Jacob’s Sermon on the Allegory of the Olive Trees – Jacob 4-6



After sharing a sermon which he delivered to his people following the death of his brother, Jacob began to teach his future readers.


Jacob’s goal was to teach his readers that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can redeem any of God’s children, even those who are currently far from Him.


  1. Build your foundation on Christ (Jacob 4).
    1. We write on plates to create a durable record for our descendants (Jacob 4:1-3).
    2. We know of Christ, just as the holy prophets who came before us knew of Him (Jacob 4:4-5).
    3. Because of our faith in Jesus, we can perform mighty miracles. But God shows us our weakness so that we know that we do these things by His grace (Jacob 4:6-7).
    4. God’s works are amazing. Don’t try to counsel Him. Learn from Him, and be reconciled to Him through the Atonement of Christ (Jacob 4:8-11).
    5. We know these things by the Spirit, which teaches us of “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:12-13).
    6. [Referring to Psalm 118:22]: The Jews have rejected the prophets. They will reject the stone (the Savior). After they reject Him, how is it possible that He can ever become their foundation, “the head of their corner?” I will answer this question (Jacob 4:14-18).
  2. Zenos’s Allegory of the Olive Tree (Jacob 5)
    1. Remember the words of the prophet Zenos (Jacob 5:1-2).
    2. A man was laboring to take care of a single, tame olive tree. He removed the branches of this tree and grafted many of them into trees in other parts of the vineyard, replacing them with the branches of a wild olive tree (Jacob 5:3-14).
    3. After a long time, he and his servant returned to the vineyard, they found that the tame tree was producing good fruit. The other trees were also producing good fruit, all except for part of one of the trees. He instructed his servant to burn the branches that were producing bad fruit, but his servant persuaded him to give those branches a little more time (Jacob 5:15-28).
    4. Some time later, the man and his servant returned to find that things were not going well. The tame tree was producing all kinds of fruit, none of it good. The other trees had also become corrupted, and the branches which had produced bad fruit the last time had taken over their tree, so that the good branches had died (Jacob 5:29-40).
    5. The man wept and asked his servant what more they could have done for the vineyard, and who is to blame for this tragedy (Jacob 5:41-47).
    6. The servant answered that the branches have overcome the roots, “taking strength unto themselves” because of their pride. The man commanded his servant to burn the vineyard, but the servant convinced him to “spare it a little longer (Jacob 5:48-51).
    7. The man outlined a new plan: they would gradually return the branches to their original trees, discarding the only worst branches and keeping the root and the branches equal in strength so that the good branches could grow and overcome the bad. This new plan would be labor-intensive, so many more servants were needed (Jacob 5:52-69).
    8. More servants were called, and they worked together to execute the plan. Eventually, all of the trees were producing good fruit. The man thanked his servants for their great work. He said that he would enjoy the good fruit for a long time. When the vineyard began producing bad fruit again, he would separate the good from the bad and burn the vineyard (Jacob 5:70-77).
  3. Lessons from the allegory (Jacob 6)
    1. The tame olive tree represents the house of Israel. The scenes in this allegory will literally happen. In the last days, the servants of the Lord will work hard to gather Israel (Jacob 6:1-3).
    2. God remembers Israel and is patient with them in spite of their stubbornness (Jacob 6:4).
    3. God has patiently nourished you. Please bring forth good fruit, so that you won’t be burned. Be wise (Jacob 6:5-12).
    4. Farewell. I’ll meet you at “the pleasing bar of God” (Jacob 6:13).

My Takeaways

How can people who reject the Savior ever be saved? This is the question Jacob explores in this sermon. By sharing and discussing Zenos’s allegory of the olive trees, he tries to emphasize to us that our salvation is a process. We may bring forth evil fruit one day, but the Lord will patiently continue to nourish us in the hope that we will repent and learn to bring forth good fruit.

I will respond to Jacob’s words by believing in God’s ability to save His children. I will repent, believing that God can help me change and improve. I will also remember that other people can change. Even people who seem to have rejected God may one day be reconciled to Him, build their foundation on Him, and receive His redeeming power.

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4 thoughts on “Jacob’s Sermon on the Allegory of the Olive Trees – Jacob 4-6

Add yours

  1. Thank you for your fantastic outline of Jacon 4-6, I found it really helpful to see it summarised in this way. I’ve just got two suggestions for some slight amendments to Jacob 5 for you:
    2B. I’d be tempted to rephrase the statement that says that the master (the Saviour) was struggling to take care of the tree. He was in fact doing an excellent job caring for the tree, but it (the tree) was beginning to decay despite His perfect efforts.
    2B & 2C, etc. No branches are transplanted on to wild trees in this analogy. The young and tender branches of the natural mother tree were taken and planted in other parts of the vineyard (see for example Jacob 5:21,23,54).
    Hope that helps. Thanks again for such a great post!


    1. Thanks very much for the feedback on this post, and I’m glad you found it helpful.
      On consideration, I agree with your first comment. I’ve changed the word “struggling” to “laboring,” which I think conveys the effort and care he put into this work without suggesting that he was doing a poor job.
      I’m honestly very interested in your comment on the wild branches. I have always imagined the wild branches coming from within the vineyard, so it seemed logical that many of the branches simply traded places between the (originally) tame tree and the (originally) wild trees. I’m going to have to rethink the allegory a bit to see how that changes my summary and conclusions.
      Thanks again for the insights. I appreciate it!


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