4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
The apostles needed to embrace the change from the economy of Israel to that of the church, where the Holy Spirit would produce divine fruit (Jn 14:18, 20, 23). The context of the previous chapter is important for this understanding. Thus, the intention of this statement was more for the readers of the gospel of John at the end of the century than for the apostles. They were still trying to come to grips with Jesus’ departure from them.
Jesus now gave the disciples instruction on how they could continue to bear fruit by remaining in fellowship with Him. There is a danger in trying to produce divine fruit without divine fellowship. Jesus here clearly spoke to regenerate people. Since He commanded them to “abide” in His influence, they were already true believers. There is no reference here to one who merely professes faith in Christ.
4 Abide [living communion or connection] in Me,
The apostles were about to be physically separated from Jesus. This was a concern to the Lord. He wanted to keep personal connection with them after He left. To do that they needed to continue spiritual fellowship with Him after His departure.
The follower of Christ is to “abide” in Christ. The word “abide” or remain (meno) occurs 11 times in this chapter. The idea of this decisive command is that continued fellowship with Jesus will bring fruit to one’s life. The connotation is to continue to live in fellowship with Jesus.
The condition to fellowship with Jesus is to “abide” in Him. Abiding is not an inevitable condition. Fellowship with the Lord depends on being consistent with His character. Believers already clean then needed to “abide” in Jesus (Jn 15:3). There is a requirement for believers to establish a protocol whereby they maintain fellowship with the Lord. Without this they cannot produce fruit.
The word “abide” is a command (aorist, active, imperative) to continue in fellowship with the Lord. The idea is to “stay where you are.” The onus was on the apostles to maintain the same kind of fellowship with Jesus they had while He was alive.
The command to “abide” also implies an exercise of the will. There is a need for conscious perseverance of fellowship with the Lord. Nothing should hinder this connection with Jesus.
The reason a believer should keep a living or dynamic connection to Christ is that a branch cannot produce life-giving sap; that comes from the vine only. When we walk in fellowship with our Lord, we draw spiritual strength to produce spiritual fruit. Therefore, by keeping our connection to Christ, He produces something divine in us.
The branch “in Me” is then not a branch organically connected to Jesus in the same way a physical branch is organically connected to the vine. Rather, it is a branch that derives its sustenance from Christ by living in fellowship with Him. Fellowship will bear fruit.
and I in you.
The word “you” is emphatic, making it clear that the apostles were the branches. The relation between the Lord and the believer is mutual. This phrase is a continuation of the imperative in “abide in Me.” Christ abiding in the believer is an equivalent to our fellowship with Jesus.
No branch carries life by itself. Every branch completely depends upon the vine for life or the capacity to bear fruit. There is dynamic growth here.
Fruitfulness depends on the mutual fellowship between Christ and His disciples.
Fellowship with the Lord is mutual and reciprocal. We want to produce fruit, but we need the Lord to do that; we cannot do it on our own. The mutual relationship of our Lord and the believer will produce fruit. It is a vital relationship. This is much more than sentiment; it produces divine activity.
Fruitfulness in one’s life results from the life of Christ reproduced in His followers. Maintaining vital connection between the Lord and His people is the important point. This would imply that we constantly keep attention on what pleases God. To do this we must occupy our thinking with content that feeds fellowship with Him. This will enable us to maintain dependency on Him.
We need to trace our lack of production in the Christian life to the right source. Meager fellowship with Christ will issue frail and anemic Christianity.
It is important that we maintain fellowship with the One who has done so much for us. We need to be vigilant about this. By keeping short accounts with Jesus, we sustain fellowship with Him.