Exegetical Analysis of John 15:1-11 Assessment

Pages: 5 (1559 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Exegetical Analysis of John 15:1-11

John 15:1-11 is, on superficial reading, fairly forthright in its objective to entreat upon readers the import of following the path of Jesus Christ. Those abiding bear fruit, while those who fail to do so have to face negative repercussions. That is, it is clear that: to 'abide' is good, while not doing so is bad. Controversies begin emerging when questions arise with regards to non- abiding individuals' nature, and that of the judgment to be faced by them. Here, one's larger religious framework is inclined to appear, and, sometimes, limit one's exegesis.

The paper will focus on John 15:1-11. One of Jesus' teachings is presented in the text. Here, Jesus presents Himself in the form of a vine, with His followers as vine branches. The passage is separated into three sections: [1] the punishment that accompanies unfruitfulness, elucidated from verse one to three; [2] the basis of fruitfulness, verses four to six; and [3] fruitfulness' outcomes, elucidated from verse seven to eleven. This paper will firstly explore the chastisement of unfruitfulness (Chilton 2013).

Jesus is the true vine (15:1, 5)

Chapter 15 of John shows Jesus, along with His disciples, just done with celebrating the Passover. While walking down the trail, they cross the vineyards surrounding the city, when Jesus picks up a cutting, turns to the disciples accompanying Him, and states that: Israel was considered a vine for producing refreshing fruit, but she failed. He asserts that He is the real, genuine and true vine as against a mere symbol or copy, as he fulfills all that is suggested by the symbol. 'True' is used as a term for 'ultimate' realization, as well. Jesus represents the greatest realization of Israel's hope, her expectations, and what the Lord intended Israel to be. However, she failed. Christ, who was sent as the 'authentic' vine accomplished everything that the Lord intended for His Messiah to accomplish.

The vine grew into the representation of a restored Israel, in Jewish literature. The vine signifies God's Anointed, the Messiah. Jesus claiming to be this Vine indicates his claiming to be the Lord's Messiah. Israel's true destiny is achieved and consummated in Him; i.e., Jesus denotes the real Messianic Vine. The Messianic Era is inaugurated in Him. Jesus portrayed a clear contrast between Himself and Israel's degenerate vine. He shifted the responsibilities and privileges to Himself, away from the Hebrews (Pounds 2008).

Through Jesus, one could gain access to God, and life's gateway. It is written by Borchert that, in this allegorical description, the Lord is still depicted as gardener; however, Jesus, rather than Israel, is depicted as the Vine. His disciples, who are followers in God's path, are depicted as branches. The Vine, Jesus, appears to be positioned between the branches and gardener / vineyard keeper as a sort of "facilitator" of sustenance and life (Borchert 2002).

If Jesus Christ was the life- giving vine that had the ability of producing fruit, or the qualities of a righteousness, what would be the fate of a branch which didn't produce any fruit? (Chilton 2013). In this view, Jesus uses a metaphor as He compares Himself to vines and His disciples to vine branches. Jesus states that He is the genuine vine, with His Father being the vinedresser. The Father takes away all of the vine branches that don't bear any fruit. As for the fruit- bearing branches, they are pruned so as to bear even more fruit (The New American Standard Bible 1995).

Jesus talks about two different types of branches: fruit-bearing ones, and those which don't. Both these branches have to face different actions carried out on them. The ones that bear fruit are cleaned or pruned to bear more fruit. The imagery depicted here is derived from the custom of removing some vine tendrils during the spring season to maximize production of fruit. Some controversy exists with regards to the significance and connotation of what occurs with non- fruit bearing branches. The Greek term airo is translated by the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as "takes away"; while "lifts up" is another interpretation of the word.

John's Gospel shows both meanings of the Greek term, though most interpretations of the word are "takes away" or "takes." It would seem most useful to accept the NASB's translation on account of the following 3 factors: (1) the predominance of earlier use of this term in John; (2) better maintenance of parallelism in verse 2; and (3) the existence of a corresponding statement in the sixth verse, which must be considered as a relative indicator (Klaus 2013).

The husbandman, the source of fruitfulness

Jesus, in the 6th verse, illustrates the repercussions of not following him. Here, the image of throwing away a branch and burning it is emphasized. The term "fire" is oft- mentioned by Jesus as an indication of judgment (Matt 7:19; 13:40, 42, 50; 25:41). The verse does make sense when related to the second verse, in that fruitless branches are stated as being "taken away" and here, in the sixth verse, their outcome is depicted. The passage's key focus, however, isn't on judgment; rather, it revolves around the positive anticipation of the 'abidance' of Jesus' disciples in him (Klaus 2013).

A knife is one instrument required by the vinedresser. Merciless pruning is culture's key secret. So says the Bible, 'The Father is the Husbandman.' The Lord takes up this responsibility in other parables of His. Here, the parable's exigencies necessitate that the Cultivator's office must only be assigned to God; though we aren't to overlook the fact that in this office, God works in and through Jesus. Just like the vine must be cleansed by the viticulturist, our Father in Heaven must purify us for our fruit-bearing capacity to increase. He sees a branch that produces fruit and begins cutting it back, to make it bear more fruit, just like Christ.

His aim is cleansing the remaining branches for producing fruitfulness. The entire emphasis is on "fruit"; the subsequent verses follow with the terms "more fruit" and "much fruit"; lastly, "much fruit" is mentioned again. The Lord will not stop till He can see fruit. Dead wood, which signifies the rotten, diseased parts of one's life, is cut away by God. We sometimes think God's technique is cruel. However, this is done by Him for us to produce Christ's righteousness. It has often been proven that those who endure profound pain and suffering radiate the beauty of Jesus. Therefore, pruning is a process of cleansing (Pounds 2008).

Fruitfulness and it results thereof

The Lord deals with His set of disciples as imperfectly and incipiently, but certainly, cleansed via the word through which He has addressed them and grants to them His encouragement towards the conduct during which the cleansing, fruitfulness and union can all be acquired. 'Now ye are clean: abide in Me and I in you.' Just as branches can't bear fruit by themselves, except by complying with the vine, man can't bear fruit except by abiding in the Lord. Union with Jesus marks all fruitfulness' condition. There might be lots of activity, yet barrenness; that is, work isn't fruit. We can yield a lot 'of ourselves,' but as it is a result 'of ourselves', it signifies nothing. Fruit is only possible through union with the Lord, as he is everything's productive source.

Verses seven to eleven of chapter 15 of John presents readers with three distinct consequences of forming a fruitful association with Jesus. The first outcome is stated in the seventh verse: the outcome of a life of intimate prayer is mentioned here. Jesus states that if one abides in Him, and His teachings abide in one, the individual may ask anything he/she wishes s and He will grant it. Verse 11 shows Jesus giving… [END OF PREVIEW]

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