|John 15:3-4 |
3 Now you are to be clean through the word that I have spoken to you.1 [Those words you hear the Lord speak to you are Spirit and life-giving; those spoken words you hear are engrafted into your heart, cleansing you a little more. From the Word of the Lord within: "Like the Apostles, you too must be cleansed. Only those who want to be clean can hear. I am only reached by those with a penitent heart. The Spirit gives life with every word heard. Hear and live."]
4 Abide [dwell, remain] in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine; neither can you, unless you abide in me.
1 Now you are to be clean through the word that I have spoken to you. How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed to and watching for Your word.
I have retained your word [spoken commands] in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9,11. (To heed according to your word, is to listen, pay attention, and obey the words heard.) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. Eph 5:25-26. (So by listening to his words, and obeying him, you are cleansed and sanctified). Sanctify [make them holy, purify, consecrate] them through your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:17. Jesus spoke to his disciples for three years, night and day; and then they were clean because he said: It is the Spirit who gives life... the words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life-giving. John 6:63. Instant salvation is a lie, but he still speaks, he still cleanses; he is in your heart, knocking: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev 3:20. To hear him you must wait and listen quietly, in the humility of a sinner, wishing to be cleansed.
This verse has been universally translated as Now you are clean or You are already clean. However, the disciples had not yet received the sealing of the Holy Spirit, John 20:22, nor the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:1-4. Further the disciples had not even been tried by Satan, which began the night before Jesus' crucifixion, where Peter denied Jesus three times, which clearly conflicts with Peter being clean. So if they were clean, it was only partial and very temporary at best.
The context of this verse is about branches of the vine that have produced fruit, which the Father purges, (prunes back), so that even more fruit can be produced in the future. Following this sequence, the disciples had been cleansed sufficiently to produce some beginning fruit, but now they were about to be cut back substantially to no fruit and being unclean again. This is exactly what happens to each of us in our spiritual journey: it's like two steps forward and one step back, with every step back being a traumatic, painful pruning of the evidence of our progress.
However, Jesus' words in this verse do not indicate a partial cleanliness. So, looking for another explanation, the original Greek for this verse shows the Greek word hdh (2235, 5815) translated as now or already "has a suggested reference to some other time or some expectation;" and the definition for Greek word este (1510), translated as are, is really to be. For this verse to be compatible with the message of cleanliness and purity, it is rendered here as Now you are to be clean.