Most translations of John 15:1-4 read something like this:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” - John 15:1-4 ESV

The two words in question are

Témnō used in the Greek Septuagint to mean literally prune, which is found in Exodus 29:3, Leviticus 25:3-4, 2 Kings 6:4, Isaiah 5:6, Ezekiel 16:4, and Daniel 2:45.

Kathairó (Strong’s Greek 2508, 2513) generally means clean, pure, unstained, either literally or ceremonially or spiritually; guiltless, innocent, upright.

Is the word, “prunes,” the best translation in this case? Why or why not?


Bible Gateway provides 63 English translations. The scholars translating them chose prune 42 times, purge 9 times (including the King James Version), clean/cleanse 6 times (including the newly published Legacy Standard Bible), and cleans and trims/prunes 6 times.

The word, purge, in King James English is defined here (https://av1611.com/kjbp/kjv-dictionary/purgative.html) as follows:

PURGE, v.t. purj. L. purgo. See also the following link for Latin https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0060%3Aentry%3Dpurgo (1890), which defines purgo as

  1. To cleanse or purify by separating and carrying off whatever is impure, heterogeneous, foreign or superfluous; as, to purge the body by evacuation; to purge the Augean stable. It is followed by away, of, or off. We say, to purge away or to purge off filth, and to purge a liquor of its scum.

  2. To clear from guilt or moral defilement; as, to purge one of guilt or crime; to purge away sin. Purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Ps.79. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Ps.51.

  3. To clear from accusation or the charge of a crime, as in ordeal.

  4. To remove what is offensive; to sweep away impurities. Ezek.20.

  5. To clarify; to defecate; as liquors.

PURGE, v.i. To become pure by clarification.

  1. To have frequent or preternatural evacuations by stool.

PURGE, n. A medicine that evacuates the body by stool; a cathartic.

Closely Related Questions

Here are two closely related questions with additional answers and discussion:

What does cleanliness have to do with vines in John 15?

How does the Father purge the fruitful branch in John 15:2?

  • 2
    Kathaireo is translated (KJV) 'cast down', 'destroy', 'pull down', 'take down' and kathairesis is translated 'destruction' and 'pulling down' (KJV). Thus, I suggest that 'prune' for 'kathairo is far too mild a word in comparison and that 'purge' (KJV) is the better.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 5 at 8:27
  • 1
    @NigelJ - what are the references for all these meanings since καθαίρω (kathairó) only occurs once in John 15:2??
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 5 at 10:01
  • 1
    -1. Based on the OP's comments, the purpose of this Question seems to be to push the OP's point of view, rather than asking for an answer to a question. Rather than pointing out information the Answer leaves out or asking for clarification, comments argue with said answers, like a debate forum, not a Q&A site.
    – trlkly
    Commented Mar 6 at 2:41
  • 1
    @Dottard See the rear of Young's Analytical Concordance where the lexical lists are arranged. Page 76 in the most used, the eighth, edition. All the information is there.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 6 at 7:59
  • 1
    @Dottard There is no 'error'. We have a word that occurs but once in scripture and so we look to see if there are concomitant words which will help us as to the meaning. And there are two words, very similar. I have referred to these two words in order to ascertain the meaning of the third. This is an hermeneutic method. (See Page 76, Young's Analytical Concordance 8th Edition.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 7 at 3:17

6 Answers 6


I would say the Kathairó would be the best translation in this case, because it is a bit more clear, but they both mean the same thing.

Pruning is symbolism for making something pure. When you prune something, you take out the branches that will take energy from the tree (or bush) without providing any value. This pruning makes up better and strengthens our faith. As we go through trials and suffering, we shed negative traits and become more like Christ, bearing the "fruit of the Spirit" mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."

  • 1
    Thank you. While I sympathize with your interpretation, témnō and kathairó don't mean the same thing. Otherwise, what happens if you assume is that kathairó and its derivatives sometimes means "prunes" in a symbolic sense and other times means "cleanses" in a literal sense? However, I gave you a +1 for the elaboration of Galatians 5:22,23 of what's meant by fruit. See also Ephesians 5:6-10 ESV regarding fruit! Finally, the only other place that a form of the word katharos appears in the New Testament is in Hebrews 10:1,2 where it's translated as "cleansed" in the ESV.
    – Dieter
    Commented Mar 5 at 6:40

Any metaphor is subject to different applications. In the case of fruit, vines, and branches a Christian may consider whether the fruit which Jesus speaks is the same as the fruit of the Spirit. Since both describe God's fruit, it is possible to use the metaphor to describe God's work.

Regardless of different ways the metaphor may be applied, there is always the question of the initial understanding of the initial audience. In this case, how would the disciples understand the metaphor Jesus used?

John 15 (ESV):

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away (αἴρει), and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (καθαίρει), that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean (καθαροί) because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

The passage clearly states only those who abide in Jesus will bear any fruit. Those who do not abide in Jesus are thrown away. Given the situation, one cannot help seeing Jesus intends a distinction between those disciples with Him and Judas Iscariot.

Fruit bearing is possible only if one abides; fruit bearing is also variable. Some branches will produce more than others yet the Father is at work on every abiding branch.

In the passage Jesus begins by personifying Himself and His Father. He calls His Father ὁ γεωργός, "the one who is occupied in agriculture or gardening." 1

❶ one who owns a farm, farmer
❷ one who does agricultural work on a contractual basis, vine-dresser, tenant farmer

Whether Jesus intends the disciples to understand His Father both owns and works the vineyard, attention is directed to His Father's work in a vineyard. Therefore, the disciples would initially understand the metaphor in the context of how a real vineyard produces fruit.

  • All vineyards require lifting up new growth to keep the fruit off the ground.
  • While fruit is developing and maturing, growth must be tied to a support and excess leafs must be removed to ensure the fruit receives adequate sunlight.
  • At the of the season the entire vineyard is cut back to prepare for the next season growth.
  • "Fruit" is always two-fold. Grapes are this year's fruit; buds are next year's fruit. Each year's new growth is cut back to leave 1-2 buds for next season.
  • Normally a vineyard begins producing fruit in the third year. "Pruning" after the initial planting is to prepare the vineyard.

The time of Passover is early spring. There are no grapes in the vineyard. The new growth in a vineyard is shoots which must be supported and kept off the ground.

Applying the Metaphor
As the OP notes the correct term to describe pruning in a vineyard is τεμεῖς (for example Leviticus 25:3-4). Applying the metaphor as the disciples would begins by recognizing Jesus used an agricultural example but changed the description of His Father's work as it relates to fruit producing branches.

The work Jesus attributes to His Father is καθαίρω which is used twice in the LXX.

2 Samuel 4:6 (LXX-NETS)

And behold, the doorkeeper of the house was cleaning wheat and she became drowsy and slept, and Rekcha and Baana, the brothers escaped notice.

Isaiah 28:27-28

For the dill is not purified with harshness, nor will a cart wheel roll over the cumin, but the dill is shaken with a rod, and the cumin will be eaten with bread. For I will not be angry with you forever, nor will the voice of my bitterness trample you.

καθαίρω in the LXX describes cleansing grain. C.K. Barrett explains other uses:

καθαίρει is equally suitable for agricultural processes and for religious purgation. It is used of cleansing corn by winnowing (Xenophon, Oeconomicus XVIII, 6) and of clearing weeds from the ground before sowing (ibid. XX, 11). It is used of religious ceremony (Iliad XVI, 228, purifying the cup for a libation), and in a moral sense (Plato, Phaedo 114c, οἱ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἱκανῶς καθηράμενοι). 2

The NET translation has prune and includes this translation note:

Or “trims”; Grk “cleanses” (a wordplay with “clean” in v. 3). Καθαίρει (kathairei) is not the word one would have expected here, but it provides the transition from the vine imagery to the disciples—there is a wordplay (not reproducible in English) between αἴρει (airei) and καθαίρει in this verse. While the purpose of the Father in cleansing his people is clear, the precise means by which he does so is not immediately obvious. This will become clearer, however, in the following verse. 3

Considerations from the metaphor as described by Jesus.

  • There is a distinction of abiding. Some branches abide in Jesus; some do not.
  • The Father's work is described in terms of producing fruit.

Fruitful Branches
The disciples would recognize Jesus makes a distinction between different types of branches. One are those who are in Him (15:2); another are those who abide in Him (15:5); another are those who do not abide in Him (15:6). Even if there is some distinction intended between "in me" and "abide in Me" it is clear there are branches which do not abide in Jesus and these do not bear fruit and are thrown away (15:6).

One must recognize it is impossible for any who abide in Jesus to fail to produce fruit. The work of His Father described in 15:2 cannot describe branches which are completely unproductive since one who abides in Jesus must produce fruit.

Using a real vineyard, His Father will lift up and "prune" every branch in Jesus. Those not bearing fruit are are καθαίρει. His Father is not going to cut off anything which abides in Jesus. Therefore these are being made ready for fruit in the future.

Pruned distorts the illustration of a branch which is abiding in Jesus. Branches in Jesus which are bearing fruit are lifted up. Branches in Jesus which are not bearing fruit are καθαίρει so they will bear fruit. These branches cannot be removed because they are in Jesus. In this case καθαίρει describes His Father's work so it will produce fruit.

In fact, the disciples who had been with Jesus from the beginning (15:27) would recall His Father's καθαίρει, cleansing in their own lives. Having been with Jesus and not bearing fruit for 3-years they were now ready to bear fruit which lasts and the one who did not abide in Jesus, Judas Iscariot, had been removed altogether.

  1. Fredrick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University Chicago Press, 2000, p 196.
  2. C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St John, S.P.C.K., 1962, p. 395
  3. NET Bible, John 15, 6 tn
  • 1
    I'm not so sure about your interpretation of "takes away" as "lifts up." Why would these branches later be burned? Or maybe I misunderstood what you meant.
    – Dieter
    Commented Mar 5 at 6:43
  • 2
    @Dieter If one places weight on the difference between the True Vine (15:1) and the Vine (15:5) there is a further distinction. Branches which are lifted up are those who abide with the True Vine; branches removed and burned are those who do not abide in the Vine. The analogy is similar to Paul's olive tree. Branches which are removed are those who do not abide, This results in a single vineyard of the True Vine and Vine whose branches all abide in Jesus having the Father as Vine Dresser. Commented Mar 5 at 8:55
  • 1
    @Dieter Agree but He does so by comparison to the bronze serpent. Here He makes a clear comparison to a vineyard. So on could say that as Jesus was lifted up (referring to crucifixion) disciples are to be lifted up as branches by the Father. The second metaphor is different as the Father is the one who lifts up the branches. Commented Mar 5 at 21:12
  • 2
    @RobbieGoodwin In viticulture every new growth is removed at the end of the growing season. It is wrong to assign pruning to some branches and not others unless you are speaking of what takes during the growing season. If that is the case the branches are not pruned as being cut back. They are cleaned of fruit as it ripens. Fruit not only appears on the branch, it ripens there. In the metaphor some branches have ripe fruit before others. There is not one end of season harvesting of fruit; there is a continuous harvest. Some branches sooner then others, but all in Jesus are producing. Commented Mar 6 at 15:51
  • 2
    @RevelationLad, Dieter Could you guys try asking someone with experience of growing grapes? I'm sorry to point this out and still, it's amazing how people would rather discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, than look at something perfectly clear, right in front of them. Commented Mar 6 at 23:14

The operative verb here is καθαίρω (kathairó) [hence or English word catharsis = "purge"] occurs in the NT only in John 15:2. Its meaning according to BDAG is:

  1. to cause something to become clean, make clean, literally of a place that has been swept
  2. to remove superfluous growth from a plant, clear, prune a vine, John 15:2

In the OT LXX it only occurs in a few places such as:

  • Jer 13:27 - thine adultery also, and thy neighing, and the looseness of thy fornication: on the hills and in the fields I have seen thine abominations. Woe to thee, O Jerusalem, for thou hast not been purified so as to follow me; how long yet shall it be?
  • 2 Sam 4:6 - And, behold, the porter of the house winnowed/purified wheat, and he slumbered and slept: and the brothers Rechab and Baana went privily into the house:
  • Isa 28:27 - For the black poppy is not cleansed with harsh treatment, nor will a wagon-wheel pass over the cumin; but the black poppy is threshed with a rod, and the cumin shall be eaten with bread

Thus, the variety of meanings is demonstrated.

  • Yes, those verses are indeed relevant. Note that threshed and pruned are fundamentally different--threshed "cleans off" the husks from the seed. Consider the actions taken by Jesus washing the disciples feet. He tells them that they are ALL (but one) clean, but need their feet cleansed. The cleansing rather than pruning or burning is defensible. However, you could bring up the "works tested by fire" at the judgment where the wood, hay, and stubble are burned off.
    – Dieter
    Commented Mar 5 at 16:49
  • Also, your point 2 above shows that the "prunes" equivalence rests on the interpretation of a single verse. Do you know of any extra-biblical examples of kathairó being translated as prunes?
    – Dieter
    Commented Mar 5 at 16:53
  • 1
    @Dieter - that is not quite true - the meanings quoted in BDAG depend on the huge amount of data quoted in that lexicon, most of which is outside the Bible from 1st century literature. See BDAG for details.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 5 at 20:30
  • Thanks for the explanation. To my disappointment, I've found a number of common assertions and interpretations of the Bible to have been fabricated, For example, there's no evidence of any historical gate into Jerusalem called, "The Eye of the Needle." As a result, I try to check everything, sometimes running into contradictory explanations.
    – Dieter
    Commented Mar 6 at 2:36
  • @Dieter - I think yours is a good policy to check things and confirm them.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 6 at 7:38

Kathaireo is translated (KJV) 'cast down', 'destroy', 'pull down', 'take down' and kathairesis is translated 'destruction' and 'pulling down' (KJV). Thus, I suggest that 'prune' for 'kathairo is far too mild a word in comparison and that 'purge' (KJV) is the better.

Further Information from Comment :

By all accounts, these two words are etymologically unrelated, but I've asked a question elsewhere in Latin.SE to see if there is some relation. – @brianpck

To a Greek speaker, there would be a phonetic association in hearing the words and a visual association in the written word. So when looking for a meaning for a word used uniquely in the scripture I would still take into account these two words.

So, on the evidence of one word (if one does not accept phonetic/visual association of the second) then the meaning of the word under discussion by the OP is still (by association) stronger than 'prune'. My own experience is that it does not feel like 'pruning', It feels like a purging. And the words in the bible agree with that experience.

  • 1
    By all accounts, these two words are etymologically unrelated, but I've asked a question elsewhere in Latin.SE to see if there is some relation.
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 7 at 19:21
  • 1
    @brianpck - agreed - καθαίρω = kata + airo = "down + take away", hence "prune, purge". On the other hand καθαιρέω = kata + haireomai = down + to choose/make one's own, hence to take down, ie, forcibly yank down, destroy, etc. Therefore, the answer is factually incorrect. The two words are unrelated.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 7 at 20:17
  • @Dottard You're right that they're unrelated, but you're not getting the etymology quite right. See the linked question for more info: καθαίρω isn't even related to κατα-, believe it or not.
    – brianpck
    Commented Mar 7 at 20:22
  • 1
    @brianpck To a Greek speaker, there would be a phonetic association in hearing the words and a visual association in the written word. So when looking for a meaning for a word used uniquely in the scripture I would still take into account these two words. But your research is interesting. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 7 at 21:30
  • 1
    @Dottard So, on the evidence of one word (if one does not accept phonetic/visual association of the second) then the meaning of the word under discussion by the OP is still (by association) stronger than 'prune'. My own experience is that it does not feel like 'pruning', It feels like a purging. And the words in the bible agree with that experience.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 7 at 21:43

In John 15:1-5 we have a concrete analogy that is paired with kathairó, a verb that is abstract in meaning (καθαίρω Strong’s G2508 meaning to cleanse, purify, prune). Looking at the glosses of kathairó in the Liddell-Scott-Jones Dictionary, while many citations are provided for "cleanse","purify", and "purge," the only reference given for “prune” is from the NT (LSJ Dictionary: kathairó).

Besides John 15:2, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon provides one other, extra-biblical, reference for “prune.”

to cleanse, properly, from filth, impurity, etc.; trees and vines (from useless shoots), to prune, John 15:2 (δένδρα ... ὑποτεμνομενα καθαίρεται, Philo de agric. § 2 (cf. de somniis ii. § 9 middle))

The physical concept of pruning fits well with the analogy of the vine and the branches. The implication would be that with proper pruning, the branch would produce more fruit. Apparently, pruning is a necessary process in grape production.

Grapes bear fruit on the green shoots that arise from one-year-old canes. Pruning is based on producing fruit in the current season, and renewing young canes for the next year. The old canes that produced fruit this season will not produce again. (Pruning Grapes in Home Gardens: Some Basic Guidelines)

While pruning may be an important horticultural practice, is it the right spiritual metaphor? To answer this question, I looked for context clues that may help to decode the meaning of kathairó. In John 15:2-3, there is an interesting juxtaposition of three words: the verb airó (αἴρω Strong’s 142 meaning to raise, take away, remove), the verb kathairó, and the adjective katharos (καθαρός Strong’s 2513 meaning clean, pure, unstained). The words airó and kathairó are similar in sound and concept, while kathairó and katharos are closely associated in meaning and etymology.

On the one hand, kathairó shares with airó the idea of taking away or removal (airó - removal from the vine; kathairó - removal from impurities); on the other, it shares with katharos the idea of cleansing/purification. Strategically placed between airó and katharos and sharing common elements with each, kathairó serves as a conceptual bridge from one word to the other. In my opinion, it is in combining the concepts of separation and cleansing that we approximate the meaning of kathairó.

Beyond lexical considerations, there is an underlying theme of unity and separation in John 15: union with Christ and separation from the world. Christ’s disciples are those that have been chosen out of the world. Within this theme, kathairó is understood to reference a process of separation that opposes that of airó, a separation not from Christ but from the world. It is through the process of being removed from the world that we are cleansed.

John 15:19 ESV

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

The OP asks, “Is the word ‘prunes’ the best translation in this case?” Yes, “prunes” is a good translation given the horticultural analogy of the vine and the branches. That said, the effect of using a word that means “to clean” to convey the idea of pruning is to bring us back from the earthly analogy to the spiritual reality. Ultimately, the spiritual pruning that we each must undergo is understood to be an internal process whereby we are removed from the corrupting influences of the world (cf 1 Jn 2:15-17, Jam 1:27).


Obviously, témnō (prunes) and kathairó (cleanses) do not have the same meaning. So which one is used in John 15?

It’s kathairó, cleans or cleanses!

Yabbut, how about the context and the contrast? In other words, the Father takes away branches that don’t abide in Jesus, but prunes those who bear fruit, right? Well, it makes a nice teaching, but actually this is not how it’s done in a vineyard. Notice that the words kathairó and katharos are used again in the same passage to assure the disciples that they are already clean:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He kathairó (cleanses, Strong’s Greek 2508) it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already katharos (clean, Strong’s Greek 2513) because of the word which I have spoken to you.” – John 15:1-3 ESV

The teaching that God prunes us that’s based on this passage is an extrapolation based on not knowing about vineyard practices. It assumes that that “cleanses” must mean prunes in this context. Some concordances also include "prunes" as an alternative definition of kathairó apparently based solely on John 15:2.

However, Jesus presented this metaphor to a rural audience who were very familiar with the vineyard practices in the region. Caring for grape vines involves pruning, training, hoeing the weeds, and harvesting. Pruning is done in late winter while the grape vines are still dormant. It involves removing 90% of the previous-year’s vines, leaving only one or two canes connected to the trunk, which are also pruned. These canes are then “trained” on either a stake, a trellis, or as a free-standing bush. During spring and summer, new canes and leaves grow quickly—the leaves are essential for gathering energy from the sun. The earth around each grape vine is weeded to remove any competition for water, which is essential for the vine, and to provide easy access for harvesting. In fall the grapes ripen and are harvested. Then, as winter sets in, the grape leaves drop and the vine goes dormant. That’s it—pruning, training, weeding, and harvesting. Each has its season.

Here’s a key verse out of Isaiah that describes how vineyards were tended in antiquity.

I will make it [the vineyard] a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it., - Isaiah 5:6 ESV

Here’s a portion of a poem by Virgil written about a generation before the time of Jesus. Note that viticulture was pervasive around the entire Mediterranean.

“This further task again, to dress the vine, Hath needs beyond exhausting; the whole soil Thrice, four times, yearly must be cleft, the sod With hoes reversed be crushed continually, The whole plantation lightened of its leaves. Round on the labourer spins the wheel of toil, As on its own track rolls the circling year. Soon as the vine her lingering leaves hath shed, And the chill north wind from the forests shook Their coronal, even then the careful swain Looks keenly forward to the coming year, With Saturn's curved fang pursues and prunes The vine forlorn, and lops it into shape. Be first to dig the ground up, first to clear And burn the refuse-branches, first to house Again your vine-poles, last to gather fruit. Twice doth the thickening shade beset the vine, Twice weeds with stifling briers o'ergrow the crop; And each a toilsome labour.”- Virgil, The Georgics, a poem likely published in 29 BC

The only other place that a form of the word katharos appears in the New Testament is in Hebrews.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed (kekatharismenous, which is derived from katharos), would no longer have any consciousness of sins? – Hebrews 10:1,2 ESV

Previously in John 13, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. In John 13:10-11 ESV, the text reads

Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet; otherwise he is completely clean (katharos). And you are clean (katharoi)—but not all of you.” For He knew the one who was betraying Him; it was for this reason that He said, “Not all of you are clean (katharoi).”

The word “clean” here is katharos (SG2513). It says that Jesus cleansed his disciples’ feet—he didn’t prune them, not even their toenails!

The words for clean and cleansed are used many times in the New Testament and the Septuagint. The disciples were very familiar with the terms, clean and unclean, and the controversies raging among the Judean religious leaders at that time.

To take these verses in context, we look at the “bookends.” The first is in John 13, where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet and tells them that they are clean (katharós) already but need to have their feet washed. Jesus then commanded them to also wash each other’s feet.

The other “bookend” is in John 15, where he uses a vineyard metaphor, but he breaks off the metaphor by telling his disciples that the Father’s goal is for us to bear more fruit for his glory when he cleanses (kathairei) the branch that bears fruit, making it ritually clean!

Jesus then defines what this “cleansing” consists of:

  1. The disciples were already clean (katharos) through the word Jesus spoke to them.
  2. That you abide (menó, SG3306, stay, remain, wait) in Jesus and bear much fruit as a result, thus proving to be Jesus’ disciples.
  3. If you abide in him and Jesus’ words abide in you, then whatever you want, just ask.
  4. That you abide in Jesus’ love, which is keeping Jesus’ commandments just as Jesus kept his Father’s commandments.
  5. What are Jesus’ commandments? Here, Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:12 ESV, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Note the similarity of concept in “Blessed are the pure [katharos] in heart for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8 ESV

“Cleansing” is not done by pruning, but cleansing continually being accomplished by the Father as we are abiding in Jesus and his love, and keeping his commandments. As Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, we should also humble ourselves and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The “fruit” we should expect to bear in our lives is described in the following two passages:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:6-10 ESV

Does this mean that the Father never disciplines us? No, but that's not what Jesus was teaching his disciples in John 15.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.