Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bring not forth

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The Sermon on the Mount, invisible and visible, worthwhile and worthless,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Every tree not wanting to produce beautiful fruit cuts itself off and into the fire it tosses itself.

KJV : 

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The negative here is one of thought and desire. The sense is "not wanting to produce fine fruit," not simply not producing it.  The verb "produce" is not an active verb, but a particple, that is, an adjective describing the tree. This negative indicating thought or desire makes the tree clearly symbolic. It is also important in properly interpreting the forms of the other

In Greek, Jesus chose verb forms that could be either passive or the middle voice for the "chopping dow"n and "throwing" into the fire of the tree. The middle voice is one where the subject acts on itself. Examining all Jesus's use of these verbs and the forms of it he uses elsewhere, it seem as though Jesus wished to express the idea that the tree brings this fate upon itself.

These verbs are not the future tense, that is, a prediction about what will happen. Nor are they in a form that indicates something that "should" or "might" happen. They are all the present tense, indicating something that is happening now.

Being tossed into the fire is not simply a form of destruction. In Jesus's use of the concept, it is a productive and useful act. For more about the meaning of "fire" in Christ's work, read the end of this article.

NIV : 

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Wordplay: 

 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]".

My Takeaway: 

We can develop the abilities to be productive, or we can produce something out of our destruction.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

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."

δένδρον [9 verses](noun sg neut nom) "Tree" is from dendron (more commonly spelled dendreon), which means "tree", "fruit-tree", "tall plants (such as rattan)" "stick," and "timber."

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." -

καρπὸν (noun sg masc acc) "Fruit" is from karpos, which means "fruit", "the fruits of the earth", "seed", "offspring", "returns for profit," and "reward."

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 [5 verses](3rd sg pres ind mp) "Is hewn down" is 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)."

πῦρ (noun sg neut acc) "Fire" is from pyr (pur), which means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", "hearth-fire", "lightning", "the light of torches," and "heat of fever."

βάλλεται. (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Cast" is 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."

KJV Analysis: 

Every  - 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.

tree  - 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.

that -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "that" in the Greek source.

bringeth  -  (WW, WF) Again, the Greek word translated as "bringeth forth" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. This word is a participle.

not  - The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. 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."

forth  - This word comes from the preceding verb.

good  - (CW) The word translated as "good" means "good", "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality."  This is a different word than the word translated as "good" above.  See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

fruit;  - 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."

is -- This helping verb indicates the present tense and passive from of the verb, which is expressed here as an adjective.

hewn down,  - (CV) 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 clearly passive ("hewed down") but in a form where the tree could be acting on itself, "it cuts itself out of".

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

cast  - (CV) 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 passive or middle voice.

into  - -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

the -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

fire. - 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.

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- -- The word translated as "bringeth forth" means "make" or "produce."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "bringeth forth" is not an active verb but a participle, "making" or "producing."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "good" is more like "beautiful" in this context. It is a different "good" than above.  
  • CV - Confusing Voice - The verb "chopped" here is translated as passive but it could be the middle voice.
  • CV - Confusing Voice - The verb "tossed" here is translated as passive but it could be the middle voice.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

NIV Analysis: 

Every  - 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.

tree  - 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.

that -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "that" in the Greek source.

does -- This helping verb is used to create commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

not  - The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. 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."

bear -  (WW, WF) Again, the Greek word translated as "bear" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. This word is a participle.

good  - (CW) The word translated as "good" means "good", "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality."  This is a different word than the word translated as "good" above.  See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

fruit;  - 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."

is -- This helping verb indicates the present tense and passive from of the verb, which is expressed here as an adjective.

cut down,  - (CV) The word translated as "cut 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 clearly passive ("hewed down") but in a form where the tree could be acting on itself, "it cuts itself out of".

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

thrown - (CV) The word translated as "thrown " has a number of meanings revolving around "throw" as we do in English with both "throw" and "toss." Again, this verb is in the passive or middle voice.

into  - -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

the -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

fire. - 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.

NIV Translation Issues: 

7
  1. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  2. WW - Wrong Word -- -- The word translated as "bringeth forth" means "make" or "produce."
  3. WF - Wrong Form -  The "bringeth forth" is not an active verb but a participle, "making" or "producing."
  4. CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "good" is more like "beautiful" in this context. It is a different "good" than above.  
  5. CV - Confusing Voice - The verb "cut" here is translated as passive but it could be the middle voice.
  6. CV - Confusing Voice - The verb "thrown" here is translated as passive but it could be the middle voice.
  7. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

As a metaphor for human life, this tree is the part of our lives that produce something, for good or ill.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 Spoken Version: 

The Teacher addressed his next words warmly to Simeon personally, but they were loud enough for us all to here.
“Every tree, not wanting to create fine fruit? It chopped itself off—” began the Teacher. He started to make a chopping motion to illustrate his point.
Simeon lunged toward the Master, shouting, “I’ll chop you off!”
Suddenly, it grew much darker. Black clouds blotted out the light from the already cloud-hidden sun.
Lightning flashed. A loud crack of thunder sounded.
We saw that Boaz held Simeon back, grabbing him around the waist. It was hard to see what actually happened. Simeon’s arm seemed to come loose from Boaz’s restraining hand. It seemed to strike the Nazarene in the head. The Master’s head snapped back.
Lightning flashed again.
Perhaps the Nazarene evaded the blow, snatching his head away at the last second. We witnesses could never agree on exactly which had happened.
Both men fell to the ground. The Nazarene fell backward. Simeon fell forward toward him. He didn’t land on top of the Nazarene because Boaz held him around the waist. Some of the Nazarene’s students rushed forward to help.
For a moment, the crowd was horrified. Some thought that the three men had been struck by lightning.
Then it grew a little brighter.
The Nazarene popped to his feet and smiled. He signaled his followers back from the speaking area, waving cheerfully to the crowd that he was unhurt. Then he helped Simeon to his feet, gesturing for Boaz to let him go.
The Nazarene smiled warmly at Simeon. Then he cheerfully offered his other cheek, pointing to it.
Simeon seemed dazed but still burning mad. He looked at the proffered cheek and balled his fist.
Many of us gasped and cried out, “No! No!”
At the shout, Simeon looked around as if he had forgotten that we were there. The Nazarene reached out again to embrace him, but Simeon pulled away. His fellow Distinguished stood and pleaded with him to come toward them, to leave from the mound. Boaz guided the man back among the other Distinguished. They all sat down, pulling the dazed man down with them.
“And into a fire, it tosses itself,” the Teacher finished sadly, making a half-hearted throwing-out-the-trash gesture.

evidence: 

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Front Page Date: 

Jul 14 2020