John Chapter 15 and 16

Published Aug. 30, 2023, 12:52 p.m.

Review: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through him.  Jesus promises to (1) prepare a place for them, (2) to send "another" advocate (comforter, paraclete), and to not leave them as orphans.

Today we reach the 7th and final of Jesus "I am" statements.  The the bread of life (6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the door (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (11:25), the way the truth and the life (14:6) and the true vine (15:1).

Vine imagery would be significant for Jews.  Grapes continue to be a source of pride and national identity for Israelies. (Apparently scientist have linked grapes and wines all over the world as having some origins from Israel.)

In the Bible "the vine" is often associated with Israel: Psalm 80, ("You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.") Isaiah 5, (7a"For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; " )  Hosea 10, ("Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit.") and several references in Jeremiah.

Incidentally, many of these references start the vine imagery in a positive light but pivot to plea for God's help  (Ps. 80:14 "Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine,")  or a pronouncement of God's judgement against the vine (Is. 7b "and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness,but behold, an outcry!")  (Ho.10:2 "Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars.").

Adopt this context as we listen to Jesus.

I Am the True Vine

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

  1. There is some word play in the Greek in verse 2:  The branch that does not bear fruit he "airei" and every branch that does bear fruit he "kathairei".  The word "kathairei" means "cleanse, purify, prune" and is the root of "catharsis" (a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension).  
  2. How are we to understand verse 2?  How do we reconcile 'Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away" and John 10:27-29 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."
  3. Recall that Judas is not present.  Why does Jesus say the disciples "clean" already?  Not everyone is clean.  (John 13:10)  What application or assurance can we see here?

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

  1. I think there are two sets of questions:  (1) Do you abide in Jesus?  Does Jesus abide in you?  then (2) How do we abide in Jesus?  How does Jesus abide in you?
  2. How does this passage square with Ephesians 2:8-10 : " 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
  3. What is the fruit we should bear?

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have 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 abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

  1. Jesus reiterates his commandment.  Must be something he really wants us to remember!
  2. What does Jesus say marks the transition from servants to friends?

The Hatred of the World

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,[b] but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

  1. Why does the world hate us?  Do you feel that hatred sometimes? 
  2. What is our response to the hatred of the world?  What was Jesus response?
  3. Jesus says (v 23) "Whoever hates me, hates my Father also" who is that directed at?  What kind of revelation brings about their guilt?  How is this similar and different from Romans 1:19-20 ("19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. ")
  4. Jesus references Psalm 69:4

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

16 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

  1. Remember: Helper == "Paraklētos";  The promise of a helper is tempered with the promise of specific ways the world will attack them.  Why was this helpful?  What things do we specifically fear that keeps us from bearing witness about Jesus?  Would it help to know that some of your specific fears will come true?
  2. Why does Jesus say these things to them (16:1)?
  3. I have heard people lament that they did not live during the time of Jesus.  That they did not get to see him personally.  Why does Jesus say "it is to your advantage"? 

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

  1. Jesus says the "Spirit of Truth" will lead the disciples "into all truth".  Is this promise for us also?  What does that mean to you? 
  2. How do we see the Trinity at work in this passage?
  3. In my studies of nuclear physics, I came across nuclei that are called "Borromean nuclei " (Beryllium-9 is one, Carbon--12 is another)  The name comes from the "House of Borromeo" that used three connected rings on their coat of arms.  The rings (and nuclei) are constructed in such a way that if one ring was removed, the other two would no longer be connected.

Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

  1. What does Jesus mean when he says "A little while"?
  2. Why are the disciples sorrowful?
  3. "Ask the Father in my name" (15v 16) "whatever you wish"(15v 7)  "whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you" (16v23 )-- We know God is not a genie.  We do not preach "name it and claim it".  What kinds of prayers can we pray in Jesus name?  Where can we learn these prayers? Matt.6:5-15, Psalms, John 17, Matt. 26:36-46.

I Have Overcome the World

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.[c] 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

  1. Contrast 16:1 and 16:32-33. 
  2. What real fears do we encounter while abiding in Christ?   How do we access his peace?
  3. In what things / people do we "take heart" or "take courage"?
  4. Does it seem like the world is overcoming us sometimes?  In what ways?  What should we remember?


  1. John 15:15 Or bondservants, or slaves (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface); likewise for servant later in this verse and in verse 20
  2. John 15:22 Greek they would not have sin; also verse 24
  3. John 16:27 Some manuscripts from the Father
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