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Several times in the Old Testament, the Messiah is referred to as “the branch,” or Hebrew צֶמַח (tzemach):

Isa. 4:2

In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. NASB, ©1996

Jer. 33:15

In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. NASB, ©1996

Zec. 3:8

Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. NASB, ©1996

Zec. 6:12

“Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD. NASB, ©1996

However, in John 15:1, Jesus refers to himself as “the very vine”—as the vine instead of the branch. In consideration of the four instances where he is prophesied to be “the branch” in the Old Testament, why does Jesus then refer to himself as “the vine” rather than “the branch” in John 15:1?

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  • I don't want to pull too much out of the metaphors. But, if you take a branch from a grape vine and plant it in the ground, it becomes a vine.
    – Perry Webb
    May 3 at 12:34
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The branch and the vine are two separate metaphors. You would run into a bit of trouble if you mix them.

The branch is a metaphor as a branch from the family tree of David.

The vine is a metaphor as the source and connection of all our nourishment and needs. In this case, we are the branches.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I would treat these metaphors separately.

As for the concept of true [very] vine, it was dealt with in When Jesus said, I am "the true" vine ( ἡ ἀληθινή) - John 15:1, was the word "true" a random choice or is there any significance?

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  • I'm intrigued by the passages in Zech 1 v8-10. In his vision was a man mounted on a red horse, standing among the myrtle trees; Zechariah asked "what are these, my lord?" The angle answered, "I will show you what these are"; Then the "man" standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the LORD has sent out throughout the whole earth.... "He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
    – Dale Handy
    Jun 20 '20 at 23:53
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Metaphors are by their very nature open to contradiction by other equally valid and applicable metaphors. E.g. Jesus is "the Door" (John 10:7) as well as "the Bread" (John 6:35) of heaven. Quite clearly, these are contradictory if taken literally (i.e the opposite sense in which metaphors are to be taken), but not when recognized as the metaphors they are: Jesus is the Door, because He is the sole entrance to heaven, just as a door is the sole entrance to the house (John 14:6); Jesus is the Bread, because He "gives life" (John 5:21; 6:57b; 15:5 etc.); but doors don't give life, nor does bread serve as an entrance to the house. Again, Jesus is said to be "the Word" (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13) of God, even though God doesn't have a tongue; and the "Son of God" (1 John 4:15; Revelation 2:18; John 10:36) even though God doesn't have sexual organs.

Therefore, Jesus can be the offshoot or branch of David, seeing as He is a significant descendant of David, namely, the Messiah, who comes from David, and 'branches out' into the whole world (Daniel 2; 7; Mark 16:15), as well as the Vine, since the vine is the source of life for the branches which live on it, and the branches are dead if not for the life-giving nutrients provided by the vine, just as Christians cannot be born again or live a Christian life, since, "apart from [Christ they] can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Also, Christ, being both God and man (John 1:1-14; Revelation 1:17) can be spoken of in either his capacity as man, or as God, being both at once, and as such we find things contradictory to the nature of God, and to the nature of man, both said of Christ, because He is one person only, but has two natures of which these things are properly said respectively:

Revelation 1:12-18 And I looked for the voice that spoke to me. And turning, I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, one like the son of man, clothed with a garment coming down to the feet, and having a golden sash. And his head and his hair were white - as white wool, and as snow - and his eyes were like a fiery flame, and his feet were like fine brass when it glows a furnace; and his voice like the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars. And from his mouth proceeded a sharp sword: and his face shone as the the sun when it shine in its vigor. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying: Fear not. I am the First and the Last, the Living One; who died; and behold I live for ever, and I have the keys of Death and Hell.

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In John 15:1, why did Jesus call himself “the [very] vine” rather than “the branch” ?

  • By His partaking of our flesh and blood, through the Incarnation (Hebrews 2:14-18), Christ became a branch, stemming forth from the root of Jesse and David (Isaiah 11:1-10; Jeremiah 33:15).

  • By our partaking of His flesh and blood, through the bread and wine of the Last Supper (John 13:2-4), He, in His turn, becomes our vine or root, and we His branches (John 15:1-5).

He took our sinfully-inclined flesh and blood (1 Corinthians 15:50), cleansed it, and then gave it back to us, purified of all sin and passion (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 2:1, 3:5), so that our human nature might become good once again (Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19), as it was in the beginning of the world (Genesis 1:4-31), before the fall of man (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

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