May 28, 2022
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you (John 15:1-3).
The branches in this metaphor refer initially to the disciples (except Judas Iscariot) since it was on the way from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus spoke these words, and the 11 disciples were the only ones walking with Him. Second, Jesus said, You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you, words that parallel what He said to Peter (John 13:10), He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. And since Jesus declared the disciples (except for Judas Iscariot) to be ‘clean’ or purified (saved), the branches refer to Christians.
The vine produces branches. As long as the branches are connected to the vine, they receive life from the vine. The fruit of the vine is produced through the branches. But if the branches don’t produce fruit, they are ‘taken away’. If the branches are Christians, does this mean they lose their salvation? No. That would contradict John 3:16-17; 4:14; 10:28-30; 18:9; Romans 5:9-10; 8:35-39, etc. So, how are we to understand this?
The tense of the verb, does not bear fruit, literally means ‘not bearing fruit’. He is not speaking of a branch that never bore fruit, but no longer bears fruit. Three conditions can cause this in a natural branch: (1) running to leaf, (2) disease [blight], or (3) age. 2 Peter 1:5-9 speaks of a Christian who lacks, or has stopped doing those things that promote spiritual health and vitality. He does not say they lose salvation. He says they have become shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins (v.9), they have become barren and unfruitful. (Titus 3:14) And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
So, what does it mean for the Father to ‘take away’ a branch that does not bear fruit? The word translated ‘take away’ is airo. It literally means to lift up, bear up, to raise. (Luke 17:13) And they lifted up [airo] their voices and said. . . .(Acts 4:24) So when they heard that, they raised [airo] their voice to God . . . .(John 11:41) Then they took away [airo] the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up [airo] His eyes and said . . . . There are other texts that translate airo as ‘to life up’. Even in the last cited verse it is best to translate the sentence, ‘Then they lifted up the stone from the place’ since they didn’t take the stone anywhere, they simply moved it from the opening of the tomb.
Therefore, the idea is this, ‘Every person in Christ that has stopped bearing fruit, He lifts up’. Why? To care for it, to address the reason why it is not producing anymore, to heal it. ‘And every person that bears fruit He prunes (katharizo: cleanse, purge, prune) so that it may bear more fruit’. The Lord is not interested in condemning and destroying, but cleansing and redeeming, even His own people. The Apostle Peter is the prime example (John 21:15-19). Amen.