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John 15:18-25

Context
The World’s Hatred

15:18 “If the world hates you, be aware 1  that it hated me first. 2  15:19 If you belonged to the world, 3  the world would love you as its own. 4  However, because you do not belong to the world, 5  but I chose you out of the world, for this reason 6  the world hates you. 7  15:20 Remember what 8  I told you, ‘A slave 9  is not greater than his master.’ 10  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed 11  my word, they will obey 12  yours too. 15:21 But they will do all these things to you on account of 13  my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. 14  15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. 15  But they no longer have any excuse for their sin. 15:23 The one who hates me hates my Father too. 15:24 If I had not performed 16  among them the miraculous deeds 17  that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. 18  But now they have seen the deeds 19  and have hated both me and my Father. 20  15:25 Now this happened 21  to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without reason.’ 22 

1 tn Grk “know.”

2 tn Grk “it hated me before you.”

3 tn Grk “if you were of the world.”

4 tn The words “you as” are not in the original but are supplied for clarity.

5 tn Grk “because you are not of the world.”

6 tn Or “world, therefore.”

7 sn I chose you out of the world…the world hates you. Two themes are brought together here. In 8:23 Jesus had distinguished himself from the world in addressing his Jewish opponents: “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” In 15:16 Jesus told the disciples “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.” Now Jesus has united these two ideas as he informs the disciples that he has chosen them out of the world. While the disciples will still be “in” the world after Jesus has departed, they will not belong to it, and Jesus prays later in John 17:15-16 to the Father, “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” The same theme also occurs in 1 John 4:5-6: “They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us.” Thus the basic reason why the world hates the disciples (as it hated Jesus before them) is because they are not of the world. They are born from above, and are not of the world. For this reason the world hates them.

8 tn Grk “Remember the word that I said to you.”

9 tn See the note on the word “slaves” in 4:51.

10 sn A slave is not greater than his master. Jesus now recalled a statement he had made to the disciples before, in John 13:16. As the master has been treated, so will the slaves be treated also. If the world had persecuted Jesus, then it would also persecute the disciples. If the world had kept Jesus’ word, it would likewise keep the word of the disciples. In this statement there is the implication that the disciples would carry on the ministry of Jesus after his departure; they would in their preaching and teaching continue to spread the message which Jesus himself had taught while he was with them. And they would meet with the same response, by and large, that he encountered.

11 tn Or “if they kept.”

12 tn Or “they will keep.”

13 tn Or “because of.”

14 tn Jesus is referring to God as “the one who sent me.”

15 tn Grk “they would not have sin” (an idiom).

sn Jesus now describes the guilt of the world. He came to these people with both words (15:22) and sign-miracles (15:24), yet they remained obstinate in their unbelief, and this sin of unbelief was without excuse. Jesus was not saying that if he had not come and spoken to these people they would be sinless; rather he was saying that if he had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of the sin of rejecting him and the Father he came to reveal. Rejecting Jesus is the one ultimate sin for which there can be no forgiveness, because the one who has committed this sin has at the same time rejected the only cure that exists. Jesus spoke similarly to the Pharisees in 9:41: “If you were blind, you would have no sin (same phrase as here), but now you say ‘We see’ your sin remains.”

16 tn Or “If I had not done.”

17 tn Grk “the works.”

18 tn Grk “they would not have sin” (an idiom).

19 tn The words “the deeds” are supplied to clarify from context what was seen. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context.

20 tn Or “But now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.” It is possible to understand both the “seeing” and the “hating” to refer to both Jesus and the Father, but this has the world “seeing” the Father, which seems alien to the Johannine Jesus. (Some point out John 14:9 as an example, but this is addressed to the disciples, not to the world.) It is more likely that the “seeing” refers to the miraculous deeds mentioned in the first half of the verse. Such an understanding of the first “both – and” construction is apparently supported by BDF §444.3.

21 tn The words “this happened” are not in the Greek text but are supplied to complete an ellipsis.

22 sn A quotation from Ps 35:19 and Ps 69:4. As a technical term law (νόμος, nomos) is usually restricted to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT), but here it must have a broader reference, since the quotation is from Ps 35:19 or Ps 69:4. The latter is the more likely source for the quoted words, since it is cited elsewhere in John’s Gospel (2:17 and 19:29, in both instances in contexts associated with Jesus’ suffering and death).



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