John 15:4New International Version (NIV)
4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Verse 4. – But there is a continuance of most intimate relations to be sustained between Christ and his disciples. If the two clauses are “imperative,” or rather concessive, as many suppose, the finest meaning is evolved. Let these be the reciprocal conditions, let it be that you abide in me, and I in you. (Meyer and Lange add to the second clause μενῶ, “I will abide in you,” making it into a promise following a command, and involving a very strong synergistic thought.) There is a mutual abiding or indwelling. The life-principle circulates through the branches, just as they perpetuate the living connection between the branch and the center of the life. The mutual relations show that human nature is in infinite need, and, apart from the new life-principle, will perish. The abiding of the branch in the vine suggests the continuance of vital connection’ with the living stem, and supposes that connection kept up by constant faith, so that the believer is in a position to draw life from the legitimate source. The abiding of the vine in the branch – “I in you” -is the perpetual inflow into the subordinate life, of the living grace which makes the believer’s life one with his Lord’s. As he said (John 14:19), “Because I live, and ye shall live;” so now, As the branch cannot bear fruit from itself – from its own inherent vitality – except it abide in the vine – except this connection is maintained – in like manner no more (or, so neither) can ye, except ye abide in me. The affirmation does not cover, as Augustine implies (although it may suggest), the impotence of the natural man, but it asserts the unfruitfulness of the disciple in his own strength. Some have found here revindication of the place of the human will in the work of grace. Let it be seen, however, that it is the “good will,” the new nature, which has been wakened into normal activity, and which wills the thing most pleasing to the Divine Source of the life.