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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

John 15

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-27


The True Yine. The Witness of the Comforter and of the Apostles

1-17. The allegory of the True Vine and its interpretation. The metaphor of 'the vine' was suggested by 'the fruit of the vine' which had just been consecrated in the Holy Supper (Matthew 26:29), and the allegory was intended to illustrate the main idea underlying that holy rite, viz. union with Christ. It sets forth Christ as the sole source of spiritual life, and of Christian sanctity. As long as the spiritual union between Christ and the believer, which (ideally and normally, at any rate) begins with Baptism, is maintained by faith love and prayer, the believer's soul is nourished by constant supplies of grace, just as truly as the branches of a vine are nourished by the sap that flows into them from the stem. Nourished by the life of Christ, the believer's soul is cleansed, sanctified, and made fruitful in all good works. Neglect of prayer, the holy sacraments and the other means of grace is punished by interruption of this union, and, finally, by its complete severance, resulting in spiritual death, and inability to perform works acceptable to God.

1. The true vine] i.e. the ideally perfect vine. 'The vine was the symbol of Israel, not in their national but in their church capacity' (Edersheim): cp. Psalms 80:8; Isaiah 5:1; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1. It was also a symbol of the Messiah (Delitzsch). Accordingly Christ here affirms, (1) that He is the true Messiah; (2) that His Church is the true Israel of God, and His followers the true Israelites (cp. 1 Corinthians 10:18; Galatians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:9, etc.); but, above all, (3) that He is the one fountain of spiritual life, supplying all needful grace to believers. The figure of the vine and the branches corresponds to that of the body and the members, used first by Christ at the institution of the Holy Supper (Matthew 26:26) and often afterwards by St. Paul, to express the mysterious, but real and vital union which subsists between Christ and individual believers, and between Christ and His Church (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 5:30; Colossians 1:18-24; Colossians 2:19; Colossians 3:15). As the vine sends sap into every branch, causing the grapes to grow and ripen, so Christ communicates spiritual life and grace to every soul that is effectively 'in Him,' causing it to bring forth 'the fruits of the Spirit' (Galatians 5:22), to be 'fruitful in every good work' (Colossians 1:10), and—greatest gift of all—to be 'partaker of the divine nature' (2 Peter 1:4). Union with Christ is normally begun in Baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3, etc.), and maintained by constant faith (Ephesians 3:17), obedience (John 14:23; Revelation 3:20), love (1 John 4:12), Holy Communion (John 6:56; 1 Corinthians 10:16). The husbandman] cp. Mark 12:1; Luke 13:6.

2. Every branch] refers primarily to individual Christians; yet what is said applies also to Churches (Revelation 2:5; Revelation 3:16). Taketh away] yet not finally till the Last Judgment. Purgeth] RV 'cleanseth,' or, still better, 'pruneth.' The reference is (1) to the disciphne of sorrow, disappointment, temptation, and trial, by which the saints are perfected (Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19 cp. Hebrews 5:8); (2) to the cutting off of the superfluities, ambitions, luxuries, and worldly pleasures and lusts, which hinder the Christian life (Galatians 5:24; Galatians 6:14; James 1:21).

3. Through the word] The 'word' is the whole training of the Twelve, including the admonitions and severe rebukes with which He strove to correct their faults, and make them 'clean,' i.e. 'pruned,' and in a fruit-bearing state.

4. 'See that ye abide in Me by diligently using the means of grace, and I will abide in you.'

6. As a branch] i.e. as a useless branch.

Men (RV 'they') gather them] The angels gather the useless branches (i.e. persons who are not in Christ), and cast them into the fire (of future punishment in Hades or Gehenna), and they are burned (punished).

11, 12. The Saviour now resolves His commands into perfect self-forgetting love.

11. My joy] i.e. the joy which I have in loving the Father, and being loved by Him (John 15:10). This joy Christ imparts to the disciples, thereby fiilfilling (i.e. perfecting) their imperfect joy: cp. John 16:24; John 17:13; 1 John 1:4; 2 John 1:12.

12. See John 13:34.

13. Lay down] see John 10:11, and cp. 1 John 3:16. The Saviour regards the offering up of life, and that for friends, as the highest expression of love, and expects the disciples to prove themselves capable of similar self-sacrifice.

15. All things] This apparently contradicts John 16:12; (cp. John 14:26), but only apparently. Christ's teaching during His ministry was complete in the sense that it set forth all the principles of Christianity. Yet there was required the subsequent illumination of the Spirit, (1) to interpret the deeper meaning of those principles, and (2) to apply them practically to the needs of the Church.

16. Ordained] RV 'appointed.' Bring forth fruit] This mainly refers to the conversion of the world, which was the fruit of the spiritual labours of the Apostles. Should remain] Their work has lasted nearly 2,000 years, and the vitality of Christian missionary work is still unimpaired. Whatsoever] see on John 14:13

In my name] 'in accordance with My spirit and character.

17. I command you to abide in Me, that by so doing you may have the power to love one another.'

18-25. The world's hatred] cp. the similar predictions, Matthew 10:16-28; Matthew 24:9; Luke 21:12, Luke 21:16 cp. also 1 Peter 4:12, 1 Peter 4:13.

18. Cp. 1 John 3:13. The world is mankind regarded as alienated from God.

20. The word] see Matthew 10:24. The reference is not to John 13:16.

25. Their law] i.e. their Scriptures (see John 10:34). The passage alluded to is Psalms 69:4 : cp. Psalms 35:11. David is the person hated, but David's case is typical of Christ's.

26, 27. The Witness of the Holy Spirit and of the Apostles to Christ.

26. The Comforter] see on John 14:16. Whom I will send] According to John 14:17, John 14:26, it is the Father who sends the Spirit; now it is Christ Himself, showing clearly that 'what things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise' (John 5:19). Cp. Luke 24:49; Acts 2:33, and see on John 16:7. Which proceedeth from the Father] The Eastern Church uses this text to prove the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father alone, but the preposition used shows that not the eternal origin, but the temporal mission of the Comforter is meant. He (the masculine pronoun emphasises the Spirit's personality: cp. John 14:26) shall testify of me] by His whole working in the Church from Pentecost onward: see on John 16:8.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on John 15:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/john-15.html. 1909.

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