Indifference? H.C. Question 64

But doesn’t this teaching make people indifferent and wicked?

Luke 6:43-45 – “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

John 15:5  – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.



Day 313: John 14-15; The Way, The True Vine

As we come to today’s reading, we are now in the midst of what is considered to be Jesus’ “farewell discourse.”  Starting with John chapter 13 and going all the way through John 17 tomorrow, we read about the discussions that Jesus had with His disciples during the Last Supper.  Much of what happens here and what is said here is unique to the book of John.  It offers us a glimpse into the final hours of Jesus “free” life as well as some of the deepest teachings He offers to His disciples, all in the shadow of the cross.  This particular section of John has a rather particular structure within it, called a chiasm.  It is a writing style that takes themes and subjects and places them around a central theme, something that is of great importance at the center, and then returns to those other themes on its way out.  Perhaps a better explanation is that of letters, like poetry: section A, then B, then C, then D (which is the central theme), followed by section C, then B, then A again to end.  Jesus’ farewell discourse is set up in this fashion, with the central theme coming in chapter 15, when He talks about the Vine and the Branches.  The central focus of this whole section has to do with “Abiding” in the vine.  Jesus impresses upon them the necessity of this abiding, or dwelling, in Him as being as important as a branch drawing nourishment from the vine.  For more on this, I have again included a paper in a separate post for today (posted 5 minutes before this) if you would like to read it.

Jesus also talks about the Holy Spirit in chapter 14.  It is interesting that around the central theme of these five chapters, John has included a great deal of talk about the Holy Spirit.  This is of a great deal of importance, and Jesus explains the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  We are not left as orphans, Jesus points out, but have the Helper in our lives, who was sent to us and helps us to remember all that is being said here.  This is a bold statement for Jesus, someone who is about to be taken away.  he knows that His disciples will despair over His death and much of what He tells them that night will probably go in one ear and out the other before the night is done, especially with what all is about to take place.  Jesus reassures them that He will not leave them to fend for themselves, but that the Spirit of God will be there and will work in them.

Just before this, though, Jesus makes one of the greatest and most comforting statements to all people about the true work that He is doing.  Jesus has told His disciples that He is going to be taken away, and now He tells them where and why.  “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”  Not only are we told that God’s house has many rooms, but that one of these rooms is for us, those who believe in God and in Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord.  Even more than that though is communicated here.  Jesus is going to prepare a room for us and HE IS COMING BACK!

Interestingly, Jesus also tells them that they know the way to get to where He is going.  Thomas, ever the questioning doubter, points out that indeed they do not know the way as Jesus has said.  It is then that Jesus makes the statement that is, or should be known by all Christians, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Honestly, this is a restatement of what He had just said: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”  Yet once again, Jesus uses the I AM (ἐγώ εἰμί) statement again pointing to the fact that not only is He the same as God, He is the only way to God as well.

This, however, is not simply left as is.  I think that we tend to do this in our Christian lives sometimes.  We say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and then we leave it at that.  While it is entirely true that we need Jesus for our salvation, we cannot simply have Him as fire insurance.  This past week, for the first time in my adult life, I purchased my own car insurance, renters insurance, and health insurance for my wife and I.  It feels good to know that I will be taken care of if something were to ever happen to either one of us or our possessions.  Yet this is not the end of what I do.  I do not simply purchase the insurance and then sit around with it until I die.  No, I have to live life, to work, to maintain our house, our car, and our health.  In the same way we need to work to maintain our relationship with Jesus Christ as well… we need to ABIDE in Him.  As the branch needs the Vine to survive, so too do we need Jesus Christ in our lives, as an integral part of our lives to survive (echos of the Shema anyone?).  We are not just those waiting to get to heaven, we are those working as the Body of Christ here on earth each and every day!



I AM the True Vine

This paper is something that I wrote as a final Exegetical paper for my Greek Interpretation class.  It goes into more detail about the Chiastic structure of John 13-17 with its central focus being on John 15:1-7.

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Introduction

John 15:1-17

“I am the true vine, and the Father of me the farmer is.  Every branch in me that bears no fruit He removes it.  And every branch bearing he prunes is so more fruitful it will be.  Already you are clean through the word I have spoken to you.  Abide in me, and I in you.  Just as the branch is not able to bear fruit from itself unless it abides in the vine, this neither can you do unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you the branches.  One who abides in me and I in them bears much fruit, because apart from me not you are able to do anything.  If not anyone abides in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and they are gathered up and into the fire are they thrown and burned.  If you abide in me, and the words of me in you remain, whatever you wish you ask for, and it will be done for you.  In this he is glorified my Father, that much fruit you bear and to become my disciples.  As he has loved me the Father, and I have loved you; abide in the love of me.  If the commandments of me you obey, you abide in the love of me, just as the commands of the father of me I obey and abide in his love.  This I have said to you so that the joy of me in you and the joy of you may be complete.

“This is the command of me, so love one another as I have loved you.  Greater than this love no one has, that the life of him he lay down for the friend of him.  You friends of me are if you do what I command you.  I no longer call you servants, because the servant not he knows what he is doing the master; but you I have called friends, because everything I have heard from the Father of me I have made known to you.  Not me did you choose but I chose you and I appointed you so you go and fruit you bear and the fruit of you will remain, so whatever you ask the Father in the name of me he will give you.  This I command you so you love one another.

Amidst the gentle and seemingly simple words of Jesus’ farewell discourse found in John is the ever famous passage of the vine and the branches and equally famous words “abide in me.”[1]  After performing many signs and revealing His glory, Jesus has come to the point where He knows that He will be leaving His disciples soon, revealing His true glory and purpose in His death on the cross.  Before this can happen though, Jesus sits down with his closest companions to share the Passover with them, Jesus’ last supper.  During this time He shares a great deal with them about the present situation and their future actions and reactions to it.  For the disciples, some of this comes with great sorrow to them while other parts may give them fear about what is to come.  However, at the center of it all, Jesus speaks to them words of comfort and direction, explaining to them the pattern that should be their life as a believer in Him.  Recorded as John15:1-17, Jesus speaks not simply to his disciples, but to all believers, emphatically urging them to “μείνατε έν έμοί,” which is translated “abide in me,”[2] the form that Christian life should take as they live as believers and followers of Christ.[3]

Jesus’ farewell discourse is universally considered to be chapters 13 through 17 in the Gospel of John.  While some consider this to simply be a discussion at the table while Jesus and His disciples have their last meal together, others have found it to be of greater literary and theological significance.  Dr. Wayne Brouwer, a professor at HopeCollege has written on these particular chapters in his dissertation, citing them as being a “macro chiasm”[4] placing the particular section of John15:1-17 at the center.  A chiasm is a literary form that has the appearance of inverted parallelism or a concentric pattern where two or more points step toward a main point of significant meaning, and then work their way back in a parallel fashion to the original points of statements.  The word “chiasm” takes after the Greek letter Chi (X), symbolizing the steps to and away from the center point.[5]

Discourse in Johannine writing is unique unto itself as well, presenting significantly longer and more complete dialogues and theological themes.  In many ways, John provides a portrait of a Jesus that is aware of His own divinity and mission speaking to a group that is also aware of that fact, even if they don’t understand it completely.  Rather than the short, fragmented sayings of the three synoptic gospels, Jesus speaks quite clearly in full faith and Christological thematic elements which are likely aimed at the Johannine church communities.[6]  For instance, Jesus’ definitive use of the phrase “Έγώ εὶμι” is purposeful because both He and those with Him know and believe that He is equal to God the Father, the original owner of that Holy name.  Adding this point to the significance of the chiastic structure in which we find John 15, it is clear that a significant point is being made here.

While this particular pericope is complete in itself, containing both statements and explanation, reading it within the context of the greater macro chiasm points to the passage as having a greater significance than it would otherwise have on its own.  Literary forms within the passage and the structure to which the author, presumably John, the beloved disciple, uses here are deceptively simple whilst a deeper look reveals the same abundant complexity that is common to the whole of John’s gospel.  Throughout the entire book John employs a variety of different comparisons, playing on themes, words, and thematic language to make and remake points, often going deeper and developing a much fuller view of Christ as the incarnate Son of God.  The phrase “I am the true vine” found in the first verse is an example of John employing the deceptively simple while using the greater context of the book and section to make a greater point.  At face value, Jesus is simply referencing himself as being what Christians need for life much as a branch needs the trunk of a tree for its survival.  However, as was mentioned before, Jesus uses the “I Am” phrase; the name God gave himself followed by the word “vine” which is representative of the nation of Israel as a whole.[7]  The word “true” is also present representing Jesus’ fulfillment of what Israel should have represented to the world.  While uses of these phrases are significant standing alone, they find a greater significance within their context, from the multiple uses of Έγώ εὶμι to the placement of the phrase at the elbow of the chiasm, it would appear that most passages in the Gospel of John need be seen and often interpreted with ample consideration given to their greater context.

Keeping in mind the consideration for the greater context, exegesis of this passage on its own does provide significant benefits for understanding Jesus’ words here as well as their meaning for the contemporary church.  However, pinning down a structure for this particular pericope may not be the key that unlocks the wisdom found here.[8]  Jesus’ words, though profound and complete, seem to lack a cogent structure on the whole.  Unlike many parables that Jesus tells in which He tells the story and then later explains it, Jesus here speaks a few lines, interprets them, and then continues with the analogy.  When He has completed the analogy, Jesus then gives His disciples commands based on what He has said while concurrently giving an explanation of why and a probable redefinition of their relationship as a whole.  Though all of these parts together make up this emphasis of the disciples abiding in Him, it does not present the structure often found in other discourses or discussions that Jesus has in the Gospel of John.  Never the less, many points are made that center around the specific point that Jesus is making in this passage.

Commentary

                John, the writer of this passage is clearly an accomplished writer and master of the Greek language.  Though not as complex as the grammar and word usage of Luke or Acts, John uses his writing to both creatively and determinately make theological, Christological, and even homiletical points.  However, his writing is clear and straight forward and there are few textual criticism issues that would change the overall meaning.  There are only a few examples of potential changes in tenses or singular/plural complexes that were more than likely changed to match those of other words within the same lines or phrases.[9]  These may be grammatical issues; however they do not significantly change the meaning.  Therefore, a verse by verse translation and criticism is not exactly warranted here.  In this passage it is the significance of the repeated words, the tenses in which they are found, and then meaning to which they suggest that bring significant meaning to the passage.  Therefore, these words and their meanings are the issues that shall be focused on here.

Words such as ἀγάπη, which have very specific references to both meaning and the relationship to which the meaning belongs, are used as a way of driving home the overall theme of the passage.  Most of John 15:1-17 is written in the subjunctive tense, a tense that implies probability most of the time, but can also imply intention and expectation as well.[10]  The afore mentioned word μείνατε is an imperative, referencing more than an simple suggestion to abide, but speaking almost as a command that need be followed.  μένω, the verb meaning remain or abide, is used in several other tenses throughout this passage including the future, as a liquid verb μενεȋτε, and the present.[11]  It could be important to note here that this verb “abide” does not appear in any form of past tense such as the aorist or imperfect, and neither does it occur in the perfect tense or pluperfect tense.  This is likely symbolic of the fact that Jesus is speaking of what is to come now, somehow different from what has been, and that there is no completing this action, but rather the abiding in Him is an ongoing process.  The Strongest Concordance definition of this word would seem to support this as its main definition for the word points to an ongoing process that may or may not stop, but is never completed.[12]

On the other hand, a verb that appears in multiple tenses including the aorist, imperative, and subjunctive, but never the perfect tense, is the verb ἀγαπάω which means love.  Different than its Greek counterparts also translated “love,” agape love is significant of the self-sacrificial love that can only truly be found in God’s love for humanity[13] which is signified best for us by Christ’s death on the cross.  Again, the tenses in which this verb appears within this passage are significant to what Jesus is saying.  Love from the Father towards Jesus is past tense, but not completed, while the Jesus’ command to the disciples to love each other as He has loved them would indicate a new way of living starting now and continuing without end.

Another possibility that could explain some of the different uses of the verb μένω is that John is making a series of word plays here, going back and forth between meanings.  While there can be no real substantiative proof of this, it could make sense that, as John is working to create a certain theme here, that of abiding in Christ as a new way of life for the people of God, he is going back and forth between the old and the new.  The old would be found here when the word is translated “remain.”  This would happen whenever things are in the present tense meaning the way things are now is that the Israelites remain in God.  However, as Christ describes the “true vine” and the idea of the changes that are, or rather will be taking place in the relationship between God’s people and God, He is telling His disciples that from now on they are to abide in Him.  Remaining would be considered a present static action or rather, inaction, whereas abiding connotes an active role, taking part in and dynamically working to abide in Christ.  More will be said on this later.

Perhaps another significant word that is used shows up in the first verse, but its translation and meaning echo through much of this passage.  The NRSV Bible translates the word γεωργός as “vine grower.”[14]  While the meaning of this particular translation relates it specifically to the vine, the greater meaning has to do more with a tender of agriculture[15], or as the NIV translates it, “the gardener.”[16]  Some might argue that this might be an argument of semantics, inferring that it makes little difference, the inference of God the Father as the farmer may indeed hold a greater significance for this particular statement.  A vine-grower, or vine dresser, is someone who likely specializes in the growing of grapes, where as a farmer has the much greater task, and knowledge, of tending multiple crops.  Vine-grower implies a great deal toward raising the plant, while there are mentions in later verses of pruning and tending the vine,[17] implications that could be missed when using the translation vine-grower, even though this is clearly part of the job.  Along with this comes the implication that God, being the God of all nations, does not simply take care of the vine, that which signifies the nation of Israel, but that the Father, who is the gardener, also tends all the nations in His garden.  He was the gardener in Eden, and John also makes reference to Jesus being that gardener on the same level as the Father later in the Gospel at Jesus’ resurrection.  Though this might simply be a difference in translational preference, the significance of “gardener” over and above “vine-grower” is prodigious enough that it bears a great deal of consideration.

As was suggested earlier, the style in which Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John is significantly different than that of its synoptic counterparts.  While it is safe to say that Jesus likely didn’t speak differently in front of the apostle John than he did in front of everyone else, it would make sense that as the author of John is writing to a different audience than those of the synoptics, specifically this audience would be a Johannine community[18] in the late 90’s or even possibly into the second century,[19] the reasoning for this dialogical change is significant.  Much of the differences are due to the fact that, unlike the synoptic gospels that introduce Jesus and work through his life, John seems to presuppose the audiences’ foreknowledge of Christ, as well as Christ’s full knowledge of His own divinity,[20] which would make sense based on the later date of writing. Christian theology would have had some time to develop as would the Church’s understanding of Christ.  Thus the author begins the Gospel not with a birth narrative, but rather a high Christological statement of who Christ is.

With this observation in mind, the author John uses several thematic elements that show up throughout the Gospel.  One of the most prominent and also unique to John is the use of the “I am” statements that Jesus makes.  This reference and usage again of the Greek phrase Έγώ εὶμι is not simply a happenstance, but rather a direct reference to the words of God when He called Moses to lead Israel.  The name of God is given to Moses there, “I AM who I AM,” and is instructed to tell the people of Israel that “I AM” has sent Moses to them.[21]  John is clearly making a point here that Jesus and “I AM” are one and the same, the God of Israel who is their Messiah.  The statement, “I am the true vine” or later “I am the vine” is in fact Jesus pointing to Himself as the true fulfillment of Israel’s purpose, as was mentioned before, but it is also the final statement of “I Am” in the book of John.  Its placement here at the center of this Chiasm that is referred to as Jesus’ farewell discourse is most assuredly not by accident.  Whether or not Jesus truly said these exact things or not as he was coming to the close of the last supper, the author, throughout the Gospel is clearly making the turn from Jesus being a messianic human figure, to being in line with God Himself, casting His true divinity in name of God “I AM.”

Interpretation

                The significance of this passage has been stated several times already, but in an effort to make sure that it is not understated, it need be mentioned once again that the point at which John has Jesus saying “I am the true vine,” brings all the previous book together into the light of the words “Abide in me.”  As was stated previously, this passage comes at the center of a Chiasm, making this statement jump off the page as being abundantly significant, drawing together the whole of this discourse.  Adding to this then is the point that this is the last of Jesus’ “I AM” statements that have been made throughout the Gospel.  Arguably, there are seven of these statements; all pointing to a different aspect of whom Jesus is as God.[22]  He says, “I AM…” the Bread of Life;[23] the Light of the world;[24] not of this world;[25] the Good Shepherd;[26] the Resurrection and the Life;[27] the Way, the Truth, and the Life;[28] and finally the True Vine.[29]  It is almost as if the author is saying that though these other things are good theological points, they truly do not amount to a hill of beans if Christians aren’t abiding in the True Vine, and that is the main theological point that is being made here: Christians need to abide in Jesus, the True Vine.

Cleverly, John plays with the words of this passage, the crux of everything being referenced in the Gospel, going back and forth between the words abide and remain.  A turn is made here in both thought and in relationship.  Christ followers are not just a people that God has chosen, remaining in a covenant without doing anything to take care of it.  This is furthered when Jesus speaks of those who used to be slaves no longer being called slaves.  Rather, instead of being slaves that don’t know the Father’s business, Jesus points to a new relationship in which His followers are called “friends.”  Here the fullest sense of the idea of abiding really takes root.  Christ invites us in as guests in the Father’s house.  No longer are we left outside, unaware of what is going on within.  Instead Jesus has invited us in, to abide in the house, and be a part of the family.  He even prescribes how it is that we can do this, how we can abide in him, and that is by loving each other and keeping his commands.  We don’t just remain in a static sense any longer, but rather have full participation within the Father’s house!  God almighty has asked us to take part in His work in the world; to abide in His house and therefore know what the Father is doing.  We know these things of the Father because Jesus has heard them, and has spoken them to us.[30]

It is here that Jesus’ statements have come full circle.  Jesus started by warning His disciples that the Lord would cut off any of those who did not bear fruit; yet he failed to mention how exactly they were to bear this fruit at the beginning.  He later says that abiding in Him is how they are to bear fruit.  But it is at the end of this section in which we see how this fully accomplished.  As Christians we are engrafted into the Vine that is Christ and, as Jesus points out, without this engrafting the disciples would be able to do nothing at all.  Calvin points out that without this engrafting into Christ we would be as a branch that has been removed from a tree, capable of nothing.[31]  Therefore we must take care, Calvin points out, to not disfigure ourselves, being that we are members of the Vine that is Christ.[32]

Though this is all good information, surely the disciples are wondering how exactly they are supposed to abide in Jesus.  Fortunately for us all, Jesus tells us this exact information.  We abide in Him by keeping His commandments, the primary example of which is also located here in His command to “love each other.”[33]  Abraham Kuyper points out that this Christian love is not simply the expression of love that seems to be so disfigured and diluted in today’s culture, but rather the idea of divine or eternal love, love that is represented best within the context of the trinity and given the Greek word ἀγάπη, which is found in this passage.[34]  This truly is the love of God; the selfless, self-sacrificial love that Christ would later live into, or rather die into on the cross.

Homiletic themes and practical application for this passage would seem almost to be endless.  Sermons could be written for months on the implications of this passage alone.  Clearly the themes of identity and membership in Christ run strongly through this passage.  This passage is referenced often in relationship to Calvin’s fifth point of TULIP, the perseverance of the saints.[35]  As we have seen, the point of loving each other comes through rather strongly as well.  Christ’s command to love one another and to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters as being the greatest expression of love, especially Christian love, points us to what is often an entirely different mindset for Christians.  Through this love, we who have been engrafted into Christ bear fruit.  More than this though is that, through our engrafting into the One True Vine, we are, as the medieval theologian Peter Abelard stated, “we are thus joined through his grace to him and our neighbor by an unbreakable bond of love…”[36]  Calvin calls this an allure to cultivate brotherly love.[37]  In a roundabout way, Jesus has given us a picture of Christian community that is unified in both source and expression.  That too would be a picture of unity through love in the Holy Spirit, to which Kuyper would speak to.  Even Bonheoffer references theme, encouraging the church to “love as he loved.”[38]  While this is a personal charge, its ripple effects would be felt throughout the whole church.

                An additional major theme that often finds its way out of this passage is that of Union, or lack thereof, with Christ.  This theme runs along the previous idea of identity and membership in Christ, but takes us deeper bringing our whole being into the picture. “The allegory of the vine,” says the Interpreter’s Bible, “is the most complete expression of the mystical union between Christ and the Christian in this Gospel.  It combines the thought which Paul expressed in the figure of the body and its members with the peculiar emphasis which John lays on love as the chief mark of this inward fellowship.”[39]  Inward fellowship is not the pedantic small talk that we call fellowship, it is an engrafting that becomes so deep, so utterly dependent on the vine that their separation would mean death to the branch.

Connected with the idea of union with Christ is the notion of bearing fruit.  Jesus makes a significant statement to show that this isn’t just a living around the vine, but rather living because of the connection to the vine.  Evidence of this connection comes from the bearing of fruit.  He makes it very clear that through no strength of our own can we bear fruit.  It isn’t just a matter of living in a particular way, but to “walk by the Spirit,”[40] as Paul says, which is our link to the vine.[41]  Calvin speaks to this pointing out that it is the nation of man to be unfruitful and destitute of everything good because “no man has the nature of a vine, till he be implanted in him [the Vine].”[42]  Thus, the only way that we can bear fruit is if we abide in the vine, if we are engrafted into it, drawing our life from it.  This is more than just a passive way of life; it is the purpose of it. Our purpose is to bear fruit so that we might be of use to God in His world.[43]

Closely following this is the negative side of this argument.  The question of what happens when those who are seemingly abiding in the vine don’t bear fruit.  This raises questions of authenticity in Christian life and a myriad of other rabbit trails off of that particular point.  However, Jesus specifically states “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit,”[44] which would imply that the reverse is true as well.  Those who do not abide in Jesus do not bear fruit.  However, Jesus calls those particular people branches as well implying that they, in one way or another, look as though they are part of the vine.  Jesus makes the obvious statement that a branch cannot bear fruit by itself,[45] and that those branches that do not bear fruit are pruned, removed so that the other fruit bearing branches can bear even more fruit.[46]  John implies here that there will be some that are connected to Jesus in some way, but they are not abiding in Him.  They would give the outward appearance of being branches that are part of the vine, but their true state is revealed in their lack of fruit.[47]  Jesus’ statement about these people is clear, they will be pruned.

Conclusion

Finally, we return to the main theme and thrust of this paper, the statement of Jesus to “abide in me.”  Truly this is the crux of the entire passage, the whole chiasm, and possibly the entire book.  It could even be argued that the themes that statements of this passage represent a summary statement of the whole narrative of God’s redemptive history.  A people chosen by God to remain in Him, not always sure of what they were up to, not truly given more than a shadow of the things to come.  They remain in God because of the covenant; God loves them all the time while they love Him some of the time.  A people called to show God to the world, to bring God’s love and be a light to the nations, but failing to live up to that purpose because of lack of knowledge, lack of desire, and lack of ability.  But Jesus comes to change all that.  No longer are God’s people slaves, they are now called friends because servants do not know what the master is doing.[48]  We do know however, because we have seen it and heard it.  The love of God and His redemptive purpose has been exhibited in Christ Jesus.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the Father, the Gardner, through His Son, the True Vine, the Word made flesh that lived among us.[49]

There is no question now of God’s actions, for we have witnessed the true Love of God, the ἀγάπη love demonstrated through Jesus.  Our call then is to abide in Him and to show it not by static inaction, but obeying Jesus’ commandments, through love that bears fruit. We no longer dwell on the outside, but have been invited into the house of God, walking through the torn veil to into true relationship and our call is to abide!  “Take advantage of my hospitality,” God says, “for I chose you and I want for you to abide in me, and so I will abide in you.  In doing this our joy will be made complete.”  These statements not only invite us in, but they give us assurance.  We ourselves cannot bear fruit and through no power of our own can we change this.  But in Christ, we can and do bear fruit.  Jesus’ promise to us is that if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit.  No conditions or stipulations are given; all we need do is abide in Him.  May it be so in our lives to through the Son, the True Vine, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to and for the glory of the Father, both now and forever more.  Amen.


[1] John 15:4.  All Biblical citations will be made from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] John 15:4.

[3] Michael D. Coogan, ed., The New Oxford Annotated Bible. 3d ed.  (New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 2001), 173 of the New Testament.

[4] Wayne Brower, “The literary development of John 13–17: A chiastic reading” (Open Access Dissertations and Theses, Paper 1901, 1999), 1. http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/opendissertations/1901.

[5] James L. Bailey and Lyle D. Vander Broek, Literary Forms in the New Testament: A Handbook (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992) 178.

[6] Ibid., 172-173.

[7] George W. Knight and Rayburn W. Ray, ed. The Layman’s Bible Dictionary (Uhrichsville: Barbour Publishing, 1998), 336.

[8] Gordon D. Fee, New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors, 3d ed. (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2002), 138-139.

[9] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, 2d ed. (Germany: Deutshe Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), 209.

[10] N. Clayton Croy, A Primer of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 137.

[11] Ibid., 71.

[12] Howard W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 1570.

[13] David H. Kelsey, Eccentric Existence: A theological Anthropology (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2009), 694.

[14] John 15:1.

[15] Goodrick, 1537.

[16] John 15:1 (New International Version).

[17] Gary M. Burge, John: The NIV Application Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 418.

[18] Bailey, 176.

[19] Walter A. Elwell and Robert W. Yarbrough, Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 2005), 110.

[20] Robert E. Van Voorst, Reading the New Testament Today, (Belmont: Wadsworth, 2005), 269-270.

[21] Exodus 3:14.

[22] Elwell, 112.

[23] John 6:35.

[24] John 8:12.

[25] John 8:23.

[26] John 10:11.

[27] John11:25.

[28] John 14:6.

[29] John 15:1.

[30] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 5. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991), 909.

[31] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Edited by John T. McNeill. (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2006), 302.

[32] Ibid., 687.

[33] John 5:12.

[34] Kuyper, Abraham (The Work of the Holy Spirit), Translated by Rev. Henri De Vries. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1900), 508.

[35] Steele, David N and others, The Five Points of Calvinism; Defined, Defended, and Documented, 2d ed.  (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing Company, 2004), 149-150.

[36] Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 5d ed. (Chichester: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2011), 332.

[37] John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Vol. 2. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009), 116.

[38] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959), 304.

[39] Nolan B. Harmon, ed. The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 2. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1980), 717-718.

[40] Galatians 5:16.

[41] James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 386.

[42] Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, 107.

[43] Ibid., 394.

[44] John 15:5.

[45] John 15:4.

[46] John 15:2.

[47] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 796.

[48] John 15:15.

[49] John 1:14.