The Commission as Friends. The language of friendship is immediately contextualized by language of election in v.16: It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” As Fr. Raymond Brown points out , this language of election does not speak of the election of the Twelve because there is no indication anywhere in the Farewell Discourse of the number and composition of the circle that is present with Jesus on this last evening. Rather, Jesus reminds the disciples (including the readers) that their place with him is the result of his initiative, not theirs; relationship with Jesus is ultimately a result of God’s grace.
Jesus follows this reminder of election with a reminder of commission and vocation (v. 16b). “Appointed” translates the Greek verb tithēmi, the verb used in v.13 to speak of laying down one’s life. This verb thus depicts the disciples’ commission as grounded in Jesus’ gift of his life. The description of the disciples’ commission returns to the agricultural imagery with which John 15 began (“bear fruit”).
“I appointed you to go…” bespeaks of a missionary idea. The disciples are commissioned by Jesus to go and do works of love (cf. 17:18; 20:21). Jesus describes the disciples’ works as “fruit that will remain” (menō), suggesting that their works, too, will attest to the abiding presence of and union with God and Jesus. Brown holds that this verse may also contain an allusion to the lasting character of the church as evidence of Jesus’ continuing presence.
As a final guarantee of the community’s union with God and Jesus, Jesus repeats his promise of answered prayer: “whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” Jesus prays to God with full confidence that he is heard and will be answered and he promises the disciples that they can pray with that same confidence. They thus share fully in Jesus’ relationship with God, further evidence that they are Jesus’ “friends.”
- K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007) 491-3
- Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, vol. 29b in The Anchor Bible, eds. William Albright and David Freeman (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1966) 658-84
- Neal M. Flanagan, “John” in The Collegeville Bible Commentary, eds. Dianne Bergant and Robert J. Karris (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1989) 1005-6
- Jerome Kodell, The Eucharist in the New Testament, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991) 126-28
- Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003) 310-14
- Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John in The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995) 597-600
- Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of John, vol. 4 in Sacra Pagina, Daniel J. Harrington (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998) 416-24
- John J. McPolin, John, vol. 6 of the New Testament Message, eds. Wilfred Harrington and Donald Senior (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1989) 207-209
- Gail R. O’Day, John in the New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 9, ed. Leander E. Keck (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996) 757
- Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995)
- Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990)
- David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996)
Scripture – quotes from New American Bible by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. © 1991, 1986, 1970 at http://www.usccb.org/bible/