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Dr. Mounce,

I still disagree and planning on responding soon, but I just wanted to mention that you wrote airo means "to prune" above where I think you meant kathairo.

Thanks for another post on the issue!

Andrew Faris

Dr. Mounce,

I appreciated your comments on John 15. I do have one question: is it not significant that John uses klema in verse 5 as well when he is, in a blanket statement, referring to his people? "I am the vine; you are the klemata." The reason I bring this up is because you stated that John most likely used the word klema to refer to

"the tendrils, the non-fruit bearing suckers that will never produce fruit and yet absorb life-giving nourishment."

Then you said,

"So the image is of the vinedresser removing anything that would take nourishment away from the fruit-bearing branches."

And yet, he uses this same word (klema) to refer to his disciples. I am not challenging here, I am just curious.


The final question of the passage is how far to push the metaphors.

I would love to see a post further discussing that issue (not necessarily related to this post)

Jimmy. Good point. Didn't think of that. Let me mull it over.

Dr. Mounce,

Regarding the use of klema, I was going to say the same thing as Jimmy, though I would add that it is the only noun in v. 2 as well, which means that it has to refer to both branches there (i.e. including the fruit-bearing one).

Regarding what is "basic" to the meaning of airo, I would suggest that it is clear that it can simply mean "lift up" without much reference to "take away." That seems to be the way to understand the uses in Jn. 5:8-12, and even more so Jn. 8:59 (where the people simple "pick up" stones to throw- they aren't "taking them away" from anything but the ground, but that would be an odd way to take the word). And how about the second use in Jn. 11:41? How can "lifting up" one's eyes at all mean "taking away"?

Those are just John's uses, but I would also refer you to Mk. 6:43; Lk. 4:11; Acts 4:24; Rev. 10:5; 18:21, to name a few.

It seems clear then that the semantic range of airo allows for each use without reference to the other. And correct me if I'm wrong, but this is a basic issue of lexical semantics too, isn't it? With all due respect (and again, I have quite a lot of it for you!), your appeal to the list of meanings in BDAG doesn't prove much. It only establishes range.

I also don't know why you think airo means "to prune" when that is what kathairo means. Are the fruitful and unfruitful branches being pruned?

I again respectfully take issue with Carson's quote about the main point of the passage. It seems to me that the main point is the charge to remain in Jesus since he is the life-giving vine pruned by the perfect vinedresser, the Father. It surprises me how easily take the attention of this passage away from the "I am" statement that begins it, especially when in every other "I am" passage in John we make such a big deal out of the emphatic use of the construction and the theological weight of each statement. That is, we center on them.

When we center on the "I am" statement- that is, the statement that clearly begins the discussion- and the repetition of the corresponding "in me" language (which is so important because of the "I am" just spoken), fruit-bearing seems only to be a result of the main issue, i.e. remaining in Jesus. It is absolutely still important to the discussion. But it is not the main point. The main point is that Jesus gives life, so we should remain in him.

If it is about fruit-bearing, then v. 6 becomes quite parenthetical and difficult to handle, since fruit-bearing is not mentioned at all there. Rather, the problem there is that a branch has not been "abiding in me".

Finally, when we take airo in v. 2 as a reference to "lifting up" so that a fruitless branch begins to bear fruit, and when we recognize that v. 6 is about being "in me" rather than fruit-bearing (which, again, is not mentioned at all in that verse), then there actually is very little difficulty in understanding how far to push the imagery. If you are in Christ, you are saved and will bear fruit. If you are not, you are not saved and you won't bear fruit. It's quite plain and simple really.

Again, Dr. Mounce, I greatly respect and appreciate your work. I just think you are wrong about this passage.

And if you have a moment, do read my full length post on this passage that I wrote in response to your first post here. While I have seen plenty of arguments for your view, I've seen few if any that directly interact with the one I purport.


Thank you for your post. One thing becomes abundantly clear; Knowing a little bit of Greek is not enough to pick up on the play on words. I would have read this passage without having noticed any of it.
Thanks again.

Nice point. However, presumably Jesus didn't speak in Greek to the disciples. The author of the play on words in Greek must be John, not Jesus. Perhaps the play on words in Greek is based on an original play on words by Jesus in Aramaic, but wordplay is often lost in translation.

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