John 15:1-17 Questioning the Vine

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,  for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Questioning the Vine

Jesus is the Vine.  I get that.  The Father is the Vine Dresser.  So far so good.  After that this passage raises a lot of questions for me.  When do we see clearly if the fruit that we develop is from God?  All gifts, talents and abilities come from God.  Usain Bolt is very fast.  His speed is a gift from God.  However, Jesus must be talking about something exceptional, here, by which his own disciples will be recognized.  He has just been talking to his disciples about the Holy Spirit and how he will empower and illuminate the disciples.  This fruit could be related to the list that Paul gives in Galatians 5:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The passage these verses are nestled in talk about the works of the flesh which are produced by satisfying our flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.  It seems in the passage above there is an abiding in Christ that is synonymous with walking in the Spirit.  We abide in Christ through the Spirit.  So how do I know if the fruit is present?  I see my love for others increase, and more importantly my love for God.  If I ask myself whether my love for God has increased, I can say,”Yes.”  However, it is a weak yes and not a bold one.  I have found God’s love and grace to have led me into wellness and strength.  I am grateful, but my love in this regard seems selfish.  It is therapeutic.  I feel more of my love for God when I see him do something favourable to me.  What I must see more clearly is that The Father, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit must be worshiped and adored for who they are.  I praise God easily enough.  He is big.  He is powerful.  However, how can I be sure that I am ascribing worth to him with a devoted heart?

This exercise in reading John has been a counter to the therapeutic love that is a self-serving parasite in the branches which hang limply on the vine.  To be in the vine means to be embedded in it and flourishing.  The Christians of today are not known for the exceptional nature of their love, joy, peace …  In fact we are known more in the West as homophobic, anti-intellectual, and intolerant.  Why don’t people see in us the fruit of the Spirit?  We could say, as many fundamentalists do, that the darkened world can not see our light.  They hate us because of our impurity.  However, might they just hate us because of self-serving fruit that rots on the vine?

How has the Father loved the Son?  How has the Son loved his disciples?  What does it mean to abide in this love?  How do I accept that I am accepted unconditionally?  How does love address unconditionally accepting people but sincerely desiring good changes for them?

I sign off now with an image of being embraced in community.  The community reflects Christ and accepts me unconditionally and I learn to accept myself without condition.  Within such joyful freedom, I then can address the impurity in my life without fear and I can go to the Vine Dresser more easily to shape me as he wishes.  Joy erupts as I see us all change.  Freedom is finally found when I am free from self-concerns, but I use God’s gifting in the Holy Spirit, through me, to think only of him and of others.


Oh God, to love and be loved!  What a journey.  We immerse ourselves in you and your life grows in us.  We bring fruit to a starving world when we bind ourselves to you.  Let is abide in you and let your fruit develop.


  1. How does Jesus identify himself?
  2. What does that mean?
  3. How are his disciples to maintain their joy?
  4. How does today’s church assess whether they have fruit?
  5. What can you do to increase the flourishing of fruit in your life?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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19 Responses to John 15:1-17 Questioning the Vine

  1. sjcavitt says:

    1) Jesus identifies Himself as the true vine that bears fruit.
    2) This means that when Christ is in us, He works through us to bear the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.
    3) Because Jesus is true joy, and Jesus is in us, we also have joy in our lives. We can maintain our joy through knowing and being a part of His joy!
    4) To assess whether a Christian is bearing the fruit of the Spirit is evident in their daily lives. How a person lives, speaks, and acts is a witness to the fruit in their lives!
    5) First, I can pray that the Holy Spirit will work in and through me to produce fruit. I can also pray that God will give me daily opportunities to share His love and joy to the people I encounter.

  2. Jenna says:

    1. Jesus is the true vine.
    2. We are the “branches” – just as branches get nutrients from the trunk of a tree, believers are to get the power and energy to live like Christ from Christ Himself.
    3. By remaining in Christ’s love.
    4. We often base our Christlikeness on the negative: we don’t drink, we don’t struggle with addictions, we don’t live like the world, etc.
    5. Remain in Christ, allowing Him to grow fruit in me through the Spirit!

  3. Lacy says:

    1. Jesus identifies himself as the Vine.
    2. He is using this metaphor to say that he is the source of life and growth.
    3. They maintain their joy by being in union with him.
    4. I guess every church assesses their fruit-bearing differently, but often I’ve seen it measured by outward good works or the amount of people saved.
    5. I think Jesus makes it clear that the only thing we can do to increase true fruit bearing is to grow closer to him.

  4. jelee15 says:

    Jesus identifies Himself as the true vine. This means that we as the branches must be connected to Him for life. He supplies the nutrients for us to grow. We are to remain joyful by abiding in Jesus’ love. Today’s church assesses whether they have fruit by the character of her members. If we are filled with God’s love, His love will overflow from us and attract others to Him. The Holy Spirit increases His fruit in me as I draw near to Jesus and abide in His love, letting His love define me, fill me, and transform me.

  5. karas says:

    How does Jesus identify himself? Jesus is the Vine — He is our source, and the one who gives us life. We are to bear fruit, and that fruit comes from being connected to the Vine. Fruit should be evident in our lifestyles, choices, actions, etc. Personally, I can be intentional about trying to eliminate sin and pursue righteousness, and that is best done by being filled by the Holy Spirit.
    John 3:30 – More of Him, less of me. 🙂

  6. zacbodine says:

    1. The true vine
    2. All life comes from him
    3. Remain in him and produce fruit
    4. They assess by love
    5. Go to Jesus and stay there.

  7. Rachel says:

    Jesus is the true vine. This means that he is our source of life and our root. Only in him can we find life and true joy. The world should know us by our love. This is the greatest commandment and a strong indicator of spiritual fruit. I can confess my unbelief and come to Christ for satisfaction of soul, overflowing his love to those around me.

  8. tim pruiett says:

    Jesus identifies Himself as the true vine. He is the one we are all attached to as believers our life source. We can measure fruit in people’s lives by seeing if their actions actually match up with Scripture if they do not then they are not bearing fruit. Staying close to Jesus by reading His Word and praying to be in communion with Him!

  9. Kathleen says:

    Jesus is the true vine. He works through our lives to produce fruit. The disciples are to find their joy by remaining in Christ. I believe the church often looks at peoples actions to assess for fruit. I need to empty me of me and fill myself with the Holy Spirit.

  10. Amy McCashen says:

    Jesus identifies Himself as the “true vine.”
    This means that Jesus is the growth- and fruit-giving person in our life.
    The disciples are to find their joy in Christ. As they remain in Him, he fills them with His joy.
    Most churches today look at the outward actions of a person to determine the fruit.
    I need to draw closer to the Lord and remain in Him so that He can fill me with His joy.

  11. Beth Coale says:

    1. the true vine
    2. that He is the truth that brings freedom & He is setting up a metaphor to show His centrality & believers’ dependence on Him
    3. by staying connected to the Vine. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and fruit can only be produced when connected to the vine
    4. the best we know how – by observing one’s fruit (their [faithful?] work which is evidence of love, kindness, and goodness) and the way they do it (with joy, peace, patience, and gentleness?)
    5. live more connected to the live – let Him and His words influences me more than anything else (by meditating on them more than anything else).

  12. ashleypdye says:

    1. As a vine.
    2. It means that Jesus is the fountain of life and that we live, move, and have our being in him.
    3. We maintain joy by abiding in Christ.

  13. Dominic Shortridge says:

    1. Jesus identifies himself as the vine
    2. This means that all the fruit that grows from it is dependent upon the vine for nourishment.
    3. The disciples maintain their joy by obeying Jesus’ words and commands, and by showing love to one another, sacrificial love.
    4. Sometimes we intentionally gage “fruit” by the number of people attending something or participating in something. Ideally We judge fruit by our satisfaction with God and our Joy in him.
    5. I can personally increase in fruit by continuing to submit to what he has called me to do, not only today, but on a moment to moment basis.

  14. Jessica Lewis says:

    Jesus is the true vine to which we must depend on every day. He is our source of life every moment of every day. I must lean into him and his life in order to bear any fruit. I must allow him to prune my bad fruit so that the holy spirit can produce better fruit in its place. This is true joy! The church says that fruit is measured by good deeds and moralism. I can increase my good fruit by simply coming to Jesus every moment of every day and humbly asking him to take away my sin (bad fruit) and produce good fruit (fruit of the spirit)

  15. Dylan says:

    1. Jesus identifies himself as the true vine.
    2. Their are many false gospels and religions but Jesus is the true savior, he is everything that is good and beautiful.
    3. The disciples are to maintain their joy by keeping Jesus’s commandments. This I have experienced first hand! When my heart is pursuing Jesus I have real joy.
    4. Today’s church should assess whether they have fruit by looking at their role in the community. This could also mean individuals of the church being witnesses to the outside. If the church is poor and not bringing in new people all the time, I still don’t think you can assume these are branches that have been cut off. Seeds could definitely still have been planted and there could be an explosion at any moment!
    5. Keep God’s commandments. Love God, love my neighbor, then do whatever I want!

  16. nataliaria says:

    Jesus identifies Himself as the vine in this passage, and God the Father as the vine dresser. The significance of this is found later in the passage, when Jesus identifies believers as branches who are nourished and thrive only as a result of connection to the vine.

    Jesus’ disciples have joy as a result of Jesus’ joy being in them, and this is accomplished through their abiding in Him, and in His love, and bearing good fruit in their lives as a result of this connection.

    I imagine a healthy church would assess fruit by the development of the body of Christ within that congregation; not that the body grows exponentially, but that those within it are increasingly equipped to love God and serve Him.

    I think my spiritual life could use improvement in just about every way; I am constantly growing, and needing to grow, in so many different ways. One of the most prominent of these areas is the development of a more habitual exchange with God through prayer; I want to flourish because I am rooted in and daily, every moment, communicating with Him.

  17. Austin Knight says:

    How does Jesus identify himself? Jesus identifies Himself as the vine.
    What does that mean? Further into the passage, we read that we, believers, are the branches. Branches are supplied with nourishment and are connected to the vine, therefor, Jesus is the life that we are connected to and depend on for life.
    How are his disciples to maintain their joy? Joy, not to be confused with happiness, is being content with what is happening, and finding pleasure in circumstances. Jesus told the disciples that to maintain their joy, they must keep His commands. Obeying His commands, though at times might bring worldly persecution, will bring much greater joy and satisfaction in Christ. Paul was a good example of this; even though the world was against him, he rested in the joy that he found in his relationship with Christ. That was enough for him.
    How does today’s church assess whether they have fruit? One of the best times to tell whether someone is finding their peace in their relationship with Christ is through trials. If a tragic event occurs in one’s life, and they turn to God and find comfort in the Holy Spirit, that is an indication of whether they have put their faith fully in God, not on earthly things. If we are able to find joy in Him through the rough patches, there is fruit. A person will be living out the fruit of the spirit every day if they truly are sold out to God.
    What can you do to increase the flourishing of fruit in your life? By focusing on the Gospel message, and by realizing what a horrible person I actually am. God wouldn’t want to see me how I am. However, since Jesus covered me in His glory, God is able to love me, not just tolerate, but to love. If I focus on this gift, this act of incredible love, I will love God more every day. The more I love God and thank Him for the Son, the more the fruit of the spirit will show in my life.

  18. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. How does Jesus identify himself?
    The true vine.
    2. What does that mean?
    He is the source of life for us.
    3. How are his disciples to maintain their joy?
    By doing what Jesus commands in this passage. By keeping his commandments, abiding in his love.v
    4. How does today’s church assess whether they have fruit?
    Impressive acts that glorify man, rather than God is sometimes what we see. But as a whole, the church fruit is doing the work of Christ, growing as a Christian to be more like Christ.
    5. What can you do to increase the flourishing of fruit in your life?
    I know that I need to be in Scripture more. I need to be soaking my mind in God’s words.

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