The foundation of the Christian life is our union and communion with Christ, which is the central truth of the metaphor of the vine and the branches in John 15:1 – 11.1 When an untrimmed vine is examined, it is difficult to see where the vine ends and where the branches begin. This is the relationship between a believer and our Lord; we are so intertwined it is almost impossible to speak of one without the other.2 Jesus’ statement in verse one that He is “the true vine” refers to mutual indwelling of Him and to us (the saved). The Old Testament uses the vine imagery for Israel to point out their sin, but Christ as the “true vine” is the contrast.3 Just as a vine gives nourishment to the braches, Jesus is the source of eternal life to those who believe in Him.4
Once we accept Christ as our Savior, we are in harmony and intimate communion with Him by abiding in His word.5 True discipleship is a growing experience.6 John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” The “fruit” in this verse is not explained; however, this usually means qualities in the Christian character.7 Believers become fruitful when we remain in contact with Christ and manifest the effects of that contact in our character and our deeds.8
John 5:4 tells us to “Abide in Me;” Abiding requires a belief in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. It is a dependence upon His provision of life and strength that is emphasized in verse 4. It is a belief and a relation with the person of Jesus Christ and His Word.9 John 15:6 causes questions of the security of salvation. An interpretation of this verse is that a believer doesn’t lose their salvation but loses his reward; the burning mentioned is not a reference to hell but the fire of the bema judgment where Christ judges the Christians’ deeds (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).10
1 Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 149.
3 Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 120.
4 W. Hall Harris III, “Exegetical Commentary on John 15,” Bible.org, March 2, 2005. https://bible.org/seriespage/exegetical-commentary-john-15
5 Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 152.
7 Leon Morris, Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 121.
9 Robert L. Deffinbaugh, “Abiding in Christ (John 15),” Bible.org, June 2, 2004. https://bible.org/seriespage/abiding-christ-john-15
10 Elmer Towns, The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 152.