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John 15:2

ESV Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
NIV He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
NASB Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
CSB Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.
NLT He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
KJV Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

What does John 15:2 mean?

References to vines and vineyards are common in Scripture, picturing God as someone who plants and tends to the "vine" of His people. In this verse, there is a clear sense of expected growth. First mentioned is barrenness, then productivity, then abundance. In terms of our spiritual lives, this is how God expects us to progress. As part of that process, God removes and prunes the branches.

While the analogy of the vine and branches is deep and important, it is like any other analogy in that it should not be taken out of context. When Jesus refers to a "branch in me," in this instance, the context does not imply those who are "saved." Rather, focus is entirely on the analogy of a vine and branches. Some branches appear to be connected to the main body, but are not—those branches are dead and will never produce fruit. The vinedresser removes those branches, to allow room and resources for the living branches to accomplish their purpose. This relates to upcoming comments where Jesus refers to those who "abide" in Him (John 15:6).

In both the vine, and in our relationship to God, merely being "around" or "attached" to the concept of Christ is not enough. It is possible for a person to claim the name of Christ, and to associate with believers, and yet not have a life-giving connection to the "true vine" which is Jesus. Like a branch "in the vine" which produces no fruit, these are people who have attached themselves to the church, but are not connected to the Source of life. The One with ultimate knowledge and authority—God as the "vinedresser"—will eventually remove those false branches and discard them.
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