John 15:2
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
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(2) Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.—The two chief duties of the vine-dresser, cutting off all fruitless tendrils, and cleansing those that bear fruit, supply illustrations of the training of human souls by the Divine Husbandman. We are not to interpret these words, as they frequently have been interpreted, of the unbelieving world, or of the Jews; but of Christians in name, who claim to be branches of the true vine. These the Husbandman watcheth day by day; He knoweth them, and readeth the inner realities of their lives, and every one that is fruitless He taketh away.

And every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it.—Better, he cleanseth it. (Comp. Hebrews 1:3.) This means in the natural vine the cutting off of shoots which run to waste, and the removal of every excrescence which hinders the growth of the branch. It means in the spiritual training the checking of natural impulses and affections, and the removal of everything, even though it be by a pang sharp as the edge of the pruner’s knife, which can misdirect or weaken the energy of the spiritual life, and thus diminish its fruitfulness. A vine which has been pruned—here a tendril cut off, and there one bent back—here a shoot that seemed of fairest promise to the unskilled eye unsparingly severed by the vine-dresser, who sees it is worthless—here a branch, in itself good, made to yield its place to one that is better, and itself trained to fill another place—such is the familiar picture of the natural vine—such, also, to a wisdom higher than ours, is the picture of human life.

John 15:2. Every branch in me — True believers, who by faith have an interest in, and union with Christ, are the branches of the vine here spoken of. Though, as to the place of their abode, their religious sentiments in lesser matters, and their modes of worship, they may be distant from each other, yet they meet in Christ, their root and stock, and the centre of their unity. That beareth not fruit — Answerable to his advantages, fruit suitable to the relation in which he stands to me, and the union which by faith he has had with me: he whose faith in me and my gospel does not work or continue to work by love, and whose love does not continue to manifest itself by his obedience; he who does not bring forth, with constancy and perseverance, the internal and external fruits of the Spirit, namely, all goodness, righteousness, and truth, Ephesians 5:9; he taketh away — Such unfruitful branches the vine-dresser cuts off in his righteous judgment, and entirely separates them from me, depriving them of all the advantages for fruitfulness, which they derived, or might have derived, from their connection with me, and their reception of my truth and grace. And every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it — Or rather, pruneth it, cuts off from it every thing superfluous, and removes all the hinderances of its fruitfulness. Thus God, in the course of his providence, by various sufferings in the minds, bodies, families, circumstances, and situations of his people, and by his word, and their faith therein, and obedience thereto, (1 Peter 1:22;) and by the influence of his Spirit, mortifies and destroys what is still corrupt in their affections and dispositions, with what remains in them of the carnal mind, and prevents their bearing fruit to perfection. That it may bring forth more fruit — Than it brought forth before, to God’s greater glory, the greater benefit of mankind, and their own greater progress in holiness here, and a fuller reward of felicity and glory hereafter. Dr. Campbell reads the verse, Every barren branch in me he loppeth off: every fruitful branch he cleaneth, by pruning, to render it more fruitful: remarking upon it as follows: “Critics have observed a verbal allusion or paronomasia in this verse. To the barren branch the word αιρει, [he loppeth off,] is applied; to the fruitful, καθαιρει, [he cleaneth by pruning.] It is not always possible in a version to preserve figures which depend entirely on the sound, or on the etymology of the words, though sometimes they are not without emphasis. This verse and the following afford a remarkable instance of this trope. As our Lord himself is here represented by the vine, his disciples are represented by the branches. The mention of the method which the dresser takes with the fruitful branches, in order to render them more fruitful, and which he expresses by the word καθαιρει, leads him to take notice of the state wherein the apostles, the principal branches, were at that time: ηδη υμεις καθαροι, &c., now are ye clean, &c. It is hardly possible not to consider the καθαιρει, applied to the branches, as giving occasion to this remark, which immediately follows it. Now, when the train of the thoughts arises in any degree from verbal allusions, it is of some consequence to preserve them, where it can be easily effected in a translation. It is for this reason that I have translated the word καθαιρει by a circumlocution, and said cleaneth by pruning. It is evident, that καθαιρει, in this application, means pruneth. But to have said in English, simply, pruneth, would have been to throw away the allusion, and make the thoughts appear more abrupt in the version than they do in the original; and to have said cleaneth, without adding any explanation, would have been obscure, or rather improper.”

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.Every branch in me - Everyone that is a true follower of me, that is united to me by faith, and that truly derives grace and strength from me, as the branch does from the vine. The word "branch" includes all the boughs, and the smallest tendrils that shoot out from the parent stalk. Jesus here says that he sustains the same relation to his disciples that a parent stalk does to the branches; but this does not denote any physical or incomprehensible union. It is a union formed by believing on him; resulting from our feeling our dependence on him and our need of him; from embracing him as our Saviour, Redeemer, and Friend. We become united to him in all our interests, and have common feelings, common desires, and a common destiny with him. We seek the same objects, are willing to encounter the same trials, contempt, persecution, and want, and are desirous that his God shall be ours, and his eternal abode ours. It is a union of friendship, of love, and of dependence; a union of weakness with strength; of imperfection with perfection; of a dying nature with a living Saviour; of a lost sinner with an unchanging Friend and Redeemer. It is the most tender and interesting of all relations, but not more mysterious or more physical than the union of parent and child, of husband and wife Ephesians 5:23, or friend and friend.

That beareth not fruit - As the vinedresser will remove all branches that are dead or that bear no fruit, so will God take from his church all professed Christians who give no evidence by their lives that they are truly united to the Lord Jesus. He here refers to such cases as that of Judas, the apostatizing disciples, and all false and merely nominal Christians (Dr. Adam Clarke).

He taketh away - The vine-dresser cuts it off. God removes such in various ways:

1. by the discipline of the church.

2. by suffering them to fall into temptation.

3. by persecution and tribulation, by the deceitfulness of riches, and by the cares of the world Matthew 13:21-22; by suffering the man to be placed in such circumstances as Judas, Achan, and Ananias were such as to show what they were, to bring their characters fairly out, and to let it be seen that they had no true love to God.

4. by death, for God has power thus at any moment to remove unprofitable branches from the church.

Every branch that beareth fruit - That is, all true Christians, for all such bear fruit. To bear fruit is to show by our lives that we are under the influence of the religion of Christ, and that that religion produces in us its appropriate effects, Galatians 5:22-23. Notes, Matthew 7:16-20. It is also to live so as to be useful to others, As a vineyard is worthless unless it bears fruit that may promote the happiness or subsistence of man, so the Christian principle would be worthless unless Christians should live so that others may be made holy and happy by their example and labors, and so that the world may be brought to the cross of the Saviour.

He purgeth it - Or rather he prunes it, or cleanses it by pruning. There is a use of words here - a paronomasia - in the original which cannot be retained in the translation. It may be imperfectly seen by retaining the Greek words "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away αἴρει airei; every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it καθαίρει kathairei; now ye are clean καθαροί katharoi," etc. The same Greek word in different forms is still retained. God purifies all true Christians so that they may be more useful. He takes away that which hindered their usefulness; teaches them; quickens them; revives them; makes them more pure in motive and in life. This he does by the regular influences of his Spirit in sanctifying them, purifying their motives, teaching them the beauty of holiness, and inducing them to devote themselves more to him. He does it by taking away what opposes their usefulness, however much they may be attached to it, or however painful to part with it; as a vine-dresser will often feel himself compelled to lop off a branch that is large, apparently thrifty, and handsome, but which bears no fruit, and which shades or injures those which do. So God often takes away the property of his people, their children, or other idols. He removes the objects which bind their affections, and which render them inactive. He takes away the things around man, as he did the valued gourds of Jonah Jon 4:5-11, so that he may feel his dependence, and live more to the honor of God, and bring forth more proof of humble and active piety.

2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit … every branch that beareth fruit—As in a fruit tree, some branches may be fruitful, others quite barren, according as there is a vital connection between the branch and the stock, or no vital connection; so the disciples of Christ may be spiritually fruitful or the reverse, according as they are vitally and spiritually connected with Christ, or but externally and mechanically attached to Him. The fruitless He "taketh away" (see on [1857]Joh 15:6); the fruitful He "purgeth" (cleanseth, pruneth)—stripping it, as the husbandman does, of what is rank (Mr 4:19), "that it may bring forth more fruit"; a process often painful, but no less needful and beneficial than in the natural husbandry. And concerning his Father’s care, he tells us, that as the good vine dresser cutteth off those branches in the vine which bring forth no fruit, so his Father will take away such branches in him as bring forth no fruit. But here ariseth a question, viz. Whether, or how, any can be branches in Christ, and yet bring forth no fruit?


1. Some say, there is no need of translating the words so, which may as well be translated, Every branch not bringing forth fruit in me. Indeed no true fruit can be brought forth but in Christ; but yet much that looks like fruit, much that men may call fruit, may be brought forth without any true spiritual union with Christ. All acts of moral discipline, or any acts of formal profession in religion, may be brought forth without any true root and foundation in Christ; and God will in the end discover and cut off those who bring forth no other fruit. But:

2. Men may be said to be branches in him, by a sacramental implantation, being baptized into him, Romans 6:3; and are hereby members of the visible church, and make a visible profession of adhering to him, with respect to their own good opinion and persuasions of themselves, though they be not so in respect of any true, spiritual, and real implantation. But those who in the last sense are not in him, bring forth no fruit unto perfection, and God will cut them off, either by withdrawing his restraining grace, and giving them up to strong delusions to believe lies; or to a reprobate mind, and vile lusts and affections; or by taking away their gifts; or some way or other, so as they shall never have an eternal communion with God in glory. But if any man bringeth forth true spiritual fruit in Christ, him God the Father will purge, by the sprinkling of Christ’s blood yet further upon his conscience, Hebrews 10:22; and by his Holy Spirit working on him like fire, to purge away his dross, and like water, to purge away his filth; and by his word, 1 Peter 1:22, by faith, Acts 15:9, by crosses and trials. Isaiah 1:25 Isaiah 27:9; that he may be more fruitful in works of holiness and righteousness.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit,.... There are two sorts of branches in Christ the vine; the one sort are such who have only an historical faith in him, believe but for a time, and are removed; they are such who only profess to believe in him, as Simon Magus did; are in him by profession only; they submit to outward ordinances, become church members, and so are reckoned to be in Christ, being in a church state, as the churches of Judea and Thessalonica, and others, are said, in general, to he in Christ; though it is not to be thought that every individual person in these churches were truly and savingly in him. These branches are unfruitful ones; what fruit they seemed to have, withers away, and proves not to be genuine fruit; what fruit they bring forth is to themselves, and not to the glory of God, being none of the fruits of his Spirit and grace: and such branches the husbandman

taketh away; removes them from that sort of being which they had in Christ. By some means or another he discovers them to the saints to be what they are; sometimes he suffers persecution to arise because of the word, and these men are quickly offended, and depart of their own accord; or they fall into erroneous principles, and set up for themselves, and separate from the churches of Christ; or they become guilty of scandalous enormities, and so are removed from their fellowship by excommunication; or if neither of these should be the case, but these tares should grow together with the wheat till the harvest, the angels will be sent forth, who will gather out of the kingdom of God all that offend and do iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire, as branches withered, and fit to be burnt.

And every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. These are the other sort of branches, who are truly and savingly in Christ; such as are rooted in him; to whom he is the green fir tree, from whom all their fruit is found; who are filled by him with all the fruits of his Spirit, grace, and righteousness. These are purged or pruned, chiefly by afflictions and temptations, which are as needful for their growth and fruitfulness, as the pruning and cutting of the vines are for theirs; and though these are sometimes sharp, and never joyous, but grievous, yet they are attended with the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and so the end of bringing forth more fruit is answered; for it is not enough that a believer exercise grace, and perform good works for the present, but these must remain; or he must be constant herein, and still bring forth fruit, and add one virtue to another, that it may appear he is not barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ, in whom he is implanted. These different acts of the vinedresser "taking away" some branches, and "purging" others, are expressed by the Misnic doctors (p) by and The former, the commentators (q) say, signifies to cut off the branches that are withered and perished, and are good for nothing; and the latter signifies the pruning of the vine when it has a superfluity of branches, or these extend themselves too far; when some are left, and others taken off.

(p) Misn. Sheviith, c, 2. sect. 3.((q) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
John 15:2. As on the natural vine there are fruitful and unfruitful branches (i.e. tendrils, Plat. Rep. p. 353 A; Pollux, vii. 145), so there are in the fellowship of Christ such as evince their faith by deed as by faith’s fruit, and those amongst whom this is not the case.

The latter, who are not, with Hengstenberg, to be taken for the unbelieving Jews (as is already clear from ἐν ἐμοί and from John 15:5), but for the lip-Christians and those who say Lord! Lord! (comp. those who believe without love, 1 Corinthians 13), God separates from the fellowship of Christ, which act is conceived from the point of view of divine retribution (comp. the thing, according to another figure, John 8:35); the former He causes to experience His purging influence, in order that their life of faith may increase in moral practical manifestation and efficiency. This purification is effected by means of temptations and sufferings, not solely, but by other things along with these.

πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοί] Nominat. absol. as in John 1:12, John 6:39, John 17:2, with weighty emphasis.

αἴρει] takes it away with the pruning-knife. It forms with καθαίρει a “suavis rhythmus,” Bengel.

τὸ καρπ. φέρ.] which bears fruit; but previously μή φέρ.: if it does not bear.

καθαίρ.] He cleanses, prunes. Figure of the moral καθαρισμός,—continually necessary even for the approved Christian,—through the working of divine grace, John 13:10.

For a political view of the community under the figure of the vine, see in Aesch. adv. Ctesiph. 166; Beck.: ἀμπελουργοῦσί τινες τὴν πόλιν, ἀνατετμήκασί τινες τὰ κλήματα τὰ τοῦ δήμου.

John 15:2. The function of the vinedresser is at once described: πᾶν κλῆμαφέρῃ. κλῆμα, or more fully as in Xen., Oecon., xix. 8, κλῆμα ἀμπέλου, is the shoot of the vine which is annually put forth. It is from κλάω, “I break,” as also is κλάδος, but Wetstein quotes Pollux to show that κλάδος was appropriated to the shoots of the olive, while κλῆμα signified a vine-shoot. Of these shoots there are two kinds, the fruitless, which the vine-dresser αἴρει: “Inutilesque falce ramos amputans,” Hor. Epod., ii. 13; the fruitful, which He καθαίρει [“suavis rhythmus,” Bengel]. The full meaning of αἴρει is described in John 15:6 : καθαίρει here denotes especially the pruning requisite for concentrating the vigour of the tree on the one object, ἵνα πλείονα καρπὸν φέρῃ, that it may continually surpass itself, and yield richer and richer results. The vine-dresser spares no pains and no material on his plants, but all for the sake of fruit. [Cf. Cicero, De Senec., xv. 53.] The use of καθαίρει was probably determined by the καθαροί of John 15:3.

2. Every branch] The word for ‘branch’ in these six verses occurs here only in N.T., and in classical Greek is specially used of the vine. The word used in the other Gospels (Matthew 13:32; Matthew 21:8; Matthew 24:32; Mark 4:32; Mark 13:28; Luke 13:9), and in Romans 11:16-21, is of the same origin (from ‘to break’) but of more general meaning,—the smaller branch of any tree. So that the very word used, independently of the context, fixes the meaning of the allegory. It is every vine-branch, i.e. every one who is by origin a Christian. If they continue such by origin only, and give forth no fruit, they are cut off. The allegory takes no account of the branches of other trees: neither Jews nor heathen are included. Christ would not have called them branches ‘in Me.’

he taketh away] Literally, He taketh it away; in both clauses we have a nominativus pendens.

he purgeth it] Better, He cleanseth it, in order to bring out the connexion with ‘ye are clean’ (John 15:3). The Greek words rendered ‘purgeth’ and ‘clean’ are from the same root. There is also a similarity of sound between the Greek words for ‘taketh away’ and ‘cleanseth,’ like ‘bear and forbear’ in English (airei and kathairei). This may be intentional, but it cannot be reproduced in translation. By cleansing is meant freeing from excrescences and useless shoots which are a drain on the branch for nothing. The eleven were now to be cleansed by suffering.

bring forth] Better, as before, bear.

John 15:2. Κλῆμα, branch) A most delightful simile, Romans 6:5; Romans 11:17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.—αἴρει· καθαίρει) A sweet rhythm (similarity of sounds), even though καθαίρω does not come, as if it were καταίρω, from αἴρω. Καθαίρω is an expression θεία καὶ σεμνὴ, of a divine and solemn character, among the ancients, as Eustathius observes. Our heavenly Father requires that all things should be ‘clean’ (καθαρὰ) and ‘fruit-bearing.’ Cleanness and fruitfulness mutually assist one another.—τὸ) Emphatic. The other clause, viz. μὴ φέρον, has no article, as this has, πᾶν τὸ καρπὸν φέρον.[357]—πλείονα more abundant) Those excrescences which are redundant are taken away by internal and external affliction: by those very means the fruit is increased. [But if thou shouldest be unwilling that the things which are bad should be taken away from thee, it will become necessary that thou thyself shouldest be taken away.—V. g.]

[357] “Every non-fruit-bearing branch; every branch which beareth fruit—every such branch as that which beareth fruit.”—E. and T.

Verse 2. - Every branch in me; i.e. this unity of life between me and mine is graciously handled by the Father - my Father! The branches are of two kinds - unfruitful and fruitful. The indefinite statement, in nominative absolute, calls great attention to it. "Every branch in me that beareth no fruit." Then it is possible to come into this organic relation with the true Vine, to be in it and to be a part of it, and to bring forth no fruit. If it were not for Ver. 5 we might say that these branches were nations, customs, institutions, and the like; but the context forbids it. The relation to him must therefore be one that is insufficient to secure life, or fruit, or continuance. Baptized, communicating, professing, partially believing Christians there may be in abundance, who, though in him, yet cannot continue in him. (See stony ground, thorny ground, and unripe ears, of the parable of the sower; and the bad fish caught in the net (Matthew 13; 1 John 2:19, etc.). He taketh away (cf. John the Baptist: "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down," Matthew 3:10; and Deuteronomy 32:32; Micah 7:1). What is done with the valueless prunings is said afterwards. Every branch that beareth fruit, he pruneth (or, cleanseth), that it may bring forth more fruit. Let the non-reappearance of ἐν ἐμοὶ be observed. The suavis rhythmus of Bengel is a mere accidental touch. The words αἴρει and καθαίρει ρηψμε with each other; but the latter word is not connected with καθαίρεω, a compound of αἵρεω, nor is it equivalent to καταίρει, the true compound of κατὰ with αἴρω; but it is derived from καθαρός, clean, and means "to cleanse with libations," and perhaps "to prune with the knife." The Husbandman aims at more fruit, more of meekness, gentleness, love, and faithfulness, in fact, all those fruits of the Spirit enumerated in Galatians 5:22, 23. The word κλῆμα, used for "branch" in these verses, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word κλαδὸς, elsewhere used (Matthew 13:32; Matthew 21:8; Matthew 24:32; Mark 4:32; Mark 13:28; Romans 11:16-21), means the smaller "branches" of a tree. The term means here vine-branch, the essential constituent elements of the vine itself, and is so used in Aristophanes, AEschines, and Theophrastus (see LXX., Ezekiel 15:2). John 15:2Branch (κλῆμα)

Occurring only in this chapter. Both this and κλάδος, branch (see on Matthew 24:32; see on Mark 11:8) are derived from κλάω, to break. The word emphasizes the ideas of tenderness and flexibility.

Purgeth (καθαίρει)

Cleanseth, Rev.

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