Jesus being the vine, who are the branches?
Many times those seeking biblical support for man-made denominations, which did not exist before the 16th century, will look to passages like the one referred to in our question.
They will claim that the “branches” attached to Christ, “the vine,” is referring to various denominations.
One of the most fundamental and important principles of Bible study is to make sure that we are not making a passage mean something today that it could not have meant to its original audience.
There is no way that the original audience of this passage would have understood it to refer to denominations that wouldn’t even exist for another 1,500 years!
Not only does the historical context of the passage invalidate such a view. The literary context of the passage makes it very clear who is being referred to as “branches.”
Again, there is absolutely no way an honest observer of the text could find “religious institutions” as the metaphorical subject of “branches.”
In the passage our question comes from, John 15:1-8, the speaker is Jesus.
Those to whom he was speaking is seen in the larger context of the statement.
Christ was with his disciples for their observance of the Passover meal.
From John 14 to 17 there is a nearly unbroken dialogue of Christ.
And who is it that he is talking with?
He washed the disciples’ feet.
His disciples were listening to him speak.
His disciples were with him for the meal.
He commanded his disciples to love one another.
His disciples talked amongst themselves concerning what he said.
His disciples asked for clarification.
So, in John 15:1-8, Jesus was talking to his disciples.
Just as the fruitfulness of a branch depends on its attachment to the vine, so a Christian’s fruitfulness depends on his attachment to Christ.
Jesus is the vine and his disciples are the branches!
I look forward to your questions and the opportunity to provide the biblical answer. Bible Q-n-A means you ask the questions and the Bible gives the answers.
Norm Fields is the minister for the Church of Christ Northside meeting at 1101 Hogansville Road in LaGrange. He may be reached at 706-812-9950 or BibleQnA@NormFields.com.