1. The farewell discourses, 13:1-17:26
viii] You are my friendsSynopsis
Having presented the parable / metaphor of The True Vine, 15:1-8, Jesus now sets out to explain its meaning.
Jesus is the true vine, he is the true Israel, he is the realization of God's promised eternal blessings. The person who abides in him, who believes in him, will bear the fruit of love in abundance.
i] Context: See 15:1-8.
ii] Structure: The true vine explained:
The love of the brotherhood, 9-17;
Abiding in Jesus' love; v9-11;
"Abide in my love,"
"that your joy may be complete."
The model for brotherly love, v12-15;
"Love each other as I have loved you", v12-13;
"I no longer call you servants, ..... but friends", v14-15.
Conclusion - summary, v16-17.
Called to bear fruit;
Seek the appropriate support.
Love one another.
Isaiah, in chapter 5, describes Israel as a vineyard, a vineyard carefully cultivated by God and from which he expects to gather its fruits. The sad fact is that his vineyard produced only spoiled fruit and so Isaiah prophesied that Israel would be replaced by a more fruitful nation. In the "figurative discourse" (Schnackenburg) of the Vine, Jesus identifies himself as the vine that replaces Israel; Jesus is the faithful people of God, the righteous nation. Jesus, as the new and faithful Israel, fulfills the covenant promise of a blessing to the whole world, a blessing of salvation which is realized by abiding in God's love revealed in Jesus. This abiding in Jesus, this loving Jesus, amounts to faith in Jesus, and it is this which incorporates a person into God's new Israel. Covenant inclusion for old Israel had always rested on grace appropriated through faith, but they forgot the faith of Abraham, and relied on its fruit (law-obedience) as the mechanism for covenant blessing. Unlike old Israel, the new Israel in Christ must rest on divine grace realized through faith, for it is only through faith, through abiding, that the vineyard will produce fruit to the glory of God - the fruit of love, a love that is sacrificial, and a love that is other-person-centered, a friendship love. So, Jesus reminds his disciples that he commissioned them, he appointed them to bear fruit that lasts, and to this end Jesus will support his disciples in their fruit-bearing. "This then is my directive: Love one another."
So, this passage concerns a mutual abiding between the believer and the Godhead, a faith-union - an abiding in Christ, in his love, in his word, in his joy. This abiding produces the fruit of love, a love that is not a required response of abiding, but is the fruit of abiding, an abiding which is shaped by the indwelling compelling Spirit. The key to it all is the abiding, namely, faith.
For an overview of the parable and its explanation see Issues 15:1-8.
iv] Form: As an explanation of the parable, this passage may be classified as a "figurative discourse", Schnackenburg, or better, a "literal discourse" Schweizer.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 15:9
Jesus unpacks the parable / metaphor of the vine, v9-17: i] Abiding in Jesus' love, v9-11. Abiding in Christ's love, as with abiding in Jesus and abiding in his word, all amount to much the same thing. "Abide" is probably best understood as a faith-union with Christ: trusting him and his word, resting on him, walking with him, united with him, all of which is dependent on his death and resurrection on our behalf. Abiding is believing / trusting; see Abiding in Christ, Issues, 15:1-8
kaqwV .... kagw "as" - as, just as, insomuch as [the father loved me] so also [i loved you]. Presenting as a comparative construction, although Brown suggests that kaqwV is causative, rather than comparative; "inasmuch as", ie., the Father's love for the Son shapes the Son's love for us. If this is the case then kagw is best taken as consequential, "so", although it would be possible to translate it as a connective; "insomuch as the Father loves me and I love you, ..."
hgaphsa (agapaw) aor. "loved" - The punctiliar aorist is indicating action, a package of, or singular act of, love. "God loved and gave (3:16); Christ loved to the point of giving his life (13:1, 15:13). To abide in Christ's love is to draw continuously on the benefits of his life-giving death and resurrection", Pfitzner.
meinate (meinw) aor. imp. "remain" - remain, abide, continue. The aorist may be ingressive, "start abiding / believing", or gnomic / universal, Carson, constative, "you must remain", Harris, or possibly dramatic, used for emphasis.
en + dat. "in" - in [the love]. For the function of this preposition see v4. The "abide in me" of v4 is now explained in the terms of "abide in my love", believe in / rest on / have faith in / unite with Christ's act of love / grace, namely, his "completed act of salvation in which the Father's love for him and his own love for the world, are expressed", Lindars.
th/ emh/ adj. "my [love]" - the of me. Dative in agreement with agaph/, "love". Attributive, "the love which is mine", but possibly subjective, "my love for you", Barrett, "In the love I have for you", Harris.
Jesus' loving relationship with the Father is realized in his commitment to the Father's will; our loving relationship with Jesus is realized in our commitment to his will, namely, that we believe in him as God's messiah / anointed one / great I AM.
ean + subj. "if" - if. Conditional clause, 3rd class, where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true, "if, as may be the case, ..... then ...". An appositional translation better expresses the point; "to obey my commands is to remain in my love", Barclay, ie., obeying is abiding.
thrhshte (threw) aor. subj. "you obey / keep" - you keep, guard, observe. Possibly "fulfill".
taV entolaV (h) "commands" - the commands [of me]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to keep." This injunction is repeated in v14, 15 and 21. Most commentators adopt an obedience line, the rendering of obedience out of love, so Kostenberger, Carson, Ridderbos, .... Yet, fulfilling Christ's commands probably means much the same as to let "my words abide in you", v7, which again is the same as "abide in me", v4. It is "commands" plural, which usually prompts a range of suggested items to obey, all of which are summed up in the command to love. Yet, in the context it is surely to "believe" = to abide in Christ's love, and bear the fruit of that abiding, namely "love".
meneite (menw) fut. "you will remain" - you will remain [in the love of me]. The person who "abides" is a person who maintains their faith-union with Christ. Such a person rests on the saving relationship they possess in Christ through faith, and thus, living under grace, they receive the benefits of Christ's love; they receive the benefits of his death, resurrection and reign on behalf of broken humanity.
kaqwV "just as" - Comparative.
tethrhka (threw) perf. "I have obeyed / kept" - i have kept. The perfect tense indicating past action with ongoing consequences. Probably referring to Christ's act of abiding in the Father's love issuing in his act of love on the cross.
tou patroV (hr roV) gen. "[my] Father's [commands]" - [the commands] of the father [of me]. The genitive is adjectival, usually treated as subjective; "the instructions which the Father gives."
menw pres. "remain [in his love]" - [and] i remain [in the love of him]. Bultman suggests that Christ's remaining in the Father's love involves "being for" the Father.
It is likely that having Christ's "joy" "in you", is the same as having Christ "abide in you", which is much the same as having Christ's word abide in us, or having Christ's love abide in us. All are facets of the one diamond - a faith-union with Jesus. The word "joy" may have the same sense as "peace", again a relational term, of peace with God. It is unlikely that the reference is to some existential feeling brought on by obedience, or Spirit baptism, etc. It is also unlikely that Jesus is speaking about a future heavenly joy.
lelalhka (lalew) perf. "I have told" - i have spoken [these things]. Jesus recapitulates with the common phrase "these things I have spoken to you."
uJmin dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.
tauta pro. pl. "this" - these things. Accusative direct object of the verb "I have spoken." What things? Probably abide / believe and it fruit love.
iJna + subj. "so that [my joy]" - that [the joy]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that." "I have told you this to make you completely happy as I am", CEV.
hJ emh adj. "my" - of me. Attributive use of the pronoun; "the joy which is mine."
hJ cara (h) "joy" - joy, happiness, gladness. A spiritual joy, a natural happy human emotion, or both?
plhrwqh/ (plhrow) aor. pas. subj. "may be complete" - may be made full, complete. "So that you may be completely joyful", TH.
ii] The model for brotherly love, v12-15. In all likelihood, this passage serves as "a further explanation of the idea of bearing fruit in the allegory", Lindars. Love is the fruit of faith / abiding, and is framed both by a love which is self-giving, a love shaped by Christ's self-giving.
hJ emh adj. "my" - [the command] of me [is this]. Emphatic attributive use of the possessive adjective again; "the command which is of me."
hJ entolh (h) "command" - the command, instruction. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. Now singular, so is there only one command? Barrett suggests that the singular nature of the command is inclusive indicating that the love is toward both the divine and humanity - to love God and to love neighbor. Love toward God entails belief in Christ, abiding, while love toward neighbor is generalized in the sense of "as I have loved you", ie., Christ's example of self-giving. We are best to follow Carson who suggests that the love commanded of us is the love of the brotherhood, although by nature it presupposes a love of the divine.
iJna + subj. "-" - that. Introducing an epexegetic clause specifying the command; "my command is this, namely that ...."
agapate (agapaw) pres. subj. "love" - you love [one another]. The present tense is taken by some to express ongoing action here, namely, "keep on loving your brothers and sisters in the Lord", although in a hina clause aspect is not dominant.
kaqwV "as" - just as, as, in like manner. The comparative serves to introduce a comparative clause, although possibly causal, "because", BDF #136.
hgaphsa (agapaw) aor. "I have loved" - i loved [you]. The aorist, being perfective, may express a singular act of love here, namely the cross. "The essence of fruit-bearing ... is exemplified in the self-sacrificing love of Christ himself", Pfitzner.
Brotherly love is a sacrificial love, self-giving.
meizona (megaV) adj. comp. "greater" - greater [love]. The use of the negative with the comparative produces a superlative so, "the greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them", CEV.
tauthV gen. pro. "than this" - than this [has no one]. The genitive is ablative, of comparison, as NIV. The reference is forward.
iJna + subj. "that / to" - that. As v12, introducing an epexegetic clause specifying the nature of the love.
qh/ (tiqhmi) aor. subj. "he lay down / lay down" - [someone] put down [the life of him]. Idiomatic sense "give up one's life / die" for "lay down one's life." "Put your life on the line for your friends", Peterson.
uJper + gen. "for" - for, on behalf of. Here expressing representation / benefit. The same preposition is used of Jesus giving up his life "for many", Mk.14:24. Morris concludes that the preposition used here and elsewhere, is referring to Jesus death and carries with it "substitutionary force."
twn filwn adj. "friends" - the friends [of him]. The adjective serves as a substantive. Brown suggests that "friend' in English is not strong enough, so "those whom he loves", Barrett. Certainly the apostle Paul drives the point home when sees Christ's death as an example of love for ones enemies, Rom.5:6ff.
Jesus' friendship, and thus the friendship of God the Father, is not offered unconditionally; it is only offered to those who believe in Jesus. In the context of this verse, the instruction that Jesus has in mind is that of brotherly love, v12. Yet, as Carson notes, such "obedience (love one another) is not what makes them friends; it is what characterizes his friends. Clearly, then, this 'friendship' is not strictly reciprocal." We become Jesus' friend by abiding in him, loving him, believing in him. As a consequence, united to Christ in his love, we become loving (of course, always imperfectly so).
uJmeiV pro. "you" - you [are friend of me]. Emphatic by position; "you (my disciples), and not the world in general", Morris.
filoi (oV) "friends" - Predicate nominative. Used here in the sense of a "loving relationship of mutual indwelling", Lindars.
ean + subj. "if" - if [you do the things which = what I command you]. Introducing a conditional clause 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, you do what I command you, then you are my friends." It would be very misleading to take this condition as reciprocal. The point being made is that a person who believes / abides in Jesus, is a friend of Jesus, and a characteristic of that friendship is a love of the brotherhood. A person's standing in Christ is not realized by faith + works, but by faith alone; works are the fruit of faith. The person who abides in Christ (by grace through faith) will bear (imperfectly) the fruit of love. In Biblical ethics the imperative always rests on the indicative.
egw pro. "[what] I [command]" - Emphatic by use and position. "What I command" is usually taken to be brotherly love, so Ridderbos, etc. As noted above, it is unwise to overcook this statement, eg., "the friends of Jesus are those who habitually obey Him", Morris. Jesus' primary command is that we believe in him as God's great I AM, and that we live that out through the love of the brotherhood. No believer is capable of "habitually" loving the brotherhood, even habitually trusting Jesus is a struggle at times, but it is the one struggle we must never give up on.
uJmin dat. pro. "-" - to you. Dative of indirect object.
Through their faith in Jesus the disciples have entered into a loving relationship of mutual indwelling with Jesus, a friendship which gives them an intimate knowledge of the mind of God.
doulouV (oV) "servants" - [no longer do i call you] slaves, servants. Complement of the accusative direct object "you" standing in a double accusative construction. Williams opts for "slaves". It does heighten the contrast, but is probably too harsh.
oJti "because" - because, for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus no longer calls his disciples servants, because he treats them like friends.
ti "[his master's business]" - [the slave does not know] what [his lord does]. Interrogative pronoun. "A servant does not share his master's confidence", Phillips.
filouV adj. "[I have called you] friends" - [but/and i have called you] friends. Complement of the accusative direct object "you" standing in a double accusative construction. The disciples were called servants, a disciple, a follower, being someone who serves, but now they are friends rather than servants, just as they are sons rather than servants, Gal.4:1-7. A friend is given more information than a servant - here a recipient of divine revelation.
oJti "for" - because. Serving to introduce a causal clause explaining why Jesus calls his disciples his friends, namely, because they, like him, have access to the will of the Father.
panta adj. "everything" - all, everything. Accusative direct object of the verb "to make known." Clearly not everything of the divine knowledge possessed by the exalted Christ, but the full content of the divine knowledge intended for humanity. In taking on human flesh, ("emptied himself", ?) Jesus necessarily takes on human limitations. To that extent, functioning as a prophet, Jesus has fulfilled his revelatory mission completely.
para + gen. "from [my Father]" - [i have heard] from [the father of me]. Expressing source; "from beside."
egnwrisa (gnwrizw) aor. "I have made known" - i made known. The aorist indicates a completed revelation. "Used of the completed work of Christ. It is the revelation of the whole 'hour' that changes the disciples status, not simply the words of the last discourse", Brown. Brown also makes the point that this divine revelation is complete, and that the Spirit only develops this knowledge, ie., he "gives greater insight into what Jesus has revealed." Of course, it is possible that Jesus has revealed all the information necessary for the disciples at this point in time, such that "this knowledge is not as yet exhaustive", Morris - through the ministry of the Paraclete, divine revelation continues to flow to the disciples enabling the formation of the New Testament, cf., Jn.16:12. Revelation beyond the New Testament is unlikely. This would imply that the gifts of apostle and prophet are confined to the New Testament era - a contentious notion.
uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.
iii] Conclusion - discourse summary, v16-17. The disciples didn't select Jesus' for inclusion into the elect people of God / the new Israel, rather, Jesus selected them (on the basis of their response of faith) and authorized them to bear the fruit of love, a love toward their brothers and sisters in Christ. To this end Jesus will support them. This command to love is a "new commandment", 13:34. The instruction to love is different to the Old Testament commands in its newness. It is "new" in that, unlike the commands of the Law, it comes without a curse. Christ's instruction is not only free from condemnation, but carries the power, in itself, to shape Christ's own self-giving in us, and this through the power of his indwelling compelling / the Spirit of Christ. By grace we are sanctified, through faith, and this not by works of the law.
umeiV .... all egw "you .... but I" - [you not chose me] but [i chose you]. Strong adversative standing in counterpoint construction. Note the emphatic use of the pronouns "you" and "I".
exelexasqe (eklegomai) aor. "choose" - select, choose, prefer. The word "choose" does not necessarily refer to the effectual call of reformed theology, given that the election of a new Israel does not necessarily imply the election of individuals to membership. One's theological predisposition will obviously influence the interpretation.
eqhka (tiqhmi) aor. "appointed" - [and] appointed [you]. Barrett suggests that the word reflects the Hebrew "close / join" = "to lay the hand on [the head of]", "to ordain"; set aside for a special task, "commissioned", JB. The word is also used of Jesus laying down his life for his friends. "If this is no accident, it emphasizes, indirectly, that it is the Lord's redemptive death which enables and empowers the disciples to undertake their work", R.H. Lightfoot.
iJna + subj. "to" - in order that [you may go and bear fruit]. Usually taken as introducing a purpose clause, although consecutive expressing result is possible. "The purpose Jesus has for those so chosen is that they are appointed to go and bear fruit", Ridderbos. The "fruit" is surely love, although numerous suggestions exist, eg. "the mission mandate", Ridderbos.
uJpaghte (uJagw) pres. subj. "go" - may go. Possibly redundant, or could reflect the apostolic commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
kai "[fruit that will last]" - and [in order that the fruit of you remains]. Coordinative, "so that their fruit may abide"; "the kind of fruit that endures", TEV. Given the context, one would assume that the "fruit of love" is intended, although Carson suggests "new converts", also: Westcott, Beasley-Murray, Barrett...
iJna + subj. "then" - so that. This second hina clause is usually taken as coordinate with the first in this verse, so Ridderbos, Barrett, final or consecutive; "I selected and commissioned you in order that / so that you go and bear fruit, in order that / so that your fruit may abide, and in order that / so that the certain thing you ask of the Father ......", cf. Carson.
oJ ti an + subj. "whatever [you ask]" - whatsoever [you may ask the father]. "Introducing an indefinite relative clause which is conditional; "whatever you ask the Father in my name, then he will give it to you." "Whatever / anything you ask" is, given the context, the fruit of love. Given that the fruit of love is the promised consequence of abiding in faith, then we may properly pray for this fruit and rightly expect the prayer to be answered.
en "in [my name]" - in [the name of me.] Instrumental, expressing means, "by means of my name." The "name" encapsulates the substance of the person, their being, and so with God, his authority, so "with / by / under my authority."
dw/ (didwmi) aor. subj. "will give" - he may give. The aorist subjunctive takes a future sense here.
umin dat. pro. "you" - it to you. Dative of indirect object.
Summary statement covering the teaching of v1-17 - bear fruit = "love one another."
tauta pro. pl. "this" - these things [i command you]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to command." Again, the plural causes problems. The demonstrative pronoun "these things" may refer to what follows (forward referencing, cataphoric), but "love" is a single command, or it may refer to the preceding instructions, the intent of which is mutual love. Most modern translations have "this", with "these things" found in the AV, RV, NRSV.
iJna + subj. "-" that. This variant is missing in some manuscripts. Usually taken, as in v12, epexegetic, specifying the command. None-the-less, it may introduce a purpose clause; "I command these things in order that you may love one another", Brown; Morris agrees; "I am giving you these commands so that you may love on another", NRSV.
agapate (agapaw) pres. subj. "love" - you love [one another]. The passage concludes, as it began, with a call for mutual love. The present tense, being durative, may indicate continued action; "keep on loving one another", Williams.