In John chapter six Jesus declares many times that he is the bread of life that comes down from heaven, from the Father. In a lengthy discourse, Jesus establishes two main things: 1) The Father gives the true bread, 2) Jesus, himself, is that bread.

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life... - John 6:32-35a

Within the realm of typology the Manna is seen as the type (foreshadowing) and Jesus as the anti-type (actuality). This seems borne out as Jesus acknowledges that the Father gave the bread in Exodus but that he, himself, is the "true" bread. The contrast appears not to be between true and false but between shadow and reality, if you will.

Later, in John 15, Jesus declares that he is the "true" vine:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. - John 15:1

The context of chapter 15, however, doesn't offer a similarly explicit contrast. Assuming the adjective "true" represents a contrast and taking "true vine" as the anti-type (actuality), what is the vine that is the type (foreshadowing)?


Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. 9Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. 10The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. 11She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. 12Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? 13The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. 14Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; 15And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. 16It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.

[Psalm 80 9-16 KJV]

Psalm 80 describes Israel as a vine. Brought out of Egypt, and planted like a plant potted and travelled and transplanted in a foreign land.

Grown vast, with boughs like cedars. But, latterly, burned with fire, in judgment.

Wasted, and forlorn. Fruitless. Carried off to another land, uprooted.

A similar figure is the fig tree, which Jesus cursed, which bore no figs at the proper season, that is to say the season of the coming of the Son of man. Thus, cursed.

But He, himself, is the true vine. Not a figure of that which is yet to come. Not a figure which, itself, failed even to properly, in faithfulness, represent that which it was supposed to figure.

But he, himself, is come, the true vine and the branches which are fixed in him shall be fruitful.

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    Truth compared to shadow, not falsity. – curiousdannii Oct 30 '20 at 15:05
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    Actually, on reflection, a very interesting question - Made so on account of this answer - Thanks! – Dave Oct 30 '20 at 17:57
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    Excellent answer. +1. – Dottard Oct 30 '20 at 20:00

This is not an answer as much as a train of thought set in motion by the question and based on the premise that Adam “is a type of the one who was to come.” (Rm 5:14)

The imagery of the vine and branches brings to mind a genealogical chart or a family tree. If we can imagine it as such, then we can juxtapose the physical genealogy that originates with Adam, the first born of the earth, with the spiritual genealogy that originates with Jesus, the first born of heaven.

  • “Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit… The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.” (1 Cor 15: 45-48)
  • “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’” (Jn 3:5-7)

The vine of God also calls to mind that which is planted by God and which is expected to bear fruit in due season and according to His will. Because he did not obey God's will, Adam represents the planting that was untrue to God. In contrast, Jesus who sought to do “the will of him who sent me“ is the true and faithful vine (Jn 5:30). The Gospel of John beautifully lays out how Jesus, in fulfilling the will of the Father, also unveils God’s vision for each one of us:

  • “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love… This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.“(Jn 15:8-12).

Finally, we can contrast the rigid nature of the physical genealogy with the fluid and ever changing nature of the spiritual genealogy. The branches of the spiritual vine or tree (Rm 11:17-24) are continually breaking or being pruned, grafted and re-grafted. The connection between branch and vine is spiritual and conditional; it is only by a mutual in-dwelling whereby we abide by and in the love of God that we can remain fruitful:

  • “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (Jn 15:5-6)
  • “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree.” (Rm 11:17)

John describes many things as true. I am wondering what these passages in John's gospel have in common:

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world (1:9 ESV)

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth (4:23 ESV)

For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps (4:37 ESV)

my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (6:32-33 ESV)

So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. (7:28 ESV)

You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. (8:15-16 ESV)

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser (15:1 ESV)

In several places and maybe all, it seems that there is a contrast between a physical concept in this world and a spiritual concept, coming from God.

  1. There is physical, ordinary light, but also spiritual, true light.

  2. There are people who worship without the Spirit and those who worship in a true, spiritual way.

  3. There are ordinary sowers and reapers in this world, and there are people who sow and reap a true, spiritual harvest.

  4. There is ordinary physical bread and there is true, spiritual bread - Jesus himself.

  5. There were many ordinary people who taught in the temple from their own human understanding, but Jesus was spiritual and taught true wisdom from his Father.

  6. There were many ordinary human judges, but Jesus was not one of them. But he would make true, spiritual judgments together with his Father.

  7. There were many ordinary, physical vine plants, but Jesus with his followers is a spirital vine plant, a spiritual "Israel" (people of God) consisting of followers who are intimately connected to Jesus.

  • I think that this is the right answer. The "true" one is the spiritual reality for which the physical model or illustration was created. – user558840 Mar 10 at 21:46

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