Paul's Passing Thoughts

John 15 – A Sanctification Passage

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 4, 2016

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” ~ John 15:1-3

This metaphor of the vineyard would have been clearly understood by the disciples in this culture. When caring for a grapevine, pruning is the single-most important step in getting a grapevine to produce the greatest amount of fruit. As a vine grows, you have the main trunk of the vine and then you have branches coming off the main vine. The branches produce canes, and it is from the canes that the fruit grows and develops. Once those canes have fruited, they are done. They won’t produce any more fruit. So you have to cut back those canes so that the branches will grow new canes to produce new fruit.

If a vinedresser (husbandman) wants his vines to produce the most grapes, he prunes the vines very aggressively during the vines’ dormant period, usually cutting away up to 90% of the previous season’s growth. The plant is then able to put all its strength back into producing new canes that will produce more fruit that year. The more you prune, the more fruit you get. So when you prune a grapevine, you are in fact literally “cleansing” the branches.

In the above passage, the words translated “purgeth” and “clean” come from the same root word meaning “to cleanse”. This is a description of the continual sanctification of the believer. Jesus even makes this clear by stating in verse 3, “you are clean through the word.” In John 17:17, Jesus even prays to the Father “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.”

Jesus had previously introduced this aspect of sanctification when He washed the disciples’ feet in John 13, using two different words for “wash”. After Peter’s initial refusal, he then insists that Jesus wash him from head to foot (mistaking what Jesus was doing as a ceremonial washing before a feast, in this case, observing the Passover). But Jesus told Peter in verse 10,

“He that is washed (λουω “loo-oh”, a bath, to wash the entire person) needeth not save to wash (νιπτω “nip-toh”, to cleanse, especially with regard to the hands and face) his feet”

Here Jesus was making the distinction between justification (cleansing the entire person – ie, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, washing of regeneration – and making him righteous through the new birth) which happens one time, and sanctification (a foot washing, cleansing by the word that produces more fruit in the believer) something that occurs to the believer throughout his life in which he is a participant and is also to aid other believers with (“ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” – John 13:14)

How are you washing the feet of other believers today?


One Response

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  1. Christian said, on January 4, 2016 at 9:50 AM

    Enjoyed this so much!


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