“Barren Branches Burned” | John 15:6 Commentary

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

Commentary

In John 15:6, Jesus says:

If anyone does not remain [μένω | menō] in Me, they are thrown outside like a branch and are dried up. And [people] gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned up. (Jn 15:6, AT)

You see, a branch that isn’t producing fruit isn’t good for much; it’s only good for firewood.1 It’s just fuel for the fire.

And this is likely the eternal hellfire that’s mentioned elsewhere in the gospels (cf. Mt 3:10-12, 18:8, 25:41, 46, Mk 9:43, 48).2

For instance, in Matthew 18:8, Jesus says:

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. (Mt 18:8, NIV)3

Jesus is likely using hyperbole here, but if there’s something in our lives that is causing us to stumble, we need to cut it out – and cut it off.

And here in verse 6, we find another striking image of judgment4 (cf. Ezek 15:1-8).5

You see, things are very cut-and-dry in the Gospel of John (pun intended).

As we see in John 3:18, it says:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (Jn 3:18, NIV; cf. Jn 8:21, 24, 12:25, 48, 17:12)6

There’s no middle ground. You’re either with Jesus or without Jesus. You’re either connected to Christ or disconnected from Christ. You’re either a saved or condemned.

And, as we’ve seen in several of the Savior’s parables (Mt 25:41), those who are not fruitful – those who are not faithful to Christ – are condemned to eternal fire (cf. Jn 5:29; Mt 13:37-42).7

Now, as we’ve said, Jesus is likely primarily referring to Judas – who was in the process of betraying Him.8 But let this be a warning to us all.9

Many people have been in church all their life. Many have heard hundreds of sermons, sung hundreds of hymns, and ate hundreds of pieces of Church chicken…

But if they don’t remain fruitful, they will face judgment.

Let’s not forget: Judas actually walked and talked with Jesus as He literally followed Him – yet still turned out to be unfaithful.

Judas saw the miracles of the Master with His own eyes, yet still could not see the light (Jn 8:12). Judas witnessed Jesus drive out demons and yet still acted demonically.

So let’s not be surprised if there are people who appear to be followers of the Savior on the surface, and yet ain’t really about that life.

People can go through the motions outwardly, yet have no devotion inwardly. Without true connection to Christ, one will not have life in Christ.

And, those who do not bear Christian fruit will be cut off from Christ.

Now, of course this may bring about questions concerning eternal security.10 You may have heard the saying, “once saved always saved.”

Yet Scripture clearly teaches that people will fall away from the faith.

For example, 1 Timothy 4:1-2 says:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical [ὑπόκρισις | hypokrisis], liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Tim 4:1-2, NIV)(cf. Jn 6:70-71; Gal 5:4)11

That said, Scripture also suggests that people who turn away from Christ show that they were never truly with Him to begin with.

As we see in 1 John 2:19, when John is talking about people who are preaching anti-Christian falsehoods, He says:

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained[μένω | menō] with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 Jn 2:19, NIV)12

And many other passages explain that people who have nominal commitments to Christ have flimsy faith that will eventually falter (cf. Mt 13:18-23; Heb 3:14-19; cf. Mt 24:12; Jn 8:31f; 2 Jn 1:9).13

Yes, the Good Shepherd says that no one will snatch one of His sheep out of His hand (Jn 10:28;14cf. Jn 6:37-40).15 But this implies that such people are truly sheep that are truly in His hand.

Perhaps, it would be better to say, “once truly saved, always truly saved.”

Eventually, those who do not truly abide in Christ will show their true colors. They will bear their barren branches – and face just judgment.

In any case, we don’t want to push the vine imagery too far,16 nor try to make the text address issues it’s not primarily about.17

The point is that those who are not connected to Christ, which is demonstrated by not bearing the fruit of the True Vine – will have not have eternal life in Christ.

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Sources

  1. cf. NIDNTTE, 447; IVPB, 293
  2. Keener, 1002; cf. Carson, 517
  3. Keener, 1002
  4. Kruse, 369; Keener, 1002
  5. Carson, 517
  6. Kruse, 369
  7. Carson, 517
  8. Kruse, 369
  9. cf. Keener, 1001
  10. Burge, 427
  11. IVPB, 710
  12. Carson, 515
  13. Carson, 515
  14. Burge, 427
  15. Carson, 515
  16. Carson, 515
  17. Burge, 427
About @DannyScottonJr 253 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝📖⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist