Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Vine, part II

Continuing with John 15, Morris follows Carson in identifying the two options for the language of cutting off. Morris writes that the earliest Christian interpretation was that the words referred to the apostate Jewish nation. But, he rejects this, stating that the en emoi language shows that his primary thought was of apostate Christians. On the cutting off of branches, Morris keeps the force of Jesus words, writing...
An unfaithful Christian suffers the fate of an unfruitful branch.
Hendrikson gets to grips with what the en emoi language itself signifies...

Thus, all who are brought into close contact with Christ are compared with branches that are in the vine. Some bear fruit; others do not....

Commenting on verse 6, Hendrikson writes that the branches represent...
each individual who is brought into close contact with Christ and his gospel
So for Hendrikson en emoi represents 'close contact' with Christ, although this is not immediately clarified any further (I didn't read the whole commentary). Keener (in his weighty tome of a 2Vol commentary - even weightier than his Matthew work) mentions the 'c' word in connection with these verses, and with this, we have definite progress...
Most draw from this (the biblical image of Israel as a vine) the implication that John believes that those grafted into Christ, rather than into ethnic Israel, are in salvific covenant with God.
For Keener,
It is through identifying with Christ that believers…are grafted into the historic people of God.
Keener keeps the force of Jesus words alive. For him, the language of cutting off is a...
vital Johannine warning against falling away.
This is good stuff, identifying the salvation-historical perspective of the imagery and also clarifying the en emoi language both as related to covenant and as 'identifying with Christ'. For me, this identification of the OT covenant background in the vine imagery is essential to the interpretation of Jesus' words in John 15. It is the category of covenant that makes sense of these words...part III to follow...