The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St John Chrysostom’ Homiletic Commentary on John 15:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 21, 2011

This post includes some brief comments on the end of chapter 14.

John 14:31-15:1-“Arise, let us go hence. I am the true Vine, (ye are the branches,1 ) and My Father is the Husbandman.

`Ignorance’ makes the soul timid and unmanly, just as instruction in heavenly doctrines makes it great and sublime. For when it has enjoyed no care, it is in a manner timid, not by nature but by will.2 For when I see the man who once was brave,3 now become a coward, I say that this latter feeling no longer belongs to nature, for what is natural is immutable. Again, when I see those who but now were cowards all at once become daring, I pass the same judgment, and refer all to will. Since even the disciples were very fearful, before they had learned what they ought, and had been deemed worthy of the gift of the Spirit; yet afterwards they became bolder than lions. So Peter, who could not bear the threat of a damsel, was hung with his head downwards, and was scourged, and though he endured ten thousand dangers, would not be silent, but enduring what he endured as though it were a dream, in such a situation spake boldly; but not so before the Crucifixion. Wherefore Christ said, “Arise, let us go hence.” “But why, tell me? Did he not know the hour at which Judas would come upon Him? Or perhaps He feared lest he should come and seize them, and lest the plotters should be upon him before he had furnished his most excellent teaching.” Away with the thought! these things are far from His dignity. “If then He did not fear, why did He remove them, and then after finishing His discourse lead them into a garden known to Judas? And even had Judas come, could He not have blinded their eyes, as He also did when the traitor was not present?4 Why did He remove them?” He alloweth the disciples a little breathing time. For it was likely that they, as being in a conspicuous place, would tremble and fear, both on the account of the time and the place, (for it was the depth of night,) and would not give5 heed to His words, but would be continually turning about, and imagining that they heard those who were to set upon them; and that more especially when their Master’s speech made them expect evil. For, “yet a little while,” He saith, “and I am not with you,” and, “the ruler of this world cometh.” Since now when they heard these and the like words they were troubled, as though they should certainly be taken immediately, He leadeth them to another place, in order that thinking themselves in safety, they might listen to Him without fear. For they were about to hear lofty doctrines. Therefore He saith, “Arise, let us go hence.” Then He addeth, and saith,6 “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.” What willeth He to imply by the comparison? That the man who gives no heed to His words can have no life, and that the miracles about to take place, would be wrought by the power of Christ.”My Father is the Husbandman.” “How then?Doth the Son need a power7 working within?” Away with the thought! this example does not signify this. Observe with what exactness He goeth through the comparison. He saith not that the “root” enjoys the care of the Husbandman, but, “the branches.” And the foot is brought in in this place for no other purpose, but that they may learn that they can work nothing without His power, and that they ought to be united with Him by faith as the branch with the vine.

Ver. 2. “Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit the Father taketh away.” Here He alludeth to the manner of life, showing that without works it is not possible to be in Him.

“And every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it.” That is, “causeth it to enjoy great care.” Yet the root requires care rather than the branches, in being dug about, and cleared, yet about this He saith nothing here, but all about the branches. Showing that He is sufficient to Himself, and that the disciples need much help from the Husbandman, although they be very excellent. Wherefore He saith, “that which beareth fruit, He purgeth it.” The one branch, because it is fruitless, cannot even remain in the Vine, but for the other, because it beareth fruit, He rendereth it more fruitful. This, some one might assert, was said with relation also to the persecutions then coming upon them. For the “purgeth it,” is “pruneth,” which makes the branch bear better. Whence it is shown, that persecutions rather make men stronger. Then, test they should ask concerning whom He said these things, and lest He should throw them back into anxiety, He saith,

Ver. 3. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Seest thou how He introduceth Himself as tending the branches? “I have cleansed you,” He saith; yet above He declareth that the Father doth this. But there is no separation10 between the Father and the Son. “And now your part also must be performed.” Then to show that He did not this as needing their ministry,11 but for their advancement, He addeth,

Ver. 4. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, so neither can he who abideth not in Me.”  For that they might not be separated from Him by timidity, He fasteneth and glueth to Himself their souls slackened through fear, and holdeth out to them good hopes for the future. For the root remains, but to be taken away, or to be left, belongs to the branches. Then having urged them on in both ways, by things pleasant and things painful, He requireth first what is to be done on our side.

Ver. 5. “He that abideth in Me, and I in him.” Seest thou that the Son contributeth not less than the Father towards the care of the disciples? The Father purgeth, but He keepeth them in Himself. The abiding in the root is that which maketh the branches to be fruit-bearing. For that which is not purged, if it remain on the root, bears fruit, though perhaps not so much as it ought; but that which remains not, hears none at all. But still the “purging” also hath been shown to belong to the Son, and the “abiding in the root,” to the Father, who also begat the Root. Seest thou how all is common,15 both the “purging,” and the enjoying the virtue which is from the root?

Now it were a great penalty, the being able to do nothing, but He stayeth not the punishment at this point, but carrieth on His discourse farther.

Ver. 6. “He is cast forth,” He saith. No longer enjoying the benefit of the husbandman’s hand. “And is withered.” That is, if he had aught of the root, he loses it; if any grace, he is stripped of this, and is bereft of the help and life which proceed from it. And what the end? “He is cast into the fire.” Not such he who abideth with Him. Then He showeth what it is to “abide,” and saith,

Ver. 7. “If My words abide in you.” Seest thou that with reason I said above, that He seeketh the proof by works? For when He had said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask I will do it” (Jn 14:14, 15), He added, “If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments.” And here, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you.”

“Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” This He said to show that they who plotted against Him should be burnt up, but that “they” should bear fruit. Then transferring the fear from them to the others, and showing that they should be invincible, He saith,

Ver. 8. “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye be My disciples, and bear much fruit.” Hence He maketh His discourse credible, for if the bearing fruit pertains to the glory of the Father, He will not neglect His own glory. “And ye shall be My disciples.” Seest thou how he that beareth fruit, he is the disciple? But what is, “In this is the Father glorified”? “He rejoiceth when ye abide in Me, when ye bear fruit.”

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6 Responses to “St John Chrysostom’ Homiletic Commentary on John 15:1-8”

  1. […] St John Chrysostom on Today’s Gospel (John 15:1-8). […]

  2. […] St John Chrysostom on Today’s Gospel (John 15:1-8). […]

  3. […] St John Chrysostom’s Commentary on John 15:1-7. Includes vs. 8. […]

  4. […] St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 15:1-8). […]

  5. […] St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 15:1-8). […]

  6. […] St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on John 15:1-7. Includes vs. 8. […]

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