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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

The Church and the World.

17. These things I command you that ye love one another. |These things| are all the precepts the Lord had spoken since the interview began with chapter XIII. It is remarkable how frequently and with what emphasis he enforces this duty. Indeed, to fill the heart with earnest, active love, love to God and to man, is the great end of the mission of Christ. |We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.| 1 John 3:14. See also Matt.22:37-40; Rom.13:8-10; 1 Cor., chapter XIII, etc. In the next verse the powerful need of his disciples being indissolubly bound together by love is pointed out in the fact that they shall be hated by the world. (Joh 15:18)

18. If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me. The world, as used by the Savior, means the unconverted, unspiritual, sensual, selfish and worldly portion of mankind, nearly all of our race at the time that he spoke. Of that world the spirit of evil was the prince, and the kings and rulers of the earth were his willing servants. When the Lord was about to begin his ministry the prince of the world tempted him with the offer of worldly glory and empire, and when the offer was rejected became his bitter enemy. The world hated him because he rebuked its sins, rejected him and crucified him. His disciples, who bear his likeness, have his spirit and speak his words, will also be a constant rebuke to the lusts and wrongs of the world and, hence, will not enjoy its favor. When they are hated they can remember that the world hated their Lord also. (Joh 15:19)

19. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own. It is the nature of all intelligent persons to love best what is in sympathy with themselves. Christ loves most tenderly the disciples who obey his commandments and seek to be like him. The world loves those best that are in harmony with its ambitions, aims and pleasures. Hence, when the church lowers itself to a worldly standard, is complaisant toward sin, and full of the worldly spirit, it will not come into collision with the world. It is the servants who are |chosen out of the world,| who are not of the world and who testify against it, that it hates. This has been illustrated in all ages. John the Baptist and Christ might have chosen smooth paths that would have secured worldly favor, but their rebukes of sin brought them to death, and in every generation the faithful servants, such men as Huss, Waldo, Wickliffe, Savonarola, Luther, Roger Williams, and the great army of martyrs, have been hated and persecuted. See chapter 7:7 where Christ shows that the world cannot hate those who act in accordance with its worldly policy and principles, and also, 1 Peter 4:12, 13; 1 John 3:13, 14, and 4:4, 5. (Joh 15:20)

20. Remember the word, . . . The servant is not greater than his lord. For this admonition to which the Lord refers see John 13:16; Matt.10:24; Luke 6:40. The servants who represent the Master, show his spirit, obey his commands and do his work, must expect similar treatment to that which the world would award to the Master himself. They represent a spirit and policy that comes into direct collision with the world. Those who would persecute the Lord will persecute the disciples also. Those who would receive the Lord's words will also receive and keep their words also. Some will persecute; others will accept the gospel. The disciple must expect both results, persecution and glad reception. This has been the experience of all devoted proclaimers of the gospel, from Paul down to our own day. See in Paul's experience, Acts 13:42-45. (Joh 15:21)

21. All these things will they do unto you for my name's sake. The name of Christ, so sweet to his followers, is an object of hatred to his enemies. Not many months passed after these words were uttered until those that now heard Christ were under arrest by the Sanhedrim and were asked by the high priest, |By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?| Then Peter answered, |By the name of Jesus Christ, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand before you whole.| Then, after a conference, the Sanhedrim |commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus| (Acts, chapter IV). Again, Acts 5:28, |The high priest asked, Did we not straitly charge that you should not teach in this name?| And they departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (verse 41). See also 1 Pet.4:14 and Rev.3:8. What was true of the first age of persecution has been true of later ages. The Roman emperor, Diocletian, declared that he |would abolish the Christian name from the face of the earth.| The infidel Convention of France, at the time of the Reign of Terror, tried to destroy all that would recall his name, and there is nothing that excites the animosity of the haters of Christ more intensely than his name. One ground of the intense hatred of the Jews to |the name| was that Jesus proclaimed himself to be the Christ predicted by the prophets, and the use of this |name| was a constant indictment of them for crucifying the |Holy One| of Israel. They had rejected him because they knew not God, God who had sent Jesus into the world, though they professed to honor him. (Joh 15:22)

22. If I had not come and spoken . . . they would not have had sin. There are three principles involved in this declaration.1. The degree of sin is determined by the measure of our opportunities. Those in total darkness cannot be blamed for not seeing unless they are responsible for being in the darkness. Those who have had no light from heaven will be lightly judged for breaking laws of which they could have no knowledge.2. Increased opportunities bring the consciousness of sin. A ray of sunlight in the chamber reveals, but does not create, the motes. They were there before. So, too, the motions of sin in the soul are imperfectly recognized until the light comes, but in that light they are seen to be sin, and the conscience is alive to sin. |Without the law sin is dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.| Rom.7:8, 9. So the knowledge of Christ, flooding the soul with light, brings sin into full view and takes away all excuse for continuance therein. Henceforth it is known, conscious sin.3. The sin of sins is the rejection of Christ. He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He has not only shed his blood to cleanse from all sin, but comes to men and pleads with them to let him be their Savior. He who refuses him chooses, deliberately chooses sin, as his portion. He declares by the rejection of Christ that he clings to his sins and will abide by their consequences. He not only willfully retains his past sins but he adds to them the fearful sin of rejecting heaven's offer of mercy as embodied in the gospel. By the rejection of Christ he shows himself a stubborn and determined rebel against the King of kings. Had heaven offered no mercy, showed no love, sent no Lamb of God to take away sin, there might have been less, or even no responsibility for sin, because many were so in darkness that they knew not sin, but now they have no cloke for their sin. There is no excuse for it, no shelter, no covering, nothing that can extenuate sin. Ignorance might be an excuse, but when the offer of pardon is made and refused ignorance cannot be pleaded. Christ's offer takes away every excuse and leaves the sinner at the judgment day to the sentence of condemnation. Men are lost because |they will not have life.| Luther says: |No man shall die in his sins, except him who, through unbelief, thrusts from him the forgiveness of sin, which, in the name of Jesus Christ, is offered to him. This is the real sin that contains all others. For if the word of Christ was received every sin would be forgiven and remitted, but since men will not receive it this constitutes a sin which is not to be forgiven.| (Joh 15:23)

23. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. This follows from the fact that Christ is Immanuel, God with us, the manifestation of the Father. As Christ is revealed to us, so is the Father. Every one who hates God in Christ, hates the Father who sent him. The Jews thought they did not, but they did. They knew not God, but worshiped another god whom their own imaginations had created. Christ was the manifestation of the God of their Fathers, but when they saw him they hated him. (Joh 15:24)

24. If I had not done . . . they had not had sin. The attestation of his divine mission was such that they were without excuse. His whole life work, including his sinlessness, his beneficence, his divine teaching and his superhuman signs, were such as no man had ever shown. They therefore demonstrated that he was more than man. Sometimes cavilers call for a scientific argument that Jesus is divine. The Savior here gives it. The syllogism is as follows: 1. No man that ever lived was sinless, was a teacher who never erred, or unlocked the portals of the dead, or made those whose souls were dead, live again as new creatures in a new and beautiful life.2. Jesus of Nazareth did and does all these things.3. Therefore, he is more than man and is divine. (Joh 15:25)

25. They hated me without a cause. He had just stated that |they hated both him and his Father.| This hatred was without any justifiable cause, and therefore fulfilled of Psalm 35:19. |These words (Christ's words from verse 21 to 26) are perhaps the most terrible words in the Old or New Testament. No description of divine punishment which is written anywhere can come into the least comparison with them in awfulness or horror. This gratuitous hatred, this hatred of Christ by men because they hate God, this hatred of God because he has manifested himself and proved himself to be love, is something which passes all our conception, and yet which would not mean anything to us if our conscience did not bear witness that the possibility of it lies in ourselves. Such a hatred is only possible to nations which, like the Jewish, is full of religious knowledge and of religious profession.| -- Maurice. (Joh 15:26)

26. When the Comforter is come. For discussion of the Comforter, his nature and work, see notes on the preceding chapter. In chapter 14:26, he says that the Father will send the Comforter in his name, while here he says that he will send him from the Father. These passages are in harmony and merely show how intimate the union between the Father and the Son. What one does the other may be said to do, for the same mind is in each. Christ often emphasized the fact that what he did and said was done by the Father. In Acts 2:33, when this promise was first fulfilled, Peter declared that it was Christ |which hath shed forth this, which you now see and hear.| Which proceedeth from the Father. Christ attributes all the blessed and redemptive powers to his Father as the final cause. As he came himself from the Father so the Holy Spirit is from the Father. He is called the Spirit of God, and also the Spirit of Christ (Rom.8:9; Gal.4:6; Phil.1:19; 1 Peter 1:11.) He shall testify of me. One principal office of the Spirit is to testify of Christ. See chapter 16:13-15. Nor is it difficult to ascertain how the Spirit testifies. Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the apostles |spake as the Spirit gave them utterance.| Testimony is given in words, or by acts, and the Spirit speaks through the saints whom he chooses as his agents. Hebrews 10:15, 16, shows how the Spirit bears witness: |Whereof the Holy Spirit is a witness to us; for after that he said before, This is the covenant,| etc. The words which the Holy Spirit |said before| and by which he became |a witness| were spoken by the prophet Jeremiah. There is not an example recorded in the Bible of the Spirit testifying otherwise than in words spoken by those moved by his power, and in the lives of those in whom he dwells. I emphasize this fact because there is much idle speculation and error on the subject. (Joh 15:27)

27. Ye also shall bear witness. The apostles were double witnesses. They had been with Christ |from the beginning| and knew all the facts. If he had been a deceiver they would have known it. If he was true they knew it. When he was risen they were witnesses of the fact. If they had never received the Comforter they could have been witnesses of the facts of his life, death and resurrection. But when the Holy Spirit was given, the dark things made plain, the Scriptures understood, power from on high sent upon them, and when they could speak with tongues and work miracles, then also the Holy Spirit in them bore witness. There was their witness as men, eleven competent witnesses to every fact, and then in addition there was the divine witness through them. They still testify, and added to this, there are those in whom Christ dwells by his Spirit. Every true Christian life is a witness to the living power of Christ. It must be kept clearly in mind that there is not the slightest intimation in the Scriptures of a testimony independent of those who have received the Spirit through the acceptance of Christ.

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