Abide in Me as I Abide in You: Lesson One, Part One

I hope that everyone had the time and pleasure of really getting intimate with John 15.   I was so blessed through this process, and can hardly contain my enthusiasm for what the Lord has shown me!  If you are a newcomer, I suggest you read “Solid Food Series Introduction” and “Abide In Me as I Abide In You:  Preparation”.

Because of the length of this lesson, I have decided to break it into three parts:  Part One:  The Symbolism in the Natural World, Part Two:  The Spiritual Implications, and Part Three:  The Practical Application.  I’m sure that keeping these posts brief will please most if not all of my readers!

I want to start by defining some terms so that we can more accurately interpret the text.  I will use the KJV as the standard text and work from there back to the Greek.  I am not going to go over every word…I don’t want to bore you, but I am including the words that demand amplification.  If you have already done a word study, or you just can’t take the time to look at the Greek definitions, then scroll down to the main body of the article.  As the other lessons are posted, you will want to have this definition-key handy, so feel free to cut-and-paste it or print it out.  I guarantee you that as the lessons progress, you will want to have the definitions close by because some of what I will teach will catch you off-guard and make you question some preconceived notions.  My job here is to educate, not to indoctrinate; therefore, you must take personal accountability for educating yourself and checking my statements with not only Scripture in context but also with the Greek Lexicon.

  • True:  Greek transliterated word Alethinos, Strong’s # 228
    • Definition:  that which has not only the same name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name, in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real, true genuine…contrasts realities with their semblances
    • Root word in transliterated Greek is  Alethes, Strong’s # 227
      • Definition: loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful
      • Word Origin in transliterated Greek is Lanthano, Strong’s #2990
        • Definition:  to be hidden, to be hidden from one, secretly, unawares, without knowing.
        • Very important to note that the Greek word Lanthano plus the negative addition makes “true” to mean un-hidden or not secret any longer.  A very important note when speaking in spiritual language
  • Beareth:  Greek transliterated word Phero, Strong’s # 5342
    • Definition:  to carry, to carry some burden, to bear with one’s self…to move by bearing; move or, to be conveyed or borne, with the suggestion of force or speed.
    • Word Origin:  a primary verb
    • This suggests that to bear fruit requires an action on our part; the opposite would be that it requires no action on our part.  The action is to move or convey with an assumed force.  Again, very important in our discussion!
  • Purgeth:  Greek transliterated word Kathairo, Strong’s # 2508
    • Definition:  to cleanse of filth, impurity, etc. or to prune trees and vines from useless shoots.
    • Word Origin in transliterated Greek is Katharos, Strong’s # 2513
      • Definition:  clean, pure physically, purified by fire; in a similitude, like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit; in a Levitical sense, to clean…the use of which is not forbidden, imparts no uncleanness ethically; free from corrupt desire, sin and guilt.
        • Note:  I know that my initial response to the word “prune” was one of being “trimmed” like you would a hedge or tree.  The actual definition is more descriptive and opens up a purpose behind the action.  To be pruned then is to be purified or cleansed, not just to prune in an agricultural sense to produce two nodes where there was just one node.  That may be part of what the Lord is saying, but to leave it at my own preconception of the meaning of the word “prune” is insufficient to shed the proper amplified light.
  • Abide:  Greek transliterated word Meno, Strong’s #3306
    • Definition:  to remain or abide in reference to place; not to depart or to continue to be present; to be held, kept, continually; to remain as one, not to become another or different.
    • This word is a root word
    • Branches:  Greek transliterated word Klema, Strong’s #2814
      • Definition: a tender and flexible branch
      • Word Origin:  Greek transliterated word Klao, Strong’s #2806
        • Definition:  to break; used in the New Testament of the breaking of bread or communion.
        • Note:  An amazing root word don’t you think?  That a branch as we think of it as offshoot of the vine is derived from a root word that implies the communion!  That is an astounding implication isn’t it?
  • Word:  Greek transliterated word Logos, Strong’s #3056   or Rhema, Strong’s #4487
    • Definitions:  I will deal with the difference between the two in the body of the teaching.  Logos is used in verse 3 as “you are clean through the logos which I have spoken to you; and rhema is used in verse 7 as “…my rhema abide in you”.  The implications are literally life changing to say the least!
  • Comforter:  Greek transliterated word Parakletos, Strong’s #3875
    • Definition:  summoned, called to one’s side, especially called to one’s aid; one who pleads another’s cause; an advocate; the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with apostles to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to undergo trials and persecutions.
    • Note:  In verse 26, the Parakletos is actually defined by Christ as the Pneuma of truth.  The form of “truth” is the same as “true” in the phrase “true vine”, and pneuma(Strong’s #4151) is capitalized and is defined as follows:
      • The third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son; sometimes referred to in a way which emphasis his personality and character (the\\Holy\\Spirit) and sometimes referred to in a way which emphasizes his work and power (the Spirit of\\Truth\\)…never referred to as a depersonalized force.
      • Word Origin:  Greek transliterated root word pneo, Strong’s #4154, meaning to breathe, to blow; of the wind.
  • Keep:  The Greek transliterated word tereo, Strong’s #5083
    • Definition:  to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard
    • Special Note:  tereo is used in the New Testament 75 times and carries with it some different connotations.  For instance, when Christ was crucified, the soldiers present watched Him, or observed Him as to guard Him; it carries an implied observation with the fleshly eyes in the tangible world, and also an observation with the spiritual eyes, ie.  To keep a guard or watch by keeping one’s “eyes” fixed upon.  I hate to over complicate this but my first impression of “keep my commandments” is to simply obey those commandments, but that is an oversimplification!  The root word of tereo is theoreo (Strong’s #2334) which means to be a spectator, look at, behold; to view mentally, consider; and to see.  The implication here is that by beholding, one is keeping; in other words, if you want to obey His commandments, you must behold them!  I will touch on this theme in the body of the lesson, but understand that what you think you know might not be as complete as you think…I know I was taken by surprise when I learned this truth!

Part One

The Symbolism In The Natural World

I love the fact that Jesus uses plants, agriculture, and seasons to represent His Kingdom and our relationship with Him.  I happen to have a B.S. in Horticulture, so it tickles me even more; and, no, I didn’t pursue horticulture so I could understand the symbolism better!  Although, a little research or working knowledge helps, just like if you do a little research on how people lived during the days the parables were told, you would come to a more complete picture of what the Master is trying to draw.  Christ’s use of the “true vine” is a highly visual and scientifically significant metaphor.  I challenge each of you to continue to contemplate, visualize, and expand upon the metaphor, but I will brush-stroke a few for our purposes.

Let’s start with the relationships.  I think we all can understand the primary relationships as presented by John’s recorded words of Christ:  The Father is the vinedresser or husbandman; He is the one in charge, He is the one that cares for the vine, He is the originator, He is the one that has planted the vine, and He is the one that ultimately claims ownership of the vine.  Jesus is the vine; He is the root and the foundation, He is the support structure, He is the one “planted”, He is the “stock” vine, and He carries all of the supplies to the branches whether it be water or nutrients.  Believers (and I do make a distinction here between believers and disciples for obvious reasons…some don’t stay…sad, but true) are the branches, they are the extension, they are the parts that continue to grow, they are the ones that produce the actual fruit, they are the ones that require the most attention, and they are the parts that can exist only by being part of the vine.  For example, the vine can exist with or without most of its branches, but the branches cannot exist without the vine.

Now that the relationships have been horticulturally established, we now must enter into the life processes of the vine.  The vine needs to be established in its root system:  the roots give the vine support, the roots extract water from the soil, and the roots extract nutrients from the soil as well.  Please note that energy cannot be sustained by the roots and main stalk without the branches (which contain the leaves) and their ability to produce energy through photosynthesis.  Ponder that for a moment.  The vine cannot sustain itself without the branches; it would cease to exist.  What does this say about the relationship?  One point is this:  the metaphor of the vine is used very much on purpose and conveys a dependency on each part to the other if not in whole, at least in part.  The purpose for the vine is to produce fruit; the shared purpose of the branches is to produce fruit.  They cannot produce fruit independent of each other.  Sometimes throughout history I feel the branches have been disproportionately few compared to the deep root system of Christ.  Most of us know that if you take and establish a plant of any sort and completely remove all of its branches, leaves, and nodes, it oftentimes will spring back to life simply by the health of the root system!  Also, one can prune all the branches but a very few and the plant will rejuvenate.  But if the main stalk is damaged or the root system is damaged, then the growth is not only limited, but produces “deformed” or sickly branches.  And obviously, if the root system or the main stalk is destroyed, then the branches will be destroyed as well.  Let us take a moment to praise our God for being a perfect, good, and awesome vine!  Ask yourself this question:  “Have you ever seen man-made systems grow vigorously and then wither away?  Have you ever noticed what appeared to be a healthy, established movement or what some would refer to as “spreading like wildfire” and then over time just fades away?”  These are good examples of “vines” with bad root systems…they are doomed to eventual failure because Jesus said, “I am the true vine” and all other vines are “untrue” or “false” vines.

So the basic structure for life process is established by the organization or construction of the vine.  Now we move into what vines do:  they grow, they flower, and they produce fruit.  To grow, the vine needs a healthy root system secured into fertile soil, a water source, and sunlight.  To flower, the vine must be healthy and is subject to the season designated for flowering.  All plants that bear fruit go through seasons of growth just as the earth is established in weather seasons.  The three basic seasons are what are referred to as the vegetative cycle (the growing of leaves, branches, girth of the base, etc), the flowering cycle, and the fruiting cycle.  Let us be mindful of this and contemplate the importance of seasons.  The vine just doesn’t immediately produce fruit!  It requires the branches to grow and produce more leaves for more energy and to prepare themselves for bearing fruit; it requires that flowers be “attractive” and fragrant to attract pollinators and the number of flowers that open up for pollination will directly affect the amount of fruit produced, and it requires that the branches produce healthy fruit.  Impatience is not an option because seasons are seasons, order is order, and we as branches cannot control this part of maturing; and furthermore, the stalk and root system cannot control this part of the maturing either.  It is directed by the God-given or spoken word of His laws.  Or simply put, it is what it is!  So we should understand the time and process necessary to reach a harvest of fruit.  Take some time to ask yourself some questions:  “What season am I in right now?”, “As I reflect on my life, how many cycles of seasons can I remember?”, and “Am I impatient or am I willing to stay in God’s rhythm of seasons?”

Finally, let us briefly discuss what it means to “purgeth”, “purge”, or “prune”.  As I stated in the above definitions of words, we find that our (or at least my) idea of what is meant by pruning may not be a full understanding of the text.  To prune as defined by the Greek text is to purify, to cleanse, and to free from sin and guilt.  We often misuse this word to exclusively connote a painful “cutting back”.  For instance, I have heard some say, “Well, the Lord has really pruned that church!” when they hear that many have left or quit a church.  This may be one facet of the meaning, but it is not the whole picture.  In essence and in a very practical way, pruning is a process of removing pests, addressing diseases, cleaning the leaves of molds and fungi, and yes, removing wilted or diseased leaves.  And in another sense of the word, at least horticulturally speaking, it can mean cutting back at a node to produce more flowers which ultimately produces more fruit.  But we must take the Greek as it is and not take it beyond the bounds of the definition.  So let us embrace the meaning of what Christ is saying and fully accept that pruning, as used here in John 15, is to cleanse, to purge, and to in essence keep the branches healthy.  Take some time to ask yourself these questions:  “What do I need to be cleansed from?”, “What pests or diseases are affecting my health as a Christian?”, and “Am I a healthy branch, and if not, how do I allow the Vinedresser to bring me back to health?”

I will leave you with this.  Meditate on the implications of what fruit actually is.  Fruit is meant to be eaten or to be consumed or has a purpose to fulfill.  One doesn’t produce fruit for fruit’s sake!  The fruit also carries the new seeds.  Think about the parables that include seeds.  All seeds are contained in the fruit (for fruit bearing plants).  I will touch on this in the Part Two of this lesson.  Take some time to read and meditate even more on John 15 and see if the Spirit doesn’t shed some additional light into your soul!

Until next lesson, may our Lord bless you with peace, joy, and most of all love…