For years we have had this collection of short articles posted on line and we slowly add to them as new topics come up. We don't claim to have all the answers, but we're sharing how we see things. As we all share, our perspectives are widened, and it becomes easier to lay aside fear and dead religion and to choose instead pathways of freedom, boldness, life, and love. We hope you enjoy the mythbusters.
Myth # 4 -- If you don't bear fruit, you'll get chopped off.
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. --John 15:1-2, King James Version
This verse has brought fear into the lives of countless believers because of bad translation. The problem begins with the Greek word, 'airo'. Its usual meaning is “to raise, to lift up”; "to take away" is a secondary meaning. He will not “take it away” if it does not bear fruit! The context is the same passage where Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you,” and “Let not your heart be troubled.” Anyone who knows grapes will tell you that a branch will not bear fruit if it falls into the dirt— it must be raised, lifted back up onto the trellis, not removed!
Unfortunately, the NASB and the NKJV repeat this error, and then compound it by choosing the harshest possible meaning for the next phrase: Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. --NASB and NKJV
Now we have the Father removing the branches that fail-- and cutting those that succeed down to a nub! You can't win! However, since cutting and removing is done to dead branches after the growing season is over, it is not what Jesus meant here. Living branches are not “pruned”-- the plant would go into shock and be unable to bear at all. But allowing the leaves to become coated with dust and dirt reduces the crop, so the vinedresser cleans/washes them.
The Greek word 'kathairo' that's translated "to prune" has a usual meaning of “to cleanse”. “To prune” is a secondary meaning at best--
it's not even mentioned as a possibility in one of the best Greek dictionaries. 'Kathairo' comes from a root word that means “clean, pure”. Jesus actually uses this same root word in the very next verse:
"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." -- John 15:3
It would make no sense to say, “You are already pruned because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Neither does it make sense for a vinedresser to prune living branches. God cleanses us with the water of the Word— He doesn’t chop limbs off.
Don’t let your heart be troubled. Here’s a better translation:
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He lifts up from where it has fallen; and every branch that bears fruit He cleanses, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you."