Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Interpreting John 15:1-5: The Unfruitful Branch

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-5 NIV)

Once Saved, Always Saved
The issue that we are dealing here is whether the "unfruitful branches" refers to true believers or false believers. Is it possible for true believers to be "cut off from the true vine"? No, it is not. For in John 10:27-28, it is written of true believers: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."

It is written in 1 John 3:6, "No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him." This verse explicitly tells us that the false believers has never "remain in Christ" in the first place, as they have neither SEEN Jesus Christ nor KNOWN Jesus Christ. 1 John 2:19 also refers to false believers as never being part of the body of Christ: "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."

Before salvation, true believers who were unbelievers cannot "bear fruit to God". (Romans 7:4) Can false believers and unbelievers bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Definitely not. Only with the Holy Spirit working in us, we can bear fruit, which is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol." (Galatians 5:22-23) False prophets, who are false believers, are recognized by their fruit: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:15-16) The unbelievers' fruit is also referred to as the "fruit for death" (Romans 7:5)

In conclusion, the "unfruitful branches" in John 15:1-5 refers to false believers, NOT true believers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I would love to believe this position and in am certainly lean more toward eternal security; we have to see the challenge in this verse. Jesus states that "every branch IN ME, that does not bear fruit". We can never be in Christ without salvation. Jesus is definitely referring those that at some point were referred to as "In ME".

21/3/07 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This verse is not referring to non-believers. John 15:2, "Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and ..."

Jesus was clearly referring to those born again because He said they are "in Me". However, why would He take away someone who is "in Me"? The confusion is because of the phrase "He takes away".

In the original Greek, the phrase "takes away" is "airo" (Strong's concordance #142). "Airo" actually means "elevate, raise up, lift up"!!!

Have you ever seen a portion of grape vine that didn't twine properly around the support sticks, so they lie on the ground?

Jesus says these are the one that will be lifted up onto the support sticks so that they can continue to bear fruit.

Isn't it good news? How the original Greek means "elevate, raise up, lift up", and not "cut off"? God is never the author of confusion. The debate about whether the verse refers to believers or non-believers no longer has reason to exist now that the confusion is cleared up.

Thus, the verse refers to how kind God is to believers who are not fruitful, He lifts them up and helps them to bear fruit.

Hallelujah!!! We really serve a great God!

5/5/07 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

G142 appears to have four meanings. I am not a Greek scholar but to simply say it means "elevate, raise up...etc" does not appear to be the full picture. In the Complete Word Study (CWS) we see this as the first of four. But the CWS cites Jn 15:2 by this description,

"(IV) To take away, remove, with the idea of lifting away from, usually with the idea of violence and authority.
(A) Particularly (Lk 6:29,30; 11:22). The new piece tears away still more of the old garment (Mt 9:16; Mk 2:21). Of branches, meaning to cut off, prune (Jn 15:2); Spoken of persons, meaning to take away or remove from a church, excommunicate (1Co 5:2, in some MSS exarthe¦ [1808]). To take away or remove out of the world by death, and so forth (Mt 24:39). In His humiliation and oppression was His sentence; He was torn away, meaning hurried away to death (Ac 8:33; Isa 53:8; 57:1,2). In the imper. a|%re or a&ron, away with, meaning put out of the way, kill (Lk 23:18; Jn 19:15; Ac 21:36; 22:22)."

10/7/12 12:45 AM  

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