The Bible


John 15:1-8 : The True Vine


Study the Inner Meaning

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

2 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.

3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 618, 650, 1017, 1069, 2343, 2371, 2834, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 54, 97, 222, 294, 376, 463, 520, ...

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 97, 112, 119

Conjugial Love 9, 124, 126, 201, 526

Divine Love and Wisdom 116, 359

Divine Providence 30, 88, 92, 159, 172, 173, 263, ...

The Lord 32, 35, 61

Sacred Scripture 51, 89, 114

Life 2, 17, 29, 102

Heaven and Hell 11, 81, 147

True Christian Religion 8, 38, 70, 100, 106, 107, 111, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 154, 222, 267

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 25, 33, 43, 84, 109, 114, 200, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 211

Charity 201

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 15, 25, 47

Divine Wisdom 11

Marriage 8, 38, 70, 100, 106, 107, 111, ...

Scriptural Confirmations 6, 14, 68, 88

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Psalms 80:9

Hosea 14:9

Word/Phrase Explanations

'A husbandman,' as mentioned in Amos 5:16, signifies the man of the church, because 'field' signifies the church regarding the implantation of truth. 'A husbandman,'...

beareth fruit
In Revelation 22, to yield fruit signifies to produce goods.

the Word
In general, we tend to be very aware of how knowing what's true leads to doing what is good. That starts as children, with parents...

'Sayings' denotes persuasion. 'Sayings,' when related to Jehovah, signify informing or instructing.

Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

bear fruit
In Revelation 22, to yield fruit signifies to produce goods.

For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

In the Bible (and in life), the idea of withering is usually connected to plants, and plants generally wither if they don't get enough water....

'To glorify' signifies acknowledgment and confession.

A disciple in Matthew 10:41 signifies charity and at the same time, faith from the Lord. It disciple signifies the truth of life, and a...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Ask What You Desire Bookmark
Meditate on a verse from the Word and let it inspire you in a spiritual task. Cut out the color picture bookmark to keep or share.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Bearing Fruit
Project | Ages up to 6

 Bearing Good Fruit
Heaven is a kingdom of uses. Being useful is bearing good fruit.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Branches of the Vine
If the Lord is the Vine and we are the branches, how would you draw a branch showing the kinds of things you do to help other people.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Discipleship at Easter
The final events in Jesus' life unfolded quickly. The disciples responded to the changes in different ways. The twelve disciples picture qualities in us that follow the Lord. How do we respond when our faith is challenged?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Elijah Calls Fire from Heaven - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: build an altar out of stones or a human pyramid, discuss what the prophets of Baal are in our lives, scripted story discussion, and a meditation and task on a verse from the Word.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Elijah Calls Fire from Heaven - Level D
Complete lesson with activity choices: look at the differences between mazes and labyrinths, explore how evil appears in the light of heaven, scripted story discussion, and a meditation and task on a verse from the Word.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 15 - 17

 Family Worship: Abide in Me
Religion Lesson | All Ages

 Friendships: Men and Women
Getting to know a variety of men or women helps us learn about the opposite sex and ultimately helps us learn what qualities we care about and will want in the person we marry.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Friendship: The Outward Expression of Love
How does the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Church define friendship and what do they say we should base it on?
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Fruit of the Vine
Talk about grapes and other fruit that grows on a vine. Consider making "a grape vine" of good deeds with "grape" beads to put on a green cord.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Greater Love Has No One Than This
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 I Am the Vine
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 I Am the Vine
Download and print this beautiful poster with words from John 15: 4-5. 
Picture | Ages over 7

 I Am the Vine
Make a picture of the Lord as the Vine. Children may want to draw a branch for each member of the family while teens and adults may choose to draw a branch that represents their life, showing the fruit it is bringing forth.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 I Have Chosen You
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Illustrate the Lord as the Vine
Make a picture of the Lord as the Vine. Children may want to draw a branch for each member of the family while teens and adults may choose to draw a branch that represents their life, showing the fruit it is bringing forth.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Imagine the Lord's Joy!
 Picture the Lord's joy each time we take a step toward heaven. 
Activity | Ages over 15

 Inspirational Quotation - Love One Another
Poster illustrating the Lord's commandment to love one another.
Picture | Ages over 8

 Living a Significant Life
The Lord tells us what we must do if we wish to live a significant life.
Worship Talk | Ages over 15

Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Memory Verse: I Am the Vine
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Prayers for Adults: Dealing with Other People with True Charity
Activity | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Adults: Loving the Neighbor
Activity | Ages over 18

 Quotes: I Am the Vine
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Seeds Bearing Fruit Wreath or Ribbon Hanging
Make a wreath or ribbon hanging with various fruits, adding a piece of fruit each time you use the seeds of truth the Lord has given us.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 The Importance of the Ten Commandments
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord's Example of Friendship
The Lord is able to see our true spiritual character, and He loves the good that He is able to see in us. He constantly seeks to build on that good. We must follow the Lord’s own example and seek out what is good in others.
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Parable of the Vine
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Parable of the Vine
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Parable of the Vine (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Parable of the Vine (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Parable of the Vine (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Purpose of Creation
Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Vine and the Branches
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Visible God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Wonder of the Lord's Word
When we read the Word, we have to reflect on what we have read and try to live according to it. Only this will lead to our happiness, which is why the Word has been given.
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Treasure Hunt
Make a treasure hunt, starting at the Lord's Word and ending at a bowl of grapes. Discuss how the truths of the Word, such as the Golden Rule, can lead to good fruit.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Unless We Acknowledge the Lord
Make a picture of the Lord as the Vine and people as the branches, bearing the fruit of useful activities.
Project | Ages over 15

 Vine and Branches
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 Vine and Branches
Explore the image of the vine and the branches, which illustrates our complete dependence on God.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 What Is Charity?
New Church teachings extend the idea of charity, making it more than compassionate actions towards others.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Why Is the Word Holy?
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Why Stay Connected?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 You Are the Branches
It is important for people to be connected to each other and even more important to be connected to the Lord.
Worship Talk | Ages 11 - 14

 You Are the Vine (sheet music)
Song | Ages 4 - 14



How to Be Fruitful      

By Rev. Brian W. Keith

A child holds red raspberries in her cupped hands.

"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (John 15:8)

A theme found throughout the Testaments is that of bearing fruit. The Lord wants us to be productive. He charges us to be fruitful and multiply. The ancient Israelites had to work hard for survival. Not only is farming, their primary occupation, difficult labor, but following the commandments of Jehovah often required specific sacrifices and duties. In the New Testament the Lord often linked salvation with our effort.

"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27).

And not producing fruit was a curse. The barren fig tree was condemned, for it was not doing what the Lord required of it.

This theme of productiveness can also be found throughout the created universe. The Lord did not create anything that is without value or use. The fertile soil of the earth is the seed-bed from which vegetation springs. Plants serve for food, and constantly seem to be producing many more seeds than can possibly come to fruition. Animal life also strives to reproduce itself, to create more of its own. The urge to grow, to build, is universal.

We should not be surprised by this. For it is but a reflection of the Lord's nature. His love is the most productive love of all. It is always reaching out, striving to create, to produce what is good. This is why the universe was created. This is why we were born. Our existence is evidence of His love.

And to us He holds out the opportunity to join with Him in being productive. He is the vine, we can be the branches. From Him we can bear much fruit. We can be touched by His love, and share it with others. We can affect all those around us, producing in them happiness and joy.

How do we become branches of the Lord? We begin by following in His path. We cannot be offshoots of His unless what we do comes from Him. He has given us the Word (the way, the truth, and the life), that we might know what is required of us. As He said in John, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love....This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:10, 12).

Heeding His Word means walking in His ways. We cannot very well touch others with love if we ourselves are not acting the ways of love. Can we in anger, command someone to be good? Can we from contempt look down on others and say all men are brothers? This is what the Lord commanded in Ezekiel, saying:

"If [a person] has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully - he is just; he shall surely live!" (Ezekiel 18:9)

Good fruit is not produced by diseased plants or trees. To be the Lord's branches requires us to keep His commandments, so that His love might exist in us to be shared with others.

But how are we to produce the fruit of loving our neighbors? The Lord had given us the way of serving others, being useful to them. As He said, "Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:26-27).

If we consider it, it is almost impossible to avoid being of service to others in this world. The Lord established a system that virtually demands we devote much of our lives to others. The only way to avoid serving others is to live separated from all others, not receiving anything from them, and not giving them anything in return. Such a hermit's life is almost inconceivable. Even Johnny Appleseed, who stayed as far away from civilization as possible, was of tremendous service by planting apple trees and spreading copies of Heavenly Doctrines of the New Church.

The reality for us is that we will serve others. As children and students, we are under the supervision of others who give us much to do. As young adults we seek employment to earn a living. As spouses we will care for our mates and do household duties. As parents we will take care of the many needs of our children. As friends we will lend a hand to our peers. As senior citizens we will be the anchors of family and cultural values. At whatever age, the Lord would have us be of use to others, branches of His vine, bearing much fruit.

The alternative to being useful is not very attractive. Imagine what it would be like to be deprived of the opportunity to serve others? Without work to do, would we not begin focusing more and more upon ourselves? Would not the frustration break out in anger towards others? Is this not why long hospital stays, unemployment, and retirement without other interests are so devastating? Is not part of the pain for a couple having difficulty conceiving a child, the fact that they are being denied the opportunity of serving as parents? And for the single person, the lack of being useful in a marriage relationship detracts from the service he or she might be. Although the Lord insures that any one can be useful to others, when we are denied the possibility of being useful in even one way, there is a sense of loss, of incompleteness.

There are numerous ways to be of use in this world. One way is by our occupations. Be they chairman of the board or janitor at an all night cafe, the time we spend at our jobs is a way to serve our neighbors, to love them. Another critical way to be of use is in our families. As we relate to our spouse, raise our children, and manage our homes, we are providing a tremendous benefit to our neighbors. Not only are we establishing a foundation for society in our marriages, we are preparing young people to be productive members of society and angels in heaven. These two uses, formal occupations and home life, are perhaps the most important uses we can do, for we spend the most time with them during our lives on earth. As we perform them to the best of our abilities, we are bearing the fruit which makes us the Lord's disciples.

Some of the other uses that the Lord calls upon us to do involve our responsibilities in our communities and our church. To love our neighbors requires us to take an informed interest in what is going on, in our local community and in the world community. Although only some will become directly involved, all can form opinions and participate in electing representatives.

We can also be useful in the setting of our church. Here we have wide-ranging opportunities to enable people to worship their God. From serving on committees or contributing money, to just being present for Sunday morning worship, there are innumerable ways to become branches of the Lord's vine, bringing forth much fruit.

Now, it may seem that all we must do is follow the commandments and do certain good acts and we automatically become angelic. Since it is relatively easy to avoid breaking laws and perform certain actions, all should be saved, right? Well, not exactly. Being useful involves something more than mere adherence to laws and performing our duties. For a person can be very selfishly inclined and do these things. Someone could devote a great deal of energy to serving the neighbor so all will think him a "good" person.

This is of providence, for the Lord insures that all people, both those who truly care for others and those who primarily care for themselves, can serve others. As His rain falls on the just and the unjust, so this world is designed that all will be useful.

But for the fruit we bear to be nourishing, and not rotten within, our motives must stem from the Lord also. Being of use requires that the good we do for our neighbors be good in both essence and form.

How do we bear good fruit? By quietly and secretly shunning evils as sins. As we periodically look at our lives, both what we are doing with our time and our inner thoughts and feelings, we are to identify whatever seems to come from hell. If we place more importance on the things of this world, or our own self image, than on sincerely caring for others, we can see something is wrong.

Perhaps we will recognize that we are working primarily for the money or prestige we receive. Perhaps we will not take a particular job if it will not increase our income enough, or we shy away from aspects of our occupation that will not result in others praising us. What should we do? How do we shun these selfish motivations? Recognizing them as wrong and asking the Lord's help is a start. Then one way to shun these evils is to force ourselves not to think about how much we are making. Perhaps we might also seek for some mundane jobs which are not likely to bring us to the attention of our supervisor.

Whatever we do, it is important that we not give up our jobs. One reason the Lord has provided so many uses is that we continue working even if our motivations are selfish. No young person entering the job market is immune from desiring a large salary so he can spend money freely. He should not seek a low paying job to punish himself, for it is by the very means of working that the Lord can gradually purge away an orientation for self and replace it with a genuine concern for others.

In all the ways we are useful to others, from occupations to child rearing, the Lord can cause us to bear fruit as we become ever more sensitive to what is of hell within us, and attempt to change. Being useful, even if our motives are not pure at first, teaches us, trains us, to care for others. As we perform as well as we can in our roles as friends, spouses, parents, and employees, then the Lord can gradually cause us to see and appreciate the fruit that can be produced from His vine. Love for the neighbor grows as we learn to care by serving others and not just self.

It is not too surprising that most of our sense of self worth comes from our jobs and our home life: where we can be of most use. As we put away excessive concern for ourselves and the world, we grow ever stronger as branches on the Lord's vine. As this happens, our sense of joy and happiness can increase many fold. For as we are truly useful to others we are participating in the Lord's work. We are becoming angels for we are doing His will. It is His love, His happiness, that we are sharing and thereby making our own. With Him as our vine we can bear much fruit, and become His disciples indeed.