1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are [and he is] gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so [become] prove to be my disciples.[1]

1978 In this talk our Lord especially wants to comfort his disciples about two things: one was near, in the present, and this was his passion; the other was what they feared in the future, and this was the troubles which would come upon them. He had said to them about these two things: Let not your hearts be troubled, referring to the first, and neither let them be afraid (14:27), referring to the second.

So now, after comforting them over his leaving (14:1), he strengthens them for the troubles which will come upon them. First, he presents a certain picture; secondly, he moves from this to his intention (15:3). The picture he presents is of a vine and a vinedresser. First, he mentions the vine; secondly, the vinedresser; and thirdly, he approves of the vinedresser's concern for the branches of the vine.

1979 He himself is the vine. So he says, making a comparison, I am the vine; for just like a vine, although it seems to be of small account, nevertheless surpasses all trees in the sweetness of its fruit, so Christ, although he seemed to be despised by the world because he was poor, and seemed of small account and was publicly disgraced, nevertheless produced the sweetest fruit: "His fruit was sweet to my taste" (Song 2:3). And so Christ is a vine producing a wine which interiorly intoxicates us: a wine of sorrow for sin: "You have given us to drink the wine of sorrow" [Ps 60:3]; and a wine which strengthens us, that is, which restores us: "My blood is drink indeed" (6:55). In the same way he compared himself, above, to wheat, for his flesh is truly food.

This is the vine mentioned in Genesis (40:9‑10): "There was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches," that is Christ, in whom there are three substances: his body, soul and divinity. This is also the vine about which Jacob says: "My son, tie your she‑ass," that is, the Church, "to the vine" [Gen 49:11].

1980 This vine is true. Sometimes what is true is distinguished from its likeness, as a man is distinguished from his picture. And sometimes what is true is distinguished from what is deformed or spoiled, as true wine is distinguished from vinegar, which is spoiled wine. When Christ says here, I am the true vine, he is using true in the second sense to distinguish himself from the deformed or spoiled vine, which is the Jewish people. We read about them: "How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine" (Jer 2:21). This was because this vine brought forth wild grapes instead of grapes: "When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?" (Is 5:4).

1981 There are two natures in Christ, the divine and the human. Because of his human nature he is like us and is less than the Father. Because of his divine nature he is like God and above us. Thus he is the true vine insofar as he is the head of the Church, the man Christ Jesus. He implies this when he mentions the vinedresser, who is the Father. He says, and my Father is the vinedresser. If Christ is the vine because of his divine nature, the Father would also be the vine like the Son. But because Christ is the vine by reason of his human nature, the Father is related to him as vinedresser to vine. Indeed, even Christ himself, as God, is a vinedresser.

1982 [The vinedresser cultivates the vine.] Now to cultivate something is to devote one's interest to it. And we can cultivate something in two ways: either to make what is cultivated better, as we cultivate a field or something of that sort, or to make ourselves better by the cultivating, and in this way we cultivate wisdom. God cultivates us to make us better by his work, since he roots out the evil seeds in our hearts. As Augustine says, he opens our hearts with the plow of his words, plants the seeds of the commandments, and harvests the fruit of devotion.[2]

But we cultivate God, not by plowing but by adoring, in order that we may be made better by him: "If any one is a worshiper," that is, a cultivator, "of God and does his will, God listens to him" (9:31). And so the Father is the vinedresser of this vine for the good of others. For he plants: "I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed" (Jer 2:21), and makes its grow: I planted, Apollos can make one grow from within and produce fruit, no matter how much others cooperate on the exterior. And God guards and preserves, for we read that he built a watchtower in the vineyard, and put a hedge around it (Mt 21:33; Is 5:2).

1983 The vinedresser is concerned about two things: the vine and its branches. Now the vine considered here was perfect, and did not need care by the vinedresser. And so the entire care of the vinedresser will be directed to the branches. He says, every branch of mine and so forth. The branches of a vine, however, have the nature of the vine; and so those united to Christ are branches of this vine: "The vine brought forth branches" [Ez 17:6]. He mentions two things about the branches: first, the attitude of the vinedresser to the bad branches; his interest in the good branches.

1984 The vinedresser's interest in the bad branches is to cut them off the vine. Thus he says, every branch, that is, every believer, of mine that bears no fruit, that is, bears no fruit on the vine, which is me, without whom nothing can bear fruit, he takes away from the vine. It is clear from this that not only are some cut off from Christ for doing evil, but also because they neglect to do good: "We entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor 6:1). Thus the Apostle said about himself: "By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain" (1 Cor 15:10). We read in Matthew (25:28) that the money was taken away from the servant who did not bear fruit with it, but hid it instead; and our Lord ordered the unfruitful fig tree to be cut down (Lk 13:7).

1985 His interest in the good branches is to help them so they can bear more fruit. So he says, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Considering the literal sense, we see that a natural vine with branches that have many shoots bears less fruit, because the sap is spread out through all the shoots. Thus the vinedresser prunes away the extra shoots so that the vine can bear more fruit. It is the same with us. For if we are well‑disposed and united to God, yet scatter our love over many things, our virtue becomes weak and we become less able to do good. This is why God, in order that we may bear fruit, will frequently remove such obstacles and prune us by sending troubles and temptations, which make us stronger. Accordingly, he says, he prunes, even though one may be clean, for in this life no one is so clean that he does not need to be cleansed more and more: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn 1:8). And he does this so that it may bear more fruit, that is, grow in virtue, so that the more pruned or cleansed the more fruitful one is: "Let the just still be justified, and the holy still be sanctified" [Rev 22:11]; "The Gospel is bearing fruit and growing" (Col 1:6); "They go from strength to strength" (Ps 84:7).

1986 Now he passes from this picture to his main intention. Two things were noticed in the above picture when comparing the branches to the vine: the union of the branches to the vine, and the pruning of the branches. First, he considers the union of the branches with the vine; secondly, their pruning (v 18). As to the first, he advises the disciples to cling to the vine; secondly, he gives the reason for this (v 4b); thirdly, he describes this union (v 9). He does two things concerning the first: he reminds them of a benefit already received; secondly, he tells them to abide in him (4a).

1987 The benefit they had already received was that of being cleansed. He says, you are already made clean. It is like saying: I have said certain things about branches; and you are branches ready to be pruned so as to bear fruit. And you are clean by the word which I have spoken to you.

The word of Christ, in the first place, cleanses us from error by teaching us: "He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine" (Tit 1:9). This is because there is no falsity in the words of God: "All my words are right" [Prv 8:8]. He says, you are already made clean from the errors of the Jews. Secondly, the word of Christ cleanses our hearts from earthly affections by inflaming them toward heavenly things. For the word of God by its power moves our hearts, weighed down by earthly things, and sets them on fire: "Is not my word fire?" (Jer 23:29). Thirdly when God is invoked in baptism, his word cleanses us from sin. For we are cleansed in baptism because the word cleanses with the water. As Augustine says: "Take away the word and what is the water but only water? The word accompanies the element and a sacrament is formed."[3] Thus it is the word which makes the water touch the body and wash the heart. The word, I say, not because it is spoken, but because it is believed. For this word of faith is so strong in the Church that it even cleanses infants, although they themselves cannot believe, when it is proclaimed from the faith of those who believe, offer, bless and touch the infants, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19). Fourthly, the word of Christ cleanses by the power of faith: God "cleansed their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9).[4]

Thus he says to them, you already instructed, moved, baptized, strengthened in faith, are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. "You are clean, but not all" (13:10). Since he had said above that the work of a vinedresser was to prune, he clearly shows that he is a vinedresser when he says that his word cleanses. And indeed, Christ, as God, is a vinedresser and prunes the branches.

1988 Here he urges them to persevere. He is saying in effect: Because you are now cleansed and have received such a great benefit, you should remain this way. He says, Abide in me, by charity: "He who abides in love abides in God" (1 Jn 4:16); and by means of the sacraments: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me" (6:56). He says, Abide in me, by receiving grace, and I in you, by helping you.

1989 Next (v 4b), he gives four reasons for being united to Christ. First, it sanctifies those who are united to him; secondly, those not united are punished (v 6); thirdly, those who are united to him have their desires satisfied (v 7); fourthly, it glorifies God (v 8). In regard to the first, he shows that being united to Christ is necessary in order to bear fruit; secondly that this is efficacious (v 5).

1990 He does two things about the first: first, he presents an illustration; and secondly shows that it is apt. As to the first he says, I say that you should abide in me so that you can bear fruit, because just as the branch literally, a material branch, cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, from whose roots sap ascends to give life to the branches, so neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. Thus, being united to Christ is the reason why someone bears fruit. And so of those who are not united to Christ we read: "What return [fruit] did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed?" (Rom 6:21); "The company of the godless is barren" (Job 15:34).

His example is apt because I am the vine, you are the branches. It is like saying: The relation between you and me is like that of branches to the vine. We read of these branches: "It sent out its branches to the sea" [Ps 80:11].

1991 Here he shows that being united to Christ is efficacious: first, he shows that it is efficacious; secondly, the reason for this efficacy (v 5b).

1992 First he says: I say that it is not only necessary for a person to abide in me in order to bear fruit, it is also efficacious, because he who abides in me, by believing, obeying and persevering, and I in him, by giving enlightenment, help and perseverance, he it is and not another, that bears much fruit.

Such persons bear a threefold fruit in this life. The first is that they avoid sin. Secondly, they are eager to accomplish works of holiness: "the return you get is sanctification" (Rom 6:22). Thirdly, they are eager for the progress of others: "The earth will be filled with the fruit of your works" [Ps 104:13]. They also pro­duce a fourth fruit, but in eternal life: "He gathers fruit for eternal life" (4:36). Eternal life is the last and perfect fruit of our labors: "The fruit of good works is glorious" [Wis 3:15].

1993 The reason for this efficacy is because apart from me you can do nothing. With these words he instructs the hearts of the humble and silences the mouths of the proud, especially of the Pelagians, who say that they can do by themselves, without the help of God, the good works of the virtues and of the law. And although they were trying to maintain our free will, they really undermined it. Look at what our Lord says here! He says that without him we cannot do anything great, nor anything small, indeed, we cannot do anything at all. This is not surprising because neither does God do anything without him: "Without him was not anything made that was made" (1:3). For our works are either from the power of nature or from divine grace. If they are from the power of nature, then, since every action of nature is from the Word of God, no nature can act to do anything without him. If our works are from the power of grace, then, since he is the author of grace ‑ "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (1:17) ‑ it is obvious that no meritorious work can be done without him: "Not that we are capable of thinking anything of ourselves as originating from ourselves; our capability is from God" [2 Cor 3:5]. Therefore, if we cannot even think without it coming from God, much less can we do anything else.[5]

1994 Here he mentions the second reason for remaining united to Christ, which is the threat of punishment, for unless we abide in him, we will not escape punishment. He mentions five things which describe this punishment. Some of these belong to the punishment of loss, that is to say, the exclusion from glory; so he says, he is cast forth. Sometimes on a natural vine we see a branch which remains by some sort of an external connection without sharing any of the sap. In this way also some remain connected to Christ only by faith, yet they do not share the sap of the vine because they do not have charity. Thus, such persons will be cast out, that is, separated from fellowship with the good.[6]

The second punishment of loss is a withering; he says, and withers, for if such a person once took anything at all from the root, he will lose it when deprived of its help and life. Even bad Christians seem to have some kind of a freshness, but when they are separated from the saints and from Christ their dried up condition will be apparent: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd" (Ps 22:16).

The third punishment is association with those who are evil; he says, and he is gathered, by the reaping angels, to be with the wicked. This is a very great punishment. For if it is a great punishment to be with the wicked for only a little while, how much greater it is to be with the most evil men and devils forever: "They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit" (Is 24:22); "Gather the weeds first and bind them into bundles to be burned" (Mt 13:30).

The fourth punishment is that of sense; he says, thrown into the fire, which is eternal: "What will be done with the wood of the vine?... Look, it is given to the fire for fuel" [Ez 15:2]. If the wood of the vine does not remain united to it, it is more worthless than other woods; but if it abides on the vine it is more beautiful than the others. Thus Augustine says: "A branch is fit for two things: either the vine or the fire. If it is not on the vine, it will be in the fire."[7] "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire" (Mt 25:41). The fifth punishment is the unending experience of fire, he says, and burned, without end: "And they will go away into eternal punishment" (Mt 25:46).

1995 Now we have the third reason for abiding in Christ: our prayers become effective. He is saying, in effect, If you abide in me, you will obtain this fruit, that is, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

Note that when before he urged them to remain united to him, he mentioned two things; and he repeats them here. First, he said before, Abide in me, and he repeats it here by saying, If you abide in me. Secondly, he said before, and I in you, in place of which he now says, and my words abide in you. Because Christ is the Word of the Father, all words of wisdom are from him: "The source of wisdom is God's Word in the highest heaven" (Sir 1:5). Thus it is clear that Christ is in us when the words of his wisdom are in us: "You do not have his word abiding in you" (5:38).

Thus he says, and my words abide in you, in four ways: by your loving them, believing them, meditating on them and accomplishing them: "My son, be attentive to my words," by believing them; "incline your ear to my sayings," by obeying or accomplishing them; "let them not escape from your sight," because you meditate on them; but "keep them within your heart," by loving them (Prv 4:20). "Your words were found and I ate them" (Jer 15:16).

Therefore, the words of Christ are in us when we do as he commands and love what he promises. And from this it follows that they teach us what we ought to pray for: "We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words" (Rom 8:26). For this reason Christ taught us to pray with his own words (Mt 6:9; Lk 11:2). And so the words of God, when believed and meditated upon, teach us to ask for the things necessary for our salvation; and these words of God when loved and accomplished help us to merit it. So he adds, ask, with sound judgment and perseverance, whatever you will, and it shall be done for you: "If you ask anything of the Father in my name he will give it to you" [16:23].

1996 Now the fourth reason for abiding in Christ is mentioned, and it is the glory of the Father. All our works should be directed to the glory of God: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory" (Ps 115:1); "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" [1 Cor 10:31]. And so our Lord shows that we are in Christ, because this is why we bear fruit, and because we bear fruit the Father is glorified. He says, By this my Father is glorified, that is, it reflects glory on my Father, that you bear much fruit.

Here he mentions, in reverse order, three things which follow one from the other. One refers to abiding in Christ, you become my disciples, and this is the same as "Abide in me" (v 4). The second follows from this, you bear much fruit. And from this my Father is glorified. He is saying in effect: It gives glory to the Father that you bear much fruit, and you bear much fruit because you are my disciples. You do this, first of all, by living well: "That they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5:16); and by teaching well, which also glorifies God: "Glorify the Lord by teaching" [Is 24:15]; "Every one who calls upon my name I have created him for my praise and glory" (Is 43:7). And so the apostles are the soil which bears much fruit because they have become the disciples of Christ by abiding in him and by the fire of their charity.

For these are the signs of a disciple of Christ: first that one abides in him, is united to him: "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples" (8:31). And by doing this they become fit for bearing the fruit of teaching. The second sign is charity: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (13:35). And because of this they are able to bear the fruit of good works, because nothing has any value without charity: "If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries ... but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor 13:2).


9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."[8]

1997 Above, our Lord urged his disciples to remain united with him; here he shows what this involves. He makes three points: first, to abide in him is to abide in his love; secondly, to abide in his love is to keep his commandments (v 10); thirdly, that his commandment is to love (v 12). He does two things about the first: first, he recalls the benefit granted to the disciples; secondly, he urges them to persevere, abide in my love (v 9).

1998 He says that the fact that we abide in Christ is due to his grace; and this grace is the effect of his love: "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jer 31:3). It is clear from this that all our good works are ours due to the benefit of divine love. For they would not be ours unless faith acted through love, and we would not love unless we were first loved. And so he reminds them of this benefit by saying, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.

1999 The word "as" sometimes indicates an equality of nature, and at other times a similarity in acting. The Arians, who erred about this passage, wanted the "as" to indicate an equality, and because of this they concluded that the Son was inferior to the Father. But this is false. We must say, then, according to Augustine, that the word "as" indicates a likeness in grace and love; for the love with which the Son loves his disciples is a certain likeness of that love with which the Father loves the Son.[9]

Now since to love someone is to will good to that person, the Father loves the Son, with respect to the Son's divine nature, because the Father wills him his own infinite good, which he has, by communicating to the Son the very same numerical nature the Father himself has: "For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing" (5:20). The Father also loves the Son with respect to his human nature: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hos 11:1). And he loves him so that he would be at once both God and man.

But the Son did not love the disciples in either of these ways. For he did not love them to the point of their being gods by nature, nor to the point that they would be united to God so as to form one person with him. But he did love them up to a similar point: he loved them to the extent that they would be gods by their participation in grace ‑ "I say, 'You are gods'" (Ps 82:6); "He has granted to us precious and very great promises, that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4) ‑ and he loved them to the extent that they would be united to God in affection: "He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him" (1 Cor 6:17); "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom 8:29). Thus the Father communicated to the Son a greater good, with respect to each nature of the Son, than the Son did to his disciples; yet there is a similarity, as was said.

2000 Abide in my love. This is like saying: Because you have received such a great benefit from my love, abide in it so that you love me. Or it could mean, abide in my love because I love you, that is, abide in my grace so you will not be excluded from the good things I have prepared for you. This meaning is the more apt, so that the thought is: Persevere in this state so that you will be loved by me through the effect of grace: "Every one should remain in the state in which he was called" (1 Cor 7:20). "He who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 Jn 4:16).

2001 Now he shows what it means to abide in his love. First, he shows that it means to keep his commandment; secondly, he illustrates it with an example, as I have kept my Father's commandments; thirdly, he eliminates an assumption (v 11).

2002 He says, Abide in my love, and you will do this if you keep my commandments, for this is the way you will abide in my love. Keeping the commandments is an effect of divine love, not only of the love by which we love, but also of the love by which God loves us. For from the fact that God loves us, he influences us and helps us to fulfill his commandments, which we cannot do without grace: "In this is love, not that we love God but that he loved us first" [1 Jn 4:10].

2003 He adds an example when he says, as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. For just as the love which the Father has for him is the model or standard of Christ's love for us, so Christ wants his obedience to be the model of our obedience. By saying this Christ shows that he abided in the Father's love because in all things he kept the Father's commandments. For he submitted to death: "He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8); and refrained from all sin: "He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips" (1 Pet 2:22). These things are to be understood of Christ in his human nature: "He has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him" (8:29). And so he says, I abide in his love, because there is nothing in me, as a human being, opposed to his love.

2004 Now so they do not think he is urging them to keep his commandments for his own benefit and not for their benefit, he says, These things I have spoken to you, that you keep my commandments, for your own good, so that my joy may be in you. Now love is the cause of joy, for everyone takes joy in what he loves. But God loves himself and creatures, especially rational creatures, to whom he grants an infinite good. So Christ rejoices in two things from all eternity: first, in his own good and that of the Father: "I was delighted every day, playing before him" [Prv 8:30]; secondly, he delights in the good of the rational creature: "delighting in the sons of men" (Prv 8:31), that is, in the fact that I am shared in by the children of men. He rejoices in these things from eternity: "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you" (Is 62:5).

Consequently, our Lord wants us to become sharers of his joy by our observing his commandments. He says, that my joy, the joy I take in my divinity and that of my Father, may be in you. This is nothing else than eternal life, which as Augustine says, is joy in the truth.[10] That my joy may be in you means, in effect, that you may have eternal life: "Then you will delight yourself in the Almighty" (Job 22:26). And that your joy, which I take in my own humanity, may be full. The goods in which we rejoice are either imperfect or imperfectly possessed; and so in this life our joy cannot be full. But it will be full when perfect goods are perfectly possessed: "Enter into the joy of your master" (Mt 25:21).

2005 Now our Lord states what his precepts are: first, he states his commandment; secondly, he presents an example (v 12b); thirdly, he recalls a benefit (v 14).

2006 The commandment he gives is the commandment of charity, which he wants us to keep: This is my commandment, that you love one another. Since there are many other commandments of the Lord in the sacred writings, why does he say that his commandment is only the practice of charity?

The answer, according to Gregory, is that charity is the root and end of all the virtues.[11] It is the root, because it is from charity, firmly rooted in the human heart, that we are led to accomplish all the other commandments: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law" (Rom 13:8). Therefore, all the commandments are, in a way, directed to this: that we do good to our neighbor, and not harm him; and this is done best through charity. Charity is the end because all the commandments are directed to it and by it alone are given strength: "The aim of our charge is love" (1 Tim 1:5). So he says, This is my commandment, that you love one another, since everything comes from charity as its source, and all things are directed to charity as their end. As Gregory puts it: just as many branches of a tree spring from one root, so the many virtues are produced from one root; and the branch of a good work has no life if it is not united to the root of charity.[12]

2007 Since we read in Matthew (22:40) that the law and the prophets depend not only on love for God, but also on love for neighbor, why does Christ mention here only love for neighbor? The answer is that one is included in the other: for a person who loves God must love his neighbor and things which belong to God; and the person who loves his neighbor for the sake of God must love God. Now although the objects of these acts are different, yet the outcomes are the same. There are two reasons why he mentions love of neighbor rather than the love of God. By doing this he wants to teach and lead them to help their neighbor, and to help them to become strong enough to endure sufferings from those who will persecute them. To do both of these, charity for our neighbor is necessary.

2008 Here he shows by an example how we should love our neighbor, which is, as Christ loved us. Now Christ loved us in the correct order and efficaciously. His love was orderly because he loved nothing in us but God and in relation to God: "I am the mother of beautiful love" (Si 24:18), and efficacious because he loved us so much that he delivered himself for us: "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph 5:2). So we should love our neighbor, in a holy way, for his good, and efficaciously, by showing our love by our actions: "Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth" (1 Jn 3:18).

2009 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Here he shows the efficacy of love, which is that one undergo death for his friends; this is a sign of the greatest love. Yet one could object that it is considered to be a sign of a greater love when someone lays down his life for his enemies, as Christ did: "But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8). We should answer that Christ did not lay down his life for his enemies so that they would remain his enemies, but to make them his friends. Or, one could say, that he lay down his life for his friends, not in the sense that they were friends who loved him, but rather were those whom he loved. It is clear that the sign of the greatest love is to lay down one's life for one's friends. This is so because there are four lovable things to be put in order: God, our soul, our neighbor, and our body. We should love God more than ourselves and our neighbor, so that for the sake of God we ought to give ourselves, body and soul, and our neighbor. We should lay down our body, but not give it, for the sake of our soul. For our neighbor, we should expose our body and our physical life for his salvation. Consequently, since our physical life is the best thing we have after our soul, it is the greatest thing to expose it for the sake of our neighbor, and a sign of greater love: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him" (1 Jn 4:9).


14 "You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 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 abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love [so that you will love] one another."[13]

2010 Above, our Lord urged us to love our neighbor, based on his example. Here, Christ shows his disciples the benefit conferred upon them which obliges them to imitate him, which is, that he has embraced them in his love. First, he mentions a sign of friendship; secondly, the cause of this friendship (v 16). He gives two signs of friendship: one is found in the disciples; the other in himself (v 15).

2011 The sign in the disciples that they are friends of Christ is that they keep his commandments; he says, You are my friends if you do what I command you. He is saying in effect: Up to now I have urged you to love one another, but now I am speaking and teaching you about your friendship with me.

The statement, you are my friends can be understood in two ways, based on the two ways someone is called a friend. A person is called a friend either because he loves or because he is loved. And what follows, if you do what I command you is true for both meanings of friend. Those who love God keep his commandments, and because a friend is, as Gregory says, in a way the guardian of the other's soul, it is appropriate that one who guards or keeps the will of God in his commandments is called the friend of God.[14] Again, those whom God loves keep his commandments, because by conferring his grace on them he helps them to keep them: for by loving us, God makes us love him: "I love those who love me" (Prv 8:17). It is not they who first loved God, but God makes them lovers by loving them.

2012 Note that keeping the commandments is not the cause of divine friendship but the sign, the sign that both God loves us and that we love God: "Love of her [Wisdom] is the keeping of her laws" (Wis 6:19); "He who says he loves him and does not keep his commandments is a liar" [1 Jn 2:4].

2013 The sign of Christ's friendship for them is mentioned when he says, No longer do I call you servants. First, he excludes what seems opposed to friendship; secondly, he mentions the sign of true friendship (v 15b).

2014 Servitude is opposed to friendship; and he rejects this by saying, No longer do I call you servants. It is like saying: although you were formerly servants under the law, now you are free under grace: "You have received the spirit of adoption" [Rom 8:15].

Secondly, he adds the reason for this when he says, for the servant does not know what his master is doing: for a servant is like a stranger to his master, "The slave does not continue in the house for ever" (8:35). Now secrets should not be told to strangers, "Do not tell a secret to a stranger" [Prv 25:9]. And so secrets should not be given to those who are now servants. This verse shows the servant does not act for the sake of himself, because charity does not seek its own, but the interests of Jesus and the salvation of one's neighbor. Those who act entirely by reason of another are bad servants. Thus it is clear that the disciples were servants, but it was a good servitude springing from love.

As for the second difficulty, we should say that the servant who is moved only by another and not by himself, is related to the one who moves him as a tool to the worker. Now a tool shares with the worker in the work, but not in the reason for the work. So such servants share only in the work. But when a servant acts by his own will, it is necessary for him to know the reason for the work and have secrets revealed to him so he can know what he is doing. "If you have a servant, regard him as your own soul" [Sir 33:31]. Now the apostles, as was said, were moved by themselves to accomplish good works, that is, they were moved by their own will, inclined by love. And so our Lord revealed his secrets to them. But bad servants do not know what their master is doing. What things don't they know? Strictly speaking, they do not know what God does in us. For God acts in us in all the good we do: "O Lord ... you have wrought for us all our works (Is 26:12). So the bad servant, darkened by the pride in his own heart, does not know what his master is doing when this servant attributes to himself what he does.

2016 Now he sets down the true sign of friendship on his own part, which is that all that I have heard from my Father I have made know to you. For the true sign of friendship is that a friend reveals the secrets of his heart to his friend. Since friends have one mind and heart, it does not seem that what one friend reveals to another is placed outside his own heart: "Argue your case with your neighbor" (Prv 25:9). Now God reveals his secrets to us by letting us share in his wisdom: "In every generation she [Wisdom] passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets" (Wis 7:27).

2017 There is a question here as to what and in what way the Son hears from the Father. The answer has already been indicated in many ways. Since to hear is to receive knowledge from another, for the Son to hear from the Father is nothing other than for the Son to receive knowledge from the Father. Now the knowledge of the Son is his own essence. Thus, for the Son to hear from the Father is for the Son to receive his essence from the Father.

2018 Another question concerns the statement, all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. If he did make all things known to them it would follow that the disciples knew as much as the Son. The answer, according to Chrysostom, is that all that I have heard means all that I have heard which you ought to hear, but not absolutely all things, I have made known to you: "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (16:12).[15]

Or, one could say, according to Augustine, that what he would say to them was so certain that he used the past tense instead of the future.[16] So the meaning becomes, all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you, that is, I will make known with that fullness of which the Apostle says: "Then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood" (1 Cor 13:12). And below we read, "The hour is coming when I shall tell you plainly of the Father" (16:25), that is, when I lead you to the vision of the Father. For all things the Son knows the Father knows. So when he revels the Father to us, the Son will reveal all that the Son himself knows and which we know.

Again, one could say with Gregory, and this is better, that the same thing can be known perfectly or imperfectly. For example, in the sciences it is obvious that a person who knows all the principles of a science is said to know that science, although imperfectly. And so a person who teaches some principles of a science can say that he teaches that science, because everything that belongs to that science is virtually contained in its principles. But one will know that same science more perfectly when he knows the individual conclusions which are virtually in the principles. In the same way we can have a twofold knowledge of divine matters. One is imperfect, and is gained by faith, which is a foretaste of that future happiness and knowledge which we will have in heaven: "Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for" [Heb 11:2]. He says of this knowledge, all ... I have made known to you, that is, in faith, by a kind of foretaste, like conclusions are virtually contained in their principles. So Gregory says: "All the things he has made known to his servants are the joys of interior love and the feasts of our heavenly fatherland, which he excites in our minds every day by the breath of his love. For as long as we love the sublime heavenly things we have heard, we already know what we love, because the love itself is knowledge."[17]

2019 Now he mentions the cause of this friendship. It is the usual practice for each one of us to say that he or she is the cause of friendship: "Every friend will say, 'I started the friendship'" [Sir 37:1]. And so many people attribute to themselves the cause of God's friendship when they attribute to themselves, and not to God, the source of their good actions. Our Lord rejects this by saying, you did not choose me. He is saying in effect: Whoever has been called to this sublime friendship should not attribute the cause of this friendship to himself, but to me, who chose him or her as a friend. First, he mentions the gratuitous choice of God; secondly, he sets forth for what they have been chosen, that you should go and bear fruit.

2020 He says, you did not choose me to be your friend, but I chose you to make you my friends: "Not that we loved God, but that he loved us first" [1 Jn 4:10].

Now God's love is twofold. One is eternal, by which we are predestined: "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). The other is temporal, by which we are called by him, and this is simply the carrying out of eternal predestination. And this is because those he chose by predestining them he also chose by calling them: "Those whom he predestined he also called" (Rom 8:30); "He chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles" (Lk 6:13).[18]

2021 Some say that God's temporal choice is caused by the merits of those who are chosen. This conflicts with what it says here. For if God chose you because you were good, you were still not able to be good unless you chose the good, and this good is especially God. Therefore, it was you who first chose the good which is God, before you were chosen. But our Lord says the contrary: you did not choose me, but I chose you. Thus we should not say that our own goodness entirely precedes God's choice. I say "entirely" because we might have some particular good which could be the cause of another good being given to us; and this good could be the cause of being given still another good, since there is a certain order in God's gifts. But in general, nothing can be the cause of and precede the divine choice, because all our goods are from God.

2022 It would be an even greater error to say that our eternal election was preceded by our own choice. Yet there are some who said that our preceding merits are the cause of that election. This was Origen's error. He said that human souls were created equal at the same time and that while some stood firm, others sinned, more and less seriously. Thus, some merited to receive grace, and others did not.[19] Our Lord's saying is opposed to this, you did not choose me.

2023 Others say that it is true that our actually existing merits are not the cause of our predestination, but those merits preexisting in the foreknowledge of God are. Thus they say that because God knew that certain persons would be good and make good use of grace, he decided to give them grace. But if this were so, it would follow that the reason he chose us was because he foreknew we would choose him. And so our choice would be prior to the divine choice; which is contrary to our Lord's statement.

2024 Perhaps someone might say: What choice could there be since we were nothing and there was no rank among us? But one who says this is mislead by thinking that the divine choice is like human choice. They are not the same. Our choice is caused by some already existing good; while God's choice is the cause of an influx of good, greater in one than in another. Since choice is an act of the will, then according as the will of God and the human will are differently related to the good, so the character of their choice will be different. Now God's will is related to a created good as its cause: "How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it?" (Wis 11:25). And so goodness is dispensed to created things from the will of God. Accordingly, God prefers one person to another insofar as he confers more good on that one than on another. But the human will is moved to something by a preexisting good which has become known. Therefore, in our choices it is necessary that one good exist before another. The reason why God confers more good on one than on another is so that there might be a splendor of order in things. This is clear in material things where prime matter of itself is uniformly disposed to all forms. Also, before things themselves exist, they are not disposed to this or that existence; rather, they receive different forms and existences from God so that an order can be established among them. It is like this among rational creatures, where some are chosen for glory and some are rejected for punishment: "The Lord knows who are his ... In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble" (2 Tim 2:19). And so we see a diversified order: the mercy of God shines forth in those whom, without any previous merits, he prepares for grace; in others we see the justice of God when, because of their own guilt, he allots them punishment, yet less than is deserved. So, I have chosen you by predestining you from all eternity, and by calling you to the faith during your lifetime.

2025 Then he points out for what he has chosen them when he says, I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit. First, he states for what he chose them; secondly, he gives a reason for the above (v 17). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he shows that he chose them to do something; secondly, that he chose them to receive something, whatever you ask the Father.

2026 He says, I appointed you, that is, I gave you a definite rank in my Church: "And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets" (1 Cor 12:28). Again, I appointed you, that is, firmly set you: "And God made the two great lights ... and God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth" (Gen 1:16).

2027 I appointed you, I say, to three things. First to go; and so he says, that you should go, traveling over the whole world to convert the whole world to the faith: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15). Or, that you should go, that is, progress from virtue to virtue: "They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion" (Ps 84:7); "His shoots shall spread out" (Hos 14:6).

Secondly, he appointed them to bear fruit; so he says, and bear fruit. This fruit is the fruit of conversion to the faith, as in Paul's first journey, "In order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles" (Rom 1:13); or an interior and spiritual fruit, as in his second journey, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace" (Gal 5:22); "My blossoms became glorious and abundant fruit" (Sir 24:17).

Thirdly, they were appointed to bear fruit that would not be destroyed by death or sin; so he says, and that your fruit should abide, that is, that the society of the faithful would be led into eternal life and their spiritual fruit flourish: "He gathers fruit for eternal life" (4:36).

2028 So that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. Here he shows that he chose them to receive something, namely, all that they ask for. He is saying: I have appointed you to be worthy to receive from the Father in my name: "If our hearts do not condemn us we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask" (1 Jn 3:22).

2029 These things I command you so that you will love one another. Here he is giving the reason for what he has said. Someone might ask: Why did Christ tell them all these things? So our Lord answers, These things I command you so that you will love one another. He is saying in effect: Everything I said to you was to lead you to love your neighbor: "The aim of our charge is love" (1 Tim 1:5). One could also say, with Chrysostom, that the apostles could have said: Lord, why are you reminding us so much about your love? Are you reprimanding us? But our Lord says: Not at all. I am doing this to encourage you to love your neighbor: "And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also" (1 Jn 4:21).


18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me."

2030 After presenting the picture of the vine and the branches and explaining the part about the branches being united to the vine, he now explains it in regard to the pruning or cleansing they will receive from their trials. So our Lord now consoles them against the tribulations they were going to endure. First, he mentions a few considerations which will console them; secondly, he explains these (v 20); thirdly, he rejects the excuses of those who will persecute them (v 22). He mentions two reasons why they should be consoled: the first uses himself as an example; the second is based on the reason for their being hated, because you are not of the world.

2031 Our Lord consoles them by using himself as an example of one who has suffered the persecution of oppressors, saying, If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. Note that just as the source of all benefits is love, so the source of all persecutions is hatred. And so our Lord foretells that they will be hated: "You will be hated by all nations" (Mt 24:9); "Blessed are you when men hate you" (Lk 6:22).

He says, If the world hates you, that is, it will come to pass that the world will hate you, and show its hatred by persecuting you, know that it has hated me before it hated you: "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me" (7:7). This thought is a great consolation for the just so that they can courageously endure persecutions: "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted" (Heb 12:3); "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Pet 2:21). According to Augustine, the members should not consider themselves greater than the Head, nor refuse to be part of his body by being unwilling to endure with their Head the hatred of the world.[20]

2032 The world can have two meanings. First a good meaning, for those who lead a good life in the world: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (2 Cor 5:19). Secondly, it can have an evil sense, meaning those who love the world: "The whole world is in the power of the evil one" (1 Jn 5:19). And so the whole world hates the whole world, because those who love the world, and they are spread throughout the whole world, hate the whole world, that is, the Church of the good, which has been established throughout the whole world.

2033 Now he mentions a second point for their consolation, and this is based on the reason for their being hated. When a person endures another's hatred because of his own sins, there is reason for regret and sorrow; but when he is hated because of his virtue he should rejoice. First, our Lord gives the reason why some are loved by the world; secondly, why the apostles are hated by the world (v 19).

2034 The reason why some are loved by the world is that they are like the world; If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Like loves like: "Every creature loves its like" (Sir 13:15). And thus the world, that is, those who love the world, love those who love the world. Accordingly, our Lord says, If you were of the world, that is, followers of the world, the world would love its own, because you would be its own and like to it: "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me" (7:7). "They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them" (I Jn 4:5).

2035 One might object that our Lord meant by the world the authorities of the world, who would persecute the apostles. Yet these very same authorities persecute other worldly people, like murderers and thieves. Therefore, the world does not love its own any more than it loves the apostles.

I reply that it is possible to find something purely good, but not something purely evil, since the subject of evil is something good. Consequently, the evil of guilt is located in some good of nature. Therefore, no person can be a sinner and evil without having some good. So it is because of the evil of these authorities, the evil of their unbelief, that they belong to the world and hate the apostles and those who are not of the world. But because of the good they possess they are not of the world and hate those who are of the world, as thieves and robbers, and such. Still, there were some who were living well in the world yet loved the apostles and approved of their actions.

2036 But now there seems to be a greater difficulty. For every sin pertains to the world, and so a person is of the world by reason of any sin. Yet we observe that people who commit the same sin hate each other, for, example, the proud: "Among the proud there is always strife" [Prv 13:10]. And one greedy person hates another who is also greedy. As the Philosopher says, potters quarrel with one another.[21] Thus, the world is hating the world, and what our Lord says here does not seem to be true, that is, the world would love its own.

I reply that there are two kinds of love: the love of friendship and the love of concupiscence. These are quite different. With the love of concupiscence we draw external things or persons to ourselves, and we love these others insofar as they are useful to us or give us pleasure. But in the love of friendship we have the opposite, for we draw ourselves to what is external to us, because those we love in this way we treat the same as ourselves, sharing ourselves with them in some way. Thus, likeness is a cause of love, when we are speaking of the love of friendship, for we do not love a person in this way unless we are one with that person: and likeness is a certain way of being one. But with the love of concupiscence, whether it is for what is useful or gives pleasure, likeness is a cause of division and hated. For since with this love I love some person or thing insofar as it is useful to me or gives me pleasure, I hate as opposed to me whatever hinders this usefulness or pleasure. So it is that the proud feud among themselves, for one takes for himself the glory that another loves and in which he takes pleasure. As for the potters, they quarrel because one takes for himself some profit which another wants for himself.

Notice that the love of concupiscence is not a love for the thing desired but a love for the person desiring: for in this kind of love, one loves another because the other is useful, as was said. Therefore, in this kind of love, one is rather loving himself than the other. For example, a person who loves wine because it gives him pleasure loves himself rather than the wine. But the love of friendship is concerned rather with the thing loved than with the one loving, because here one loves another for the sake of the one loved, and not for the sake of the one loving. And so because in the love of friendship likeness is a cause of love, and unlikeness a cause of hatred, the world hates what is not its own and is unlike it; but it loves, with the love of friendship, what is its own. It is the reverse with the love of concupiscence. Thus he says, If you were of the world, the world would love its own, with the love of friendship.

2037 Now he gives the reason why the world hates the apostles, which is because they are unlike the world. He says, but because you are not of the world, because your spirit has been lifted above it ‑ although you are of the world by your origin: "You are from below, I am from above" (8:23) ‑ lifted above it not by yourselves but by my grace, because I chose you out of the world, therefore, because you are not of the world, the world hates you, that is, those who love the world and who are unlike you, hate you: "An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but he whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked" (Prv 29:27); and in the same chapter "Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless" (v 10).

2038 Three reasons can be given why the world hates those who are holy. First, there is a difference of condition: the world is in a state of death, but those who are holy are in a state of life: "Do not wonder, brethren, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren" (1 Jn 3:13). And so we read: "The very sight of him is a burden to us" (Wis 2:15). The second reason is that the world does not like to be corrected: for those who are holy are, by their words and actions, a rebuke to the conduct of the world. Consequently the world hates them: "They hate him who reproves in the gate" (Amos 5:10); "But it," the world, "hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil" (7:7). The third reason is because of evil envy, for those who are evil envy the good when they see them grow and increase in goodness and holiness, just like the Egyptians hated and persecuted the children of Israel when they saw them increasing (Ex 1:9). And we also see that Joseph's brothers hated him when they saw that he was loved more than they (Gen 37:4).

2039 Now he amplifies on the reasons just given for their consolation: first, the one using himself as an example; secondly, the one relating to the reason why they are hated (v 21). He does two things with the first: first, he reminds them that he and they are different in condition; secondly, he shows they are alike in what will be done to them, If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.

2040 Their different conditions were that Christ was the Lord and the apostles were servants: "A servant is not greater than his master" (13:16). He reminds them of this difference when he says, Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master. Therefore, it is not unfitting for you to undergo the same sufferings as your Lord; rather, you should regard this as a great glory. Thus Christ said to the disciples who were asking to sit on his right and left, "Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" (Mt 20:22). "It is a great honor to follow God" (Sir 23:28); "It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher" (Mt 10:25).

2041 On the contrary. He said above, "No longer do I call you servants" (15:15), while he says here, A servant is not greater than his master. I answer that there are two kinds of servitude. One comes from a slave‑like fear, that is, from a fear of punishment; and the Apostles were not servants in this way. The other comes from a "chaste fear," [the respect of a spouse], and such servitude was in the apostles: "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lk 12:37).

2042 If then you are my servants and I am your Lord, you should be content to have happen to you what happens to me. Now some have despised me, while others have accepted me: "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God" (1:11). You will be treated the same way: if some despise you, yet others will honor you.

For this reason he says, If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. Here we see how the saints are like Christ: for the disciples were persecuted for the same reason that Christ was, because Christ was being persecuted in the disciples. In fact in Acts (9:4) Christ said that he was being persecuted in the persecution of his disciples: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

And so because their reason for acting is the same in the two cases, the consequence follows: If they persecuted me, they will persecute you: "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household" (Mt 10:25). Matthew (23:34) says of this persecution: "Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from to town to town." Similarly, they will be honored for the same reason that Christ was: if they kept my word, they will keep yours also, because your words are my words: "You desire proof that Christ is speaking in me" (2 Cor 13:3); "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Mt 10:20). And so Christ says, "He who hears you hears me" (Lk 10:16). The apostles were in truth accepted and honored by some of the people, as is clear from "When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God" (1 Thess 2: 13).

2043 Now he amplifies on the second consideration that would console them, which is based on the reason for their being hated. The apostles were chosen and raised above the world insofar as they had been made sharers of divinity and joined to God. This is why the world hated them. From this it follows that the world rather hated God in them than hated them. The reason for this hatred was that the world lacked the true knowledge of God which comes from the true faith and devoted love. If they did have this knowledge and recognized that the apostles were friends of God, they would not have persecuted them. Thus he says, all this they will do to you, that is, hate and persecute you, on my account. And so this should be your glory: "Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief‑maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God" (1 Pet 4:14). On my account, not because they love me, but because they hate me; just as, on the contrary, you will suffer on my account because you love me.

They will do these things to you because they do not know him who sent me: "If you knew me, you would perhaps know my Father also" [8:19]. For they did not know that God would be pleased by their accepting Christ. Note that he is speaking here of a perfect knowledge, which consists in a faith which perfects the intellect and joins the affections to God. We read of this kind of knowledge: "Let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me" (Jer 9:24); "To know you is complete righteousness" (Wis 15:3).


22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.' 26 But when the Counselor [Paraclete] comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me. 27 And you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning."[22]

2044 Before, when our Lord said that the Jews would persecute his disciples, he give as the reason that the Jews did not know the one who sent him. Now, since ignorance usually excuses one, he here shows that they are inexcusable. He does this in two ways: first, because of the things he personally did and taught them; secondly, because of what will occur when he is no longer present (v 26). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he shows that they were without excuse because of the truth he taught; secondly, because of the witness of the works he performed (v 24). He does three things about the first: first, he shows what could have excused them; secondly, that they did not have this excuse (v 22); thirdly, he shows the real source of their persecution (v 23).

2045 He had said: "But all this they will do to you on my account." Yet they might have had an excuse. If I had not come and spoken to them, that is, if I had not shown myself personally and taught them personally, they would not have sin.

2046 How does this reconcile with Romans (3:23) which states that "All have sinned"? We should say that our Lord is not speaking here of just any sin, but of the sin of disbelief, that is, they do not believe in Christ. This is called here simply "sin" because it is a prime example of sin, because as long as this sin lasts, no other sin can be remitted; for no sin is remitted except by faith in Jesus Christ through whom we are justified, as we read in Romans (5:1). Consequently, they would not have sin means that they would not be charged with not believing in him. This is primarily because "faith comes from what is heard" (Rom 10:17). So, if Christ had not come and had not spoken to them, they could not have believed. And no one is charged with a sin for not doing what he can't do at all.

2047 Yet some could say that they were bound to believe and could have believed even if Christ had not come, since he had been foretold to them by the prophets: "which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son" (Rom 1:2). I answer that of themselves the Jews could not believe and understand the words of the prophets unless they were shown by divine help: "The words are shut up and sealed until the appointed time" [Dan 12:9]. Thus the eunuch said: "How can I understand, unless some one guides me?" (Acts 8:31). Therefore, if Christ had not come, they would not have this sin, the sin of disbelief, although they would have had other actual sins for which they would have been punished. And a similar reasoning holds for all those whom the preaching of God's word could not reach. For this reason they cannot be charged with the sin of disbelief for their condemnation; but they will be condemned, because deprived of God's favors because of their other actual sins and original sin.

2048 Note that Christ's coming and teaching resulted in good for many, that is, for those who accepted him and kept his word. And for many it turned out bad, that is, for those who decided neither to listen to him nor believe him. "He will become ... a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (Is 8:14); "This child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel" (Lk 2:34).

2049 He has just stated what could have excused them from unbelief. But they don't have this excuse because Christ showed himself to them in person and taught them. Thus he says, but now, since I have come and spoken to them, they have no excuse, that of ignorance, for their sin. "So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God" (Rom 1:20). But they did know Christ, as is clear from Matthew (21:38): "This is the heir; come, let us kill him." However, they knew that he was the Christ promised in the law, but they did not know that he was God, because "If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2:8). And so their ignorance is no excuse, because they did not do this from ignorance but from another root, that is, from hatred and a certain malice.

2050 This is why he adds, He who hates me hates my Father also. This is like saying: Their sin is not ignorance of me, but hatred for me, and this involves hatred for the Father. Since the Son and the Father are one in essence, truth and goodness, and since all knowledge of anyone is through the truth which is in him, whoever loves the Son loves the Father also; and whoever knows the one knows the other also; and whoever hates the Son hates the Father also.

2051 Two problems arise here. First, whether anyone can hate God? We should say that no one can hate God as God. Since God is the pure essence of goodness, and since this is lovable in itself, it is impossible that God be hated in himself. This is the reason why it is impossible for an evil person to see God. For it is impossible for God to be seen without being loved; and one who loves God is good. So these two things are incompatible, namely, to see God and be evil.

Yet one can hate God from a particular point of view. For example, one who loves lustful pleasures hates God as forbidding the enjoyment of lust, and one who wants to be free from all punishment hates the justice of God when it punishes.[23]

2052 The second problem arises because no once can hate what he does not know. But the Jews did not know the Father: "They do not know him who sent me" (15:21). Therefore, what he says here does not seem to be true, that they hate my Father also. We can say, according to Augustine, that a person can love or hate something that was never seen nor truly known.[24] This can happen in two ways. In one way, I can hate or love a person according as I know him; or, according to what I am told about him. For example, if I hear that someone is a thief I hate him, not because I know or hate this very person, but because in general I hate all thieves. So, if he were a thief and I did not know it, I would hate him without knowing that I hated him. Now the Jews hated Christ and the truth that he preached. Since the very truth that Christ preached and the works he performed were in the will of God the Father, then just as they hated Christ, so also they hated the Father, even though they did not know that these things were in the will of the Father.

2053 Now he shows they are without excuse because of the witness of his signs. They could say that they were not convinced by the words he spoke in opposition to them. So he corroborates his words with marvelous actions, saying, If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin. First, he shows that they could be somewhat excused; secondly, he reveals the root of their sin (v 24b); thirdly, he cites an authority (v 25).

2054 There are two questions about the first point. One is about the truth of the antecedent statement, If I had not done among them the works which no one else did. Did Christ perform certain good works among them that no one else had done? It seems not. If we say that Christ raised the dead, Elijah and Elisha also did this. If Christ walked on the water, Moses parted the waters. Again, Joshua did something greater [than Christ] for he made the sun stand still. So it seems that Christ should not use this as an argument, and thus the conclusion is not true.

I answer that we can say, according to Augustine, that our Lord is not speaking of the miracles he worked among them, that is, merely in their sight, but of those he worked "among" them, that is, on their very persons.[25] In curing the sick, although others did it, no one did it so much as Christ, because no other was made God and no one was born of a virgin but Christ. So in healing the sick he performed among them works which no one else performed; and this in three ways. First, because his works were so great: for he raised a person who had been dead for four days; he gave sight to a man who was born blind, which had never been heard of before, as we read above (9:32). Secondly, because of the great number of his works, for he healed all who were sick (Mt 14:35), and no one else did this. Thirdly, because of the way he did these works: others did these things by praying for help, which showed that they were not doing this by their own power; but Christ did it by command, for he did it by his own power: "What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him" (Mk 1:27).

Therefore, although others have raised the dead and have accomplished other miracles which Christ did, they did not do it in the same manner as Christ, nor by their own power, as Christ did. Further, making the sun stand still is less than what the dying Christ did, when he made the moon move backwards and changed the whole course of the heavens, as Dionysius says.[26]

2055 The second question is about the truth of the conditional statement, that if Christ had not done among them works which no one else did, the Jews would not have the sin of disbelief. My reply is that if we speak of any of the miracles indiscriminately, the Jews would have been excusable if they had not been done among them by Christ. For no one can come to Christ by faith unless he is drawn: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (6:44). So the spouse says in the Song (1:4): "Draw me after you." Therefore, if there were no one who had drawn them to the faith, they would have an excuse for their disbelief. Note that Christ drew by words and by signs, both visible and invisible, that is, by inciting and stirring hearts from within: "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord" (Prv 21:1). And so an inner impulse to act well is the work of God, and those who resist it sin. If not, Stephen would have no reason to say: "You always resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51). And Isaiah (50:5) says: "The Lord has opened my ear," that is, the ear of my heart, "and I was not rebellious." When our Lord said, If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, we have to understand this as referring not only to visible works but also to the interior impulses and attractions to his teaching. If these had not been done among them, they would not have sin. It is now clear how they could have been excused, that is, if he had not accomplished miraculous works among them.

2056 Now he shows the root of their sin of disbelief, namely, their hatred, because of which they did not believe the works they saw. He says, but now they have seen, the works he did among them, and hated both me and my Father: "Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord" (Prv 1:29). As Gregory says, there are some in the Church who not only do not do good works, but they even persecute those who do, so that what they fail to do they detest in others.[27] Thus their sin is not one of weakness or ignorance, but is committed of set purpose.

2057 Yet some could say: If it is true that the Jews hated you and your Father, why did you perform miracles among them? He answers and says It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law. Here we could ask why he says that this was written in their law when it was written in the Psalms? We can say to this that the "law" is understood in three ways in scripture. Sometimes it is taken for the entire Old Testament; and this is the way it is understood here, because the entire teaching of the Old Testament is directed to the observance of the law: "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom" (Lk 23:42). Sometimes it is taken as distinguished from the histories and the prophets: "that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms" (in which the histories are sometimes included) "must be fulfilled" (Lk 24:44). And sometimes the law is taken as distinct only from the prophets, and then the histories are included in the prophets. He says, It is to fulfill what is written in their law, that is, in the Psalms (35:19) 'They hated me without a cause,' and not to gain some benefit or avoid some trouble (for this is why people hate). Indeed, Christ gave them opportunities to love him when he healed and taught them: "He went about doing good" (Acts 10:38); "Is evil a recompense for good? They have dug a pit for my life" (Jer 18:20); "What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me" (Jer 2:5).

2058 Now he shows that they are inexcusable because of what will come to pass after him: because they would have other testimonies, namely, those of the Holy Spirit and of the apostles. First, he states what was to come from the Holy Spirit; secondly, from the apostles (v 27). He indicates four things about the Spirit: his freedom, tenderness, procession and activity.

2059 He indicates his freedom, or power, when he says, But when the Paraclete comes. Strictly speaking that person is said to come who comes willingly and on his own authority; and this is true of the Holy Spirit, because "the Spirit blows where it wills" [3:8]; "I called upon God, and the Spirit of wisdom came to me" (Wis 7:7). Therefore, in saying, whom I shall send, he does not suggest force but origin.

2060 He touches on his tenderness when he says, the Paraclete, that is the Consoler. Since the Paraclete is the Love of God he makes us scorn earthly things and cling to God; and thus he takes away our pain and sadness and gives us joy in divine things: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace" (Gal 5:22); and in Acts (9:31) we read that the Church was walking "in the comfort of the Holy Spirit."

2061 Thirdly, he touches on the twofold procession of the Holy Spirit. First, he mentions the temporal procession when he says, whom I shall send to you from the Father. Note that the Holy Spirit is said to be sent not because the Spirit is changing place, since the Spirit fills the entire universe, as we read in Wisdom (1:7), but because, by grace, the Holy Spirit begins to dwell in a new way in those he makes a temple of God: "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3:16). There is no disagreement in saying that the Holy Spirit is sent and that he comes. In saying that the Spirit comes the grandeur of his divinity is indicated: the "Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills" (1 Cor 12:11). And he is said to be sent to indicate his procession from another, for the fact that he sanctifies the rational creature by indwelling he has from that other, from whom he has it that he is, just as it is from another that the Son has whatever he does.

The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son together; and this is indicated in "He showed me the river of the water of life," that is, the Holy Spirit, "flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb," that is, of Christ (Rev 22:1). Therefore, when speaking of the sending of the Holy Spirit he mentions the Father and the Son, who send the Spirit by the same and equal power. Thus sometimes he mentions the Father as sending the Spirit, but not without the Son, as above (14:26): "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name"; at other times he says that he himself sends the Holy Spirit, but not without the Father: as here, whom I shall send to you from the Father, because whatever the Son does he has from the Father: "The Son cannot do anything of himself" [5:19].[28]

2062 He mentions the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit when he shows in a similar way that the Spirit is related both to the Father and the Son. He shows the Spirit as related to the Son when he says, the Spirit of truth, for the Son is the Truth: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (14:6). He shows the Spirit as related to the Father when he says, who proceeds from the Father. So to say that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, is the same as saying the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son: "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts" (Gal 4:6). And because the word "spirit" (spiritus) suggests a kind of impulse and every motion produces an effect in harmony with its source (as heating makes something hot), it follows that the Holy Spirit makes those to whom he is sent like the one whose Spirit he is. And since he is the Spirit of Truth "He will teach you all truth" [16:13]; "The inspiration of the Almighty gives understanding" [Job 32:8]. In the same way, because he is the Spirit of the Son, he produces sons: "You have received the spirit of sonship" (Rom 8:15). He says the Spirit of truth as contrasted with the spirit of lying: "The Lord has mingled within her the spirit of error" [Is 19:14]; "I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets" (1 Kgs 22:22).

2063 Because he says who proceeds from the Father and does not add "and from the Son," the Greeks say that the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Son but only from the Father. But this absolutely cannot be. For the Holy Spirit could not be distinguished from the Son unless he either proceeds from the Son, or on the other hand, the Son proceeds from him (and no one claims this). For one cannot say that among the divine persons, who are entirely immaterial and simple, there is a material distinction based on a division of quantity, which matter underlies. Thus it is necessary that the distinction of the divine persons be by way of a formal distinction, which has to involve some kind of opposition. For if forms are not opposed they are compatible with one another in the same subject and do not diversify a supposit; for example, to be white and large. So among the divine persons, since "not subject to birth" and "fatherhood" are not opposed, they belong to one person. If, then, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons proceeding from the Father, they have to be distinguished by some properties that are opposed. These properties cannot be opposed like affirmation and negation or privation and possessing are opposed, because then the Son and the Holy Spirit would be related to one another like being and non‑being and as the complete to the deprived, and this is repugnant to their equality. Nor can these properties be opposed like contraries are opposed, one of which is more perfect than the other. What remains is that the Holy Spirit is distinguished from the Son only by a relative opposition.

This kind of opposition rests solely on the fact that one of them is referred to the other. For the different relations of two things to some third thing are not directly opposed except accidentally, that is by some incidental consequence. So in order for the Holy Spirit to be distinguished from the Son, they must have relations that are opposed, by which they will be opposed to each other. No such relations can be found except relations of origin, insofar as one person is from the other. Thus it is impossible, granting the Trinity of persons, that the Holy Spirit not be from the Son.

2064 Some say that the Holy Spirit and the Son are distinguished by the different ways they proceed, insofar as the Son is from the Father by being born and the Holy Spirit by proceeding. But the same problem still returns which arose from the previous opinion, as to how these two processions differ. One cannot say that they are distinguished because of the diverse things received by their respective generations, like the generation of a human being and a horse differ because of the diverse natures that are communicated. For the very same nature is received by the Son by being born from the Father and by the Holy Spirit by proceeding. So we are left with the conclusion that they are distinguished only by the order of origin, that is to say, insofar as the birth of the Son is a principle of the procession of the Holy Spirit. And so, if the Holy Spirit were not from the Son, the Spirit would not be distinguished from the Son and procession would not be distinguished from birth.

Thus even the Greeks admit some order between the Son and the Holy Spirit. For they say that the Holy Spirit is of the Son, and that the Son acts through the Holy Spirit, but not conversely. And some even admit that the Holy Spirit is from the Son, but they will not concede that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. Yet in this they are obviously imprudent. For we use the word "procession" in all cases in which one thing is from another in any way. And so this word, because it is so general, has been adapted to indicate the existence of the Holy Spirit as from the Son. We don't have any examples of this in creatures which would lead us to give it a specific name; while we do have examples which give us the special term of "generation" which is applied to the Son. The reason for this is that in creatures we do not find a person proceeding from will, as love, while we do find a person proceeding from nature, as son. Thus, however the Holy Spirit is ordered to the Son, it can be concluded that the Spirit proceeds from the Son.

2065 Nevertheless some of the Greeks assert that one should not say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son because for them the preposition "from" indicates a principle which is not from a principle, and this is so only of the Father. This is not compelling because the Son with the Father is one principle of the Holy Spirit, as also of creatures. And although the Son has it from the Father that the Son is a principle of creatures, still creatures are said to be from the Son; and for the same reason it can be said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son.

Nor does it make any difference that we read here, who proceeds from the Father, instead of "from the Father and the Son," because in a similar way it is said, whom I shall send, and yet the Father is also understood to send, since there is added, from the Father. In a similar way because it says, the Spirit of truth, that is, the Spirit of the Son, we understand that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. For, as has been said, when the procession of the Holy Spirit is mentioned, the Son is always joined to the Father, and the Father to the Son; and so these different ways of expression indicate a distinction of persons.

2066 Fourthly, he mentions the activity of the Holy Spirit when he says, he will bear witness to me; and this in three ways. First, the Spirit will teach the disciples and give them the confidence to bear witness: "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Mt 10:20). Secondly, the Spirit will communicate his teaching to those who believe in Christ: "God also bore witness by signs and miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit" wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit" (Heb 2:4). Thirdly, the Spirit will soften the hearts of their hearers: "When you send forth your Spirit, they are created" (Ps 104:30).

2067 Finally, he mentions what lies ahead for the disciples when he says, and you also are witnesses, inspired by the Holy Spirit: "You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of this earth" (Acts 1:8). We read of this twofold testimony in Acts (5:32): "We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

He adds why this testimony is appropriate when he says, because you have been with me from the beginning, that is, the beginning of my preaching and working of miracles, and so you can testify to what you have seen and heard: "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you" (1 Jn 1:3). We can see from this that Christ did not perform miracles in his youth, as some apocryphal gospels relate but only from the time he called his disciples.

Arial'>[1] "Times New Roman";color:blue'>St. Thomas refers to Jn 15:1 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 74, a. 5, s. c.; Jn 15:3: ST III, q. 74, a. 5, s. c.; Jn 15:5: ST I-II, q. 6, a. 1, obj. 3; q. 109, a. 6, ad 2; II-II, q. 156, a. 2, ad 1.

[2] Sermones de Verbis Domini 61; PL 38, col. 1859;"Times New Roman";color:black'> "Times New Roman";color:green'>cf. Catena Aurea, 15:1-3.

[3] Tract. in Io., 80, ch. 3, col. 1839; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:1-3.

[4] Summa-Word of Christ cleanses both in faith and baptism.

[5] Summa-it it impossible to do any work except by Christ.

[6] Summa-that it is possible to be united to the Church in faith, but not by charity.

[7] Tract. in Io., 81 ch. 3, col. 1841-2; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:4-7.

[8] St. Thomas refers to Jn 15:11 in the Summa Theologiae: II-II, q. 28, a. 3 s. c.; Jn 15:12: ST I-II, q. 68, a. 1; II-II, q. 22, a. 1. s. c.; Jn 15:13: ST II-II, q. 26, a. 5, obj. 3; q. 124, a. 2, obj. 2; q. 124, a. 3, q. 184, a. 5, obj. 3; q. 184, a. 2, ad 3; III, q. 66, a. 12.

[9] Tract. in Io., 82, ch. 4, col. 1844; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:8-11.

[10] Tract. in Io., 83, ch. 1, col. 1844-5; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:8-11.

[11] Homiliae in Evangelista, XXVII; 1; PL 76, col. 1205B; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:12-16.

[12] Ibid.; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:12-16.

[13] St. Thomas refers to Jn 15:14 in the Summa Theologiae: II-II, q. 23, a. 1, s. c.; Jn 15:15: ST II-II, q. 172, a. 4, obj. 2; Jn 15:17: ST I, q. 73, a. 2, arg. 1.

[14] Moralia XVII, ch. 15, no. 28; PL 76, col. 415B"Times New Roman";color:green'>; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:12-16.

[15] In Ioannem hom., 77, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 415; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:12-16.

[16] Tract. in Io., 86, ch. 1, col. 1850; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:12-16.

[17] Homiliae in Evangelista XXVII; PL 76; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:12-16.

[18] Summa-God predestines and calls men not based on their merit.

[19] Origen.

[20] Tract. in Io., 87, ch. 2, col. 1853; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:17-21.

[21] Aristotle.

[22] St. Thomas refers to Jn 15:22 in the Summa Theologiae: II-II, q. 5, a. 2, obj. 3; q. 10, a. 1; q. 10, a. 3, s. c.; III, q. 47, a. 5; q. 80, a. 5, s. c.; q. 86, a. 3, ad 2; Jn 15:24: ST II-II, q. 34, a. 1 s. c.; III, q. 43, a. 4, ad 1; q. 47, a. 5, obj. 2; Jn 15:25: ST II-II, q. 16, a. 1, obj. 5: Jn 15:26: ST I, q. 27, a. 3, s. c.; q. 36, a. 2, obj 1.

[23] Summa-man can hate God under a certain aspect.

[24] Tract. in Io., 90, ch. 1, col. 1858-9; cf. Catena Aurea, 15:22-25.

[25] Ibid., cf. Catena Aurea, 15:22-25.

[26] Dionysius.

[27] Moralia, XXV, ch. 11, no. 28; PL 76, col. 339B; "Times New Roman";color:green'>cf. Catena Aurea, 15:22-25.

[28] Summa-procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. 2061-2065.