John 15:18-25 – The World Versus Jesus and His Apostles


John 13-17 contain Jesus’ personal conversation to the eleven disciples before he departs from them and goes to the cross. In chapters 13 and 14, Jesus gave his command to the disciples to love one another – that is the mark of a true disciple – it is a love that is modeled by Jesus’ love for the Father. In chapter 15, Jesus taught the disciples to feed on his words, learn from him, shape their prayers around him and find true joy through him!



  • Verses 18-19 – The disciples do not belong to the world
  • Verses 20-21 – The disciples represent Jesus
  • Verses 22-25 – Knowledge of God leads to knowledge of sin?
  • Verses 26-27 – Knowledge of God must go out.

Verses 18-19 “If the world hates you…” Jesus points out in these verses that belonging to Jesus means that you no longer belong to the world. This is not pointing to a kind of physical isolation like we are to retreat to the hills and live in a commune but that we should begin to see that belonging to Jesus makes us different. We are on a different trajectory. We have the Spirit of Truth living within us – the world is under the power of the prince of this world (John 14:17,30). To expect a unity between these two powers is foolish.

It could be good to think of a few different aspects of our interaction with the world in order to discuss the truth of this:

  • Transforming your own mind. What I mean is what goes on in your head and how you might battle from within to follow Jesus versus doing as the world does. Growing in Christian maturity includes transforming our minds: Philippians 3:15-21; Romans 12:2.
  • Relating with people around us. Family, friends and people in the marketplace will not know that you are a Christian until you show them your commitment to following Jesus – loving and living for Jesus. Once that is made known (by words and/or action) then we will experience tension in those relationships if they don’t share the love for Jesus as you do.
  • Listening to the media and public debate. TV chat shows, online media, blogs, newspapers and even billboards shout out love for everything but Jesus. What Jesus challenges us with in this passage is to aim for finding the friends of Jesus rather than making friends with the world. We can’t expect to win the world over to the way that Jesus thinks but we can expect to see people saved when we continue to reach out. Don’t be surprised that public opinion or the loudest voices appear to hate what Christians think. This is not a new thing.

Verses 20-21 “…for they do not know the one who sent me.” Here is another remarkable separation between Christians and the rest of the world: knowledge of God. I don’t just mean an awareness or thought that there is a God. I mean knowing him. Jesus said: “this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

“Remember: a servant is not greater than his master…” – this is a great reflection to have in our minds. Following Jesus is not a path to fame and popularity. If you want those things, abandon Jesus. Jesus promises conflict, persecution and rejection. But what is the greater treasure? The cost of being a disciple is important to communicate with people. Matthew 6:19-33 is an excellent passage to remind us about two possible masters: loving this world, or loving Jesus.

Verses 22-25 “…they would not be guilty of sin.” (Compare this with John 9:40-41) Although it appears as though Jesus is calling ignorance bliss, the context of his words AND the rest of the bible point to this: if I had not come and spoken, you would not be asked to judge if you love Jesus or not. But I have come and so you are guilty when you choose the world over Jesus. J.C. Ryle says, “to have heard [Jesus] and not believed will increase their condemnation.”

The key is looking at all verses from 22-25 and seeing that it is sinful to reject Jesus. Who are the ‘they’? Given that it is ‘they’ whom Jesus performed miracles or works in front of, then the ‘they’ are the Jews.

Verses 26-27 – “I will send…” Rather than keeping the news about Jesus secret – as if that were a means of saving the world from sin – Jesus wants the Spirit to go out and the disciples to go out and to tell the world everything they know about Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who testifies or bears witness about Jesus. He will go out from the Father to lead people into truth.

The disciples listening to Jesus in this chapter are commanded to go out and tell the world about Jesus especially because they have been with Jesus from the beginning. This is part of the description of the Apostles’ credentials. In Acts 1, Peter stood up and looked to replace Judas with another who had ‘been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us…” Acts 1:21-22.


The disciples are commissioned by Jesus to go out and teach the world about Jesus. They will have the Spirit with them but they must know that the world will not open up their arms to embrace them. The reality check for Christians is that choosing Jesus also means being alienated from this world. But to choose the world over Jesus is to be guilty of sin.


  • Mental check: Do you aim to be loved by both God and this world? You may like to read Luke 9:57-62 to hear Jesus’ challenge to those who wish to follow Jesus.
  • Consider Jesus’ words in verse 20 and ask yourself: do I treat Jesus like he is my servant or my master?
  • Pray for one another concerning conflict with the world in ways which are real and personal.


Almighty God, please give us strength and courage to love you more than this world. Please help us to love the world by being brave enough to talk about Jesus. Amen.

John 15:1-17 True Danger, True Disciple, True Love


Jesus is speaking alone with his eleven followers (Judas Iscariot has left the building). In chapter 14, he declared that if they love him, then they will keep his commands. The test of a follower appears to reside in listening and obeying – love in action. In chapter 15, Jesus fleshes this out some more to talk about how disciples are made, shaped and grown.

Read John 15:1-17


What it says over and over again:

Jesus is like a vine and we are like branches. Branches detached from the vine are only good for firewood. Branches connected will live, bear fruit, be cared for and will love the vine. We need to be and stay connected to Jesus.

Questions that arise:

What fruit does Jesus have in mind? What does the gardener’s pruning involve? How do you know if you are connected to Jesus or not? How real is Jesus offer to give us anything we ask? Is Jesus being clear or unclear? Is it possible to sum up Jesus’ teaching here so that we know for sure what he is saying? How can we take these words and live it? That is, how can I adopt these words beyond theory? How do they affect me?


  • 1-4 Jesus is the vine and the Father is the gardener
  • 5-10 Jesus is the vine and you are the branches
  • 11-17 Listen to why I have told you this

Notice that the NIV places the structure change at verse 9 probably picking up on the theme of love that runs through verses 9-15. But the information in verses 9 and 10 continues the theme of remaining in Jesus who remains in the Father. We could stick with the NIV structure; however, doing so seems to camouflage the impact of verse 11.

Verses 1-4:

‘I am the true vine…’ Jesus has not just invented a metaphor out of the blue. The image of the vine and the vineyard has strong Old Testament influences. The story of the vine is a story of the blessing and cursing of God. The following is only a sample of ‘vine’ passages from the bible…

Genesis 49:22 is the beginning of the blessings to Joseph. He is described as a vine and a fruitful one. It turns out that he is fruitful because of the hand of the Almighty, the Shepherd and Rock of Israel (24-26).

Searching through the bible for uses of the word ‘vine’ make it clear that having a healthy vineyard is a sign of God’s blessing. There are too many vineyard references to mention all of them. Going into the promised land, for example, promised the people healthy vineyards that produced good fruit. From Genesis to Joshua, the attention of the vine is quite literal – there will be good living in the promised land.

Psalm 80 describes the people of Israel as a vine that has been transplanted from Egypt, and cared for. The vine is now being used as a metaphore for the people of God. God is the gardener who will tear down the vine if it is not bearing fruit.

Psalm 105:33 describes the destruction of the vines as one sign of judgement.

Isaiah 3:14 again describes Israel as a vineyard whom the elders and leaders have ruined – they have not taken care of the vineyard.

Isaiah 5 contains, most applicably, a song about a vineyard. The whole chapter is worth reading as this is perhaps the height of the allusion that Jesus describes in John 15. Isaiah sees a whole vineyard which contains bad vines. Jesus sees just one vine – the true vine – a good and healthy vine which produces good branches and good fruit.

Ezekiel too uses the image of the vine to describe God and his people: Ezekiel 15 teaches us that even the precious vine will be thrown into the fire when it is detached – the people of God will receive God’s judgement for being a useless, dead vine. And Ezekiel 17 is a useful passage but not a good one to get bogged down in. It describes Israel again as a vine which has been taken away and yet a new seed will be planted which will produce a great tree – one that many people will come and take shelter in.

The story of the vine and the vineyard is one of blessing for the people of God who listen and love the LORD and a mark of judgement when they do not.

Zechariah 8:12 is one of many passages which promise again that the people of Israel will enjoy fruitful vines again when God restores his people.

The vineyard and the vine, therefore, are bound up with the promises of God to bless the people of God. Although Israel was described as the vineyard, they were unable to bear good fruit and so were torn down. When Jesus says, ‘I am the true vine,’ he is saying that he stands in the place of Israel to be what they failed to be. The rest of John 15 invites us to choose to join with Jesus or to stand alone. The invitation is clear and the consequences of refusing it is not hard to see either.

‘…my Father is the gardener.’ Insert this phrase into the discussion about the vine and you see that the Father of Jesus is the one who has been planting and transplanting and pruning and cutting throughout the Old Testament. The Father of Jesus, therefore, is the God of the Old Testament.

‘He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…’ Verses 2-4 give a reminder of how important it is for vines to bear fruit. The gardener will ensure it bears fruit by pruning what is not working and to mould or encourage the plant in the right direction. In verse 2, the object of the pruning is really Jesus since he is the vine and the Father is the gardener who prunes the vine. Before we move on to verse 3, we can pause to realise that Jesus is involved deeply in the whole process of bearing fruit – even when it hurts.

‘You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.’ This line doesn’t quite fit the analogy of the vine. It fits more the scene in chapter 13 when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Our passage this week speaks of the words of Jesus in connection with being clean (v3) and of how Jesus is to remain in us (v7). Salvation from being cast aside by the Father’s wrath is by listening to Jesus and continuing to listen to him.

‘Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.’ We see that the disciples are now brought into the metaphor and the part they play is the branches of the vine. But no branch on its own is useful for anything. The vine is subject to the gardener and the branch must depend and be subject to the vine.

The warning in verses 1-4 are that the Father is actively clearing out the branches that do not bear fruit and the only way to bear fruit is to be attached to the vine and prepared for pruning by the Father. The gardener is only mentioned once but his reference makes the focus of this section.

Verses 5-10:

‘I am the vine; you are the branches.’ If verses 1-4 are about the gardener, these verses are about the branches. The attention in this section is on the branches and on how they can remain in the vine. Let’s list in bullet point what Jesus says in this section…

  • attached branches will bear fruit – these are healthy branches (v5)
  • unattached branches can do as much as a dead person can – nothing (v5)
  • dead branches are not left alone but are picked up and destroyed (v6)
  • Jesus remains in us by his word being in us (v7)
  • The prayers of a true disciple are heard and answered (v7)
  • The Father is glorified when we remain in Jesus and ask with his word in us (v8)
  • A disciple is known by these ingredients: listening to Jesus, and asking to bear good fruit (v8)
  • Jesus has loved us equal to the Father loving Jesus (v9)!
  • Remaining in Jesus is by keeping his commands (v10)
  • Thus, when we keep Jesus commands and listen to his words, we can ask and receive to the glory of the Father! (v10,7,8)
  • Jesus has shown us how this works by the way he remains in the Father and the Father in him (v10)
  • Remaining in Jesus and Jesus in us is about love (v10)

When the whole of the above is analysed we see that Jesus is describing a tight relationship between you and Jesus which can be seen between Jesus and the Father. What does Jesus want? For us to listen to him and follow.

When we pray with the expectation to receive, it is with the premise that we have Jesus words and command of love in our heart and mind. Rather than sounding like a loop-hole, it is the description of something running smoothly. Put the right ingredients into a cake and you can expect the goods. Why expect to get a good cake if you have made no effort to understand what makes a good cake? Perhaps a car is a better illustration…only the right fuel and oil, placed in the right spots will make a car move smoothly. Have no respect for a car and you can’t expect to win the Piston Cup! A father will grant his son anything he asks for when the son has come with wisdom and love! These are exactly the ingredients that Jesus asks us to have in prayer: wisdom (knowing Jesus) and love (following Jesus).

Verses 11-17:

‘…so that…your joy may be complete.’ Amazing! Outcome number one of remaining in the vine is so that we avoid the disaster of judgement. But the other outcome is more brilliant: our joy! Following Jesus is like hearing the end of a brilliant story, it makes sense and makes us glow. This joy is not the same as being continually happy, like a stupid clown. It is more like contentment. This is why words like joy, peace, rest and love are used by Jesus to describe the kingdom of God instead of words like anxiety, doubt, worry and war (of course Jesus does warn that our lives will not be all rosie because of him and that will be his topic next week – but there is a joy that can only come with the gospel so that life’s worries do not overcome us).

What I am saying is this: sticking with Jesus is not anti-human and weird. It is quite the opposite. Sticking with Jesus is the most human thing that a human can do.

‘My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.’ The only law that the Christian is to follow is the law of love. And the example of love is what Jesus has shown for us.

  • Let’s again list what is contained in verses 11-17:
  • Being a disciple of Jesus results in joy (v11)
  • If you want joy, listen to Jesus’ words (v11)
  • Jesus’ joy is in us also (v11)
  • We are commanded by Jesus to love (v12)
  • This is extreme love: to regard another persons’ life as more precious than yours (v13)
  • Those who listen to Jesus’ command to love are friends of Jesus (v14)
  • As friends of Jesus, we are treated to know everything Jesus knows about the Father (v15)
  • We don’t make friends with Jesus, he makes friends with us (v16)
  • We are chosen in order to bear fruit (v16)
  • We bear fruit that will last (forever) (v16)
  • The fruit that we bear is what we ask the Father to give (v16)
  • What Jesus commands us to do is to love (v17)

Having listed the promises and instructions, we might notice that the fruit we are to bear is the fruit of love.


Like a branch only has life when it is connected to the tree, our life only exists when we are connected to Jesus. This connection is by listening to his words, to follow his example of love and to ask the Father to give us hearts that will love. Jesus saves us from hell and he gives us the full joy of true life.


  • Seek Jesus. Life or death; heaven or hell; friend of Jesus or enemy with God – which would you choose and which have you chosen? There is no in-between option.
  • Follow Jesus. Remaining in Jesus is by listening to him, learning from him and requesting God to help us be more like him. Failing to do this makes it difficult to identify a person as a true disciple.
  • Pursue love. Jesus has given us a direct command here. We may well often ask ‘what does it mean to be a Christian’ but here is one clear path: we are to love. When we find it hard to love, the passage directs us to pray and ask God for it. What others need more than anything else in this world is to have their joy made complete and being grafted into the Jesus-vine. If our prayers for others are simply for good HSC results or healing from sickness, then we leave them as dead wood in the forest waiting to be burned. We who know the love of Jesus need to capture the same urgency that Jesus had for us and we must bring people to Jesus.


Father God, we ask in the name of Jesus that you will give us great love for the lost. For our neighbours, our families, our work colleagues, and all who you put in our path – give us hearts that will speak to them on your behalf. You have chosen all who will be your friends, please introduce us to them. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

John 14:15-31 – A gift from out of this world

Give yourself a fly-by tour of the remaining chapters in John. Browse over the chapters from 14-21 and read the headings to see what is yet to happen in the book. What do you notice? What events are yet to take place? What do you notice is missing?

In this section and a few chapters following in John, Jesus has a lot to say – things that are most on his mind on the eve of his arrest and death. He will say some things that seem confusing things and some things that are quite clear. My advise is to breath in the clear advice from Jesus before being drawn into the mysterious stuff. The latter will become clearer when observed in context, so absorb the clear teachings and celebrate them in order to process the harder teachings.


John opens his book by telling us that The Word has come into the world and that whoever believes in him will be called children of God. John invites us to listen to this Word-Man, Jesus, and test if you believe him. To reject Jesus, says John, is to reject God.

Jesus performed his first sign to reveal his glory at a wedding in Cana  (chapter 2) and his last sign at a funeral in Bethany (chapter 11), also to show his glory.

During the first sign, he declared that his “hour” had not yet come (2:4). This mention of an “hour’ not yet come occurs again in 7:30 and 8:20. After the final sign, and he is again in Bethany, he declares that his hour has come (12:23). He says that the hour is for the Son of Man to be glorified. He says in 12:27 that the reason the Word became flesh was for this very hour that was now drawing upon him. In chapter 13, the Passover Festival was about to begin and Jesus knew that the hour had come:

“Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (13:1)

We pick up our study from chapter 14 onwards with these themes in our mind: that the Son of Man will be glorified, that a particular event or hour is about to strike which is exactly what the Son of Man came for, and that there will be those who believe in his name and those who will not. This distinction will be described as the difference between knowing God and not knowing God; being with God or against him; being a lover of God or not; being separate and distinct from the world or being just like the world.

In 14:10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” This statement describes a one-ness and closeness between Jesus and God the Father. It is one thing to say that “I am in the Father,” but it is quite another to say that “the Father is in me”!!!

Let’s look at 14:15-31 and look out for themes and phrases that carry all of this context forward…


(15) “If you love me, keep my commands”. Obeying commands from somebody does not demonstrate that you love them (like a soldier following orders doesn’t necessarily love his/her commanding officer). But loving someone may be demonstrated by listening and obeying (assuming that the person you love is in a position of authority and is wise).  With respect to Jesus, the eternal God, if we love him, it will be demonstrated by our submission to his authority. Jesus demonstrates his love of the Father in 10:18, 12:49-50; 14:31 and see also 18:11. Jesus gives us one specific command in 13:34; 15:12; 15:17. See also 14:21 for an expansion of 14:15.

(15-21) “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate…the Spirit of truth…and I too will love them and show myself to them.” There is a message wrapped up in this paragraph of a great love that will be poured out from God the Father and Jesus to all who love God and demonstrate that by keeping Jesus’ commands. The Spirit of truth is described as (a) an advocate (v16, ie, a supporter, or one who is for us), (b) eternal (v16), defined by truth (v17), invisible and mysterious (v17),  yet known to those he is revealed to (v17), linked with Jesus himself (v18). Verses 19-21 could be read to indicate that the Spirit’s presence in a believer is the way that Jesus is revealed to the believer. Judas questions Jesus in the next section which leads Jesus to clarify…

(22) Judas has a good question which we may still ask God today…if all this is true and wonderful, why not reveal yourself to everybody Jesus?

(23-24) “Anyone…” Anyone is welcome to love and obey Jesus’ teaching. But the reality is that not everyone will. These two verses are quite clear and yet a long slow read of them reveal some amazing truths! On the one hand, for anyone who will love Jesus, listen to his words, respond by following his instruction will be blessed by God in an amazingly intimate way! Christians are not rule followers, they are people who love Jesus and who are loved by Jesus. By loving Jesus, they are absolutely loving the Father as well and both the Father and the Son, by the Holy Spirit (v17) will live and dwell and make their home with them! On the other hand, those who will not obey Jesus, show they have no love for him and both the Father and the Son agree that there is no place for them in that person’s life.

(25-27) “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate…will remind you of everything I have said to you…” Jesus is planning to leave this world but not without making preparations for his disciples. The Spirit, the Advocate, will bring to their minds everything that Jesus has said to them. This is an assurance for the disciples and an insight for us about the writing of the new testament also.

Notice the Trinity spoken of in this verse (26): The Spirit will be sent by the Father in the name of Jesus. The Spirit will remind them of what Jesus has said. So, the Father and the Spirit are not the same person. Nor is the Spirit and Jesus. Nor is Jesus and the Father. Yet they all work together in unison and for each other. The Father will send the Spirit in Jesus name (not his own), thus elevating the name of Jesus. The Spirit’s task is to remind the disciples of everything Jesus has said, not the words of the Father or of the Spirit. And yet, elsewhere, Jesus has said that everything he says has been commanded of him by the Father. (rest your brain now and just worship)

(27) But notice even deeper that Jesus wants to leave them with peace and hearts that will not be troubled (recall 14:1). Jesus himself had been troubled when he saw the mourners outside Lazurus’ tomb (11:33), when he reflected on the reason he had come – to die on the cross (12:27), by the knowledge that one of his disciples would betray him (13:21). What ties these events together? Jesus is troubled by the effects of death and sin. But he charges his disciples now, not to be troubled. He is going to give them peace and will not really leave them. Jesus is asking his disciples to trust him.

(28-31) Read this paragraph a few times and see what stands out to you. What truths do you see? a) Jesus is a prophet who can tell his disciples what is going to happen and know that it will take place, b) Jesus is pleased to be going to the Father, c) those influenced by Satan are coming, d) Satan (the prince of this world) has no power over Jesus, e) Jesus will show his love for the Father by being obedient to him and keeping his commands (ie, subjecting himself to death as the Father has commanded him), f) Jesus asks us to do just as he is demonstrating: to love him and keep his commands. Do you see anything else in this paragraph? The command from the Father for Jesus to follow is for Jesus to love the world (John 3:16).

“Come now; let us leave” Although Jesus says this at the end of chapter 14, it seems another three chapters of Jesus speaking will pass by (15-17) before they finally leave in 18:1. If nothing else, this shows us how little time takes place over four chapters! It’s not days or half a day but almost like real-time. Like an episode of 24 when Jack Bowers says, “let’s go” but we don’t see him going till the next episode. Something like that. The pace of 14-17 is not laid back chilling out by a campfire talking…Jesus is getting ready to leave and has final things to say to his beloved disciples.


The Trinity share in a oneness which we are invited to participate in – The Father, Jesus and the Spirit are certain to love us and be with us and share with us in a way that puts human relationships to shame – but our part is to trust and obey. Will we go with Jesus? Do you want that?


  1. We can’t love and follow a person that we don’t know. Jesus calls us to get to know him and keep his commands – do as he says we should do. He has given us his Spirit to guide us into all truth AND he has equipped his disciples to recall all that Jesus has said. We have the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Talk together about how to get to know Jesus more through his word.
  2. Jesus makes a few distinctions implicitly and explicitly between his way of love and the worlds’ ways (27, 31) and makes a distinction between those in the world who will obey him and those who will not. He paints a picture of either making a home with God (23) or with the world (implied in 24). Where do you see your future? Are you pursuing your home with God now?
  3. Jesus promoted our need for an Advocate and promised the Spirit to be in us. One key distinction between those with the Spirit and those without is the desire to love God. Jesus told the Samaritan woman in chapter 4 that the Father seeks true worshippers who will worship him in spirit and in truth. We may not ‘see’ the Spirit (v17) but we know him because he brings us to Jesus with understanding and truth. Discuss together the importance of trusting Jesus when he describes the Spirit and seeing his affect on us as proof of him being present in us.


Lord Jesus Christ, we desire to know you, to love you and to follow you. Father God, we long to know you and to be at home with you. Holy Spirit, our advocate, please teach us to love and obey with all of our hearts. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.