What is the Fruit in John 15:5?

In John 15:5, Jesus says “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

What is the “fruit” that Jesus has in view here? Here is a helpful exposition of the text from DA Carson, from his The Gospel according to John:

There has been considerable dispute over the nature of the “fruit” that is envisaged [in this text]: the fruit, we are told, is obedience, or new converts, or love, or Christian character.

These interpretations are reductionistic. The branch’s purpose is to bear much fruit (v. 5), but the next verses show that this fruit is the consequence of prayer in Jesus’ name, and is to the Father’s glory (vv. 7, 8, 16).

This suggests that the “fruit” in the vine imagery represents everything that is the product of effective prayer in Jesus’ name, including obedience to Jesus’ commands (v. 10), experience of Jesus’ joy (v. 11 – as earlier his peace, 14:27), love for one another (v. 12), and witness to the world (vv. 16, 27).

This fruit is nothing less than the outcome of persevering dependence on the vine, driven by faith, embracing all of the believer’s life and the product of his witness.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    A timely post as I was just thinking about this in the last day or so. While you’ve discussed the fruit here – I find the second part of the verse to be enlightening as well. It’s not just that we can bear much fruit, but that apart from Jesus we can do NOTHING.
    Being apart from Jesus does not mean that we bear a tiny amount of fruit that would have been more plentiful had we known the Savior. No, apart from Jesus, nothing – absolutely nothing – gets done.

    Now it’s interesting to think that those apart from Christ still get married and have children. They still work to produce things that help other people. They still have charitable impulses and give of their time and money to seemingly worthy causes. But yet Jesus tells us that these activities are nothing.

    I think many people then apply this verse incorrectly. They divide the world up into secular work and sacred work. They tell themselves that those apart from the vine produce nothing because the only important things are evangelism, discipleship, and prayer.
    This thought, however, flies in the face of what the Bible says and what the reformers believed. All work is sacred work. Plowing a field, working in a factory, and ministering in a church are all activities that fall under the Lordship of Christ. (I think you had a quote from Tim Keller a few months ago about this.) They can all be done to God’s glory and there is no view of any lawful, ethical occupation as substandard in God’s eyes.

    And that gets us to what, I believe, Jesus meant in John 15:5. When He says we can do nothing, He means we can do nothing THAT REALLY MATTERS. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing of eternal significance. This is the key: apart from Him, our depravity keeps us from truly bringing God glory in what we do.

    And it’s highly appropriate that these words are appearing on a blog about biblical productivity. Right here, Jesus is telling us that the gospel affects our productivity for the Kingdom. Apart from Him, we can do NOTHING.

    Sorry for the long comment. I’ve been chewing on these concepts for a while and was planning on doing a post on my blog about them – but they seem to be so appropriate to mention with your timely post today.

  • Matt

    Excellent points. You nailed it.

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