2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Verse 2 sets forth an antithesis. The first proposition concerns believers who are not productive, and the latter relates to believers who produce fruit after pruning.
2 Every branch
Both phrases of “every branch” in this verse are emphatic by sentence structure. Branches draw their life from the vine; the vine produces fruit through its branches. The “branch in Me” refers to followers of Jesus. The “branch” refers clearly to a believer, someone who is connected to the Savior. Branches share the life of the vine.
in Me [believers]
“In Me” modifies “branch,” indicating that some branches do not bear fruit. The branch is “in Me”; that is, in Jesus. John used the phrase “in Me” 16 times in the gospel (Jn 6:56; 10:38; 14:10 [twice], 11, 20, 30; 15:2, 4 [twice], 5, 6, 7; 16:33; 17:21, 23). Six of the 16 occurrences reference the Father in the Son. One verse speaks of Satan having nothing “in Me.” The context is fellowship with Christ in each usage and refers to genuine believers.
There is nothing in the context to indicate that Jesus introduced here a person who professes to believe but does not in fact know Christ. Everyone “in Me” is a genuine believer. “In” designates a close personal relation to Christ; it is the sphere in which an action occurs. We see this same point in John 17:21. Jesus and His disciples had a oneness of love and fellowship. This involved a oneness of purpose between them.
Thus, “in Me” means that there is a close personal relation between the branch and Jesus. The point is that Jesus and His followers are to have commonality of purpose and commitment. He never used “in Me” in the forensic sense, as did Paul in His usages of “in Christ” or “in Him.”
Jesus said in John 14:30 that Satan had nothing “in Me”; that is, there is no like-mindedness. They do not share the same purposes, nor do they have any commonality in fellowship.
that does not bear fruit [spiritual outcomes]
John referred to “fruit” eight times in John 15 (Jn 15:2 [twice], 5, 8,16). Jesus said in Luke 8:14 that some believers do not bear fruit; therefore, fruit bearing is normal but not inevitable for someone who embraces the Lord. It is possible to have a living vine that bears no fruit.
Fruit is the evidence that it has drawn something from the vine, evidence that the believer is in fellowship with the Lord.
Vital fellowship between Christ and His people is what makes the difference in bearing fruit.
Fruit is not equivalent to works. Fruit is organic; it grows naturally by a living connection to its source. Works can grow out of our orientation or attitudes but is not organic per se.
It is possible to function mechanically in the Christian life, very much like a branch that does not produce fruit. A branch that has a dynamic relationship to the stock will have vital fellowship with the Lord. Jesus often performs the painful exercise of pruning those who do not maintain their fellowship with Him. He does this so that they may be more fruitful.