Are Unfruitful Branches Lifted Up?

How to read John 15:2?

Here is possibly the worst verse in the Bible:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. (John 15:1-2, NIV)

I say worst verse because this is a very poor translation that changes the meaning of the original words. A better translation is, “He takes up or lifts every branch in me.”

If you’re not bearing fruit for Jesus, God helps you. He doesn’t lop you.

Several years ago I wrote an article entitled “What happens to unfruitful branches?” In it I argued that most Bibles get it wrong when they translate Christ’s words as cutting off or taking away branches. Lifting is better. (Full disclosure: I was inspired by a book written by Bruce Wilkinson called Secrets of the Vine.)

I wrote that article and moved on, but it turns out the cutting vs. lifting issue has become something of a hot potato. I had no idea until someone sent me this passage from a book: “No Free Grace publication produced any evidence from the ancient world that said that unfruitful vines or branches were ‘lifted up.’”

I was intrigued. You want evidence? I’ve got plenty.

A bit more digging revealed that this issue divides scholars into two camps: the cutters and the lifters. Which sounds like something out of Gulliver’s Travels.

I have no interest in stirring up dissension, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to answer some of the questions I have been asked about that old article.

1. Which English Bible has “lifted up”?

None of the major translations has it. Nearly every English Bible translates Christ as saying unfruitful branches are cut off or taken away, which is why this is a big issue: People don’t like it when you say the Bible is wrong.

Only the Bible is NOT wrong. John Wycliffe was. (Wycliffe is credited as having translated the first complete English Bible in the 14th century. Two hundred years later, the KJV translators adopted Wycliffe’s translation choice and so did everyone else.)

I polled non-English-speaking E2R readers and learned that Christ’s words are translated as cutting off/taken away in the following Bible translations: Afrikaans, German, Portuguese, Tagalog, Thai, Russian, Swedish, Spanish, Indonesian, Danish, Norwegian, French, Chinese (trad.), Japanese, Lithuanian, Italian, Welsh, Gaelic, and Swahili. I suspect many of these translations were inspired by the translation choices embedded in the KJV.

No Bible translation agrees with me, but I’m sticking to my guns: Jesus said, “Unfruitful branches in me are lifted”, not cut. They’re taken up, not taken away. (Update: Several readers have pointed out that the recent Passion Translation offers “lifted” or “takes up”. That’s a start.)

2. How dare you challenge hundreds of years of consistent translation?

I’m part of the question-everything generation, so I don’t see what the fuss is about. I encourage everyone to think for themselves. It’s healthy.

3. Seriously, are you a qualified Bible translator?

No. I don’t know any Greek words apart from agape and souvlaki. But I know how to drive a concordance.

The word in question is airo. This word has been translated as cut or take away in John 15:2, but look at how this word is translated elsewhere in the New Testament:

Mark 16:18 – They will pick up serpents…
Luke 5:24 – I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go…
Luke 17:13 – And they lifted up their voices and said…
John 5:8 – Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
John 11:41 – And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said…
Act 4:24 – And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord
Rev 10:5 – The angel … lifted up his right hand to heaven

In the New Testament, airo is more often translated as lifted/taken up than taken away.

4. Which translation does the context support?

In John 15, Jesus talks about two kinds of branches; those that abide in him (v.2) and those that don’t (v.6), and the latter are cast away. If the former are sometimes cast away as well, abiding makes no difference and the comparison breaks down.

In verse 2, Jesus compares fruitful and unfruitful branches, and says, “Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes.” To prune is to trim or cut. If both fruitful and unfruitful branches are cut, bearing fruit makes no difference and the comparison breaks down again.

So if unfruitful branches are treated differently, they cannot be cut or cast away. The only option left is for them to be lifted up. And this is what vinedressers actually do.

5. Are you a qualified vinedresser?

No, but the Wikipedia entry for vine training informs me that grapevines don’t produce fruit unless they are exposed to sunlight. If you don’t train/lift the branches, excessive shading will inhibit fruit production and encourage disease.

It’s the same with Christians. We need to see the Son to stay healthy and produce his fruit.

6. Is there any evidence of ancient vinedressers lifting up branches?

Yes. The Wikipedia article has this:

When the Greeks began to colonize southern Italy in the eighth century BC, they called the land Oenotria which could be interpreted as “staked” or land of staked vines.

The staking or lifting of vines is an ancient practice. “Grapevines have been trained for several millennia.” Indeed, the history of viticulture is the history of civilization.

7. I can’t accept Wikipedia as a credible source. Got any actual evidence?

Quite a lot, actually, and far too much to put in a blog article. For those who are interested, the full-length companion note that goes with this article can be found on my Patreon page.

In the note I examine the writings of Varro (116 – 27 BC), Columella (4 – 70 AD), Pliny the Elder (23 – 79AD), and other ancient scholars. These authors discuss that wonderful innovation, the trellis. In the words of Pliny, “When the trellis is employed, wine is produced in greater quantities.”

Vines don’t trellis themselves. A trellis implies a gardener taking care to lift up branches and provide support. The gardener does all the work, and the branches become fruitful as a result. What a beautiful picture of God helping us and lifting us up by his grace.

8. Pliny lived in Rome. Is there any evidence of trellises being used in first century Israel?

Yes, please see the bonus materials (on Patreon) that go with this article.

9. What would vinedressers use if they didn’t have a trellis?

A rock or a tree. In fact, before the invention of the trellis, vines were often trained to run up the trunks and branches of trees.

10. What about that verse that says “Every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and cast into the fire?”

Jesus is the tree that bears much fruit, but Jesus is not talking about trees in John 15; the subject is vines.

The distinguishing feature of vines is there is no separation between the vine and the branch (unlike a tree). It’s the same with us and Jesus.

If Christ were to cut us off and cast us away, he would be dismembering his own body. It’s not going to happen. Even “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).

11. What about John 15:6, which mentions branches being cast into the fire?

John 15:1-6 speaks of two kinds of branches – those that abide or have made their home in the Lord (believers, see 1 John 4:15) – and those that have not made their home in the Lord (unbelievers). Only the first kind, the “branches in me,” can bear the Lord’s fruit and here we are talking about what happens if they don’t. (They are lifted or taken up.)

12. Aren’t you spreading dangerous heresy?

By telling people that Jesus helps us bear his fruit? I don’t see how that is nearly as dangerous as threatening Christians with removal or damnation if they fail to perform. Bullying the bride of Christ seems unwise to me.

And to finish, here’s a question from me: If unfruitful branches are not lifted up, what happens to them?

Over the years I have heard from people who prefer the cutting off or taking away translation, but so far no one has told me what cutting off/taking away actually means for the unfruitful Christian. It cannot mean pruning because that’s what happens to fruitful branches. Nor can it mean being cast away because that’s what happens to those who aren’t part of the vine in the first place.

So what does it mean to take away an unfruitful branch? Nobody knows.

But here’s one thing we do know. Read John 15:2 as, “God casts off unfruitful Christians,” and you will have to discard 130+ scriptures that say he won’t.

For this reason, I maintain that unfruitful Christians are nurtured, not discarded; they are lifted up, not cast away.

“No branch can bear fruit by itself” (John 15:4). We all need the Lord’s help when it comes to bearing his fruit.


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75 Comments on Are Unfruitful Branches Lifted Up?

  1. Splendid!!!!

  2. Great article Paul. As a missionary in Africa we lived on a farm that grew grapes. I spoke to the owner many times about the secrets to growing good healthy grapes and the trellising thing is spot on. Without the vines access to the sun they could not bare fruit. Another fascinating thing I learned was that at times of extreme drought the vine would sacrifice itself to send all its nutrients into the fruit. There is so much more in these vine, branches, fruit metaphors than most realize.
    Blessings, Ed

  3. I loved this article, it is so freeing and lifts any condemnation or judgement from off the struggling christain. We can not bear fruit ourselves. it is Christ in us who bears the fruit!

  4. Thank You! I’ve always struggled with this verse. I just checked The Passion Translation — “He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches[a] and pruning[b] every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest.”

    • Thanks for that, Janet. In a comment under the bonus materials for this article, a patron pointed out that the NKJV also has “lifted up” in the margin notes for this verse.

      • Furthermore the Passion (my first time to read) also adds, The Greek phrase can also be translated “he takes up [to himself] every fruitless branch.” He doesn’t remove these branches, but he takes them to himself. As the wise and loving farmer, he lifts them up off the ground to enhance their growth. In the context, Christ’s endless love for his disciples on the last night of his life on earth seems to emphasize God’s love even for those who fail and disappoint him. Peter’s denial didn’t bring rejection from Jesus.
        The Greek word for “pruning,” kathairo, can also mean cleansing.

  5. This verse stopped me just yesterday, and I’ve been contemplating it since. (Coincidence? Yeah, don’t think so. I love God’s timing.) Thank you for this thought-provoking concept. I always appreciate your Scriptural support, and will continue to dig. The verses about Jesus asking for one more year to cultivate the fruitless tree also comes to mind for this. Thanks, Paul! I love how you always challenge me and make me think about Scripture from all the facets of the diamond that it is!

    • Erin Messina // July 2, 2019 at 7:37 am // Reply

      Because it usually says “cut off” and I thought God would do away with me because I have strayed.

  6. Stephen L. // May 2, 2018 at 2:03 am // Reply

    Paul, I think you’ve been following me around! Just last week I was watching a Bill Johnson message (2018 Abide and Listen on youtube) about this very passage! What Bill was saying was that the pruning Jesus does is by renewing our mind or our thinking to the Truth. For example, after the disciples came back from being sent out with power and authority to heal and cast out demons, they started to argue about who was the greatest (Luke 9). Jesus corrected their thinking by saying that the one who is least among them is the greatest. By so doing, he pruned away their wrong thinking. After reading your article, I now see that He not only prunes us in this way, but He also LIFTS US UP to a higher place in Him! Thank you so much for sharing this Truth with us! May God continue to give you divine revelation of His Word!

  7. So so so good! A friend of mine says that when his wife bears fruit, ( has children) he doesn’t want it to be just anyone’s fruit, he wants it to be his! And for that, he must stay connected to her!

    I was dismayed to read yesterday that Charles Spurgeon is quoted to have said that God gives us a vision then takes us to the valley and batters us to form us into that vision. That is heresy in my view.

  8. Free in Jesus // May 2, 2018 at 2:27 am // Reply

    Jesus helps his people bear fruit without question but your arguments are flawed. Section 4. Contrary to your argument, Abiding branches are never taken out or removed. So your argument fails. Stating that, abiding makes no difference, confuses people.

    If unfruitful branches are treated differently? You just stated that they are treated differently! Now you are arguing exact opposite. It boggles the mind even to try to answer this statement. I believe your theology comes from a very narrow believe system, it must be the once saved always saved doctrine that teaches easy believism.

    If the vine and branches are indistinguishable then how does one lift up a branch? More confusion.
    Didn’t Jesus give a clear distinction when he said I am the vine you are the branch?

    Section 10. Jesus is the tree that bears fruit.? Doesn’t it say the branches bear the fruit? Your reasoning is not consistent but bounces all over the place. In order to prove one point I would have to prove 500 other points.

    • What do you believe in then, hard believism?

    • Free in Jesus, The branches can do nothing apart from the Vine. The Vine keeps the branches alive because the roots are in the ground. The whole Vine is in Son Light. The fruit is borne on the branches. Vines get cut way back each year to make them bear good fruit. It is the Vine that supports the branches and the care of the vine’s branches that makes bearing fruit great quality. The Vine Himself is Who has what it takes to make the best of us all, who depend upon God in Christ Jesus, fruitful. Our True Vine will never let us down, or stop loving us, wanting the best for us, or be unwilling to support us forever.

  9. Chris Miller // May 2, 2018 at 3:05 am // Reply

    Hello Dr. Ellis – As I read this post, I originally discounted what you were saying given the fact you were questioning the version of the Bible that sustained the body for centuries. Once I got past that and did a quick study of the passage, I noticed something very interesting. I am also from the question-everything generation and I have a question. What if the assumption that verses 1 and 2 of John 15 are about believers is wrong? I mean, all life (lost and saved) is sourced in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-17) and there is a “vine of the earth”(Revelation 14:18). Jesus seems to shifts gears in John 15:3 and address the disciples and explain in greater detail. If this is the case, then the Father, would in fact, be taking away the fruitless branches and throwing them in the fire. Just a thought.

    • Another interesting interpretation I have heard, is that Jesus is speaking of the nation of Israel, who cut themselves off through unbelief. However, I like to read this one at face value because of what Jesus says to the disciples: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Thanks for the comment.

    • For it is God that works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure Philippians 2:13
      Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit John 15:8

  10. Nice! You heretic! How far from the word will you stray…ur..oh…well…um..I am looking at my Greek tools and, uh,wait…OK, You might be right. By George! You are right. How can this be? I have been taught just the opposite and have taught it myself. Now I have to recant, re-study and re-write a ton. Thanks a lot. OK enough silly talk. I want to thank you, again, for bringing much needed light to another dark corner in our Christian universe. Wow! Powerful, life changing and so deeply appreciated. Great job. Please keep it coming.

  11. Jeff Roberts // May 2, 2018 at 3:13 am // Reply

    Thank you. I discovered just this thing one week ago! And found all the other times the word is used in the NT where cutting off makes NO SENSE!! My wife immediately said to me, “Oh, so you’re smarter than every translator?” Yikes, there’s the arrow from the enemy. But it is illogical any other way, and leaves us confused about whether our salvation can stick….

  12. Following

  13. Keith Pinke // May 2, 2018 at 3:40 am // Reply

    Paul I have to agree with you on the meaning of these scriptures. To read them as many have for years means the entire nature of Christ as written is incorrect. I lean on Psalm 55:22 where He says to cast our burdens upon the Lord and he will sustain you; but He will never let the righteous fall. Those are two huge promises that would mean nothing. The minute I was saved I was made righteous.

  14. “I like the way you think”

  15. Christian Walder // May 2, 2018 at 3:56 am // Reply

    The Passion Translation tells the same😀

  16. Erin Messina // May 2, 2018 at 4:36 am // Reply

    Thank you Paul! I was afraid of that verse.

  17. Love this! Knowing God is not about being a great theologian. We can know Him well enough to answer this question without knowing the meaning in the original language. Although having a solid translation does help many people.

  18. tonycutty // May 2, 2018 at 5:45 am // Reply

    Yet another great article turning the harsh doctrines of the stone-hearted on their heads. “If both fruitful and unfruitful branches are cut, bearing fruit makes no difference and the comparison breaks down again.” The harsh, of course, don’t want us to know that. They want everyone to be insecure in their salvation, goodness knows why. “… two camps: the cutters and the lifters.” Naturally, the ‘Once saved, still not saved’ brigade want some way of threatening precious believers into fear-based belief. Here is just the verse/translation for those people – perfect!

  19. Great article Paul!

    In my view, ‘abiding’ is positional (in Christ) not conditional (of the law)!

    There are numerous verses to support this:

    1 Jn 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit!

    Jn 8:35 A slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever!

    1 Jn 2:27 The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you!

    1 Jn 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God!

  20. The book by Gary Derickson and Earl Radmacher “The Disciplemaker” supports this view as well. And the NKJV has this translation in a textual note.

  21. Ron Carlson // May 2, 2018 at 8:46 am // Reply

    Paul, there is one translation that agrees with your understanding, The Passion Translation. In the notes, it states the Greek may be translated both ways. That being said, I agree with the “lifted up”. However, some of the subsequent questions you raise are beyond the scope of the teaching. The questions merit understanding the Father’s judgment. His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours, at best, we’re guessing. What we do know from the parable is about connectedness to Christ. Apart from being in Christ, abiding in a reciprocal relationship, we can do nothing. All of our adequacies before the Father reside IN HIM. 2Cor. 3:4-6 Our best thoughts, good intentions, and efforts, apart from being enjoined with his thoughts and the Father’s good deeds are meaningless. Knowing Jesus and his ways, through grace, trains us in righteousness. It lifts us up into our identity in Christ, becoming fruitful. Blessings!

    • Thanks Ron. I am, by default, reluctant to challenge the translation of scripture, so I have been encouraged by comments on this thread showing that some translations, such as the Passion, do, in fact, have lifted up.

      • Ron Carlson // May 3, 2018 at 4:52 am //

        I hear you, and can relate. Another translation difficulty is Eph. 2:8-10. The translations rendering the last part of the passage, ‘so we may DO them’ are presumptive. More accurately, the verse reads, ‘so we may WALK in them,’ which means to tread around in, walk at large; figuratively, to live a positive lifestyle, to follow, as in a companion partnership. The definition contains lifestyle elements, involving training and discovery, until we come into a confidence and assurance based on the integrity of God and our partnership with him. It is about being. This is totally different than mere doing in our best efforts..

  22. Kath M. Wells // May 2, 2018 at 9:02 am // Reply

    Yes, thank you Paul. It seems a simple thing to look at how the word is used elsewhere and see it must mean ‘lifted up’. Why people insist on threatening and discouraging believers is beyond me. You are doing the great work of ‘lifting up’ others. Good one!

  23. Excellent as always! In Spanish I have one version called LA BIBLIA TEXTUAL (BTX) which reads “lifted up”, I must add that this is the only version that translates this word this way . . . Grace and Peace

      • How has everyone gotten hung up on this topic? Not one person has noted that grapevines get severely pruned each year because the new growth is what bears the grapes, so most of the vine is cut off and no one has mentioned this. I think everyone is carrying this too far and it’s become like a runaway train. Grapevines are not left to run where they want to. They’re all cut way back except for the main trunk and the new growth bears the fruit. If branches were simply lifted up, the vine would be a hot mess in no time and the quality of the fruit would be compromised. Our God is a loving God and we are part of Jesus’ body on earth. God is not a God of trickery and Someone Who is just sitting there waiting for us to slip up so He can send us to hell. God is not willing that anyone be lost. I was never taught that God is Someone Who is looking to send us to hell, just the opposite of that. All my life I’ve seen Him as my only hope. I ignore fire and brimstone preachers who preach hell and damnation to saved people. God is No One to mess with. You try to match wits with Him and use Him unrightfully and it won’t go well for you. Love Him and lean on His great love and you’ll be all right.

      • Hi Vivian, yes, Jesus says fruitful vines are pruned so that they may bear even more fruit. Our focus here is what he says in regards to unfruitful vines.

  24. Thank you. What wonderful insight. This makes lovely and perfect sense. God’s grace never fails to amaze me. We left a church we’d been part of – my husband since childhood and me since my early twenties – because staying was becoming unbearable. Now and again since then (+12 years) I have wondered if we’d been ‘cut off’ but our faith runs deep … I hope.
    That this … Jesus, through His Spirit, helps us in our weaknesses/infirmities. This way no one can boast they fulfil God’s will by their OWN ‘power’. If we could then why would we need Him as Saviour? This is further proof that walking by faith is what pleases God and the way to be truly free. We are His workmanship in Christ Jesus. I am away to look up a concordance to get this burned into my brain so I can encourage others of God’s love for mankind. Thank you again.

  25. Hi Paul, I agree with your perspective. I thought you might be encouraged that there is one newer translation that translates it as lift up. One of the pastors at my church shared it with me.

    Passion Translation… Dr. Brian Simmons translated it as “”He takes up (to Himself) every fruitless branch.”

  26. Thanks Paul. As a professional Christian counselor my entire workweek consists of serving as God’s instrument in helping languishing Christians become flourishing branches on the Vine. That typically starts by lifting them up off the ground, cleaning them off, and then getting them mounted on the trellis of the daily spiritual disciplines until they are abiding in Jesus-the-Vine and bearing much fruit without my help.

  27. Ugochukwu Odimba // May 2, 2018 at 11:48 am // Reply

    Wow! Such a clear explanation. I’ve always believed that the believer is not cut off but instead they are lifted/supported. However, I’ve not seen it so explained before. Also verse 6 of the John 15 has been problematic for me until now. Thanks so much.

  28. Greetings!
    Thank You Sir, for a most inspirational, edifying and joyous lesson for these verses of John. Your efforts made the interpretation and understanding, of a “troublesome” portion of Scripture, abundantly and completely clear. Im looking forward to Your future teachings.
    Warmest Regards and Blessings

  29. Peter Marshall // May 2, 2018 at 1:57 pm // Reply

    Hi Paul great article btw have you come across The Mirror Bible? you will love the rendering of John 15.

  30. Kathleen Lawrence // May 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    Hi Paul.
    Yes I have also read Bruce Wilkinson very very good.
    The version that I read is the mirror Bible! ! Translation by Francious du Toit at the moment it is still a work in progress no OT but a large portion of the New. Has been recomended by a few well known ministries.
    The Mirror Translates exactly as you have said and goes into the greek a little deeper, and with most of the translation he gives you an explanation of how he came to what he says. Very good Bible if you like to study the Word.
    You can dowload it from amazon and also on your phone I think it is play store.
    Thank you Paul for your insight its the same old same old the law people just love for us to be so afraid we do something wrong that we will get cut off. “Oh we will miss the rapture if we do not bear much fruit ” What a lie!

  31. Doug Hignell // May 3, 2018 at 2:19 am // Reply

    Great post. My current favorite translation is The Passion. It says “He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest.” There is also a footnote to that verse than expands the lifting up concept.

  32. Eddie Livingston // May 3, 2018 at 3:21 am // Reply

    Paul – The Abbott-Smith lexicon lists the first meaning of airein as “lift up, take up, pick up” (p.13), which supports your view. This makes the best sense! (Ref. Beyond Calvinism & Arminianism, An Inductive Mediate Theology of Salvation, 3rd Ed., C. Gordon Olson, 2012, p. 217, endnote 4).

  33. Unfortunately for you the Greek verb (airei), seen in other contexts has a more radical meaning of ‘taking away” not lifting up. Satan does not lift up the Word.Mark 4:15 V-PIA-3S…

    • As I mention in the article, the word airo is sometimes translated taken away but more often taken up. Since you prefer the former translation, perhaps you could tell us what it means to take away an unfruitful branch. Jesus said we are the branches. If we are to be taken away, what did he have in mind?

    • Jared Westendorp // May 4, 2018 at 12:22 am // Reply

      Hi Ray. Being in the middle of this study (trying to glean from multiple sources for help) on John chp 15 on and off for a couple weeks now. I noticed what you wrote here and it helped me search this out more.

  34. Christine // May 3, 2018 at 7:20 am // Reply

    Great article!

    The Mirror Bible translated from the Greek by Francois du Toit also says ‘lifted up’ and has comprehensive notes about the vinedresser etc.

  35. Linda Manning // May 3, 2018 at 8:34 am // Reply

    That’s just one of the reasons why I love The Passion Translation – “He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest” John 15:2 TPT

  36. A different interpretation about the “Fruitless Branch” … heard this preached by Pastor Joseph Prince too – “Lifting Up” instead of “Cutting Off”.

  37. Andrew Thomas // May 3, 2018 at 2:38 pm // Reply

    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and Hope!

  38. Tony Allen // May 4, 2018 at 1:50 am // Reply

    Paul, you’re the man. Thanks for your articles and willingness to stand your ground. I’m a Pastor who is attempting to preach free grace in a church that doesn’t necessarily want to hear it and your courage alone is an encouragement to me.

  39. It seems to me many are missing the main contextual point. John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. Personally I don’t have much joy over being cut off. Thanks for your article Paul

  40. I have watched a lot of videos on Youtube on vine dressing…it’s clear from all the videos that branches cannot bear/CARRY fruit if they’re on the ground; they have to be LIFTED up/trained up using trellis system. Thank you for the great article.

    • I apologise if this comment seems too long. Here’s what I learnt from the vinedressers:

      1. The trellis system is set up first before the planting
      2. Growing branches are discouraged from bearing/carrying fruit until they get to the top trellis through pruning/training
      3. A healthy vine, functionally, has branches that don’t carry fruit and those that carry fruit
      4. Vinedressers have to lift up/train branches while they are not carrying fruit
      5. Once the branches get to the required level or top trellis then they start coiling around it
      6. The stocks that are coiled around the top horizontal trellis are encouraged/pruned to grow along the trellis and to carry much fruit

      If one doesn’t believe that Jesus said that “the Father lifts up the fruitless branches” I would recommend visiting a vinedresser for a lecture 😉

    • Erin Messina // July 3, 2019 at 10:21 am // Reply

      Thanks Vusi for sharing!!! It helps me a lot!!!

  41. Ruth Coulthard // May 4, 2018 at 7:03 pm // Reply

    Excellent. Thank you Paul for taking the trouble to so diligently spell this out. A beautiful pastor I knew, who has since gone to be with the Lord, also saw this truth and shared it with his small flock. A fine example of feeding sheep and bringing life instead of condemnation. Please keep chipping away at the legalistic, damaging interpretations of scripture that have bound us for too long. Thank you!

  42. Great article. Clarifying that unfruitful branches are not the same thing as branches that are not connected (not abiding) was very helpful. I wonder if people struggle with this because: A, they don’t imagine all Christians are always being assisted in this way and B, they assume being unfruitful to be a permanent condition. I’ve concluded in my reading of Luther, that he believed it was impossible for a person to have faith without works. People also get hung-up on what that fruit looks like. Sometimes bearing fruit is being a loving, faithful spouse or a diligent honest employee.

  43. I’m glad the Passion Translation gets this right. But before you all run out and buy it, be aware that it is for the most part NOT a translation but a paraphrase.

  44. Love you Paul Ellis! Thanks for ALL! i too am a question everything believer….and you always answer all my questions.

  45. Cindy Zielke // May 7, 2018 at 7:33 am // Reply

    ‘Lessons From a Venetian Vinedresser’ by Robert Scott Stiner describes John 5:1-9 as the ‘clearest image that we have in the Bible about the relationship between God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the believers in Christ.’ For me it was a look at the process of growing up in Him by remaining connected to Him and depicted the fellowship of believers supporting one another. Paul, I appreciated your rendering of the Greek word airo. The Lover of my soul lifts up.

  46. Dennis Njoku // May 9, 2018 at 1:31 pm // Reply

    This is great and detailed in explanation. Thanks for taking the time to unveil God’s word in the light of redemption.

  47. gracedout // May 11, 2018 at 2:38 am // Reply

    Excellent post!
    I want to mention that Dr. Charles Ryrie (author of The Ryrie Study Bible) also understood airo to mean that the believer is encouraged or “lifted up” in this life.

  48. whiti emile // June 11, 2018 at 8:34 am // Reply

    Love it, I first heard about this through PS JP was blown away, so encouraging to know that if we fall short we are lifted up and not cut off……..

  49. Melissa Oaks // June 14, 2018 at 6:25 am // Reply

    I absolutely love everything you post! Your thinking is exactly like mine. It is so good to be able to find someone who understands the deeper things of God and takes the time to dig in deep and truly anylize everything. This is what every teacher of the word of God is supposed to do but so many don’t. They just take it at a glance and assume it means whatever their first impression was. The bible says study to show yourself approved. A lot of what we are being taught is so damaging to spiritual growth and peace. We are told, let the peace of God rule in your hearts. What peace? What pea e is there is we have to keep wondering if we are measuring up? If we can’t afford to have a bad day or week or month or year where we are struggling even to trust God or struggling with some sin? If we can’t afford to have weaknesses because we might lose our salvation if we don’t “measure up”. What peace is there in that? Does that sound like peace? The only true peace we may have is to trust upon the perfect righteousness of Christ our advocate, our righteousness, sanctification and redemption. That is sold ground! All other ground is sinking sand! Those who are proud and self-righteous deceive themselves into thinking that they have any security or hope in their own performance. They like to assume that they are just good enough to keep God happy, or else live in fear. But God has given us no basis for either attitude. He has given us Christ who expelled all pride and all fear at once. Amen!

    • Thanks Paul, i am always scared any time i read this passage in the scripture ,and they always tell us that if we didn’t win soul for Christ He will cut us off. This statement make us to be more afraid of God.

    • It seems that people are worried that they could lose their salvation? Do you get anything about it by considering the whole chapter? I’m sure you have done that and am just wondering.

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