John 15:5 - Exposition
Christ returns to the main theme of the previous verse, but here discriminates more forcibly the vine from the branches, and yet holds and binds them into a unity. I am the vine, ye are the branches ; which shows that he treated the disciples themselves as the organs of his earthly fruit-bearing; and then draws a larger circle and makes a complete and comprehensive statement on which the very existence of the "true vine," the "body of Christ, including the Head," depends, viz. He that abideth in me, and I in him — i.e. whenever the conditions of which I have spoken to you are fulfilled; wherever there are human souls deriving from their connection with me the full advantage of the life ever streaming forth from me— the same beareth much fruit ; the entire end of their new life is secured. He beareth "much fruit." In other words, many of those blessed fruits of the supernatural life appear, which the great Husbandman desires to receive. And this strengthens the position of the previous verse, which threatened excision from the vine to such as bear no fruit. Such, though in one sense "in the vine," do not abide in him . Because apart from £ —severed from— me ye can do nothing . The ὅτι suggests the question—Can the negative result justify the positive assertion? It does in this way. There are two premises: the first is," I am the vine, and ye are the branches," and the second is, "Severed front me a branch can effect nothing," having no independent fruitfulness or stability. All its powers are derived from this supernatural source, and depend on Christ's faithfulness to his own nature and functions; therefore , "He that abideth in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit." The language here does not repress the endeavor of the human will after righteousness, nor pronounce a judgment on the great controversy between Augustinians and Pelagians. These words are not addressed to unconverted men, but to disciples, who have to learn their constant need of spiritual contact with their invisible Lord. Let a believer, let an apostle, sever himself from Christ, and live on his own past reputation or his supposed strength, on the clearness of his intellect, the vigor of his body, the eminence of his position, he can and will do nothing .
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