Passage To Study:

John 15:15-17

[15] “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. [16] “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. [17] “These things I command you, that you love one another.

What are the facts of the passage?:

  • (Verse 15) – We are not to relate to Him s His servants only, or even primarily, but as His friends.  This is because He has treated us as friends and not as servants.

  • (Verse 16) – Christ chose them, not vice-versa; and they are to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains in order that the Father might answer their prayers.

  • (Verse 17) – We are commanded to do all that He has commanded, but especially that we love one another.

What do those facts mean?:

(Verse 15) - I call you not servants - This had been the common title by which he addressed them Matt. 10:24-25; John 12:26; 13:13; but he had also before this, on one occasion, called them friends Luke 12:4, and on one occasion after this he called them servants, John 15:20. He here means that the ordinary title by which he would henceforth address them would be that of friends.

The servant knoweth not - He receives the command of his master without knowing the reason why this or that thing is ordered. It is one of the conditions of slavery not to be let into the counsels and plans of the master. It is the privilege of friendship to be made acquainted with the plans wishes, and wants of the friend. This instance of friendship Jesus had given them by making them acquainted with the reasons why he was about to leave them, and with his secret wishes in regard to them. As he had given them this proof of friendship, it was proper that he should not withhold from them the title of friends.

I have called you friends - I have given you the name of friends. He does not mean that the usual appellation which he had given them had been than of friends, but that such was the title which he had now given them.

For all things - The reason why he called them friends was that he had now treated them as friends. He had opened to them his mind; made known his plans; acquainted them with the design of his coming, his death, his resurrection, and ascension; and, having thus given them the clearest proof of friendship, it was proper that he should give them the name.

That I have heard - Jesus frequently represents himself as commissioned or sent by God to accomplish an important work, and as being instructed by him in regard to the nature of that work. See the notes at John 5:30. By what he had heard of the Father, he doubtless refers to the design of God in his coming and his death. This he had made known to them.

(Verse 16) - Ye have not chosen me—The word here translated “chosen” is that from which is derived the word “elect,” and means the same thing. It is frequently thus translated, Mark 13:20; Matt. 24:22, 24, 31; Col. 3:12. It refers here, doubtless, to his choosing or electing them to be apostles. He says that it was not because they had chosen him to be their teacher and guide, but because he had designated them to be his apostles. See John 6:70; also Matt. 4:18-22. He thus shows them that his love for them was pure and disinterested; that it commenced when they had no affection for him; that it was not a matter of obligation on his part, and that therefore it placed them under more tender and sacred obligations to be entirely devoted to his service. The same may be said of all who are endowed with talents of any kind, or raised to any office in the church or the state. It is not that they have originated these talents, or laid God under obligation. What they have they owe to his sovereign goodness, and they are bound to devote all to his service. Equally true is this of all Christians. It was not that by nature they were more inclined than others to seek God, or that they had any native goodness to recommend them to him, but it was because he graciously inclined them by his Holy Spirit to seek him; because, in the language of the Episcopal and Methodist articles of religion, “The grace of Christ ‘prevented’ them;” that is, went before them, commenced the work of their personal salvation, and thus God in sovereign mercy chose them as His own. Whatever Christians, then, possess, they owe to God, and by the most tender and sacred ties they are bound to be his followers.

I have chosen you—To be apostles. Yet all whom he now addressed were true disciples. Judas had left them; and when Jesus says he had chosen them to bear fruit, it may mean, also, that he had “chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” 2 Thes 2:13.

Ordained you—Literally, I have placed you, appointed you, set you apart. It does not mean that he had done this by any formal public act of the imposition of hands, as we now use the word, but that he had designated or appointed them to this work, Luke 6:13-16; Matt. 10:2-5.

Bring forth fruit—That you should be rich in good works; faithful and successful in spreading my gospel. This was the great business to which they were set apart, and this they faithfully accomplished. It may be added that this is the great end for which Christians are chosen. It is not to be idle, or useless, or simply to seek enjoyment. It is to do good, and to spread as far as possible the rich temporal and spiritual blessings which the gospel is fitted to confer on mankind.

Your fruit should remain—This probably means,

  1. That the effect of their labors would be permanent on mankind. Their efforts were not to be like those of false teachers. the result of whose labors soon vanish away Acts 5:38-39, but their gospel was to spread—was to take a deep and permanent hold on people, and was ultimately to fill the world, Matt. 16:18. The Savior knew this, and never was a prediction more cheering for man or more certain in its fulfillment.

  2. There is included, also, in this declaration the idea that their labors were to be unremitted. They were sent forth to be diligent in their work, and untiring in their efforts to spread the gospel, until the day of their death. Thus, their fruit, the continued product or growth of religion in their souls, was to remain, or to be continually produced, until God should call them from their work. The Christian, and especially the Christian minister, is devoted to the Savior for life. He is to toil without intermission, and without being weary of his work, until God shall call him home. The Savior never called a disciple to serve him merely for a part of his life, nor to feel himself at liberty to relax his endeavors, nor to suppose himself to be a Christian when his religion produced no fruit. He that enlists under the banners of the Son of God does it for life. He that expects or desires to grow weary and cease to serve him, has never yet put on the Christian armor, or known anything of the grace of God.

How do those facts apply to my life?:

 That God use a few men to change the world and turn it upside down is perhaps the greatest historical testimony to the truth of the Word of God and the reality of the claims of the Gospel.  The fruit of the Apostles, the presence of the church, the doctrine of the Bible, and the spread of the Gospel has indeed remained unto this day.  Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the confession of Christ as Lord that is the church’s testimony and banner.  We can be assured that it will be so until Christ returns, no matter what the enemy seeks to turn against us or perpetrate against the body.  There is great assurance here!

What should I do in response?:

I must see to it that I am a part of what the Apostles established.   There is no “solo” work in the church.  We must all be a part of that work that God founded upon Christ and established by the work of the Apostles.

 

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Fruit That Remains

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