Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Every tree not wanting to produce beautiful fruit cuts itself off and into the fire it tosses itself.
Though in English, what happens to the tree in this passage seems as though it is done by others. However, in Greek, it is clear that the tree brings this fate upon itself. This is not a judgment on the tree as much as it is the natural result of the trees actions. For more about the meaning of "fire" in Christ's work, read the end of this article.
The word translated as "every" is one word meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. The idea here is that this rule applies to all trees.
The word for "tree" most commonly means fruit bearing trees. The tree was a symbol for the naturally productive assets of nature as opposed to fields which must be planted each year. As a metaphor for human life, this tree is the part of our lives that produce something, for good or ill.
The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done. The use of it to modify the verb "bringeth forth" raises the question of in whose opinion the fruit is bad. Read simply, it personalizes the tree, saying that "it didn't want to produce." This makes sense because the "tree" is simply a metaphor for the production of people. The bad trees are the "false prophets" in Mat 7:15. However, you could also read it as saying that the tree didn't produce, in the opinion of others.
The Greek word translated as "bringeth forth" has the primary meaning of "making" or "producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. This is the Greek word usually translated as "do" in the Bible, but whose primary meaning is "make". The form is that of an adjective modifying the noun, "the tree producing...".
The word translated as "good" referring to the "fruit" means "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality." It is different than the verb above. See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."
The word translated as "fruit" primary meaning is "fruit", "seed," or "offspring," but its secondary meaning is "returns," specifically, "profit," as we would say "fruit of our labors."
The word translated as "is hewn down" means various forms of being "cut off," an idea that has a range of meanings similar to those in English from being hindered to being chopped down or ended. This is the same word used in Mat 5:30, to describe cutting off a hand that trips you up. What is really interesting is the form of this verb which is not passive ("hewed down") but in a form where the tree acts of itself, "it cuts itself out of".
The word translated as "cast" has a number of meanings revolving around "throw" as we do in English with both "throw" and "toss." Again, this verb is in the form of something acting on itself, "it tosses itself".
The Greek word for "fire" means "fire", or, more precisely "pyre", which is the word we get from the Greek. It also means a funeral fire or sacrificial fire. It is part of a common Greek phrase which means to come to nothing or to be consumed. In other words, those trees that produce nothing of value will end up coming to nothing. Though in English, what happens to the tree in this passage seems as though it is done by others. However, in Greek, it is clear that the tree brings this fate upon itself. This is not a judgment on the tree as much as it is the natural result of the trees actions. For more about the meaning of "fire" in Christ's work, read the end of this article.
Is the tree making a choice or are people judging it? Since the tree is chopping itself down and throwing itself into the fire, it is making a choice. Interestingly, there is a sense that it is gambling here. Two of main verbs here "hew" and "cast" both have meaning in playing dice, "win" and "throw [being lucky]".
The Spoken Version:
Every tree—not wanting to create beautiful fruit—cuts itself off.” He chopped at his crooked tree forearm until he tipped it over. “And—into the fire—it tosses itself.” He made his throwing-out-the-garbage motion.
πᾶν (adj sg neut nom) "Every" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."
μὴ (partic) "Not" is from me, which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.
ποιοῦν (part sg pres act neut nom) "Bringeth forth" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do." -
καλὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Good" is from kalos, which means "beautiful", "good", "of fine quality", "noble," and "honorable." It is most often translated as "good" juxtaposed with "evil" in the New Testament, but the two ideas are closer to "wonderful" and "worthless", "noble" and "base."
ἐκκόπτεται (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Is hewn down" is from ekkopto, which means "to cut out", "to knock off", "to beat off [in battle]", "to hinder", "to break open", "to win [in throwing dice]", "to fell", "to scuttle [ships]," "to erase [an inscription]," "to come to a stop", "to stamp a coin", "to pause," or "to cut off." It is also a metaphor for "to make an end of."
καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."
εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."
βάλλεται. (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Cast" is from ballo, which means "to throw", "to let fall," "to cast," "to put", "to pour", "to place money on deposit", "push forward or in front [of animals]", "to shed", "to place", "to pay,"to throw [of dice,]" "to be lucky", "to fall", "to lay as foundation", "to begin to form", "to dash oneself with water," and "to bathe."