Johann Peter Lange.

A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: online

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lightenment chap xiv. By means of this Spirit
they are to abide in Christ like the branches iu
the vine, in order to the production of true fruit
In order, first, to the production of brotherly
love, the specific fruit of Christianity. This
brings us to a oonsideration of tho mutual rela-
tionship of the disciples, and, further, to their
attitude towards the ungodly hatred of tho world.
In view of this latter, the Holy Ghost is pro-
mised them, as the Spirit of martyr faithfulness,
chap. XV 26-xvi. 6 After which, their relation
to the divine destiny of the world is treated of.
In order to the realization of this, the Spirit of
victorious strength, mighty to the overcoming of
the world, is promised them, ohap xvi. 7-11
Finally, the discourse turns upon their relation
to the development of Christianity in the world
and the development of the world in Christian*
ity, a process to continue until tho consumma-
tion of all things. In reference to this last-
named relationship, they receive the promise of
the Spirit of apocalyptical annunciation, chap,
xvi. 12-16. It is then promised them that they
shall celebrate a new life in spiritual communion
with Christ) chap xvi. 17-27, and in conclusion
t&e Lord bestows upon them a momentary fore-
taste of the Pentecostal feast, with a view to
strengthening them for His departure, chap xvi.

2. Chapter xv. contains a dissertation upon
the glorification of this present life through its
conversion into an heavenly one, by means of

Digitized by




tbat spiritual fellowship with the heavenly Christ
which is enjoyed by the disciples hero. This
heayenly life shall be reyealcKl in a two-fold
manner: (1) by the cordial' brotherly love and
fellowship of Christians; (2) by the fact that
they, by their spiritual life, excite the hatred of
the whole ungodly world, yet manfully stand
their ground against it and oTercome it with the
testimony of Christ, in th^ strength of the Holy
• Spirit.

8. Christ the beal Yimi. Earthly thingtmere
ihadowt and nmilUudes of heavenly realities, — The
most prominent symbols of Israel in the Old
Testament are the palm tree (see Ps. zcii. 12),
the oliye tree (Jer. zi. 16), and especially the
Tine, or the vineyard (see Gen. zliz. 11; Is. t.
1 and the New Testament parallels; Jcr. ii. 21 ;
Esek. ZYii. 6, 7, 8, ete.). The vino, first culti<
Tated and improved by Noah, though he was not
the first to drink of its ft>uit (Matt. zzIy. 88;
see Caliper NaturyesehichU), was especially fitted
to bo the symbol of Israel by the contrast of its
insignificant appearance and its fine and gene-
rous nature (bivscness and dignity); by the con-
trast of its immense need of culture and train-
ing and its generous fruit which not only
refreshes, but inspirits man; by thejsontrast of
its useless, dead wood and the fulness of bless-
ing which waits upon its living branches; by
the fair shade of its magnificent leaves, the sweet
perfume of its delicate blossoms, the healthful,
even healing refreshment of its generous clusters,
the festive e£fect of its juice and its wine upon
the human intellect and heart (Ps. civ.); by the
contrast of its natural tendency to put forth its
strength in luxuriant branches and its tendency
when under cultivation, to bear rich fruit;
finally, by the contrast of its misgrowth as evi-
denced by sour, wild grapes and its thriftiness
OS evinced in sweet, ripe clusters. But being
the symbol of Israel, it is also, together with
Israel itself, the symbol of the New Testament
kingdom of God. Hence Christ is the real Vine
in respect of His connection with mankind, in
particular, the believing portion of mankind, the
Theocracy, the kingdom of God, the Church. In
this figure there appears the true idea of the
universe, and particularly of the kingdom of
God. It is a noble plant ; hence it demands the
care which we perceive to have been ezercised
by divine Providence in the history of the world,
and it is destined to bring to maturity the pre-
cious fruit of refreshment to the human heart,
the fruit of the divine and blessed life of love,
the f^uit of heavenly, festal mirth and joy at-
tendant uppn that life. But the simile, as en-
larged upon in the tezt, will be our best in-
formant as to the manifold relations of the life
of Christ, adumbrated in the symbol of the vine.
Believers are regarded as the branches, in re-
spect of their close connection with the Lord.
Their need of sufifering finds a parallel in the de-
mand of the branches for the prtlning knife.
Their remaining in the Vine is considered as a
remaining in it, not in respect of the ezternal
connection of the wood simply, but in respect
of the internal connection consisting in the fruit-
bearing impulse ; in view of this latter connec-
tion, the wild wood on the vine itself is degene-
rate and must needs be lopped off. Finally,

the ezceeding combustibility of the withered
branches which have been cut off, is taken into
consideration. See the Ezbgbtical Note.

It is worthy of remark still further, that tlio
figure of the Vine has not the following for its
meaning alone: viz. tho Father hath planted
Christ in mankind; its full sense is this: He
hath made Him the foundation of mankind and
the world ; He hath made Him the principle and
the centre of them. It is apparent at once that
the parable has a special bearing upon the con-
trast of the disciples who have remained faith-
ful, and Judas.

The figure of the Vine and the Branches is
supplemented in reference to other of Christ's
relations to His people, by the symbols of the
Shepherd and the Flock, the Head and the
Members, the Corner-stone and the Stones built
upon it, the Bridegroom and the Bride.

4. Without Me ye can do nothing. The Christian
life is so entirely dependent upon Christ, so
entirely and organically dependent, that a man
can accomplish nothing Christ-like and God-
like without the most cordial connection with
Christ. We might go still further and affirm:
without the Logos no man can do anything stall,
not so much as ezist (Heb. i. 8) ; but here we are
speaking of a doing of the Vine. And as, on
the one hand, this doing is purely dependent on
Christ, so, on the other hand, it is an organic
co-living, co-working with the Vine, not a mere
efficiency through mechanical impulsion. The
passage is, in truth, utterly subversive of the
views entertained by Pelagius; at the same time,
however, it does not confirm the Augustine doc-
trine in its eztravagances.

6. Love is the source of the Vine and its
history. The Iovq of the Father to the Son ap-
pears in the figure of the Vine-tiller who haih
planted the Vine and tendeth it; the loTe of the
Son to the disciples is revealed in His appro-
priation of them to Himself as I^is branches and
His communication to them of His heart's life.
They must prove themselves to be true branches
by fruits of love. Christ now adds warnings to
the consolations hitherto presented by Uim.

6. But 04 the fire of the grape it evinced by Hi
producing a joyous enthtuiasm^ *o the fire of Cluritfi
love M manifetted m the joy of Bi* Holy ^irit;
and it is designed to be manifested as the spirit cf
joy in and through the disciples also, vers 11-17.
First as a mutual brotherly love. It is con-
jointly only that the single clusters, the single
branches, make the wine of joy.

7. Abide in My love. — /. «., continue to experi-
ence and contemplate My love. This is the idea
of justification by faith. It is conditional upon
the keeping of Christ's commandments, ie.
obedience to His word. The justification of the
disciples, ver. 9, rests in the righteousness of
Christ, ver. 10. They develop in perfect joy,
or in the life of the Holy Ghost and the ftuits
of brotherly love. See Note on clause 2 of
ver. 10.

8. Love, as joy in personal life (a prototype
of that rapture which is the effect of the vine,
Ps. civ.), is ezercised in the centering of a man's
aspirations upon the living^ of a life in the Spirit,
hence, also, upon the perfect joy of a mind fully
conscious of f^owship with God and Christ,

Digitized by


CHAPS. XV. 1-27.— XVI. 1-15.


and of the possession of eternal life in the king-
dom of love.

9. The farewell discourses a foretaste of the
Pentecostal feast. See Note on vcr. 15.

10. Servant and friend. See Notes on vers.
14 and 15.

11. Love being the gravitation of hearts and
minds, in personal conduct, towards the centre
of all personal life, it is thence evidenced that it
is a fundamental characteristic of the world to
hatey for, as an ungodlj world, it gravitates, with
a perverted force, toward the finite, toward
things impersonal or unsubstantial, out into
darkness and Into the midst of death. Hate
stands in the centre of evil betwixt falsehood
and death, just as love occupies the centre of
good between light and life. And as these last
three characteristics are the fundamental traits
of Christ, 80, in like manner, the first three
are the characteristics of the Prince of this
world (John viii. 44) and, hence, of the world
itself. Now if its peculiar propensity be to
hate, it is natural that this propensity, diame-
trically opposed as it is to the Spirit of Christ,
should first attain to full development by feed-
ing upon Him and then spend itself upon the dis-

12. The consummation of sin, in view of the
word of Christ, ver. 22. Unbelief the second

18. Promise of ike Holy Ohoet (see Note to ver.
26). The disciples have need of Him: (I) that
they may not be overcome by the hatred of the
world; (2) that they may overcome the world
with the Spirit of love.

14. The shame and sufferings of Christ fraught,
for His disciples, with the peril of becoming
offended at Him; a peril made manifest in its
full magnitude by the night of passion; ren-
dered impotent, however, as far as His people
were concerned, by His warning proclamation.
iBee Note to chap, zvi., ver. 1.

15. Christ must needs go awatfy in order that the
Holy Ghost might come. His departure was not
necessary, as some might think, simply because
He had to send Him, for He was perfectly
able to summon Him hither while Himself
still abidhig in this world; it was necessary
that His disciples should, from viewing Him with
the eye of sense, come to look upon Him with
the eye of the spirit; that they should pass
from a contemplation of separate details of
His life to the view of it as a total. He must
be completely withdrawn from them, in order
to become fully alive in them and to be formed
in them. They must first despair utterly of
His external glory, before His inward and eter-
nal glory could arise upon them. — ^They must
be completely submerged in the depths of
their inner selves, in order that they might be
fkilly translated into Him. See Leben Jesu, II.

16. The personality of the Holy Spirit. The
three great operations of the Holy Ghost at His
coming. Bee Notes on vers. 8-11.

17. The work of the Holy Ghost in its relation
to the work of Christ. See Notes on vers. 12,
13. On the theological distinction of four offices
of the Holy Ghost see works on doctrinal the-



Christ's parable of the Vine, and its interpre-
tation: 1. As expressive of the Christian's
cordial, vital fellowship with Christ; 2. of his
faithful fellowship of love with the brethren;
8. of his firm fellowship of salvation with the
hating world; 4. of his victorious spiritual fel-
lowship with the Holy Ghost. — Heavenly things
not symbols of earthly things, but the converse.
— How does Christ found His heaven upon earth ?
— Saying concerning the Vine: 1. The Vino-
dresser and His ministry; 2. the Vine and its
operations ; 8. the branches and their work ; 4.
the fruit and its effect. — The genuine and the
false branches, or the difference between a merely
extrinsic connection with Christ and a lively
connection, grounded within, at the same time
that it is outwardly evident. — The solemn posi-
tion of the Christian in the figure of the branch:

1 . Dependence upon Christ is the condition of
his life (without Me, etc.); 2. he must be purged
by the Father's knife (ver. 2) ; 8. he may lapse
from his connection with the Vine and go to
destruction (may run wild, be lopped off, cast
away, dried up, gathered, burnt); 4. he must
evidence his branchhood by the noblest fruit. —
The solemn and glorious position of the Chris-
tian in the figure of the branch: 1. The solemn
position: see the foregoing remarks; 2. the
glorious position: a. a planting of God, an ob-
ject upon which God's eye ever rests; b. one
with Christ in a historical and spiritual connec-
tion ; a pattaker in His salvation and His Spirit ;
c. one with all the faithful in the communion of
salvation and the Spirit ; d. destined to refresh
and rejuvenate the fainting world in her sickness
and hour of death. — ^The wine of love is designed
to inspire the world, worn out with hatred, with
new vigor. — The great and decisive difference
between true and false branches: 1. The out-
ward semblance of similarity (or the semblance
of superiority on the part of the wild shoots) ;

2. the inward difference: a. these spend them-
selves in the finest and most precious fruit, thoso
in the most useless wood; 6. these kindle a
beautiful fire of life, those are consumed in the
fiame of death. — As the vine is more a child of
the heavenly sun than of the earthly soil, so is
the Christian.

The abiding in Christ: 1. Whereby condi-
tioned: the keeping of His commandments, t. e. the
preservation of His word in the obedience of
faith ; 2. Wherein consisting : in abiding in the
contemplation and experience of His love; 8.
How blessed : with the blessing of the word,
with the blessing of prayer, with the blessing
of the work, of joy, of the Spirit. — Christ's love
to His people, the model for their brotherly love :
1. The greatness of His love (in laying down His
life) ; 2. the cordiality and intimacy of His love
(Mendsj; 8. the freedom of His love (chosen
you) ; 4. the holiness of His love (estaolished
you tliat ye might bring forth fruit). — It is only
in the faithful exercise of brotherly love that
Christians overcome the hatred of the world. —
The attitude of Christians towards the hatred of
the world: 1. They think on the experience of
the Lord (clear view) ; 2. on their vocation (va-

Digitized by




liant imitation^; 3. on the guilt of the world
^steadfastness in being hated without a cause);
4. on the Holy Ghost's office as Witness (faithful
martyrdom). — The world's hatred of witnesses
of the Gospel: 1. A hatred of Christ; 2. a hatred
of the Father; 8. a suicidal hatred of the cause
of her own life. — The flight of the world before
the power of personal life: 1. From the truth of
it (Pantheism) ; 2. from the demonstration of it
(unbelief ^of the Gospel); 8. from the founding
of it (turning away from the lore-kingdom of
Christianity). — The witness-ship of the faithful in
the witness-strength of the Holy Ghost: 1. This
witness-ship calls for this witness-strength; 2.
this witness-strength demands this witness-ship.
— The Lord's warning against offence at His
shame and cross. — The excommunication and
outlawry to which the world sentences the wit-
nesses of Jesus: 1. In a (brutal or polished)
secular form ; 2. in ecclesiastical form ; 3. in a
sectarian form. — That ye may remember, Ter. 4.

Christ's home-going in its two-fold effect upon
the disciples : 1. In its deeply distressing effect
upon their natural feeling; 2. in its highly ex-
alting effect upon their life of faith. — The de-
parture of the first Comforter, the arrival of the
second. — Why must it be that Christ must go
away? See the Doct. and Eth. Notes. — The
infinitely quiet and secret, and yet all-powerful,
victorious entry of the Holy Ghost into the
world. — His office 1. In tho world : an office of
attesting, couTincing, reproving and judging; 2.
in tho Church : an office of guiding, explaining,
revealing, and of glorifying Christ.

The convincing and convicting of the world :

1. In respect of its subject: a. of the one sin in
which all sins aro embraced; 6. of the one
righteousness wherein all righteo'usncss is mani-
fested and fulfilled ; e. of the one judgment in
which all judgments are decided and grounded.

2. Iti respect of its effect: the oonvincemcnt of
men's opinions, minds, consciences, hearts.

How tho Holy Ghost leads the children «of
truth into all truth : 1. Ho leads them, not away
from Christ (roving, visionary spirits), but unto
Christ (Spirit of the Church) ; 2. He adheres to
gospel words and facts and explains them (what-
soever He shall hear) ; 8. He unfolds what there
is of a prophetic nature in Christian truth — tho
love of the future; 4. He glorifies tho Christ to
•come in the present of the Church's life. — The
Holy Ghost tm the Mediator of tho perfect com-
munity of possessions existiog between Christ
and Christians. — How He conducts them into the
<who\e inheritance of God, ver. 15.

On the Qotpel for the Sunday after Ascension
Day, chap. xv. 2C-xvi. 4. Pray for the coming
•of the Spirit when the hatred of the world arrays
Itself against yoa.' — For this hottest of tempta-
tions, God affords help by the sending of the
Holy Spirit— The martyrdom of Christians be-
;gins -simultaneously with the true Christianity
of the Spirit. — The coming of the Holy Ghost
^^onsidered with reference to the riches of His
names: 1. The (other) Mediator; 2. the (other)
Helper; 8. the (other) Awakcner; 4. the (other)
Conaforter. — The marvellous coming of the Com-
forter: 1. How it adds new sufferings to the old
ones (the sufferings of the martyrs) ; 2. how it
transforms the old sufferings together with the

new ones into joy. — The martyrdom of true
Christianity and the inquisition of false. — The
ban of the sanctuary and the ban of fanaticism.
— The cross of patience and the cross as the
standard of persecution (crusades against the
Albigenses and Waldenses). — ^Tbe horrible festi-
vals of faith of religious persecutions (autot-da-
fe: in a broader sense ** festivals of faith"). —
The perseverant patience of the Sainta.

On the Oospel for the Fourth Sunday after
Eafter, chap xvi. 5-15. The sending of the Holy
Ghost: 1. Dependent upon a painful condition
(the departure of Christ); 2. glorious in its in-
trinsic value (victory over the world) ; 8. hea-
venly in its aim (the communion of the Holy
Ghost, the glorification of Christ, the commu-
nion of goods with the Father). — As all the sad
moments in the life of Jesus have been changed
into joyful ones, so it is with His departure: 1.
How this holds good with regard to all the
earlier moments (His birth in poverty. His pil-
grimage under the form of a servant. His death
on the cross) ; 2. and how it is specially applica-
ble to II is going home through the medium of
His departure from earth. — The Ascension,
viewed under its two- fold aspect: 1. Wrapped in
the gloom of Good Friday, — one with Good Fri-
day ; 2. bathed in the light of Easter and Pente-
cost, — one with Easter and Pentecost — Christ's
going away — or not until Christ went away, did
He come to us in His most glorious form. — How
the Lord meets His disciples* extreme depres-
sion 1^ which does not so mu(vb as venture the
question: Whither goest Thou?) with the loftiest
elevation of His spirit (the word: It ia expe-
dient for youV — ^Weaning of the babes of the
Spirit, ver. 7. — Wonderful relation between
Christ and the Holy Ghost: 1. Christ must go
iu order that the Spirit may come; 2. the Spirit
is not permitted to speak of Himself, to the end
that Christ may remain. — The office of the Com-
forter an office of reproving : 1. True reproof as
a comforting ; 2. true consolation as a reproviog.
— The operations of the Spirit: 1. In the world
(vers. 8-11); 2. in the Church (vers. 12-15).

Stauks : Zeisius : Just as a vine-dresser treat-
eth his vine, doth the Heavenly Father deal wiih
tbo Lord Christ in His bitter afflictions, and He
dealeth even thus, in measure, with all His faith-
ful people. — Lotuer: God is a Master who
possesscth the art of making things that are
meant for our hindrance and injury turn to our
advancement and profit ; whatsoever would kill
us, must conduce to our life; whatsoever woold
plunge us into sin and condemn us, must aid in
strengthening our faith and hope, in adding
power to our prayer, and bounty to the answer-
ing of it. — Hkdingbr: If God lay not the knife
to the vine, its strength is consumed in useless
shoots. — The word of the gospel the blessed
means of bringing men to a condition of purifica-
tion. — Zeisius : the dignity, the glory, of
being a branch on the living Vine! — Love and
obedience aro bound up together. — Cakstsih:
The love of God, of Christ and of a Christian
maketh a three-fold cord that never can be bro-
ken. — inexpressible felicity, to be exalted to
the friendship of God ! — Hediuqeb : Christ will
have no forced selection of men, no soldiers by
compulsion, no timorous slaves, but childrais

Digitized by


CHAPS. XV. 1-27.— XVI. 1-15.


brethren, friends. — Canstein: The dignity of
being God's fnend, James iL 8. Rom. yiii. 15.
— ^The gospel does not make slares, but freemen,
children, heirs. — On yer. 16. Grace doth in all
things anticipate us. — 1 Pet. ii. 12, 16. — Blessed
is the man whom God loyeth, though the vrhole
world hate him. — A Christian is a cross-bearer. —
The member must conform to the example of the
Head. — ^Ver. 28. That which is done to the Lord
Jesus and His members, be it good or evil, is
done unto God Himself. — Ver. 24. The greater
unbelief, the heavier damnation. — Luther :
There is no yice and no wickedness to which the
world is so inimical as to the name of Christ
and. His gospel. — Ver. 27. A Christian should
bear witness to Christ by word and by confes-
sion, by his life and walk, and by suffering, and
that with a single view to God's honor. — On
chap. ZTi. 1 ; Luke yiii. 18. — Zeisius: As Cain
persecuted Abel, so the false Church still per-
secutes the true, so misbclieyors still persecute
true believers, hypocrites and mouth-Christians
those who are Christians in sincerity, Gal. iv.
29.— Ver. 5. Ibid, : The whole Christian life a
constant going to the Father. — Ver. 8. Hedinger :
The Spirit is not idle. — Zeisius: Everything,
from the highest to the lowest, is subject to the
Holy Ghost in His office of Reprover. — The re-
proving office of the Holy Ghost is as necessary
to men as salt is to meat. — Ver. 9. Unbelief is
a sin such as reason knows nothing of; the
Holy Ghost must make it manifest. — Unbelief a
cause of all sin, distress and misery in time and
eternity. — Ver. 12. Canstei.v: Faithful preach-
ers must, in the execution of their office, have
regard to the condition of their hearers, that
they may discover what they are able to com-

Heubnbr: Spiritual strength flows from Christ
into believers as really as sap from the stem
penetrates into the branches. — The Father, the
efficient cause of the entire redemptive provision
in Christ; He hath set and planted and tended
Christ. — Pruning is painful; it is effected by
grievous trials, but it is good and salutary, more
blessed than to be lopped off and cast away. —
Ver. 6. If it is a sad and menaceful thing to see
one's physical strength declining, and sen-
sibly to draw nearer dissolution, what must spiri-
tual consumption and decay be. — Ver. 7. Steadfast
abiding in Jesus : Jesus calls it the hearing of
prayer, because everything in aman who has a liv-
iog religion, turns to prayer — his thoughts, etc. —
Jesus* friendship the reward of the faithful. —
Ver. 15. A notable test of friendship — not to be
making many presents, but to open the heart, to
give that ; that is more than to bestow all riches.
— My openness towards another is a decisive
mark of the confidence that I place in him.
Jesus revealed to the apostles whatsoever He
had heard from the Father ; His most sacred
thoughts, emotions, sentiments, therefore — the
whole counsel of God. — Vers. 1-lC. The cordial
and intimate connection of Jesus with His peo-
ple. — Vers. 17-27. An exhortation to patience
even amidst persecutions. — ^Ver. 17. The very

Online LibraryJohann Peter LangeA commentary on the Holy Scriptures: → online text (page 126 of 171)