John 15:6
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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch . . .—The thought passes from the fruitful to the sterile branch, from the man who abideth to the man who will not abide in Christ. In the natural vineyard such a branch was cast forth, and then withered, and was gathered with others into bundles, and burned. The vivid picture illustrates the fearful history of a man who willeth not to abide in Christ.

And they are burned.—Better, and they burn. The tenses of this verse should be carefully observed. The burning of the withered branches of the natural vine suggests the final judgment, and the whole is thought of from that time. Hence the earlier verbs are in the past, and the later in the present tense.

15:1-8 Jesus Christ is the Vine, the true Vine. The union of the human and Divine natures, and the fulness of the Spirit that is in him, resemble the root of the vine made fruitful by the moisture from a rich soil. Believers are branches of this Vine. The root is unseen, and our life is hid with Christ; the root bears the tree, diffuses sap to it, and in Christ are all supports and supplies. The branches of the vine are many, yet, meeting in the root, are all but one vine; thus all true Christians, though in place and opinion distant from each other, meet in Christ. Believers, like the branches of the vine, are weak, and unable to stand but as they are borne up. The Father is the Husbandman. Never was any husbandman so wise, so watchful, about his vineyard, as God is about his church, which therefore must prosper. We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life. We must honour God, and do good; this is bearing fruit. The unfruitful are taken away. And even fruitful branches need pruning; for the best have notions, passions, and humours, that require to be taken away, which Christ has promised to forward the sanctification of believers, they will be thankful, for them. The word of Christ is spoken to all believers; and there is a cleansing virtue in that word, as it works grace, and works out corruption. And the more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good, the more our Lord is glorified. In order to fruitfulness, we must abide in Christ, must have union with him by faith. It is the great concern of all Christ's disciples, constantly to keep up dependence upon Christ, and communion with him. True Christians find by experience, that any interruption in the exercise of their faith, causes holy affections to decline, their corruptions to revive, and their comforts to droop. Those who abide not in Christ, though they may flourish for awhile in outward profession, yet come to nothing. The fire is the fittest place for withered branches; they are good for nothing else. Let us seek to live more simply on the fulness of Christ, and to grow more fruitful in every good word and work, so may our joy in Him and in his salvation be full.If a man, abide not in me - See John 15:4. If a man is not truly united to him by faith, and does not live with a continual sense of his dependence on him. This doubtless refers to those who are professors of religion, but who have never known anything of true and real connection with him.

Is cast forth - See the notes at John 15:2. Also Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13.

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.

6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch … withered … cast into the fire … burned—The one proper use of the vine is to bear fruit; failing this, it is good for one other thing—fuel. (See Eze 15:1-5). How awfully striking the figure, in this view of it! Our Lord yet pursueth the metaphor of the vine, the branches, and the husbandman: Look (saith he) its it is with a vine, when the time of pruning the vine cometh, the vine dresser cutteth off the fruitless, luxuriant branches, and throws them by; which being done, their greenness presently abates, and they wither, and after a time some come and gather them up, and cast them into some fire, where they are burned: so it will be with you; if you do not bring forth fruit, God will take from you his common influences, which have for a while made you to look speciously; and your profession, or your parts and gifts, will wither and decay; and in the day of judgment the angels shall gather you up, and God shall cast you into hell, Matthew 13:40,41, where you shall perish as miserably, nay, infinitely more miserably, than if you were burned with fire. If a man abide not in me,.... Christ does not say, "if ye abide not in me"; he would not suppose this of his true disciples; Judas now being removed, to whom he may have some respect in this verse; though it may be applied to anyone who has made a profession of Christ, and denies the truths of the Gospel, neglects the ordinances of it, or walks unworthy of his profession: of whom the following things may be truly said,

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 15:6. Νῦν λέγει καὶ τὸν κίνδυνον τοῦ μὴ ἐν αὐτῷ μένοντος, Euth. Zigabenus; and how terrible in its tragic simplicity!

ἐὰν μή τις] nisi quis manserit. See Baeumlein, Partik. p. 289. Comp. John 3:3; John 3:5.

ἐβλήθη ἔξω, κ.τ.λ.] The representation is highly vivid and pictorial. Jesus places Himself at the point of time of the execution of the last judgment, when those who have fallen away from Him are gathered together and cast into the fire, after they have been previously already cast out of His communion, and become withered (having completely lost the higher true ζωή). Hence the graphic lively change of tense: In case any one shall not have abided on me; he has been cast out like the branch, and is withered (already before the judgment), and (now what takes place at the last day itself) they gather them together, etc. The aorists therefore neither denote what is wont to be (Grotius), nor do they stand for futures (Kuinoel, B. Crusius, and older expositors), nor are they to be explained “par la répétition de l’acte aussi longtemps que dure l’opération de la taille” (Godet); nor are they designed, as in Matthew 18:15, to express that which is at once done or appointed to be done with the non-abiding (so most expositors, including Lücke, Winer, Tholuck, De Wette, Luthardt, Weiss, Hengstenberg; comp. Hermann, de emend. Grammat. p. 192 f.; Buttmann, N. T. Gram. p. 172 [E. T. p. 199]). To the latter interpretation is opposed the circumstance that, in point of fact, the being cast out and being withered cannot be appointed or effected immediately at and with the falling away, but that conversion and re-adoption must remain open (comp. ἡ πρόσληψις, Romans 11:15), if ἐὰν μή τις, κ.τ.λ. is not to have in view the time of the judgment at the last day. The ἐβλήθη, κ.τ.λ. appears as a definite result and as a completed Acts of the past,[162] and that, as the further pictorial description, κ. συνάγουσιν, κ.τ.λ., shows, from the standpoint of the last day (comp. also Hebrews 6:8; Hebrews 10:27), and further in such a way that it is accomplished between the beginning of the falling away and the last day on which the gathering together and burning is now performed.[163]

ὡς τὸ κλῆμα] as the branch, which has not remained on the vine, but has been broken off or cut off, and cast out of the vineyard. But the vineyard represents the fellowship of the Messianic people of God, out of which he who has fallen away from Christ has been thrust. Hence ἔξω refers to the vineyard, so far as this is the community. Outside it, the ζωή of the man who has fallen away, which he had derived from Christ, has completely perished and is dead. This is expressed by ἘΞΗΡΆΝΘΗ, by which the man is identified with the withered branch, which is his image. Euth. Zigabenus well remarks: ἈΠΏΛΕΣΕΝ ἫΝ ΕἾΧΕΝ ἘΚ Τῆς ῬΊΖΗς ἸΚΜΆΔΑ ΧΆΡΙΤΟς.

ΚΑῚ ΣΥΝΆΓ. ΑὐΤᾺ, Κ.Τ.Λ.] Jesus now represents as present what is done with these cast-out and withered branches at the last day. The polysyndeton (comp. John 10:3; John 10:12; Matthew 7:27, et al.) and the simply solemn expression has much in it that seizes the imagination. The subject of συνάγ. and ΒΆΛΛ. is understood of itself; in the figure it is the servants of the γεωργός, as to the thing, the ΑἸΘΈΡΙΟΙ ΔΡΗΣΤῆΡΕς (Nonnus), the angels, are intended (Matthew 13:41).

εἰς τὸ πῦρ (see critical notes): into the fire, already burning for this purpose, by which, in the interpretation of the figure, Gehenna is intended (Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:41; Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:19; Matthew 5:22, et al.), not also the fire of the divine anger generally (Hengstenberg).

καὶ καίεταΙ] and they burn! The simple form (οὐ μὴν κατακαίονται, Euth. Zigabenus) as in Matthew 13:40. “Magna vi positum eximia cum majestate,” Bengel.

[162] Hence the aorist, instead of which the perfect was not required, as Luthardt objects. The ἤδη κέκριται of John 3:18 is conceived of differently.

[163] The reading μένῃ (see critical notes) would not essentially alter the sense; it expresses: nisi quis manet, i.e. until the judgment.John 15:6. ἐὰν μή τις μείνῃ, “if any one shall not have abided in me”. ἐβλήθηἐξηράνθη, the gnomic aorist, cf. 1 Peter 1:24; and see Burton, M. and T., 43, and Grotius: “Hi aoristi sine designatione temporis significant quid fieri soleat, pro quo et praesens saepe usurpatur”. The whole process undergone by the fruitless branch is described in these six verbs, αἴρει John 15:2, ἐβλήθη, ἐξηράνθη, συνάγουσιν, βάλλουσι, καίεται, and each detail is thus given for the sake of emphasising the inevitableness and the completeness of the destruction. ἐβλήθη ἔξω ὡς τὸ κλῆμα, “is cast out,” i.e., from the vineyard, as the next words show; here this means hopeless rejection. The result is ἐξηράνθη, the natural capacity for fruit-bearing is destroyed. The figure derived from the treatment of the fruitless branch is continued in συνάγουσινκαίεται, cf. Matthew 13:49-50; and Matthew 13:41-42. On καίεται, Euthymius remarks οὐ μὴν κατακαίονται “but are not consumed”. And in Exodus 3:2, the bush καίεται, but οὐ κατεκαίετο “burns, but was not consumed”. But this only shows that without the miraculous interposition it would have been consumed.6. he is cast forth] The verb is in a past tense; he is already cast forth by the very fact of not abiding in Christ. This consequence follows so inevitably that to state the one is to state the other. The same remark applies to ‘is withered.’ But the cast-out branch may be grafted in again (Romans 11:23) and the dead branch may be raised to life again (John 5:21; John 5:25). The rest of the picture looks forward to the day of judgment. ‘Men gather’ should be quite indefinitely, they gather (see on Luke 12:20).

they are burned] Or, they burn.John 15:6. Ἐν ἐμοὶ, in Me) as in the vine.—ἐβλήθη) By that very fact he is (he renders himself) deserving of being cast out: and accordingly he shall surely be cast out. The first Aorist. The expression ἐὰν μὴ μείνῃ, if a man shall not abide in Me, is in the Future: and so in the Apodosis the ἐβλήθη, [“He is at once cast out”] denotes that which forthwith ensues. A similar Aorist, ἐκέρδησας, “If he shall hear thee, thou hast (by the very fact) gained thy brother,” occurs in Matthew 18:15.—ἔξω, out) from the vineyard.—ἐξηράνθη, he is withered) as a branch cast into the highway. See Matthew 13:12.—συνάγουσιν, gather together) Matthew 13:40-41.—αὐτὰ, them) viz. all the rejected (worthless) branches.—καίεται, they are burned) The simple verb is here employed with great force and striking majesty.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. He is cast forth (ἐβλήθη ἔξω)

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.

Men gather

Or, as Rev., they gather. Indefinite. Compare Isaiah 27:11; Ezekiel 15:5.

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