Does the branch in John 15:6 represent a CARNAL CHRISTIAN BELIEVER attached to The Vine whose works are burned…OR does it just represent the fruitless WORKS of the Believer?
Dear Brother Malcolm,
Thanks for your inquiry. As you know this an interesting verse. Some think this verse is referring to unbelievers due to the reference of fire. The assumption is that since fire is mentioned, it must be referring to Hell.
But the Judgment Seat of Christ also speaks of fire. Also, the flow of thought in John 15 refers to believers. Jesus urges those “in me” (15:2) to “Abide in me” in order to “bear fruit” (15:4-5). So what gets burned in verse six?
The verse says, “If a man [singular] abide not [present tense, lit. “is not abiding”] in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them [neuter], and cast them into the fire, and they [singular, lit. “it”] are burned.”
The purpose of a branch in the vine is to bear fruit. This occurs as the branch abides in the vine. Jesus is the true vine. He said, “without me ye can do nothing.” This implies with Him you can do anything you ought to do, because He is the source of life. Therefore the words of Jesus here define the word “abide” as depending on Jesus.
So if one who is in Christ (15:2) does not abide in Christ (15:4-5), he will not bear fruit. His purpose “as a branch” is unfulfilled. So the useless wood with no fruit, because of a lack of abiding, is cast out and burned. The “them” in verse six is neuter, and “it” is cast out, not “they” the people. This fits in perfectly with the teaching that the wood, hay and stubble represents the self-dependent aspects of one’s life which will be incinerated at the Judgment Seat (1 Cor. 3).