(John 15:1-11) The Vine and the Branches

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The Context

  • —Jesus’ Audience in Chapter 15: 11 of his 12 disciples (Judas Iscariot was not present, see John 13:30)
  • —John’s Overall Purpose for His Gospel: John 20:31 (that his audience might have knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, and have eternal life through believing in Him)
  • —Key Interpretive Questions: —Is this passage talking about “perseverance of the saints” vs. “loss of salvation”? Or is it meant for believers?

Is This a Prophetic Invitation to Repentance?

  • —Chapters 13-14:
    • —(13:21-30) Judas’s betrayal predicted
    • —(13:36-38) Peter’s denial predicted
    • —(14:1-14) Heavenly promises
    • —(14:15-31) Earthly promise – the Holy Spirit
  • —Observation: Chapter 15 seems to draw from the previous two chapters. It is, therefore, a passage of hope to the unfaithful, and it provides encouragement for living empowered by the Holy Spirit.

***Scriptural quotations taken from the King James Version***

1.I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

  • —The “true vine” – In the OT, Israel was called the “vine.” (e.g., Isaiah 5:1-7)
  • —The husbandman – It could also be translated “farmer,” but “vinedresser” is probably best.

2.Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

  • —“purgeth” – Can also be translated, “cleans” (see vs. 3)

3.Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

  • —Clean – In other words, a believer is “purged” by the word of Christ (previous instruction in ch. 13-14, though the rest of the Scriptures are probably implied)
  • —The word’s abiding power – Distinguishes a believer from unbeliever (John 5:38)

4.Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

  • —Abide – Not only does the word need to abide in us for justification (salvation), but we also need to abide in Christ for sanctification.
  • —“Bear fruit” – To produce results, probably the fruit of the Spirit.
  • —Application: Be Patient – It takes time for a pruned branch to bear fruit. We should take this principle into account when we disciple new believers.

5.I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

  • —“the same” – “this” (doing this: abiding)
  • Double negative – literally “you cannot do nothing” (in Greek, a double negative is used for emphasizing a point)

6.If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

  • —Analogy – Up to the semicolon, it expresses how Christians who don’t bear fruit as cast aside (outside of fellowship with God) as branches during the fall pruning. After the semicolon, Jesus is talking about what happens to the branches, but He is not saying unfaithful Christians are subject to being burned. It’s an analogy to state the worthlessness of not abiding in Christ.

7.If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

  • —“ask” – this is an imperative verb, so the disciples were actually commanded to “ask.” (see 14:12-14)
  • —“will” – literally, “desire”

8.Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

  • —“Herein” – in this (bearing much fruit). In other words, God wants you to be a fruitful Christian.
  • —“that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” – better translated, “that ye might bear much fruit and might be my disciples” (subjunctive verbs). The subjunctive mood indicates something that is indefinite but probable. Therefore, bearing fruit and obeying Jesus are choices believers need to make, that are probable (since the Holy Spirit lives in us) but not forced.

9.As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

  • —“loved” – this is not to say that the love of the Father and Son stopped; it’s a simple statement of fact.
  • —“continue” – the same word for “abide” that’s been used several times in this passage. How do you do this? (see vs. 10)

10.If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

  • —Keep = to observe (practice).
  • —Do this mean that if we sin, then God will no longer love us?
  • —Response: It means that we will not “abide” in His love, which is different from saying God will no longer love us.

11.These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

  • —“remain” – There actually isn’t a verb here for “remain.” It’s better stated, “that my joy [be] in you.”
  • —“joy might be full” – Again, John uses a subjunctive verb. So the idea here is that Christians can have “full joy” (or “complete joy”), but they have the responsibility of following Jesus’ commandments. So, there is the possibility that a Christian may not be a joyful Christian (even though it’s entirely avoidable).

 

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