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 lack of fellowship with the Lord. These words issue a caution to a person who does not depend on 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 his or her life. There is nothing in the context to indicate that the subjects have changed to a new class of people. There is no indication that non-believers, or believers who defect from the faith, are in view. Jesus had been speaking of preceding branches of genuine but non-productive believers.
The word “abide” occurs eight 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 Jesus, 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 the words “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). One who does not glorify the Father falls 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 11 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 imminent 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 8 times in this chapter. The word “abide” occurs 15 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.
God disciplines those out of fellowship and who do not bear 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 sync 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).