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Taking away or picking up?  

25-01-2017 - Posted by Andre Piet

Every branch in Me bringing forth no fruit, He is taking it away, and every one bringing forth fruit, He is cleansing it, that it may be bringing forth more fruit.
– John 15: 2 –

In John 15 Jesus uses the well-known metaphor of the grapevine and the branches. He mentions three types of branches:

  1. a branch bringing forth no fruit (verse 2)
  2. a branch bringing forth fruit (verse 2)
  3. a branch that is withered (verse 6)

About the third branch (withered), it has been said that they are being gathered and burned. But in this little blog I ask your attention to the first type of branch: the one that is bringing forth no fruit. Almost every translation tells that the farmer is ‘taking it away’. And there is something to be said for that translation. The Greek word, which is used there (airo, strong 142), is also elsewhere translated like this.

I am not asking that Thou shouldst be taking them away out of the world, but that Thou shouldst be keeping them from the wicked one.
– John 17: 15 –

And hearing of it, his disciples came and take away his corpse, and they place it in a tomb.
– Mark 6: 29 –

But ‘taking away’ is not the primary meaning of ‘airo’. The first meaning of the word is: lifting or picking up (depending on the context). That idea is moreover inherent in both mentioned texts. Here some other verses with ‘airo’ in it:

… let him renounce himself and pick up his cross and follow Me.
– Matthew 16: 24 –

… how many panniers full of fragments do you pick up?
– Mark 8: 19 –

… whosoever may be saying to this mountain, `Be picked up and cast into the sea …
– Mark 11: 23 –

And immediately the man became sound, and he was roused and picks up his pallet …
– John 5: 9 –

lifts his right hand to heaven …
– Revelation 10: 5 –

They pick up stones, then, that they should be casting them at Him.
– John 8: 59 –

In all these cases, the idea of ‘airo’ is not taking away, but picking up or lifting.

Back to John 15: 2. What does the farmer do with a branch bringing forth no fruit? Does he take it away? Like he does with a branch that is withered? Suppose a farmer sees a branch on the ground which is incapable of giving fruit. Does he take it away? Or should he take care of the branch, pick her up and tie it to the vine?

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