Question: Can you explain John 15:1-8?

    Answer: John 15: 1-8 contains Jesus' teaching of the vine and the branches. Typical of Jesus' teaching, we find in the utterance great brevity and yet spiritual profundity.

    Jesus is the vine. Jesus said, "I am the true vine..." (vs. 1). Jesus is true or genuine as opposed to the false. Jesus, as the vine, presents Himself as absolutely necessary to spiritual life. Hear Him, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (vs. 4). Abiding in Jesus is necessary to bearing fruit and answered prayer (vss. 5, 7). Those not abiding are cast forth as a branch, gathered, cast into the fire, and are burned (vs. 6).

    The disciples are the branches. Sadly, John 15: 1-8 is used as a proof text to justify the existence and practice of denominationalism (many different churches, teaching different doctrines). We are told the branches are different religions, but they are all connected to Christ, the vine. Notice, "I am the vine, ye are the branches..." (vs. 5). Who are the "ye?" The antecedent is seen when the reader goes back to chapter thirteen and reads through to chapter fifteen. The "ye" refers to Jesus' disciples, not to different religions. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14: 33). Religious separations are condemned by God (cf. 1 Cor. 1, 2). Consider how that without Jesus, Christians are without a life source. Jesus is our mediator (1 Tim. 2: 5), our example (1 Pet. 2: 21), and our sacrifice (Heb. 10: 1-12).

    The teaching of John 15: 1-8 is especially meaningful and beautiful for those who love the Lord. For such individuals, the teaching is indicative of the deep, personal relationship between them and their Lord. Notwithstanding, the broad minded have great difficulty with the exclusive teaching of the passage.

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