The next three chapters are Jesus’ continuing teachings to His disciples as they are on their way to the place of Jesus’ arrest and eventual crucifixion. Everything Jesus has taught and accomplished is summarized in these chapters.
Take careful note of the continuing context from the previous two chapters. Remember, chapters 13-17 comprise a single section, and must be studied together, not separately.
A. Jesus is still walking with disciples toward Gethsemane, He is still teaching them and reminding them about the last 3 years ministry to them. It is of special note that Judas Iscariot is no longer among them, he left in chapter 13. So it is safe to assume that these teachings are only for true Believers, for only they will be able to eventually understand.
B. Disciples are to just Believers, they are fully committed Believers. Jesus has said a great deal about discipleship, and none of His teachings make it something easy or casual.
Perhaps one of the greatest disappointments of the modern church is that being a “disciple of Jesus” is considered to be casual, merely being part of a church, small group, singing, etc, but not really giving ones life.
Consider this for a moment: why is discipleship so easy today when it was so difficult in the days of the early church?
In the following study, the usual pattern will be changed somewhat. In this particular study the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ will be summarized. It is up to you, the student of Scripture, to look back through the writing of John and see how these two chapters remind us of everything He said and did up to this point.
Also, note that this is John’s purpose. His gospel is different than the other three, and he is now finishing his purpose for writing. Remember, the early church would have had a deep knowledge of the previous gospel accounts, as well as many of the New Testament letters that are doctrinal and instructive. They did not spend their time listening to stories and making different interpretations to satisfy themselves or others; rather, they took seriously the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and became disciples.
The context of these two chapters: Bearing Fruit
II. John 15
(What follows is an analogy, to be remembered but not to be taken literally. Jesus will move on from this analogy to what it means to those who are true disciples)
1. Jesus now characterizes His Father in a new way – The Vinedresser. Consider this characterization, designation, description for a moment:
a. What is the purpose of a vinedresser?
b. What does a vinedresser expect?
c. Why is a vinedresser concerned about the growth of the vine and its fruit?
d. Does a vinedresser feel sorry for the branches when he cuts them back?
e. Is a vinedresser willing to let unfruitful branches remain in order to be “nice”?
f. Is a vinedresser afraid to cut off the branches that do not produce fruit?
It is an exceptional thing that Jesus does here, calling the Father “The Vinedresser”. Since the disciples lived in a agrarian society, the title does not escape their understanding. The Vinedresser is committed to making sure that His vineyard is healthy, growing, and producing. He will do whatever it required to make it so.
2. The Vinedresser desires, requires fruit from the branches of the vine.
3. Jesus is the True Vine.
a. There are others that appear to be vines but are not
b. The True Vine deals in Truth
c. The True Vine is placed by the Vinedresser
4. Branches are those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ
a. Nothing is said about the branches being false branches
b. Some branches do not produce fruit – something is wrong and must be corrected.
c. Branches that do not produce are “taking up space and nutrients from those that are bearing fruit” – hence, they are removed for the good of the other branches, for the good of the Vine, for the purposes of the Vinedresser.
d. Fruit bearing branches are pruned in order to become more fruitful.
1. It is the nature of the Vine and its branches to produce fruit
2. Fruit is the desired outcome of the Vinedresser, who placed the Vine
3. Fruit is the direct result of the seed of the Vine
4. Fruit is the result of the seed, which is The Word of God.
a. Branches do not choose the fruit
b. Branches do not decide the seed
c. We are “living branches” that can “make choices”
1. The Word in Greek is “menoe. ” It simply means “to remain, stay, continue”
2. This word is used 11 times in verses 4-16, therefore is of great importance
There is a change of its usage: from in Christ, to His Word, to Fruit that Remains. Jesus is saying that these are connected, cannot be separated.
3. Abiding is an act, something that must be accomplished. “Doing” is always part of abiding, worshipping, obeying.
4. Jesus and His Word are the same regarding this “abiding”
5. Abiding is not a word of human intimacy, but of trust. It is not a passive activity, but one of full involvement.
6. One cannot abide in Christ without abiding in His Word, and His Word abiding in that one. Jesus Christ does not separate Himself from His Word.
The sad idea today that the Word is only a guide to “intimacy and praise” is gravely mistaken. The early church, disciples, took the written Word seriously, studied and memorized it. Even today in many countries of the world the written Word is precious, not available to all. People over the centuries have died horrible deaths because they attached such great importance to the written Word. Unfortunately, in today’s modern western churches, the Word has become merely a book of illustrations and stories, a guide to the deeper life. People speak against those who study and teach it, who show it’s demands of discipleship. This is not from the Holy Spirit, regardless of how many say that the Spirit is telling them not to be so “academic”. The Apostle Paul warned the people of Colosse about this, and we today should take heed. In chapter 16, Jesus will warn us as well.
(Here is where the analogy stops being predominant, and where being a true disciple becomes the literal meaning. Do not forget the analogy of the Vine, but do not allow it to dominate the meaning of these two chapters)
1. The Greek word is “taereoe” meaning: “to keep, observe, continue to obey”
2. It is used 4 times in verses 10, 20
3. The plain meaning is that there is obedience, working involved. He is no longer speaking about Vine and branches, but about disciples.
4. Abiding and Observing are inter-connected. There cannot be one without the other.
5. Jesus has made a choice – he has chosen these men to bear fruit. The same is true of all true disciples. (Bearing fruit is the proof)
Many people memorize and quote Scripture verses and passages from memory, and they believe that this is what it means to “have the Word abide” in them. However, only Observing the verses, IN THEIR GIVEN CONTEXT, is what Jesus is actually teaching.
Read through this passage and see how abiding, observing, fruitfulness, love and joy are all connected. Jesus is not teaching 4 different ideas here, but is teaching what a true disciple is.
Am I becoming a true disciple according to the words of Jesus in these chapters?
E. Hated by the World, vv18-ff
1. Jesus is preparing His true disciples for what lies ahead.
2. He has “chosen” them. See verse 16 and 19.
a. The Greek word is “eklegomia”, meaning to “select, choose, have a special purpose for, regard with particular favor”
b. Jesus does the choosing
c. Those He chooses are both chosen “into” and “out of”. There is a clear distinction between those He chooses and those He does not.
3. The hatred of the world is due to its inability to abide, to be “unchosen”
4. The world and those who follow its ways cannot help but hate the true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ
Persecution is not from simply being a church-goer, or a casual “christian” as so many are in the modern churches. A great deal of persecution, often the worst, comes directly from those who claim to be a “christian” and are angered by the demands of true discipleship. THIS IS THE WAY OF THE WORLD.
5. Notice Jesus words in verse 25 – “without a cause” This is how those of the world, whether in or out of the church are spoken of by The Lord Jesus Himself.
6. The Holy Spirit reveals Truth thought the study of the written Word. This is what Jesus is about to teach.
DON’T EVER LET ANYONE TELL YOU ANYTHING DIFFERENT! The truth that the Holy Spirit reveals has nothing to do with experiences or the miraculous. This is what the world and the church-goers want to believe. They claim to “hear the Lords voice” but it is of their own making. Read Isaiah 30 again.
People often speak very harshly about “academic knowledge” How much academic knowledge did Jesus have? Did He ever speak against it? How did Jesus say that he glorified the Father? answer: by abiding in His word and obeying.
III. John 16, 17
A. The Holy Spirit
Chapter 16 is about the work of the Holy Spirit, Who is sent to make the Word Abide, to empower in bearing fruit, and to guide into the truth of the Written Word of which HE is the Author! (See 2 Peter 1:19-21).
1. People will continue to hate the true disciple, seek to do them harm.
2. The Holy Spirit is the gift of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in order to empower the true disciple
3. The Holy Spirit will convict the world
4. He is the Spirit of Truth (God’s truth, not humanity’s truth or the world’s truth)
5. Peace is from the Holy Spirit, given to the one who abides.
6. Abiding allows one to be courageous, regardless of the religious and non-religious world.
7. The Holy Spirit does not speak about Himself or His powers – He reveals the true of the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. To the one abiding in His Word
b. To the one who obeys what he/she studies that is revealed by the Spirit
So many times I have heard from church goers that they have heard something from God, that the Spirit has guided them, on and on and on. All of these are without any study of Scripture, no proof that they actually hear His voice, and they are applying whatever meaning suits them to a verse of the Bible.
This is NOT what the Lord Jesus teaches, nor what the Holy Spirit reveals.
Let me be plain – of you want to be friends with the world and with the majority of church goers then you cannot be a true disciple.
8. The Holy Spirit helps the true disciple to pray according to the will of God – that is why the true disciple gets answers – verses 23,24.
a. Joy is from the work of the Holy Spirit
b. Answers to prayer are not a surprise to the true disciple
9. Jesus has overcome the world, religious and non-religious. abide in Him, His Word, allow His Word to abide in you, trust the Holy Spirit as you study and obey. Don’t let anyone, church goer or not, to steal your joy from you.
B. Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer
This is not a difficult prayer to understand. It is the conclusion of His teachings in chapters 13-16. KEEP THE ENTIRE CONTEXT INTACT!
1. There is unity between the father and the Lord Jesus Christ
a. Jesus keeps the Father’s Word
b. Jesus has instructed His disciples to do the same
2. There will be difficulties between His true disciples and the world
3. Others will believe the Gospel because of His disciples speaking the Word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit
4. There will be a clear difference between the true disciple and the world
5. Christ will never forsake them
Notice: The true disciple will be an offense to the world. Most church goers (who are actually believers) will not accept the consequences of being a true disciple. They know the truth a little bit, keep what then like and is easy but reject the direct teachings of the Lord Jesus regarding true discipleship.
IV. Truths to be Studied, remembered, practiced
A. Fruit bearing is expected
B. Abiding and Obedience are inseparable
C. True disciples are hated by the world
D. The Holy Spirit came to empower and teach the Truths of Gods Word, revealing the Lord Jesus Christ
E. Peace is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit
F. Jesus’ prayed has been and is still being answered.
The only difficult thing about studying these chapters is this: will you follow the clear teachings, or will you shy away because of the opinions of those who go to church and the hatred of the world?