The Parables in Matthew | A Tree and Its Fruit

What does Jesus say about the fruit of the spirit? That is a great question. Let’s look at a parable or story that Jesus told when he was here on earth to show us who God is and to die on the cross for everything we have done wrong. We will start with the parables in Matthew: A tree and Its fruit.

Introduction to Jesus’ Parables in Matthew: A Tree and Its Fruit

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds (exclusively) in parables…(to fulfill the prophecy): “I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD

Matthew 13:34-35

Conclusion: Before Matthew relates what Jesus said in chapter thirteen in His Kingdom of Heaven Parables, Matthew says that Jesus’ parables fulfilled prophecy. 

Note: In Mark’s gospel, Jesus responded to His rejection by the Jewish leaders by speaking in parables. Parables kept those who rejected Jesus from understanding His teaching. After giving them, He’d privately explain their meaning to His followers (Mark 4:2, 10-12). Jesus sometimes teaches parables in Matthew’s Gospel for different reasons than the ones in Mark’s Gospel.

A Tree and Its Fruit (Matthew 7:15-20; 12:33-37).

Introduction: Warning Against False Prophets

Beware of the false prophets, who come…in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” 

Jesus warns His listeners about false prophets. They look like God’s prophets and intend to deceive God’s people. In his epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul warns that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). And the Apostle John tells us to test the spirits to see that they’re from God (1 John 4:1).

What are their fruits?

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thornbushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? “

Jesus tells us to identify false prophets by their fruits. He begins and ends this passage by saying you will know them by their fruits. This literary device tells us that this is the point of this passage. Fruit is a figure of speech. Good fruit doesn’t come from thorns or thistle plants. 

So, what is the prophet’s metaphorical fruit?

“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, (and vice-versa). Every tree (without) good fruit is…thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.”

What isn’t Meant

Some assume this means a Christian with good works will prove the reality of their faith by their works, and someone without good works will prove it was false. But, in context, Jesus isn’t talking about that. 

And the bad tree thrown into the fire doesn’t mean they’re sentenced to Hell. Jesus uses this agricultural metaphor to explain that a farmer will discard a bad tree and burn it. Every reference to fire isn’t an allusion to Hell.

It’s his words

The fruit of a false prophet is what they teach or say. Jesus goes on to clarify; bad fruit is what false prophets produce.

“Either assume the tree (and) its fruit (is) good, or assume the tree (and) its fruit (is)bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.”

Conclusion: When hearing spiritual teaching, discern whether its source and message are true (Matthew 24:11). Later in Matthew, Jesus gives similar instruction about this fruit:

“You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from …the heart. The good person brings out of his good treasure good things, and the evil person brings out of his evil treasure evil things…. “People will give account for “every careless word… on the day of judgment.” For you will be justified or condemned by your words (Matthew 12:33-37).”


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