Lectionary Year B
May 21, 2000
John 15:1-8

Step I: Acquaintance


A comparison of the NRSV, NEB, NAB, and NJB, alongside JEA's rough translation yields several notes:

vs. 4: "remain" in me is variously translated "remain" "dwell" and "abide." "dwell" was especially interesting because I thought it might be connected to 1:14 "The word became flesh and dwelt among us..." But there was no relation in the Greek.

vs. 8. The NEB reads "bear fruit and so be my disciples," raising the question, "Do you become a disciple by bearing fruit?" Pushing this translation back into the text itself, however, I conclude that one is a disciple by being attached to the vine Jesus, which holds the promise of fruit bearing.

Comparison of New Revised Standard and New Jerusalem, with secondary references to Phillips. Salient features listed below.

v. 3 already been cleansed NRSV
      are clean already NJV
      already pruned PV
What is the tense of this verb? The Greek construction is the present, plural form of the verb "to be" plus the adjective "clean."

v.4 Abide NRSV
      Remain NJV
      grow PV
Interesting notion in growing versus abiding or remaining. Greek word is: "meno" through out the pericope. Abiding has a different connotation than remaining, less passive and more connected to the one with whom you are with.

v. 7 whatever you wish NRSV
      whatever you please NJV
      whatever you like PV
Is God the great genie in the sky, granting our wishes? Or does John assume that we will not be sinful humans when we ask of God?
      it will be done for you NRSV
      you will get it NJV
      it will come true for you PV
Is this an action completed on your behalf, a gift, or a dream/wish?

v. 8 My Father is glorified by this NRSV
      It is the glory of my Father NJV
      This is how my father will be glorified PV
How is this glorification to take place? Is God's glory prior to our action? Or God's glory enlarged by our doings?

(JW) (supplement)

      I studied four versions of the Bible (English translations) while reflecting on this text. I began with the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), then read the New International Version (NIV), followed by the King James Version (KJV). I also used the Living Bible Paraphrased (LB) to consider the modern day interpretive insight. I noted quite a few translation differences in English word choices, but only a few which seem to raise curiosity about the context.

In verse 1 "georgos", in the NIV and LB is translated as "gardener", while the KJV translate this word literally as, "husbandman". The NRSV uses "vinegrower".

The NRSV and NIV and KJV translate the verb "kathairei" in verse 2, in the present tense as "prunes", "cuts off", "taketh away", and "lops off" (respectively). It seems interesting how all versions seem to expound on this particular type of removal. A question looms which I will enjoy reflecting on, about why there is such a variety of word choice here?

In verse 4, the verb "meinate" is translated in the present-active-indicative, 2nd person-plural, but with different English meanings, "abide", "remain", "live" (NRSV & KJV, NIV, LB). Thayers Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament presents the understanding of "be rooted in" which I am moved by. Another image might be a vine wrapped around a tree. I think the question of a vine's roots and a tree's roots being entangled or maybe even part of the same root system of the tree is an important analogy too.

The plural nominative case of the personal pronoun " auta " (them) in verse 6 seems to emphasize a theological point. The understanding that many are thrown away seems clear.


      There are not many textual variances in this text. There was a Sinaiticus and Vaticanus split over the previously mentioned personal pronoun in verse 6. Nestle-Aland 26th Edition incorporates the plural form in the text, citing the Vaticanus textual support.

      The external evidence points out the Sinaiticus texts (and others) as witnesses to the future-middle-indicative verb "aitesesthe" in verse 7. This simple variance seemingly explains the differences noted in the English translations of the NRSV and NIV (ask), the KJV and LB ("shall/may ask").

One Dagger on Verse 8. The form of the verb "ginomai": "genesesthe" being a future indicative and "genesthe" being an aorist subjunctive. The latter having 4 Alexandrian witnesses and the former having only 2. Therefore, I would agree with the editors of the Nestle-Aland text.


(JEA) (1) I am the vine the true one and my Father is the farmer. ( 2) And every branch in me [connected to me as the vine?] not bearing fruit he takes it up (Gr. "airei" here "remove"?) and every one bearing fruit he clears it (Gr. "kath-airei" wordplay? cutting for removal vs. cutting for pruning? link to "katharizo"?) in order that it may bear more fruit. ( 3) Already you are cleared (cleansed/pruned?) ones on account of the word which i have uttered to you (pl.). ( 4) Remain in me (cf. v. 2) and I (remain/will remain?) in you (pl.); just as the branch is not able to bear fruit from itself if it should not remain in (connected to?) the vine thus nor you (pl.) if you should not remain in me. ( 5) I am the vine (cf. v. 1) you (pl.) are the branches; the one remaining (Gr. "anthropos" > "human being" understood) in me I also (am remaining) in [this] one, this one bears much fruit because apart from me you (pl.) are not able to do nothing (Gr. double negative!). ( 6) If anyone should not remain in me (this one) has been thrown outside as the branch and has been dried up and they lead them together and into the fire they throw and it is burned. (7) If you (pl.) should remain in me and my sayings (cf. contrast with "logos" in v. 3) should remain (neuter pl. subjects take singular verb endings) in you (pl.) you ask (pl.) what thing if you should wish and it will become to you (pl.). ( 8) In this thing my Father has been glorified in order that much fruit you (pl.) should bear and should become disciples to me. [cf. supplement rough trans. below]

(JW) (supplement)

1) I am the vine true, and my Father the tiller (of earth) is. 2) Every branch in me not bearing fruit, he takes up it, and everyone that fruit bears, he prunes it that more fruit it may bear. 3) Already you clean are by reason of the word which I have spoken to you. 4) Be rooted in me, and I in you. As the branch is not able fruit to bear of itself unless it be rooted in the vine, so neither can you unless you in me be rooted. 5) I am the vine, you are the branches. The one remaining in me, and I in [this] one, [this] one bears fruit much; for apart from me you are able to do nothing. 6) Unless anyone be rooted in me, they be cast out as the branch, and is dried up, and they gather them and into a fire cast, and it is burned. 7) If you be rooted in me, and my teachings in you be rooted, whatever you will, ask, and it will come to pass to you. 8) In this is glorified, my Father, in order that fruit much you should bear, and you will become to me disciples.

(EM) (supplement)

1 I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener/vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me not bearing fruit, he takes/raises/lifts up it, and every (one) bearing fruit, he prunes/cleanses it that it may bear much fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word which I have spoken to you; remain in me and I in you. 4 As the branch is not able to bear fruit from itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither you unless in me you remain. 5 I am the vine you are the branches. The remaining-in-me-and-I-in-him-one, this one bears much fruit, because apart from me you are not able to do anything. 6 Unless someone remains in me, he was cast out as the branch and was dried, and they gather them and into the fire they cast, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and the words of me in you remain whatever you wish/want ask/demand and itwill happen/be done for you. 8 By this my Father was glorified, that much fruit you bear and you will be disciples of/to me.

(CU) I notice the Greek's plural "you", but I am still wondering if it is significant. When I speak to the congregation and I say "You," I am speaking to a plural audience, but I often want people to internalize what I am saying individually. Is Jesus thinking of the disciples as a group when he calls them branches, or is he speaking to each one? It seems important at vs. 7 when he says "Ya'll ask what you wish and it will come to ya'll." Is this a statement about what happens when people agree to pray?

Notice the emphatic: Apart from Jesus, you cannot do a thing! (cf. supplement comparisons above)

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