John 15: The Divine Vine : By Mark A. Becker

A favorite of many Bible-believing Christians, Jesus’ John 15 allegory on His being The Divine Vine, His Father as the Husbandman, and His disciples as abiding in His Divine Vine, producing much fruit for His Salvation Kingdom, has both blessings for true Spirit-filled believers and a dire warning for others!

Let us see what we can ascertain from John 15 – The Divine Vine!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:”John 15:1-2a

If you were to ask most Bible commentators and Bible students, they would probably tell you that, in this figurative teaching from Christ, all of the branches are Christians.

The concern with stating that the branches are true Spirit-filled Christians is that we would have a serious issue regarding eternal security; that is, how could a truly Spirit-filled Christian “that beareth not fruit [be] taken away”? For, as we shall see in verse six, Jesus declares that “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.”

This is surely analogous to hell after death for the unbeliever and their final judgment and destination in the Lake of Fire. Therefore, I humbly submit that this interpretation is clearly wrong.

There is much more credibility to the view that the branches are a conglomeration of “professing” Christians – some saved and some false converts. This would certainly go well with Matthew 25:1-13 – The Parable of the 10 Virgins.

I have held to this interpretation for many years and still do, but I find myself thinking about another possibility that I would like to present to the reader.

I have come to realize that there is a very real probability that these branches represent every human being who has ever lived. Why do I say and suggest such a notion? Because of what we know about our Creator.

Consider the following two passages of Scripture.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” – John 1:1-4

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” – Acts 17:28

John discloses to the reader that “in” our Creator, Messiah Yeshua, “was [and is] life, and the life was the light of men.” Additionally, Paul stated, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” In essence and in truth, all men and women are branches that begin within His Divine Vine!

Because this is so, we understand from Scripture that all people are originally written in the Book of Life, as God desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4-6), but those who reject God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ are ultimately removed from this Book, just as the branches will be removed from the Divine Vine. In this way, no one will ever be able to accuse God of not doing enough to save them – He most certainly did – they just chose to reject Him.

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” – Revelation 3:5

As Spirit-filled believers, of course, it is Christ who overcame the world for us (John 16:33), and because we are in Him and abiding in Him, we will never be blotted out of the Book of Life. Only those who “overcometh” by the indwelling Holy Spirit in their lives, because of their faith in Christ Jesus, can truly abide in Him.

When we consider this interpretation, we can observe a clearer understanding of what Christ was teaching His disciples concerning their abiding in His Divine Vine and bearing much fruit because of their salvation, as all true Spirit-filled believers would be “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

“… and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” – John 15:2b

Not an easy verse for believers to hear, but full of truth and needful, nonetheless.

The Greek word for “purgeth” is 2508 καθαίρω “kathairó” – used only this one time – and means to cleanse, properly, from filth, impurity, etc. To make clean by purging (removing undesirable elements); hence, pruned (purged); eliminating what is fruitless by purifying (making unmixed).

It is through our purging or pruning – that is, the process of our trials and tribulations, as well as the necessitated chastening and testing from God – that we are able to “bring forth much fruit.”

I cannot speak for the reader, but I can honestly admit that the Lord has achieved more positive changes for good within me when I am suffering the most. It is just the way of God when it comes to dealing with saved sinners because we still are waging a battle with our sin nature and our flesh. A life of ease seldom, if ever, results in a positive change for the child of God – it is just the nature of the beast.

Jesus, of course, as our Creator and Savior, suffered greatly for our salvation.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” – Hebrews 2:9-10

Likewise, suffering through the divine purging and pruning process is a must for the child of God and their personal spiritual growth.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” – Romans 8:18-23

“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15-18

God’s chastening in the life of His children is also a vital function of our purging and pruning process.

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons….

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” – Hebrews 12:6-8, 11

Even outright persecution from the world for Christ’s sake has a profound effect on the spiritual growth of a believer.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” – 1 Peter 4:12-14

Through this divine purging and pruning process, we are to take the gospel to the lost souls of this world and bring forth much fruit for our Lord’s Salvation Kingdom.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:13-15

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”John 15:3

In context, Jesus just spoke of His purging of a believer who bears fruit to bear more fruit, and one of the meanings of the Greek word for purging, as we noted above, is to cleanse. That is, together with the Word which Christ speaks to us now through the Holy Scriptures and His purging and pruning process of each believer, Christ declares us clean.

In addition to the fruits of sharing Christ’s glorious gospel with a lost and dying world, bringing others into the Salvation Kingdom, other fruits will be visible in the life of a true Spirit-filled believer.

Here are a few.

The fruit of the Spirit in one’s life:

“For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” – Ephesians 5:9

“[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance…” – Galatians 5:22-23

The fruit of praise and thankfulness to God:

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” – Hebrews 13:15

Fruitful in good works and the knowledge of God:

“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God…” – Colossians 1:10

The fruit of sincerity and righteousness:

“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” – Philippians 1:10-11

Fruit unto holiness:

“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” – Romans 6:22

By these and other fruit attained from our Lord’s purging and pruning process in the life of His disciples, we are clean in His sight as we abide in His Divine Vine.

“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.”John 15:4

We must abide in The Divine Vine of Jesus Christ, as He also abides in us by His Holy Spirit, so we may bear much fruit for His Salvation Kingdom. A true Spirit-filled believer can never not abide in our Lord and Savior. They can never deny the One who bought them with such a high price. We are His purchased possession.

“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.”John 15:5

Probably the most famous words of The Divine Vine discourse, “Without [Christ, we] can do nothing.” The longer a servant of Messiah Jesus serves his or her King, the more we can attest to this divine truth.

Another famous verse reinforces Christ’s statement.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13

In and through all circumstances – the good and the bad – Christ is our everything, and without Him we can do nothing and are literally nothing.

“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.”John 15:6

Obviously, those who will be cast into the fire will be those who do not abide in the One who gives them life, whether an unsaved person or a false convert, the end result is the same.

John the Baptist said exactly this to the Pharisees:

“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” – Matthew 3:10

Just as John preached parabolically of all mankind as trees, so does our Lord concerning the branches of The Divine Vine. Both must produce good fruit, and only a true convert can ever produce good fruit for the Salvation Kingdom. And those who do not, as both John and Christ affirmed, are “cast into the fire… and they are burned.”

John goes on to say:

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” – Matthew 3:11-12

The analogy turns to wheat (true believers in Messiah Yeshua) and the chaff (False Converts and all who spurn God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ). As with the trees and the branches of the Divine Vine that do not produce good fruit through salvation in Christ, so, too, does the good for nothing chaff that gets burned up “with unquenchable fire.”

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”John 15:7

When our will aligns with the Lord’s will, and we abide in Him and His Word, our petitions will be heard and answered because we do not ask amiss or for selfish ambitions.

“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” – James 4:3

“… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” – John 16:23-24

When we petition the Father in the Name of Messiah Yeshua – because we abide in Him and are aligned with His will – the Father will hear, and we shall receive.

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”John 15:8

The Father’s and the Son’s will is that we bear much fruit for His Salvation Kingdom, sharing the gospel and making disciples, and the Father will be glorified in the disciple of Christ’s work unto that end.

Now, what characteristics in Christ’s illustration separate those who abide in Him and bear much fruit from those who do not abide in Him and are cast into the fire? Love, obedience, and joy!

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 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.”John 15:9-10

Abiding in Christ’s love and keeping His commandments show the true convert to be wholly sold out to the Lord. Lacking these characteristics shows the individual to never have known Him or are a false convert, deceiving themselves and others of a faith they do not actually possess.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”John 15:11

Joy, as one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), is essential to fruitful living in Christ Jesus.

This joy, in a truly joyless world, comes from our trusting relationship with our Lord and Savior and our love and obedience to Him.

“[He] that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” – Psalm 32:10-11

We joy in Him for our salvation as we are saved by grace through faith in Him and His finished work on the cross.

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9

We joy in Him for our atonement, reconciliation, and restoration to Father God and for all that He has done for us in the past, is doing for us now, and will do for us in the future.

“[We] also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” – Romans 5:11

We joy in Him because He is our joy!

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”John 15:12

How could we possibly love one another as Christ has loved us?

Thankfully, with the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives, it is not only possible, it is certain that we can, should, and will, if we live a life surrendered to Him and His will for our lives.

This is such an important commandment to Messiah’s people that He will return again to this theme as He concludes His teaching.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”John 15:13

And laid down His life, the Son of God did through His passion (Acts 1:3).

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” – Ephesians 5:1-2

He is our Good Shepherd who leads and guides us by His Word and Spirit.

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” – Galatians 4:6

To all of this we can only say with a sincerely humble and grateful heart…

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” – 2 Corinthians 9:15

“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”John 15:14

What a privilege to be called, as every man, woman, and child who comes to Christ for salvation is, the friend of the Son of God!

It is our responsibility and righteous obligation to do whatsoever He commands us, and His commandments are not grievous.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” – 1 John 5:3

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”John 15:15

Not one good thing has the Father not bestowed on the Son and those who are reborn in Him. We are now the sons of God.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” – 1 John 3:1-3

The completed Word of God – the Word of Christ – has been given to us, and through His marvelous Word, we know everything God would have us to know and understand this side of heaven. Through His Word, we know everything our Lord and Savior has done, is doing, and will do in the future – and all for us!

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16

Christ indeed chose His disciples and ordained them.

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles…” – Luke 6:12-13

“And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils…” – Mark 3:14-15

[For more on the sovereignty of God and man’s free will when it comes to salvation, please see God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Freewill.]

Our mission – as was the mission of Christ’s first disciples who turned the world upside down for the Lord – is to bring forth fruit by sharing the gospel with the lost and, in turn, discipling those who respond positively to the message by accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior by grace through faith in His finished work on the cross for their sins, His death, His burial, and His glorious resurrection. Each fruit – those who accept Christ because of our witness and testimony – of every Spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ, will remain… forever!

As Jesus said then, He says now:

“… Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.” – John 4:35-37

Paul, in similar fashion, said of our fruit-bearing for our Lord’s Salvation Kingdom regarding the planting of seeds and the watering of seeds that have already been planted in an individual’s heart:

“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” – 1 Corinthians 3:7-9

Asking anything of the Father in the Name of Messiah Yeshua, that the Father may give it to us, must obviously be in accordance with the will of God and His revealed Word. In context, this will of God and His answer to our prayers that He may give it to us, is entirely predicated on our bringing in much fruit – that is, saved lives – into His Salvation Kingdom!

“These things I command you, that ye love one another.”John 15:17

It is all about love! This is how the world will know those who belong to the Lord.

As Yeshua said earlier to His disciples and to us today:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:34-35

Love is the Royal Commandment of Christ Jesus our Lord.

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

“And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” – 1 John 3:22-24

For all of us who intimately know and abide in Him, Messiah Jesus is certainly our Creator, Lord, Savior, Redeemer, King, and Divine Vine!

Continue to abide in Him, dearly beloved, and bring forth much fruit into His Salvation Kingdom!

May we all keep Answering the Call of The Great Commission, and giving an answer to every man and woman who so desperately needs Jesus and asks us, “Why Am I Here and What Is It All About?

Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!

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