There are many Bible passages that can cause apprehension at first glance. Thankfully upon further investigation we can receive some fresh light and discover there’s actually encouragement to be had in place of fear.  The 15th chapter of John and Jesus’ parable of the vine and branches used to be one such passage for me.

Jesus tells us, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:1-3). I have to admit I have struggled in the past attempting to understand what Jesus meant by “He takes away”, and “He prunes.” The good news is I think I’ve finally come to some understanding of these statements and found peace and even encouragement in them.

“He takes away” can also be translated as “He lifts up.” Whew! That changes everything don’t you think? I mean there’s a big difference between taking the branch away and lifting it up, right? You see Jesus is talking about how the vine-dresser might find branches laying on the ground from time to time. He would come along, lift them up, and put them back on the trellis.

Jesus’ talk of “pruning” brought its own touch of fright because all I could think of when I heard the word “prunes” was those particular branches were to be cut off. Thankfully I discovered “He prunes” also could be translated another way. If you look at the verse immediately after the pruning statement, in verse 3, you’ll see where Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” The term “He prunes” and “clean” are the same. So you see what’s really happening here is the vine-dresser comes along, discovers some of his branches are lying in the mud, so he lifts them up and cleans them off.

Ultimately what Jesus is saying in this passage is His Father is the vine-dresser and His goal is to produce the most fruit He can possibly get in His vineyard. In fact Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit…” (verse 8). So you see our role in all of this is to simply “abide.” That’s it! All we have to do is abide in Christ; and He will produce the fruit through us.




  1. Louie: great blog. I love the way our Father does those kinds of encouraging things… Oddly though I can’t understand why translators would not translate it that way. There are other passages of scripture that fall into this same pattern. It’s almost as if they feel the need to “keep the reader on his toes”. Again…good word.

    1. Thanks Mike, and you’re right. It seems many pastors and or teachers are operating out of fear. Nick Pujdak I think was the first to share with me this post is about the character of God. If we have a faulty view of God’s character we will live in fear of being cut-off rather than believing God is after the most fruit through us He can possibly produce. Seeing this the other way also invites “self-examination” which will eventually cause self-consciousness rather than Christ consciousness. We know where that leads don’t we? Didn’t mean to write another blog here but thanks again. I hope this finds you well!

  2. Exactly–I learned about translating that text the way you are from a greek teacher who went to Israel and observed how the Jewish people harvested the grapes in their vineyards–they lifted up the branches and they carried little buckets of water to wash the leaves off–this allowed for good fruit production–as a matter of fact I have a greek interlinear that translates John 15:2 in that manner.

    1. Thanks Kenneth I’m glad to see that I’m interlinear, ha-ha! No seriously though, I have known several people who have really struggled with this because of the wording and how it sounds as though they may be cut-off any minute. I think a misunderstanding on this results in self-examination which will ultimately end with condemnation and or fear. On the other hand, knowing God is for us and is doing everything in order for us to be greater fruit-bearers changes our whole outlook resulting in JOY.
      thanks so much Kenneth,

  3. Louie – was suppose to leave today but the whole airport was down – no electricity – so I leave tomorrow instead….

    Your article is wonderful – rightly dividing the word of truth – I love when folks find proper translations ….which expresses clearer the character of our loving Father ( also known as daddy – Abba ) – I always like to remember psalms 103 – “He remembers our frame that we are but dust”…thanks for sharing with us..Nick

    PS: like the new look – sort of like a chalk board – will be seeing you soon

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