An Interpretation of the Relationship Between the Vine and Its Branches

John 15:1-8 depicts the relationship between Christ and believers and false believers. Towns says “the foundation of the Christian life is the believer’s union and communion with Christ, which is the central truth of the metaphor of the vine and the branches.” [1] The first thing this passage shows is salvation is found only in Christ for He is the “true” vine (John 15:1). Leon Morris notes that it is important to note that the word “true” is there with the implication that Old Testament Israel (the way of salvation) was not a true vine for it fails to produce fruit.[2] Morris then says this passage teaches that salvation is of Christ and that “salvation in Christ is meant to result in the saved producing qualities of character that accord with their Christian profession and in their having a horror of fruitless lives.”[3] John MacArthur offers a definition of this fruit, “fruit may be defined as holy, righteous, God-honoring behavior in general.”[4] Real salvation produces evidence (fruit) to show that it is true salvation. When it comes to discipleship, John MacArthur suggests that there are three distinguishing marks of a disciple: they bear fruit, they continue (abide) in Christ’s love, and they operate in full cooperation of with the source of life, keeping His commandments by following Christ’s example.[5] Concerning the (eternal) security, a true, fruit-bearing disciple has a “permanent union” with Christ.[6] The branches (people) who do not abide in Christ, and therefore are not producing any fruit, are cut off and burned for they are dead. This refers to unbelievers and false converts. Walvoord and Zuck say, “the ‘burned’ branches refer to professing Christians who, like Judas, are not genuinely saved and therefore are judged.”[7] “Judas was with Jesus; he seemed like a ‘branch.’ But he did not have God’s life in him; therefore he departed; his destiny was like that of a dead branch.”[8]

Works Cited

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: John 12-21. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.

Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1989.

Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2002.

Walvoord, John F. and Zuck, Roy B. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983.


[1] Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2002) p. 149.

[2] Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1989) p.120.

[3] Ibid. p.120.

[4] John MacArthur. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: John 12-21. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008) p.149.

[5] Ibid. p.146.

[6] Ibid. p.150.

[7] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983) p. 325.

[8] Ibid. p.325-6.

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