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Jesus the True Vine


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

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

The World’s Hatred

18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’

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

18. If the world hate you. After having armed the Apostles for the battle, Christ exhorts them likewise to patience; for the Gospel cannot be published without instantly driving the world to rage. Consequently, it will never be possible for godly teachers to avoid the hatred of the world. Christ gives them early information of this, that they may not be instances of what usually happens to raw recruits, who, from wont of experience, are valiant before they have seen their enemies, but who tremble as soon as the battle is commenced. And not only does Christ forewarn his disciples, that nothing may happen to them which is new and unexpected, but likewise confirms them by his example; for it is not reasonable that Christ should be hated by the world, and that we, who represent his person, should have the world on our side, which is always like itself.

You know. I have translated the verb γινώσκετε in the indicative mood, you know; but if any one prefer to translate it in the imperative mood, know ye, I have no objection, for it makes no change in the meaning. There is greater difficulty in the phrase which immediately follows, πρῶτον ὑμῶν, before you; for when he says that he is before the disciples, this may be referred either to time or to rank The former exposition has been more generally received, namely, that Christ was hated by the world before the Apostles were hated But I prefer the second exposition, namely, that Christ, who is far exalted above them, was not exempted from the hatred of the world, and therefore his ministers ought not to refuse the same condition; for the phraseology is the same as that which we have seen twice before, in John 1:27 and 30, He who cometh after me is preferred to me, (ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν,) for he was before me

19. If you were of the world. This is another consolation, that the reason why they are hated by the world is, that they have been separated from it. Now, this is their true happiness and glory, for in this manner they have been rescued from destruction.

But I have chosen you out of the world. To choose means here to separate Now, if they were chosen out of the world, it follows that they were a part of the world, and that it is only by the mercy of God that they are distinguished from the rest who perish. Again, by the term, the world, Christ describes, in this passage, all who have not been regenerated by the Spirit of God; for he contrasts the Church with the world, as we shall see more fully under the seventeenth chapter. And yet this doctrine does not contradict the exhortation of Paul,

Be at peace with all men, as far as lieth in you,
(Romans 12:18;)

for the exception which he adds amounts to saying, that we ought to see what is right and proper for us to do that no man, by seeking to please the world, may give himself up to its corruptions.

But there is still another objection that may be urged; for we see that it commonly happens that wicked men, who are of the world, are not only hated, but accursed by others. In this respect, certainly, the world loveth not what is its own. I reply, earthly men, who are regulated by the perception of their flesh, never have a true hatred of sin, but only so far as they are affected by the consideration of their own convenience or injury. And yet the intention of Christ was not to deny that the world foams and rages within itself by internal quarrels. He only intended to show, that the world hates nothing in believers but what is of God. And hence, too, it plainly appears how foolish are the dreams of the Anabaptists, who conclude, from this single argument that they are the servants of God, because they displease the greater part of men. For it is easy to reply, that many who are of the world favor their doctrine, because they are delighted at the thought of having every thing in shameful confusion; while many who are out of the world hate it, because they are desirous that the good order of the state should remain unbroken.

20. Remember the word. It might also be read in the indicative mood, You remember the word, and the meaning is not very different; but I think that it is more suitable to read it in the imperative mood, Remember the word. It is a confirmation of what Christ had spoken immediately before, when he said that he was hated by the world, though he was far more excellent than his disciples; for it is unreasonable that the condition of the servant should be better than that of his master Having spoken of persons, he likewise makes mention of doctrine.

If they have heard my word, they will keep yours also. Nothing gives greater uneasiness to the godly than when they see the doctrine, which is of God, haughtily despised by men; for it is truly shocking and dreadful, and the sight of it might shake the stoutest heart. But when we remember on the other hand, that not less obstinate resistance was manifested against the Son of God himself, we need not wonder that the doctrine of God is so little reverenced among men. When he calls it his doctrine and their doctrine, this refers to the ministry. Christ is the only Teacher of the Church; but he intended that his doctrine, of which he had been the first Teacher, should be afterwards preached by the apostles.

21. But all these things they will do to you. As the fury of the world is monstrous, when it is so enraged against the doctrine of its own salvation, Christ assigns the reason to be, that it is hurried on by blind ignorance to its own destruction; for no man would deliberately engage in battle against God. It is blindness and ignorance of God, therefore, that hurries on the world, so that it does not hesitate to make war with Christ. We ought, then, always to observe the cause of this conduct, and the true consolation consists in nothing else than the testimony of a good conscience. It should also excite gratitude in our minds, that, while the world perishes in its blindness, God hath given to us his light. Yet let it be understood that hatred of Christ arises from stupidity of mind, when God is not known; for, as I have often said, unbelief is blind; not that wicked men do not understand or know anything, but because all the knowledge that they have is confused, and quickly vanishes away. On this subject I have elsewhere treated more largely.

22. If I had not come. He had said that the Jews regarded the Gospel with hatred, because they did not know God. Lest any one should think that this tended to alleviate their guilt, he adds, that it is through malice that they are blind, just as if one were to shut his eyes, that he might not be compelled to see the light. For otherwise it might have been brought as an objection against Christ. “If they do not know thy Father, how comes it that thou dost not cure their ignorance? Why didst thou not at least make trial whether they were altogether incapable of being taught, or not?” He replies, that he has performed the duty of a good and faithful Teacher, but without success, because their malice would not suffer them to acquire soundness of mind. In the person of those men he intended to strike terror into all who reject the truth of God, when it is offered to them, or intentionally fight against it, when it is known. And though a dreadful vengeance awaits them, still Christ, in this passage, looks chiefly to his own disciples, to animate them by the confident and well-grounded expectation of victory, lest, at any time, they should yield to the malice of wicked men; for when we learn that such will be the issue, we may already triumph, as if we were in the midst of the battle.

They would not have sin. It may be thought that Christ intended by these words to say, that there is no other sin but unbelief; and there are some who think so. Augustine speaks more soberly, but he approaches to that opinion; for, since faith forgives and blots out all sins, he says, that the only sin that damns a man is unbelief. This is true, for unbelief not only hinders men from being delivered from the condemnation of death, but is the source and cause of all evils. But the whole of that reasoning is inapplicable to the present passage; for the word sin is not taken in a general sense, but as related to the subject which is now under consideration; as if Christ had said, that their ignorance is utterly inexcusable, because in his person they maliciously rejected God; just as if we were to pronounce a person to be innocent, just, and pure, when we wished merely to acquit him of a single crime of which he had been accused. Christ’s acquittal of them, therefore, is confined to one kind of sin, because it takes away from the Jews every pretense of ignorance in this sin, 8787     “En ce peche.” of despising and hating the Gospel.

But there is still another question that arises: “Was not unbelief sufficient to condemn men before the coming of Christ?” There are fanatics who reason inconclusively from this passage, that all who died before the coming of Christ died without faith, and remained in a state of doubt and suspense till Christ manifested himself to them; as if there were not many passages of Scripture which testify that their conscience alone was sufficient to condemn them. Death, says Paul, reigned in the world even to Moses, (Romans 5:14.) And again he declares, that

they who have sinned without law shall perish without law,
(Romans 2:12.)

What, then, does Christ mean? There is undoubtedly an admission made in these words, by which he means that the Jews have nothing more to offer in extenuation of their guilt, since they knowingly and willfully rejected the life which was offered to them. Thus the excuse which he makes for them does not free them from all blame, but only extenuates the heinousness of their crime, according to that saying, The servant, who knoweth the will of his master, and despiseth it, shall be severely punished? 8888     The Author quotes, as he often does, from memory; but the passage stands thus:
   “That servant, who knew his master’s will, and did not make himself ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes, (Luke 12:47.)

    — Ed.
For it was not the intention of Christ here to promise pardon to any, but to hold his enemies convicted, who had obstinately rejected the grace of God, that it might be fully evident that they were unworthy of all pardon and mercy.

If I had not come and SPOKEN TO THEM. It ought to be observed, that he does not speak of his coming, as viewed by itself, but as connected with his doctrine, for they would not have been held guilty of so great a crime on account of his bodily presence alone, but the contempt of the doctrine made them utterly inexcusable.

23. He who hateth me hateth my Father also. This is a remarkable passage, which teaches us that no man can hate the doctrine of the Gospel without manifesting his impiety against God. There are many, indeed, who profess differently in words; for, though they abhor the Gospel, still they wish to be thought very good servants of God; but it is false, for a contempt of God is concealed within. In this manner Christ discovers the hypocrisy of many by the light of his doctrine; and on this subject we have spoken more largely under that passage,

Whosoever doeth what is evil hateth the light 8989     See vol. 1, p. 128. (John 3:20,)

and under that passage,

He who honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father, 9090     See vol. 1, p. 199.
(John 5:23.)

24. If I had not done among them the works Under the word works he includes, in my opinion, all the proofs which he gave of his Divine glory; for by miracles, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by other demonstrations, he clearly proved that he was the Son of God, so that in him was plainly seen the majesty of the Only-begotten Son, as we have seen under John 1:14 9191     See vol. 1, p. 47. It is commonly objected, that he did not perform more miracles or greater miracles than Moses and the Prophets. The answer is well known, that Christ is more eminent in miracles in this respect, that he was not merely a minister, like the rest, but was strictly the Author of them; for he employed his own name, his own authority, and his own power, in performing miracles. But, as I have said, he includes in general all the testimonies of heavenly and spiritual power by which his Divinity was displayed.

They have seen and hated. He concludes that his enemies cannot escape by any shifts to which they may have recourse, since they despised his power, which evidently was altogether Divine; for God had openly manifested his Divinity in the Son; and therefore it would serve no purpose for them to say that they had only to do with a mortal man. This passage reminds us to consider attentively the works of God, in which, by displaying his power, he wishes us to render the honor which is due to him. Hence it follows, that all who obscure the gifts of God, or who contemptuously overlook them, are ungrateful to God, and malicious.

25. But that the word may be fulfilled. What is contrary to nature appears to be incredible. But nothing is more contrary to reason than to hate God; and, therefore, Christ says that so great was the malice with which their minds were envenomed, that they hated him without a cause Christ quotes a passage from Psalm 35:19, which, he says, is now fulfilled Not that the same thing did not happen, formerly, to David, but to reprove the obstinate malice of the nation, which reigned perpetually from age to age, being continued from grandfathers to grandchildren in unbroken succession; as if he had said, that they were in no respect better than their fathers, who hated David without a cause.

Which is written in their Law. By the word Law, he means the Psalms; for the whole doctrine of the Prophets was nothing else than an appendage to the Law; and we know that the ministry of Moses lasted till the time of Christ. He calls it their Law, not as an expression of respect for them, but to wound them more deeply by a designation which was well known among them; as if he had said, “They have a Law transmitted to them by hereditary right, in which they see their morals painted to the life.”

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