In John 14:15, does the Greek verb tense (etc.) make the keeping of Jesus' commands a command, a predictive promise (you will) or is it even possible that Jesus is saying that in you love me you are keeping my commands (in light of his summation of the law into the command to love)?


There is some discrepancy about the precise Greek text of John 14:15. There are three primary variations which all surround the verb "keep". I will list these in the order they are presented on UBS5:

  1. "Keep" is indicative future active: You will keep my commands
  2. "Keep" is subjunctive aorist active: You may/might keep my commands
  3. "Keep" is imperative aorist active: You must keep my commands

UBS5 judges that "indicative" is the most probable and I agree because John 14:23 is also in the indicative mood with a very similar idea.

Next, the "my" is emphatic. Thus, it would be possible to render the verse: "If you love me, it is MY commands that you will be keeping". This emphasises the fact that the keeping comes as a result of the loving of God and that it is only His commands (not anyone else's) that we would keep. That is, our focus is on loving God (and all that entails) and we will keep HIS commands. This idea is repeated numerous times in the NT such as:

  • Love as Jesus loved. John 13:34, 35, 15:12, 1 John 4:8, 11, 19, Eph 5:1, 2.
  • Lay down life for friends as Jesus did. John 15:13, Eph 5:2.
  • Jesus’ suffering leaves us an example. John 16:33, 2 Tim 1:4, Heb 13:12, 13, 1 Peter 2:21.
  • Because Jesus was persecuted, so are His followers. John 15:20, 21.
  • Conformed to the likeness of the Son. Rom 8:29.
  • Transforming our will and bodies to conform to God’s will. Rom 12:1, 2.
  • Forgive as Jesus forgave. Matt 6:12, Eph 4:32.
  • Be imitators of God. Eph 5:1.
  • Be holy as Jesus is holy. Lev 11:44, 45, 1 Peter 1:15, 16.
  • Be pure as He is pure. 1 John 3:3.
  • Partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4.
  • We are being changed into Christ’s glory (= reputation). 2 Cor 3:18.
  • Pray as Jesus prayed. Luke 11:1.
  • We are to have the mind of Christ. Phil 2:5, 1 Cor 2:16.
  • Be kind because God is kind. Luke 6:34, 35.
  • Be merciful because God is merciful. Luke 6:36.
  • Be servants to others as Jesus was. John 13:15-17, 1 Peter 4:11b, Matt 20:24-28.
  • Be patient as Jesus was patient. 1 Tim 1:16.
  • Talk/speak as Jesus speaks. 1 Peter 4:11a.
  • Be “perfect” (= mature and generous to enemies) as the Father is. Matt 5:48.
  • Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved His people and gave Himself for her. Eph 5:25.
  • Keep the commandments as Jesus kept the commandments. John 15:10.

There are many more instances but this will suffice to illustrate the point.

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