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Chapter 15:3-17 (ESV)

Posted on September 07, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 15:3-17 (ESV) - 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. 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. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. 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. 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. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Question to consider: What does it mean to abide?

The power of baptism is the word of God, not the water. That is why Paul called baptism the water “with the word” in Ephesians 5, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” The context of that passage was Paul calling husbands to sacrificially love their wives in the same manner— with a willingness to give themselves up to save her from harm and to keep her abiding in Christ.

As Jesus had originally stated while He was washing their feet in chapter 13, the disciples had already been cleansed. Now, they were to abide in Christ if they were to continue to bear fruit, for apart from Christ, they could do nothing. Obviously, Judas is the epitome of not abiding in Christ, but the other disciples got a taste of what it was like to not abide in Christ when they fled and denied Him before His accusers.

The concept of “abiding” is to remain and persevere. He gives the image of branches on a vine. If a branch remains affixed to the vine, it will receive the nutrients it needs to produce fruit. If it is cut off from the vine, the branch withers and dies. Jesus added that the withering branches would be gathered and thrown into the fire. This played out in a very concrete manner at the end of the earthly temple age in AD 70. Those who remained in Christ fled from the fires of judgment that reigned down upon Jerusalem, for they listened to Christ’s words on the Mount of Olives and in the revelatory vision given to John. Those who were broken off from the true vine of Israel were gathered into Jerusalem to be burned, for they sought salvation behind the city’s protective walls.

The commandments of the Father was the Law which Christ kept fully and completely, and thus Jesus abides in His Father, and His Father abides in Him. The disciples weren’t asked to keep the Law as Christ did, for Christ’s righteousness counted for them (and us). Instead, Jesus asked them to abide in His love by keeping His commandments. Christ’s commandments could be summed up in loving one another as He had loved them.

I have encountered a lot of people lately who insist they can be a Christian without abiding in the church. In order to justify their claims, they relegate “the church” to organized religion when the Bible defines the church as the body of Christ. A hand can no more exist apart from the body than a branch from the vine. Abiding in Christ is found in the study of His word, confessing and receiving the forgiveness of our sins, receiving from Christ in the Communion meal, and being in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even if you think you can exist apart from the body, what about Christ’s command for you to love your brothers and sisters in Christ?


Dear heavenly Father, help us to be like Christ in our love for Your church. Raise up among us those who will shepherd Your church according to Your word so that we may abide in Christ and produce good fruit. Show us where we have been selfish and fallen short of the love to which You have called us so that we can be restored to a right relationship with You and with one another. Amen.