I am the true vine: Jesus’ metaphor resembles word pictures found in the Hebrew Scriptures. In Isaiah’s prophecy, “the house of Israel” is called “the vineyard of Jehovah of armies.” (Isa 5:1-7) Jehovah also referred to unfaithful Israel as “the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine” and as “a degenerate vine.” (Jer 2:21; Ho 10:1, 2) But unlike that disloyal nation, Jesus is “the true vine,” and his Father, the cultivator. After likening his disciples to “branches” of the vine, he urged them to remain in union with him. Just as branches of a literal vine must remain attached to the trunk in order to remain alive and fruitful, the disciples need to remain in union with Jesus to be spiritually alive and productive. The illustration also shows that just as a cultivator expects a vine to produce fruit, Jehovah expects those in union with Christ to produce spiritual fruitage. This illustration emphasizes the unity that exists not only between Jesus’ true followers and Jesus but also between the disciples and Jesus’ Father.—Joh 15:2-8.
cleans: Or “prunes.” The Greek word here rendered “cleans” is a verb form of the Greek word rendered “clean” at Joh 15:3.
life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to a person’s life.—See Glossary, “Soul.”
I no longer call you slaves: The Greek term for “a slave,” douʹlos, is generally used with reference to individuals owned by fellow men. (Mt 8:9; 10:24, 25; 13:27) It is also used figuratively to refer to devoted servants of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ, whether human (Ac 2:18; 4:29; Ro 1:1; Ga 1:10) or angelic (Re 19:10, where the word synʹdou·los [fellow slave] appears). In another figurative usage, the term applies to people in slavery to sin (Joh 8:34; Ro 6:16-20) or to corruption (2Pe 2:19). When Jesus sacrificed his perfect life, he used the value of that blood to buy the lives of all those who follow him. As a result, Christians do not belong to themselves but are “Christ’s slaves.” (Eph 6:6; 1Co 6:19, 20; 7:23; Ga 3:13) Although Jesus called the apostles his friends, by redeeming them from sin, they became his slaves. At times, he used this expression to refer to his followers.—Joh 15:20.
world: In this context, the Greek word koʹsmos refers to the world of mankind apart from God’s servants, the unrighteous human society alienated from God. John is the only Gospel writer to quote Jesus as saying that his followers are no part of the world or do not belong to the world. The same thought is expressed two more times in Jesus’ last prayer with his faithful apostles.—Joh 17:14, 16.
on account of my name: In the Bible, the term “name” at times stands for the person who bears the name, his reputation, and all that he represents. (See study note on Mt 6:9.) In the case of Jesus’ name, it also stands for the authority and position that his Father has given him. (Mt 28:18; Php 2:9, 10; Heb 1:3, 4) Jesus here explains why people of the world would do things against his followers: because they do not know the One who sent him. Knowing God would help them to understand and acknowledge what Jesus’ name stands for. (Ac 4:12) This would include Jesus’ position as God’s appointed Ruler, the King of kings, to whom all people should bow in submission in order to gain life.—Joh 17:3; Re 19:11-16; compare Ps 2:7-12.
helper: See study note on Joh 14:16.
from the beginning: Or “from when I began,” that is, from when Jesus began his ministry.