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Mounce Archive 15 - Play on Words (John 15:2-3)

Categories Mondays with Mounce

Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

In today's post, Mounce opens up John 15:2-3, where Jesus explained the Vine and the Branches - a fine example of word play in the original Greek. Though translation is often tricky, Mounce clearly describes and believes that the Word is clear.

Let the excerpt below encourage you to read the original post here.

I suspect that there is nothing harder to bring into English than a play on words. When that play on words branches (pun intended) into metaphors (and the question of how hard to push the imagery), and into the relationship between justification and sanctification, it moves from “hard” to “almost impossible.” Then add in John’s use of double meanings and nuances, and many translators go screaming into the night.

As a follow-up on a previous post, in which I was asked about the relationship between “prunes” (John 15:2) and “clean” (v 3), here are the two verses; pay special attention to the Greek. “Every branch (klema) of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away (airo) , and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (kathairo), that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean (katharos) because of the word that I have spoken to you” (ESV).

(Continue reading the entire post here.)


William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.

Learn more about Bill’s Greek resources at and visit his blog on spiritual growth at

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