Abiding Is Believing: The Analogy of the Vine in John 15:1-6 -- By: J. Carl Laney

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 146:581 (Jan 1989)
Article: Abiding Is Believing: The Analogy of the Vine in John 15:1-6
Author: J. Carl Laney


Abiding Is Believing:
The Analogy of the Vine in John 15:1-6

J. Carl Laney

Professor of Biblical Literature
Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oregon

Is it possible to be genuinely saved and yet not manifest any fruit or good works in one’s life as a result of regeneration? According to some evangelicals today, the answer is yes.1 Though intending to avoid a works religion, some Christians today have imposed on the orthodox doctrine of salvation an unscriptural dichotomy between faith and fruit.

This article presents an exposition of John 15:1–6 for the purpose of helping to answer the perplexing question of the relationship between fruit and faith.

The Context of the Passage

John 13–17 contains Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. Here Jesus sought to strengthen and confirm the belief of His disciples, teaching them about service, love, heaven, prayer, persecution, the Holy Spirit, joy, victory, and unity.

The Apostle John noted in John 14:31 the words of Jesus, “Arise, let us go from here.” In 18:1 Jesus is said to have crossed the Kidron Valley. Westcott suggested that Jesus left the Upper Room after 14:31 and that the rest of His discourse was given on the way to the garden.2 Whether the disciples left the upper room at that time or

lingered for a while, the words of Jesus in 14:31 do indicate a major break in the discourse. John 15, central to Jesus’ “Upper Room” discourse, introduces a new thought.

In John 15, Jesus discussed the believer’s relationships. With Christ, there is a relationship of abiding (15:1–11); with other disciples, a relationship of love (15:12–17); with the unbelieving world, a relationship of hostility (15:18–25); and with the Holy Spirit, a relationship as co-witnesses (15:26–27).

The Background of the Figure

Many commentators have suggested that Jesus appropriated ...

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