This commentary gives this for the interpretation of the fruit of John 15:2: Some scholars suggest . . . converts, Other scholars interpret
this fruit as being the ethical virtues. But . . . . development of the image in the next section
(vv. 7-17) suggests that bearing fruit refers to the possession of the
divine life itself and especially . . .knowledge of God and love. . . .Thus, the image of fruit symbolizes that which is
at the heart of both Christian witness and ethics -- union with God.
Augustine of Hippo:He says: "These
things I command you, that ye love one another." And thereby we are
to understand that this is our fruit, of which He had said, "I have
chosen you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your
fruit should remain.". . . that is, that we should love one another, . . . a
fruit that we cannot have apart from Him, just as the branches can
do nothing apart from the vine. Our fruit, therefore, is charity,
which the apostle explains to be, "Out of a pure heart, and a good
conscience, and faith unfeigned."
An early Catholic source and a modern protestant one both miss the mark.
If the fruit is converts, where is the justice of God? The fruitless branches are to be gathered to be burned (Jn. 15:6).
no one has
power to make others convert -- even God forces no one -- and He, if
just, will surely condemn no one to the fire on the basis of lack of
converts. Ethical virtues? Knowledge of God? Union with
God? Love? These seem reasonable candidates, and Augustine makes
a good case for the latter, and he does it on the basis of selected words of Jesus! The ethical virtues
are surely good fruits. If we seek a scriptural basis for them, we find
nothing better than this, which I have found referenced in several
articles on the Web: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,(Gal. 5:22).
No question, these are very good fruits, but this is Paul. What we
must know is, what did Jesus mean by "fruit" when he gave this allegory
of the vine? It is a very common error, this going to Paul to
interpret Jesus. This is the worm in the core of the apple
of Christendom! We must not make that error here. It does,
however, show the insidious deceptiveness of Paul (and Augustine)
who use good words often for a bad cause.
What is this "fruit" to Jesus? We find our first clue here: Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but
inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their
fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?(Mat. 7:15,16) What do prophets produce? Prophecy! The words from their mouths. Their fruit is their words. Next clue: Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree
bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You
brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his
good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure
brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will
render account for every careless word they utter (Mat.12:33-36). Words again! Now, on to the Parable of the Sower: As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word . . . he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another
sixty, and in another thirty (Mat. 13:23). This is multiplication of the Word -- again, words are the fruit. For this and other reasons, we conclude that the fruit in John 15:1 is the Word, repeated in the world. More