John 15:1-15, I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 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. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 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. 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. 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. 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. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 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.
Now before we get into an examination of this passage we must be impressed with a knowledge as to what is its theme.
Some have said its theme concerns salvation and others have said its theme is only about fellowship and fruitbearing.
As I teach this passage I teach it as a passage not about salvation but about fellowship and fruitbearing.
That being said Jesus is instructing his disciples, Jesus is instructing believers, not unbelievers, and our reading of this passage includes the fact that Jesus also said to his disciples that he would never leave them nor forsake them.
The scriptures teach the eternal security of the believer and because this is so we must approach this passage knowing that what it says does not include a loss of salvation of the believer.
Now it is clearly shown that Jesus was talking to his disciples about their relationship to him.
Foe He uses the word couplet, “every branch in me”.
He uses the word abide, a fellowship word, 9 times in ten verses.
The word fruit, a word related to service is used 6 times in these verses.
So we must not conclude in our study anything that leads one to believe that Jesus is eternally casting away any of His own because of their fruit bearing or lack of fruit bearing.
The theme is fellowship, for the words, “Every branch in me” proves that salvation has already taken place, and therefore this instruction is to God’s children.
Jesus starts this passage by saying: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Our Lord opens this discussion by bringing forth the subject of the vine and in doing so I am sure the disciples recalled another vine, the vine called Israel that God brought forth to bring him fruit.
God, the husbandman looks for fruit!
He planted Israel and expected fruit from that vine but sorrowfully He found none.
But God, the husbandman, will not be stopped, for He will have fruit.
So in Jesus Christ he plants a true vine and here Jesus Christ announces to his disciples that He is that vine.
As on many other occasions Jesus uses that which He has created to teach us a truth about the Father, about himself and his relationship with his own.
He is true. He is the true light in contrast with his forerunner, John who was but a lamp.
He was the true bread in contrast with the manna of the wilderness.
He was the true tabernacle in contrast with the tabernacle that Moses made.
And therefore He is the true vine, in contrast with Israel of the Old Testament which as a type of vine proved a failure.
As Hosea 10:1 says: Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself:
Now what a charge that is to us who so many times bring forth fruit unto ourselves forgetting why, as offspring of God we are here.
Now a vine serves no other useful purpose but to bear fruit.
It is not to bear fruit for itself but for the husbandman.
If it does not bear fruit for the husbandman but simply consumes the nutrients of the soil it is simply a nuisance and is pulled up and cast away.
Israel simply bore fruit for itself and not the husbandman.
God will have his fruit so he sent Jesus Christ to be the vine on which fruit would be borne.
He now is to return to the Father but he expects fruit bearing on himself the vine, to continue.
The vine is planted in the earth and branches have sprouted.
His going away will not stop the fruit from coming but in fact it will increase the fruit bearing.
Now in chapters 13 and 14 Christ told his disciples what he would be doing for them and all believers while he is away.
But in this chapter, he instructs his own in what they are to do for him while he is away and that doing is to bear fruit.
He has already told his disciples in John 12:24 ..... Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Jesus Christ expects much fruit on the vine because he is the vine and his Father is the husbandman.
This is a picture of a Father that is personally involved in the fruit bearing of the vine.
The husbandman tends the vine with loving care.
He intends for the vine to be as fruitful as possible and will do everything to see that that comes about.
Every growth on the vine is noticed.
Every bud is encouraged. Watering takes place at the right time.
The vine is trained to grow in a certain way to get the necessary sunlight.
The husbandman observes each branch of the vine and each branch of the vine is individually tended.
The husbandman has a fruit bearing plan for each branch and the pruning knife and purging is part of his plan.
Whatever it takes the husbandman intends for each branch to bear fruit.
Reading John 15:2, 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.
As we go into this verse remember that Jesus Christ is talking about fruit bearing of believers.
He is not talking about salvation because he refers to branches already in him.
This is past the new birth, this is past salvation.
He is not talking about losing one's salvation because the Bible is very clear that believers are secure in Christ Jesus.
In verse two he said: "Every branch in me!"
This precedes discussion about three types of branches: branches that bear no fruit, branches that bear some fruit, and branches that bear more fruit.
But these are branches that are attached to the vine.
All of their strength and nutrients come from the vine.
He is talking about a union of vine and branches.
He is talking about the same thing as 2 Cor. 5:17 talks about: ...if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.
He is talking about the same thing as Paul relates to us in Gal 3:27: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
This vine has no branches that do not belong there.
There are no branches pretending to be attached to the vine.
And this is a verse that describes the work of the husbandman attending the vine.
The husbandman is interested in quality fruit.
He knows that his vine is the finest quality and he intends for that vine to produce quality fruit so his actions are all toward that end.
He examines each branch to find fruit.
He finds a branch that has no fruit.
John records the words of Jesus Christ: Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:
The King James translation says he takes the branch away.
Normally this is thought of as indicating a severing of the branch from the vine.
But it could also mean a separating of the branch from other branches.
The husbandman takes away a branch from other branches.
The word translated "taketh away" is from the Greek word: airo, ah'ee‑ro; which literally means to "raise up" or "to elevate".
In Matthew 4:6, it is translated to "bear up."
In John 5:10, it is translated "to carry."
In John 11:41, it is translated "lift up."
In Acts 4:24, it is translated "lifted up."
Considering that this word can be translated into the English in various ways and considering the context of its usage in this verse it appears to me that it could be written:
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he lifteth up:
So perhaps the husbandman is lifting up the branch that is not bearing fruit so it is in a better position to receive more sun or less sun.
Sometimes branches grow downward and follow the surface of the ground where other natural debris, dust or dirt tends to smother them.
The branches remain connected to the vine but they are going in a way that is not conducive to fruit bearing.
The vinedresser does not cut them off for they are still capable of producing fruit so he decides to reposition or separate them from other branches and in so doing he washes off the dirt and debris that they will receive sunlight and oxygen in order to bear fruit.
We see in this the need at times for branches to relocate in order to bear fruit.
The lesson Jesus gives is this: The environment of branches is important and God, ever the husbandman chooses to relocate his own in order that they bear fruit for him.
Every gardener worth the name knows this principle.
If a plant is not thriving it may need water, it may need fertilizing, but it also may need moving.
It may need a lifting up to another location where it receives more of less sunlight, more or less nutrients, more or less water.
The message is that God gives His all in seeing to it that His own bear fruit.
Another indication that this is the proper translation is the order of the husbandman's work.
This first branch is not a fruit bearing branch but the husbandman works to make it a fruit bearing branch.
And the last phrase of this verse brings fruit bearing to the next level where Jesus talks about a branch that is bearing fruit, but he wants it to bear more fruit.
Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
The husbandman examines the vine and finds fruit.
The condition of this vine needs to be improved so it may bring forth more fruit.
The word purgeth means cleanseth.
The husbandman washes the vine to rid the vine of insects and moss and parasites which drain the strength of the vine.
This is not a pruning but a cleaning of the vine.
A purging of the vine by water and careful washing of the vine.
Did not Jesus Christ insist that Peter had to yield his feet to him for washing if he expected to maintain fellowship with him?
This same principle is taught here.
The branch yields itself to the cleansing of the husbandman if much fruit is to result.
The right relationship with the vine must be maintained if fruit is to result in the branch.
This is amplified by the next verse where the Lord says to his disciples:
John 15:3, Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Jesus Christ up to this point has been describing the state of a believer before God.
The state of a believer before God varies depending upon the believer.
But the standing of a believer does not vary because the believer's standing depends on Jesus Christ.
In this verse he is talking about the standing of his disciples.
Their standing depends on the finished work of Jesus Christ and as long as that finished work stands their standing will never vary.
As long as he is the vine a disciple will be a branch.
In this verse He is teaching the same lesson as he taught in:
John 13:10, when he told his disciples: He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
He that is washed, indicates the standing of the believer and "to wash his feet" indicates the state of the believer.
Note in John 13:10, Jesus qualified his statement by saying "but not all" referring to Judas.
Judas' standing before God was not clean.
Judas had never been born again. Judas was lost but he found the grave.
Here in John 15:3 Jesus includes all of his disciples as clean since Judas has already departed to do his wicked work.
Fruit bearing will only occur by the branch being connected to the vine.
A branch not connected to the vine is dead and a dead branch will not bear fruit.
But Jesus Christ says: Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
This statement tells us that the disciples were connected to the vine.
The disciples were branches and therefore connected to bear fruit.
All is in place for the disciples to bear fruit and the husbandman will do his part to insure that fruit is forthcoming in each branch.
They were clean through the word of Christ.