Every Good Tree Bringeth Forth Good Fruit

Alan C. Miner

According to John Welch, when Jesus points to the imagery of the tree: "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit" (3 Nephi 14:17), echoes of temple and eschatological imagery are discernible in his words. First, Jesus speaks of eternal trees, symbolic of the final state of one's eternal character. . . . Second, these good trees are trees of life. One only lives forever by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life (see Genesis 3:22). Accordingly, the tree is an important feature in the landscape of all temple literature. . . . Third, Jesus equates individual people with the Tree, or by planting the seed of life in oneself, each disciple grows up into a tree of life, as the prophet Alma describes in Alma 32:41-42. . . . Fourth, another temple echo may be heard in the possibility that the cross is also, ironically, a symbol of a Tree of Life (see 1 Peter 2:24). Each person who is raised up in the form of the tree will have eternal life. Ritually, the early Christians prayed in the "cruciform" position, with their hands raised, "stretched out towards the Lord." This "extension," they said, "is the upright cross." Originally this signified the passion of Christ and was a gesture used in confessing Christ at baptism; it imitated the cross, death, and a mystic unification and life with Christ. [John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, pp. 75-77]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary