Things You Never Knew about the Allegory of the Olive Tree

March 9-15

There are a couple of ways to study the Allegory of the Olive Tree. Let’s talk about the traditional way first, and then I’ll throw out a couple more ways to read the allegory.

Traditional: The Scattering and Gathering of the House of Israel

Come Follow Me already gives some awesome insight into this chapter by breaking down a couple of the time periods for you.

“Verses 3-14. The Scattering of Israel before the time of Christ.

Verses 15-28. The ministry of Christ and the Apostles

Verses 29-49. The Great Apostasy

Verses 50-76 The gathering of Israel in the latter days

Verses 76-77 The Millennium and end of the world”

Here are a couple of other pieces of information that will help you make sense of the allegory. 

Sometimes it helps to look at one symbol and follow it throughout the entire chapter. Though there are wild trees, let’s just focus on the natural tree (or House of Israel). The natural tree starts to decay at the top. Wild branches are grafted into the natural tree, and it bears good fruit. Young branches are taken and planted in other places. Those branches are eventually returned to the main tree. The bitter fruit of the tree is burned. The good fruit get’s gathered. Try looking at the tree from this small summary; it can help make sense of it as a whole.

Let’s break it down by verses. 

v3 The House of Israel was in Egypt because of the famine in Canaan. There was some apostasy.

v5 The Israelites went back to Canaan after a forty-year captivity. They didn’t have the Melchizedek priesthood, but they did have the Aaronic priesthood.

v6, 10-11 Assyrian and Babylonian conquests. The Gentiles are brought in.

v13 The following groups were led away in the following order: ten tribes, Jews, Lehi and posterity

v18 Some of the Gentiles were good and honorable.

v19-22 The other tribes were taken farther north into Assyria.

v23 Speaking of the Jews

v25 Nephites and Lamanties

v28 All Nephites and Lamanites converted to the Lord after He visits them

v29 The Great Apostasy

v30-36 Lot’s of churches now exist and none of them are good.

v39 The first (ten tribes), the second (Jews), and the last (Lehi’s posterity) all became part of the Great Apostasy

v40 The Lamanites destroyed the Nephites.

v44 The Jaredites were swept away to make room for Lehi’s posterity.

v52 Gospel being taken to the world

v57 The tares and wheat are growing together.

v61 Mission age change, every member a missionary.

v63 The gospel first gets taken to Lehi’s posterity, then Jews, then the ten tribes.

v74 All united under Christ in the Millennium

v77 Millennium ends and final judgement

Other Ways to Study the Allegory of the Olive Tree

Find new symbols. For example, the vineyard could be you.

Study the botany of olive trees and vineyards. Here are a couple of fun facts that add meaning to the allegory.

  • Wild olive tree branches aren’t very desirable, but their roots are stronger and more disease resistant.
  • Branches and roots HAVE to be equal. The branches use photosynthesis to nourish the roots, and the roots give water to the branches.
  • If you tend the wild fruit, it can often taste better than neglected tame fruit. 
  • Disclaimer for botany: While studying these symbolic trees can add new meaning to allegories, know that the Lord can work outside of what we understand about botanical principles. For example, if tame and wild fruit are both nurtured equally, the tame fruit will always taste better. However, in the context of Heavenly Father’s children, this is not always true.

Make a list of the feelings Christ experienced while tending to His vineyard. What does it teach you about Him?

When have there been times that you were planted in “poor spots of ground” and found that you gave “good fruit”?


There are many great ways to study this allegory. Don’t get stuck in just one way!

One thought on “Things You Never Knew about the Allegory of the Olive Tree

  1. Thanks for the insights! It’s always helpful to get another point of view, especially when it comes to parables. I tried following a single symbol throughout the allegory, as you said, and really focused on the branches. Looking at it that way I found some neat new insights—like the way the Lord couldn’t clear away the bad all at once when he grafted the native branches back into the tree. I realized that in the same way that the lord of the vineyard had to patiently trim the bad to avoid too much of a shock to the tree’s system, God had to prepare the world for the Restoration and is still working with all of us now, slowly but surely clearing away confusion, misunderstandings, and prejudice from among his people, preparing the way for more and more goodness and truth.


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