Sunday, 4 January 2015

'The True Vine' (2) John 15, verse 5

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.''

What great truth and encouragement we have here as Christians. Christ our Saviour and Friend is in this metaphor, the vine, and we the branches that sprout from it. Here Christ does not refuse to have us near to him but in essence he says 'you are part of me, your life flows from me, my Spirit flows through you'. As the letter to the Hebrews says of Christ 

' - For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers', Hebrews 2:11. He invites us, and expects us to make our home in him, as he also expects that we will let him make his home in us. If we could only grasp this truth, many needless worries and concerns would vanish - as one hymn writer put it: 

'Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
What thy Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine? ' 
Henry Lyle

The result of this abiding is certain - much fruit. Certainly it will come at harvest time and not before its time, so we need not force it, but it will come. Is the fruit ours  and our glory? For sure, without the vine the branches can produce nothing. We do have our part to play- we must abide and let no obstacles prevent the life from the vine flow into the branch - but of ourselves, without the life of the vine, we are a mere stick!


Andrew Kenny said...

PULPIT COMMENTARY Verse 5. - Christ returns to the main theme of the previous verse, but here discriminates more forcibly the vine from the branches, and yet holds and binds them into a unity. I am the vine, ye are the branches; which shows that he treated the disciples themselves as the organs of his earthly fruit-bearing; and then draws a larger circle and makes a complete and comprehensive statement on which the very existence of the "true vine," the "body of Christ, including the Head," depends, viz. He that abideth in me, and I in him - i.e. whenever the conditions of which I have spoken to you are fulfilled; wherever there are human souls deriving from their connection with me the full advantage of the life ever streaming forth from me - the same beareth much fruit; the entire end of their new life is secured. He beareth "much fruit." In other words, many of those blessed fruits of the supernatural life appear, which the great Husbandman desires to receive. And this strengthens the position of the previous verse, which threatened excision from the vine to such as bear no fruit. Such, though in one sense "in the Vine," do not abide in him. Because apart from - severed from - me ye can do nothing. The ὅτι suggests the question - Can the negative result justify the positive assertion? It does in this way. There are two premises: the first is," I am the Vine, and ye are the branches," and the second is, "Severed front me a branch can effect nothing," having no independent fruitfulness or stability. All its powers are derived from this supernatural source, and depend on Christ's faithfulness to his own nature and functions; therefore, "He that abideth in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit." The language here does not repress the endeavor of the human will after righteousness, nor pronounce a judgment on the great controversy between Augustinians and Pelagians. These words are not addressed to unconverted men, but to disciples, who have to learn their constant need of spiritual contact with their invisible Lord. Let a believer, let an apostle, sever himself from Christ, and live on his own past reputation or his supposed strength, on the clearness of his intellect, the vigor of his body, the eminence of his position, he can and will do nothing.

Andrew Kenny said...

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

I am the vine, ye are the branches,.... Christ here repeats what he said of himself, "the vine", for the sake of the application of "the branches" to his disciples: which expresses their sameness of nature with Christ; their strict and close union to him; and the communication of life and grace, holiness and fruitfulness, of support and strength, and of perseverance in grace and holiness to the end from him:

he that abideth in me, and I in him; which is the case of all that are once in Christ, and he in them:

the same bringeth forth much fruit; in the exercise of grace, and performance of good works; and continues to do so as long as he lives, not by virtue of his own free will, power, and strength, but by grace continually received from Christ:

for without me ye can do nothing; nothing that is spiritually good; no, not anything at all, be it little or great, easy or difficult to be performed; cannot think a good thought, speak a good word, or do a good action; can neither begin one, nor, when it is begun, perfect it. Nothing is to be done "without Christ"; without his Spirit, grace, strength, and presence; or as "separate from" him. Were it possible for the branches that are truly in him, to be removed from him, they could bring forth no fruits of good works, any more than a branch separated from the vine can bring forth grapes; so that all the fruitfulness of a believer is to be ascribed to Christ, and his grace, and not to the free will and power of man.

Andrew Kenny said...

Expositor's Greek Testament
John 15:5. ἐγὼ … κλήματα—“I am the Vine, ye are the branches,” together forming one tree and possessed by one common life. The stock does not bear fruit, but only the branches; the branches cannot live without the stock. Therefore it follows ὁ μένων … οὐδέν. The one thing needful for fruit-bearing is that we abide in Christ, and He in us; that the branch adhere to the vine, and the life of the vine flow into the branch. χωρὶς ἐμοῦ, “in separation from me”. See Ephesians 2:12. Grotius gives the equivalents “seorsim,” “separatim,” κατὰ μονάς, κατʼ αὐτό. οὐ δύνασθε ποιεῖν οὐδέν, “ye cannot do anything,” absolutely nothing according to John 1:3-4; but here the meaning is, “ye cannot do anything which is glorifying to God, anything which can be called fruit-bearing,” John 15:8.

Andrew Kenny said...

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
(5) I am the vine, ye are the branches.—The first clause is repeated to bring out the contrast with the second. It has been implied, but not directly stated, that they are the branches. It may be that there was a pause after the end of the fourth verse, accompanied by a look at the disciples, or at that which suggested the imagery of the vine. His words would then continue with the sense, “Yes, it is so. That is the true relation between us. I am the vine, ye are the branches. The fruitful branches represent men that abide in Me . . .”
For without me ye can do nothing.—Better, separate from Me, or, apart from Me. (Comp. margin.) The words bring out the fulness of the meaning of the fruitfulness of the man who abides in Christ. It is he, and he only, who brings forth fruit, for the man who is separate from Christ can bear no fruit. The words have often been unduly pressed, to exclude all moral power apart from Christ, whereas the whole context limits them to the fruit-bearing of the Christian life. The persons thought of all through this allegory are true and false Christians, and nothing is said of the influence on men of the wider teaching of God, the Light of the Logos ever in the world. A moral power outside the limits of Christianity is clearly recognised in the New Testament. (Comp., e.g., Romans 2:14-15, Notes.)

Andrew Kenny said...

Matthew Poole's Commentary
I am the vine, ye are the branches; that is, I am as the vine, you are as the branches: without the continual influence of the vine upon the branches, they bring forth no fruit; but that influence continuing, no plant is more fruitful than a vine is: so without the continual influence of my Spirit of grace upon you, you will be altogether barren and unfruitful; but if you have that influence, you will not be fruitful only, but very fruitful: for without my continuing such influence, you will not only be able to do little, but you will be able to do nothing that is truly and spiritually good and acceptable in the sight of God.