Consoling facts:
    1. Jesus endured this persecution first.
    2. Sign of our goodness: “The hatred of the world is evidence of a person’s goodness while the world’s admiration is more than likely evidence of wickedness” ~ Chrysostom.
    3. Those who suffer with Christ will also reign with Christ.
    4. We are only called to sow the seed of the Word; God will bring forth the fruit  ~ St. Cyril.
    5. When persecutors attack us, it is Christ they are attacking ~ St. Augustine

(Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (pp. 178–179). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)

BARCLAY – The World’s Hatred:

  • As John saw it, a man is either of the world or of Christ, and there is no stage between. Further, we must remember that by this time the Church was living under the constant threat of persecution. Christians were indeed persecuted because of the name of Christ. Christianity was illegal. A magistrate needed only to ask whether or not a man was a Christian, and, if he was, no matter what he had done or had not done, he was liable to punishment by death. John was speaking of a situation which existed in the most clear-cut and agonizing way. One thing is certain–no Christian who was involved in persecution could say that he had not been warned.
  • “The world” for John was human society organizing itself without God.
    • The world always suspects people who are different (exampe of umbrella), dislikes people whose lives are a condemnation of it (example of Socrates), and always suspects nonconformity (example of different-coloured hen pecked to death).
  • 4 slanderous reports were spread about the Christians:
    1. They were said to be insurrectionaries — Christians were considered disloyal and dangerous because they would not burn incense to the godhead of Caesar and proclaim him “Lord” (a practice that became the unifying principle to the vast Roman empire).
    2. They were said to be cannibals — this charge came from the words of the sacrament, misunderstood about the Christians’ private meal.
    3. They were said to practice the most flagrant immorality –The weekly meal of the Christians was called the Agape, the Love Feast. When the Christians met each other in the early days they greeted each other with the kiss of peace. It was not difficult to spread abroad the report that the Love Feast was an orgy of sexual indulgence, of which the kiss of peace was the symbol and the sign.
    4. They were said to be incendiaries — They looked to the Second Coming of Christ. To it they had attached all the Old Testament pictures of the Day of the Lord, which foretold of the flaming disintegration and destruction of the world. “The elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). In the reign of Nero came the disastrous fire which devastated Rome and it was easy to connect it with people who preached of the consuming fire which would destroy the world.
    5. They were said to be divisive with family bonds — There was actually another charge brought and for this fifth charge there were understandable grounds. It was that the Christians “tampered with family relationships,” divided families, split up homes and broke up marriages. In a way that was true. Christianity did bring not peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). Often a wife became a Christian and a husband did not. Often children became Christians and parents did not. Then the home was split in two and the family divided.
  • The basic demand on the Christian is the demand that he should have the courage to be different. To be different will be dangerous, but no man can be a Christian unless he accepts that risk, for there must be a difference between the man of the world and the man of Christ.



22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

BARCLAY: Witness of the Spirit = prompts us to believe in Christ. Witness of the Christian = 3 elements: perosnal intimacy, inner conviction, outward testimony.

ACCS: Son Is Intercessor, Spirit Is Comforter. Origen: The name Paraclete seems to be understood in the case of our Savior as meaning intercessor. For he is said to intercede with the Father because of our sins. In the case of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete must be understood in the sense of comforter because he bestows consolation on the souls to whom he openly reveals the apprehension of spiritual knowledge. On First Principles 2.7.4. ~ Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 186). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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