The Central Idea of the Text is that Jesus commands His disciples to abide in Him that they might bear fruit (John 15:1-10), and His primary command is that they love one another (John 15:12, 17). Jesus presented Himself metaphorically as the true vine and His Father as the vinedresser (John 15:1). The metaphor originally referred to Israel as a divinely planted vine that should have produced the fruit of obedience, righteousness and justice; but instead, it produced bloodshed and a cry of distress (Isa. 5:1-7). Jesus is the true vine in that He obeyed God and bore the fruit that Israel should have produced. Jesus spoke of no fruit, fruit, and more fruit (John 15:2), which implies stages of productivity in the life of an obedient believer. Jesus also explained that every branch that does not bear fruit is taken away (John 15:2). The Greek verb αἴρω airo—translated takes away—can mean either to take away (John 20:2) or to raise up (John 8:59). The former is a picture of judgment, whereas the latter a picture of encouragement. The former seems consistent with the language of the text (John 15:6). The metaphor of fire is a picture of judgment, which can occur in this life (1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16), as well as the next (1 Cor. 3:10-15), but it is not a judgment that results in the loss of salvation, which is guaranteed by Christ (John 6:37; 10:27-29). Jesus explained that those who abide in Him will produce fruit. To abide in Christ means the believer stays with Christ and obeys His word (John 15:10). Fruit is the outward evidence of inward spiritual health and is produced for the benefit of others. Fruit comes in the life of the believer who walks with Christ (John 15:4). Good fruit refers to one’s character (Gal. 5:22-23), good works (Col. 1:9-10), good words (Prov. 10:21; 11:30), and praise to God (Heb. 13:15). The fruit of an abiding believer is seen in a transformed life (John 15:2; cf. Gal. 5:22-23), answered prayer (John 15:7), an attitude of joy (John 15:11), and love for others (John 15:9, 12-13, 17). Jesus commands His disciples to love each other (John 15:12), and He identifies self-sacrifice as love’s greatest expression (John 15:13); something Jesus would model for them. Jesus loved His disciples by example (John 13:1-17), by teaching (John 13:18-17:26), by ensuring they were provided for after His departure (John 14:16-17), and by dying as their substitute (John 18-19). Our love for others is modeled on Jesus’ love for us.
April 22, 2017