“Clean Through Christ, Remain Fruitful in the Redeemer” | John 15:3-4 Commentary

What follows is an excerpt from a John 15:1-8 Bible Study that was streamed on 5.18.22


John 15:3 | Clean Through Christ’s Word

Continuing in John 15:3, it says:

Already, you are clean on account of the word I have spoken to you. (Jn 15:3, AT)

Notice that the disciples of Jesus are not clean because of anything that they have done – they are clean because of what Christ has done.1

They have been following Jesus for years and have made many mistakes along the way. If you read through the gospels, you’ll see that they often get things wrong.

But after years of correction and training, though they are not perfect,2 Jesus says they are clean. And not merely outwardly through the Jewish purification rituals, but inwardly through the words of Christ.3 Through the teaching (logos; cf. Jn 1:1, 14) of Jesus, they are clean (cf. Jn 13:10)4 and pruned branches.5

We also will never be perfect. Yet, as we listen to the words of Jesus and put them into practice, we become more fruitful,6 and spiritually clean.

John 15:4 | Remain/Abide

Jesus continues in John 15:4 saying:

Remain in Me and I [will] in you. Just as the branch is unable to produce fruit by itself if it does not remain in the vine, in the same way, neither [are] you if you do not remain in Me. (Jn 15:4, AT)

Now this term remain or abide or dwell, which we will see quite a bit (Jn 15:4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10) 7, is chock full of theological significance.8

In the Old Testament, God promised to dwell in the midst of His obedient, covenant people (cf. Ex 25:8, 29:45; Lev 26:11-12; Ezk 37:27-28; 43:9).9

Previously the LORD dwelled among His people in the tabernacle, and then in the Temple. Then He sent His Son to dwell among us.

As John writes in John 1:14:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14, NIV)10

Jesus made His dwelling among mankind, He dwelled among His disciples, and then He promised them to continue to dwell in them – even after He was crucified – through the Holy Spirit.

As He tells them in John 14:16-18:

17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you[μένω | menō] and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (Jn 14:16-18, NIV)11

You see, Christ spiritually indwells His followers through the Holy Spirit.

Now, in the Old Testament, the special Presence of the LORD used to dwell in the Temple. But, in the New Testament, the presence of the Lord dwells in the Church.12. For, in a sense, the Church is the new Temple.

In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul rhetorically asks the Corinthian church:

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Cor 3:16, NIV)

And later in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, he tells them to:

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Cor 6:18-20, NIV)

So, individually and collectively – we are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Church is the new Temple of God. More literally, we are the Lord’s sanctuary.

As the song says: “Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. And with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, sanctuary, for you.”13

And, in a mystical, spiritual, supernatural way,14 there is a kind of a mutual indwelling between the Vine and His branches (cf. Jn 14:20).15 Christ dwells in us, abiding in us by the Spirit, as we strive to dwell in Him – abiding by His word.16 We are temples of the Spirit, and we must bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).17

And, Christian discipleship is not merely about thinking the right things (doctrine) or behaving the right way (ethics) – but about living in our Righteous Redeemer and having the Lord live in us.18

It’s about remaining in a supernatural union with the Savior, continuing the connection of the committed to Christ.

Now, in John, Jesus has already repeated this word “remain” (μένω | menō) several times.

For instance, in John 8:31, it says:

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you remain [μένω | menō] in my word, truly you are my disciples.  (Jn 8:31, AT)19

And the command to remain or abide in Christ requires more than a temporary commitment. 20 It requires more than just saying, “I believe in Christ” one day. It’s about manifesting that Christian belief in conduct – everyday.

Now, you don’t need to be a gardening expert to understand this godly imagery. If you cut a branch off from its source of nourishment, it’s not going to grow.

Just as a branch can’t produce fruit unless it is remains connected to the vine, neither can His disciples produce fruit unless they are connected to Christ.21

If we are not united to Christ,22 if we are not connected to Christ, if we do not abide in Christ – we cannot bear fruit.

So, notice the interesting spiritual paradox of pious produce: we can’t produce fruit without being connected to Christ, but we still have to put in effort for our spiritual productivity.23

You see, bearing fruit is not a completely passive process. Though there’s always a divine initiative, there has to be human participation.

You see, God gives us mouths, and we have to work with our God-given mouths to say godly things. God gives us minds, and we have to work with our God-given minds to think godly things. And God gives us His Sprit, and we have to work with the God-given Spirit to do godly things.

We have to strive to keep His commands, but we can’t rely on only our own strength.

We have to actively endeavor to bear Christian fruit – which is something we can’t do fruitfully without Christ.

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  1. BIBC, 1150
  2. Guthrie, 1056
  3. Keener, 997
  4. Carson, 515
  5. Carson, 515-516
  6. Kruse, 367
  7. Burge, 418
  8. IVPB, 292
  9. IVPB, 292
  10. Carson, 516
  11. Kruse, 368; Keener, 988, 998; Burge, 416, 418; Carson, 517
  12. cf. IVPB, 292
  13. https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=a0WuwUJRQKs&list=RDAMVMa0WuwUJRQKs
  14. Burge, 423
  15. Carson, 514
  16. Kruse, 368
  17. cf. Keener, 998; Burge, 418
  18. Burge, 418, 426
  19. Keener, 988; Carson, 516
  20. Wallace, 720, 721
  21. UBS, 481; Carson, 516
  22. UBS, 481
  23. cf. BIBC, 1150
About @DannyScottonJr 455 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝?⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist