1. The farewell discourses, 13:1-17:26

vii] The true vine, 15:1-8


Introducing the second part of the farewell discourse, Jesus takes the ancient Hebrew image of Israel as a vine (cf. Isaiah 5) and applies it to himself and his followers. He describes himself as the vine and his disciples as the branches. Jesus goes on to make the point that when the branches abide in the vine they brings forth much fruit.


A person who abides in Jesus, who trusts Jesus, the true Israel of God, will receive the sustenance to bear forth the fruit of love.


i] Context: See 13:1-17. The second part of the farewell discourse begins with a parable, allegory (Morris), extended metaphor (Carson), masal (Heb. riddle, dark saying), with an attached explanation, commentary, 15:1-17. Where the parable ends and the commentary begins is open to some dispute. Carson suggests that the commentary consists of v9-16; Brown, v8-17; Beasley-Murray and Schnackenburg, v11-17.

The parable / metaphor of the vine serves to illustrate the main idea developed in chapter 14, namely, the promise of a permanent divine abiding / indwelling, cf. 14:2, 10, 11, 17, 20, 23.


ii] Structure: The Parable of the Vineyard:

The vineyard illustration, v1:

Jesus is the vine;

God the Father is the Viticulturist.

Managing the vineyard I, v2-4:

Unproductive branches are cut off;

Productive branches are pruned;

It's all down to abiding, v3-4.

Managing the vineyard II, v5-7:

Only abiding branches are productive, v5;

Non-abiding branches are useless, v6

It's all down to prayer, v7.

Concluding summary, v8;

The Father is glorified in the bearing of much fruit.


iii] Interpretation:

Jesus' parable of the vine likely draws on the Old Testament image of Israel as a vine - most often presented as a fruitless vine. Jesus is the fulfillment of that image; he is the new Israel, a fruitful vine. "Jesus embodies God's true intentions for Israel. .... Jesus, the Messiah, and Son of God, fulfills Israel's destiny as the true vine of God, Ps.80:14-17", Kostenberger. A person who puts their trust in Jesus, the true Israel of God, who believes in him, who abides in him, will receive the sustenance to bear forth the fruit of love. In both their abiding and their fruiting God is glorified.


Abiding in Christ: In the illustration of the vine, we are commanded to "abide / remain" in the vine, a word used ten times in v1-10, and explained as a mutual indwelling between Christ and his disciples, of being "in" Christ - we are to "abide / remain / stay joined to" the vine. So, are we dealing with the apostle Paul's idea of "in" Christ, one with Christ, united to Christ, members of the body of Christ? This certainly fits well with the idea of mutual abiding, v4. Carson suggests it is an image of general obedience, although the specific command to abide in mutual love is more likely, cf., v9. On the other hand, John tells us that Christ's words abide in us, although the sense is unclear. Are these words the command to love, or is it all of Christ's teachings, particularly the gospel? If abiding in/with Christ is our response to the word abiding in/with us / Christ abiding in/with us, does our abiding mean believing, believing the word / gospel? The image of eating Christ's body and drinking his blood, found in chapter 6, illustrates coming to Christ, believing in Christ, so does abiding illustrate believing? This idea is supported by the command "remain in my love", v9. This love is the type of love the Father showers upon the Son, and which the Son showers upon us. Christ's love for us is demonstrated in his death and resurrection on our behalf, which of course, is the substance of the gospel.

So, abiding in Christ and allowing Christ's words to abide in us, most likely fulfills Christ's command to believe in him. Abiding is believing; it images a faith-union in/with Christ - abiding is faith in Christ.


Bearing fruit: We who abide in the vine, no longer as servants of God but now his friends, bear fruit. Again, it is not quite clear what bearing fruit means, although it is most likely the fruit of a particular obedience, namely, love for one another, v12. This "love" is described as a consequence of, a fruit of, abiding in Christ. The fruit of love is described in the terms of Christ's sacrificial love, v13. Of course, other possibilities suggest themselves, eg. "leading others to Christ", Kostenberger.

So, it is likely that bearing fruit fulfills Christ's other command that we love one another, which love is the fruit of abiding / believing.


A gracious warning: Although the Argument Proper Part I of this gospel is evangelistic in purpose and likely directed toward Hellenistic Jews of the dispersion, the purpose of Part II is pastoral and directed toward the new Israel, the community of believers. So, the gracious warning in this parable serves to remind believers that staying the course and bearing the fruit of love depends on abiding / identifying with Jesus / resting on Jesus / believing in Jesus. The barren branch, the branch that does not abide, is cut away, while the fruiting branch is pruned "so that it may be even more fruitful", v2, 6. Within the context, the means of fruiting is prayer, a prayer of faith, a prayer that is based on the will of God, v7, "ask ..... and it will be done for you" - prayer for inclusion (a prayer of repentance and faith); prayer for fruiting (a prayer for the fruit of faith, namely love). We are again reminded that the business of bearing fruit, rests not on doing, but on receiving - grace is all.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 15:1

The parable of the true vine, v1-8. i] The vineyard illustration, v1. Jesus presents the two main players: the vine and the viticulturist.

egw pro. "I [am]" - i [am the vine]. Emphatic by use and position. Jesus' self-revealing serves as a "recognition-formula", Bultman, whereby Jesus identifies himself with the following statement / parable; see 8:24. Note that a vineyard is sometimes used as a symbol for Israel, Psalm 80:9-16, etc.

hJ alhqinh adj. "the true [vine]" - the true, genuine one. Attributive genitive limiting "vine"; "I am the true vine." "Genuine", "the real thing", is probably the intended sense. Israel is the vine of God's planting now realized in Jesus, the true Israel. A polemic thrust is evident, given the claim of the religious authorities of their being the genuine item, the true stock, descendants of Abraham, cf., 8:31-40. The problem is the genuine item bears fruit, fruit not evident in historic Israel, Jer.2:21.

oJ gewrgoV (oV) "gardener" - [and the father of me is] the cultivator, gardner, viticulturist. Predicate nominative. "Vine-dresser", Brown. The Father tends the vine / Israel / Jesus, and by extension, the branches.


ii] Managing the vineyard I, v2-4. Unproductive branches are cut off and productive branches are pruned.

airei (airw) pres. "he cuts off" - he takes away [every branch in me, it = the one not bearing fruit]. The implied subject is the Father. The Semitic use of the pronoun auto, "it", is resumptive, referencing the accusative "branch". This verb may be rendered "lifts up", rather than "removes". A.W. Pink argued that the image is of the branches being lifted up so that they can reach the sun, rather than being "cut off." Few accept this interpretation. Some suggest that Jesus is referring to apostate Jews, possibly as a comparison between old Israel, now cut off, and new Israel, now being pruned. The majority of commentators assume that Jesus is speaking of apostate believers, "removes", Barclay.

klhma (a) "branch" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to take away." "A cane or shoot of a vine", Morris.

en + dat. "in [me]" - Local, incorporative union. As already noted, "in" takes a similar sense to abide in, unite to, indwell.

mh feron (ferw) pres. part. "that bears no [fruit]" - The participle is probably adjectival, attributive, limiting "branch", as NIV, although possibly adverbial, concessive, "although it bears no fruit."

feron (ferw) pres. part. "[while every branch] that does bear fruit" - [and he prunes every branch, it = the one] bearing fruit. The participle serves as a substantive.

kaqairei (kaqairw) "he prunes" - The implied subject is again the Father. It is quite possible that the meaning is "cleanses", in fact, Dodd and others argue that "prunes" is an unsupported usage. "Prunes" carries the sense of chastisement, but the reference here is likely to be to the cleansing of the word, namely, the gospel, v3. None-the-less, in the Greek, "cuts off" and "prunes", sound alike (a paronomasia) and may well have been chosen, not for their horticultural accuracy, but on literary grounds. So, "prunes" remains a possibility, but more in the sense of "cleanses" than "chastises", given v3. "Any branch which bears fruit, he purifies, to make it bear more fruit", Barclay.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [it may bring forth much fruit]. Possibly serving to introduce a purpose clause, but better hypothetical result, as NIV.


It's all down to abiding in the vine, v3-4. Unlike unproductive Israel, now cut off and discarded, the disciples in Christ, the new Israel, are washed clean through the power of the gospel and so are productive.

uJmeiV pro. "you" - Emphatic by use and position.

este (eimi) "are" - A possible improvement is gained by translating as passive, rather than active, so as to emphasize causation in the action of "the word"; "you have already been cleansed by the word", NRSV.

hdh adv. "already" - Temporal adverb, emphatic by position.

kaqaroi adj. "clean" - Interesting use of the same word meaning ritually clean or pure in 13:10. Here the cleansing comes through the word, the gospel, ultimately facilitated in the death and resurrection of Jesus; "the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin", 1Jn.1:7. So, "you are already clean" images the redeemed state of a believer in Christ.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of, on account of. An instrumental "through", "by means of", is a possible; "the dead wood of sin has been removed by the word of his teaching", Pfitzner. Yet, a causal sense is more likely, as NIV.

ton logon (oV) "the word" - Here possibly referring to Jesus' teachings in general, but more likely the gospel, the message concerning the salvation made possible through the death and resurrection of Christ.

lelalhka (lalew) perf. "I have spoken" - [which] i have spoken. "May be meant to indicate that the word remains with them", Morris, or better, "has already taken hold in the life of these followers", Carson.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.


The word "abide" is used ten times in v4-10. The sense is "continue to be part of", "live in fellowship with", "remain in union with." Possibly having a technical background related to an association with the divine, "when ten sit together and occupy themselves with the Torah, the Shekinah abides among them", Sidebottom. As outlined above, "abiding" is probably a descriptive for "believing" - trusting Jesus and his word, resting on him, walking with him, relying on him and his death and resurrection on our behalf. By "abiding" in Jesus the true vine, by believing in him, we "will bear much fruit", the fruit of love.

meinate (menw) aor. imp. "remain" - remain, abide, continue. The aorist may be ingressive, "start abiding / believing", or gnomic, universal, so Carson, or possibly dramatic for emphasis.

en "in" - in [me]. Local, expressing space, where abiding means believing, putting one's trust in, resting in faith on. Incorporative union is possible where a more mystical sense of "abide" is adopted, of being united to, incorporated in. Association is also possibly present, where "abide" is viewed as relational - a "loving relationship of mutual indwelling", Lindars; "continue with me." It is probably not possible to overly define the action of the preposition given that John is describing a faith-union with Christ.

kagw "and I will remain / as I also remain" - and i [in you]. If kagw serves as a comparison, then the sense is "remain in me as I remain in you", Moffatt. If conditional, the sense is "if you remain in me, I will remain in you". A condition seems best, possibly an imperatival condition, "you must remain united to me, and I will remain united to you", Goodspeed. Carson suggests a mutual imperative, but this seems unlikely; "let there be mutual indwelling."

kaqwV ....... ou{twV "-" - as, just as [the branch is not able to bear fruit from itself unless it remains on the vine] so [neither you unless you remain in me]. A comparative construction where the characteristics of one element are compared with the other; "just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself without staying on the vine, so you cannot without staying in Me", Berkeley.

ferein (ferw) pres. inf. "[can] bear [fruit]" - [is able] to bear, carry, bring [fruit]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb ou dunatai, "is not able." Union with Christ results in the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ, whose compelling love prompts love in the believer. Although "the fruit" is not spelled out, "love" is most likely intended, v12-14. "You cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me", CEV.

af (apo) + gen. "by [itself]" - from [itself]. Here expressing agency, as NIV.

ean mh + subj. "-" unless / except [it remains in the vine so neither you] unless / except [you remain in me]. It may be taken as introducing an exceptive clause which establishes a contrast by designating an exception, "except it abide in the vine", but more properly introducing a subordinate clause of negated condition 3rd. class, "unless it abide in/on the vine".


iii] Managing the vineyard II, v5-7. Only abiding branches are productive, v5. There is "nothing that corresponds to the new life that he bestows and the new commandment that he gives. For without this reciprocal remaining in him, and him in them, they will fall back on themselves, either in total unfruitfulness or lapsing into the wild growth that is no longer shaped by his word, into activism or idealism that is neither derived from nor directed to him", Ridderbos. Note that this verse contains the final "I am" saying in John's gospel

oJ menwn (menw) pres. part. "if a man remains / if you remain [in me]" - [i am the vine, you the branches] the one remaining, abiding. The participle serves as a substantive; "he who remains in me", Moffatt. Often expressed as a condition, as NIV, although a condition can be expressed without the use of "if"; "anyone who dwells in me .... bears much fruit", REB.

kagw "and I [in him / in you]" - [in me] and i [in him]. As above.

ferei (ferw) pres. "will bear" - [this one] bears [much fruit]. The present tense, expressing continuous action, may be translated with a future tense to express that continuing action in English.

oJti "-" - because. More explanatory than causal and so often not translated. As branches rely on the vine for sap to produce fruit so a believer relies on their faith-union with Christ to produce fruit. Apart from that reliance, that abiding, the branch / believer will be fruitless.

cwriV + gen. "apart from [me]" - apart from, without [me]. Expressing separation and emphatic by position; "Cut off from me you can do nothing", RJB.

ou dunasqe poiein ouden "you can do nothing" - you are not able to accomplish anything. The double negative, ou ... ouden, serves to emphasize the inability of bearing fruit without abiding / believing. The infinitive poiein, "to do", is complementary, completing the negated verb dunesqe, "you are not able."


Non-abiding branches are useless, v6. On a fruiting vine, the fruitless dead canes are cut off and burnt. Is Jesus saying that fruitless believers are useless and will inevitably face condemnation in the day of judgment? This image is certainly fearful. It is important to remember, when faced with such a warning, that abiding / believing is the issue, not fruiting; fruit is but the product of abiding. If we abide we will produce fruit (usually of a poor quality, as we all know - the old Adam travels with us to the grave!). Focusing on the fruit, analyzing what it might be, or worse, trying to quantify it, is a fruitless exercise. Abiding in Jesus, trusting Jesus, is what is necessary, for where there is abiding the Spirit of Christ will fire us with his indwelling compelling love.

ean mh + subj. "if [you do] not" - if not = unless, as the case may be, [a certain one remains in me then the certain one was = is cast out]. Conditional clause 3rd class, where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

tiV "anyone / you" - a certain, someone. Can be rendered as a relative conditional clause, "whoever does not remain in me", TEV.

menh/ (menw) pres. subj. "remain" - remains. Again the present tense is durative indicating an ongoing abiding = believing = a resting on the continued faith-union we possess in Christ.

eblhqh (ballw) aor. pas. "-" - was = is cast out. The action is possibly futuristic, or immediate, "he has forthwith been thrown out", Moule, but most likely constative, emphasizing the certainty of the action without reference to its beginning or end, "is cast out." Presumably, "thrown out of the vineyard" is intended.

wJV "like" - [he is cast out] as, like [the branch and was = is dried up]. Comparative. The clause requires the repetition of the main verb; "He is cast out like ........" So the clause is "The one who does not abide is cast out. He is cast out like ......." So, not as Phillips, "A man who does not share my life is like a branch that is broken off and withers away. He becomes just like the dry stick that men pick up and use for firewood", or NIV.

sunagousin (sunagw) pres. "are picked up" - [and] they gather [them]. A general present tense expressing what people generally do (see Phillips above), therefore not indicating any time differential between the aorist, "thrown away", and the present "gather up." Possibly the third person plural is being used to form the passive voice, so NIV, etc.

to pur (pur oV) "the fire [and burned]" - [and throw them into] the fire [and they are burned]. The presence of the article may indicate a particular fire, an allusion to the eternal fire of judgment, but is most likely an example of parabolic style. The same construction is used with "a branch", lit. "the branch."


It's all down to prayer, v7. A person united to Jesus through faith, experiences union through Jesus' "words", his teachings, the application of which the Spirit of Christ facilitates when we ask "they will be done."

ean + subj. "if" - if, as my be the case, [you remain in me and the words of me remain in you then whatever you want ask and it will be done to you]. Again, introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true. As is the case with v4, 5, where "abide in me and I in you" is conditional, giving the sense "abide in me and I will abide in you", we have a similar construction in the protasis of the main conditional clause here, with kai introducing the apodosis, "if you abide in me, then (kai) my words will abide in you." It seems likely that the abiding of Christ's words in a believer exegetes what is meant by Christ himself abiding in a believer. The reality of Christ abiding in a believer is experienced in the abiding of his word, ie., the integration of divine truth in our being.

meinhte (menw) aor. 2nd pl. "you remain" - The "you" prompts many to suggest that this verse begins the explanation of the parable / metaphor.

aithsasqe (aitew) pres. imp. "ask" - The variant future "you will ask" is well supported and should be considered. With the subjunctive "you may wish" it is not "whatever you may wish to ask", but "you will ask for whatever you want and it will be granted to you", cf., AV.

oJ ean + subj. "-" - what if = whatever. Here introducing an indefinite relative clause. Again the use of kai, "and", makes the clause conditional; "whatever you ask (in accord with my will), it will happen for you."

qelhte (qelw) pres. subj. "[ask whatever] you wish" - you want, will [ask]. The seemingly general nature of the promise "it will be done for you" is controlled by the context. The "my words" define the will of God, such that the prayer serves "as a means of completing the Lord's will", Pfitzner. As we well know, a prayer of faith must be based on God's revealed will. In the context, the revealed will of God / the word of Christ, is that we believe in Christ and love one another - that we abide / have faith and bear its fruit, love.

uJmin dat. pro. "for you" - [and it will be done] for you. Dative of interest, advantage, as NIV; "it will happen for you" = you will have it" = "it will be given you (by God)", Harris.


iv] Concluding summary, v8. This verse serves as a conclusion to the parable, identifying its purpose, namely, "the glorification of the Father, which consists of their (the disciples') 'bearing much fruit' and thus showing that they are 'my disciples'", Ridderbos.

en toutw/ "this is to" - in/by this. The preposition en is probably instrumental, expressing means; "by this." Commentators divide; is "this", what precedes, v7, or what follows, namely, the bearing of much fruit and becoming disciples? It is possibly both although what follows seems best.

edoxasqh (doxazw) aor. pas. "[my Father's] glory" - [the father of me] was = is glorified. Aorist indicating completed punctiliar action, not past action. John has already told us that the Father is glorified in the obedience of the Son in his lifting up on the cross, 12:28, 13:31, 14:13, 17:4, but he is also glorified in the bearing of fruit and the becoming a disciple of those abiding in Christ. Such does give glory to the Father, but probably the sense is that they reveal the Father's glory, they give us an insight into the very being of God, his character, namely his grace.

iJna + subj. "that" - that [you bear much fruit]. Introducing two coordinate noun clauses standing in apposition to "this", ie., epexegetic; "in this, namely that you bear much fruit, and that you be my disciples, is my Father's glory."

genhsqe (ginomai) aor. mid. subj. "showing yourselves to be" - [and] you be. A variant reading exists where the verb takes the future tense, genhsesqe, "you will be my disciples." As the more difficult reading (the future tense rarely follows hina) it could well be original, although the sense is somewhat difficult - by bearing fruit we will demonstrate genuine discipleship; "it is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples", JB (aor. subj. adopted in NJB). This reading has prompted the consequential translations, "you are to bear fruit in plenty and so (thus) be my disciples", REB, although better that by bearing fruit they show they are disciples rather than they will become disciples, "and so prove to be my disciples", RSV ("when the Father's glory is revealed in that you bear much fruit, it will be seen at the same time that you are disciples of mine", Lindars, so also Ridderbos, Kostenberger, Brown). None-the-less, we are best to go with the aorist subjunctive found in many important texts, including P66. The aorist subjunctive forms the clause "that you be my disciples", coordinate with "that you bear much fruit", with both clauses linked by kai, "and". So, "my Father has been glorified in your bearing much fruit and becoming my disciples", NAB, or the simplified "when you become fruitful disciples of mine, my Father will be honored", CEV. Possibly "becoming more fully a disciple", Morris.

emoi dat. pro. "my [disciples]" - [disciples] to me. Dative of possession; "disciples belonging to me", Novakovic.


John Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]