Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991.
“IV. Jesus’ Self-Disclosure in His Cross and Exaltation (13:1-20:31)” “C. The Farewell Discourse: Part Two (15:1-16:33)” pp. 510-550.
Carson notes that John 15:1-16 shows a very intricate link of the relationship of the Christian, the Christ, and prayer (Carson 1991, 510). Verses 9-16 may well be a commentary on verses 1-8 (Carson 1991, 511). The images of viticulture are, of course, very common in the Bible. In verse 1 not only is Jesus’ role central, as the “vine,” but there is the additional important character, the “gardener,” i.e., the Father (Carson 1991, 513). The Father cares for the branches. He trims all the fruit-bearing branches and cuts off those that are not fruitful (Carson 1991, 514). Jesus’ word has made the branches fruitful. Carson sees the job as done in verse 3 prior to the work of pruning (Carson 1991, 515). Believers are then told to persevere in the faith. The motif of dependence nad growth is continued through verse four. The growh results in what Carson identifies as “nothing less than the outcome of persevering dependence on the vine, driven by faith, embracing all of the believer’s life and the product of his witness” (Carson 1991, 517).
Verses 9-16 then unpack the material of 15:1-8. Jesus’ love for his disciples is similar to the Father’s love for the Son. The relationship is vital. Obedience and love go hand in hand (Carson 1991, 520). In considering the love of believers in 15:13, Carson concludes that the command to love one another does not negate the commands to love God. We are obligated to both (Carson 1991, 522). Carson further clarifies that when Jesus calls the disciples his friends in vv. 14-15, he does not say they are no longer to obey him. He is still the master, but he tells them his reasoning as an authority would tell his friends (Carson 1991, 523).
John 15:17-16:4 speaks to the world’s opposition to Christ and his people. Carson notes that the theological difference between Church and the world is fundamental. The differences result in a different sociology which provokes enmity (Carson 1991, 524). A Christian view of joyful submission to God is foreign to a world which wishes to assert the independent individual (Carson 1991, 525). Despite this opposition, Jesus is clear in verses 22 and following that God’s redemptive work is not in any danger (Carson 1991, 527). The Scriptures point to redemption. There is no need to doubt God’s plan. It is confirmed by the coming of the Holy Spirit, who will testify about Jesus (Carson 1991, 529). Carson sees the important emphasis not on the source of the procession of the Holy Spirit but on the fact that the Holy Spirit will work as Jesus is ascended. In sum, the persecution faced by Christians is to be seen as a rejection of Jesus. Carson concludes that many times there are clear ideological reasons which lead to the death of Christians (Carson 1991, 531).
John 16:4-15 speaks of the Holy Spirit’s work (Carson 1991, 532). The passage does not follow as clearly as some commetators would like. Carson suggests that the disciples’ questioning of Jesus’ departure is not their actual concern. They may rather be expressing grief that he is leaving at all (Carson 1991, 533). The disciples are clearly (vv. 6-7) filled with grief. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to relieve their grief. The Spirit will make the sinfulness of sin obvious. He will demonstrate that the world is guilty (Carson 1991, 535). Though some of the nuances of the language can be debated, it is clear that the Holy Spirit confirms the work of Jesus. While Jesus is the authoritative Word of God, the Holy Spirit enables Jesus’ people to interpret him well (Carson 1991, 539).
John 16:16-33 looks ahead to a future joy (Carson 1991, 542). This future time is unclear. It could refer to the time after the resurrection or to a future second coming (Carson 1991, 543). Regardless, as shown in 16:17-18, the disciples are unprepared for the resurrection. It does not make sense to them. Jesus reassures them that their sorrow will turn to joy (Carson 1991, 544). The communication with God will also be wide open. Vese 24 speaks of a very direct kind of prayer (Carson 1991, 545). The care of the Father is very present for the Christian (Carson 1991, 547). The section ends with Jesus’ listeners affirming their understanding and commitment. Jesus contradicts their testimony. They will not be loyal. Yet, in verse 33, they will be restored (Carson 1991, 548-549).