Spiritual Meaning of – The Vine, Vineyard and Fig


The fact that the vine is used in the Word to signify spiritual good, and the fig-tree natural good, is up to this day still unknown, because the internal sense of the Word has been lost; nevertheless, wherever these expressions occur, they signify or involve this meaning; as also in what the Lord spoke in parables concerning a vineyard and a fig-tree; as in Matthew:–

Jesus seeing a fig-tree in the way, came to it, but found nothing thereon save leaves only, and He said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee hence-forward forever; and presently the fig-tree withered away (Matthew 21:19),

by which is meant, that no good, not even natural good, was to be found upon the earth. Similar is the meaning of the vine and fig-tree in Jeremiah:–

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, and they knew not how to blush; therefore I will surely gather them, saith Jehovah; there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig-tree, and the leaf hath fallen (Jeremiah 8:12, 13),

by which is signified that all good, both spiritual and natural, had been completely destroyed, since they were so sinful/depraved as to have lost even the sense of shame, like those at the present day who are in evil, and who, so far from blushing for their wickedness, make it their boast. In Hosea:–

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree in the beginning (Hosea 9:10).

And in Joel:–

Be not afraid, ye beasts of My fields, for the tree shall bear its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine shall yield their strength (Joel 2:22).

The vine here denotes spiritual good, and the fig-tree natural good. The Ancient Church, being spiritual, is described by a vineyard, from its fruits, which are grapes, and which represent and signify the works of charity/good works.

[2] This is clearly evident from many passages of the Word, as in Isaiah:–

I will sing for My beloved a song of My beloved touching his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard in a horn of the son of oil; and he made a hedge about it, and fenced it with stones, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also hewed out a wine-press therein and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes; and now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard: the vineyard of Jehovah of armies is the house of Israel (Isaiah 5:1-3, 7).

Here the vineyard signifies the Ancient Church, thus the spiritual church, and it is plainly said to be the house of Israel; for by Israel in the Word is signified the spiritual church, and by Judah the celestial church. In Jeremiah:–

Again will I build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: again shalt thou deck thy timbrels, and shalt go forth in the dance of them that make merry again shalt thou plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria (Jeremiah 31:4, 5),

where vineyards denote the spiritual church; and the subject is Israel, by whom is signified the spiritual church, as just said.

[3] In Ezekiel:–

then I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples, they shall dwell upon the land in confidence, and they shall build houses, and plant vineyards (Ezekiel 28:25, 26).

Here a vineyard is the spiritual church, or Israel; and to plant vineyards is to be instructed in the truths and goods of faith. In Amos:–

I have smitten you with blasting and mildew the multitude of your gardens and your vineyards and your fig-trees and your olive-yards hath the palmer-worm devoured thus will I do unto thee, O Israel (Amos 4:9, 12).

Gardens here denote the things of the church, vineyards the spiritual things of the church, fig-trees the natural things, olive-yards: the celestial things; thus vineyards” denote the things of the spiritual church, or Israel. Again:–

I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof, they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them (Amos 9:14).

Planting vineyards denotes the planting of the spiritual church; thus a vineyard means the spiritual church, or Israel.

[4] As a vineyard signifies the spiritual church, so also does a vine; for a vine is a part of a vineyard; so that they are as the church and a man of the church, and the signification is the same. In Jeremiah:–

Is Israel a servant? if he was born of the house, why is he become a prey? I had planted thee a wholly noble vine, a seed of truth; how then art thou turned into the averted branches of a strange vine unto Me? (Jeremiah 2:14, 21),

where a vine denotes the spiritual church, or Israel. In Ezekiel:–

Take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel; thy mother was like a vine, in thy likeness, planted by the waters, fruitful and full of leaves by reason of many waters (Ezekiel 19:1, 10).

A vine here denotes the Ancient Spiritual Church, which is the mother; thus Israel, which is therefore said to be in thy likeness. In Hosea:–

Israel is an empty vine, which putteth forth fruit like himself (Hosea 10:1).

A vine denotes the spiritual church, or Israel, here desolated. Again:–

O Israel, return unto Jehovah thy God; I will be as the dew unto Israel they that dwell in his shadow shall return they shall revive the corn, and blossom as the vine; his memory shall be as the wine of Lebanon (Hosea 14:1, 5, 7),

where the vine denotes the spiritual church, or Israel. In Moses:–

Until Shiloh come binding His young ass to the vine, and His ass’s colt unto the choice vine (Genesis 49:10, 11).

This is a prophecy of the Lord; the vine and the “choice vine, denote spiritual churches.

[5] The Lord’s parables of the labourers in the vineyards in like manner signified spiritual churches (Matt. 20:1-16; 21:33-44; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-16). Since the vine signifies the spiritual church, and the primary thing of the spiritual church is charity, in which the Lord is present, and by means of which He conjoins Himself with man, and Himself alone works every good, therefore the Lord compares Himself to a vine, and describes the man of the church, or the spiritual church, in these words, in John:–

I am the true vine and My Father is the husbandman every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away and every branch that beareth fruit, He will prune it, that it may bear more fruit; abide in Me, and I in you as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye, except ye abide in Me I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing; this is My commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you (John 15:1-5, 12)

from these words it is evident what the spiritual church is.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Isaiah 5. The song of the vineyard. The evil that people do. Woes pronounced on the faithless | Bummyla

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