November 18: John 15:16 (5)

John 15:16, concluded

“(It was) not you (who) gathered me out, but I (who) gathered you out; and I set you (so) that you should lead (yourself) under and should bear fruit, and (that) your fruit should remain, (so) that, whatever you would ask (of) the Father in my name, He should give to you.”

“(so) that, whatever you would ask (of) the Father in my name, He should give to you.”
i%na o% ti a*n ai)th/shte to\n pate/ra e)n tw=| o)no/mati/ mou dw=| u(mi=n

The conclusion of verse 16 echoes the promise from v. 7b—namely, that the Father will give the disciples whatever they ask for in Jesus’ name (“in my name”). The promise in v. 7 was conditional, governed by the particle e)a/n:  “if you should remain in me, and my words remain in you…”. The condition of remaining (vb me/nw) in Jesus, and in his word[s] (cf. 8:31), corresponds here to the expression “in Jesus’ name”. It reflects the character and conduct of the true disciple (or true believer); on the verb me/nw (“remain”) in this regard, cf. the discussion in the previous note (and in notes prior).

A similar promise, regarding the disciples’ prayers being answered, occurs at two other points in the Last Discourse (14:13-14; 16:23-24, 26). In both instances, prayer is described as making a request or “asking” (vb ai)te/w) God (the Father); and the same qualifying/conditional expression, “in my name”, is used as well.

The context of v. 16 suggests that the disciples’ requests will be tied to their mission. Indeed, there is no real indication that these prayer-references in the Last Discourse involve request for personal needs; on the contrary, the entire thrust of Jesus’ instruction would seem to assume that the disciples will be praying for others, more than for themselves. The duty to show love, as defined (13:34-35; 15:12-13), virtually requires that prayer be focused on the needs and well-being of others.

This is equally true with regard to the duty of guarding Jesus’ words (“remain in my word”). Since, in the Gospel of John, the message of Jesus’ words, centering on his identity as the Son of God, has life-giving power (6:63, 68), the words thus give (eternal) life to those who receive them. The disciples/believers who “guard” this word (lo/go$) are faithful to the witness of Jesus, and share in his mission. We may assume that any request by a true believer, made “in Jesus’ name”, will have this mission and duty in mind.

The prayer-references in the Last Discourse are also connected contextually with the Paraclete-sayings (14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7b-15)—dealing with the promise of the coming of the Spirit. The coming of the Spirit also occurs “in Jesus’ name” (14:26), and involves a request made to the Father (14:16). In this regard, one is reminded of the collection of teachings on prayer by Jesus in Luke 11:1-13, which climaxes with a promise that the Father will give the Holy Spirit (v. 13), suggesting that the coming of the Spirit represents the very goal and purpose of prayer. In the Johannine Paraclete-sayings, the role of the Spirit is very much centered on the disciples/believers’ mission—specifically, on witnessing to the truth of who Jesus is (15:26-27; 16:8ff, 13-15).