Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 21 September 2016; Revised 9 January 2017
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid–2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Illustration of the Vine and Branches, 15:1-8
Instruction on Love, 15:9-17
Opposition of the World, 15:18-25
Ministry of the Advocate, 15:26-27
Thursday, Erev Nisan 15 (Friday), A.D. 30; 6 April (Julian)
John continues his narrative of the last supper with a discourse of Yeshua occurring after the new covenant ritual.
Illustration of the Vine and Branches, 15:1-8
1 "I AM the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.
According to 14:31 Yeshua and his disciples are no longer reclining at table but are now standing in preparation for departure. Even so Yeshua continues his instruction. I: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. AM: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). The pronoun-verb expression occurs often in conversational way for simple self-identification ("It is I," Matt 14:27), describing himself ("I am humble," Matt 11:29) or introducing an action ("I am sending," Matt 23:34). However, in John's book Yeshua combines egō eimi with a parabolic metaphor to define himself, known as the "Seven I AM Sayings" (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). John's book of Revelation adds an eighth I AM saying, "I am the Alpha and Omega" (Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:12 NASB).
In the LXX egō eimi is predominately spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself, first in the name "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). More commonly God says egō eimi kurios, for Heb. ani YHVH, "I am YHVH" 48 times (e.g., Ex 7:5; Lev 11:44; 26:1; Deut 5:6; Isa 45:8; Jer 24:7; Ezek 28:22). Such statements indicate that Yeshua had a firm grasp of his own identity. Stern suggests that the seven "I AM" sayings imply a claim even greater than being the Messiah (168). They are too similar to the God of Israel's self-revelation in the Tanakh to be accidental. Yeshua makes the point of his divine preexistence in his declaration of "Before Abraham was born I AM" (John 8:58). The present tense of "I am" asserts that Yeshua's identity does not change. He is the "same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb 13:8).
Yeshua introduces the seventh "I AM saying" in the form of an agricultural illustration to make an analogy to himself and his disciples. the true: Grk. alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true; (1) true, in the sense of reliable or dependable; (2) opposite of superficial, real, genuine, authentic; or (3) in accord with fact or circumstance, accurate. The first and second meanings have application here. The adjective is used in John's narrative to describe Yeshua as the light (1:9) and the bread (6:32). Yeshua also used the adjective to insist that his judgment was true (8:16). Even his enemies admitted that he was truthful and taught the way of God in truth (Matt 22:16).
the true: Grk. alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true; (1) true, in the sense of reliable or dependable; (2) opposite of superficial, real, genuine, authentic; or (3) in accord with fact or circumstance, accurate. The first and second meanings have application here. The adjective is used in John's narrative to describe Yeshua as the light (1:9) and the bread (6:32). Yeshua also used the adjective to insist that his judgment was true (8:16). Even his enemies admitted that he was truthful and taught the way of God in truth (Matt 22:16).
vine: Grk. ampelos, a climbing plant with tendrils, a vine, specifically a grape vine. The noun appears only 9 times in the Besekh, three of which are in John, all in this chapter. The noun appears in the Synoptic Narratives in reference to the "fruit of the vine" or wine consumed in the Passover meal and the New Covenant ritual (Matt 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). Yeshua employs the noun here as an analogy to describe himself. In the LXX ampelos renders Heb. gephen, a vine, always grape bearing (DNTT 3:918). The word first occurs in a dream of Pharaoh's chief cupbearer (Gen 40:9-10), which Joseph interpreted as representing restoration and service to the king. The vine is used many more times as a simile, especially of Israel (Ps 80:8-9, 14, 15; Jer 2:21; 6:9; Ezek 17:6-8; 19:10; Hos 10:1; 14:8; Joel 1:7). In many passages where "vine" is used symbolically of Israel the vine is not only unproductive but corrupt. Thus Yeshua describes himself in contrast to faithless Israel. He is the true (= faithful) vine.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
my: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the word abba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). The God of Israel is also father of the king as the embodiment of Israel (2Sam 7:14; Ps 89:27).
Only in late Jewish apocryphal writings is God called the Father of the pious Jew as an individual (Sir 23:1, 4; Tob 13:4; Wsd 2:16; 14:3; 3Macc 5:7). While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Unfortunately the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed removed the association with Israel and presented the Father as only the "Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).
Even though God prophesied through Jeremiah that Israel would call God "My Father" (Jer 3:19), Yeshua is the only individual in Scripture to do so. There are 44 verses in the apostolic narratives in which Yeshua refers to the God of Israel as "My Father," more than half of which are in John. Yet, Yeshua's use of "Father" in this personal sense was predicted. God informed David,
"When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
In a Messianic psalm Ethan the Ezrahite prophesied that the son of David would declare, "You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation" (Ps 89:26). Yeshua's usage of My Father, then, is perfectly in accord with prophecy.
is: Grk. eimi, pres. the vine-dresser: Grk. geōrgos (from gē, 'land' and ergon, 'work') means either (1) a farmer or tenant farmer, or in particular (2) a vine-dresser or viticulturist. Danker translates the term as "vine-dresser" for this passage. Bible versions translate the noun variously as husbandman, farmer or gardener. Mounce defines the noun as a farmer, one who tills the earth (2Tim 2:6; Jas. 5:7), and especially a vine-dresser or keeper of a vineyard. In the LXX geōrgos appears without direct Hebrew equivalent to first describe Noah (Gen 9:20) and then Issachar (Gen 49:15). Then, geōrgos is used to render Heb. karam, to tend vineyards, dress vines (2Kgs 25:12), Heb. ikkar, a plowman, husbandman (2Chr 26:10; Jer 14:4; 31:24; 51:23; Joel 1:11; Amos 5:16), and Heb. yagab, to till, be a husbandman (Jer 52:16).
In the time of Yeshua the term geōrgos applied to those who had made a contract with a landlord to tend the vineyard in return for part of its produce. The duties of a vine-dresser included monitoring and controlling pests and diseases, monitoring fruit development, pruning when necessary, harvesting and producing wine. It is striking that the Father is described as performing such humble duties. Caring for grape vines is hard work.
2 "He takes away every branch in me not bearing fruit; and He prunes every branch bearing fruit, so that it might bear more fruit.
He takes away: Grk. airō, pres., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. The second meaning applies here. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope; all, every. branch: Grk. klēma (from klaō, to break), shoot or branch, especially of a vine. In the LXX klēma occurs 12 times and translates six different words: for Heb. zemorah, branch, twig, shoot of a grape vine or tree (Num 13:23; Ezek 8:17; 15:2; Nah 2:2); for Heb. qatsiyr, bough or branch of a tree (Ps 80:11); for Heb. netishah, twig or tendril of a vine plant (Jer 48:32); for Heb. dalith, branch or bough of a tree or vine (Ezek 17:6-7, 23; 19:11); for Heb. sarig, tendril or twig of a tree or vine (Joel 1:7); and for Heb. anaph, branch or bough of a tree (Mal 4:1).
The term klēma appears in Josephus in the account of the dream of Pharaoh's cupbearer (Ant. II, 5:2), and in the description of an engraving of a vine branch with clusters of grapes on a table of gold that King Ptolemy of Egypt sent to Jerusalem as a gift to express his thanks for the translation of the Scriptures into Greek c. 200 BC (Ant. XII, 2:9). The term occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in this chapter. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," and here marking close association. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. bearing: Grk. pherō, pres. part., to bear or move, used here of bringing about a yield; bear, produce.
fruit: Grk. karpos generally means the edible product of a plant grown for agricultural purposes, fruit, crop (Matt 13:8; 21:34; Jas 5:18), as well as the fruit of the womb (Luke 1:42). In the LXX karpos renders chiefly Heb. peri, 'fruit,' first in Genesis 1:11. The term is used for the fruit of plants (Deut 1:25), fruit of the body or posterity (Gen 30:2; Ps 132:11) and fruit or results of an action (Prov 31:31; Hos 10:13; Jer 6:19; 17:10). In late Judaism the righteous man brings forth good fruit; the unrighteous brings forth bad fruit (cf. Matt 3:10; 7:17-19; 12:33) (DNTT 1:721). The word "fruit" is used figuratively in the Besekh in five categories.
First, "fruit" is used for conduct, such as the fruit of repentance (Matt 3:8), doing the will of the Father (Matt 7:15-21), speaking good or evil (Matt 12:33-37), obedience of God's commandments (John 15:4-10), and walking in a manner that pleases God (Col 1:10). Second, "fruit" depicts character, such as the fruit of the Spirit (Rom 8:23; Gal 5:22), and the virtues of goodness, righteousness and truth (Rom 6:22; Eph 5:9; Php 1:11; 4:17; Heb 12:11; Jas 3:17-18). Third, "fruit" represents the results from proclaiming the good news (John 4:36; Rom 1:13; Php 1:22; Col 1:6). Fourth, "fruit" is used in a financial sense as support for those in ministry (1Cor 9:7; 2Tim 2:6) and charity for the needy (Rom 15:28). Lastly, fruit is used in the Hebraic sense of praising God in worship (Heb 13:15; cf. Hos 14:2).
Yeshua does not treat his illustration as an allegory and define "fruit." However, in this context the fruit would be keeping his commandments, especially the manifestation of mutual agapē-love (verses 10-12 below). In any event, Yeshua's straight-forward words present a conundrum to Christian interpretation. How can someone "in Yeshua" not bear fruit? The parabolic saying probably alludes to Judas. He had been "in Yeshua" for at least two years in the sense of being closely associated with him. Judas also obeyed instructions of Yeshua that were directed to all the disciples. But, because Judas chose not to remain in the vine, the Father took him away. The rest of the parabolic saying of this verse would then apply to the rest of Yeshua's disciples.
Barclay suggests that there are three ways that spiritual fruitlessness may occur: (1) refuse to listen to Yeshua at all; (2) listen to him and then render him lip service unsupported by any deeds; or (3) accept him as Master, and then, in the face of difficulties of the way or the desire to do as we like, abandon him. The lesson of Scripture is that uselessness invites disaster. The fruitless branch is on the way to destruction.
and He prunes: Grk. kathairō, pres., cut away unwanted growth, prune, trim. This verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Spiritually speaking pruning is equivalent to eliminating what is unfruitful in a person's life, i.e., cleansing from sin (Stern). every: Grk. pas. branch: Grk. klēma. bearing: Grk. pherō, pres. part. fruit: Grk. karpos. The fruit bearing branches could be likened to the faithful remnant (Isa 10:21; 37:22; Rom 9:27; 11:5). so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. it might bear: Grk. pherō, pres. subj. more: Grk. pleiōn, adj., more excellent, more in number, very great. fruit: Grk. karpos. The irony of proper pruning is that it produces more growth, not less.
Barclay provides valuable information about the growing of grape vines that gives insight into Yeshua's use of the word picture (6:173f). 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 potential growth. When mature, it is pruned in December and January. It bears two kinds of branches, one that bears fruit and one that does not. The branches that do not bear fruit are drastically pruned back, so that they will not drain away the plant's strength. the vine cannot produce the crop of which it is capable without drastic pruning.
3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
You: 2p-pl. pers. pron. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. already: Grk. ēdē, adv. with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. clean: Grk. katharos, adj., may mean (1) free from contamination, clean, cleansed; or (2) free from guilt or blame or moral impurity. Either sense may be translated as 'clean.' The second meaning applies here. because of: Grk. dia, prep. The root meaning of dia is two, but in composition it normally means 'through' or 'between' (DM 101). With the accusative case of the pronoun following the meaning is "because of" signifying a causal function. the word: Grk. logos, vocalized expression of the mind; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087).
which: Grk. hos, relative pron. I have spoken: Grk. laleō, perf., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to you: 2p-pl. pers. pron. Yeshua's statement here recalls his words at the foot-washing, "you are clean, but not all" (13:10) (Tenney). The one who was not "clean" was the one about to betray him, Judas. Sending Judas out from their midst was an acted out parable of pruning, and as a result they were clean as a group. "Clean," of course, does not mean the apostles were perfect, but they were not guilty of anything punishable by God.
4 "Abide in me, and I in you. Just as the branch is not able to bear fruit from itself, except it should abide in the vine, so neither you, except you abide in Me.
Yeshua uses a known fact of agricultural science to convey a spiritual truth. Abide: Grk. menō, aor. imp., to be in a situation for a length of time; abide, dwell, lodge, remain, sojourn or stay. In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad ('stand, remain') and qum (stand, arise). The verb is particularly used of God to emphasize His constancy (DNTT 3:224). in: Grk. en, prep. The preposition denotes a very close association or union. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. and I: Grk. kagō, conj., formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. in: Grk. en. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. The plural pronoun could be taken individually of each of the eleven apostles or corporately as a group, or both.
Yeshua's invitation to mutual abiding has been the subject of much discussion and interpretation by commentators. Some have interpreted "abiding" as a kind of intimate, mystical experience, but that definition is too other-worldly to be of practical help. Others have interpreted "abiding" as indicative of a daily private prayer life, and while prayer is important Yeshua does not speak here of prayer as he does in the sermon on the mount. In fact, we could say that the concept of "daily devotions" conceived of by Evangelicals does not exist in the apostolic writings. Rather, the definition must proceed from the verb Yeshua used. The verb speaks of constancy or loyalty or as Gill says, "cleaving to him with full purpose of heart." The disciple who dwells with Yeshua will not betray or abandon him as Judas did.
In addition, mutual abiding means that the disciple is always aware that he is a disciple of Yeshua. The abiding disciple does not compartmentalize his life to restrict his attention on Yeshua to one day a week. The "Sunday Christian" might be a believer, but he is not a disciple and will not be a fruitful branch. The abiding disciple is aware that he bears the Lord's name every day, and thus is devoted to manifesting character and conduct pleasing to his master (see verse 10 below).
Just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. the branch: Grk. klēma. See verse 2 above. is not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle that makes a strong denial or negation of an alleged fact or proposition (DM 264). able: Grk. dunamai, pres., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power. to bear: Grk. pherō, pres. inf. See verse 2 above. fruit: Grk. karpos. See verse 2 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. generally used to denote separation, and here indicates a point of origin; from. itself: Grk. heautou, neut. reflexive pron. A reflexive pronoun is one that is used to refer the action back to the subject. except: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not." it should abide: Grk. menō, pres. subj., as defined herein.
The subjunctive mood of "abide" is used to denote mild contingency or probability; it looks toward what is conceivable or potential. In other words, Yeshua speaks hypothetically of a reality. in: Grk. en, prep. the vine: Grk. ampelos. See verse 1 above. The noun is used parabolically of Yeshua. Yeshua states a simple biological fact. Branches are things and not people. They have no ability to make choices about staying connected to the vine. In addition, branches are incapable of producing fruit by themselves. They rely on drawing nutrients from the root. Yeshua then draws the logical conclusion.
so: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. neither: Grk. oude, conj. that links a negative statement as complement to a preceding negative; neither, nor. you: pl. pers. pron. except: Grk. ean mē. you should abide: Grk. menō, pres. subj. in: Grk. en, prep. me: Grk. egō; i.e., Yeshua the True Vine. Maintaining union with Yeshua through the Spirit of Yeshua is the only way to maintain spiritual life and the only way to produce spiritual fruit.
5 "I am the vine, you the branches. The one abiding in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you are not able to do anything.
I am the vine: Yeshua repeats his declaration from verse 1 above. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. the branches: pl. of Grk. klēma. See verse 2 above. The contrast establishes clearly who is superior and who is dependent. Yeshua reminds his disciples that they are not self-sufficient. The vine plus branches is a picture of a vineyard. The parabolic saying may allude to the fact that contemporary rabbis compared their classes to vineyards because they were arranged in rows (Walter W. Wessel, Mark, Expositor's Bible Commentary; note on Mark 6:40). In the Tanakh Israel is depicted as a vineyard (Ps 80:8-16; Isa 5:1-7, 27:2-6; Jer 2:21, 12:10; Ezek 17:5-6; Hos 10:1; Joel 1:7). The fact that "vine" describes both the Jewish people and its Messiah reinforces the close identification of Yeshua with Israel (Stern).
In the Synoptic Narratives Yeshua told four parables involving a vineyard: (1) the fig tree in the vineyard (Luke 13:6-9), (2) the workers in the vineyard (Matt 20:1-16), (3) the two sons and the vineyard (Matt 21:28-32) and (4) the wicked vinedressers (Matt 21:33-41; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19). All of these stories feature conflicted parties and they end with rewards and punishments. The purpose of the illustration here is to present God's original purpose for Israel and the means to have a productive relationship with God. In similar fashion as the vineyard parables Yeshua's teaching here also features a promise of reward as well as a warning of punishment.
The one: Grk. ho, definite article used as a demonstrative pron. abiding: Grk. menō, pres. part. See the previous verse. The participle reflects the identity of the branch in relation to the vine. A true disciple is an "abiding one." in: Grk. en, prep. me: Grk. egō; i.e., Yeshua the True Vine. and I: Grk. kagō, conj. in: Grk. en. him: Grk. autos, masc. pers. pron. The masculine gender of the pronoun does not exclude the female disciple. Stern comments that the Messianic Jewish remnant (Rom 9:6-8; 11:1-10) will obey Yeshua’s commands, stay attached to the real vine, and have the real vine’s power and strength to bring forth good fruit (Matt 7:16–19). And, so will the grafted-in Gentile branches (Rom 11:17–24).
he: Grk. houtos, masc. demonstrative pron., lit. "this one." bears: Grk. pherō, pres. See verse 2 above. much: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, which may relate to (1) number; many, much, numerous; or (2) high degree of quantity or quality; extensive, great, large, many, much, plentiful. fruit: Grk. karpos. See verse 2 above. Tenney comments that fruit-bearing is not only possible but certain if the branch remains in union with the vine. Uniformity of quantity and quality are not promised. But if the life of Yeshua permeates a disciple, fruit will be inevitable. for: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here.
apart from: Grk. chōris, prep., in a condition or circumstance not including; without, apart from. me: Grk. egō. you are not: Grk. ou, adv. See the previous verse. able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See the previous verse. to do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. anything: Grk. oudeis, adj., a marker used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, nobody. The adjective admits no exceptions other than what is stated in the context. HELPS notes that oudeis rules out by definition, i.e. "shuts the door" objectively and leaves no exceptions.
6 "If anyone should not abide in me, he is cast outside as the branch, and dried up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and burned.
If: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pron., a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. should not: Grk. ou, adv. abide: Grk. menō, pres. subj. See verse 4 above. The subjunctive mood depicts a hypothetical situation. The present tense emphasizes a ongoing state of existence. in: Grk. en, prep. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. he is cast: Grk. ballō, aor. pass., may mean (1) to cause movement through vigorous action; throw, cast, hurl, or (2) direct toward a position; put, place, lay; or (3) be in forceful movement; break loose, rush. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX ballō renders 15 different Hebrew verbs and one Aramaic verb that depict various kinds of physical actions (ABP).
outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary (e.g., Matt 12:46). In the LXX exō renders Heb. chuts, the outside, often in reference to the out of doors in relation to a structure or away from the houses of a city, the open country (Gen 9:22). The action of casting outside may allude to the Torah requirement of removing an unclean person "outside the camp" as occurred during the years Israel sojourned in the wilderness (Lev 13:46; Num 5:3-4; 12:14-15; Deut 23:10). In addition, stoning someone to death occurred outside the camp (Lev 24:14; Num 15:35-36). There is no indication of how long the period of unfruitfulness would be allowed to continue before disciplinary action takes place. God's dealings with Israel in the Tanakh indicate a lengthy period of grace.
as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here with the focus on a pattern or model, often to introduce a simile; as, just as, like, similar to. the branch: Grk. klēma. See verse 2 above. The Greek text has the definite article but most versions translate the noun as "a branch." Only a few versions retain the definite article (DARBY, DLNT, LITV, YLT). Yeshua's statement offers a conundrum for believers in eternal security. How can a branch in Yeshua, that is, someone truly born again, fall away? Why is a "branch" called a "branch" if it is not connected to the vine? Morris observes that the use of the definite article with "branch" points to definite branch, the one not in vital contact with the vine (671, n. 17). Tenney suggests that the simile of "the branch" alludes specifically to Judas Iscariot (cf. John 17:12; Acts 1:25).
When Judas became a disciple of Yeshua is nowhere stated, but may have occurred during Yeshua's Judean ministry. The first occurrence of his name is his inclusion in the list of twelve named as apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-15). The creation of the apostolate did not occur until after the calling of Matthew (Mark 2:14) at which time Matthew invites Yeshua and his disciples to a meal. John does not mention "the twelve" until the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:67). We might say that Judas was "in Yeshua" in that he followed Yeshua in all the time of their association and obeyed any instructions Yeshua gave his disciples. Yet, Yeshua knew from the beginning that Judas had the heart of a traitor (John 6:70-71). The fact that he embezzled funds (John 12:6) demonstrated his unrighteous character. Judas was not "clean" as the rest of the disciples (John 13:10).
Lightfoot suggests that Yeshua had a particular meaning of "the branch" in mind based on Rashi's paraphrase of Ezekiel 15:2,
"O son of man, I do not ask you concerning the vine that bears fruit (for so it ought to be accounted), but concerning the branch [Heb. zemorah] which is among the trees of the wood, unfruitful, even as the trees themselves are."
Even though zemorah in this verse is translated as "branch" the reference is actually to a wild vine in the forest which produces no fruit just as the trees of the forest. It's noteworthy that Yeshua does not say in this verse "the branch in me." The reasonable conclusion is that a branch that abides every day in Yeshua will produce fruit. But, merely associating with Yeshua (e.g., being a church member) is not equivalent to abiding and therefore is no guarantee of producing fruit. The one caveat that eternal security advocates should consider is that in the simile of the vine and branches, the branches have no will. A disciple has a will and so chooses to obey or disobey, and if he disobeys he courts ruin and judgment.
and dried up: Grk. xērainō, aor. pass., to cause a dry non-functioning condition; dry up, wither. Yeshua offers a very scientific observation. By biblical definition plants are not living, so they cannot die. The word order of the Greek text suggests that the casting away results from unfruitfulness and the drying occurs after the casting away. and they gather: Grk. sunagō, pres., 3p-pl., to bring together in a collective manner; gather. Gathering would be accomplished by vineyard workers, but the verb may hint at the gathering done by the angels at the end of the age as depicted in the parable of the tares (Matt 13:36-42). them: pl. of Grk. autos, neut. pers. pron.; i.e., branches. and cast: Grk. ballō, pres. them into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; lit. "into." the fire: Grk. pur, fire, as a physical state of burning.
and burned: Grk. kaiō, pres. pass., cause to be on fire; kindle, burn. The focus here is on the consumptive power of the fire. Reinhartz notes that the wood of the vine cannot be put to any other use if it does not produce fruit (187). Barclay clarifies the matter by pointing out that the wood of the vine is too soft for any purpose (6:174). According to Jewish law people had to bring offerings of wood to the Temple for the altar fires, but the wood of the vine could not be brought (Neh 10:34; Ezek 15:2-5; Ta'anit 4:5). The only thing that would be done with the wood pruned out of a vine was to make a bonfire of it.
Fire is used parabolically of testing by persecution (cf. Matt 3:11; Mark 9:49) or punishing by divine judgment (Matt 3:12; 5:22; 1Cor 3:13). Eternal fire is a characteristic of hell (Matt 18:8; 25:41). In contrast to the Synoptic Narratives the words for "Hell" and "Hades" do not occur at all in John's narrative. Yet, in this saying Yeshua no doubt alludes to the final punishment meted out to all who reject him. The verb kaiō occurs in Revelation to describe the second and third trumpet judgments on the world (Rev 8:8, 10) and the lake of fire (Rev 19:20; 21:8).
7 "If you should abide in me, and my words should abide in you, whatever, if you should wish, ask and it will come to you.
The reader should note that all the verbs in this verse are in the subjunctive mood, which describes potentiality or hypothetical conditions. Most versions fail to convey this aspect of Yeshua's words.
If: Grk. ean, conj. you should abide: Grk. menō, pres. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 4 above. Abiding speaks of constancy and loyalty. in: Grk. en, prep. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. and my: Grk. egō. words: pl. of Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek works rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch (Torah) and the Prophets (Neviim) for the Heb. dabar, which can mean both (a) a word or vocalized utterance as well as (b) a matter or event in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f). Yeshua's words include all his teaching and his commands (cf. Matt 28:19-20).
should abide: Grk. menō, pres. subj., 2p-pl. in: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. For Yeshua's words to "abide" in his disciples is equivalent to a commitment by the disciples to obey his instruction. whatever: Grk. hos, relative pron. The pronoun offers many possibilities. if: Grk. ean. Bible versions inexplicably do not translate this conditional particle. Its use introduces another layer of potentiality. you should wish: Grk. thelō, pres. subj., 2p-pl., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. Wishing, of course comes before asking, but as the saying goes, "be careful of what you wish for." The hypothetical nature of "if you should wish" may imply that a certain care should be exercised in the wanting. "Is what I want pleasing to God and in accordance with His will" (cf. 1Jn 5:14).
Yeshua then repeats his instruction given in 14:13-14. ask: Grk. aiteō, aor. mid. imp., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, request. The verb is in the imperative mood, so it is an invitation to ask. In verse 16 below Yeshua clarifies that the asking is of the Father. and it will come: Grk. ginomai, fut. mid., 3p-sing., to transfer from one state to another, and here means come to be, become, take place, happen, occur. to you: Grk. humeis. The inherent meaning of the promise is that specific requests are answered specifically. Also, the future tense of the verb does not promise immediate response. Indeed, persistence is an important principle of effective prayer (Isa 67:2; Matt 7:7-8; Luke 18:1; 1Th 5:17).
8 "In this my Father is glorified, that you should bear much fruit, and should become my disciples.
In: Grk. en, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pron. my: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. is glorified: Grk. doxazō, aor. pass. (from doxa, "glory"), enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor. In the LXX doxazō renders Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4). Just as Yeshua glorified the Father by his life, so the disciples are expected to do the same.
that: Grk. hina, conj. you should bear: Grk. pherō, pres. subj. See verse 2 above. much: Grk. polus, adj. fruit: Grk. karpos. See verse 2 above. As Tenney notes this statement coincides with Yeshua's teaching in the Synoptic Narratives, "By their fruit you will know them" (Matt 7:20; cf. Matt 12;33; 13:23; Luke 6:43-44). and should become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj., 2p-pl. See the previous verse. The aorist tense, normally used of action in past time, here has a "culminative" purpose to describe results, the ultimate attainment of fruit-bearing. So, the verb could have the practical meaning of "prove yourselves to be."
my: Grk. egō. disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil). See the note on John 1:35. The apostolic narratives do not record when all of Yeshua's disciples began following him, and the first occurrence of their names is their inclusion in the list of twelve named as apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-15). The creation of the apostolate did not occur until after the calling of Matthew (Mark 2:14) at which time Matthew invites Yeshua and his disciples to a meal. John does not mention "the twelve" until the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:67).
Being a disciple of Yeshua required four particular qualities. First, to be a disciple required sacrifice. Traveling the country meant leaving behind family, security and living under austere conditions. This was not a life of luxury. Simon Peter alluded to his sacrifice when he spoke of leaving everything to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). The rich young ruler was not willing to pay this price to be a disciple (Matt 19:21-22). Second, to be a disciple required commitment. Devotion to the rabbi came before all other obligations (Luke 9:57-61; 14:26). Once the commitment was made turning back would have been equivalent to rebellion against God (Luke 9:62). The disciple left behind his ordinary life and embraced an extraordinary life with his rabbi.
Third, to be a disciple required humility. A disciple came to the rabbi with an inquiring mind, a desire to know. He did not have answers, but he sought answers about God and spiritual things. He knew the rabbi had the answers (John 6:68). This humility is illustrated by the rabbinic saying "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). Miriam, sister of Martha, demonstrated this humility when she sat at the feet of Yeshua (Luke 10:39). Fourth, to be a disciple required obedience (Matt 28:19). The rabbi's will became the disciple’s will. The rabbi directed, the disciple obeyed. The only authority greater in the disciple's life would be God.
Yeshua does not imply that the eleven were not disciples, but rather he wants their discipleship to become more fully realized. The next several hours will severely test their loyalty.
Instruction on Love, 15:9-17
9 "Just as the Father has loved me, and I have loved you; abide in my love.
Just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. the Father: See verse 1 above. has loved: Grk. agapaō, aor., to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. In the Greek culture agapaō had no emotional content and simply meant to honor or to welcome and was connected to hospitality, such as honoring a guest in one's home or welcoming a king’s visit to a village (DNTT 2:539). The verb occurs 36 times in the book of John, more than twice the number in any other book of the Besekh, except John's first letter where it occurs 31 times. In the LXX agapaō translates Heb. aheb, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which is used of human love for other humans, and love of objects.
Aheb is also used of human love for God and God's love for individual humans and His chosen people Israel. Agapaō does not mean strictly an unselfish love as commonly thought, since Yeshua commented that even sinners have agapaō for others who return it (Luke 6:32). The essential character of agapaō is the willingness to sacrifice for an object. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. Yeshua has mentioned the Father's love toward him three previous times. In John 3:5 the Father shows his love for the Son by giving all things into his hands. In John 5:20 the Father shows his love for the Son by showing him all the things He is doing. In John 10:17 the Father loves the Son because he lays down his life in order to take it up again.
and I: Grk. kagō, conj. have loved: Grk. agapaō, aor. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. This is the second time Yeshua has spoken of his love for his disciples (cf. 13:34). He did not need to provide a list of how he had loved them, because they knew. Morris and Tenney interpret Yeshua's statement in light of his forthcoming sacrifice on the cross, and the aorist tense of the verb "love" could certainly be taken in the sense of the outcome of his love. Yet, we should not neglect to consider how Yeshua loved his disciples prior to this point. In his high priestly prayer he will say that he protected them from the evil one (John 17:12, 15). He protected them from danger while on the Sea of Galilee (Matt 8:24-26).
In particular he healed Peter's mother-in law (Matt 8:14-15) and saved Peter from drowning (Matt 14:30-31). He explained his Kingdom parables to them, which he did not do for the crowds (Matt 13:11). Yeshua provided miracle food for his disciples (John 6:11-13). He regularly prayed for his disciples (Luke 5:16; 22:32). abide: Grk. menō, aor. imp. See verse 4 above. in: Grk. en, prep. my: Grk. egō. love: Grk. agapē, a relatively high level of interest in the well-being of another, affection, esteem, love. The noun is one of the four Greek words for "love" (phileō, friendship; storgē, family love; eros, passion) and the one that occurs most frequently in the Besekh. In the LXX agapē renders Heb. noun ahavah, love.
Ahavah is used of the love between humans, whether of friendship (2Sam 1:26) or marriage (SS 2:4-5; 5:8), Israel's love for God (Jer 2:2) and God's love for His people Israel (Jer 31:3; Hos 11:4; Zeph 3:17). Ahavah occurs frequently In the wisdom literature in a more abstract form, such as "love covers all sins (Prov 10:12). The Jewish translators of the LXX apparently coined the noun agapē, since there is no Greek literature earlier than the LXX that uses the noun (DNTT 2:539). In the Besekh agapē, unlike the verb agapaō, is never used in a negative sense (cf. Luke 6:32). God's nature and actions are the epitome of agapē (John 3:16; 1Jn 4:8) and the preeminent virtue (1Cor 13:1-13). As with the verb agapaō the essential factor in every passage employing agapē is the willingness to sacrifice for an object.
Yeshua summarizes two important expressions of love (the Father for him and him for the disciples) as the basis for commanding his disciples to continue with him in a relationship of love. In modern Christian songs love for Yeshua has sometimes been romanticized or described in sentimental terms, but "abiding in his love" is not based on emotionalism. The expression "abiding in his love" is a word picture of covenantal loyalty. Such mutual devotion serves the interests of each other.
10 "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept the commandments of my Father, and abide in His love.
If: Grk. ean, conj. you keep: Grk. tēreō, aor. subj., 2p-pl., may mean (1) to maintain in a secure state with a focus on personal interest or obligation; keep; or (2) to be in compliance in regard to instruction; keep, observe. The second meaning applies here. my: pers. pron. commandments: pl. of Grk. entolē, a directive for action, command, order or instruction. The noun refers to instruction that is obligatory and not merely informative. In the LXX entolē is concentrated in the Torah and generally renders Heb. mitsvah (SH-4687), 'commandment' (e.g., Ex 20:6; Ps 119:6). A mitsvah may be a human command, but mostly the term is used for divine instruction intended for obedience. We should note that the verb "keep" is second person plural. During the upper room discourses Yeshua gave several commands for his apostles to keep in the future. See the list at my note on 14:15.
you will abide: Grk. menō, fut. See verse 4 above. in: Grk. en, prep. my: pers. pron. love: Grk. agapē. See the previous verse. Love is here used of Yeshua's love for his disciples. He had previously said in this discourse that the one loving him will keep his commandments (14:15, 23-24). Yeshua is not so much establishing a condition for his future love, but expressing the reality of what the obedient disciple will experience. The only way to really appreciate and enjoy Yeshua's love is to fulfill his expectations. just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. I: Grk. egō. have kept: Grk. tēreō, perf. the commandments: pl. of Grk. entolē. of my: pers. pron. Father: See verse 1 above.
Yeshua had said on a prior occasion "I always do the things pleasing to Him" (John 8:29). Earlier in this discourse Yeshua said "just as the Father commanded me, thus I do" (14:31). Yet, Stern offers the strange comment that the context gives no ground for considering Yeshua's statement here as an assertion that he obeyed the Torah perfectly. The statement certainly hints at Yeshua's sinlessness (Matt 27:4; John 1:29; 18:38; 2Cor 5:21; 1Pet 2:22; 1Jn3:5), which has its basis in obedience of God's commandments. and abide: Grk. menō, pres. in: Grk. en, prep. His: pers. pron. love: Grk. agapē. There is no conditional relationship between Father and Son, because they are in complete unity and harmony.
11 "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy might be in you, and that your joy might be made full.
These things: pl. of Grk. houtos, neut. demonstrative pron. I have spoken: Grk. laleō, perf. See verse 3 above. "These things" refers to the illustration of the vine and branches. to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. that: Grk. hina, conj. my: Grk. emos, an emphatic possessive pronoun for the first person (Thayer); my, mine. The pronoun occurs 46 times in the apostolic narratives (37 in the book of John), all either on the lips of Yeshua referring to what is connected directly to him (e.g., my words, my name, my love, my disciples, my body, etc.) or in parables of what belongs to the key figure which symbolizes him. joy: Grk. chara, joy as an emotional response that may be experienced in a variety of circumstances or of sharing in a celebration.
might be: Grk. eimi, pres. subj. See verse 1 above. The subjunctive mood emphasizes what is potential. in: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis. and your: Grk. humeis. joy: Grk. chara. might be made full: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The first meaning has application here. Yeshua has spoken of obedience as a necessary factor in the relationship of disciples to him, but now he expresses the wish that they might experience his joy. Yeshua does not imply that their future life would be devoid of difficulty and burdens, but that in essence they would know the joy of the Lord. Such joy will result from producing the fruit of spiritual empowerment.
12 "This is my commandment, that you should love one another, just as I have loved you.
This: Grk. autos, neut. pers. pron. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. my: Grk. egō. commandment: Grk. entolē. See verse 10 above. that: Grk. hina, conj. you should love: Grk. agapaō, pres. subj. See verse 9 above. one another: pl. of Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pron., each other, one another. The action is to be directed to every fellow disciple. This is the third time Yeshua instructs his disciples that they should love one another (see 13:34-35). The importance of sacrificial devotion is evident in that the verb occurs 25 times during John's last supper narrative, whether it is Yeshua's love for his disciples, their love for him or their love for one another. Yeshua is concerned that in the future when they are without his physical presence they will be bound together by the unbreakable bonds of love.
Yeshua's command became a theme in John's first letter:
"For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning: that we should love each other" (1Jn 3:11 CJB).
"This is his command: that we are to trust in the person and power of his Son Yeshua the Messiah and to keep loving one another, just as he commanded us." (1Jn 3:23 CJB)
"Beloved friends, let us love one another; because love is from God; and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God." (1Jn 4:7 CJB)
"Beloved friends, if this is how God loved us, we likewise ought to love one another." (1Jn 4:11 CJB)
"No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains united with us, and our love for him has been brought to its goal in us." (1Jn 4:12 CJB)
just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. I have loved: Grk. agapaō, aor. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pers. pron. This is the third time Yeshua has affirmed "I have loved you." See verse 9 above. Yeshua's comparative statement is not simply to provide a motive for his disciples to love. Rather, he describes a manner of loving according to his own example of how he loved his them. Peter says in his first letter "For you were called to this, because Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in His footsteps" (1Pet 2:21). Peter then goes on to draw on the life of Yeshua to identify ways that disciples might follow his example.
13 "No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends.
No one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 5 above. has: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. greater: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great. In the LXX megas is used to translate several Heb. words, but by far the most numerous is gadōl, 'great' (first in Gen 1:14), with a similar range of meaning. love: Grk. agapē. See verse 9 above. This verse demonstrates that Yeshua is not talking about sentimentality. Agapē is not an emotional word, but a word of action. than this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pron. that: Grk. hina, conj. one: Grk. tis, indefinite pron., a certain one, someone, anyone.
should lay down: Grk. tithēmi, aor. subj., may mean (1) as a physical motion, place, put, set out, serve, lay down, or take off, often in association with a site; or (2) arrange for creation of a role or status, make, set, appoint. The first meaning applies here fig. of death. his: Grk. autos, pers. pron. life: Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond physical function; life (inner) self, soul. In the LXX psuchē corresponds to Heb. nephesh (SH-5315). Nephesh is that which breathes air (Gen 1:20), is in the blood (Lev 17:11; Deut 12:23), and possesses the ability to move (Gen 1:21). Nephesh also represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion.
In Hebrew thought a person is a soul-body. Thus, "soul" does not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person. Human beings live as "souls;" they do not have souls (e.g., Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20). for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something, here emphasizing a supportive aspect; for, in behalf of, in the interest of. his: Grk. autos. friends: pl. of Grk. philos, in a close relationship with another, as opposed to a casual acquaintanceship; friend. John echoes this sentiment in his first letter: "By this we have known love, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers" (1Jn 3:16 mine).
Yeshua's statement is axiomatic. While his comment could include the act of self-sacrifice to save the life of another, such as a spouse for a spouse, a parent for a child, or a soldier for a comrade in battle, he in fact hints at a substitutionary death. The Talmud records Rabbi Akiva, father of Rabbinic Judaism, taking a different view to Yeshua's teaching: "R. Akiba came and taught: that your brother may live with you [Lev 25:36]: 'your life takes precedence over the life of your fellow'" (Baba Metzia 62a). In other words, your brother can only live with you if you are living (Gruber, MW-Notes).
14 "You are my friends, if you do what I am commanding you.
You: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. my: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. friends: pl. of Grk. philos. See the previous verse. if: Grk. ean, conj. you do: Grk. poieō, pres. subj. See verse 5 above. what: Grk. hos, relative pron. I: Grk. egō. am commanding: Grk. entellō, pres. mid., to give instruction with magisterial claim; instruct, command, order. you: Grk. humeis. Yeshua desires a close relationship with his disciples, but he makes it clear that it is contingent on obedience. The expectation could refer to all the commands Yeshua given his disciples during the last supper or in a more proximate sense the command to love one another (verse 12 above).
Gruber comments that it is perhaps in this sense that Abraham was called a beloved friend of God (Isa 41:8; 2Chr 20:7; Jas 2:23) (MW-Notes). God summarized Abraham's life to Isaac: "Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws" (Gen 26:5 NASB).
15 "No longer do I call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from my Father I made known to you.
No longer: Grk. ouketi, adv. of cessation of an activity or condition; no longer, no more. Yeshua implied his disciples were servants [doulos] when he gave them instruction for their first mission (Matt 10:24). Earlier in this discourse he said, "a servant [doulos] is not greater than his master" (John 13:16). However, on the Sunday trip into Jerusalem Yeshua implied faithful disciples were servants, but he used a different word, "If anyone would serve me, he must follow me; and where I am, there also my servant [diakonos] will be" (John 12:26). Yeshua's intent is to say that his disciples are no longer in a single category. do I call: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The verb is used here in the sense of giving a name.
you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. servants: pl. of Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. word ebed, which similarly described someone enslaved after being captured in war or in order to pay a debt, whether voluntarily or involuntarily (cf. Ex 21:7; Lev 25:39, 44, 47). In addition, ebed identified those who served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593ff). The first usage of ebed for "slave" in Scripture is of the household servants Abimelech gave Abraham as restitution for taking Sarah (Gen 20:14). Yet, in biblical history the great Hebrew and Jewish heroes of the faith considered themselves servants of God and they are often identified by this honorific title.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. the servant: Grk. doulos. does not: Grk. ou, adv. know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past with continuing results in the present. The verb "know" is used for experiential knowledge, whether (1) to know about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with someone; (3) to understand how to do something; and (4) to remember (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395).
what: Grk. tis, indef. pron. his: Grk. autos, pers. pron. master: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. The first meaning applies here since servants were property. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). is doing: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 5 above. but: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The first meaning applies here.
I have called: Grk. ereō, perf., to inform through utterance, here denoting speech completed. you: Grk. humeis. friends: pl. of Grk. philos. See verse 13 above. because: Grk. hoti, conj. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. that: Grk. hos, relative pron. I heard: Grk. akouō, aor., properly to hear aurally and in Scripture with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend with the ears, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173). from: Grk. para, prep. that conveys association; here with the sense of origin, from (the side of). my: Grk. egō. Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. I made known: Grk. gnōrizō, aor., to share information about something; make known, inform about. to you: Grk. humeis.
Tenney comments that Yeshua elevated the disciples above mere tools and made them partners in his work. Furthermore, the friendship offered by Yeshua is one in which he shares knowledge revealed by his Father. This aspect of friendship was experienced Abraham as indicated by the fact that God revealed the future to him (Gen 15:13-16). Moses also had this sort of friendship with God of which Scripture says, "the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex 33:11 NASB).
16 "You chose me not, but I chose you, and appointed you, in order that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain, in order that whatever you would ask the Father in my name, He may give to you.
You: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. chose: Grk. eklegomai, aor. mid., to pick out for oneself; choose or select as the recipients of special favor and privilege. The verb indicates a highly deliberative choice between alternatives or a selection out of a larger group. In the LXX eklegomai occurs about 150 times and nearly always renders Heb. verb bachar, choose, select, or prefer' (DNTT 1:537). Eklegomai is used a small number of times for man's choice (e.g., Gen 6:2; 13:11; Deut 30:19; Josh 24:15, 22; Jdg 10:14; 1Sam 8:18; 2Sam 24:12; Prov 3:31). me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. not: Grk. ou, adv. but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand.
I: Grk. egō. chose: Grk. eklegomai, aor. mid. In the LXX the verb is used of God's choice: of priests (Num 16:5), of Aaron (Num 17:5), of encampment sites (Deut 1:33), of the descendants of the patriarchs (Deut 4:37), of Israel (Deut 7:7), of Jerusalem as His city and the place of sacrifice (Deut 12:14; 15:20), of a future king (Deut 17:15), of the Levites (Deut 18:5), of King Saul (1Sam 10:24), of King David (1Sam 16:8-10), of King Solomon (1Chr 28:6), of the tribe of Judah (Ps 78:68), and of Abraham (Neh 9:7). In the Besekh eklegomai occurs 22 times is used sometimes of human choice (Luke 10:42; 14:7; Acts 6:5; 15:22), but mostly used of divine choice, especially the selection of the apostles (Luke 6:13; John 6:70; Acts 1:2, 24).
you: Grk. humeis. In the case of God's choice the purpose of His choosing is some commission or service, and can only meaningfully retain its validity in its fulfillment. Yeshua reminds his disciples that they only became his followers by his invitation. Usually men became students (Heb. talmidim) of a rabbi by their own initiative, as the Mishnah says, "Appoint for yourself a teacher" (Avot 1:6). This choosing distinguished the twelve from the multitudes that tagged along after Yeshua to watch him perform miracles or perhaps to gain something from him. Yeshua's choosing also illustrates that the initiative for relationship between God and man has always been from God.
and: Grk. kai, conj. appointed: Grk. tithēmi, aor. See the second meaning in verse 13 above. you: Grk. humeis. The verb is used here in contrast to the choosing to emphasize the appointment of the twelve as apostles (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13). in order that: Grk. hina, conj. you: Grk. humeis. should go: Grk. hupagō, pres. subj., to proceed from a position, sometimes (1) with the focus on the departure point; go away, leave; or (2) with the focus on an objective or destination; go, be on one's way. The second usage applies here with a nuance of the first meaning. The present tense indicates to start and continue the activity. The subjunctive mood emphasizes potentiality, and hints at the fact that the apostles will only be able to fulfill the Lord's expectation by divine empowerment.
and: Grk. kai. bear: Grk. pherō, pres. subj. See verse 2 above. fruit: Grk. karpos. See verse 2 above. Stern comments that staying (verses 1–8) and going are consistent with each other: the Messianic lifestyle is, on one hand, passive and receptive and, on the other, active and productive. and: Grk. kai. your: Grk. humeis. fruit: Grk. karpos. should remain: Grk. menō, pres. subj. See verse 4 above. in order that: Grk. hina. whatever: Grk. hos tis, lit. "that thing." you would: Grk. an, disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might. ask: Grk. aiteō, aor. subj. See verse 7 above. the Father: See verse 1 above. in: Grk. en, prep. my: Grk. egō.
name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. In this context "in my name" conveys authority to act as an agent. Noteworthy is that Yeshua uses the phrase "in my name" seven times in the last supper discourses (14:13, 14, 26; 16:23, 24, 26). He may give: Grk. didōmi, aor. subj., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). to you: Grk. humeis. Tenney comments that the effectiveness of prayer is linked to fruit-bearing, which, in turn, is linked to obedience (verses 10, 14). But, the converse is also true. Many of the significant occasions of fruit-bearing of the apostles came about after a period of intensive prayer.
17 "These things I am instructing you, that you should love one another.
These things: pl. of Grk. touto, neut. demonstrative pron. The plural pronoun alludes to all that Yeshua had been teaching in his last supper discourses. I am instructing: Grk. entellō, pres. mid. See verse 14 above. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. that: Grk. hina, conj. All of Yeshua's teaching concerning his disciples has one common element or goal. you should love: Grk. agapaō, pres. subj. See verse 9 above. The verb form presents "love" as a personal expectation of a continuing relational quality rather than a sovereign edict. one another: pl. of Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pron. This is the fourth time Yeshua instructs his disciples that they should love one another (verse 12 above; 13:34-35).
Opposition of the World, 15:18-25
18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before you.
If: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used to introduce a circumstance or assumption considered factual or valid for the sake of argument. the world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the earth as the place of habitation; (3) the world as mankind, sometimes in reference to a segment of population; and (4) representative of people and values opposed to God. In the LXX kosmos occurs five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19), but the meaning of kosmos as "the world of mankind" is only found in Apocryphal writings.
A number of passages in the Besekh use "world" to refer to the nations outside the land of Israel (Matt 24:14; Luke 12:30; John 14:22), but the term is also used in some passages of the Jewish world (John 3:17; 6:14, 33; 12:47; 14:19; 16:28; 17:6). The use of "world" in Yeshua's instruction concerning anticipated persecution could have a double meaning. First, the "world" is the Jewish world of the Judean authorities and synagogue leaders in the Diaspora that opposed the apostolic message and then second at a much later time, the "world" would be pagan authorities that martyred many apostles.
hates: Grk. miseō, pres., means to detest, abhor or reject. In the LXX miseō renders Heb. sane ("sah–nay"), which has the same meaning (first in Gen 26:27). The Hebrew word often indicates an emotional impulse to despise that can result in an action to turn against (e.g., Joseph's brothers, Gen 37:2–8). Hatred in Scripture also refers to the hostility shown by an enemy (Gen 24:60; Ex 1:10; Num 10:35; Deut 30:7; Matt 24:9; Luke 1:71). However, miseō can also mean to give someone lower priority than someone else (e.g., Gen 29:30; cf. Deut 21:15–17; Matt 10:37). Here the verb has the active sense of hostility. The present tense does not necessarily denote a current experience but something that can be anticipated.
you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. The plural pronoun denotes the Eleven, but proposition would include all his apostles in the future. They would all experience opposition in the years to come and all except John die as martyrs. The primary source of hostility to the apostles would come from their own kinsmen. The book of Acts records numerous incidents of open and aggressive hostility by unbelieving Jews, particularly Sanhedrin and synagogue leaders, against the Jewish apostles of the Messiah: in Jerusalem (Acts 4:1-3; 5:18, 26, 40; 6:9-15; 7:57-58; 9:29; 12:2-3; 21:27; 22:22; 23:1-22), in Damascus (Acts 9:23), in Paphos (Acts 13:6-8), in Antioch (Acts 13:45), in Iconium (Acts 14:2,5), in Lystra (Acts 14:19), in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5), in Berea (Acts 17:13), in Corinth (Acts 18:5-6), in Macedonia (Acts 20:3, 19), and in Caesarea (Acts 24:9; 25:2, 7).
you know: Grk. ginōskō, pres., to know, but has a variety of meanings, but here in the sense of being in receipt of information; know, learn, find out. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395). Yeshua appeals to the knowledge of Yeshua's own experience. that: Grk. hoti, conj. it has hated: Grk. miseō, perf. The perfect tense denotes a fixed attitude toward Yeshua (Tenney). me: Grk. egō, 1p-sing. pron.
before: Grk. prōton, adv., having to do with beforeness, with resultant meanings of (1) having a primary position in sequence and (2) standing out in significance or importance. The first meaning has application here. you: Grk. humeis. Morris comments, "it is not without its significance that the disciples are to be known by their love (verse 12 above), the world by its hatred." John demonstrates in his book that opposition to Yeshua began early in his first year of ministry (chapter two) before he had even gathered the full number of disciples and begun his ministry in Galilee.
However, considering the message of chapter one Yeshua could be hinting that he, as ADONAI (John 8:58), had experienced hostility from the world since the beginning (cf. Ex 20:5; Deut 5:9; 32:41; Prov 8:36; 2Chr 19:2; Ps 81:15). From the biblical perspective "love" attempts to please, but "hate" chooses to disregard. When people disregard God's standards their conduct is a manifestation of hatred toward God.
19 "If you were from the world ─ the world would love its own because, moreover, you are not from the world ─ but I chose you out of the world; on account of this the world hates you.
If: Grk. ei, conj. See the previous verse. The conditional word "if" introduces a contrary proposition. you were: Grk. eimi, impf., 2p-pl. See verse 1 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. denoting origin, here with focus on a group; from; from out of, from among. the world: Grk. kosmos. See the previous verse. Considering the contrast that Yeshua is making he could mean "world" at this point in an elitist sense. The disciples were "common folk," not from the intelligentsia and powerful strata of society. Moreover, the implication is that the disciples had better values than "the world," and, of course, they were willing to accept the Kingdom message of Yeshua.
the world: Grk. kosmos. would: Grk. an. See verse 13 above. love: Grk. agapaō, impf. See verse 9 above. its: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pron. own: Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. Idios particularly emphasizes the nature of a relationship, so here the adjective denotes those whom the world would recognize as its constituents. because: Grk. hoti, conj., used here to introduce an inference. moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 15 above. you are: Grk. eimi, pres., 2p-pl. not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. from: Grk. ek. the world: Grk. kosmos. (I have separated this statement with lines since it functions as a parenthetical statement.)
but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 16 above. I chose: Grk. eklegomai, aor. mid. See verse 16 above. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron., i.e., the disciples. out of: Grk. ek. the world: Grk. kosmos. Yeshua engages in a play on words, using "world" here to mean the place of their habitation. The disciples had been living their ordinary lives of working and caring for their families when Yeshua came along and changed everything. on account of: Grk. dia, prep., lit. "through," but here signifying a causal function. this: Grk. touto, neut. demonstrative pron. used to refer to the fact of Yeshua having chosen the disciples.
the world: Grk. kosmos. Yeshua returns to the pejorative meaning of "world." hates: Grk. miseō, pres. See the previous verse. The present tense probably is intended to give dramatic emphasis to what the disciples would experience in the future. you: Grk. humeis. None of Yeshua's disciples would be exempted from the world's hostility. Barclay observes, "It is dangerous to have and to practice a higher standard than the standard of the world."
20 "Remember the word that I spoke to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
Remember: Grk. mnēmoneuō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to recall, frequently with focus on thoughtful recollection. The present tense exhorts a continuing attitude. The challenge to "remember" points the apostles back to their previous experiences with Yeshua. the word: Grk. logos. See verse 3 above. that: Grk. hos, relative pron. I: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. spoke: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 15 above. to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. Yeshua then repeats what he had said to his disciples on a prior occasion (Matt 10:24; John 13:16). This is what he wants them to remember. A servant: Grk. doulos. See verse 15 above. The term is used here in the sense of a household employee. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 4 above. greater than: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 13 above.
his: Grk. autos, pers. pron. master: Grk. kurios. See verse 15 above. The term is used here in the sense of an employer. Yeshua's repetition of the proverb does not contradict his statement in verse 15 above that his disciples were no longer just "servants." Various notable spiritual leaders in the Besekh bear the honorific "servant," including Miriam (Luke 1:38), Simeon (Luke 2:29), Apollos (1Cor 3:5), Timothy (Php 1:1), Epaphras (Col 1:7), Tychicus (Col 4:7), Jacob the brother of Yeshua (Jas 1:1), Peter (2Pet 1:1), John (Rev 1:1) and the apostle Paul (Rom 1:1). If: Grk. ei, conj. See the previous verse. they persecuted: Grk. diōkō, aor., to put to flight, to pursue, to persecute (cf. Matt 5:10). The verb represents a zealous interest in attaining something. me: Grk. egō. John mentions the fact that the Judean authorities persecuted Yeshua because he healed on the Sabbath (5:16).
they will persecute: Grk. diōkō, fut. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. also: Grk. kai, conj. In Matthew's account of the first mission of the disciples this statement precedes the one about a servant not being greater than his master. The complete prophecy is as follows:
"Pay attention! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be as prudent as snakes and as harmless as doves. 17 Be on guard, for there will be people who will hand you over to the local Sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as a testimony to them and to the Goyim. 19 But when they bring you to trial, do not worry about what to say or how to say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you should say. 20 For it will not be just you speaking, but the Spirit of your heavenly Father speaking through you. 21 A brother will betray his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. 22 Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever holds out till the end will be preserved from harm. 23 When you are persecuted in one town, run away to another. Yes indeed; I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Isra’el before the Son of Man comes." (Matt 10:16-23 CJB)
Being chosen by Yeshua would be no guarantee of future freedom from opposition. Rather, in his Olivet Discourse prior to Passover Yeshua warned his disciples that as they served God's purposes they would suffer much from adversaries (Matt 24:9). In fact, persecution and tribulation is treated as a normal and expected experience for the God's people (Acts 7:11; 14:22; Rom 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; Eph 3:13; Php 1:17; Col 1:24; 1Th 1:6; 3:3-4; 2Th 1:4; 2Tim 3:12; Heb 10:33; Rev 2:9-10; 7:14). Likewise, Paul promised that all who are godly would suffer persecution (2Tim 3:12). In 2 Corinthians 11:24 Paul says he received 39 lashes five times from unbelieving Jews. Tribulation against disciples of Yeshua is the visible reality of an unseen warfare between the Kingdom of God and the rebellious forces of Satan.
if: Grk. ei. they kept: Grk. tēreō, aor. See verse 10 above. my: Grk. egō. word: Grk. logos. The singular noun alludes to the content of Yeshua's teaching and instruction. they will keep: Grk. tēreō, fut. yours: Grk. humeteros, possessive pron., belonging to you in close association; your, yours. also: Grk. kai. Yeshua offers an encouraging promise that in the future not only would his apostles have enemies, but they would also have friends among those who heard Yeshua and chose to follow him.
21 "But they will do all these things against you on account of my name, because they have not known the One having sent me.
But: Grk. alla, conj. they will do: Grk. poieō, fut. See verse 5 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. these things: pl. of Grk. touto, neut. demonstrative pron., this. against: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 6 above. Here the preposition denotes the negative result of action. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. on account of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 19 above. my: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 17 above. because: Grk. hoti, conj. used to denote causality. See verse 5 above. they have not: Grk. ou, adv. known: Grk. eidō, perf., to see, derived from oida, to know. See verse 15 above. The verb denotes experiential knowledge.
the One: Grk. ho, definite article used as a demonstrative pron. Among Israelites "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 44:24; 45:7; 49:7; Hos 11:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6; Jas 5:20) and echoed the Shema, "Hear O Israel YHVH Eloheinu YHVH one" (Deut 6:4). having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or accomplish a task; send. The verb occurs 31 times in John and of those 25 depict God as the sending agent. "Sending" is a key activity of the Father, and in the past His emissaries included angels (Gen 19:13; 2Chr 32:21), Joseph (Gen 45:5), Moses and Aaron (Ex 3:15; 1Sam 12:8), and all the prophets (1Sam 15:1; 2Sam 12:1; 2Kgs 2:2; Isa 6:8; 48:6; Jer 26:5, 12; 35:15; Ezek 2:3).
me: Grk. egō. Yeshua displays an acute sense of his own "sent-ness." In contrast with the Synoptic Narratives the book of John records Yeshua making the statement "The One having sent me" several times (John 4:34; 5:24, 30; 6:38, 39; 7:16, 28; 8:26, 29; 9:4; 12:44; 16:5). Other times he names the Father as the sender (John 5:23, 37; 8:16; 12:49; 14:24).
Yeshua names two reasons for the opposition of the world, and in this context the "world" is not the pagan world of the Greeks and Romans, but the Jewish world, particularly the authorities in Judea. The first reason for opposition is simply because of the name of Yeshua. In other words anyone professing Yeshua to be the Messiah would receive harsh treatment (cf. John 9:22). The second reason might be considered ignorance, but in this case it is willful ignorance. Previously Yeshua had accused members of the Sanhedrin of not knowing God (John 7:28). It seems incredible that men supposedly devoted to the God of Israel and knowledgeable of the Torah should not know their God. Yet, this lack of relational knowledge inspired hatred and opposition of anyone who threatened the religious status quo.
22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse concerning their sin.
If: Grk. ei, conj. I had not: Grk. mē, adv. come: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place or 'to go' with the focus on the goal for movement. In reference to Yeshua this verb is used for (1) moving or traversing an area in the ordinary physical sense (John 1:29), (2) coming to exercise judgment (Rev 2:5, 16) and (3) coming from heaven to earth on the last day (Matt 24:30; Rev 1:7). The first usage applies here. Yeshua may be alluding to his first visit to the temple described in chapter two. and spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. they would have: Grk. echō, impf. See verse 13 above. no: Grk. ou, adv.
sin: Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to fail and could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that did not conform to the community ethic (DNTT 3:577). In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (miss, go wrong, lapse, sin; Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity; Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture a sin is a violation of God's written commandments.
The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. Intentional sins and capital crimes, such as adultery, blasphemy, idolatry and murder, were tantamount to rejecting God’s covenant and therefore could not be atoned. However, under the New Covenant, Yeshua's blood atones even intentional sin. Religious people may erect their own codes, rules or traditions for determining prohibited behavior, but God's judgment is based strictly on His commandments recorded in Scripture. NOTE: hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
but: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' they have: Grk. echō, pres. no: Grk. ou. excuse: Grk. prophasis, appearance or show that hides or conceals; pretext. Then, by extension it conveys the idea of diverting attention; excuse. Morris defines the term as what is put forth to justify a position, whether this is the real reason or a mere excuse. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; about, concerning. their: pl. of Grk. autos. sin: Grk. hamartia. Yeshua had spoken previously of the sin of the Judean leaders (John 7:7; 8:7-9, 21; 9:41). His judgment here may imply a third reason for opposition of the world. Those of the world are quite content with their sins, seek to justify them and do not wish to surrender them. So, a message naming sin for what it is and calling for repentance is bound to incite a backlash.
The sin of which Yeshua speaks is not his unlawful arrest and trial which was yet to occur, but disobedience of Moses' instruction: "ADONAI will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him" (Deut 18:12 CJB; cf. John 8:24). Besides the sin of refusing to accept Yeshua as the Messiah the sin of the Judean leaders included abuse of office, corruption, false arrest, false testimony and attempted murder (cf. Luke 16:14; John 2:16; 7:32; 8:37, 44; 9:41). Yeshua provides a litany of their sins in Matthew 23:13-34.
23 "The one hating me also hates my Father.
The one: Grk. ho, definite article used as a demonstrative pron. hating: Grk. miseō, pres. part. See verse 18 above. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. also: Grk. kai, conj. hates: Grk. miseō, pres. my: Grk. egō. Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. The close relationship of Yeshua and the Father is a repetitive theme in the book of John. This claim of God being his father infuriated the Judean leaders, because it was tantamount to asserting equality with God (John 5:18). Nevertheless Yeshua states the truth of reality. Since he and the Father are one (John 10:30), it is impossible to reject Yeshua without rejecting the Father.
24 "If I had not done among them the works that no other has done, they would have had no sin; but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.
If: Grk. ei, conj. I had not: Grk. ou, adv. done: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 5 above. among: Grk. en, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. the works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed. In John's narrative "works" is a major theme with the word occurring 25 times, often on the lips of Yeshua, and referring either to evil actions of men, good actions of men or the missional actions of God and Yeshua in the form of revelation, miracles, signs, and sacrifice, the ultimate good works. Yeshua has previously said that what he accomplished was actually works the Father gave him to do (John 4:34; 5:36; 10:25, 32, 37). that: Grk. hos, relative pron. no: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 5 above. other: Grk. allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other.
has done: Grk. poieō, aor. Yeshua states a simple fact that some of his miraculous works were the first of their kind, such as turning water into wine (John 2), healing a man against his will (John 5), healing the man born blind (John 9) and raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11). they would have had: Grk. echō, impf. See verse 13 above. no: Grk. ou. sin: Grk. hamartia. See verse 22 above. Yeshua's opponents should have believe in him on the basis of the works they had witnessed (John 10:38). but: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv. See verse 22 above. they have both: Grk. kai, conj. seen: Grk. horaō, perf., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb is meant in its physical sense. and: Grk. kai. hated: Grk. miseō, aor. See verse 18 above. both: Grk. kai. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. and: Grk. kai. my: Grk. egō. Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. Yeshua repeats the truth that the hatred from his opponents must of necessity include the Father.
25 "But in order that the word written in their Torah may be fulfilled that, 'They hated me without cause.'
But: Grk. alla, adversative conj. See verse 16 above. in order that: Grk. hina, conj. expressing intention. the word: Grk. logos. See verse 3 above. Here logos would have the meaning of "message." written: Grk. graphō, perf., to write or inscribe, generally in reference to a document. In the LXX graphō appears about 300 times and translates Heb. kathab, to write. The first use of graphō in the LXX is Exodus 24:4, "And Moses wrote all the words of ADONAI." The first use of kathab in the Tanakh is Exodus 17:14, "ADONAI said to Moses, 'Write [LXX katagraphō, "write down"] this for a memorial in the book and rehearse it in the hearing of Joshua" (TLV). in: Grk. en, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron.
Torah: Grk. nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The usage of nomos in the Besekh has a much deeper meaning. In the LXX nomos occurs about 430 times, about 200 which are without Hebrew equivalents (DNTT 2:439). Nomos primarily renders Heb. torah (SH-8451), direction, instruction, law (about 200 times), first in Exodus 12:49, where it says in the context of Passover that there will be "one law" for the native Israelite and the proselyte. In the Tanakh torah not only refers to commandments, statutes and ordinances decreed by God and given to Moses, but also instruction given by a mother or father or by priests and judges (Deut 24:8). Torah sets forth the way a person is meant to live in an ethical and moral way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God.
In normal Jewish usage in the first century the term Torah could mean the commandments given to Israel at Sinai and Moab (Matt 12:5; John 8:5) or the entire Pentateuch, especially when used in combination with "the Prophets" (Matt 22:40; John 1:45). As in this instance Yeshua used the nomos-torah as a synonym for Scripture generally (Matt 5:18; John 10:34; 12:34). The Talmud also recognizes this usage of Torah (Sanhedrin 91b). Yeshua and his apostles constantly emphasized the continuing authority of the Torah and all of the Tanakh for life (Rom 15:4; 2Tim 3:16-17).
may be fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 11 above. The verb is used here in the sense of prophecy coming to pass. that: Grk. hoti, conj. Yeshua then quotes from Psalm 69:4, a psalm of David. They hated: Grk. miseō, aor. See verse 18 above. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. without cause: Grk. dōrean may mean (1) being freely given or without charge; (2) being without purpose; or (3) being undeserved or without cause. The third meaning applies here. David's complete sentence is "those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head" (NIV). Tenney comments that "the irony of his quotation is clear: the men who posed as the champions of the Law were fulfilling the prophecy concerning the enemies of God's servant."
This hatred against Yeshua would eventually reap a tragic harvest in the destruction of the temple forty years after the crucifixion. The Talmud describes the reason for the devastation:
"But why was the second Sanctuary destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, [observance of] precepts, and the practice of charity? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause." (Yoma 9b)
Ministry of the Advocate, 15:26-27
26 "When the Advocate should come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of me,
When: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.' the Advocate: Grk. Paraklētos, one who is summoned or called to one's side to provide aid (Thayer). Rienecker has "advocate, comforter." Mounce has "one who pleads the cause of another, advocate," but Danker translates the word as "counselor, encourager." In Greek culture a paraklētos functioned as either a legal assistant or advocate (LSJ). Paraklētos also appears as a loanword in the Targums and the Talmud (Avot 4:11) for any intercessor, defender or advocate. Paraklētos is not found in the LXX but a derivative form, paraklēteros, is used in Job 16:2 to translate the participle of Heb. nacham (comfort, console) in reference to Job's "comforters." The term appears several times in the works of Philo with the meaning of "intercessor."
The first Latin translators (Tertullian, Cyprian, Novatian, Eusebius, Augustine), as well as many Bible MSS commonly rendered the word as advocatus (BAG), but Jerome chose paracletus for his Vulgate (405) version, which Wycliffe then translated as "Comforter." In the apostolic writings paraklētos occurs only five times, all in John (14:26; 15:26; 16:7; and 1Jn 2:1). Each occurrence adds to the scope the advocate's work. Bible versions are divided in translating the term here as Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, or Helper, but considering the historical usage, biblical and extra-biblical, "advocate" seems the best choice. In reality all these functions could be combined in one person.
Yeshua had spoken previously in this discourse concerning the ministry of the Advocate (14:16-26). should come: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj. See verse 22 above. The verb indicates a special arrival, because the omnipresence of God is accomplished by His Spirit. whom: Grk. hos, relative pron. I: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. will send: Grk. pempō, fut. See verse 21 above. to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. from: Grk. para, prep. the Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). The spirit of man is that which man has in common with God who is Spirit (Gen 1:2; John 4:24). Pneuma is used frequently for transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Holy Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10).
of truth: Grk. alētheia may mean (1) truthfulness, dependability, uprightness in thought and deed, (2) truth as opposed to what is false, or (3) reality as opposed to mere appearance (BAG). Danker has "that which is really so." In the LXX alētheia regularly translates the Heb. emet (SH-571), "firmness, faithfulness, truth" (BDB 54); also "permanency, durability" (HELB 19), although Christian Bibles sometimes render it as "truth" and sometimes as "faithfulness" (DNTT 3:877). Emet is often used for truthfulness in God and piety in man. The Rabbis explain rather pedantically that emet contains the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and that truth ought to be trustworthy through and through (Santala 72).
The God of Israel is the true God (Deut 4:39; 2Chr 15:3; Isa 45:6; Jer 10:10; John 17:3; 1Jn 5:20) and YHVH (who is Yeshua) is the God of truth (Ps 31:5). All other deities worshipped by man are the products of Satan-inspired imagination. Yeshua, the Son of God, is truth personified (John 1:14). Even his enemies acknowledged that he was always truthful and taught the way of God truthfully (Matt 22:16). As demonstrated by his life and instruction truth is not relative. The modern mantra "all truth is God's truth" conceals a lie. It is quoted by people who wish to blend worldly philosophy (with its roots in Greek philosophies) and biblical principles, of which Paul warned disciples to avoid (Col 2:8; cf. Job 17:12; Isa 5:20; Heb 3:12).
While late Jewish literature speaks of "a spirit of truth" in contrast to "a spirit of error" (1QS 3:18f; Test. Jud. 20:1, 5; cf. 1Jn 4:6), Yeshua's description of the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of truth" is unique in all of Jewish literature. Just as Yeshua is "the truth" (verse 6 above) so the Holy Spirit is the truth. The Spirit is the advocate of the truth about the righteousness of Yeshua, the guilt and consequences sin, and the judgment to come (John 16:8-11).
who: Grk. hos. proceeds: Grk. ekporeuomai, pres. mid., move from one place to another, to go out or to come out. from: Grk. para. the Father: as defined herein. He: Grk. ekeinos, masc. demonstrative pron., that, that one there. will testify: Grk. martureō, fut., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth. of me: Grk. egō. The Spirit had already testified of the truth of Yeshua in the Scriptures that He inspired (2Pet 1:21). The Spirit continues to testify to the truth of Yeshua as the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel whenever his disciples read the Scriptures.
27 "and you, moreover, are testifying, because you were with me from the beginning."
and: Grk. kai, conj. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. moreover: Grk. de, conj. are testifying: Grk. martureō, pres. See the previous verse. Some versions translate the verb as an anticipated future activity (AMP, CEB, CEV, ESV, HCSB, ISV, KJV, LEB, MW, NASB, NET, TEV) or as an expectation or command (MSG, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NRSV). There are some versions, however, that preserve the present orientation of the verb (CJB, NEB, RSV, TLV). because: Grk. hoti, conj. you were: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. with: Grk. meta, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of association or accompaniment; 'amid,' among,' 'with,' or 'in company with'; or (2) a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The first usage applies here. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first pers. from: Grk. apo, prep.
the beginning: Grk. archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and may mean (1) the point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start; or (2) one who enjoys preeminence in early or supra-terrestrial realm; ruler, authority; or (3) assigned position or sphere of activity, position, domain, jurisdiction. The first meaning applies here. Yeshua declares that his disciples were testifying about him by virtue of their loyal following from the time when he first called them. The fact of being with Yeshua during his public ministry would later become the criteria for replacing Judas with Mattathias (Acts 1:21-26).
ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot. ed. Charles Van der Pool. Apostolic Press, 2006. An interlinear of the Septuagint with English translation. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer (1877-1960), A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay (1907-1978), The Daily Study Bible Series. Revised Ed., 16 Vols. The Westminster Press, 1975-76.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Gill: John Gill (1697–1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online. [Baptist Bible scholar]
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602–1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online. [Church of England leader, educator and rabbinical scholar]
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek–English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker (1897-1965), A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy–Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tenney: Merrill C. Tenney (1904-1985), John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989–1999.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
Copyright © 2015–2017 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.