Sunday, February 07, 2010

SOME THOTS ON JOHN 15:1-13

INTRODUCTION

In my spiritual experience I have heard the following scripture passage interpreted in several ways. Let us look at these verses and see what they actually say.

THE TEXT

I will use the New King James Version of the Bible rendering of this passage.

John 15:1-13



1“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
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.
6If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.



COMMENT

The term that is translated “prune” (NKJV) in verse two is the Greek term “kathairo”. It is translated “purge” in the KJV. It literally means, to cleanse or prune. The determining element stated in this passage is that each “branch” bears “fruit” (vs 2, 4, 5, 8). Without defining what this “fruit” is, if a branch produces SOME fruit, it is “purged” – cleansed or pruned – so that it will produce more fruit. If the branch does not produce ANY fruit, it is “taken away” – removed from the vine – Christ (vs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

The Greek word translated "takes away" (v 2) is "aheero", which means, to lift, to take up, take away, remove.

It should be pointed out here that verse three of chapter 15 states that the disciples were “already cleansed by the word” spoken to them. The bearing of fruit is presented as a function of God working through each of them over time(vs 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) hence, the emphasis that each of them “abide” in the vine. Stated another way, they should stay put and God will work through them to produce more fruit (v 2).

A key concept in this scripture is the term "abide". The word "abide" is used eight times in this passage (vs 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10). Every time it is translated from the Greek word, "meno", which means, to stay, to continue, to dwell, to endure, to be present, to remain, to stand, or tarry. Thus, we are urged to "abide in me (Christ)" (v 4a, c, 5, 6, 7), "abide in the vine" (v 4b), And to have Christ's words abide in us (v 7). We are also encouraged to "abide in [Christ's] love" (v 8, 9, 10).

Failure to stay pure by virtue of our salvation from sin, and obey the commands of God and his word, to grow and produce fruit, leads to backsliding and removal from the vine.

Interestingly, Jesus turns a corner in verse 7. He ties staying in the vine ("abide in me") with obedience ("my words abide in you") and links them with answered prayer. Thus, one way to ensure that our prayers are answered as we desire is to build a long-term relationship with God/Christ.

Verse 8 takes these concepts a step further and relates our bearing of fruit to glorifying God. This verse also gives a definition of a "disciple" - one who bears much fruit and thereby glorifies God.

In verse 9, Jesus goes a step further. He associates love, obedience and abiding with him. God has expressed his love to Christ. Christ has expressed his love to his disciples in a way similar to the way God did to him. We are encouraged to remain in his love. From this we can see that it is assumed that part of love is a bond between two individuals. This bond creates an attraction between the two such that they want to be physically close to each other. This implies a desire to become more aligned spiritually and morally. And that implies a behavioral likeness, as well. Thus, we will become more like God/Christ.

In verse 10, Jesus restates these concepts and clearly presents the linkage between keeping his commandments and love. This definition stayed with John because he repeats a similar thought in 1 John 5:2-3. We demonstrate our love for God/Christ by obeying ("keeping") his commandments.

Verse 11 ties the concept of joy with abiding in the vine, and keeping the commandments of God. Jesus specifies that the joy goes two ways. We have a joy from Christ and we possess our own joy. From this we see that joy is both a gift and a human reaction.

The Greek word that is translated "joy" in both instances is "kharah". It means, cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness, joy. From this we get a picture, not of laughter or strong outward expressions of pleasure or amusement, but, rather, a more subdued pleased contentment. And something or a circumstance that provides a long-term environment of pleasure, will induce us to remain there and "abide".

So in these last three verses, he has linked stability, obedience, love, and joy.

Some teachers see a spiritual/moral cleansing in a "second work of grace" tied to the term "prune" or "purge" in this passage. For those who embrace the second work view, the term “purge” here means an instantaneous moral/spiritual cleansing after initial conversion. This takes place in the "soul" or "heart" of the person. What is removed is variously called a "carnal nature", "adamic nature", "fallen nature", or the "old man" which we inherited from Adam. A careful reading of these verses will reveal nothing to support any of these concepts.

While there are many references in the Bible to the utterly total, helpless moral depravity of all people (Romans 3:23), there are no scriptures that clearly link this situation to Adam. This passage alludes to this situation also (vs 4, 5). Certainly, many passages in the Old and New Testament do, indeed, present the concept of a moral/spiritual cleansing event. That event is conversion (1 John 1:9).

Rather than this scripture passage being a picture of a second spiritual/moral cleansing of a carnal/perverted nature inherited from Adam, this is more clearly a picture of obedience, stability and progressive growth in spiritual matters. The keys to our successful progress in the Christian life and the attainment of heaven in the end are contained in this passage, where we are urged to stay with Jesus/God, the vine (vs 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10), and produce the fruit of obedience (v 7), love (v 9) and joy (v 11).

11 comments:

Ibn Adam said...

hi. i jst wanted to ask you. are there many versions of Bible? as you knw there is only one version of quraan. so when there are many versions of bible can we say that it is gods words. it means something like bible is updated. is this ryt?

Paw said...

Yes.
Since the death and resurrection of Jesus there have been many collections of writings about him and the principles he presented.
About 100 years after his death, a meeting of church leaders decided which books and letters were authentic and should be included in a single body of writings we now call the Bible.
Because these original writings were written in different languages (mainly Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek), and Christianity was spreading around the world, the Bible was translated into many other languages.
One of those languages was English, and in the 400+ years since it was first translated, the language has changed.
Some words are no longer used commonly.
Other words have changed meaning or are used differently.
As this has happened, new translations of the English Bible have been written to reflect the changes in the language.
The fundamental spiritual elements of the Christian faith and the principles that Jesus taught have not been changed in these various translations.

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Ibn Adam said...

Paw. can u pls tell me is there any verse in the bible where Jesus(pbuh) says he is the god or he is the son of god?

Paw said...

In many places, Jesus is referred to as the son of God.
In John 3:16-18 he refers to himself as the son of God.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

By the way, you said that there is only one version of the quraan.
That is not true.
Any time you translate a book from one language to another you create another version.
This is because not all words will mean the exact same thing from one language to another.

Ibn Adam said...

ok. Muslims do believe in Jesus (pbuh)? will their (muslims) belief about Jesus(pbuh) benefit them?

Ibn Adam said...

i heard some saying that Jesus(pbuh) died for their Sins. then that he died for their sins and they will not be sinned again. is this hw it is?
and one thing. there is only one Quraan and no versions. even it is translated in to many languages they call it Quraan.
one thing. why non-muslims treat bad abt Quraan? u will nt see any muslim doing that to your BIBLE.
Islam teaches to respect other religions.

Paw said...

Just "believing" in Jesus is not enough. (James 2:19)
We must accept Jesus as the son of Yahweh, Jehovah, God. (Acts 3:19, Acts 17:30, John 6:69)
So just accepting Jesus as a good person or a prophet is not the same as accepting him as God's designated savior for all sinful people.
So, just believing that Jesus was a real person will do no good.

Paw said...

Yes, even though the Quraan is translated to other languages it is still called the Quraan.
It is the same with the Christian Bible.
The translations are still called the Bible, but they also identify which translation it is.
The exact title is not as important as what is written in it.

Christians do not accept the Quraan as a book from Yahweh, God.
So they do not consider it as important as the Bible.
Christians tolerate other religions but do not consider them equal or just as real as the way of Yahweh.
But I see pictures of people who claim to be Muslims who wave signs that say "death to Israel" or "death to American".
Why is that?
Christians do not try to kill people of other religions.

Ibn Adam said...

paw. please be updated. who insulted the islam at first. i think you are not aware of what Israeli terrorists doing to Muslims in Gaza.
then do you guys accept us to keep calm. do want us to be watching it.
are you aware of the cartoons drawn by a Denmark artist. then do you accept us to keep calm? do you accept us to be calm? do you accept us to be calm? do want us to watch it?
and one thing. Jesus is not a SON of GOD. dnt accept GOD to have same desires like us humans. he GOD is like no one. y should he need a son? why should he need a SON? y u accept god to have same desires like us?
Jesus is a TRUE prophet of GOD. there is no partner to GOD. there is No partner to GOD.
and i say BIBLE is EDITED. in the real bible Jesus give the news about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). and you believed it till he (Muhammad(pbuh)) was born. y you became disbelievers? because he was not from the people of you. he was from Arabia. that's why they got jealous and became disbelievers. this is the truth. i dnt care whether you believe or not. we Muslims believe in prphet Jesus (pbuh) and all the prophets before him. notice that no Muslim is a Muslim until he/she believes in all the Prophets.

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