Can you tell me what the Greek preposition "in" (ἐν) in John 15:2 means in English?
In the metaphor of the vine, preposition 'in' means connected with the tree trunk, the root and the whole tree, when the branch receives the power of the tree and bears fruits. Saying that "every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away", means that this branch has already lost this contact, it is becoming dead, and thus is removed. This contact is having the mind of Christ, as Cyril of Alexandria says, is indwelling in God, as Meister Eckhart says. The taking away of the branch before it is (completely) dead, means the taking away of the lukewarm, who don't know what they do, their faith is blind, ideological, and thus they are not cheerful givers (2 Cor. 9.7).
George, it seems to me that if someone is in Christ then they must have the life of Him. How can it mean that the branch has already lost this contact? Does this mean that they were alive and died off, or that they never were alive. This is very confusing to me, and I've heard and read different thoughts, but I keep coming back to the phrase "in me". Also, when it says He takes away this branch in Him, what does the Greek work "takes away" mean. I looked up the Greek and it seems to say that this word is also translated "lifts" or "lifts up". I'm not trying to be controversial for the sake of controvery, but I just want to understand.
St. Symeon the New Theologian uses your question, when he thinks about resurrection and how all are going to be resurrected. He answers with a simile of a man who is in the daylight, while being blind. Light is everywhere, but he can't see it. In the same way, all will be resurrected, but not all will be able to stand in God's face.
To take away, lift up or cut the unable branch, doesn't mean that it returns to absolute nothing, as if it had never been created. It means a confirmation, that this man has chosen to remain blind for ever.
The word airein (αἵρειν) in this passage means what we do when we cut a branch from a tree and throw it away. I think that take away or lift up can both be used as translations, although the first is better (to lift up means also to elate, which is not the case here).
In the metaphore of the vine and its branches the branches were all alive at first. Only those who have died and therefore bear no fruit are cut off by the husbandman. This the Lord says by way of warning to the living branches, it is of no concern to the already dead. The question then is how to remain alive. Of course, by remaining in organic relation and contact with Christ in his body the church and availing yourself of every means there provided to imbibe his vivifying energies. Do not worry about the fruit, it is the husbandman's concern.