1. I am the true vine, and
my Father is the husbandman.
2. Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every
branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more
3. Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.
HILARY. He rises in haste to perform the sacrament of His final passion
in the flesh (such is His desire to fulfill His Father's commandment)
and therefore takes occasion to unfold the mystery of His assumption of
His flesh, whereby He supports us, as the vine does its branches: I am
the true vine.
AUG. He says this as being the Head of the Church, of which we are the
members, the Man Christ Jesus; for the vine and the branches are of the
same nature. When He says, I am the true vine, He does not mean really a
vine; for He is only called so metaphorically, not literally, even as He
is called the Lamb, the Sheep, and the like; but He distinguishes
Himself from that vine to whom it is said, How you are turned into the
degenerate plant of a strange vine to me (Jer 11:21). For how is that a
true vine, which when grapes are expected from it, produces only thorns?
HILARY. But He wholly separates this humiliation in the flesh from the
form of the Paternal Majesty, by setting forth the Father as the
diligent husbandman of this vine: And My Father is the husbandman.
AUG. For we cultivate God, and God cultivates us. But our culture of God
does not make Him better: our culture is that of adoration, not of
plowing: His culture of us makes us better. His culture consists in
extirpating all the seeds of wickedness from our hearts, in opening our
heart to the plow, as it were, of His word, in sowing in us the seeds of
His commandments, in waiting for the fruits of piety.
CHRYS. And forasmuch as Christ was sufficient for Himself, but His
disciples needed the help of the Husbandman, of the vine He says
nothing, but adds concerning the branches, Every branch in Me that bears
not fruit, He takes away. By fruit is meant life, i.e. that no one can
be in Him without good works.
HILARY. The useless and deceitful branches He cuts down for burning.
CHRYS. And inasmuch as even the best of men require the work of the
husbandman, He adds, And every branch that bears fruit, He purges it,
that it may bring forth more fruit. He alludes here to the tribulations
and trials which were coming upon them, the effect of which would be to
purge, and so to strengthen them. By pruning the branches we make the
tree shoot out the more.
AUG. And who is there in this world so clean, that he cannot be more and
more changed? Here, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.
He cleans then the clean, i.e. the fruitful, that the cleaner they be,
the more fruitful they may be. Christ is the vine, in that He said, My
Father is greater than I; but in that He said, I and My Father are one,
He is the husbandman; not like those who carry on an external ministry
only; for He gives increase within.
Thus He calls Himself immediately the cleanser of the branches: Now you
are clean through the word, which I have spoken to you. He performs the
part of the husbandman then, as well as of the vine. But why does He not
say, you are clean by reason of the baptism wherewith you are washed?
Because it is the word in the water which cleans. Take away the word,
and what is the water, which but water.
Add the word to the element, and you have a sacrament. Whence has the
water such virtue as that by touching the body, it cleans the heart, but
by the power of the word, not spoken only, but believed? For in the word
itself the passing sound is one thing, the abiding virtue another. This
word of faith is of such avail in the Church of God that by Him who
believes, presents, blesses, sprinkles the infant, it cleanses that
infant, though itself is unable to believe.
CHRYS. You are clean through the word which I have spoken to you, i.e.,
you have been enlightened by My doctrine, and been delivered from Jewish
4. Abide in me, and I in
you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the
vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.
5. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in
him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do
6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is
withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are
7. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you
will, and it shall be done to you.
CHRYS. Having said that they were clean through the word which He had
spoken to them, He now taught them that they must do their part.
AUG. Abide in Me, and I in you: not they in Him, as He in them; for both
are for the profit not of Him, but them. The branches do not confer any
advantage upon the vine, but receive their support from it: the vine
supplies nourishment to the branches, takes none from them: so that the
abiding in Christ, and the having Christ abiding in them, are both for
the profit of the disciples, not of Christ; according to what follows,
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine,
no more can you, except you abide in Me.
Great display of grace! He strengthens the hearts of the humble, stops
the mouth of the proud. They who hold that God is not necessary for the
doing of good works, the subverters, not the asserters, of free will,
contradict this truth. For he who thinks that he bears fruit of himself,
is not in the vine; he who is not in the vine, is not in Christ; he who
is not in Christ, is not a Christian.
ALCUIN. All the fruit of good works proceeds from this root. He who has
delivered us by His grace, also carries us onward by his help, so that
we bring forth more fruit. Wherefore He repeats, and explains what He
has said: I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in Me, by
believing, obeying, persevering, and I in Him, by enlightening,
assisting, giving perseverance, the same, and none other, brings forth
AUG. But lest any should suppose that a branch could bring forth a
little fruit of itself, He adds, For without Me you can do nothing. He
does not say, you can do little. Unless the branch abides in the vine,
and lives from the root, it can bear no fruit whatever. Christ, though
He would not be the vine, except He were man, yet could not give this
grace to the branches, except He were God.
CHRYS. The Son then contributes no less than the Father to the help of
the disciples. The Father changes, but the Son keeps them in Him, which
is that which makes the branches fruitful. And again, the cleansing is
attributed to the Son also, and the abiding in the root to the Father
who begot the root. It is a great loss to be able to do nothing, but He
goes on to say more than this: If a man abide not in Me, he is cast
forth as a branch, i.e. shall not benefit by the care of the husbandman,
and withers, i.e., shall lose all that it desires from the root, all
that supports its life, and shall die.
ALCUIN. And men gather them, i.e., the reapers, the Angels, and cast
them into the fire, everlasting fire, and they are burned.
AUG. For the branches of the vine are as contemptible, if they abide not
in the vine, as they are glorious, if they abide. One of the two the
branch must be in, either the vine, or the fire: if it is not in the
vine, it will be in the fire.
CHRYS. Then He shows what it is to abide in Him. If you abide in Me, and
My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done
to you. It is to be shown by their works.
AUG. For then may His words be said to abide in us, when we do what He
has commanded, and love what He has promised. But when His words abide
in the memory and are not found in the life, the branch is not accounted
to be in the vine, because it derives no life from its root. So far as
we abide in the Savior we cannot will any thing that is foreign to our
We have one will, insofar as we are in Christ, another, insofar as we
are in this world And by reason of our abode in this world, it sometimes
happens that we ask for that which is not expedient, through ignorance.
But never, if we abide in Christ, will He grant it us, Who does not
grant except what is expedient for us. And here we are directed to the
prayer, Our Father. Let us adhere to the words and the meaning of this
prayer in our petitions, and whatever we ask will be done for us.
8. Herein is my Father
glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.
9. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue in my love.
10. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love--even as I
have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11. These things have I spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you,
and that your joy might be full.
CHRYS. Our Lord showed above, that those who plotted against them should
be burned, inasmuch as they abode not in Christ: now He shows that they
themselves would be invincible, bringing forth much fruit; Herein is My
Father glorified, that you bear much fruit: as if He said, If it
appertains to My Father's glory that you bring forth fruit, He will not
despise His own glory. And he that brings forth fruit is Christ's
disciple: So shall you be My disciples.
THEOPHYL. The fruit of the Apostles are the Gentiles, who through their
teaching were converted to the faith, and brought into subjection to the
glory of God.
AUG. Made bright or glorified; the Greek word may be translated in
either way. In Greek it signifies glory; not our own glory, we must
remember, as if we had it of ourselves: it is of His grace that we have
it; and therefore it is not our own but His glory. For from whom shall
we derive our fruitfulness, but from His mercy preventing us.
Wherefore He adds, As My Father has loved Me, even so love I you. This
then is the source of our good works. Our good works proceed from faith
which works by love: but we could not love unless we were loved first:
As My Father has loved Me, even so love I you. This does not prove that
our nature is equal to His, as His is to the Father's, but the grace,
whereby He is the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.
The Father loves us, but in Him.
CHRYS. If then I love you, be of good cheer; if it is the Father's glory
that you bring forth good fruit, bear no evil. Then to rouse them to
exertion, He adds, Continue you in My love; and then shows how this is
to be done: If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love.
AUG. Who doubts that love precedes the observance of the commandments?
For who loves not, has not that whereby to keep the commandments. These
words then do not declare whence love arises, but how it is shown, that
no one might deceive himself into thinking that he loved our Lord, when
he did not keep His commandments. Though the words, Continue you in My
love, do not of themselves make it evident which love He means, ours to
Him, or His to us, yet the preceding words do: I love you, He says: and
then immediately after, Continue you in My love.
Continue you in My love, then, is, continue in My grace; and, If you
keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love, is, Your keeping of My
commandments will be evidence to you that you abide in My love. It is
not that we keep His commandments first, and that then He loves; but
that He loves us, and then we keep His commandments. This is that grace,
which is revealed to the humble, but hidden from the proud. But what
means the next words, Even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and
abide in His love: i.e., the Father's love, wherewith He loves the Son.
Must this grace, wherewith the Father loves the Son, be understood to be
like the grace wherewith the Son loves us? No; for whereas we are sons
not by nature, but by grace, the Only Begotten is Son not by grace, but
by nature. We must understand this then to refer to the manhood in the
Son, even as the words themselves imply: As My Father has loved Me, even
so love I you.
The grace of a Mediator is expressed here; and Christ is Mediator
between God and man, not as God, but as man. This then we may say, that
since human nature does not pertain to the nature of God, but does by
grace pertain to the Person of the Son, grace also pertains to that
Person: such grace as has nothing superior, nothing equal to it. For no
merits on man's part preceded the assumption of that nature.
ALCUIN. Even as 1 have kept My Father's commandments. The Apostle
explains what these commandments were: Christ became obedient to death,
even the death of the cross (Phil 2:8).
CHRYS. Then because the Passion was now approaching to interrupt their
joy, He adds, These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may remain
in you: as if He said, And if sorrow fall upon you, I will take it away,
so that you shall rejoice in the end.
AUG. And what is Christ's joy in us, but that He deigns to rejoice on
our account? And what is our joy, which He says shall be full, but to
have fellowship with Him? He had perfect joy on our account, when He
rejoiced in foreknowing, and predestinating us; but that joy was not in
us, because then we did not exist: it began to be in us, when He called
us. And this joy we rightly call our own, this joy wherewith we shall be
blessed; which is begun in the faith of them who are born again, and
shall be fulfilled in the reward of them who rise again.