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Presented by: Josh Massop, Trevor Scott, and Aaron Weiss.

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1 Presented by: Josh Massop, Trevor Scott, and Aaron Weiss

2 As we come into John 15 we find it opens with Jesus’ allegory of the vine and the branches. Chapter 14 concludes with the statement “come now; let us leave”. It is possible that Jesus and the Eleven have left the upper room and began walking across the city of Jerusalem down into the Kidron Valley that bought them to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. If that is the case they may have passed the great golden vine that decorated the door to the Holy Place of the temple or else the vines that grew close to the great walls of the city and stretched along it. This is not certain, however, for the party may have lingered in the upper room even after Christ’s statement. Whether they stayed or left the upper room Jesus was using his picture of the vine to teach truth.

3 “The vine was grown all over Palestine as it still is. It is a plant which needs a great deal of attention if the best fruit is to be got out of it. It is grown commonly on terraces. The ground has to be perfectly clean. It is sometimes trained on trellises; it is sometimes allowed to creep over the ground upheld by low forked sticks; it sometimes even grows around the doors of the cottages; but wherever it grows careful preparation of the soil is essential. It grows luxuriantly and drastic pruning is necessary. So luxuriant is it that the sips are set in the ground at least twelve feet apart, for it will creep over the ground quickly. A young vine is not allowed to fruit for the first three years and each year is cut drastically back to develop and conserve its life and energy. When mature, it is pruned in December and January. It bears two kinds of branches, one that bears fruit and one that does not; and the branches that do not bear fruit are drastically pruned back, so that they will drain away none of the plant’s strength. The vine can not produce the crop of which it is capable without drastic pruning – and Jesus knew that. Further, the wood of the vine has the curious characteristic that it is good for nothing. It is too soft for any purpose. At certain times of the year it was laid down by the law, the people must bring offerings of wood to the Temple for the altar fires. But the wood of the vine must not be brought. The only thing that could be done with the wood pruned out of a vine was to make a bonfire of it and destroy it.” (William Barkley)

4 “This is the seventh and last of the “I Am” statements of Christ recorded in the Gospel of John. However Jesus did not stop with this image, but went on to use the picture of the friend. These two pictures of the believer – branches and friends – reveal both our privileges and our responsibilities. As branches we have the privilege of sharing His life, and the responsibility of abiding. As friends, we have the privilege of knowing His will, and the responsibility of obeying.” (Warren W. Wiersbe) It is also to be noted that there is a division that comes between John 15:1-8 and John 15:9-17. Both sections speak of ‘remaining’, the first of remaining in the vine/Jesus, the second of remaining in Jesus’ love. Both hold up fruitfulness as the disciple’s goal (vv. 5,16); and both tie such fruitfulness to prayer (vv 7-8, 16). (The Gospel according to John by D.A. Carson)


6 Jesus speaks of himself as the true vine. The emphasis is on the word true. “This does not mean that he is true as opposed to that which is false but, rather, that he is the one, perfect, essential and enduring vine before which all other vines are but shadows. The word is used in precisely the sense elsewhere where Jesus is declared to be the “true light” (1:9), the “true bread” (6:32), and the “true tabernacle” (Heb. 8:2)” (The Gospel of John by James Montgomery Boice) “When the vine imagery is used in the Old Testament it is mostly used of Israel in its sinfulness rather than its fruitfulness. (Psalms 80:8-19; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 19:10-14 and Hosea 10:1-2) Hosea 10:1-2 sees the nation as concerned not to bring forth the fruit that brings good to others, as God would have the people do, but as concerned with fruit “for himself”. It is not in this way that real fruitfulness is achieved. Jesus, by contrast, was and is the true vine. His whole life was a ministry, a service of others. And it was about to culminate in a death that would bring untold blessing to those for whom he died. In Jesus’ “I am” statement, in saying, “I am the true vine,” again harkens his audience to his other “I am” statements, but also into the fuller meaning of Jesus’ symbolism as the source of life and sustaining relationship of the branches, followers of Christ.

7 Jesus speaks of the Father as “the gardener” where the Greek term (georgos) really means a “farmer”. The word basically means someone who works the land or tills the soil and thus is the right term for a farmer or a gardener. But in this context it means someone who works with vines, not someone engaged in general farming.” (Reflections on the Gospel of John by Leon Morris)

8 There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the term and context of the phrase “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.” The King James Version of the Bible says “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. ” There are a number of translations that a person can look at and each one has the thought that if a branch does not bear fruit it is cut off or taken away but the branch that does bear fruit will be pruned. The Greek word for “cut off” and “takes away” is the word “airo”. “The word “airo” has four basic meaning, which are, proceeding from the most fundamental to the most figurative: (1) to lift up or pickup, (2) to lift up figuratively, as a lifting up one’s eyes or voice, (3) to lift up with the added thought of lifting up in order to carry away, and (4) to remove.” (The Gospel of John by James Montgomery Boice) There are a number of commentaries that speak to this as well. The one thought deals with this as loosing ones salvation if not bearing fruit, another says that the branch is lifted up so that it can produce fruit, still anther deals with the non-bearing branch as one that was not truly connected to the vine. It is not our intention to discuss these issues at this time. The importance of this is to deal with the privileges and responsibilities of the branch and as friends.

9 “An important part of looking after a vine is pruning. Left to itself a grape vine will tend to produce large quantities of foliage, and this tendency must be checked if maximum fruitfulness is to be attained. So the gardener will do a good deal of pruning in order to encourage fruitfulness.” Anything that will cause the vine to not be fruitful, or hinders the sap from flowing unabated into the vine the gardener will be aggressive in pruning so that the branches are able to produce maximum amount of fruit. The other phrase in these two verses is the word “clean”. It is thought that “when Jesus speaks of the continued “cleansing” of the branches after they have already become “clean”, the disciples in the story world and John’s ideal audience might recall 13:10 which implies that the disciples are mostly clean but their feet must sill be washed.” (The Gospel of John by Craig S. Keener) The disciples were clean but not all of them because of the word of God, which Jesus declared to them and to which they had believed and had taken hold of the disciples lives. William Hendriksen suggests that those who bear fruit, evidence Christ-like virtues and behaviour, are being cleansed more and more; having already been justified, receiving “the grace of daily renewal, until finally completely sanctified, they reached the shores of Heaven. (298, William Hendriksen)

10 The fruit that is spoken of in verse 2 and subsequently throughout this passage of scripture can be safely concluded to represent good works which God values because it glorifies Him. In Galatians 5:22 the fruit of the Spirit is listed as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control.” To generalize inward and outward fruit one could say; you bear outward fruit when you allow God to work through you to bring Him glory. Fruit is an inevitable outcome and expression of a continual relationship with the vine. It is, perhaps, important to emphasize the ongoing nature of abiding and remaining in the vine, Christ, as a continuous discipline offered in Christ, but also wholly the responsibility of the individual.

11 A branch cannot bear fruit without the vine to give it life and strength. The branch is of the same nature and has one life with the vine, but has no other purpose than to bear fruit. “A branch is lifeless and useless unless it remains attached to the vine. The living sap from the stock flowing into it enable it to produce grapes; otherwise it is fruitless. So with Jesus’ disciples, past, present and future; only as they remain in union with him and derive their life from him can they produce the fruit of the Spirit.”(The Gospel & Epistles of John by F.F.Bruce)

12 “Jesus expects each of his followers not only to bear fruit, but to bear much fruit. Right through this passage there runs the thought that fruitfulness is impossible apart form Christ, but that is inevitable if we preserve vital contact with him. Fruitfulness is not something we achieve in the natural energies of the flesh but something that follows naturally enough when we are in Christ.” (Reflections on the Gospel of John by Leon Morris) “The admonition, ‘abide in me,’ is in agreement with numerous exhortations addressed to believers, warning them against apostasy and bidding them to abide in faith.” (299, William Hendriksen) While this passage does not disagree with scripture’s assertion that once some is truly saved, they remain saved (John 10:27-29); but God does not keep a person on the path to salvation without the diligence and observance of the individual. It is the strength to remain in Christ that comes from God alone.

13 It is of interest to note that remaining and obeying come together as we will see in the next section. To “remain in me” refers to something that we must do. We must trust, obey and detach ourselves from everything else, cling to Christ. If we do not continually abide or remain in Christ the warning is that we will eventually whither up and bear no fruit. The allegory clearly portrays the outcome of a branch poorly rooted in the vine, as unproductive and dying.

14 “Abiding in Christ is important for other reasons that the production of Christian character, the bringing forth of Christian qualities in the life day by day. Jesus now tells his hearers that it is a condition of prevailing prayer. If you remain in me he says, bring out his point of personal relationship and my words remain in you, which stresses the importance of being at home in Jesus’ teaching, then ask what you will and it will be done for you. Jesus is not simply telling the disciple that if they pray certain things will follow. He is encouraging them to pray indeed, commanding them to pray. Disciples are to ask what they will and it will be done for you. We should not understand this to mean that prayer is a kind of magic talisman, such that ay desires the Christian may have are bound to be gratified. Jesus is talking about prayer that is made by the person who remains in him and in whom his words remain. In other words, he is speaking about the person whose life is directed singly towards the doing of the will of God.” (Reflections on the Gospel of John by Leon Morris)

15 It is important to remember “that a person who abides in Christ and in whose heart utterances are in the complete control, will ask nothing that is contrary to Christ’s will, for he will always ask in the spirit of, ‘not my will but thine be done.’” (302, William Hendriksen) It is therefore easier to understand how God will answer whatever we ask of him when praying from a heart in daily communion with him and surrendered to him. This continual remaining and abiding in Christ is a developing understanding of how to pray, not from our human desires, according to God’s will.

16 “Jesus begins with the Father’s love for him. That is the foundation of everything. It is only because of the Father’s deep love that Jesus’ earthly mission takes place. Jesus goes on to say that, in the same way as the Father loves him, he loves the disciples. Jesus leaves no doubt that he loves them and that they should take care that they remain in that love. There is a sense in which it is impossible to stop Christ from loving us. In that sense we need do nothing. But there is another sense in which we can so live and feel and think that we cease to find that love the center of our being. We can turn our thoughts and our attention to the things of this life and be so caught up in that life that we cease to remain in that love. As far as it concerns us, we are thereby no longer in love and are cutting ourselves off from some of the blessings that Christ offers us.

17 His love is always first. 1 John 4:19 states, “we love because he first loved us.” The expression of that love returned to God is, in part, “by keeping his precepts.” (302, William Hendriksen) This keeping his precepts also flows out of abiding in his love and relationship. We should never forget that God’s love is absent; his love “precedes our love. It accompanies our love. It follows our love, and in the very process of doing this, creates more love towards him in our hearts.” (303, William Hendriksen) Thus, the abiding believer finds herself drawn closer and closer to God through Christ and his unfathomable love. The service of God is a joyous affair and Jesus makes that very clear. The purpose of what he has spoken, he now says, is so that my joy might be in you. He looks to his followers to have the same joy as he has. They are serving the same God and they should share the same joy. He puts it another way when he goes on to say that you might be filled full. He does not want their joy to be lacking in the slightest degree.

18 It is likely that Jesus revealed these things to his disciples that they would be encouraged and reminded of the joy and purpose of a life lived and serving Christ, experiencing that joyfulness. Note that this joy is not the kind of joy that the world offers or delights in, but the kind of joy that can only be known through an abiding relationship in Christ, a complete joy.

19 Love and keeping of commands are linked. It is very easy to be selective in our obedience, but that is not what we are called to do. It is true that there are many commandments, it is also true that in the end they all boil down to one – love. We who are Christians love, but not because it has been our good fortune to come across some highly attractive people. We love because we have become loving people ourselves, people who love because we have been loved, not because of the merits of the people we encounter on our way through life.” (Reflections on the Gospel of John by Leon Morris)

20 “If believers love one another as he has loved them they must lay down their lives for one another. Early Jewish sources prohibit sacrificing another to spare one’s own life but still allowed that one’s life take precedence over another’s life. Nevertheless, though one was not required to love one’s neighbour more than oneself, Judaism did praise as heroic the rare persons who would sacrifice their lives on behalf of their friends. Courageous, heroic, and honourable death was an ancient Mediterranean virtue.

21 Undoubtedly, this passage foreshadows Jesus’ coming sacrifice on the cross, whereby he would give himself as a “ransom for many” (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28). Even though, Jesus’ original audience would have not been able to link this meaning to Jesus’ words, it would likely take on fuller meaning with circulation of John’s gospel. While we cannot model or adopt this exact gift of Christ’s love, to do so would be inauthentic and blasphemous, but we can adopt and assume from Jesus’ words that a mentality and discipline of ‘self-sacrificing’ nature. What is likely, Jesus meant to love in such a way to deny ourselves and love others above ourselves. (305, William Hendriksen)

22 Hellenistic ideals of friendship include a strong emphasis on loyalty. True friends were known in time of trouble, when they were most needed. Friends were also recipients of one’s confidence and intimacy. One difference between servant-master relationships and those between friends is that servants withhold secrets from the master but friends do not withhold them from each other. Isocates advises a careful testing of friends to see if they are worthy of confidence with secrets. Aristotle notes that true friendship requires confidence in one’s friend which requires standing the test of time. Josephus, writing about Judaism for a Greco-Roman readership is eager to pint out the similar emphasis in Jewish ethics: the Law allows us to conceal nothing from our friends, for there is no friendship without absolute confidence; in the event of subsequent estrangement, it forbids the disclosure of secrets. Friends were especially supposed to be able to maintain confidences.

23 When Jesus declares that he no longer calls them slaves he signals a new era in salvation history, the transition point being Jesus’ departure to and return form the Father. In communicating to them what he has heard from the Father, (15:15) Jesus acts the role of a faithful disciple who passes on the teachings of the Father, thus providing a model for the Spirit and the disciples. Even more to the point, just as Wisdom possess all the special secret knowledge of God and is thus the truest source of insight about God, Jesus is the truest revealer of the Father.

24 Although an allusion to patronal friendship is possible in this passage, the Greco-Roman ideals of loyalty, intimacy, and sharing are more likely in view. The subordination of the disciples in obedience is probably more an expression of covenant loyalty, qualified by their continuing role as servant-disciples, than the subordination of a client to a patron. Jesus intimately shares the secrets of his heart with his disciples, treating them as friends, as God treated Abraham and Moses by revealing himself to them. The parallels with John 16:13-15 indicate that the Spirit of truth would continue passing down the revelations from the Father and Jesus to the disciples.

25 They are his friends, and therefore objects of his self-sacrifice if they do what he commands the. The paradoxical image of friends not slaves who obey Jesus’ commandments is meant to jar the hearer to attention; friendship means not freedom to disobey but an intimate relationship that continues to recognize distinctions in authority. By obeying, they continue to make themselves more open recipients of God’s love abiding and persevering in ever deeper intimacy with God.” (The Gospel of John by Graig S. Keener)

26 “Jesus now harks back for a moment to the figure of the vine and its fruit. On the day that he first met his disciples and conscripted them into his service with the command “follow me!’ he chose them that they might share his ministry. The fruit produced by the branches is the fruit of the vine itself.” (The Gospel & Epistles of John by F.F. Bruce) Merrill C. Tenney views the entirety of John 15 as broken into Jesus’ teaching on our relationship to Christ (v.1-11), relationship of believers to each other (v.12- 17), and relationship to the world (v.18-27). One’s relationship to Christ should be at the centre and relationships to others as an outlawing expression of abiding in Christ. Treating one-another in self-sacrificing nature and service, and living as ambassadors of Christ to the world. Jesus’ words paint a drastic contrast between his disciples and the world, and the largest differing feature being a unique and growing remaining in Christ. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:18-19) It is not the world, or sin, to which to those who abide in Christ belong, but Christ himself. (230, Merrill C. Tenney)

27 That Jesus “appointed” them suggests that he not only exercised a purpose concerning them but established that purpose” (The Gospel of John by Graig S. Keener) This purpose that was established has been seen throughout this passage and that is to be fruitful. “This is the enduring fruit of lives in union with the ever-living Christ, bearing witness to his abiding grace.” (F.F. Bruce) “Again the promise of answered prayer is made to the disciple who remains united to Jesus as the fruit-bearing branch is united to the vine. United to Jesus, that disciple can plead his prevailing name with confidence in the Father’s presence.” (F.F. Bruce)

28 “As branches we have the privilege of sharing His life, and the responsibility of abiding. As friends, we have the privilege of knowing His will, and the responsibility of obeying.” In both instances fruitfulness is an inevitable outcome with the privilege of being in vital relationship with Christ. Bearing fruit that remains and brings glory to the Father. Despite the various components of the passages teaching, the remaining principle of John 15 clearly illustrates “just as a vine-offshoot bears fruit only when it abides in the vine, so also believers will bear spiritual fruit only when they abide in Christ.” (294, William Hendriksen) The reader clearly gets the teaching, to continue to remain in Christ in order that you may bear more fruit, spiritual fruit, abundantly. Given the privilege to ask what they will, the disciples that remain in Christ, living singly towards the doing of the will of God, can live and ask with a boldness knowing that they are in the vine.

29 MacArthur, John., Abiding in Christ: chapter 3 of 6. Matthew Henry’s Commentary John Darby’s Synopsis Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

30 Tenney, Merrill C., John: the Gospel of Belief; An Analytic Study of the Text, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1948. Hendriksen, William, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to John, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1996. Murphy, Andrew, the true vine, Whitaker house, Pittsburgh & Colfax Streets, Springdale, PA, 1982. Burge, Gary M, The NIV application commentary: John, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000.

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