John 15:1-6 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bear not fruit he take away: and every branch that bear fruit, he purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abide in me, and I in him, the same bring forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
‘True vine’ Israel turned out to be a false vine producing wild grapes (Isa. 5:1-7). Christ as the true vine brings forth good fruit.
‘Every branch in me that bear not fruit he take away: and every branch that bear fruit, he purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit.’ Every believer in Christ is referred to by this illustration or it is meaningless. If the believer is fruitful he is purged to produce more fruit. If he is fruitless he is taken away or removed from being part of the vine. The Father does this, not man. No man is able to pluck one branch from God’s hands, but if we say that God cannot cut off any branch that is fruitless, then we limit God and make the dead, fruitless, and useless branches to be more powerful than He is. To take this position would be like saying to the vinedresser that it would be unlawful to prune the vine and remove the dead branches. No man can cut off any branch that is not actually in the vine. It is absurd and contrary to the letter and spirit of the parable here to talk about branches that are cut off as merely professing to be branches. If the idea here is only professed union of the vine and branches then there could only be a professed cutting off and burning; so the passage would mean nothing because it would have said nothing to any purpose.
God is the husbandman and Christ is the vine and believers are the branches in Christ. Every fruitless branch “in me” is cut off, withered, gathered with other dead branches and cast into the fire and burned. Every fruitful branch “in me” is purged that it might be more fruitful. Every branch “in me” is clean (pure in heart by the Word if walking in the light, Matt. 5:8; Eph. 5:26; John 3:5; Jas. 1:18; 1Pet. 1:23; 1Jn. 1:7). Branches must “abide in” Christ and Christ in them to produce fruit. The branch is helpless to produce fruit of itself. Christ is helpless to produce fruit through the branch unless it remains in Him. Branches must abide in Christ or be cut off and burned.
‘Now you are’ Now – not, “you are going to be.” The cleanliness referred to here was a present experience before the cross and before Pentecost. They were clean because of the Word that was spoken by Christ that washed them (Isa. 1:18).
‘Clean’ the Greek word katharos means pure, clean from anything that soils or corrupts. Real heart purity is meant (Matt. 5:8).
‘Abide’ the Greek word meno meaning remain, continue, dwell, and abide. This is a command to remain in Christ. The reason is given here as not being able to bear fruit otherwise. Without following in His example and footsteps when He lived on earth, one cannot remain in Him (1 Pet. 2:21-23).