November 8: John 15:12

John 15:12-15

Verse 12

“This is my (charge) on (you) to complete: that you should love one another, just as I (have) loved you.”

Verses 12-15 reprise the thematic emphasis of vv. 9-11: the relationship between love (a)ga/ph, vb a)gapa/w) and taking care (to fulfill) the duties (e)ntolai/) given by Jesus to his disciples. As I discussed in the previous notes, love is one of these duties. This creates a somewhat elliptical line of argument in vv. 9-11 (as also in 14:15-21): love entails fulfilling the duties, and yet love is also one of the duties that the believer must fulfill. Here in vv. 12-15, this confusion is removed, with love being clearly treated as a duty (e)ntolh/) given by Jesus:

“This is my e)ntolh/…”

In the passage-quotations in prior notes, I left the noun e)ntolh/ (plur. e)ntolai/) untranslated. Now I am translating it, according to what I understand the fundamental meaning of the word to be—a charge or duty placed on someone that he/she is obligated to complete:

“This is my (duty laid) on (you) to complete…”
au%th e)stin h( e)ntolh\ h( e)mh/

The demonstrative pronoun at the beginning of the sentence (in emphatic position) makes clear that what follows is the duty which the disciples are obligated to complete (“This is…”). The duty is stated simply and briefly:

“that you should love one another”
i%na a)gapa=te a)llh/lou$

There is an obvious parallel with the directive to love given by Jesus in 13:34-35, in the opening section of the Last Discourse; indeed, the wording of the directive is identical:

“A new (duty) to complete [e)ntolh/] I give to you: that you should love one another [i%na a)gapa=te a)llh/lou$]”

The qualifying phrase that follows is also identical—

“just as I (have) loved you”
kaqw\$ h)ga/phsa u(ma=$

only in 13:34 this is given in an expanded form, emphasizing the twin motifs of reciprocity and following the example of Jesus:

“just as I (have) loved you, (so it is) that you should love one another”

The compound comparative conjunction kaqw/$ (“just as…”) was used twice before in the exposition, for a similar purpose—namely, to emphasize that the disciple is to follow the example of Jesus. This is significant because Jesus himself (the Son) also follows the example of his Father:

    • “Just as [kaqw/$] my Father (has) loved me, (so) I also (have) loved you” (v. 9a)
    • “If you would keep watch (over) my e)ntolai/, you will remain in my love, just as [kaqw/$] I have kept watch (over) the e)ntolai/ of my Father, and (so) I remain in His love.” (v. 10)

This chain of relationship is expressed in two directions:

    • The Father has loved the Son
      • the Son has loved Believers
    • Believers should fulfill the duties given by the Son
      (and so remain in the Son’s love)

      • the Son has fulfilled the duties given by the Father
        (and so remains in the Father’s love)

In verse 13, Jesus gives us the essence of what this love signifies and entails. We will explore this in the next daily note.