John 15:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 15:16, NIV: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit--fruit that will last--and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you."

John 15:16, ESV: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

John 15:16, KJV: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

John 15:16, NASB: "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."

John 15:16, NLT: "You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name."

John 15:16, CSB: "You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you."

What does John 15:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus began this section with an analogy about vines and branches. Part of that imagery involves seeing God as the One ultimately in control of all that happens. The branches don't weed each other out, and they don't determine which other branches are removed. That's the role of the Vinedresser (John 15:1–6). This statement reflects that perspective and echoes other comments Jesus made during His earthly ministry (John 6:37, 44, 65).

So far as this verse applies to the disciples, it doesn't seem controversial. Jesus certainly selected these men as His students, before and beyond their own knowledge (John 1:39, 43; 6:70; Matthew 4:18–22). His purpose in choosing these men was to establish the Christian church after His resurrection and ascension (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8). Few people recoil at the idea of Jesus telling the Twelve that their positions—as disciples—are entirely due to Jesus' choices, not theirs.

Where this verse creates controversy is in relation to how—or if—Jesus "chooses" people to become born-again Christians, and how—or if—the free will of those persons comes into play. Thousands of books have been written about concepts such as predestination, election, and God's sovereignty. Verses such as this create a boundary for interpretation. That those who are saved are only those whom God chooses for salvation is beyond reasonable debate. Interpretations suggesting God does not choose, at all, are automatically invalid. What, exactly, that means in terms of those other debates is not the ultimate point of Jesus' words in this context.

Jesus is echoing comments He made earlier regarding fruit, "abiding" in Him, and the way God answers prayer. Production of spiritual fruit is a primary sign that someone is vitally connected to the "True Vine" (John 15:1). God's intent is that we "abide" in Christ, embracing and deeply engaging in the work to which He has called us (John 15:5). When the Word of God abides in us, and drives our thoughts and desires, it aligns our will with the will of God. God's prayers are always—and only—answered in accordance with His will. Only when what we ask is His will, is it guaranteed to come to pass.

This also relates to the idea of asking for things "in the name" of Christ. This involves speaking on behalf of a greater authority. It does not mean forcing that authority to do what they are not willing to do. A police officer can arrest someone "in the name of the law," when the government legitimately wants that person to be arrested. They cannot simply use the phrase "in the name of the law" to harass people or invent their own rules. In the same way, Christians are only truly praying "in the name of Jesus" when those prayers are offered in total submission to His sovereign will (John 15:7).