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.
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Is withered - Is dried up. A branch cut off withers. So of a soul unconnected with Christ, however fair it may have appeared. and however flourishing when a profession of religion was first made, yet when it is tried, and it is seen that there was no true grace, everything withers and dies. The zeal languishes, the professed love is gone, prayer is neglected, the sanctuary is forsaken, and the soul becomes like a withered branch reserved for the fire of the last great day. See a beautiful illustration of this in Ezekiel 15:1-8.
Men gather them - The word "men" is not in the original, and should not have been in the translation. The Greek is "they gather them," a form of expression denoting simply they are gathered, without specifying by whom it is done. From Matthew 13:40-42, it seems that it will be done by the angels. The expression means, as the withered and useless branches of trees are gathered for fuel, so shall it be with all hypocrites and false professors of religion.
Are burned - See Matthew 13:42.
He is cast forth - Observe, that person who abides not in Christ, in a believing loving, obedient spirit, is -
1. Cut off from Jesus, having no longer any right or title to him or to his salvation.
2. He is withered - deprived of all the influences of God's grace and Spirit; loses all his heavenly unction; becomes indifferent, cold, and dead to every holy and spiritual word and work.
3. He is gathered - becomes (through the judgment of God) again united with backsliders like himself and other workers of iniquity; and, being abandoned to his own heart and Satan, he is,
4. Cast into the fire - separated from God's people, from God himself, and from the glory of his power. And,
he is cast forth as a branch; that is unfruitful, and is therefore taken away from the vine, and cast forth out of the vineyard. This signifies the ejection of worthless and fruitless professors out of the churches; for such who are either unsound in their principles, or are remiss and negligent in their attendance on the worship of God, with the church, or are loose and vain in their lives and conversations, are to be removed from communion with the people of God.
And is withered. Some versions, as the Arabic, Syriac, and Persic, read this as an epithet of the word "branch", thus; "the branch that is withered"; expressing the condition the branch is in before it is cast forth out of the vineyard, and the reason of its being cast forth: but others read it as a new and distinct predicate of the branch, showing the case it is in, immediately upon its being cast forth: it may be cut off, and cast out with its leaves upon it, though without fruit; but as soon as ever it is ejected, it withers away. So mere external professors of religion, when they are cast out, of the communion of the church, presently the leaf of profession, which once seemed green, decays, loses its verdure, and that seeming fruit which grew upon them shrinks to nothing, and they become "trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit", Jde 1:12, their show of life, zeal, religion, and holiness, disappears, and all their external gifts, light, knowledge, and understanding, even in a speculative way, vanish:
and men gather them; or, as some copies have it, "it", which best agrees with the word "branch". This was a common thing, when branches were thrown out of a vineyard, for men to come and gather them up for an use hereafter mentioned. So when unworthy members are put out of a church of Christ, the men of the world gather them into their society: or they are taken into the congregations of false teachers, who being sensual, and without the Spirit, separate themselves; or it may be read impersonally, "they are gathered", or "it is gathered": so wicked men, and Christless professors, will be gathered by the angels at the last day, and severed by them from the righteous, whom they will place at Christ's left hand to receive their awful doom:
and cast them, or "it",
into the fire, and they are burned, or "it is burned"; for nothing else is such a branch good for; see Ezekiel 15:2. This may respect either the gnawings of conscience, that distress of mind, if not despair, that fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which attend apostates in this life; or their being cast into the everlasting burnings of hell fire by angels at the last day, as will be the case of every unfruitful tree, of the chaff and tares.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.If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. The lifeless, fruitless branches in the vineyard are lopped off and carried out, and wither and are burned. So, too, any one who does not abide in Christ, is severed from the Vine.
They gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned (Revised Version). They (the angels at the great day; not men, as in the Common Version) cast them into the fire and they are burned.Verse 6. - If any one abide not in me, he is cast forth as the branch - perhaps away from the vineyard, as well as from proximity to the vine - and is withered. The two aorists, ἐβλήθη and ἐξηράνθη, are simply cases of a common daily experience. These are the inevitable consequences of not abiding in the Vine. We may imagine two ways in which this non-abiding in Christ, this severance from him, may be effected:
(1) the pruning-knife may have lopped them off because of their lack of fruitfulness; or,
(2) they may have withered on the stem, and, by their deficiency of strength and life, have suffered from some external assault which they have not had energy to resist. Lucke, Winer, Tholuck, and Hengstenberg regard the aorists as indicative of what will happen should branches in Christ cease to derive life from him. Calvin is satisfied that the expression cannot refer to the elect, but to the hypocrite, while Alford is as confident of its repudiation of unconditional election. In my opinion it keeps clear of both suggestions. And they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. The vine is one of the noblest of all trees, and produces the most abundant fruit; but it is one of its peculiarities that all its strength is spent on the fruit, and that its branches are utterly valueless for all other purposes. Heaps of burning vine-prunings may have suggested the awful image which the embodied Love of God here adopts. Some have supposed (Meyer and Alford) that the fire is here the last judgment, which our Lord looks upon as come. But the present tense, following the two aorists, suggests the immediate consequence of such severance from Christ - the fiery trials, the fierce temptations, the terrible judgments, always overtaking the unfruitful and unfaithful servants, and preluding the awful consummation of Divine judgment, of which our Lord had often spoken (Matthew 13:42, 50; Matthew 25:41; Luke 16:24), and which the apostle of love described in Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8.
The aorist tense. Literally, was cast forth. The aorist, denoting a momentary act, indicates that it was cast forth at the moment it ceased to abide in the vine. Forth signifies from the vineyard; ἔξω, outside.
As a branch (ὠς τὸ κλῆμα)
Strictly, the branch: the unfruitful branch.
Is withered (ἐξηράνθη)
The aorist, as in was cast forth. Wyc, shall wax dry.
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