Chiasm in John 15, Part III

This entry will serve as the third and final in a series of posts concerning the structure and meaning of John 15.  Click here for Part I and Part II.  I have tried to break these up for brevity, and while all three observations contribute to the meaning of Jesus’ words, I would argue that this last one is the most important. Parts I and Part II identified chiasms on a microscopic level.  They dissected the passage’s sub units, whereas my final task is to take a step back and look at the whole chapter from a broader view.

Verse numbers and chapter breaks are sometimes obscure to my understanding – probably the product of some Englishman in the 16th century responsible for compiling the King James Bible.  That does not mean that the separations are meaningless, or that we should neglect their organization, but I don’t always agree with or follow these labels.  Therefore, I am looking at John 15:1 – 16:3 as one collective thought.  These verses might be grouped into three major units:

John 15 - 1st Major Unit

John 15 - 2nd Major Unit

John 15 - 3rd Major Unit

Maybe I should have started with these major units because they are the least complex.  It follows the simple A-B-A form and so the chiasm pattern is readily seen.  The central, arguably most important message in this dialogue, is the command to love one another.  (Part II analyzed what that looks like as God modeled perfect love for us first.)  The end caps both show the result of remaining in Jesus’ love or not remaining in Jesus’ love.  One appeals to his disciples and presents a positive picture.  The other refers to the pagan world and presents an unquestionably negative picture, even by secular standards.

Let us learn from the words spoken and see them more clearly through the pattern in which they were recorded.  Let us respond to the vine allegory, the call to love, the blessings and consequences of heeding God’s commands.  Above all things, let us love one another.


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