Vol.IX No.IX Pg.4
November 1972

Learning From Figures

Robert F. Turner

The relation of the disciples of Christ to their Saviour is pictured for us (Jn. 15:l-8) in terms of HORTICULTURE. Christ said, I am the vine, ye are the branches. The function being emphasized in this figure is that of fruit-bearing—As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. In this same passage we see the theme or principle of the lesson is our dependence upon Christ for life and usefulness, Now, outline it like this:


UNIT The Branch


FUNCTION To Bear Fruit

THEME Dependence on Ch.

ENTRANCE (Grafted- Rom. 11)

EXIT Cut Off

Many figures are used in the New Testament to describe the relationship of saints and Christ, and not all of these points will be found in every case, nor in one passage. Never force a figure to fit the outline.

Get your Bible, concordance, paper and pencil and try your hand at this study. You will be amazed at what it can teach you. We will abbreviate the headings and give further examples:


U. Citizen Stone, etc. Child

C. King Foundation Eld. Bro.

F. Submission Holy Temple Godliness

T. Authority Gods Dwell. God-like E. Translated Built Born

X. Cast Out Firey Trial Cursed

(There will be variations. Jn. 3:5 has one born to enter the kingdom and Gal. 4:5 has some adopted into the family; but these conform to the demands of the figure. I went to 2 Pet, 2:l4 for cursed children, but you may go to Jn. 8:37-47 or Matt. 5:45 to show that the child relationship is dependent upon continued conduct. Other CATEGORIES are Vineyard, Army, Body, Race, etc. Include Scripture citations in your outline.)

There are some characteristics common to all such figures, and here one begins to reap great rewards for his study and effort. For example: the unit of each figure is always, the individual Christian, never a group, church, or denomination. The chief position in each figure is always given to Christ. Not one figure teaches a permanent relationship, or fixed and unchangeable status. The sheep can be lost, the building material burned, the branch cut off. We wonder how any Bible student can fail to see that the unfaithful will be rejected in the day of judgment.

And all these figures refer to ONE and the SAME RELATIONSHIP. There is no difference in being built into building, grafted on to the vine, born into the family, hired to work in the vineyard, or translated in the kingdom. In each case a figure is being used to emphasize some particular point about the saints relationship with God through Christ, and the language used is dictated by the figure. (A stone isnt born in a house.)

Finally, figurative language does not make truth less important. Divine truth is thus impressed upon us.