Chapter fifteen occurred while Jesus and the apostles were on the move from the upper room to Gethsemane. Whether Jesus was pointing to the sculptured vine in the Temple or a physical grapevine in a vineyard along the way, he used the illustration of the vine and branches as the basis of his final “I am” declaration and a significant teaching for believers of this dispensation (John 15:1-16).
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener…you are the branches” (John 15:1, 5). Because of the mention that branches have the possibility of being burned, many have taken this passage to mean that believers can lose their salvation. Again, it is important to remember that one must read salvation into the passage to reach this conclusion, because salvation is not a topic found anywhere in the text of the Upper Room Discourse. Rather the entire passage is about how vines are to bear fruit for the Gardener. The mention of burning is incidental in the middle of the teaching on staying connected to Jesus, his words, and his love. This connection is exhibited and strengthened by willful obedience to him.
For those believers who insist on honoring the Father by obeying him and bearing much fruit for his use, Jesus promised that they would be hated by this world (John 15:17-27). This made sense to him because they hated and rejected him, and those who follow him would find the same response. However, this should not cause his followers to lose sight of their (our) mission. In order to help them stay on course, a fourth ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit would be that he would supernaturally give the same testimony about Jesus in this world that they would be giving.