These are very rough draft notes on John 15:2. I just want to be able to find them again.
The question is whether the phrase “he takes away” can mean, God the Father sees a branch dragging on the ground. He picks it up (a perfectly possible translation), he raises it, so that he will be up off the ground and there the struggling branch will be able to bear fruit.
The word airei merely means to pick up and usually move. It translates the OT nasah bear and so it has a very broad range of meanings. Cicero made a joke about Augustus: “we need to Airei Augustus” which means we need to raise him: first raise him in political power and then raise him onto a cross to kill him.
πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μὴ φέρον καρπὸν αἴρει αὐτό,
all branches in me not it is bearing fruit he raises [?] it
πᾶν τὸ καρπὸν φέρον καθαίρει αὐτὸ ἵνα ⸂καρπὸν πλείονα⸃ φέρῃ.
each the fruit it is bearing he cleanses it for the purpose/with the result that fruit more it may bear
(The participle pheron mean that the action of bearing is subordinate to what God does about it.)
There are two clauses which are coordinated by “kai” (and). Kai coordinates two separate clauses which have the same value — neither is subordinate to the other. It tells us nothing about whether we should translate the language into English as “and” or “but”.
The question is whether there are three categories of branches or two in the passage: bearing/not bearing [because dead], or three: Living branches which bear and do not bearing, and non-bearing branches.
In the remainder of the passage he contrasts between living and dead branches only. That would lean toward the same two categories in this sentence.
Next point, the first clause (every branch that does not bear fruit) is missing the “in order that” (hina) and the conclusion
If a branch does not bear fruit, he picks it up [______________]
If a breach does not bear fruit, he cleans it off, hina it will bear more fruit.
What is the purpose that God airei the not bearing branch? It must be implied from the passage. It can’t be implied from the next clause: bear more fruit, because it has not given any fruit at all.
And, what is the difference between raising the branch and cleansing the branch? Wouldn’t cleansing include, if necessary, encouragement (which is what the Airei means lift up argument is)?
If does not bear, then Raise (?)
If does bear, the cleanse.
If you are not in me, you will not bear.
If you remain in me, you will bear.
Those that remain are those that bear.
Those that do not remain, are those that do not bear.
Those that do not bear = those that do not remain.
They picked up and thrown out.
Those that do bear=those that do remain
They are cleansed and they will ask/glorify/bear
As I go through it, I can’t see how there can be this third category of branches — non-bearing, true branches. I think the appeal is that “prune” sounds wholly painful. But cleanse does not need to be negative. It can be mean to clean a wound, pull weeds, run off monsters, purify blood. Notice also that the cleansing takes place by means of the word I have spoken. Also in chapter 13, Jesus cleans the disciples by washing their feet.
All of the encouragement which is sought with the attractive “he lifts up to help” interpretation of verse 2 is already present in “he cleans” in verse 2.
Final argument: I have never grown grapes, but I am willing to bet that grapes will still fruit if the vine is on the ground. I am thinking about tomatoes which grow best — for human consumption — when the branches are kept off the ground, but the tomato will still fruit even if the branches are on the ground.