Craig S. Keener
Relation to Jesus and the world. 15:1–16:4
JESUS HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT disciples «dwelling» in him after his return from the J Father to give them the Spirit (14:23); now he expands this «dwelling place» image by emphasizing how branches must continue to depend on the vine or perish (15:1–7). Branches that remain attached to and dependent on the vine «dwell» with or «remain» in it. In this case the fruit that truly dependent branches bear is love for one another (15:8–17); this suggests that secessionists from the community (who мая join the synagogue leaders in betraying some fellow Christians to local authorities) have also seceded from the vine (1 John 2:9–11, 19; 3:11–18; 4:7–8).
The Vine and Its Fruitful Branches (15:1–7)
In 15:1–17, Jesus reminds the disciples to «continue» (8:31) or «dwell» (14:17, 23) in him like branches dependent for their life on the vine to which they are attached (15:1–7). Thus they will bear the fruit of love, which is also a commandment (15:8–17). The whole section (15:1–17) functions as a unit contrasted with the world's hatred (15:18–25), but because 15:1–7 and 15:8–17 are roughly distinguishable paragraphs (the distinction is more gradual than sudden; cf. 15:8) we have separated them in our outline.
Some think that 15:1–17 reflects the same Sitz im Leben as 1 John, differentiating this from the body of the Fourth Gospe1.8827 But this passage is far too small to differentiate its milieu from that of the rest of the Fourth Gospel merely on the basis of motifs it omits or includes. Some suggest a chiastic structure for all of 15:18–25, contrasting the true vine in 15:1–6 with the synagogue in 15:18–25,8828 but the world's epitomization in hostile synagogue authorities becomes explicit only in 16:2, and the structure is not persuasive.
1. The Vine Image (15:1)
Like some of Jesus' Synoptic parables, this picture of the vine, vinedresser, and branches is an allegory.8829 That Jesus would appeal to a vine image is not surprising. Aside from evidence that Jesus used Isaiah's comparison of Israel with a vineyard (Mark 12:1), vineyards and vines were so much a part of ancient Mediterranean life that they presented themselves naturally for comparisons.8830 The only fruit trees widely planted were the fig, olive, and vine,8831 which could resist drought; the last two received the most attention.8832 In the time and location probably most relevant to John's audience, Asia Minor, for instance, suffered under Domitians policy restricting land for vineyards.8833 Viticulture thus was widely practiced and known in the ancient Mediterranean.8834 Archaeological as well as literary sources confirm the importance of wine and viticulture from an early period in ancient Israel;8835 some Jewish farmers in Egypt were also vinedressers.8836 Many Galilean farmers raised their own grapes, olives, and other supplies rather than merely specializing;8837 throughout the Mediterranean, small farms often planted vines and fig and olive trees close together;8838 some even recommended intertwining various kinds of vines and plants.8839 Some terrains proved more useful for particular crops than others did, however, and specialized vineyards were common (cf. Matt 21:33).
Jesus' parable does not need to be specific about the size of the vineyard here; although the title γεωργός (15:1)8840 could include a farmer who owns a vineyard,8841 it could just as easily imply a small holder who works other ground in addition to his vineyard.8842 Because agricultural writers recommended specialization on large estates, such as distinguishing slave vinedressers from other kinds of slave farmers,8843 the farmer so broadly titled in John 15 is probably envisioned as a smallholder or tenant farmer. Nor is the parable specific about the sort of vine, of which rural people seem to have known a considerable variety.8844
1A. Various Proposed Backgrounds to the Image
Thus vine imagery was common enough without necessary specific allusions to standard symbolisms.8845 Jewish engravers adopted the Roman association of doves and grapes in their artwork.8846 Further, whatever particular backgrounds мая have been in mind, the primary image of branches dependent on the vine simply communicates that disciples are dependent on Jesus for their very life and can do nothing, produce no fruit genuinely pleasing to God, by themselves (15:4–5; cf. 3:6; Rev 22:2).8847
Many scholars nevertheless suspect that this passage alludes to more than merely the standard function implied in the image of vines and branches. Some connect the vine here with the wine of the Lord's Supper.8848 That the Fourth Gospel omits the Lord's Supper, however, makes it difficult for us to connect the vine with the Lord's Supper unless we can safely assume that the audience would have caught the allusion despite its absence from the context. Granted, the audience very probably knew the Last Supper tradition and мая have approached this section of John with such a setting in mind, but it asks too much to suppose that John wished the reader to catch the allusion yet omits any mention of the supper, which he could have included, when other associations are otherwise more obvious. Indeed, despite the expression for wine common in Jewish prayers («fruit of the vine»), the image of cultivated vines did not always demand the image of its perfected product.8849 Jesus could replace the source of paschal wine easily enough;8850 in the context of an earlier Passover, only those who «drank his blood» would experience life (6:53,55). But for John, this is the day preceding the Passover (18:28), diminishing the force of any proposed paschal allusion. A connection with the use of vines in the walls of sukkoth would be even less likely than allusions to Passover;8851 although the Gospel earlier alludes to Tabernacles (7:2, 37–39) and the motif of «dwelling» (μένω) in the narrative could support such an allusion, Passover rather than Tabernacles dominates the Passion Narrative.
The Targum to Ps 80:14–15 can identify the vine (as the Branch) with the Messiah, probably based on exegesis of that text rather than on a prior tradition; more important, 2 Bar. 39uses the «vine» as a symbol for the Messiah.8852 One might have also made the inference midrashically from the relation of a «son of man» to the vine in Ps 80:17,8853 although it is nowhere clear that John 15 has Ps 80 (one among many biblical vine references) in view. But these comparisons seem isolated and perhaps coincidental in view of much more pervasive uses of vine imagery; the same passage of 2 Bar. 39, for example, compares the Messiah with a fountain.
Perhaps more important in view of John's Christology, personified Wisdom at least once appears as a vine.8854 Because the comparison is in Sirach (24:17), it мая well have been known to John's audience in ways that less obvious allusions would not be; in the final analysis, however, the significance of the Sirach passage for John appears weakened by its incidental character. Sirach compares Wisdom to a variety of trees (24:13–17), of which the vine is only one; further, the person invited (in language John elsewhere employs, of coming, eating, and drinking) is invited to eat Wisdom's fruits (24:19–21), not bear them.
Most possible Hellenistic associations appear distant from the point of the passage. The vine was sacred to Heracles on a particular island named for him (Aelian 6.40); wine and the vine were sometimes associated with various figures,8855 but most frequently they were associated with Dionysus (Virgil Ed. 7.61; Martial Epigr. 3.24.1; 8.26). Dionysus allegedly taught people how to use vines and wine,8856 and the vine was his special gift to the world.8857 Some have argued that the vine represents the good things of earth and that the vine represents Jesus in the Platonic sense of shadows depicting heavenly reality;8858 the narrow basis for comparison straitjackets the multiple possible uses of ancient metaphor.8859 But whereas Greek readers would have recognized the image of God as a farmer who cultivates the world, the vine figure undoubtedly stems from the Bible.8860
1B. Israel as a Vine
Commentators most frequently point to the biblical image of Israel as a vine (Ps 80:8–16; Isa 27:2–6; Jer 2:21; Ezek 15:2–6; 17:5–10; 19:10–14) or vineyard (Isa 5:1–7);8861 the latter image appears elsewhere in the Jesus tradition (Mark 12:1–9).8862 (Most draw from this the implication that John believes that those grafted into Christ, rather than merely into ethnic Israel, are in salvific covenant with God.)8863 Early Jewish traditions also portray Israel as a vineyard8864 or a vine.8865 Such images are not surprising given the prevalence of vineyards in the Mediterranean and the frequency of diverse images by which Israel is portrayed in early Jewish literature;8866 but their commonness is nevertheless significant. In general, Israel frequently appears as a plant;8867 some congregations also мая have been called by the names of trees.8868 Some doubt that the vine can allude to Israel here, objecting that the church, rather than Christ, «replaces» Israe1.8869 The objection is, however, wide of the mark; it is through identifying with Christ that believers both Jewish and Gentile are grafted into the historic people of God (e.g., Gal 3:16).8870
The Herodian temple sported a massive (and annually augmented) golden vine,8871 and it is likely that it also was meant to evoke Israe1. Some suspect that Jesus, who had led the disciples out of the upper room in the upper city in 14:31, now points to the golden vine in the temple, which they are passing;8872 after all, the temple doors were reportedly left open at night during the Passover season.8873 But such allusions are unlikely; the transition of 14is not clearly physical (though the geographic marker of 18could allow that they had started walking), and the vine lay in front of the doors that divided the porch and the holy place, not easily visible unless one actually entered the temple enclosure.8874 More likely, the templés golden vine merely presents us another sample of the pervasive use of vine symbolism in early Jewish art. Probably adapting some pagan symbolism,8875 the vine and wine cup мая constitute the most common symbols for «Jewish life and hope» on later Jewish coins.8876 Others suggest that the sight of vineyards en route to Gethsemane мая have suggested the image,8877 which is possible but not provable nor, if correct, incompatible with other options.
The vine image could thus imply a sense of community8878 the Jewish believers inherited from early Judaism in genera1. Whereas the Eleusinian cult of Demeter, for example, met only annually and did not lead initiates to associate with one another, early Judaism and Christianity were exclusivistic and carried a strong sense of community.8879 Nevertheless, early Christian literature provides no examples of early Christian communities with the sort of rigid hierarchical structure expected of Qumran Covenanters (e.g., 1QS 5.23–24; 6.2). Most early Jews and Christians associated for common worship and need; formal structures were less rigid than Qumran, but sufficient.
If the vine alludes to Israel, the designation «true» (15:1) мая forcefully contrast Jesus with Israe1.8880 One should not overstate the contrast; whereas «true» can exclude any others (17:3), it can also simply contrast with «mere.» «True bread» does not contrast Jesus with Torah but does contrast him with mere manna (6:32, 55); «true light» contrasts him with an inferior though accurate witness (1:9). Such passages мая respond to opponents of the Johannine community's witness who claim that Jesus' way is not «true» (cf. 5:31–32; 7:18; 8:13–17; 19:35; 21:24). John's «vine» image мая function in the same way that Paul's «olive tree» image does; in both cases, disobedient branches are broken off (John 15:2, 6; Rom 11:17), though John, most of whose audience probably already regards itself as Jewish, does not emphasize any grafting on of foreign branches. Here as elsewhere (cf. comment on 3:3–5), for John, «becoming a true Jew and becoming a Christian are one and the same thing.»8881
2. The Vinedresser's Pruning (15:1–3)
The figure of God as the vinedresser (15:1) is not completely unexpected. Gardeners often belonged to the poorest class (Apuleius Metam. 9.31), such as those who might lease rather than own a vineyard (P.Oxy. 1631.9–13).8882 Yet not all farmers (γεωργοί) were poor,8883 and in any case, this fact is less significant than other backgrounds for the image; Jesus himself appears as a sort of gardener in 20:15.8884 Naturally, Greek texts could sometimes portray Dionysus as the ultimate vinedresser (Achilles Tatius 2.3.2).8885 Far more important, OT images of Israel as God's vine imply God or his workers as tenders of that vine; Paul speaks of God's church as his field, his γεώργιον (1Cor 3:9).
2A. A Vinedresser's Attention
The state of a treés fruit (καρπός) was said to attest how well its farmer (γεώργιον) had cared for it (Sir 27:6), reinforcing the importance of a gardener's care for it.8886 Evidence from ancient literature shows that, in the West at least, large-scale vine cultivation could yield substantial profits;8887 nevertheless, less expensive wines could flood the market and be sold at low prices.8888 One could never take adequate productivity and profit for granted. Pruning (15:2) was essential to provide long-range, healthy fruit, and those leasing a vineyard were responsible for cutting away the useless wood.8889
Of all fruit plants, the vine requires the most attention,8890 starting with tying the vines to their supports (sometimes trees, but usually wooden posts) in the spring.8891 In Italy during the summer, farmers would break up the soil around the roots and selectively prune the tendrils (the shoots that could coil around other objects); further work continued into октября.8892 Pliny the Elder observed that his contemporaries practiced spring trimming no longer than ten days after мая 15, before the vine began to blossom; his contemporaries varied on whether the later trimming should occur after the blossoms disappear or when the grapes are beginning to ripen.8893 He observes that vinedressers undertook pruning right after the grape vintage but while it was still warm; this was because late winter cold could harm vines weakened by recent pruning.8894 The earlier one pruned vines, the better wood they supplied; the later one pruned them–provided it was not too cold–the better for the fruit; thus one might prune weak vines earlier and stronger ones later.8895
Pliny's comments probably reflect conditions more characteristic of the northern Mediterranean, but milder winters presumably permitted a somewhat different schedule in the southern Mediterranean.8896 In Egypt, farmers pruned vines in января and февраля, preparing well in advance for the vintage of August and сентября.8897 One botanist observes on conditions in Palestine:
Pruning of the vines takes place during winter dormancy, and, except for side shoots, not at the height of development (Isa 18:5). The previous season's growth is cut back and the long leafless twigs are used for fuel (John 15:6). Pruning helps to ensure that the fruit is of good quality, for otherwise during the following season there would be too many clusters of fruit to be nourished by the roots, resulting in only poor grapes.8898
Pruning had long been known in Israel; the Hebrew Bible provides numerous references to the practice (Lev 25:3–4; Song 2:12; Isa 2:4; 5:6; 18:5; Joel 3.T0; Mic 4:3). If the vine is weak, one prunes it more, leaving less fruit, and the next year the vine will be stronger and there will be more grapes.8899
Useless growths on fruitful branches are pruned back in the spring to augment the branches' eventual yield; before this, unfruitful branches are removed in the winter to prevent them from sapping strength better reserved for fruit-bearing branches.8900 Columella advised that one prune a weak vine on dry land before midwinter and finish pruning about февраля 1; one should not use a knife on any vine between декабря 13 and января 13.8901 Virgil likewise advises that one spare the vines when they were just budding, because they were young and weak;8902 one should pick here and there with onés fingers,8903 clip them only later, when they became sturdy,8904 and finally apply the pruning knife.8905 Regardless of divergence of geography and opinion on details, the earlier vine trimming was a stripping of useless twigs and leaves–anything that will not bear grapes–by hand shortly before the vine begins to blossom (pampinatio),8906 distinct from, and perhaps more important than, the later pruning with a knife (putatio) when the vine was stronger.8907 Because the fruitlessness is obvious here, however (15:2), the parable мая envision the spring pruning with the knife (cf. Song 2:11–12).8908
Immediately after the autumn vintage, one would prune again with the sharpest instruments to cut smoothly.8909 Some agriculturalists advised that one should draw the pruning knife toward oneself rather than hack lest one miss and wound the stock of the vine.8910 It was understood that if one did not remove the shoots properly, one could damage the vine.8911 Columella advises, «Cut away all shoots which are too broad, or old, or badly grown, or twisted; but allow those to grow which are young and fruitful and sometimes a suitable off-shoot.... Finish the pruning as quickly as possible. Shoots which are old and dry cannot be cut away with a pruning-knife,» so one should employ a sharp axe.8912
These practices naturally lent themselves to moral analogies at times. Thus Statius notes that many squander their youth like a tree, never pruned by the knife, that «luxuriates in growth and wastes its fuitfulness in leaf.»8913
2B. «Cleansing» (15:2–3)
Although καθαιρεί (lit., «cleanses») clearly means «prunes» in this analogy (15:2), it is not the most common expression from viticulture,8914 instead infusing the analogy with an image from Johannine theology (cf. the related καθαρίζω in 1 John 1:7–9; elsewhere 2Cor 7:1; Tit 2:14; Heb 9:14,22–23; 10:2). When Jesus speaks of the continued «cleansing» of the branches (15:2) after they have already become «clean» (καθαροί, 15:3), the disciples in the story world and John's ideal audience might recall 13:10, which implies that the disciples are mostly clean but their feet must still be washed.
Greek philosophers could use related expressions for the purity of the heavenly deities and the soul;8915 they could also apply this language to moral matters.8916 Jewish tradition emphasized cleansing onés heart (καθάρισον καρδίαν) from all sin (Sir 38:10). Appealing to his Hellenistic-educated audience, Josephus includes in the Essene initiation oath the promise to keep onés soul pure (ψυχήν ... καθαράν) from desiring unholy gain (Josephus War 2.141). The image could involve judgment or difficulty; early Jewish texts also could describe the flood as a «cleansing» of the earth (1 En. 106:17) or speak of the Messiah purging (καθαριεΐ) Jerusalem to restore it in holiness (έν άγιασμω, Pss. So1. 17:30).8917
John мая use the term in contrast with merely outward rituals of purification (2:6; 3:25). Jesus had cleansed them through his «word» his entire message (14:23–24), which in the context of the Gospel as a whole communicated Christ's very person (16:8–15; cf. 1:1–18).
3. Fruit Bearing (15:2, 4–5, 7–8)
At least in the northern Mediterranean, the region probably most familiar to most of John's audience, the vintage arrived in autumn,8918 at which time the gathered grapes would be trodden to yield their juice.8919 In Palestine, the grapes ripen in late summer as the shoots stop growing and the bark changes from green to darker shortly before the vintage of August or сентября.8920
Yet John writes figuratively; of what sort of fruit does the passage speak? In John's larger usage, one might suppose the fruit of Christian witness (4:36; 12:24), but the immediate context, which bears more weight than John's usage elsewhere when the usage is so rare (two texts), suggests moral fruit.8921 This is the most common sense of the metaphor in other traditions about Jesus and John the Baptist with which this Gospel's first audience мая have been familiar (Matt 3:8, 10; 7:16–20; 12:33; Luke 3:8–9; 6:43–44; 13:6–9; probably Mark 11:14; 12:2); other early Christian writers also develop it (Gal 5:22; Phil 1:11; Eph 5:9; Col 1:10; Heb 12:11; Jas 3:18; Jude 12).8922
In an agrarian society such as ancient Israel's, the image of fruit bearing naturally proved recurrent, albeit less frequently in the sense of its usage in this passage than one might expect. In Hosea, Israel thought God's gifts were from other lovers (Hos 2:5, 8–9), and Israel the vine yielded fruit for idolatry (10:1), a fruit of poisonous weeds (10:4). Though his people had sown and reaped sin (10:13), God would make them sow and reap righteousness (10:11–12); God would be the dew and cause Israel to blossom and bear fruit (14:5–7), and he would be the source of their fruit (14:8). One early Jewish text could speak of God's law bearing fruit in the hearts of the righteous (4 Ezra 3:20).8923 Greeks also offered such comparisons, although again, perhaps because of the urban setting of much literature preserved for us, moral uses of fruit are less common than one might expect.8924 Plutarch reports that Socrates wanted to cultivate Alcibiades as a plant so that his «fruit» would not be destroyed.8925 Given their emphases, it is not surprising that philosophers used the metaphor especially in an intellectual sense. Thus, for example, Epictetus compares figs with «the fruit (καρπόν) of human intelligence,»8926 and Marcus Aurelius expounds on the fruit of reason;8927 Philo felt that the best fruit of the soul is unforgetful remembering.8928 On the whole, however, the accepted setting of the vine and the normal agrarian image probably exercised more effect than specific extrabiblical precedent for using fruit as a moral image.
For John, Jesus is the source of fruit; without him the disciples can do nothing, that is, bear no fruit (15:5); that Jesus himself remains utterly dependent on the Father, «able to do nothing from himself» (5:19; cf. 8:28), underlines the point still more starkly for disciples. (The image мая develop the biblical picture of God requiring fruit from Israel; Hos 14emphasizes that Israel's fruit comes only from the Lord.) «Without him» (15:5) probably signifies «without remaining, abiding, in him.»8929 Some later teachers claimed that Israel could do nothing without its leaders,8930 usually referring to its scholars who handle Scripture, God's Word.8931 But for John, Jesus' activity in the present era is mediated through the indwelling of the Spirit (14:16–17, 26); this image nicely complements Paul's emphasis on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–238932 (although Paul also uses other moral fruit images, e.g., Phil 1:11; cf. Eph 5:9). Paul also acknowledged that he had no adequacy apart from God's enablement (2Cor 3:5; cf. 2:16), which he attributed to the Spirit (2Cor 3:6). John's line in 15neatly summarizes a good bit of Johannine thought: new birth, new life, and religion genuinely pleasing to God all must come from above, from the Spirit, from Jesus, who is from above (see comment on 3:3–6); the best of human effort apart from God's own enablement is worthless.
The promise of answered prayer in 15suggests a connection with, or interpretation of, prayer «in Jesus' name» (14:13–14; 16:23–26), which is related to loving and believing Jesus (16:27) and keeping his commandments (14:15). «Abiding» in Jesus and allowing his words to abide in one (which is roughly equivalent in practice)8933 entail continuing to love and trust in Jesus, with the assurance that the lover of Jesus, whose desires are ultimately for Jesus' agendas, will receive answered prayer. (See more fully the comment on 14:13–14.)
4. Perseverance or Apostasy (15:6)
The condition for fruit bearing, hence for perseverance, is «abiding» (μείνατε) in Jesus (15:4). This term (μένω and cognates) appears eleven times in 15:4–16, dominating the theology just as the vine and fruit dominate the image.8934 Those who truly «abide» will bear fruit (cf. 1 John 2:6) because they have the Spirit (1 John 3:24; 4:13). In view of possible internal community problems (1 John 2:18–27)8935 and particularly the world's hostility emphasized in the context (15:18–25), the call to perseverance here is not surprising.
4A. The Johannine Meaning of «Abiding»
Others in the Gospel had already experienced a foretaste of this life by staying or being with him during his ministry (1:38–39; 4:40; 7:33; 11:54; 13:33; 14:17, 25; 16:4). Now through the Spirit the disciples would dwell with him and he with them in a more intimate manner (6:56; 14:17; 15:4–10);in contrast to the religious-political elite (5:38), they themselves would become his dwelling places (14:23); this is the intimacy Jesus shared with the Father (14:10).
Glasson thinks that «abide» reflects the Deuteronomic emphasis on «cleaving» to the Lord but in a greater sense of union.8936 The Greek term and its cognates, however, function broadly, applying, for example, to qualities remaining in a person.8937 Most likely it develops here the prior image of believers as the dwelling place of the Father, Son, and Paraclete and that believers also would have dwellings in the Father's presence (14:2–3, 23; cf. the verb in 14:17). In connection with the vine, the image connotes complete and continued dependence8938 for the Christian life on the indwelling Christ,8939 which recalls an emphasis in Pauline theology (e.g., Gal 2:20; Col 1:29),8940 though it is not attested much elsewhere in early Judaism.8941 The image is not simply symbolic (Jesus supplanting Israel's vine) but is also organic, like Paul's adaptation of the ancient «body» image for the church (Rom 12:4–6; 1Cor 10:16; 12:12; Eph 4:12–16; cf. 1 Clem. 37.5).8942
The image of organic union works well for (and goes even beyond) the idea of intimate relationship.8943 The Spirit abiding with them would teach them (14:16–17), hence Jesus' words would remain in them (15:7).8944 As they continued in this union, they would know Jesus better (15:15; 16:13–15) and hence begin to reflect the «fruit» of his character (15:8–9).8945 One who kept the commandments (especially love, 13:34–35; 15:12–13) would make onés permanent dwelling in God's love (14:23; 15:9–10), internalizing the principle of love. To rebel against the love way is to endanger the health of other branches, requiring removal from the loving community. While disciples might be accepted provisionally on a basic level of faith (such as signs faith), it was those who were progressing to discipleship who would actualize their relationship.8946
The present tense of the verb in 15:5–6 suggests that John refers not simply to the moment of entering God's presence in Christ (14:6) but continued dependence on him, as one might continue to dwell in a shelter or tabernacle, or as the branch continues to depend on the vine. To continue to dwell is to persevere in keeping Jesus' commandments (14:21–23; 1 John 3:24), especially to love one another (13:34–35; 15:10–12). John's use of «abide» sometimes (e.g., 6:27; 8:31,35; cf. 19:31), including in this context (15:16), can demand continuance, perseverance.
The demand for perseverance plays a central role in this pericope. In this context, μένω signifies not only «dwell» (as in 14:10,17) but «remain» (both are legitimate components of the term's semantic range functioning in this context). John 8warns initial believers that they must «abide» in his «word» so that they мая be his «disciples» in truth. The present passage alludes back to all the major concepts of 8:31, expanding them in connection with the image of the vine: they must «abide» (15:4–7); his «word» has cleansed them (15:3) and his «words» should abide in them (15:7);8947 those who abide bear fruit and hence prove to be his «disciples» (15:8).8948 Those who do not persevere in their dependence on Jesus are ultimately destroyed (15:6). That only some who initially embrace Jesus' message would persevere in fruitfulness to salvation (Mark 4:7–8) and that the unfruitful will perish (Matt 3:10,12; 7:19; Luke 3:9,17; 13:7–9) is consistent with the Synoptic tradition8949 (more than with the usual Johannine use of καρπός, 4:36; 12:24).8950 But–instructive for those who overemphasize the Gospel's harshness toward Israel–the Gospel's closest image to «hell» is reserved for unfaithful Christians. Whereas in some Synoptic passages it is unfruitful leaders or members of Israel who are burned (like vine cuttings in Ezek 15:2–6), here it is unfruitful alleged disciples.
4B. Burning Unfruitful Branches
Though never destroying his people as a whole, God had earlier executed judgment against unfaithful vine branches among his people (Jer 5:10). Because αίρει in 15apparently comes from αίρω, «to lift,» rather than from αίρέω, «to take away,» some commentators suggest that the operation in 15is not the destruction of the branch but its salvage; a vinedresser would lift a fallen vine from the ground, where it was easily damaged, back into place to hea1.8951 While by itself such a position might seem insightful, it falters on four points: first, it is not the vine but a «branch» that is lifted. Second, «lifting» can refer to removal no less than «taking away» does (cf. 1:29; 2:16; 5:8–12; 10:18; 11:39, 41, 48; 16:22); John never employs αίρέω.8952 Third, Palestinian farmers мая have often done without supports,8953 marring the image of «lifting» the vine back into place; admittedly this knowledge was probably foreign to much of John's audience. Finally, and most significantly, the branch is lifted away because it bears no fruit, the result in this context of failing to «abide» (15:4–5), a condition that 15explicitly claims results in being cast away and eventually burned. Thus it is probable that the image of 15:2, like the image of 15:6, addresses apostate branches who have failed to persevere.8954
The vinedresser wields his pruning-knife (see comment on 15:2–3) against both fruitful and unfruitful branches, but to different ends. The purpose of the vine is to bear fruit, and fruitless plants are useless (cf. Luke 13:7).8955 The cutting (15:2) and burning (15:6) of unfruitful branches repeats the vital Johannine warning against falling away (2:23–25; 8:30–31). Such an image would have made sense in an ancient Mediterranean context; applying the figure to the human rather than a covenant community, a Stoic philosopher warns that as a branch (κλάδος) cut off (άποκοπείς) from a neighboring branch is necessarily disconnected from the entire plant, so a person who cuts himself off from another person has severed himself from the circle of humanity.8956
Because most biblical passages in which the vine represents Israel conclude with the vinés corruption, some scholars find also an implied reference to Judas's apostasy. Certainly the burning of bad branches does appear (Ps 80:16; Ezek 15:6; 19:12), as here (John 15:6),8957 and Judas is John's supreme illustration of apostasy (6:70–71),8958 but this мая point to a more general warning about apostasy within God's people.8959 In a probably third-century parable probably based partly on Isa 5, God accepts as his own the vineyard when it produces good wine, but rejects it as that of his tenants when it produces bad wine. But at the end of the parable, Moses pleads for God to accept Israel regardless of whether they sin (produce bad wine) or not.8960 Even early Jewish views of the covenant, however, acknowledged that individual Jews could be lost through apostasy.8961 John certainly affirms that many of his people had forsaken the covenant by rejecting Jesus;8962 but he also wishes to warn those who have begun to believe in Jesus but have not progressed to the full faith of discipleship, that is, of perseverance with an unpopularly high Christology (8:30–31).8963
Dressings of vineyards useful for nothing else would be burned,8964 though it is unlikely that the disciples would have actually witnessed these while walking with Jesus to the Mount of Olives that night.8965 Nevertheless, the image of burning is an apt early Jewish description of the fate of the wicked,8966 especially in Gehenna.8967 Early Judaism was not unanimous on the punishment of the wicked in Gehenna or its eternal duration; many believed that it was eternal for at least the worst sinners,8968 but in the most common early Jewish view, most sinners endure hell only temporarily and are then destroyed8969 or released.8970 By contrast, the gospel tradition preserved in the Synoptics settles unanimously on the harshest view (Matt 3:10–12; 18:8; 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43, 48).8971 Likewise, the image of being «cast forth» (15:6) provides an apt figure of banishment from God's presence (Matt 3:10; 5:13,29; 7:19; 18:8–9; 22:13; 25:30; Mark 9:42,45,47; Luke 3:9; 12:5; 13:28; 14:35; 17:2).8972
The Love Commandment (15:8–17)
Love is both the fruit of remaining in Jesus (15:8) and the commandment that functions as the condition for remaining in Jesus (15:10,12). The close connection between the fruit and the commandment suggests that in Johannine as well as Pauline theology, essential works for «staying in» are simply the fruit of genuinely being in and continuing to depend («believe») as one did to «get in» (cf. Gal 5:22–23).
As Jesus concludes his words about believers' love for one another and God's love for them (15:9–17), and before he begins his words concerning the world's hatred for them (15:18–25), he illustrates the intimate love relationship between himself and believers in one more way. The contrasts between love and hatred, friendship and enmity intensify the portrait of friendship here; ancient Mediterranean social wisdom recognized that having friends meant sharing onés friends' enemies and so one could not have friendships without also having enemies (cf. 15:18, 20).8973
1. God Loves Those Who Keep His Commandments (15:8–11)
These verses require less background because they repeat ideas already emphasized earlier in the discourse. Some important emphases emerge here, however. In 15:8, the Father is glorified not only by Jesus' fruit-bearing sacrifice (12:23–24) but also by disciples bearing the fruit of love (13:35); they might «bear much fruit» through laying down their lives in love as Jesus did (cf. 12:24).
Further, it becomes clear that the sort of intimate union Jesus promises the disciples is not merely a mystical experience but a relational encounter, for he gives it content with the term «love» (15:9–10).8974 Disciples demonstrate this love concretely by obeying Jesus' commandments (15:10; cf. 14:15,21; 15:14),8975 just as Jesus obeyed the Father's command to lay down his life (10:18; 14:31). Jesus likewise demonstrated his love for the Father by keeping the Father's commands (14:31) and so also merited the Father's love (10:17). Protestant scholars мая feel uncomfortable with the condition of obedience for God's love in this passage, but throughout John the initiative comes from God, who then provides more love in response to human obedience and perseverance; what is portrayed is, as mentioned above, not a formula but a developing relationship. In the Synoptics as well, onés continuance in grace depends on onés granting grace to others (Matt 6:12, 14–15; 18:35; Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4). This мая also fit ancient Mediterranean perspectives on benefactors' relationships with their dependents.8976 But whereas the tradition followed by Mark and the other Synoptics links love toward God and neighbor as parallel commands, John's reports link them more directly:8977 those who keep God's or Jesus' commands (most important, to love one another) thus remain in God's or Jesus' love (13:34–35; 15:10).8978
«These things I have spoken to you» (15:11) is a refrain throughout this discourse (14:25; 16:1, 33), perhaps explaining to the disciples why he must tell them what they do not yet understand.8979 Joy (15:11) related well to love and friendship;8980 later Jewish teachers also associated it heavily with keeping God's commandments,8981 as here (15:10–12). «Filled with joy» or «joy made full» (15:11; 16:24; 17:13; 1 John 1:4; 2 John 12) was a familiar enough expression8982 (on joy, see further the comment on 3:29). Earlier Christian tradition had also linked joy with love as a fruit of God's presence (Gal 5:22) and recognized it as a sign of God's present reign (Rom 14:17).
2. The Love of Friends (15:12–17)
The commandment to love (15:12,17) frames the section, but the closing mention of it abbreviates the formula; 15:12, which includes the whole formula, is emphatic that believers must love one another in the same way that Jesus loved them (15:12; cf. 13:34), which means dying for their friends, as Jesus would die for them (15:13–14).8983
2A. Dying for Friends (15:13)
If believers love one another as he has loved them (15:12), they must lay down their lives for one another (see comment on 13:34). This principle was illustrated earlier when Jesus spoke of going to Lazarus because Lazarus was their «friend» (φίλος, 11:11), whom Jesus «loved» (φιλέω, 11:3) and for whose life Jesus laid down his own (11:8–16).8984 Thus Jesus digresses to illustrate his love for them by speaking of how he would lay down his life for them as his friends (15:13–15).8985 Early Jewish sources prohibit sacrificing another to spare onés own life but still allowed that onés life takes precedence over another's life.8986 Nevertheless, though one was not required to love onés neighbor more than oneself, Judaism did praise as heroic the rare persons who would sacrifice their lives on behalf of their friends.8987
Courageous, heroic, and honorable death was an ancient Mediterranean virtue,8988 a virtue soon to be illustrated in John's Passion Narrative. Josephus, for example, portrays those desiring to die nobly for their nation or for fame (e.g., Josephus War 1.43–44, 58); rabbis praised a Roman senator (probably fictitious) who died to spare the Jews.8989 Because the Greek world highly regarded laying down onés life for another8990 or for onés nation8991 and also recognized its occasional value as «an expiatory sacrifice to assuage the anger of the gods,»8992 Greeks or Romans would readily grasp the early Christian concept that Jesus died «on their behalf,» with or without the benefit of understanding atonement in the Levitical system.
Perhaps especially because great dangers normally obliterated the closest ties, even those of friendship,8993 true friends were viewed as those who would share in onés hardships,8994 who would do whatever necessary for one,8995 and the greatest expression of devoted friendship was regarded as willingness to die together8996 or die for one another.8997 For example, one might pretend to be a condemned friend to try to rescue him.8998 Yet such signs of devotion were not commonplace; Epicurus reportedly noted that the wise person would sometimes (ποτέ) die on a friend's behalf (ύπέρ φίλου).8999 Such self-sacrifice was truly the «greatest» act of love one could bestow (15:13). See further the comment on friendship ideals below (especially concerning loyalty).
Jesus had already announced in this Gospel that he would lay down his life (10:17) and that his model of love was the standard for those who would follow him (13:34), which 1 John explicitly interprets as laying down onés life for fellow believers (1 John 3:16; in contrast to unwillingness to sacrifice for their needs, 1 John 3:17).9000
2B. Kinds of Friendship in Antiquity
«Friendship» was a regular ancient topic of discourse,9001 the subject of numerous essays.9002 There were, however, a variety of different perspectives on, and kinds of, friendship, not only in the philosophers but throughout Greco-Roman and Jewish society. «Friendship» could signify a relationship of dependence or of equality, of impersonal alliances or of personal bonds of affection. Although some of these divisions can be expressed by opposing Roman and Greek conceptions, there was sufficient interpenetration of the two by the early empire that a hard-and-fast categorization along these lines is not useful for our purposes.9003
One of the most common usages of «friendship» in our literary sources refers to political dependence on a royal patron.9004 This applies to tyrants of the classical period,9005 to the intimate circle of Alexander of Macedon,9006 to a high office in Hellenistic Syria,9007 to friendship with Caesar in the Roman imperial period,9008 and to other rulers.9009 Some insisted that true friends of a ruler ought to have freedom to speak frankly, as opposed to the flatterers with which tyrants surrounded themselves.9010 The fact that John 19probably refers to this position of honor9011 мая suggest that John 15presents friendship with Jesus as friendship with a king.9012 This is more likely than the proposal that John 15:13–15 looks back to the «friend of the bridegroom» in 3:29.9013
In one of its most common usages in ancient literature, «friendship» (φιλία) could similarly apply to alliances, cooperation, or nonaggression treaties among peoples; this usage appears in classics9014 and other rhetoric and literature9015 and naturally predominates in military biographers9016 and historians.9017 It could likewise apply to personal and familial relationships undertaken for political expediency.9018 Stowers observes that the Roman ideal of amicitia differed from the Greek idea of friendship:
Traditionally, the concept of amicitia did not emphasize sentiment and male affection as the Greek concept did. Amicitia was also firmly anchored in the Roman family and alliance of families. It was often an alliance of utility between social equals and was sometimes equated with «political party» (factio).9019
To say that Romans «were rather incapable of a heartfelt friendship»9020 might be an exaggeration based on the one-sided portrayal of the literature of the social elite.9021 There are plenty of political elements in Cicerós letters of friendship, including implicit negotiations with other political figures and letters of recommendation;9022 but one cannot escape the clear impression of affection that pervades much of his correspondence. Nevertheless, the generalization does reflect the recognition of the importance of political connections in the urban Roman conception of friendship.
Especially in, but not limited to, the Roman sphere, «friendship» did not always imply social equality of the parties involved, a fact that мая be significant for the relationship of Jesus and the disciples in John 15:15. Both the royal and the nonroyal political images of friendship are probably related to the use of the word for patron-client relationships. Patrons were called the clients' friends,9023 and clients were called friends of their patron.9024 Romans might categorize friendships according to greater, equal, or lesser friends and (lesser still) clients, according to their available resources.9025 (Clients sometimes exploited their understanding of this «friendship» to challenge some inequities in the patronal understanding of the relationship.)9026 This usage мая have influenced the usage of «friendship» as the relationship between philosopher and disciple.9027 Friendship was in general conditional, often including «obligations and expectations,»9028 whether formally or informally.
But not all ancient Mediterranean conceptions of friendship reflected this hierarchical sort of relationship, even where reciprocity was anticipated. In the eastern Mediterranean, societies of friends could include fellow members of onés guild9029 or toward onés age-peers.9030 Although age-group societies мая have declined in the Hellenistic and Roman periods,9031 the classical Greek wealthy image of friendship tended to be companionship based on groupings of the same sex and age, which constituted political parties.9032 One мая perhaps compare the relationship of associates in the Jewish chaburah.9033 Among the Greek schools, the Epicureans in particular emphasized friendship,9034 regarding it as a source of pleasure.9035 Although Roman patronal friendship made only the vaguest pretense to equality, if any pretense at all, this Greek image of friendship, even when related to benefaction, demanded equality, as in Plato:
Friendship is the name we give to the affection of like for like, in point of goodness, and of equal for equal; and also to that of the needy for the rich, which is of the opposite kind; and when either of these feelings is intense we call it «love.»9036
Aristotle cited an earlier saying, «Friendship is equality» (ίσότης ή φιλότης),9037 and is said to have
defined friendship as an equality [ισότητα] of reciprocal good-will, including under the term as one species the friendship of kinsmen, as another that of lovers, and as a third that of host and guest.9038
The motif of friendship as equality also prevailed in the neo-Pythagorean writings.9039 As early as Homer, a leader could honor a special friend above his other companions, regarding him as «equal» (ίσος) to himself.9040 Alexandrian Jewish writers also picked up on this; in Aristeas 228, the highest honor is to be shown to parents, but the next honor to onés friends, for a friend is the «equal of onés own sou1.»9041 Thus one letter recommends a friend (amicum) by exhorting the receiver to view him «as if he were me.»9042 In Greek thought, a friend was like a «second self,»9043 meaning that one would care about onés friend the way one would care for oneself.9044 Implications of such a conception for the Johannine concept of agency are evident.
2C. Ancient Ideals of Friendship
Hellenistic ideals of friendship include a strong emphasis on loyalty. Isocrates argues that good men love (άγαπώσι) their friends always, even when far away, but base men honor friends only when they are present;9045 others carried on the criticism of those who were merely friends in name and the lamentation that faithfulness in friends was rare.9046 Sentences of the Syriac Menander stresses loyalty to friends.9047 In narratives, the loyalty of a good friend adds to the delight of the story; for instance, in Chariton's novel, Polycharmus leaves his parents to face danger with his friend (έταίρος) Chaereas9048 because he was his φίλος;9049 the idea would also be construed from the relationship between David and Jonathan in the OT. The Jewish writer in Sir 6:7–10,14–16, and 12also argues that one really knows onés friends only in the hard times, when friends' loyalty is tested. True friends were known in time of trouble, when they were most needed.9050 Ideally, one could trust onés friends with onés life, rejecting false accusations about them;9051 they would not abandon one even in exile.9052
Friends were also recipients of onés confidence and intimacy, as noted above in Philós portrayal of Abraham.9053 One difference between servant-master relationships and those between friends is that servants withhold secrets from the master but friends do not withhold them from each other.9054 Isocrates advises a careful testing of friends, to see if they are worthy of confidence with secrets;9055 and it is a moralist commonplace that true friends are those who can speak openly (παρρησία) instead of praising a person only to his face,9056 as Plutarch particularly emphasizes:
The great difference between flatterer and friend мая be most clearly perceived by his disposition towards onés other friends. For a friend finds it most pleasant to love and be loved along with many others, and he is always constant in his endeavours that his friend shall have many friends and be much in honour; believing that «friends own everything in common» he thinks that no possession ought to be held in common as friends.9057
Aristotle notes that true friendship requires confidence (πίστας) in onés friend, which requires standing the test of time.9058 Josephus, writing about Judaism for a Greco-Roman readership, is eager to point out the similar emphasis in Jewish ethics: the Law
allows us to conceal nothing from our friends, for there is no friendship without absolute confidence; in the event of subsequent estrangement, it forbids the disclosure of secrets.9059
Friends were especially supposed to be able to maintain confidences.9060 This kind of intimacy and equality could carry over into talk about God, as in the case of Abraham, with whom God «no longer talked ... as God with man but as a friend with a familiar.»9061 An ideal friend would share onés joys and sorrows.9062
As Plutarch notes in the passage above, friends share not only secrets but, ideally, everything they possess. The maxim that friends share all things in common is attested in Aristotle but by this period had become a commonplace.9063 Diogenes Laertius describes the Stoic view of friendship:
And by friendship they mean a common use of all that has to do with life, wherein we treat our friends as we should ourselves. They argue that a friend is worth having for his own sake and that it is a good thing to have many friends.9064
That friends shared all things in common becomes a frequent phrase in the literature of Greco-Roman antiquity, not limited to the Stoics.9065 The view seems to have become pervasive enough that even in rural areas it could be used to justify the traditional code of reciprocity or sharing among friends.9066 From an early period, rulers might at times place their resources at their allies' disposal, claiming all that belonged to themselves belonged to their allies.9067 But the Cynics and the Stoics particularly propagated the syllogism that the wise man was a friend of the gods, the gods owned everything, and therefore everything belongs to the wise man. Diogenes the Cynic purportedly reasoned,
All things belong to the gods. The wise are friends of the gods, and friends hold all things in common. Therefore all things belong to the wise.9068
The Stoics held the same view.9069 Being a friend of the gods therefore entitled one to sharing in whatever was theirs. This мая account for the sharing of Jesus' things with the disciples through the Spirit of truth, just as Jesus had shared the Father's things (16:14–15), although in the context this probably means specifically revealing his truths (16:13; 15:15).
2D. Friends of God
The supreme example of patronal friendship in ancient sources might be thought to be discovered in passages referring to friendship with God.9070 In many of these texts, however, it is not the patronal but the voluntary, reciprocal elements of the relationship that come to the fore.9071 Thus a later rhetorician could praise those who love the gods and are friends (φιλείυ) with them.9072 Being a «friend of God» sometimes meant virtuous perspectives and behavior.9073 . Some references are too brief for this to be determined, as in some Cynic epistles:
only the wise man [τον σπουδαΐον] is a friend of God [φίλον τώ θεώ μόνον].9074
But Epictetus addresses the subject rather frequently. Heracles had few friends–indeed, no friend «dearer than God» (φίλτερον του θεοΰ);
That is why he was believed to be a son of God, and was. It was therefore in obedience to His will that he went about clearing away wickedness and lawlessness.9075
One who does not care about circumstances is like a free man and can «look up to heaven as a friend of God.»9076
Did not Socrates love his own children? But in a free spirit [ώς ελεύθερος], as one who remembers that it was his first duty to be a friend to the gods [θεοΐς είναι φίλον] ...9077
for I am a free man [ελεύθερος] and a friend of God [φίλος τοΰ θεοΰ], so as to obey Him of my own free will [πείθωμαι αύτω].9078
Diaspora Jewish literature seems to use the phrase in a manner similar to Epictetus. In Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom enters the righteous, making them God's friends and prophets;9079 in Philo, Virtue makes God a friend of the righteous.9080 The second-century Tanna Rabbi Meir, whose image of friendship мая have been affected by Greco-Roman conceptions to a lesser degree, observed that whoever occupies himself with the Torah for its own sake is called God's friend.9081 In rabbinic parables, Israel is sometimes portrayed as a friend of God the king.9082 The image of God speaking with Israel as friend appears as early as 4Q377 (frg. 2, co1. 2, lines 6–7), though this text draws its language from comments about Moses in Exod 33(on which see below).
Following the OT designation of Abraham as God's friend (Isa 41:8; 2 Chr 20:7), early Jewish literature especially applies the title to Abraham.9083 This is especially because of his intimate relationship with God, so that God could take Abraham into his confidence, not treating him as a servant (cf. John 15:15):
For wisdom is rather God's friend than His servant. And therefore He says plainly of Abraham, «shall I hide anything from Abraham my friend?» (Gen. xviii.17).9084
Or it is because of his obedience to God instead of his own spirit's will (cf. John 15:14)?9085 It would not at all be unnatural, therefore, if John 15:13–15 were making an allusion to Abraham,9086 particularly given the emphasis on election in 15:16.
But another OT allusion is also possible, one that perhaps was more prominent to early readers of the OT because it was in the Torah proper. In Exod 33:11, Moses is the friend of God; this becomes the basis on which he can appeal to God for a revelation of his glory. This designation also appears in early Jewish texts;9087 it is the most common usage in Tannaitic parables (though not by a large margin).9088 This allusion becomes likely in John 15because in 1:14–18 the disciples are compared to a new Moses to whom God revealed his glory in Jesus, the embodiment of Torah in flesh (cf. 2Cor 3).9089
Although Jesus fills the role of God here, friendship with Jesus would also bring one into a welcome relationship with the Father. Individuals' friendships provided ties, whenever feasible, between households.9090
2E. Friends, Not Servants (15:15)
The earlier contrast between servants and children (John 8:33–35; cf. Gal 4:7) is here supplemented with a contrast between friends and servants. The contrast was familiar enough in Mediterranean antiquity; a Roman, for example, could describe conquered people as «slaves» but allies as «friends» (Sallust Jug. 102.6). Under Jewish law, a slave could not inherit, no matter how many goods were left to him, unless the will freed the slave or granted him «all» his master's goods (including himself; m. Pêah 3:8). There would be no point in Jesus promising to share his words or goods with the disciples unless they were friends and not slaves. The image especially involves what Jesus entrusts the disciples with, as he states in 15:15; as noted above, one difference between servant-master relationships and those between friends is that servants withhold secrets from the master but friends do not withhold them from each other.9091
John is not alone in drawing a contrast between servants and friends of God–Philo does the same:
indeed, it is folly to imagine that the servants [τούς δούλους] of God take precedence of His friends [τών φίλων τοΰ θεοΰ] in receiving their portion in the land of virtue.9092
Abraham, like Wisdom, is God's friend and not his servant, and those who are his friends are also his only son (μόνος υιός).9093
By saying that he no longer calls his disciples slaves, Jesus could be alluding back to 13and suggesting that they need no longer assume the role of subordinates but rather of equals. Against this proposal is the fact that Jesus cites the same saying in 15:20, after he has promised to call them servants no longer,9094 and the fact that their friendship is predicated on obedience to Jesus' command to love (15:14). As Carson has pointed out,
The distinction Jesus draws between a servant and a friend is not the distinction between obeying and not obeying, but the distinction between not understanding and understanding.9095
When Jesus declares that he «no longer» (ούκέτι) calls them slaves (15:15), he signals a new era in salvation history,9096 the transition point being Jesus' departure to, and return from, the Father in chs. 18–20 (16:16; cf. 14:19, 30; 16:10,16,21,25; 17:11). In communicating to them what he has heard from the Father (15:15), Jesus acts the role of a faithful disciple who passes on the teachings of the Father,9097 thus providing a model for the Spirit and the disciples (15:26–27). Even more to the point, just as Wisdom possesses all the special, secret knowledge of God (Wis 8:4)9098 and is thus the truest source of insight about God, Jesus is the truest revealer of the Father. The eschatological king would be «taught by God» (διδακτός υπό θεοΰ, Pss. So1. 17:32; cf. John 6:45).
2F. Concluding Observations on Friendship
Although an allusion to patronal friendship is possible in this passage, the Greco-Roman ideals of loyalty, intimacy, and sharing are more likely in view. The subordination of the disciples in obedience is probably more an expression of covenant loyalty, qualified by their continuing role as servant-disciples, than the subordination of a client to a patron. The disciples are clearly dependent on Jesus in 15:1–7, and that dependence might have been read by clients patronally; but it need not have been so understood (cf., e.g., Hos 14:8d).
Jesus intimately shares the secrets of his heart with his disciples, treating them as friends, as God treated Abraham and Moses by revealing himself to them. The parallels with John 16:13–15 indicate that the Spirit of truth would continue passing down the revelations from the Father and Jesus to the disciples. Jesus passed on what he heard from the Father (5:20; 8:26); the Spirit would pass on to disciples what he heard from Jesus (16:13). Just as Jesus heard and saw the Father (5:19–20; 8:38), his disciples would see and hear him. (It is doubtful that the Fourth Gospel restricts this relationship to the literal level of visionary experience, but at least in the Pauline apostolic circle, visions were probably part of such experience–2Cor 12:1; cf. Acts 2:17.)9099 John therefore portrays friendship with Jesus as an intimate relationship with God and his agent, one that John believed was continuing in his own community, and one that no doubt set them apart from the synagogue, which had a much more limited understanding of continuing pneumatic revelation.
They are his friends, and therefore objects of his self-sacrifice (15:13), if they do what he commands them (15:14). The paradoxical image of «friends-not-slaves» who «obey» Jesus' commandments is meant to jar the hearer to attention; friendship means not freedom to disobey but an intimate relationship that continues to recognize distinctions in authority. (Authority distinctions remained in patron-client relationships; at the same time, Jesus' complete sharing with his disciples resembles the Greek notion of «equality» in friendships.)9100 By obeying, they continue to make themselves more open recipients of God's love, «abiding» and persevering in ever deeper intimacy with God. Disciples as Jesus' «friends» might stem from Jesus tradition9101 and мая have become a title for believers (3 John 15) as in some philosophical groups.
2G. Chosen and Appointed (15:16)
Jesus several times refers to the chosenness of his disciples (6:70; 13:18; 15:16, 19). It мая be relevant that the choosing of apostles or other special groups of ministers appears elsewhere in early Christian tradition;9102 normally disciples chose their own teachers, but according to the Synoptic tradition, Jesus had chosen these disciples.9103 Yet John probably invites deeper theological reflection than that observation alone entails, fitting his theme elsewhere of Jesus' foreknowledge (e.g., 1:51; 2:19; 6:70–71). If one argued for an Abraham allusion in 15(I think a Moses allusion more likely), one might also see an Abraham allusion in the «chosen» of 15:16. Jewish teachers commented frequently on Israel's «chosenness.»9104 But both in the Bible (Gen 18:19; Neh 9:7; Ps 105:6; Isa 41:8) and in some later Jewish traditions,9105 this chosenness stemmed from God's initial choice of Abraham. Nor could it be neglected that God had chosen Abraham and the other patriarchs because of grace (Deut 26:5; cf. Deut 7:7–8).9106
But our text мая, without specific reference to Abraham, simply allude to the chosenness of God's people as a whole (cf. 2 John 1,13; Rev 17:14; Mark 13:20,22,27; Acts 13:17; Eph 1:4; 1Pet 1:1), here applied to the branches on the true vine, in contrast to Jewish pictures of Israel as God's vine (see the introduction to 15:1–7). Deuteronomy frequently recalled the chosenness of God's people (4:37; 7:6–7; 10:15; 14:2); chosen «out of the world» (15:19) мая even reflect Deuteronomy's chosen «out of all peoples» (Deut 7:6; 10:15; 14:2).9107
That Jesus «appointed» (έθηκα) them (15:16) suggests that he not only exercised a purpose concerning them but «established» that purpose. Some connect the verb to its recent use in 15and 10:11–18, for laying down onés life; their commission would thus follow Jesus' model of love.9108 This interpretation, while plausible, is not secure; τίθημι is a frequent term (seventeen times in John, albeit most commonly surrounding Jesus' death) with a broad semantic range (cf., e.g., the thirty-nine uses in Isaiah LXX). That the term is not the usual one for God's call or commission lends credence to an allusion back to 15:13; at the same time, it can apply to God establishing his covenant with Abraham and establishing Abraham in his purposes (Gen 17:2, 5).9109
If the disciples are bearing fruit, they мая ask «in Jesus' name» (15:16), probably meaning as his representatives carrying out his work (cf. 14:12–14).9110 Alternatively, one мая connect «in Jesus' name» with «he мая give,» as possibly in 16:23, probably connoting «because of Jesus.»9111 In either case, whether because they act as his representatives or bear favor on his account, disciples have this blessing because they depend on Jesus' act on their behalf.9112 John concludes again with the command to love, thus framing the section (15:17; cf. 15:12,14).
The World's Hatred (15:18–16:4)
If 15:8–17 discusses the love of God and believers, 15:18–16discusses the world's hatred. While we often describe John's thought here as sectarian, John might object that whereas his community represented the minority, the intolerance for difference stemmed also from the outside: the world would hate those who did not belong to its way of thinking and behaving (7:7; 17:14; 1 John 3:13; cf. Jas 4:4).
1. Introductory Matters
Farewell speeches often included warnings (e.g., Josephus Ant. 4.177–193), but like some other early Christian examples of this genre (e.g., Mark 13; Acts 20:28–31), the words of warning in 15:18–25 reflect the traditional apocalyptic perspective of suffering before the end. The Gospel's emphasis on realized eschatology underlines the immediacy of the eschatological situation of tribulation; one мая also compare the similar result of imminent eschatology in the book of Revelation.
1A. Part of the Context
Some argue that the focus of 15:18–16is quite different from ch. 14;9113 certainly the focus moves from the relationship of believers with God and one another (13:31–15:17) to the relationship of believers to hostile society. Yet one need not view 15:18–16:4 as an independent discourse formed under circumstances distinct from the rest of the Gospel;9114 the Gospel as a whole is basically consistent in its dualism (see introduction).
1B. The Worldview of the Passage
The worldview presupposed in 15:18–25 is one common to sectarian groups, in which apocalyptic ideologies (in the modern sense of that expression) often prevai1. Some early Christian writers, such as Luke, seem to represent a socioeconomic stratum and social conditions that provide more optimism for engaging the broader culture from a Christian perspective. Thus Acts includes eschatology (1:11; 3:19–21; 10:42; 17:31; 24:15; 26:6–8) but focuses more on the current mission (1:6–8); one finds favorable and just officials (5:34; 10:4; 13:7; 18:12–16; 19:31; 22:29; 23:9, 23–24; 25:25; 26:31–32; 27:43) and others (e.g., 28:2,10,21). John, however, expects his audience to view the world as hostile, with a perspective comparable to other Johannine literature (1 John 2:15–17; 4:4–5; 5:19; Rev 13:7–17).9115 This admittedly characterized also those who, while working within society, shared an apocalyptic worldview (Rom 12:2; 13:11–12; 1Cor 10:11; Gal 1:4; 2 Thess 2:1–13).9116 Such hostility from the out-group would also help define the boundaries and strengthen cohesiveness of the in-group.9117
Still, John's emphasis on the world's hatred, relevant to his own situation and outlook, probably stems from authentic Jesus tradition. Both Jesus' teachings (cf., e.g., Mark 13:12; Matt 5:10–11; 10:21, 25, 35–39; cf. Luke 6:40; 14:26–27) and his sacrificial death (cf., e.g., Mark 8:34–38) provide ample material for addressing the world's hostility. Parallels with the Synoptic eschatological discourse9118 probably indicate authentic Jesus tradition behind this passage. Further, we should not exaggerate John's difference from other early Christian sources but should distinguish degrees of «sectarian» outlook. There are certainly differences among models, such as wholesale withdrawal from the world (e.g., the Qumran Essenes), individual protest in urban culture (e.g., the Cynics), and a politically disenfranchised (or in this case unenfranchised) movement that could remain within the society yet view it as hostile. Presumably, first-century Pharisees experienced some degree of political marginalization from Sadducean aristocrats, and Palestinian Jewish revolutionaries found the system entirely unworkable; Johannine Christians fall somewhere in between.
Interestingly, however, the discussion of the world's opposition (John 15:18–25; 16:1–4) frames an announcement of the Paracletés and disciples' role to bear witness against the world (15:26–27). Shortly after this, one learns that the Paraclete prosecutes the world (16:8–11), presumably through the witness of believers (16:7) who themselves know Jesus intimately (16:12–15). The worldview is not merely defensive, waiting till the end as in some apocalyptic treatises; it remains offensive and evangelistic (cf. the combination of these elements in Revelation 11–13).
The worldview of this passage is also as pervaded by moral dualism as Revelation or Qumran's Rule of the Community. The Spirit thus confronts the world (16:7–11) with the truth that one falls on either one side or the other: «Die nur noch christliche oder antichristlich sein kann.»9119 The rigidity of boundaries created by the world's hostility undoubtedly strengthens the community's internal cohesiveness, so that persecution intensifies the attention of community members to loving one another. The same social setting provides a faith committed to and expecting probable martyrdom, as in Revelation. Israeli scholar David Flusser argues, «Christianity surpasses Judaism, at least theoretically, in its approach of love to all men, but its only genuine answer to the powerful wicked forces of this world is, as it seems, martyrdom.»9120 If John is less concerned with the question of loving those outside the community than the Synoptics are, he is more consumed by martyrdom; he seems to believe this the likely price of those who submit to the high Christology he proclaims and to a consequently likely expulsion from the synagogue community.
1C. The Opposition
The «world» bears wider implications than Jesus' elite Jerusalem accusers or John's audiencés accusers, but John's immediate concern is particularly his audiencés opposition. «The Jews» embody «the world» in the Fourth Gospel in general9121 and this context in particular, for it is the same «world» that opposed Jesus (15:20, 24); they claim biblical law (15:25), and they will expel Jesus' followers from the synagogues (16:2). Whereas «the Jews» form a prism for «the world,» they are not, however, its only representatives in this Gospel; they collaborate with Pilate, who defends a worldly kingdom (18:36). It is also important to note the greater but often neglected nuancing in John's narratives; the «world» epitomized in Jerusalem is divided, not uniformly hostile (7:43; 9:16; 10:19).
The explicitness of the connection between Jesus' sufferings and his followers' impending sufferings indicates that John intends his followers to understand their current (or imminent) situation in light of Jesus' sufferings in this Gospe1.9122 We have no evidence that Jewish opponents were killing Jewish followers of Jesus in the real world of John; what is more likely is that they were «delivering» them, that is, acting as delatores to accuse them, to Roman officials, who themselves carried out the harshest acts of persecution (see comment on 16:2).
2. Hating Father, Son, and Followers (15:18–25)
15:18–21 connects disciples' suffering with that of Jesus. Berg summarizes the structure basically as follows, with D in the center:9123
A If the world hates you, it hated me first (15:18).
Β If you were of the world, they would love you (but you are not) (15:19ab).
C Because I chose you, the world hates you (15:19cd).
D The servant is no greater than the master (15:20ab).
Á If they persecuted me, they will persecute you (15:20c).
B' If they kept my word, they will keep yours (15:20d).
C' They will persecute you for Jesus' and the Father's sake (15:21).
A and Á might well be substituted for C and C, providing an A-B-A-D-A-B-A pattern, but in any case the point Berg designates as D remains central and significant. If «the servant is not greater than the master,»9124 as Jesus has already told them in another context (13:16), they can expect to suffer no less than what he suffered (15:20).9125
The world's hatred (15:18) for those not belonging to it, both Jesus (7:7) and his followers (17:14), had been amply demonstrated in its response to Lazarus's testimony (12:10).9126 Just as Jesus loved his «own» (cf. 10:3), the world loved its «own,» but the meaning of that love requires some consideration. Presumably this does not imply solidarity of thought in the world system on any but the most theoretical level, a solidarity that would contradict John's narrative expositions (e.g., 7:43; 9:16; 10:19; 12:42, although these divisions were created by Jesus' entrance). Perhaps it means something like the logion about sinners loving those close to them (Matt 5:46; Luke 6:32); probably it means that the world as a whole shares the same values (cf. 1 John 4:5), united at least in its opposition to the alien values «from above.» Those in the world could understand one another (7:7), but those born from above were incomprehensible (3:8). As many Gentiles hated Jews for their «hatred of humanity,» that is, their uncompromisingly different customs, so would the world as a whole hate true followers of Christ.9127
The thought of 15:18–19 follows naturally from the preceding context. In the system of political alliances found in at least many Mediterranean cities, if one was friends with another's enemy, one became the other's enemy as wel1.9128 Thus, if Christ's followers are friends of Jesus (15:15), the world who hated him would also hate them. As Jewish people experienced the world's hatred as a chosen people,9129 Jesus' disciples experienced the world's hatred because Jesus had «chosen» them out of that world (15:16,19). Enmity, regularly accompanied by public invective, was a typical feature of ancient Mediterranean urban culture in genera1.9130
The general description of the world's hatred in 15:18–19 becomes more concrete and specific in 15:20–21: the disciples would face severe persecution.9131 The «persecution» that Jesus endured and in which believers followed (15:20) could easily escalate into the threat of death (5:16, 18; cf. Rev 12:13). That Jesus promises persecution for his own «namés» sake (15:21) probably connects him with the Father, again underscoring his divinity. Jewish people spoke of persecution for the sake of God's commandments (Ps 119:23, 157, 161)9132 and God or his name (Ps 44:22);9133 the hope of resurrection should encourage one not to fear sinners' abuse (1 En. 103:4). «On account of my name» could represent a Semitic expression meaning simply «on my account,» and Mark also reports that disciples would suffer for Jesus' name (Mark 13:13); but in the context of the Fourth Gospel, it more likely recalls that Jesus bears the divine name.9134
If Jesus suffered, disciples must suffer for his name (15:20–22). Jesus would die for his friends (15:13), those who kept his commandments (15:14); but keeping his commandments involved especially loving as he loved, that is, dying on one another's behalf (13:34). Betraying others in the face of persecution мая be a common response to persecution (cf. Mark 13:12),9135 but true followers of Jesus dare not respond in this manner (cf. 1 John 3:16). If dying for friends was a rare but praiseworthy practice, the same мая be said of dying for a master.9136 That Jesus' disciples must be prepared to die for his name reflects earlier Jesus tradition (cf., e.g., Matt 10:22; 5:11).9137 Through the Spirit, disciples carry on Jesus' mission (15:26–27; 16:7–11) and hence experience the same opposition as he did.9138
Jesus' coming unveiled the «world's» sin (15:22, 24); this claim fits both his earlier exposures of his enemies' sin (8:21, 34) and the claim that those who try to conceal their sin are those who cannot be rid of it (3:20; 9:41).9139 Moralists sometimes opined that wrongdoers could not keep their sins concealed indefinitely.9140 In Jewish tradition, the law could expose sin and leave sinners without excuse.9141 Philo declares that God's angel and priest, reproof (έλεγχος), exposes such impure thoughts (Unchangeable 135) and those who do not listen will face destruction (Unchangeable 182–183); this image reinforces the sense that the Paraclete continues Jesus' mission in this Gospel (ελέγξει in 16:8–11).
Applying his motif of agency, John reports that just as those who opposed the disciples opposed Jesus (15:18–21), so those who oppose Jesus oppose his Father, who sent him (15:21, 23). The world's hatred (15:19, 24–25; 17:14) will not surprise a reader by this point; Jesus had already warned that those who did evil were those who hated the light (3:20) and that the world hates one who reveals its sin (7:7). Jesus' «signs» and other works revealed enough of his identity and sender that those who hated him could be said to have beheld both him and his Father (15:24; cf. 14:7).9142 Those who rejected him were without excuse; as Jesus has repeatedly emphasized, his works revealed his identity and sender, and hence rejection of him exposed the true state of his opponents' hearts (14:11; see comment on 10:32, 37–38).
Jesus cites their own law against them (15:25). Because Jewish literature reports pagans speaking to Israel of «your law,»9143 one could argue that the Fourth Gospel here preserves a non-Jewish perspective. But John repeatedly enlists the support of the law, which he accepts as authoritative (e.g., 2:17,22; 5:45–47; 19:36–37). Jesus applies to Scripture the formula «in order that [the word] might be fulfilled» (15:25; 13:18; 17:12), which elsewhere in this Gospel refers to Jesus' own teaching (18:9, 32) as well as to Scripture (12:38; 19:24, 36); it is difficult to think of a more authoritative claim for Scripture than that the events of the passion had to occur to fulfill it. The use of «your» or «their» law means «the law which even they profess to accept» (10:34)9144 and probably implies irony (see our introduction, pp. 214–28).9145 «They hated me without cause» reflects the language of various psalms (Ps 35:19; 69:4; 109:3; cf. 35:7);9146 because Ps 69comes from the same context as Ps 69:9, quoted in John 2:17, commentators generally prefer this reference if a specific text is in view.9147
3. Witnesses against the World (15:26–27)
In the context (15:18–25; 16:1–4), the passage about witness refers not to some timid words (cf. 20:19) but to a bold counteroffensive; the «world» far outnumbers believers, but believers depend on God, whose power can at any time overrule the purposes of the world (cf. 18:9; 19:11). That the world's hostility frames these comments on witness does not imply that they are simply a later insertion into a foreign context: both 15:18–25 and 16:1–4 are constructed distinctively. The previous pericope (15:18–25) includes two quotations, one from Jesus himself (15:20) and one from Scripture (15:25). The following pericope (16:1–4) is carefully constructed and set apart from 15:18–25 by its inciusio, suggesting an intended break between 15:18–25 and 16:1–4.
John further emphasizes here the inseparable relationship between the Father and the Son, repeatedly emphasized and clarified throughout the Gospel (e.g., 1:1–2). The Spirit «proceeds» from the Father (cf. Rev 22:1)9148 but is sent by the Son (15:26; 16:7; cf. Luke 24:49) as well as by the Father (14:16,26); yet even in sending the Spirit, Jesus first receives the Spirit from the Father (15:26; Acts 2:33; cf. Rom 8:11). John attempts no precise disinction between the roles of the Father and the Son here except in acknowledging the Father's superior rank; the Father often delegates his own roles to the Son in the Gospel (5:20–29). Various other early Christian texts likewise appear unconcerned to make stark differentiations between the roles of Father and Son here; some portray the Spirit as from the Father (e.g., Acts 2:17; 5:32; cf. Eph 1:17; Phil 3:3; 1Pet 1:12), others perhaps from the Son (cf. Rom 8:2, 9; Phil 1:19; 1Pet 1:11). Early Christians probably regarded the alternatives as complementary rather than contradictory (see esp. Gal 4:6). On the title «Spirit of truth,» see comment on 14:17.
3A. The Spirit Testifies against the World
Certainly the Spirit's witness is not limited to prosecuting the world as in 16:8–11; the Spirit can witness to believers to confirm their relationship with God, as both the Johannine tradition (1 John 5:6–8, 10) and other early Christian tradition (Rom 8:16; cf. 9:1; Acts 15:8) concurs. But in this context the emphasis lies on prophetic witness to the world (cf. Rev 19:10). Certainly «witness» appears in a forensic sense in some Jesus tradition reported in Mark 13: believers will be brought before authorities for a witness to (or against) them (Mark 13:9), which will be empowered by the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11).
Although the world could not receive the Spirit (14:26), the Spirit could witness to it (15:26–16:11), just as Jesus testifies but no one receives his witness (3:11,32; 1:10–11). The Spirit of truth and the disciples would both testify concerning Jesus. It is possible that this Paraclete saying is a general statement that summarizes the next two: when the Spirit comes, he will bear witness both to the world (16:8–11) and to the community (16:13–15); both of these sayings are introduced in a manner similar to the όταν ελθη of 15:26, and in each instance the Spirit comes to believers (15:26; 16:7,12–13).9149
But in the context of the preceding and following pericopes, the Spirit and the disciples together carry on Jesus' witness to a hostile world characterized as a judicial body thinking it was passing judgment on them, as it thought it had passed judgment on Jesus.9150 Like the remnant of «Deutero-Isaiah,» the righteous martyrs in the day of judgment in Wis 5:1, or the righteous from among the nations in later Jewish tradition,9151 Jesus' followers in this context bear witness against the world before God's court. The disciples here act as witnesses, but prosecuting witnesses were delatores, accusers; they pronounce judgment as well as forgiveness (20:23).9152
«Witness» is not always a judicial image, of course, however the term мая have originally been used.9153 But in the Fourth Gospel, it probably has forensic significance,9154 as the term often does in secular Greek9155 and early Jewish literature.9156 Bürge even considers the judicial context for witness throughout the Gospel «one of the assured results of Johannine scholarship in recent years.»9157 The present text is no exception to the forensic context of this Johannine motif. The forensic context continues in the άποσυναγώγους of 16:2.
3B. The Forensic Context
The άποσυναγώγους of 16(more than the άποκτείνας of the same verse) presupposes the sort of judicial context found in 9:13–34, in which synagogue authorities gather witnesses and seek to ascertain whether or not the person tried should be disciplined or put out of the community. The following chapters show this same «world» trying Jesus and condemning him, and 15shows that the same treatment is to be regarded as normative for disciples of Jesus; yet as his words convicted his opponents (15:20, 22), so would theirs. This is the Johannine context of «witness» in 15:26–27; as Berg notes, Bultmann denied a connection between this passage and Mark 13:119158
because the paraclete saying was not related to witness before an earthly court.... The placement of the saying, which must play a central role in its interpretation, suggests, however, that the writer did have in mind the testimony borne in the midst of hatred and persecution.9159
Synagogues functioned as judicial assemblies even in the Diaspora; Roman laws usually permitted them to exercise internal discipline over their own communities. In many rabbinic texts, the OT image of God's angelic court is developed and applied either to angels or to sages in heaven, and it is possible that this image was in wide enough circulation by the end of the first century for readers of the Fourth Gospel to have caught an allusion to it. But here the verdict of the earthly courts is contrasted with that of the heavenly court, in contrast to usual rabbinic teaching (cf. also Matt 16:19, 18:15–20); typical Johannine irony makes the accusers of Jesus and his community the ones really on trial before God. (An ancient Mediterranean audience мая not have found such irony foreign; for example, a king might unwittingly condemn a deity, only to learn in the end that it is he himself who would suffer.)9160 The Paraclete, who defends the disciples brought before worldly courts (cf. Mark 13:11; Matt 10:19–20), is also the one who will charge the world with its sins (16:8–11).9161
3C. Prophetic Witness
Prophets in the OT also functioned as witnesses to God's righteousness, particularly when they declared his covenant lawsuits against Israe1. Lukan pneumatology (which emphasizes the Spirit of prophecy more than that of any other extant early Christian writer) also connects prophetic empowerment to declare the risen Christ with Lukés witness motif (Acts 1:8; 2:32–33; 4:33; 5:32), although Luke probably limits the immediate use of «witness» to eyewitnesses more strictly than John does.9162
Thus the Paraclete not only continues the presence of Jesus in a general way and expounds Jesus' teachings but also enables the believers to boldly testify for Jesus, recognizing that it is the world, and not the believers, that is really on trial before God.9163 This image naturally leads to the next Paraclete passage, in which the Spirit acts as prosecutor (John 16:8–11).
The disciples who would bear witness in this passage were those with him from «the beginning» (15:27), undoubtedly the beginning of his ministry (2:11; 8:25; 16:4; cf. 6:64; Acts 1:21–22; Phil 4:15),9164 perhaps intended to evoke the era of the new creation (cf. 1:1–2; 8:44; 9:32; 17:24; 1 John 1:1; 2:13–14; 3:8).9165 But for the Johannine community, perhaps all believers could count their first experience of the gospel analogously (1 John 2:24; 3:11; 2 John 6).
4. Coming Persecution (16:1–4)
The heart of the new material in 16:1–4 is the specific prediction of 16:2, which fits the audiencés experience (expulsion from their synagogues) and anticipation (martyrdom); 16reiterates 15:21, and 16:1, 4 frames the section by explaining the necessity for this advance warning (cf. 13:19; 14:29).
Jesus' assurance that he had spoken to them (on λελάληκα, see 14:25; 16:4, 6; and comment on 15:11) in advance that they might not «stumble» or fall away (16:1)9166 recalls earlier statements that Jesus was giving advance warning that they might believe (see comment on 13:19; 14:29). That it was to prevent them from «stumbling,» or falling away (cf. 6:61), most directly recalls the immediately preceding context: they would have to endure the world's hatred after Jesus' departure (15:18–25) and be inspired witnesses to the world and against the world before the divine court (15:26–27).9167
With 16(when these matters come to pass, they мая remember that he had forewarned them), 16forms an inclusio around Jesus' most specific warning about impending trials in 16:2–3: the world's hatred (15:18–25) will be expressed by expulsion from the synagogues and by death at the hands of those who think they are serving God (16:2). The Spirit's work in causing disciples to «remember» Jesus' teaching (14:26) suggests that their memory here (16:4) will also be supplemented by the Spirit's interpretative work (16:12–13), such as is perhaps found in works like the book of Revelation.
4A. Expulsion from Synagogues
Most contemporary commentators find in the expulsion of the Jewish Christians the experience of the Johannine community.9168 To claim relevance to this situation is not to deny the influence of prior tradition;9169 yet at the very least, regardless of prior tradition, John would have little reason to emphasize this expulsion as he does (not only here but in 9:22; 12:42; nowhere explicitly in the Synoptics) unless it were a recent or imminent threat to his audience. Some earlier interpreters recognized the influence of a Jewish-Christian schism here;9170 in the wake of Martyn's thesis, some associated the schism very specifically with the Birkath Ha-minim; the prevalent tendency today is to recognize Johannine Christians' recent rejection but not to connect it exclusively or necessarily primarily with the Birkath Ha-minim (see introduction, pp. 207–14). The warning that the synagogue community would seek to «kill» disciples as an act of worship to God appears more problematic.
By announcing that an «hour» was coming for their persecution, the text announces two points. First, the disciples will ultimately share Jesus' «hour,» his suffering and death; the Gospel describes Jesus' appointed hour as either «not yet come» or as having «come» (e.g., 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; see comment on 2:4). Second, the full phrase «an hour is coming» мая represent future eschatology in the Gospel (or present eschatology when accompanied by the phrase «and now is»; 4:23; 5:25), as in 5(and probably 4:21; but cf. 16:25; apart from 16:2, each instance of «an hour is coming» is quickly followed by the longer expression including «and has come»); the immediate context does not require this interpretation but мая be interpreted consistently with it: Jesus' death and glorification inaugurates the eschatological hour (see 16:25), the wilderness period of the new exodus in which the people of God must carry on Jesus' war against the devil (cf. Rev 12:1–6). The disciples would suffer in Jesus' «hour» (16:25, 32); but as his followers, they would also have their own hour that would flow from it (12:25–26; 13:16; 15:20). Within John's narrative, the story of Lazarus provides a telling illustration of the kind of death Jesus' followers must be willing to expect (12:10). (That Lazarus's death is not narrated probably suggests that the narrator did not believe that the authorities actually succeeded in carrying out their intentions, at least not within a time frame that could be reasonably reported within his Gospe1.)
Rome did not grant the ius gladii, the right of the sword, freely to all its subjects; if worshipers of God in the synagogues (16:2) directly killed disciples, it would not be legally sanctioned by Rome. Yet Hare, who doubts that much lynching actually was taking place, suggests that 16may reflect anxiety concerning «Jewish declarations that Christians ought to be lynched."9171 He notes that Philo advocates the execution of Jewish idolaters without trial, that one Tanna supported executing idolaters, and that 3Maccabees praises the slaughter of apostate Jews;9172 but given the successful career of the Alexandrian apostate Tiberius Alexander, he doubts that lynching was common.9173 Even in Revelation, we read of only one explicit martyr to date (Rev 2:13), although the writer clearly anticipates others to follow quickly.
Yet John and Revelation hardly would have stressed these warnings unless severe tensions with the synagogue or other reasons led them to believe that such conflicts were on the rise. Conditions мая have changed somewhat in the second century; Justin claims that «Jews» kill Christians whenever they are able, specifically noting that Bar Kokhba had ordered the execution of Christians and only Christians (1 Apo1. 31.6).9174 But atrocity reports were often exaggerated in the course of circulation;9175 hyperbole was a regular feature of polemic and invective (generally from both sides).9176 Some non-Christian Jews actually protected Christians during Roman persecutions;9177 and in any case, lynchings would have been far less prevalent among Jews under Roman rule than during the Bar Kokhba revolt, when Roman scruples about executions without Roman supervision would have been dismissed.
More likely is the proposal that the Jewish Christians felt that their Jewish opponents, by expelling them from synagogues (see introduction), were deliberately delivering them over to the sword of the Roman governor.9178 Surely in time Christians, once portrayed as apostates no longer welcome in the synagogue community, would face death for their unwillingness to worship Caesar (Rev 13:15). Indeed, early-second-century sources testify that some Christians had been executed for such an offense (Pliny Ep. 10.96). Roman prosecution also depended on delatores, private accusers,9179 as Pliny's correspondence with Trajan likewise indicates;9180 at a later stage of mutual antagonism, the second-century Martyrdom of Polycarp reproaches the Jewish community in Smyrna not for merely expelling the Jewish Christians (cf. Rev 2:9) but for actively supplying the accusers of the Christians (Mart. Po1. 17.2).9181
4C. Johannine Irony
Nevertheless, the context supplies the warning with abundant Johannine irony. Believers would be on trial before the world, personified in local synagogue courts (16:2; cf. Mark 13:9),9182 just as Jesus would be on trial before the world (the Pharisees and the Roman governor) in succeeding chapters (18–19). But in the end, the believers joined the Advocate as witnesses (15:26–27), and became vehicles for the Advocate as he prosecuted the world (16:7–11).9183 The world, not believers, was on trial before the highest court!9184 Some other thinkers in the ancient world also opined that the justice of judges' sentences reflected on themselves no less than on the accused.9185
The behavior of the believers' enemies itself condemns them. The believers' opponents believe that the death of Christians offers priestly sacrifice to God (16:2), no doubt pleasing to God the way Phinehas's execution of an Israelite idolater had been.9186 In fact, however, they think in this manner precisely because they have never genuinely known God or his agent (16:3). Jewish Christians were not the only minority group in Judaism to respond with hostility to what they regarded as the broader hostility of Israe1. Qumran interpreters concluded that Belial caught Israel in nets by presenting them as forms of righteousness (CD 4.15–17; cf. comment on John 16below).9187 A further note of irony appears in the persecutors' conviction that their acts offer worship to God. In fact, those whom they martyr do «glorify» God by their deaths (21:19),9188 as Jesus had (12:23–24; 13:31–33).
Because Jesus' hearers in this passage had been with him from the «beginning,» they were qualified to witness (15:27), but now he was providing warnings they had not needed at the «beginning» (16:4). His presence had been enough for them (16:4), but now that he was leaving (16:5),9189 they would need to be warned of what was coming (16:2–3). Other hardships awaited them, but Jesus could not explain them at this point (16:12); they were already weighed down with sorrow (16:6).9190 When, however, Jesus' successor, the Spirit of truth, would come, he would reveal the rest of Jesus' secrets (16:13–15), including the things to come (16:13). Undoubtedly this included a revelation of future sufferings, beyond Jesus' own summary in this context (15:18–16:3), such as one finds in the book of Revelation.
* * *
See Segovia, Relationships, 100–101, 179; Berg, «Pneumatology,» 160.
That Jewish parables often included allegorical elements is now clear, against earlier Aristotelian models; see Johnston, Parables; Keener, Matthew, 381–84; on «parables» (in the broader ancient sense) in John, see comment on 10:6.
For moralists' various botanical illustrations, e.g., Seneca Ep. Luci1. 112.2; Plutarch Demosthenes 1.3; Marcus Cato 3.3 (and Jewish images, below); Eunapius Lives 461. John's circle of believers мая have also compared the «world» with a vine in contrast to the community of believers (Rev 14:18), but the pervasiveness of vine imagery renders this judgment at most possible.
E.g., Aristophanes Ach. 995–999.
Cary and Haarhoff, Life, 111.
Hemer, Letters, 158. Asia was particularly hard hit by the economic troubles of Domitian's reign (Koester, Introduction, 2:251).
For procedures regarding vines, see Theophrastus Caus. plant. 3.11.1–3.16.4.
Cohen, «Viticulture.» For an example from the third century B.C.E. to the first century C.E., see Magen, «QTndyh»; for more information on viticulure in biblical texts, see Schwank, «Weinstock.»
CPJ 1:15, on both the Ptolemaic and the Roman periods.
Horsley, Galilee, 203–4.
Aelian Farmers 4 (Anthemion to Draces). Even five- or ten-acre plots could be sufficient for tenant farmers (Jeffers, World, 20), but a «small» vineyard could be even smaller (m. Ki1. 4:5; p. Ki1. 4:1, §4; 4:3/5).
Theophrastus Caus. plant. 5.5.1–2. Rabbis, however, tried to prevent mixing of «diverse kinds,» hence ultimately regulating even vine posts (p. Ki1. 4:2).
General for «cultivator,» as distinguished from the more specific άμπελουργός («vinedresser»; P.Thead. 17.11,332 C.E.).
Babrius 2.1; cf. the massive vineyard plantations of Hellenistic Egypt (P.Cair.Zen. 59736, ca. 250 B.C.E.). A noble Roman could be a husbandman (agricola; e.g., Cornelius Nepos 24 [Cato], 3.1) but would just own, not til1.
E.g., Rev. Laws 41.11 in Sei. Pap. 2:14–15 (259 B.C.E.). In the LXX, the term predominates in Prov (6:7; 9:12; 24:5, 30; 31:16; elsewhere only Gen 26:14; Sir 27:6; Jer 51:23; cf. Robertson and Plummer, Corinthians, 59).
Columella Rust. 1.9.5–6. Columella Rust. 1.6.1 describes the ideal villa, but this would be relevant only to the rich; for ideal sites for vineyards, see Columella Arb. 4.1–5.
See Pliny Nat. 14.4.20–14.5.52; 14.23.119; for different kinds of grapes, see Athenaeus Deipn. 14.653B-654A. On planting vines, see Pliny Nat. 17.35.156–187.
E.g., on the goblets in Let. Aris. 79; or the ornamental grapevine on a «Nazirite» Herodian stone coffin (Avigad, Jerusalem, 166).
Goodenough, Symbols, 1:156–57.
That everything brings forth according to its own kind (cf. Gen 1:11) was a commonplace (see comment on John 3:6), also applicable to moral fruits (Seneca Ep. Luci1. 87.25; Matt 7:16–18; Gal 5:22; Jas 3:12).
Bernard, John, 2:477–78; Brown, Essays, 102–3; Richardson, Theology, 377; Brodie, Gospel, 482; cf. Hoskyns, Gospel, 474, and Barrett, John, 472, who combine the immediate background in the Last Supper tradition with the biblical image of Israel as a vine. This tradition is likely early; Did. 9.2 uses Jesus as the vine as part of the eucharistie thanksgiving.
Some even believed that sprinkling a vine with wine derived from it would wither the vine (Plutarch Nat. Q. 31, Mor. 919C).
Oesterley, Liturgy, 185, connects the vine with Pesach wine.
If later tradition is relevant, the vinés usefulness in a sukkah was quite limited (cf. b. Sukkah 11a, 22b).
Cadman, Heaven, 175. More pervasive are connections with the «branch»; see, e.g., Isa 11:1; cf. Isa 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12; 1QH 6.15; 7.19; 8.6,8,10; 4Q174,3.12; cf. T. Jud. 24:4, if not an interpolation.
E.g., Dodd, Interpretation, 411; Painter, John, 48.
Painter, John, 48; Feuillet, Studies, 88–89; Culpepper, John, 214; Wisdom is identified with the law in 24:23.
Samian Hera had a vine branch in her hair (Callimachus Aetia 4.101; the Diegesis associates this with her conflicts with Dionysus). Perhaps Philo allegorized Ganymede, Zeus's wine pourer, as God's forth-flowing Logos (Dillon, «Ganymede»; idem, «Logos»).
Diodorus Siculus 1.15.8, who also reports, however, that the Egyptians (who link him with Osiris) believe that he prefers ivy (Diodorus Siculus 1.17.5).
Otto, Dionysus, 49, 147. For Dionysus as its discoverer, see, e.g., Apollodorus 3.5.1.
Gamble, «Philosophy,» 56.
For the vine in Mandean texts, see Borig, Weinstock, 135–94 (comparing John 15 and other texts in pp. 177–94).
Dodd, Interpretation, 411.
Caragounis, «Vineyard,» argues that άμπελος became «vineyard» and κλήματα «vines» in pre-Christian Koine. Given the description of pruning, «vine» is a better translation in John 15 than «vineyard,» but the semantic overlap illustrates the importance of both vine and vineyard data.
On the Qumran interpretation of Isa 5:1–7, see 4Q500, in Baumgarten, «Vineyard.» The vine image is also consistent with the Jesus tradition's use of «fruit»; see comment below.
E.g., Augustine Tract. Ev. Jo. 80.1.2 (citing Jer 2and Isa 5:4); Köstenberger, John, 159; Strachan, Gospel, 176; Hunter, Message, 78; idem, John, 148; Barrett, «Old Testament,» 164; idem, John, 472; Hoskyns, Gospel, 474; Sanders, John, 337; Richardson, Israel, 187; Fenton, John, 158; Morris, John, 668; van der Waal, «Gospel,» 36; Hickling, «Attitudes,» 353; Ellis, Genius, 225; Painter, John, 48; Carson, Discourse, 91.
E.g., 3 Bar. 1:2; Exod. Rab. 30:17; 34:3; SongRab. 2:16, §1; 7:13, §1; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 16:9. Some texts explicitly conjoin this image with God's flock as well (e.g., Mek. Pisha 1.162; Sipre Deut. 15.1.1; cf. John 10:1).
4 Ezra 5:23; 2 Bar. 39:7; L.A.B. 12:8–9; 23:12; 28:4; b. Hu1. 92a; Gen. Rab. 88:5; 98:9; Exod. Rab. 44:1; Num. Rab. 8:9; Esth. Rab. 9:2; either Israel or the elect in 4QHodayot-like frg. 2, line 3 (Wise, Scrolls, 447). This could also be conjoined with the image of God's flock (4 Ezra 5:23–24; cf. John 10).
E.g., some of the same texts also compare Israel with a lily (4 Ezra 5:23) or various trees (Esth. Rab. 9:2); some also used the vine to symbolize Torah or Jerusalem (b. Hu1. 92a) or Sarah (Gen. Rab. 53:3; cf. Pesiq. Rab Kah. 27:9), or its branches to symbolize Moses and others (Gen. Rab. 88:5). R. Meir reportedly thought the tree of knowledge was a vine, but others disagreed (b. Ber. 40a).
Cf., e.g., Jer 1:10; 24:6; 31:28; 42:10; Jub. 1:16; 7:34; 16:26; 21:24; 36:6; 1QS 8.5; 11.8; CD 1.7; lQapGen 1.1 (reconstructed); 2 Bar. 51:3; Fujita, «Plant»; Mussner, «Gleichnis»; Wirgin, Jubilees, 22–26; perhaps 1 En. 10:16; 84:6. See also Matt 15:13; Rom 6:5; 11:16–24; 1Cor 3:6–9; Herrn. Sim. 8. For the patriarchs, see, e.g., 1 En. 93:2, 5, 10; b. Yebam. 63a (were the image more common, one could argue that John portrays Jesus as the greater foundation for God's people). The moralistic uses (cf. 1Macc 1:10; T. Ash. 1:7) мая be a Hellenistic borrowing (Plutarch Educ. 1, Mor. 4C) but мая actually undergird the early image (e.g., «uprooting» in judgment in 2 Chr 7:20; Prov 2:22; Jer 12:14–15; Jub. 6:12; 15:26,28, 34; 16:9; 20:4; 21:22; 22:20; 24:29,31, 33; 26:34; 30:7,10,22; 31:17,20; 33:13,17, 19; 35:14; 36:9; 37:23; 49:9).
For a Roman congregation possibly named for the olive tree and one in Sepphoris for a vine, see Leon, Jews, 146; for common Greco-Roman tree symbolism in Diaspora Jewish art from the second to the fifth centuries, see Goodenough, Symbols, 7:87–134.
Bernard, John, 2:477–78.
The «vineyard» in Yavneh (e.g., b. Ber. 63b) is also understood figuratively as the disciples there (p. Tacan. 4:1, §14).
E.g., Josephus War 5.210; pagan views of this were negative (cf. Cicero Pro Flacco 28.66–67; Tacitus Hist. 5.5).
Pass, Glory, 165; he suggests, as an unproved but useful working hypothesis, that Jesus delivered this discourse in the temple (Pass, Glory, 174). Cf. Hunter, John, 148, though he emphasizes especially the connection with Israe1.
Pass, Glory, 172.
Josephus War 5.207–210.
Goodenough, Symbols, vols. 5–6; see esp. 6:125.
Ibid., 1:276; 2:3. Porton, «Grape-Cluster,» notes that the symbol becomes most prominent on these coins only in the Bar Kokhba period; but for other probable plant symbolism as early as Maccabean coins, see Wirgin, Jubilees, 22–26.
Blomberg, Reliability, 205 (noting that teachers often lectured as they walked).
Cf. ÓGrady, «Shepherd,» who suggests an individual relation to Christ in collectivity, as in the shepherd image of John 10.
Gager, Kingdom, 131–32.
The comparison with Greek philosophy's contrast between spiritual reality and mere appearance (e.g., Scott, Gospel, 253) is strained.
Robinson, «Destination,» 121–22; also see Painter, John, 97–98, likewise emphasizing the Jewishness of John's community.
Neighbors of other occupations might help during the harvest or vintage (Longus 2.1; Matt 20:2–4) or at least lend baskets for gathering (Alciphron Farmers 12 [Cotinus to Trygodorus], 3.15). The designation might reflect low status from an urban or mercantile perspective (Philostratus Hrk. 4.11), but not to rural people (4.12).
Some had others working under them (Ptolemy Tefr. 4.4.179; Philostratus Hrk. 1.6). Socrates considered γεωργία an honorable occupation (Xenophon Oec. 6.11), but vinedressing could be arduous (cf. Sir 7:15).
Though it remains possible, that 20does not reapply the wording of this text decreases the likelihood of an intentional allusion that would parallel Jesus and the Father there.
For the gardener image from Greco-Roman philosophy onward, see Thurn, «Gartner»; cf. a semidivine hero as a vinedresser in Philostratus Hrk. 17.2; and another's mortal advocate in Hrk. 1.1 and passim (cf. Maclean and Aitken, Heroikos, xxviii, xxxvii-xxxviii).
On care for vines, see, e.g., Virgil Georg. 2.273–419. Vineyards had to be guarded from animals such as foxes (Song 2:15; Alciphron Farmers 19 [Polyalsus to Eustaphylus], 3.22, par. 1) and thieves (CPJ§21, 1:157–58).
Friedländer, Life, 1:189.
Cary and Haarhoff, Life, 111. The most expensive wines came especially from Campania and some Aegean islands.
P.Oxy. 1631.9 (ξυλοτομία).
In contrast to vines, olives require no tending, including no pruning (Virgil Georg. 2.420–422).
Cary and Haarhoff, Life, 111.
Ibid. For preparing soil for new trees, see Theophrastus Caus. plant. 3.4.1; for planting vines, see 3.11.5–3.12.3; for manuring trees, 3.6.1–2; 3.9.1–5; for pruning vines, 3.7.5; 3.11.1–3.16.4; for pruning other kinds of trees, 3.7.6–12 (root pruning in 3.8.1–2).
Pliny Nat. 17.35.190. Theophrastus advocates cutting a young vinés sprouts in spring if it is not too cold (Caus. plant. 3.13.1), and cutting the fruit in autumn (3.13.2). For mature vines, see 3.14.1; thinning the shoots is like a second dressing, as soon as the promise of fruit appears (3.16.1–4).
Pliny Nat. 17.35.191.
Pliny Nat. 17.35.192.
Theophrastus Caus. plant. 14.2–3 advocates sensitivity to local conditions and in 3.15.1–5 offers seasons for pruning based on region.
Lewis, Life, 125.
Hepper, Plants, 98.
Ibid. The exception was the sabbatic year, when (as on the weekly Sabbath) pruning would be prohibited (cf. p. Ki1. 8:1, §5). Grapes were also subject to tithe (4Q266 frg. 12), like olives (4Q270 frg. 6).
Swete, Discourse, 73; Schnackenburg, John, 3:97. Those leasing a vineyard were responsible for collecting and removing the wood (P.Oxy. 1631.10).
Columella Arh. 10.2. Using a mattock (Babrius 2.1–2), one should begin trenching around октября 15 and finish by midwinter (Columella Arh. 5.3; cf. breaking up ground around vines in P.Oxy. 1631.9–13); one can cut back the vinés roots during winter provided one leaves at least an inch so as not to damage the vine (Columella Arh. 5.3–4), and one should not cut back the old vine (6.1).
Virgil Georg. 2.362–363.
Virgil Georg. 2.364–366.
Virgil Georg. 2.367–370.
Virgil Georg. 2.416–419.
Columella Rust. 4.27.1–2; Arh. 11.1–2. Columellás advice that one should trim and not just prune (11.1) might suggest that some did only the latter.
Columella Rust. 3.10.1–8 proposes parts of the vine from which to take cuttings (against the practice of many actual vinedressers); on the length of cuttings, see 3.19.1–3.
Jesus' analogy does not cover all possible points; e.g., a vinedresser might remove even fruitful branches if they are too many (Columella Rust. 4.27 A) lest the vine have too much fruit to carry to maturity (4.27.5).
Columella Arb. 10.1.
Columella Rust. 4.25.2–3; on the knife, see 4.25.1.
P.Cair.Zen. 59736.27–29 (ca. 250 B.C.E.).
Columella Arb. 10.2 (LCL 3:374–75).
Statius Silvae 5.2.69–70 (LCL 1:294–95).
See, e.g., Morris, John, 669; Barrett, John, 473; Brown, John, 2:660; Ridderbos, John, 516 n. 115. The most frequently cited agricultural parallels (Xenophon Oec. 18.6; 20.11; Philo Dreams 2.64) do not imply pruning without further specification; in a rural setting, one might purify other things (e.g., fountains, Longus 4.1).
E.g., Epictetus Diatr. 4.11.3, 5; Iamblichus V.P. 16.70; Philostratus Hrk. 7.3; Porphyry Marc. 11.204; 15.255–56 (cf. also 23.368; 24.374–76; 26.402–3).
E.g., Musonius Rufus 3, p. 40.17, 28; 4, p. 44.25; 16, p. 104.35; 18B, p. 118.4–5; Epictetus Diatr. 4.11.8; Ench. 33.6, 8; Menander Rhetor 2.10,416.7–8; Acts 15:9; 1Cor 6:11; 2Cor 7:1; 2Tim 2:21; Heb 9:14; 10:22; 2Pet 1:9).
In Rev 15purity accompanies the image of angelic linen; see 19:40; 20:7, 12 and our comment for the significance of linen and white as purity images.
Longus 1.28; 2.1.
Ovid Metam. 2.29. For drying grapes in the hot sun, see Aelian Farmers 1 (Euthycomides to Blepaeus).
Hepper, Plants, 99.
See Borig, Weinstock, 238–39.
That Gal 5 contrasts the Spirit's fruit with law-works (cf. Gal 5:4–5,14,18,23; 6:1–2) suggests a contrast with traditional Jewish understanding of means of obedience; such a contrast would naturally fit John's polemic, though abundant other early Christian uses of the image do not require us to limit the image to this purpose.
In one of several interpretations of a text, some Amoraim interpreted a treés fruitfulness as good deeds (Num. Rab. 3:1); in a natural parallel, the results of learning Torah could be compared with fruit (Num. Rab. 21:15).
Apoc. Sear. 12has ποιήση καρπόν δικαιοσύνης, but this is late.
Plutarch Alc. 4.1.
Epictetus Diatr. 1.15.8. Epictetus Diatr. 1.17.9 мая suggest «fruitfulness» as a broader cultural metaphor for utility; certainly it could mean «profit» (cf. e.g., Musonius Rufus 14, p. 92.23).
Marcus Aurelius 9.10.
Philo Migration 205.
Cf. Michaels, John, 257, arguing for a minor chiastic pattern here.
E.g., Song Rab. 4:1, §2; 1:15, §2.
See Bonsirven, Judaism, 54–55, and citations there. Boring et a1., Commentary, 301, cite, as an example of the «hymnic topos» of dependence on a deity, Aelius Aristides Or. 37.10: people will never «do anything useful without Athena.»
Cf. Smalley, «Relationship,» 98.
Bruce, John, 309, rightly notes in this connection that Jesus «is the living embodiment of all his teaching.»
With, e.g., Fenton, John, 159.
Cf. Segovia, Farewell, 302.
Let. Arts. 226 (διαμένη).
For vine grafting, see Columella Rust. 3.9.6–7; 4.29.1–9; Arb. 8.1–5; also Seneca Ep. Luci1. 112.2, who applies it as a moral illustration. Vines could be transplanted in февраля or as late as the end of марта (Seneca Ep. Luci1. 86.20–21).
For its spiritual significance in this Gospel, see, e.g., Potterie, «Demeurer» (stressing «mystic» interiority).
For sharing Christ's death and resurrection, and his risen life active in the believer or special agents, see further Rom 6:3–11; 8:2–14; 15:18; 1Cor 6:15–19; 12:11–13; 2Cor 5:17; 12:9; 13:3–4; Gal 5:16–25; 6:14–15; Phil 2:13; Col 2:10–13,20; 3:1–5; 2Tim 2:11; probably Phlm 6. In Eph 3God's power works in Christians according to the greatest example of his power, Jesus' resurrection, the beginning of the new creation (Eph 1:20; cf. Phil 3:21; 1Cor 15:43–44); cf. Ezek 36and, for devotional expressions of dependence on God as the strength for life, e.g., Ps 18:1; 27:1; 28:7–8; 31:2, 4; 37:39; 73:26; 118:14; 138:3; 140:7.
See Keener, Spirit, 215–16.
Stoics and others applied it most frequently to the cosmos (e.g., Epictetus Diatr. 1.12.26; Marcus Aurelius 7.13; Diodorus Siculus 1.11.6; Long, «Soul») and to the state (e.g., Cicero Resp. 3.25.37; Sallust Letter to Caesar 10.6; originally from Menenius Agrippa, Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 6.83.2–6.86.5; Livy 2.32.9–12; Dio Cassius 4.17.10–13).
The encounter aspect of the relationship might be experienced in worship by the Spirit (John 4:24).
Cf. the Stoic notion of allowing reason (λόγον) to remain (έμμένοντα) in onés soul (Musonius Rufus frg. 36, p. 134.11).
The idea of transformation through knowledge appears in Christian tradition as early as 2Cor 3(building on the same Moses analogy as in John 1:14–18).
For one model of «being in» yet also accommodating concrete «progress,» cf. Engberg-Pedersen's depiction of Stoic conversion ideology in Paul and Stoics, passim; a Jewish boy's maturation in Torah might be comparable.
In 15John employs ρήματα rather than λόγος, but he is almost invariably consistent in simply employing λόγος for the singular and ρήματα for the plura1. For «what one heard» abiding in one (cf. 1 John 1:10) and for one also abiding in the Son and Father, see 1 John 2:24.
It is also possible, though far less likely, that the αληθινή vine (15:1) alludes back to those who were disciples άληθώς (8:31).
Niemand, «Taüferpredigt,» thinks the image мая stem from tradition brought by John the Baptist's disciples when they became Christians; but it is a natural image (though Jesus could have drawn directly from the Baptist).
Interpreting this passage by comparison with the partial burning of saved ministers' works in 1Cor 3is thus inappropriate here; while branches might need to be pruned, those which do not abide in the vine are not saved but consumed (cf. Heb 6:4–8).
Harrison, «Vine,» 986.
To the extent the distinctions are clear, Koine apparently preferred αίρω (261 times in the LXX; 97 times in the NT, including 23 in John); the term αίρέω appears clearly in the LXX only 12 times, in NT only 3 times, none of them in John, and often without the clear sense «take away.» Writers could, however, play on words sharing the same spelling (Rowe, «Style,» 132).
Hepper, Plants, 98.
Derickson, «Viticulture,» assigns all of 15to the spring pruning of fruitful branches and 15to the postharvest removal of dead branches in autumn. His distinction between seasons is helpful, but the activities of 15need not all occur at the same season; the metaphor of «unfruitful branches» probably bears the same meaning throughout the parable (15:2,4,6).
Cf. Tg. Neof. 1 on Num 21:34, where Og mocked Abraham and Sarah as fruitless trees before Isaac's birth; or Musonius Rufus 21, p. 128.2–4, comparing something with pruning a vine «to remove what is useless» (trans. Lutz).
Marcus Aurelius 11.8. John's κλήμα is more appropriate with, though not exclusively used for, branches of vines (Liddell and Scott).
Hoskyns, Gospel, 474. Seneca Ep. Luci1. 112.2 uses the vine image to illustrate that only some people can receive philosophy (as branches can be grafted only onto some kinds of vines).
Thus the text мая include an implied comparison with Judas (cf. Hunter, John, 150); one could read the τις as a «certain one.» But Judas is, in any case, a negative model and warning for others (cf. 1Cor 10:11).
E.g., Barrett, «Old Testament,» 164; Carson, Discourse, 91.
Pesiq. Rab Kah. 16:9.
The classic text is m. Sanh. 10:1. Despite some detractors (b. Sanh. 103a), most later teachers continued to follow its tradition that very wicked rulers such as Manasseh and Jeroboam would be lost (b. Hag. 15b; Num. Rab. 14:1; SongRab. 1:1, §5; Pesiq. Rab. 1:5; see also 2 Bar. 64:7–9).
Painter, John, 48, even sees Israel's apostasy in the vine image here.
Calvin, John, 2(on John 15:6) also allows that this text refers to destruction of apostates, though he emphasizes that these are hypocrites who merely appear to be saved, not the true elect.
See Westcott, John, 218. More substantial branches might be used for construction wood, but small vine branches provided fue1.
Brown, John, 2:662, against Westcott, John, 216. Even notwithstanding the present or approaching Passover, the time of year was wrong.
E.g., L.A.B. 25:5–6; 1 En. 48:9; for fire as future judgment, see, e.g., Isa 26:11; 66:15–16, 24; CD 2.4–6; 1 En. 103:8; Sib. Or. 4.43, 161, 176–178; 2 Thess 1:6–7; Exod. Rab. 15:27. Cf. Heb 6:8; Herrn. Vis. 3.2.
Many Jewish storytellers conflated Gehenna with the Greek Tartarus (e.g., Sib. Or. 1.10, 101–103,119; 4.186; 5.178; 11.138; cf. Gk. Apoc. Ezra 4:22; b. Git. 56b-57a; p. Hag. 2:2, §5; Sanh. 6:6, §2; Apoc. Pet. 5–12); for the burning of the wicked in Tartarus's river Phlegethon in pagan mythology, see Virgil Aen. 6.551–559 (though cf. also purgatorial fire in 6.735–742).
4 Macc 9:9; 12:12; t. Sanh. 13:5; probably 1 En. 108:5–6; L.A.B. 38:4; Ascen. Isa. 1:2; 3 En. 44:3; t. Ber. 5:31; b. Roš Haš. 17a; p. Hag. 2:2, §5; Sanh. 6:6, §2; cf. Diodorus Siculus 4.69.5; Plutarch D.V. 31, Mor. 567DE. For Gehennás vast size, note b. Pesah. 94a; Tacan. 10a; Song Rab. 6:9, §3; cf. Virgil Aen. 6.577–579).
Cf. 1QS 4.13–14; Gen. Rab. 6:6; most sinners in t. Sanh. 13:3, 4; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 10:4; Pesiq. Rab. 11:5; cf. 2Macc 12:43–45.
Num. Rab. 18:20. Other texts are unclear, e.g., Sir 7:16; Sipre Num. 40.1.9; Sipre Deut. 311.3.1; 357.6.7; 'Abot R. Nat. 16 A; 32, §69B; 37, §95B. Twelve months is a familiar duration (b. Sabb. 33b; Lam. Rab. 1:11–12, §40).
Also Jude 7; Mart. Po1. 11.2. Although Luke does not reject future eschatology in his effort to contextualize for Greek readers (Acts 17:31–32; 23:6; 24:15), as do some Jewish sources (e.g.. Josephus Ant. 18.14, 18; War 2.163; Philo Sacrifices 5, 8), Matthew's emphases retain more of their original Jewish flavor (cf. Milikowsky, «Gehenna»).
Plutarch Many Friends 6–7, Mor. 96AB.
See Dodd, Interpretation, 199–200; Bruce, Message, 108–9.
A disciple would normally follow a teacher's wisdom (e.g., Xenophon Anab. 3.1.5–7), but in view of his Christology, John would undoubtedly expect his informed audience to think of more than this (cf. comment on John 1:27).
See DeSilva, Honor, 148.
Because μένω predominates in 13:31–15(thirteen of its fourteen occurrences in the discourse), Boyle («Discourse,» 211) makes 15the pivotal verse, with 15:12–16treating exterior relations (p. 213). But love (concerning God and one another) unites 15:1–17, so the new section (focusing on hate and relations with the world) begins with 15:18.
See Grayston, Epistles, 67. Lacomara, «Deuteronomy,» 77, finds in the καθώς of 13and 15a parallel with Pentateuchal commands to imitate God's ways.
In the Gospels, λελάληκα, the first-person perfect active indicative of λαλέω, appears only in Jesus' speech in John (6:63; 8:40; 14:25; 15:3,11; 16:1,4,6,25,33; 18:20), underlining the significance of his words.
Aristotle N.E. 8–9 (a fifth of the work) addresses friendship, relating it to the goal of a happy life (Engberg-Pedersen, Paul and Stoics, 74; cf. 77). On enjoying friendship, see Seneca Ep. Luci1. 63.
E.g., b. Yoma 4b; Lev. Rab. 16(purportedly from Ben Azzai); Pesiq. Rab. 21:2/3; 51:4; Urbach, Sages, 1:390–92; Bonsirven, Judaism, 95; see especially the Tannaitic sources in Urbach, Sages, 1:390; most fully, Anderson, «Joy.» In Song Rab. 4:11, §1, public teaching of Torah should generate as much joy as wedding guests experience from beholding a bride (cf. lohn 3:29).
For classicists' discussion of friendship, see Fitzgerald, «Introduction,» 7–10. In pre-Aristotelian Greek literature, see Fitzgerald, «Aristotle»; in Jewish sources, see Manns, «Amis.» I treated ancient friendship elsewhere, overlapping with some material here, in «Pneumatology,» 350–63; more fully, «Friendship»; see more on the topic in Fitzgerald, Friendship (very favorably reviewed in Keener, «Fitzgerald»).
John is also Jesus' «friend» (3:29); but Jesus' death for him is unstated, and John's own execution is at most implied (3:24), whether because assumed from tradition or because his witness continues to speak.
The relation between φίλοι and αγαπάω reinforces a comparison of the uses of φιλέω and αγαπάω in the Gospel: in the final analysis, they are more or less interchangeable semantically.
Jacobs, «Love,» 42–44 (on Akiba). One should not interpret this as cowardice; the sages reported Akibás own devotion in martyr accounts; cf., e.g., Urbach, Sages, 1:416–17, 443.
Jacobs, «Love,» 47. Leaders of the community had to act with the benefit of the community in mind (Exod. Rab. 27:9, citing R. Nehemiah, late second century).
Epameinondas 2 in Plutarch S.K., Mor. 192C; see other references in the comment on 12:27. Roman military oaths also demanded willingness to die on behalf of the state (IGRR 3.137; OGIS 532; ILS 8781, in Sherk, Empire, 31; cf. praises of Gaius Caesar in CIL 11.1421; IIS 140, in Sherk, Empire, 34); Iphigeneia is prepared to die to save (σώσαι) Greece (Euripides Iph. au1. 1420).
Deut. Rab. 2(probably late, though citing early Tannaim).
Hengel, Atonement, 9; cf. DeSilva, Honor, 136–37. See, e.g., Euripides Alc. 12–18; Herac1. 547–601; Andr. 413–415; cf. Seneca Nat. 4.pref.l5; but such self-sacrifice is voluntary and not expected (Euripides Alc. 689–690; some writers, such as Lucian, seem to have rejected it–see Pervo, «Friends»). On slaves for masters, e.g., Appian C.W. 4.4.26; one man also offered his life for a boy with whom he was infatuated (Xenophon Anab. 7.4.7–10); some similarly died because of love for spouses (cf. Valerius Maximus 4.6.2–5; 4.6.ext.l-3); Cicero would have preferred his own death to his daughter's (Fam. 9.11.1).
E.g., Livy 10.28.12–18; 10.29.1; Lucan C.W. 2.380–383.
Hengel, Atonement, 19; cf. 27. Cf. Euripides Iph. au1. 1394–1397, 1553–1560; Livy 22.57.6; Plutarch G.R.P.S. 35, Mor. 314C-D; Lightfoot, Notes, 201.
Achilles Tatius 3.3.5. In a summons to war, some people scrambled to get others to fight (and hence die) in their places (Xenophon Agesilaus 1.24).
Isocrates Demon. 25, Or. 1; Valerius Maximus 4.7.pref.
Euripides Orest. 652 (Orestes, in war); Aulus Gellius 1.3.4–8 (law court); Maximus of Tyre Or. 15.9; Philostratus Hrk. 51.12; P.Oxy. 32.5, 8–14 (second century C.E.).
E.g., Euripides Orest. 1069–1074, 1155; Iph. taur. 674–686; Chariton 4.3.5; 7.1.7. Cf. Syr. Men. 406–407; Syr. Men. Epit. 22–23. Romances also emphasized this for lovers (e.g., Xenophon Eph. 1.11; 2.1,7; 3.5; 4.5; 5.4).
E.g., Diodorus Siculus 10.4.4–6; Epictetus Diatr. 2.7.3; Musonius Rufus 7, p. 58.23; Valerius Maximus 2.6.11; 4.7 passim (e.g., 4.7.2); cf. Iamblichus V.P. 33.235–236. Schnackenburg, John, 3:108, finds many parallels to 15:13; Boring et a1., Commentary, 121–22, cite Demetrius Lacon the Epicurean Life of Philonides; Diogenes Laertius 10.121; Seneca Ep. Luci1. 1.9.10; Philostratus Vit. Apol1. 7.11; others in Anderson, Rhetorical Theory, 225.
Valerius Maximus 4.7.6 (cf. wives doing this for husbands in Valerius Maximus 4.6.ext.3; a slave for a master, 6.8.6).
Diogenes Laertius 10.120; cf. Rom 5:7. Aristotle defines as a friend any who seeks to do for another what he believes to be to the other's benefit (Rhet. 1.5.16, 1361b).
For application of the ancient motif of dying for a friend here, see, e.g., Keener, «Pneuma-tology,» 350–51; Mitchell, «Friends,» 258.
E.g., Epictetus Diatr. 2.22; Musonius Rufus 15, p. 96.28–29; Iamblichus V.P. 16.69–70; 33.229–236. On types of friendships, see Marshall, Enmity, 24–32; Keener, «Pneumatology,» 351–55.
E.g., Aristotle E.E. 7.1234b-1246a; N.E. Books 8–9; Plutarch Many Friends, Mor. 93A-97B; Dio Chrysostom Or. 3, On Kingship 3, §§99–100; Cicero Amte; Seneca Ep. Luci1. 3 («On True and False Friendships»), 9 («On Philosophy and Friendship»); Theophrastus (according to Aulus Gellius 1.3.10–11). See Malherbe, Exhortation, 85, 144; Sevenster, Seneca, 172–77.
Plutarch, e.g., weaves together both Greek and Roman traditions of friendship (see ÓNeil, «Plutarch on Friendship»).
Diogenes Laertius 1.54 (Pisistratus, offering a position to Solon).
Diodorus Siculus 17.31.6; 17.39.2; 17.100.1. For friends of Cassander, see Diodorus Siculus 18.55.1.
Diodorus Siculus 33.4.4a.
Epictetus Diatr. 4.1.45–50; Martial Epigr. 5.19.15–16; Herodian 4.3.5; inscriptions in Deissmann, Light, 378; cf. Friedländer, Life, 1:70–82, 4:58–74. Of Jewish tetrarchs and rulers, only King Agrippa I adopted this title in his coins; see Meyshan, «Coins.» The probably late and fabricated evidence of CPJ2:71–72, § 156a, and 2:76, §156b, nevertheless reflect earlier custom.
1Macc 10:20; 15:28, 32; 2Macc 7:24; Let. Aris. 40–41, 44, 190,208, 225, 228, 318; Josephus Ant. 12.366 (though cf. 12.391); 13.146, 225; Life 131; Cornelius Nepos 9 (Conon), 2.2; 18 (Eumenes), 1.6; Chariton 8.8.10; cf. Sipre Deut. 53.1.3; Gen. Rab. 34:9. Cf. perhaps Sib. Or. 3.756 (probably second-century B.C.E. Alexandria); Deissmann, Studies, 167–68. The Roman title «Friends of the People» reflects an office advocating for the people but of less rank than being a leader in the Senate (Cicero Sest. 49.105; Prov. cons. 16.38).
Maximus of Tyre Or. 14.7.
See Sherwin-White, Society, 47; also many commentators (Brown, John, 2:879; Barrett, John, 543; Michaels, John, 309; Stauffer, Jesus, 133). By contrast, Westcott, John, 271, thinks that in 19the phrase is «used in a general and not in a technical sense.»
Cf. Strachan, Fourth Gospel, 179. That a contrast between closeness to Caesar and closeness to God's agent could be intended is not impossible; cf. Epictetus Diatr. 1.9.7.
Lee, «Friends,» although he does not exclude other associations.
E.g., Homer I1. 3.93, 256; 4.17; 16.282; Virgil Aen. 11.321.
E.g., Lysias Or. 2.2, §192; Aeschines False Embassy 30, 39; Demosthenes On the Navy-Boards 5; On the Embassy 62; Ep. 3.27; Strabo Geog. 8.5.5; Josephus Ag. Ap. 1.109 (but cf. similar interests in 1.111); 2.83; cf. Rhet. ad Herenn. 3.3.4 (societates atque amicitias); Maximus of Tyre Or. 35.7–8; Philostratus Hrk. 35.4 (for individuals).
E.g., Xenophon Cyr. 3.2.23; Arrian Alex. 1.28.1; 4.15.2, 5; 4.21.8; 7.15.4; Plutarch Comparison of Lycurgus and Numa 4.6; Plutarch Pelopidas 5.1, 29.4; Epameinondas 17 in Plutarch S.K., Mor. 193DE; Cornelius Nepos 7 (Alcibiades), 4.7; 5.3; 7.5; 14 (Datames), 8.5; 23 (Hannibal), 10.2; Josephus Life 30, 124.
E.g., Polybius 1.62.8; 14.1; Dionysius of Halicarnassus R.A. 3.28.7; 3.51.1; 5.26.4; 5.50.3; 6.21.2; 6.95.1; 8.9.3; 8.36.3; 15.7.2; Diodorus Siculus 14.30.4; 14.56.2; 17.39.1; 17.54.2; 19.66.6; 19.67.1; 21.12.6; 31.5.3; 32.16.1; 33.28b.4; 40.1.2; Livy 6.2.3; 27.4.6; 43.6.9; 45.12.6; Sallust Jug. 14.17; 102.6; Herodian 4.7.3; 4.15.8; 1Macc 12:1,3,8; 14:40; cf. 1 Kgs 5:1; 2Macc 11:14. For further discussion in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, see Balch, «Friendship.»
Often in Plutarch (e.g., Agesilaus 23.6; Pompey 70.4; Statecraft 13, Mor. 806F-809B; Philosophers and Men in Power 1, Mor. 776AB; O.M.P.A. 6, Mor. 787B); but also elsewhere (e.g., Achilles Tatius 4.6.1–3). Contrast the older Stoic values of Chrysippus in Diogenes Laertius 7.7.189; but cf. Engberg-Pedersen, Paul and Stoics, 74. Even among Greeks, whereas Aristotle notes friendships based on goodness, pleasure, or utility (E.E. 7.2.9–13,1236a; 7.10.10,1242b; N.E. 8.13.1,1162ab), he assigns most to utility (E.E. 7.2.14, 1236a).
Stowers, Letter Writing, 29, going on to note the use for clients.
Friedländer, Life, 1:225. Cf. Judge, Pattern, 33–34 (in the context of imperial friendships): «not simply a spontaneous relationship of mutual affection. It was a status of intimacy conferred on trusted companions.»
Cf. Stowers, Letter Writing, 29: «It is doubtful that any but those with some wealth and leisure could attain either the Greek or the Roman ideal of friendship.»
Also Cicero Verr. 1.7.18 (one must be careful what one says about friends of rank); on friendship in his letters, see Fiore, «Theory.»
E.g., Dionysius of Halicarnassus Lit. Comp. 1; Valerius Maximus 7.8.7; Philostratus Hrk. 4.3; 10.2; Acts 19:31; cf. AE 1912.171 (in Sherk, Empire, 235). Iamblichus V.P. 22.101; 33.230, admonishes respect for benefactors in a friendship.
Martial Epigr. 3.36.1–3; 3Macc 5:26; probably P.Oxy. 2861 (in Stowers, Letter Writing, 63); cf. Musonius Rufus 15, p. 98.5–6; DeSilva, Honor, 99. See also, e.g., a magician dependent on a spirit (PGM 1.172, 190–191).
Garnsey and Sailer, Empire, 149, citing Pliny Ep. 2.6.2; 7.3.2; Seneca Ep. 94.14.
See Konstan, «Patrons.»
Diogenes Laertius 6.2.36; Iamblichus V.P. 31.187; Stowers, Letter Writing, 39.
Meeks, Christians, 30; cf. Aune, Environment, 166–67; esp. and most fully, Marshall, Enmity, 1–24. See, e.g., Alciphron Farmers 12 (Cotinus to Trygodorus), 3.15; Fishermen 7 (Thalassus to Pontius), 1.7; most fully and helpfully Evans, «Friendship,» 202, on mutual obligation in private letters.
See Horsley, Documents, 4:17–18, §3 (from Saittai, close to Ephesus).
Iamblichus V.P. 31.188.
See Stowers, Letter Writing, 30.
See ibid., 28–30, 39, 60; cf. Gould, Love, 143–45; perhaps Cicero Amic. 5.18. Plutarch T.T. 4.intr., Mor. 660A, advocates befriending only the good while showing goodwill toward al1. Age group associations appear in other cultures as well (cf. the Maasai; Mbiti, Religions, 165–66).
Cf. Oesterley, Liturgy, 172.
Culpepper, School, 101; Stowers, Letter Writing, 66; Meeks, World, 57; Stambach and Balch, Environment, 143.
Diogenes Laertius 10.120; 148.27–28; Cicero Fin. 1.20.65–70. The view of the Epicurean Lucretius in Nat. 5.1019–1023 sounds like later social-contract theories. Stoics, by contrast, valued friendship for its own sake (Cicero Fin. 3.21.70).
Plato Laws 8, 837AB (LCL 9:152–53).
Aristotle E.E. 7.9.1, 1241b. Nevertheless, Aristotle treats friendship in especially political terms (for relations in a classical polis); see Schroeder, «Friendship,» 56 (for the Peripatetic tradition, cf. 45–56).
Diogenes Laertius 5.31 (LCL 1:478–79; cf. Aristotle Rhet. 2.4.28, 1381b 33, from LCL note). Any kind of friendship could exist either between equals or with one as a superior (Aristotle E.E. 7.3.2, 1238b; 7.10.10,1242b; N.E. 8.7.1,1158b; 8.13.1, 1162ab); Aristotle further defined «equality» more proportionately than quantitatively (N.E. 8.7.2–3, 1158b).
3See Thom, «Equality»; Iamblichus, V.P. 29.162; 30.167.
Homer I1. 18.81–82.
Quoted from Hadas's translation, p. 189.
E.g., Diodorus Siculus 17.37.6; Cicero Fam. 7.5.1; 13.1.5.
E.g., Cicero Fin. 1.20.70; Seneca Ep. Luci1. 95.63.
Isocrates Demon. 1, Or. 1 (LCL 1:4–5).
Phaedrus 3.9.1; cf. Prov 20:6. Socrates reportedly emphasized valuing friends and choosing good ones (Xenophon Mem. 2.4.1–2.6.39).
Syr. Men. 25.
Chariton 3.5.7–8; cf. other examples in Valerius Maximus 4.7 passim; audiences would regard such behavior as praiseworthy (Rhet. Alex. 36, 1442a.l3–14).
Chariton 3.3.1. At the end of the book, Polycharmus receives Chaereas's sister in marriage as a reward for his faithful friendship (8.8.12–13). On this friendship, see further Hock, «Friend,» 147–57.
Valerius Maximus 4.7.pref.
Valerius Maximus 3.8.ext.5–6; for refusing to abandon their honor, see Valerius Maximus 4.7.1,4.
Musonius Rufus 9, p. 68.13–15.
Philo Sobriety 55. Perhaps the remark in Diogenes Laertius 7.1.23 is related to this concept: a friend is «another I» (άλλος ... έγώ). But this could relate to loyalty. See the intimacy in Theocritus work 12, The Beloved. See Philodemus frg. 42 for friends sharing secrets.
Mitchell, «Friends,» 259, citing Cicero Amic. 6.22. Masters also should avoid confiding in servants (Theophrastus Char. 4.2).
Isocrates Demon. 24–25, Or. 1.
Isocrates Ad Nie. 28, Or. 2; Seneca Dia1. 10.15.2; Maximus of Tyre Or. 14.6.
Plutarch Flatterer 24, Mor. 65AB (LCL 1:344–45); cf. Flatterer 17, Mor. 59A; Educ. 17, Mor. 13B. Cf. Stowers, Letter Writing, 39.
Aristotle E.E. 7.2.40, 1237b; Iamblichus V.P. 33.232.
Josephus Ag. Ap. 2.207 (LCL 1:376–77).
Philo Abraham 273.
Philostratus Hrk. 49.1; Menander Rhetor 2.7,407.26–29.
Aristotle N.E. 9.8.2, 1168b, cited in Stowers, Letter Writing, 58; Witherington, Acts, 205 (on Acts 4:32). Cf. Arius Didymus 11C.
Diogenes Laertius 7.1.124 (LCL 2:228–29). Also Seneca Benef. 7.4.1.
Martial Epigr. 2.43.1–16; Herodian 3.6.1–2; Cornelius Nepos 15 (Epaminondas), 3.4; Iambli-chus V.P. 19.92 (cf. 29.162; 30.167–168; 33.237–240); cf. 1Macc 12and perhaps Ps.-Phoc. 30; Euripides Andr. 585 (but cf. 632–635); Plutarch Bride 19, Mor. 140D; Longus 1.10; Martial Epigr. 8.18.9–10.
E.g., Alciphron Farmers 27 (Ampelion to Euergus), 3.30, par. 3; 29 (Comarchides to Euchaetes), 3.73, par. 2; Fishermen 7 (Thlassus to Pontius), 1.7.
E.g., Xenophon Cyr. 5.4.29; 1 Kgs 22:4.
Diogenes Laertius 6.2.37 (LCL 2:38–39); also 6.2.72; cf. Antisthenes in 6.1.11.
Diogenes Laertius 7.1.125; Plutarch Cicero 25.4. On friendship between good men and the gods, cf., e.g., Seneca Dia1. 1.1.5; on all things belonging to them, Seneca Benef. 7.4.6, cf. Philo Cherubim 84. The maxim is especially cited in works on 1Corinthians (Willis, Meat, 169; Conzelmann, Corinthians, 80; cf. also Fitzgerald, Cracks, 200–201; Grant, Christianity, 102–3).
E.g., people invoked divinities as φίλοι, to help them in battle (Aeschylus Sept. 174); cf. a mortal as a «friend» who honors his patron demigod in Philostratus Hrk. 58.1 (the hero is also his friend in 10.2); cf. perhaps Iamblichus V.P. 10.53 (where the friendship is demonstrated by deities' past favors).
This observation (in contrast to some other observations above) мая run counter to the suggestion of Judge (Pattern, 38) that w. 13–15 of John 15 «reveal the peculiar combination of intimacy and subordination» characteristic of the patronal relationship.
Menander Rhetor 1.3, 361.24–25.
Maximus of Tyre Or. 19.4; Iamblichus V.P. 33.229. This might involve sharing the divine character (Iamblichus V.P. 33.240).
Crates Ep. 26, to the Athenians (Gyn. Ep. 76–77); cf. likewise Diog. Ep. 10, to Metrocles (Cyn. Ep. 104–5). Cf. Plato Leg. 4.716D (cited in маяor, James, cxxv); fellowship between mortals and deities in the golden age (Babrius pro1.13).
Epictetus Diatr. 2.16.44 (LCL 1:334–35).
Epictetus Diatr. 2.17.29 (LCL 1:344–45).
Epictetus Diatr. 3.24.60 (LCL 2:204–5).
Epictetus Diatr. 4.3.9 (LCL 2:310–11). In the Loeb introduction, l:vii, an epigram attributed by Macrobius to Epictetus also calls him God's friend.
Wis 7:27; cf. 7:14, 8:18; see the theme of Ringe, Wisdom's Friends.
Philo Contempt Life 90, although there is a textual variant for «God's.» God is a friend to Virtue in Philo Creation 81 and to Wisdom in Sobriety 55. Philo develops some Stoic friendship ideals; on Philós friendship ideals in general, see Sterling, «Bond.»
M. 'Abot 6:1. Cf. similarly Justin Dia1. 28: God's friend is whoever knows and obeys him; Sent. Sext. 86ab: self-discipline produces piety, which seeks friendship with God.
Sipre Deut. 53.1.3; b. Sukkah 55b; this is much less frequent tban Israel as God's son in such parables. Cf. other, later references, in Deut. Rab. 3:11; Pesiq. Rab. 5:5,11; and Marmorstein, Names, 57; on God as friend to the world, Marmorstein, Names, 72–73, 86. God also befriends proselytes (Num. Rab. 8:4).
Jub. 19:9; 4Q176 frg. 1–2, co1. 1, line 10 (quoting Isa 41:8–9); Philo Abraham 89 (θεοφιλούς), 273; Sobriety 55; T. Ab. 1:7; 2:3, 6; 8:2; 9:7; 15:12–14; 16:3A; Apoc. Ab. 10(no earlier than second century C.E.); Apoc. Zeph. 9:4–5 (possibly a second-century Ebionite work); Mek. Pishi 18.8 (literally «beloved); Sir. 10.54–55; Gen. Rab. 65:10; Exod. Rab. 27:1; Lev. Rab. 11:7; also Jas 2:23; J Clem. 10.1, 17.2. The title is applied to Jacob in some MSS of Jos. Asen. 23:10; cf. perhaps Gen. Rab. 69(where the Shekinah мая be a friend to Jacob, apparently in third-century tradition). The title is only rarely applied to postbiblical characters (R. Ishmael in 3 En. 1:8) or biblical characters other than Abraham or Moses (Levi in Jub. 30:20–21; Cambridge Genizah Text C lines 8–9).
Philo Sobriety 55. In T. Ab. 9:2A, Michael told Abraham «everything which he had heard from the Most High» (είπεν αύτώ πάντα όσα ήκουσεν παρά του υψίστου) (ed. Stone, 20–21).
CD 3.2. Similarly, Isaac and Jacob kept God's word and came to be inscribed as friends for God (3.3–4) (אוהבים לאל).
Schnackenburg, John, 3:111.
Philo Sacrifices 130 and the texts in Barrett, John, 477; L.A.B. 23:9, 24:3, 25(amicus Do-mini); Sipre Num. 78.1.1; Exod. Rab. 45:2. Moses' special closeness to God also appears in Diaspora magical texts; see Gager, Moses, 140–45. Sib. Or. 2.245 is probably a Christian interpolation.
Moses (four times); Israel (three times); sometimes Aaron, once each for Joshua, Noah, Abraham, and the three patriarchs (Johnston, «Parables,» 591).
See comment on 1:14–18.
See Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 236; in ancient texts, Homer I1. 6.212–231; Cicero Fam. 13.34.1.
Mitchell, «Friends,» 259, citing Cicero Amtc. 6.22; Aristotle N.E. 8.11.6, 1161a. Xenophon Cyr. 1.6.45 warns that those who treat potential friends as «slaves» will suffer justly. Slaves could not be friends in Aristotle N.E. 8.11.6–7, 1161b.
Philo Migration 45; cf. Seneca Dia1. 1.5.6. The contrast between the image of «friends» and «slaves» in general is common, e.g., Sallust Jug. 102.6–7 (allies vs. subjects).
Contrast Bousset's overemphasis, which misses the context, on the «not servants» paradigm as a possibly anti-Pauline Christ mysticism (Kyrios Christos, 211–12).
Carson, Discourse, 105–6.
With Schnackenburg, John, 3:111.
Cf., e.g., Socrates' disciples in Socrates Ep. 20.
Wis 8describes her as a μύστις, an initiate into Mysteries; this is related to God's special love for her and her living with him (8:3).
Some third-century C.E. paganism portrays personal knowledge of a deceased hero by conversation rather than dependence on dreams and visions, but this might reflect the spreading influence of early Christian spirituality (cf. Maclean and Aitken, Heroikos, lxi-lxii, lxxvi).
Hays, Vision, 154, comments on the remarkably egalitarian language here and its implications for the meaning of leadership in John's community.
It is a title in Luke 12(though stylistically a Lukan preference); cf. the charge in Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34.
Esp. in Luke-Acts (Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2,24; 6:5; 15:7); of the poor in Jas 2:5.
Morris, John, 676.
On predestination, see comment on 3:19–21.
E.g., T. Ab. 2:3A. See fuller comment on 8:39–40. Abraham could share this chosen status with others, such as Jacob and Moses (Num. Rab. 3:2).
Also rehearsed annually in the Passover haggadah, if these details were in wide use by the end of the first century (m. Pesah. 10:4).
Glasson, Moses, 75; cf. Lacomara, «Deuteronomy,» 72; Lee, Thought, 169.
Lightfoot, Gospel, 292; Brown, John, 2:664–65. Barrett, John, 478, suggests a Semitizing construction.
Sanders, John, 342.
Lee, Thought, 254.
Dowd, «Theology,» 325, believes that both 15and 15equate fruit bearing «with receiving answers to petitionary prayer.»
Becker, «Abschiedsreden,» 236–41, esp. 239, noting that it emphasizes ecclesiology more than Christology.
Argued by Segovia, «Addition.»
One мая compare the sectarian fundamentalism of some early-twentieth-century groups in the United States (some amillennial, but largely dispensational) who felt cut off from previous access to society and hence felt the need to form an alternative and defensive subculture (see briefly Noll, History, 373–86; Marsden, Fundamentalism; Gaustad, History, 395–99), or pockets of marginalized minority religious subcultures in various parts of the world today. Early Christian literature provides not a single unified model of Christian relations to society but divergent models representing divergent social settings.
Among fully sectarian groups, see, e.g., 1QS 1.18; 2.19; 3.22; 4.20; 1QM 1.6; 14.9; CD 1.5; 6.10; lQpHab 5.7–8; among others, e.g., t. Tacan. 3:14; Gen. Rab. 98:7; probably also those represented in Ferch, «Aeons»; Bowman, Documents, ii. Even philosophers distinguished themselves (not for apocalyptic reasons) from the masses (e.g., Philo Abraham 38).
Cf. Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 237–39, on in-groups and out-groups.
See Brown, John, 2:694; Evans, John, 166.
Schlier, «Geist,» 106.
Flusser, Judaism, 489.
See, e.g., Baum, Jews, 124; Hickling, «Attitudes,» 353–54.
See Whitacre, Polemic, 6.
Berg, «Pneumatology,» 164–65.
Apparently a popular proverb (Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua, 229; see comment on 13:16).
Blomberg, Reliability, 209, points out that the sense in 15is very similar to its use in Synoptic contexts (Matt 10:24; Luke 6:40).
Hanson, Gospel, 185–86, finds an allusion to Isa 66in 15:18–19; although this is plausible (especially if connected with John 16:2), it is by itself unclear, especially since John's explicit citation (15:25) points elsewhere.
E.g., Bruce, John, 313 (citing Tacitus Ann. 15.44.5 on the Christians).
E.g., (Ps.-)Lysias Or. 9.13, §115; this could lead to prosecution in a court (9.10, §115) or at least denunciation (e.g., Aeschines Timarchus 193–195; Cicero Pro Scauro 17.38); see further Marshall, Enmity, 67–69. Cf. the contrast between political rivalry and friendship in Valerius Maximus 2.9.6a (though friends could also be rivals, Philostratus Hrk. 27.4).
For Gentile anti-Judaism, see, e.g., Josephus Ag. Ap. 2; Philo Flaccus 1, 47, 85; CPJ 1:24–25; 2:36–55, §153; 3:119–21, §520; Sib. Or. 3.271–272; Horace Sat. 1.5.100–101; Juvenal Sat. 14.96–106; Quintilian 3.7.21; Tacitus Hist. 5.1–5.
See esp. Marshall, Enmity, 35–69 (for invective and shaming enemies, see 46–69). Even Pythagoras reportedly permitted repudiating friendships in the case of a serious vice (Iamblichus V.P. 22.102; 33.232).
Segovia, Farewell, 179. As Malina and Rohrbaugh, John, 87, note, «hatred» was not primarily an internal feeling, as it is understood in modern Western thought.
Also, e.g., Pesiq. Rab. 21:2/3.
Brown, John, 2:687. Cf. Rev 2:3, 13; 3:8.
Sometimes a person could, on the condition of securing immunity, denounce others and let them be executed–whether or not the confession was true (Thucydides 6.60.2–5; Plutarch Alc 21.2–4; without immunity, cf. Josephus War 1.498).
E.g., Appian C.W. 4.4.26; Valerius Maximus 3.3.ext.7; cf. also claims about the Iberians (Strabo Geog. 3.4.18; Valerius Maximus 2.6.11). For other instances of slaves' loyalty, e.g., Appian R.H. 7.1.2; 8.3.17; slaves who defended their master's life deserved freedom and great reward (Cicero Mi1. 22.58). DeSilva, Honor, 115,144, compares the honorable behavior of sharing a patron-friend's suffering (Seneca Ep. Luci1. 81.27; Benef. 4.20.2; 4.24.2).
With, e.g., Swete, Discourse, 99; Blomberg, Reliability, 209.
Berg, «Pneumatology,» 270.
This text does not exonerate those who did not see or hear him, as if negating the Gospel's earlier statements that the world stands condemned before his coming (3:17–18) or that Jesus is the only way to the Father (14:6); πρόφασις simply means «pretext» (Whitacre, John, 382–83, note).
Prov 26:26; Sir 11:27–28; Isocrates Demon. 17, Or. l;Diodorus Siculus 14.1.1–2; Livy 3.36.1 Aulus Gellius 12.11; cf. 1Tim 5:24–25; Matt 10:26–27; b. Sotah 22b; Exod. Rab. 8:2; Num. Rab. 9cf. delayed judgment in Babrius 127; Sib. Or. 3.258–260; 'Abot R. Nat. 39A; 44, §123B; Num. Rab. 19:6; 2 Clem. 16.3.
Lacomara, «Deuteronomy,» 68–70, compares God's signs in ancient Israel; in view of their absence in this Gospel, Richardson's finding the sacraments in 15(Theology, 378) is improbable.
M. cAbod. Zar. 3:4; see further the comment on 10:34. Torah was one of two or three divisions of Scripture (e.g., 4 Macc 18:10; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 12:13; see more fully the comment on John 1:45) but in the general sense included the whole (e.g., 3 En. 48D:4; Sipre Deut. 32.5.12) and even extrapolations (e.g., t. Ber. 6:19).
Cf, e.g., Carson, Discourse, 125.
Appeals to defend the law against other Jews who would betray it in collaboration with the Romans stir nationalistic sentiments (Josephus Life 135).
E.g., Grayston, Gospel, 134.
Beasley-Murray, John, 276; Hanson, Gospel, 187. Comparing also Matt 27and Rom 15:3, Blomberg, Reliability, 210, suggests that «a dominical origin» helps account for Ps 69's widespread early Christian use.
Philo мая portray the Logos as flowing from God like wine (Dillon, «Logos,» citing Unchangeable 155–158; Dreams 2.249); but if a fluid image is intended here (not demanded by the verb but possible on analogy with Rev 22:1), the sense мая follow from the frequent OT image of the Spirit being poured like water (e.g., Prov 1:23; Isa 32:15; Ezek 39:29; Joel 2:28). In any case, the image in context мая address the Spirit's mission (cf. 8:42; 13:3; 16:27; Barrett, John, 482), not the ontology of the Trinity, and hence мая prove textually irrelevant to the ftlioque controversy that officially divided the Eastern and Western churches in later centuries.
«When he comes» further underlines the connection between the Spirit and Jesus (4:25. who also «announces» (άναγγελεί) things to his people (4:25; cf. 16:13–15).
Boke, Witness, 153, argues that the Spirit does not plead the cause of the disciples with God or the world but is Christ's advocate, «pleading Christ's cause with the disciples and, in a different but closely related sense, with unbelievers.»
E.g., Pesiq. Rab. 35:3; Matt. 12:41–42; cf. the same principle in Mek. Pisha 1:81–82; 3 En. 4:3; 'Abot R. Nat. 6A; "Abot R. Nat. 12, §30B (later tradition transferred this from Akiba to Hillel, b. Yoma 36b). Cf. Enoch in Jub. 4:18, 19, 22; 10:17.
Isaacs, «Spirit,» 405. Athenian juries were to execute judgment «in place of the gods» as well as on their own behalf (speaker in Demosthenes Or. 59, Against Neaera 126).
Plutarch Apol1. 14, Mor. 108E (of the deity); Oracles at Delphi 22, Mor. 405A; Nicias 6.3; 2Macc 3:36; I En. 104:11,105:1; T. Ab. 11(perhaps late use as «martyr»).
Widely held, e.g., Meeks, Prophet-King, 65 (relating μαρτυρία and κρίσις in Johannine texts); Trites, Witness, 78–127; cf. Caird, Revelation, 18; Harvey, Tria1.
Trites, Witness, 4–15
On the LXX, see Trites, Witness, 20–47, esp. 35–47 on Isa 40–55; in rabbinic literature, 231–39; on other Jewish texts, 48–65. In Pesiq. Rab Kah. 24:15, God himself witnesses against evildoers and on behalf of the righteous; the attribution is to R. Eliezer ben R. Jose the Galilean.
Bürge, Community, 204–5. Franck, Revelation, 52, thinks the usage in 15is too broad to be forensic, although he earlier acknowledged a forensic context for the Paraclete.
Contrast, e.g., Berrouard, «Paraclet,» 388. The earthly tribunals become an all-encompassing theological motif in John, however; cf. Zerwick, «Wirken,» 226.
Berg, «Pneumatology,» 181, although he admits (p. 170) that the saying мая not originally derive from the same material as its context. Forestell, «Paraclete,» 165, and others are right that this saying could be removed from its context «without disturbing the sequence of thought between 15and 16:4»; this is not the same, however, as supposing that the saying does not make good sense in this context, purposely bracketed with material about the world's hostility, at whatever stage it came to be there. The contention that the Paraclete sayings in John 15–16 are substantially different from those in ch. 14 and are thus secondary (e.g., Müller, «Parakletenvorstellung,» 65–75) is not persuasive, basing itself on a small sampling of material and variations that are common enough in Johannine rhetoric (cf. Chevallier, «Filioque,»; also the scholars cited in Berg, «Pneumatology,» 175). (Jesus is, of course, the Spirit sender in John; see, e.g., Schulze-Kadelbach, «Pneumatologie,» 279; God sends his Holy Spirit in Wis 9:17.)
Euripides Bacch. 500–508, 515–518.
Cf. Josephus Ant. 4.46, where God acts on Moses' behalf (against Korah), as both judge and witness.
Lofthouse, «Spirit,» 336, uses the conceptual parallels between the two documents to suggest that their source here is Jesus' teaching.
«Witness» in 15is undoubtedly indicative, based on the parallel with 15(somewhat less securely, Westcott, John, 225, cites 3 John 12).
Thus Diodorus Siculus 4.8.5 seeks to recount Heracles' acts «from the beginning» (άπ' αρχής), i.e., starting with the first act. The phrase often signifies the beginning of the period in question (T. Ab. 15:14A; 4:13B). Socrates insisted that leaders receive training (Xenophon Mem. 4.2.6).
While this discourse probably does date from the circles that produced 1 John, the άπ' άρχής is of itself inadequate to suggest the connection (pace the suggestion in Berg, «Pneumatology,» 171 n. 26).
«Stumbling» refers to apostasy (see comment on 6:61). It is most frequent in Matthew and Mark but rare in Luke and John (probably not because of his Judean focus, as Swete, Discourse, 109, thinks).
Apart from the conflict implied in 15:26–27, it appears to fit its context loosely; see comments above on the Paraclete sayings fitting their context.
E.g., Martyn, Theology, 66–67; Pancaro, Law, 247ff.; Berrouard, «Paraclet,» 361.
See Dodd, Tradition, 410; Beasley-Murray, John, 277–78.
Bultmann, John, 555, on 16:2.
Hare, Persecution, 41.
Philo Spec. Laws 1.54–55 (the interpretation is debatable); t. Sank. 11(although R. Eleazar ben Zadok's view was a minority position; see m. Sanh. 8:7); 3Macc 7.
Hare, Persecution, 41.
Amoraic traditions speak of executing Jesus' disciples (e.g., b. Sanh. 43a, in Herford, Christianity, 90–95), but this мая reflect rabbinic wish rather than fact. Martyn, Theology, 80–81, suggests that Ben Stada, said to be executed in rabbinic literature, was a Jewish-Christian rabbi rather than Jesus; but his evidence does not seem compelling.
Cf. Bailey, Peasant Eyes, 75. On Justin, see also Flannery, Anguish, 28.
See Marshall, Enmity, 56–61.
See Flannery, Anguish, 28.
See, e.g., the discussion in Setzer, Responses, 172, including Justin's claim that other peoples carried out the synagogue curses (Dia1. 96.2).
See ÓNeal, «Delation»; corrupt leaders cultivated abuse of informers (e.g., Herodian 7.3.2; 7.6.4).
Pliny Ep. 10.96–97; cf. Hemer, Letters, 67. Johnson, "Delatorum" suspects political reasons for the accusations, rooted in intraurban factionalism and city rivalries.
Setzer, Responses, 114, doubts the specific claims of Mart. Po1. 17.2; 18.1. But such claims at the least reflect some early Christians' expectations concerning some leaders in the synagogue community.
On such courts, see sources in Keener, Matthew, 322–23, on Matt 10:17.
Derrett, «Cursing,» compares 1Cor 12with the Spirit's help in confessing Christ during excommunication; but this мая be an anachronistic reading of 1Cor 12.
On the heavenly court, see, e.g., Keener, «Court»; it became dominant in Amoraic texts ('Abot R. Nat. 32A; b. cAbod. Zar. 36a; B. Mesica 75a; 85b; 86a; Git. 68a; Mat 13b; Pesah. 53b; Sabb. 129b; p. Sanh. 1:1, §4; 11:5, §1; Gen. Rab. 49:2; 64:4; Exod. Rab. 12:4; 30:18; Lev. Rab. 11:8; 24:2; 29:1, 4; Num. Rab.3:4; 18:4; 19:3; Ruth Rab. 4:3,5; Ecc1. Rab. 1:11, §1; 2:12, §1; 5:11, §5; Song Rab. 3:11, §2; Pesiq. Rab Kah. 23:4; 24:11; Pesiq. Rab. 15:19).
Publilius Syrus 698 (tam de se iudex iudicat quam de reo).
Ps 106:30–31; cf. 1Macc 2:24–26,54; Philo Confusion 57; Moses 1.304; m. Sanh. 9(by allusion); b. Sanh. 82b; Num. Rab. 21:3; see comment on John 2:17. Cf. here similarly Culpepper, John, 217; Talbert, John, 218; Whitacre, John, 386.
Because shame was corporate (e.g., Derrett, Audience, 40), the misbehavior of some members of the group reflected on the entire group.
Fenton, John, 164.
His language for returning to God, who sent him, would be familiar (Raphael in Tob 12:20, though using αναβαίνω and άποστείλαντα). None of them asked where he was going because his previous answers had been so emphatic–even if they continued to appear obscure (14:4–9; cf. 16:28–29).
This could be a case of paralipsis, in which one goes on to precisely what one claims to avoid saying (Rhet. ad Herenn. 4.27.37), but Jesus' words become no harsher than the earlier 16:2.