Chapter 15 of the Book of John


This chapter takes place in the upper room in Jerusalem. This was during the Passover feast, though some scholars say otherwise. Jesus was speaking only to the disciples. The first part of the chapter is devoted to the analogy of the vineyard and it's branches. The second part is talks about the future relationship with the "world". This is an important chapter, which deals with not only relationship with Jesus and the Father, but also with the outside community.

1. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. egw eimi h ampeloV h alhqinh kai o pathr mou o gewrgoV esti

The scene must be kept in mind. The Lord and his disciples had just eaten the last supper. He had said, "Arise, let us go forth" (John 14:31). They had risen, but were still standing in the room. On the table, from where they had just risen, was the "fruit of the vine,"(wine) and the Lord had said he would never drink it again upon the earth. (Matthew 26:7) (Johnson)

There are numerous Old Testament passages, which refer to Israel as a vine: Ps. 80:8-16, Isaiah. 5:1-7, Jeremiah. 2:21, Ezekiel. 15:1-8, 17:5-10, 19:10-14, and Hosiah 10:1. The vine became symbolic of Israel, and even appeared on some coins issued by the Maccabees.

The Old Testament passages which use this symbol appear to regard Israel as faithless to why and/or the object of severe punishment. Ezek. 15:1-8 in particular talks about the worthlessness of wood from a vine (in relation to disobedient Judah). A branch cut from a vine is worthless except to be burned as fuel. This appears to fit more with the statements about the disciples than with Jesus' description of himself as the vine.

Ezek. 17:5-10 contains vine imagery that refers to a king of the house of David, Zedekiah, who was set up as king in Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah allied himself to Egypt and broke his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar (and therefore also with God), which would ultimately result in his downfall (17:20-21). Ezek. 17:22-24 then describes the planting of a cedar sprig, which grows into a lofty tree, a figurative description of Messiah. But it is significant that Messiah himself is not described in Ezekiel 17 as a vine, but as a cedar tree. The vine imagery here applies to Zedekiah's disobedience.

Jesus' description of himself as the "true Vine" is to be seen against this background, but it differs significantly from the imagery we have surveyed above. It represents new imagery that differs significantly from Old Testament concepts; it appears to be original with Jesus. The imagery of the vine underscores the importance of fruitfulness in the Christian life and the truth that this results not from human achievement, but from one's position in Christ. Jesus is not just giving some comforting advice, but portraying to the disciples the difficult path of faithful service. To some degree the figure is similar to the Head-Body metaphor used by Paul, with Christ as Head and believers as members of the Body. Both metaphors bring out the vital and necessary connection that exists between Christ and believers. (Harris)

This is the seventh and final "I Am" statement in which Jesus makes in the book of John.

The term "true" means, pure or genuine, which would assume that there are false or counterfeit vines. (Bryant) The false vine could have meant Israel. (They had not been pruned.)

2. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. pan klhma en emoi mh feron karpon airei auto kai pan to karpon feron kaqairei auto ina pleiona karpon ferh

The verb klhma can mean "lift up" as well as "take away," and it is sometimes argued that here it is a reference to the gardener "lifting up" a weak branch so that it bears fruit again. (Harris)

A gardener will prune his garden to keep it looking the best he can. He may slave for hours at a time just snipping here or there. So God does that to his people. Those that are injuring the others in his garden he will cut away for they are more of harm than help.

3. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. hdh umeiV kaqaroi este dia ton logon on lelalhka umin

Now it