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

Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 15:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 2, 2012

In that part of the discourse just finished our Lord had raised the thoughts of the Apostles to heaven, and had opened to their gaze a vision of Himself exalted in power, and using that power for their guidance and protection. In the next part of the discourse He reveals to the Apostles what He will be to them here below on earth. By the outpouring of His Spirit upon them He will ever maintain with them an effective union, truly vital and most tender. By persecution they will be called to imitate Him. But let them not fear. He now warns them of this lest their faith should waver, and promises that His strength shall be with them that strength which has already mastered the prince of this world and has overcome the world.

Joh 15:1  I am the true vine: and my Father is the husbandman.

I am the true vine. In a beautiful allegory our Lord declares that He gives life and nourishment to all His disciples, to His whole Church, as a vine gives life and nourishment to its branches. The allegory gives us some idea of the wonderful mystery of the Church’s internal unity within herself and union with Christ (see Rom 6:4-6, Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:12-14; Eph 1:19-23, Eph 4:15-16, Eph 5:29-32; Col 2:19). In the Old Testament the vine was the symbol of Israel
as the cherished congregation of God (Ps 80:8-12 ; Isa 5:1-4; Jer 2:21, &c.). Under the Maccabees it appeared on Jewish coins as the national emblem.

Christ calls Himself the true vine, because He is the reality of the idea figuratively set forth in the natural vine, just as He is the true light (Jn 1:9), and the true bread from heaven (Jn 6:32).

“This passage of the Gospel declares that the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, is the Head of the Church, and that we are His members. For as the vine and its branches are of one nature, therefore, His own nature as God being different from ours, He became man, that in Him human nature might be the vine, and we who also are men might become branches thereof. Christ is the vine in the way in which He said, The Father is greater than I; but in the way in which He said, I and the Father are one, He is also the husbandman. And yet not such a one as those whose whole service is confined to external labour ; but such, that He also supplies the increase from within. For neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase (1 Cor 3:7) … He says, Now you are clean by reason of the word which I have spoken to you (verse 3). Here, you see, He is also the primer of the branches a work which belongs to the husbandman, and not to the vine” (St. Aug., Tract Ixxx. cc. I, 2).

Joh 15:2  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Every branch (κλημα = vine-branch specifically; not the generic κλάδος) in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take (present tense = He takes it) away. A mere outward profession of the faith cannot make a vine-branch in Christ. By the vine-branches that bear not fruit we must therefore understand those that have been baptized in Christ, but are fruitless in good works (see Jas 2:20; and cf. Luke 13:7, “Cut it down therefore; why cumbereth it the ground?”).

he will purge it ( He pruneth it). He said, Now you are clean (verse 3, cf. Jn 13:10), but yet still further to be cleansed. “For, had they not been clean, they could not have borne fruit ; and yet every one that beareth fruit is pruned, that he may bring forth more fruit. For who in this life is so clean as not to be in need of still further and further cleansing?” (St. Aug.).

Joh 15:3  Now you are clean, by reason of the word which I have spoken to you.

Now (already) you are clean by reason of (because of) the word. The word is the whole word, the entire doctrine delivered to them by our Lord. It is the power of God (Rom 1:16) to make sons of God (Jas 1:18). Already had our Lord said that “they that hear shall live” (verse 25); because His words “spirit and life” (Jn 6:64). (See note on 6:64.)

Joh 15:4  Abide in me: and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.
Joh 15:5  I am the vine: you the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.

Without me you can do nothing. If the branch abide not in the vine, and draw its life from the root, it can of itself bear no fruit what ever, little or much. Without me is better rendered, because apart from Me.

Joh 15:6  If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch and shall wither: and they shall gather him up and cast him into the fire: and he burneth.

He shall be cast forth. According to the Greek the thought is more expressive. By the very fact of not abiding in Christ, a branch is already cast forth, and is withered (the verbs are in the past tense), and they (this is said indefinitely) gather them (αυτα, i.e., the withered branches) up and cast into the fire, and they (the branches) burn.

Joh 15:7  If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will: and it shall be done unto you.

If you abide . . . you shall ask. Better in the imperative, Ask whatever you will. This must be understood in the sense of Jn 14:14. (Cf. 1 John 5:14.)

Joh 15:8  In this is my Father glorified: that you bring forth very much fruit and become my disciples.

In this is my Father glorified; that (ινα) you bring forth very much fruit. The phrase in this looks forward to what follows; and ινα, as not infrequently in later Greek, has a weakened force, and is equivalent to namely. The sense then is, “In this is My Father glorified, namely, that you bring forth very much fruit, and become indeed My disciples.” Some, however, take in this retrospectively, and give to ινα its full force: “In this (i.e., in granting your request-see verse 7-is My Father glorified. (And He grants your request) in order that you may bring forth much fruit.” The first interpretation is obviously preferable.

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3 Responses to “Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 15:1-8”

  1. […] Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:22-25Cornelius a Lapide's Commentary on 1 John 3:18-24 « Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on John 15:1-8 Sunday, May 6 2012: Mass Resources for the Extraordinary Form of the Rite […]

  2. […] Father MacIntyre’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 15:1-8). […]

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

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