5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Jesus repeats here the central point of the metaphor of vine and branches to emphasize to His followers the importance of remaining in fellowship with Him. In this verse our Lord gives assurance to the apostles that they will definitely produce fruit if they maintain fellowship with Him.
5 “I am the vine,
Jesus again emphasizes the distinction between Him as the “vine” and His disciples as the “branches.” He repeats the “I am” of verse 1. He is God and they are His finite followers.
you are the branches [vine-branches].
The “branches” here are the disciples of Jesus. They depend on the vine to produce fruit. It is a serious mistake to confuse the vine and the branches.
The words “I” and “you” stand in emphatic contrast. We cannot confuse Jesus’ role with ours. Yet mutual fellowship is a condition for fruitfulness. The word “you” is an emphatic pronouncement demonstrating two stark alternatives for the apostles: 1) when branches “abide,” they bear fruit and much fruit, 2) when they do not they “whither” and become non-productive.
The proclamation by Jesus that He is the vine and they are the branches shows that the apostles were not sufficient of themselves. They must admit their insufficiency to produce fruit.
He who abides in Me,
The disciple is to remain in fellowship with Jesus.
and I in him,
This phrase means that Jesus will fellowship with the believer. The literal idea in the Greek is this: “He who abides in me, with me abiding in him.” There is a dynamic with Christ that takes place when believers allow Christ to abide in them. The person who has Christ abiding in him or her bears “much fruit.”
bears much fruit;
“Much fruit” is abundant fruit. The purpose of a branch is to bear fruit. Part of that fruit is answered prayer (next verse). Without vital connection to the vine there will be little fruit; with it, the believer will bear “much” fruit.
for without Me [emphatic] you can do nothing [emphatic].
There is no vital production apart from Christ. The Greek is a double negative making this statement very emphatic—“nothing whatsoever.” There is no other option. No one can produce genuine fruit without dependence on Christ, apart from fellowship with Him. Allowing known sin in our lives breaks fellowship.
We completely depend on fellowship with the Lord to bear fruit.
Fruitfulness totally depends on our fellowship with Christ. A disciple must be fruitfully connected to his divine source to produce for eternity. A branch by itself cannot produce fruit; it needs the vine. Our Lord has the divine resources, not us. The branch produces what is drawn from the vine. We must come to a recognition that we are not sufficient of ourselves. There is a danger in self-sufficiency.
The principle that Jesus teaches here is that it is not possible to render anything for God without dependence on Christ. No man has the capacity to do anything for God in his own strength.