6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
Verses 6 and 7 develop further the contrast of John 15:2. These verses show what happens if someone does not abide in Christ.
6 If anyone [singular, inconsequential believer] does not abide in Me,
Fruitless branches die from not lack of fellowship with the Lord. These words issue a caution to a person who not depend on the Jesus. The person here is indefinite and refers to the readers of John at the time of writing and thus to believers in the church age.
A person who does not abide in Jesus is an inconsequential believer, someone without production in their lives. There is nothing in the context to indicate that the subjects have changed to a new class of people. There is no indication that nonbelievers or believers who defect from the faith are in view. Jesus has been speaking of preceding branches of genuine but non-productive believers.
The word “abide” occurs 8 times in verses 4-10. “Abide” refers to those who are already Christ’s. The challenge is to stay in fellowship with Jesus. We cannot bear fruit without Him. We must remain committed to following our Lord.
he is cast out as a [the] branch and is withered [loss of vitality];
The definite article “the” before “branch” points to a particular branch that is not in an abiding state.
The word “as” indicates that Jesus used a metaphor; this is not a literal comparison. If a genuine Christian does not abide in fellowship with Jesus, the Lord will not allow that believer to produce divine fruit.
It is important here to remind ourselves that the relationship of the vine and branches is not one of organic orientation but one of fellowship. If believers abide in fellowship with Him, He will enable them to produce fruit, if not, He will cast them out of fellowship with Him. The casting out is not from salvation but from fellowship.
It is important to note the “as” in this phrase; it is a term of comparison. This person is like the firebrand plucked from burning in Amos 4:11. The Father deals decisively with unproductive believers by “cast out” and “withered” (aorist tenses).
The person cast out here is a believer. The branch’s purpose is to glorify the Father (Jn 15:8). If he or she does not glorify the Father, then they fall under discipline from God.
It is important to remember the context in which these statements were made. It was in the upper room while Jesus spoke to the eleven apostles. There were no unbelievers present. The context harks back to John 13:1.
In the immediate context the Lord assured the apostles about His immediate and permanent departure from them. He gave them instructions about how to handle themselves after His death and resurrection. He promised the coming permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the previous chapter. This chapter is about fruit bearing during His absence.
The word “fruit” occurs eight times in this chapter. The word “abide” occurs fifteen times in the first 10 verses emphasizing fellowship with the Lord. We should be one with the Lord in serving Him. The inconsequential believer’s non-productive works have no eternal value. Fruitfulness has been in view throughout the context.
There is a warning to a life that ends without fruit.
There is a point where God will not fellowship or commune with a believer. If we do not confess our sin, then we are out of sink with the Lord. As long as we remain in unconfessed sin God will disciple us so that we return to fellowship with Him (He 12:6,7).