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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 15 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Every branch in me. Every one that is a true follower of me, that is united to me by faith, and that truly derives grace and strength from me, as the branch does from the vine. The word branch includes all the boughs, and the smallest tendrils that shoot out from the parent stalk. Jesus here says that he sustains the same relation to his disciples that a parent stalk does to the branches; but this does not denote any physical or incomprehensible union. It is a union formed by believing on him; resulting from our feeling our dependence on him and our need of him; from embracing him as our Saviour, Redeemer, and Friend. We become united to him in all our interests, and have common feelings, common desires, and a common destiny with him. We seek the same objects, are willing to encounter the same trials, contempt, persecution, and want, and are desirous that his God shall be ours, and his eternal abode ours. It is a union of friendship, of love, and of dependence; a union of weakness with strength; of imperfection with perfection; of a dying nature with a living Saviour; of a lost sinner with an unchanging Friend and Redeemer. It is the most tender and interesting of all relations, but not more mysterious or more physical than the union of parent and child, of husband and wife (Eph 5:23), or friend and friend.

That beareth not fruit. As the vinedresser will remove all branches that are dead or that bear no fruit, so will God take from his church all professed Christians who give no evidence by their lives that they are truly united to the Lord Jesus. He here refers to such cases as that of Judas, the apostatizing disciples, and all false and merely nominal Christians (Dr. Adam Clarke).

He taketh away. The vine-dresser cuts it off. God removes such in various ways:

1st. By the discipline of the church.

2nd. By suffering them to fall into temptation.

3rd. By persecution and tribulation, by the deceitfulness of riches, and by the cares of the world (Mt 13:21,22); by suffering the man to be placed in such circumstances as Judas, Achan, and Ananias were—such as to show what they were, to bring their characters fairly out, and to let it be seen that they had no true love to God.

4th. By death, for God has power thus at any moment to remove unprofitable branches from the church.

Every branch that beareth fruit. That is, all true Christians, for all such bear fruit. To bear fruit is to show by our lives that we are under the influence of the religion of Christ, and that that religion produces in us its appropriate effects, Ga 5:22,23. See Barnes "Mt 7:16-20".

It is also to live so as to be useful to others. As a vineyard is worthless unless it bears fruit that may promote the happiness or subsistence of man, so the Christian principle would be worthless unless Christians should live so that others may be made holy and happy by their example and labours, and so that the world may be brought to the cross of the Saviour.

He purgeth it. Or rather he prunes it, or cleanses it by pruning. There is a use of words here —a paronomasia - in the original which cannot be retained in the translation. It may be imperfectly seen by retaining the Greek words—"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away (airei); every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it (kathairei); now ye are clean (katharoi)," &c. The same Greek word in different forms is still retained. God purifies all true Christians so that they may be more useful. He takes away that which hindered their usefulness; teaches them; quickens them; revives them; makes them more pure in motive and in life. This he does by the regular influences of his Spirit in sanctifying them, purifying their motives, teaching them the beauty of holiness, and inducing them to devote themselves more to him. He does it by taking away what opposes their usefulness, however much they may be attached to it, or however painful to part with it; as a vine-dresser will often feel himself compelled to lop off a branch that is large, apparently thrifty, and handsome, but which bears no fruit, and which shades or injures those which do. So God often takes away the property of his people, their children, or other idols. He removes the objects which bind their affections, and which render them inactive. He takes away the things around man, as he did the valued gourds of Jonah (Joh 4:5-11), so that he may feel his dependence, and live more to the honour of God, and bring forth more proof of humble and active piety.

{c} "Every branch" Mt 15:13 {d} "that beareth" Heb 12:15; Re 3:19

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