16.  “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

The usual custom of the Jews of that day was for a disciple to choose his own master (Dr. John Lightfoot, Works, vol. iii. p. 175, as referenced by the Companion Bible.)  Yet this is not how the Lord had gotten His disciples.  Rather, He had chosen them.  The word for “choose” here is the Greek word for “elected.”  They had not elected Him, but He had elected them.  Yet this election had nothing to do with their salvation.  When He elected them, He did it by appointing them that they should go and bear fruit.  He chose them for the service that He wanted them to perform and for the fruit He wanted them to bear.  In this way, too, He had not treated them as normal disciples, for though a disciple might choose his master, a man can certainly choose his own friends.  The Lord had chosen them indeed, and so they were not like normal disciples.

The Lord had also elected them so that their fruit should remain.  He did not intend for it to last for only a short time.  This was lasting fruit they were producing, and a lasting work He had elected them to do.  Indeed, it has lasted down to today, when it continues through the books of the Bible that were written through them!

He also had elected them so that whatever they asked the Father in His name He might give it to them.  Again, this has nothing to do with asking for a car, or a job, or a wife.  Likewise, asking “in My name” does not mean simply saying, “In Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer and that means you asked it in His name.  These men were asking for things as the Lord’s representatives on earth.  They were asking for them to fulfill the mission He had given them.  They had the permission and the power to ask for these things.  They could not just ask for riches or fame and expect to receive them.  And to apply this verse to prayer today is simply an error.  We have no such power and no such promise as this.  We can say, “In Jesus’ name” all we wish, and yet we will not receive whatever we ask the Father.  We must understand this verse properly, and not make out that God made promises to us that He is not fulfilling.
17.  “These things I command you, that you love one another.

Again, His commands are for the purpose of encouraging them to love one another.  How important was their mutual love for each other to their ministry!  It kept them from jealousy, from infighting, and from seeking their own glory, which they had so often done throughout the time while the Lord was with them.  Yet in the future they would not be like this, for they would love one another by His commandment.  How much better would our own service for the Lord and relationships to each other be in our day if we likewise would love one another this same way.

18.  “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

Now the Lord speaks of the “world.”  This is the Greek word kosmos, which indicates an orderly system or arrangement.  In our day, many like to talk of the environment, or the eco-system that we live in.  We worry about polluting the soil, or pollution in the water, or pollution in the air.  We all want to live in a world that is not corrupted.  Yet the fact is that we do not just have to deal with our environment, but also with men.  Every day we deal with people, and they help form the world that we live in.  It is very hard to live in this world without dealing with other people.  Whenever we need to buy something, we need to deal with other men to buy it from them.  When we need something repaired, we need to deal with others to have it repaired.  When we need money to do these things, we need to find someone willing to hire us and pay us to do a job.  All these things bring us in contact with the world of men around us.  Yet we do not have to look very long to realize that the world of men is polluted.  We live in a world that is marred by sin, and the people around us do not love the things that are good.  Whether it was one of these disciples in the past, or whether it is a sinner saved by God’s grace in our day, the world has never had a love for those who follow Jesus Christ.  Yet we can know that, if the world of men hates us, they hated our Lord first.  That is the way this world is.

19.  “If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

The particular world that the disciples were living in was the world of Israel.  That world was ruled by powerful religious leaders, like the Pharisees and the priests.  If the disciples had received a position from these men, then they would have been of the world these men ruled over, and they would have been loved by that world.  Yet they were not of that world, but had been elected by the Lord Jesus out of that world to become part of His new order or arrangement of things.  It was because of this that the world they lived in hated them.  The religious leaders guarded their power jealously, and anyone who challenged that power earned their wrath and powerful opposition.  They had no time for the world Christ wanted to build, and they hated all those associated with it.  Thus, these disciples were hated because of their association with the Lord Jesus Christ.

20.  “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

This is the way that the world would respond to them.  The response would be consistent with how they responded to Jesus Christ.  If they responded by persecuting Him, then they would persecute the disciples as well.  If they responded by keeping His word, then they would keep the word of the disciples as well.  There would be few surprises, then, for these men.  They knew from whom they could expect opposition, and from whom they could expect help.

Notice that the ones who would be persecuting the disciples or keeping their word were ones who had also persecuted the Lord or kept His word.  Thus, they must have been the same people to whom the Lord ministered: the people of Israel.  This shows that the “world” the Lord had in mind here was not the world at large, but only the world that was prevalent at that time in the land of Israel.

21.  “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

He speaks again of the world that prevailed in Israel at that time, warning them that those in charge of that world would persecute and hate them.  He also tells them why they will do this: because of His name.  Remember, someone’s name is the reputation he has, or the esteem in which he is held.  It is because of the Lord’s name being attached to the disciples that the world will persecute them.  He also reveals why the world hates His name: because they do not know the One Who sent Him.

Of course, these men thought they knew God.  They even justified their actions by claiming that the Lord and His followers were blaspheming God.  But the fact is that they did not know God.  The god they were serving was a god they had made up in their own minds.  He thought and acted like they thought and acted.  They had no real concept of the way the true God thinks or what He wanted of them.  The same is true of many today, even those in circles of true believers.  Because they have never read the Word of God or bothered to get to know what God is really like, they have made up the way they think God should be in their own heads.  Let us never be guilty of thus making God in our own image.  We should ever be studying His word to learn what He is truly like, so that we can truly say that we do know God.

“Sent” here is a form of the Greek word pempo, and means a simple sending.  In mind is the Father sending the Son to earth, and not the authority with which He sent Him.

22.  “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

We need to understand some important Bible truths in order to understand this verse.  I think we would do well to keep in mind Peter’s words to the house of Cornelius in Acts 10:34-35.

34.  Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
35.  “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”

Here Peter shows that he grasps an important truth.  Here was a man, Cornelius, who feared God and worked righteousness.  Acts 10:2 describes this righteousness.

2.  A devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Thus, Cornelius was a man who feared God and worked righteousness.  For this reason, he was accepted by God.  Moreover, as Peter said, this was true in every nation of any man who was like Cornelius.  Certainly it was true in Israel as well, where many people feared God and did what was right in His sight, probably many more than in any other nation.  Thus, God accepted them, and someday, when the resurrection comes, these men will be raised from the dead to take their place in His Kingdom on earth.

Now, however, the Lord Jesus was coming to speak His words to them.  These words put these men under new responsibility.  No longer was it enough in God’s sight for them to fear Him and work righteousness.  Now, they had to believe what the Lord said as well.  This gave them a great opportunity.  If they heard and believed the words that Christ spoke, they would receive far more blessings than they had ever had before.  If, however, they rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, they would lose all that they had had before.  They could never go back to being one who feared God and worked righteousness, and expect to be accepted by God.  These words Christ spoke gave them great opportunity, but they also brought much greater responsibility.  For those who rejected, all that they had before was lost.  For, as the Lord said, they now no longer had any excuse for their sin.  This means that before they had had an excuse.  They had done what the Lord demanded by fearing Him and working righteousness.  Therefore, they had had as much faith as they possibly could from what they knew of God.  Once they rejected the Lord Jesus, however, they showed the true nature of what was in their hearts.  Now their sin had no excuse.

23.  “He who hates Me hates My Father also.

Once again we see the total and irrevocable relationship between the Father and the Son.  You could not just hate the Son.  You could not decide to love the Father and not the Son.  You had no choice.  It was impossible to separate between the two in this regard.  If you hated the Lord Jesus, you hated the Father as well.

24.  “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.

Certainly no one else had done among these people the works that the Lord Jesus did.  These works, therefore, brought these men under a new responsibility.  If they had not seen the works, they would have had no sin.  Just like Cornelius, who Peter declares was already accepted with God before Peter’s visit, if these men had died as they were, they would have been all right.  Once Peter came to the house of Cornelius, however, everything hung in the balance, and if Cornelius had rejected this, he would have lost it all.  Once he accepted, however, he received a far more exalted place, looking forward to not merely being a citizen in God’s government, but having an exalted place as part of that government.  And the same possibility was open to these men.  Yet, unlike Cornelius, they lost out, for when the saw the Lord Jesus and came to understand God through Him, they found that they hated Them both!  Now, therefore, they had sin in God’s sight, and would lose any place they might have had in the world to come.

25.  “But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

Even the hatred of these men, poured on the Lord Jesus Christ without a cause, was a fulfillment of the Scripture, for this had been prophesied in Psalm 35:19 and Psalm 69:4.  Again and again we see that the things that happened to the Lord were all part of God’s perfect plan.

The word for “without a cause” is the Greek word dorean.  This word is also used in Romans 3:24, which reads,

24.  Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Here, we read that we are justified freely by His grace.  In Greek, that word “freely” is dorean, the same word that in John 15:25 is translated “without a cause.”  Truly, it was without a cause that the Lord justified us by His grace, for surely we had done nothing to deserve it.  How sad that the One Who came to die for our justification was hated “without a cause” by some of the very ones He came to save!

26.  “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

The Lord speaks here again of the Helper, the Comforter, the Paraclete that He had talked about back in John 14 verses 16 and 17.  He reminds them that this Helper is the One Whom He shall send them from the Father.  He is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father.  The Lord Jesus was going to send Him, and He was going to proceed from the Father.  Again, the two are one in action and in purpose.  No division in purpose can exist between God the Father and His Son.

The Spirit was going to testify of the Lord Jesus.  Notice that the Spirit’s mission is never to glorify Himself.  He is sent to glorify the Son.  Likewise, the Son sought only to bring glory to the Father, as we read in John 7:18.  Some have noted that few believers give all that much thought to the Spirit, or give Him much honor.  He is certainly a part of God, and worthy of honor and praise.  Yet notice that His mission towards us is not to glorify Himself, but to glorify the Son.  When we glorify the Son, we are glorifying the Spirit, for we are testifying that His mission for which He was sent has been successful in our lives.  If we give undo heed to the Spirit, however, we will nullify the very reason that He was sent, which was to bring honor to the Lord Jesus.  To put all our focus on the Spirit would be like attending a play and, instead of focusing on the action on stage, turning and focusing our attention on the man running the lights.  Though we might cheer him, honor him, and think very highly of him, ultimately we would be foiling his very purpose for being there if we focused on him rather than on what was going on on stage, towards which all his work in lighting was being focused.  In the same way, we truly honor the Spirit when we give heed to what He desires to teach us regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is nothing wrong with honoring Him, but we must see to it that we do not do so in exclusion of the very mission for which He was sent.  He would no doubt accept our praise, as the man running the lights might, but then He would urge us to turn our eyes back to the stage and to focus on what it was He was trying to present to us: the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

27.  “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”

The disciples will bear witness.  This is because they are eminently qualified to do so, having been with Him from the beginning of His ministry.  No one could deny that they knew the Lord, and therefore had experienced these things and knew what they were talking about.

Notice that this verse cannot possibly apply to you and to me.  We cannot bear witness to the Lord in this way, for we were in no way with Him from the beginning of His ministry.  This is obvious in this verse, yet we need to file this away in our minds and keep it in mind as we study all the rest of the Lord’s discourse with them.  These men had a special position before God, a position we in no way share.  Many of the things the Lord shared with them were based on this special position they had.  To try to take such things and apply them to ourselves will only result in error.  We must always be careful to interpret Scripture according to its context, or confusion and misunderstanding will be all we glean from It.