John 15 Bible Study
What does Jesus' statement, "I am the true vine" (John 15:1) imply?
There are also false vines.
What is a "vinedresser" (John 15:1)?
Vinedresser is the person who "dresses" or takes care of the vine for optimal fruit production.
What does the "fruit" (John 15:2) represent?
It represents the nine traits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." In addition and especially in light of the audience to whom Jesus is speaking, it represents the people who will hear the Gospel through them and also become Christians: "You know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia." (1 Corinthians 16:15)
Who is the "branch" (John 15:2)?
Jesus specifies them as "in Me" (John 15:2) that are "already clean" (John 15:3) and refers to them as "You" (John 15:2) while speaking to the 11 true disciples, so "branch" refers to His disciple.
What does it mean to "prune" (John 15:2)?
Pruning a branch involves ripping out any diseased parts, getting rid of bugs and even cutting away seemingly healthy but unwanted shoots so that the branch can grow stronger in the direction that the vinedresser desires. From the branch's perspective, being pruned can be uncomfortable, if not painful, and at times also appear to make no sense. But "every branch" (John 15:2) should trust that the vinedresser knows what He is doing and be grateful for His care and attention. The time for concern is when the vinedresser stops pruning, as that means either the branch is perfect, or more often the case, the vinedresser is about to "take away" that branch because it "does not bear fruit." (John 15:2)
What do disciples of Jesus have to do to "bear fruit" (John 15:4) for God?
"Abide" (John 15:2) in Jesus, the Word of God.
What can they do without this abiding?
"Nothing." (John 15:5)
But don't some branches today grow even without abiding in the Word of God?
Yes, but they are not on the "true vine" and their fruits are neither of or for God.
Is Jesus saying in John 15:6 that if His disciples don’t
abide in Him, they will burn in hell?
No, the context of this verse is Jesus telling his 11 remaining disciples (Judas had already left) - whom He knows to be true disciples who are truly saved - about bearing much fruit for Him; Jesus isn't talking to a group that includes the unsaved. If any of His disciples don't abide in Him, that disciple will be cast out "as a branch" (John 15:6) - in other words, "as a disciple" - and "is withered" (John 15:2), which means to dry up.
Then what does the "fire" (John 15:6) represent?
Had Jesus been speaking to a crowd that included the unsaved, this fire could have been the fire of hell. But given the context and the audience Jesus is addressing - saved disciples - this fire is the one that they are then thrown into, along with "wood, hay, straw" (1 Corinthians 3:12) mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, which clearly states about salvation, "If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire".
How is the "Father... glorified" (John 15:8)?
By His "disciples" bearing "much fruit". (John 15:8)
Who gets the credit for the fruit?
The vinedresser (God the Father) and the true vine (Jesus). The branches are just tubes through which the fruit-forming nutrients (Holy Spirit) flows. All that the branch really has to do is to stay on the true vine.
How do we abide in Jesus’ "love" (John 15:9)?
By keeping His "commandments." (John 15:10)
How important is it to keep His commandments?
If it weren't imperative, Jesus wouldn't have kept emphasizing it.
What are Jesus' commandments?
Jesus indicates one of them in John 15:12 (notice the change from plural to singular), which is to "love one another" as He has loved us. He indicates both of them earlier in response to a testing question from a lawyer: "Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)
What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." (John 15:13)
Did Jesus walk His talk?
Yes, He laid down His life for us.
Do you walk your talk?
Think about the people to whom you've said, “I love you”. Do you love the enough to die for them?
When did Jesus call them "servants" (John 15:15)?
"If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor." (John 12:26) "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him." (John 13:16)
Why did Jesus elevate them to “friends” (John 15:15)?
He wanted them to know - understand - Him: "A servant does not know what his master is doing." (John 15:15)
How had Jesus trained them to become His friends?
"All things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15) by both word and action.
What must they do to remain His friends?
"You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." (John 15:14)
And why did Jesus elevate them now?
Their training completed, they would soon be to sent off on a mission, so He was commissioning them.
What is Jesus doing in this passage?
He's warning them about and explaining the obstacles their mission will encounter. They will be "hated" (John 15:18) and "persecuted" (John 15:20) but such hatred and persecution is logical since they already hated and persecuted Jesus, whose message they will carry, and a sinful world will hate those who are no longer ("I chose you out of the world") "its own". (John 15:19)
Were they really hated and persecuted as such?
All but one of the 11 ended up killed for their faith, as was Paul, who became a disciple later and listed as highlights of his ministry, "From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned." (2 Corinthians 11:24-25) The "stripes" refer five whippings, each of 39 lashes from leather whips.
Are things any different today?
More Christians have been killed for their faith in the last 100 years than in the previous 1900 years combined, and the trend is accelerating. Today, Christians continue to face imprisonment, torture and death for their faith in Jesus in such countries as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mali, Somalia, etc.
Why would people have no sin if Jesus hadn’t come and spoken to them and done His works?
They wouldn't have known how sinful they had become. John 1:5 refers to Jesus coming into the world as "the light shines in the darkness". Imagine a bunch of people in a dark room wearing dirty clothes that they think are clean, until someone switches on the light. Until the light shines, they could claim ignorance of their dirty condition and even remain in them. But once the light has shined, "they have no excuse for their sin." (John 15:22)
Who is Jesus referring to as "the Helper" and the "Spirit of truth" in John 15:26?
Of whom will He testify?
Jesus said, "He will testify of Me" (John 15:26). This is an important point to keep in mind when deciphering if something is the work of the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit. Holy Spirit will testify of Jesus, which means He certainly won't do anything that contradicts Jesus, whom John 1:1 calls the Word of God.