Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Pharisees attack, casting out demons, fruit

KJV : 

Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

Literal Verse: 

Either you make this tree good and the fruit of it good; or you make this tree rotten and the fruit of it rotten: Because from this fruit this tree  is known.

What is Lost in Translation: 

This verse is another non-sequitur  from the previous verses. The Unrecorded Dialogue Theory explains this by proposing that these words were spoken as part of a discussion where only Jesus's part of the discussion is captured. In this case, the unrecorded discussion seems to have raise a point that Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit. Note that more recent translations like the NIV drop the first Greek word of the verse to make is fit in better.  Also notice how the NIV version changes the tense of the verbs to change the meaning of the verse. The NIV also changes the definate article "the" to the indefinate article "a," making the statement much more general that Jesus did especially since the Greek definite article is more specific than the English with a strong sense of "this."

The Greek word translated as "good" in this verse is completely different than the word translated as "good" in the next verse. In translation, we cannot tell the two types of "good" are being discussed.  See this article on the words Christ uses about "good" and "evil." 

We should also point out that "make" is a more accurate translation of the Greek word that is usually translated as "do" in the Gospels. This verse in an interesting use of its idea.

My Takeaway: 

We must judge all actions and ideas by whether or not they produce something of value and benefit.

Greek : 

Wordplay: 

Both "tree" and "fruit" have an economic double meaning of "productive asset" and "profit." 

Greek Vocabulary: 

 (partic) "Either" is from e which is a particle meaning "either," "or," or "than."

ποιήσατε (2nd pl aor imperat act or 2nd pl aor ind act ) "Make" 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."

τὸ (article sg neut dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

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

καλὸν (adj sg neut 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."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." 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."

τὸν (article sg neut dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

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

αὐτοῦ (adj sg neut gen) "Its" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

καλόν, (adj sg neut gen) "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."

 (partic) "Or" is from e which is a particle meaning "either," "or," or "than."

ποιήσατε (2nd pl aor imperat act or 2nd pl aor ind act ) "Make" 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."

τὸ (article sg neut dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

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

σαπρὸν [5 verses](adj sg neut acc) "Corrupt" is from sapros, which means "rotten," "putrid," "stale," "rancid," "worn-out," and "mellow [of wine]."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." 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."

τὸν (article sg neut dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

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

αὐτοῦ (adj sg neut gen) "Its" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

σαπρόν:  [5 verses](adj sg masc acc) "Corrupt" is from sapros, which means "rotten," "putrid," "stale," "rancid," "worn-out," and "mellow [of wine]."

ἐκ (prep) "From" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of," "from," "by," "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond," "outside of," "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after," "from;" 4) [of rest] "on," "in," 5) [of time] "since," "from," "at," "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of," "made from."

γὰρ (partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for," "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what." --The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence.

τοῦ (article sg neut dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

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

τὸ (article sg neut nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

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."

γινώσκεται. (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Is known" is ginosko which means "to learn to know," "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive." The form is passive, "is known."

KJV Analysis: 

Either -- "Either" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison. Greek "either...or" constructions usually use a different word so this look more like two separate statements.

make - "Make" is the Greek common verb which means primarily, "to make ," "to produce," "to create," and "to cause, "but it is usually translated in the Gospels as "to do." In English, the word "do," can mean any action, even doing nothing. This Greek verb always means doing something productive, having an economic sense of producing something through effort. The verb is in the form of a command or a statement about you doing this at some time.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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 replanted each year.

good,  - 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 usually translated as "good" and "evil."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

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."

good; - 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 usually translated as "good" and "evil."

or else -- "Or else" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

make - "Make" is the Greek common verb which means primarily, "to make ," "to produce," "to create," and "to cause, "but it is usually translated in the Gospels as "to do." In English, the word "do," can mean any action, even doing nothing. This Greek verb always means doing something productive, having an economic sense of producing something through effort. The verb is in the form of a command or a statement about you doing this at some time.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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 replanted each year.

corrupt,  - The word translated as "corrupt" means "rancid," "rotten," and "worn out." Since it also means "mellow" when applied to wine, it means food that is either old or bad. Again, this word has a moral sense and an economic sense. It is used to mean "worn out" and "stale," that is, not retaining any value. It is also used as a metaphor for "unsound" and "bad."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

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."

corrupt: - The word translated as "corrupt" means "rancid," "rotten," and "worn out." Since it also means "mellow" when applied to wine, it means food that is either old or bad. Again, this word has a moral sense and an economic sense. It is used to mean "worn out" and "stale," that is, not retaining any value. It is also used as a metaphor for "unsound" and "bad."

for --The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause." 

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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 replanted each year.

is -- This helping verb "is" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

known -- "Known" is a verb that means "to know," "to recognize," "make known," "to know carnally," and "to learn. It is the passive tense.

by  -  The Greek preposition translated as "by" means "out of" of "from."

his -- (WW) The word translated as "his" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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."

KJV Translation Issues: 

3
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "fruit" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before the second "fruit" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "his" should be something more like "the."

NIV : 

Matthew 12:33 Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

NIV Analysis: 

untranslated "or"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "either" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

Make - "Make" is the Greek common verb which means primarily, "to make ," "to produce," "to create," and "to cause, "but it is usually translated in the Gospels as "to do." In English, the word "do," can mean any action, even doing nothing. This Greek verb always means doing something productive, having an economic sense of producing something through effort. The verb is in the form of a command or a statement about you doing this at some time.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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 replanted each year.

good,  - 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 usually translated as "good" and "evil."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

its -- The word translated as "its" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

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."

will -- (WT) There is nothing that can be translated as "will" in the Greek source. The verb is the present tense.

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

good; - 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 usually translated as "good" and "evil."

or -- "Or else" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

make - "Make" is the Greek common verb which means primarily, "to make ," "to produce," "to create," and "to cause, "but it is usually translated in the Gospels as "to do." In English, the word "do," can mean any action, even doing nothing. This Greek verb always means doing something productive, having an economic sense of producing something through effort. The verb is in the form of a command or a statement about you doing this at some time.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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 replanted each year.

bad ,  - The word translated as "bad " means "rancid," "rotten," and "worn out." Since it also means "mellow" when applied to wine, it means food that is either old or bad. Again, this word has a moral sense and an economic sense. It is used to mean "worn out" and "stale," that is, not retaining any value. It is also used as a metaphor for "unsound" and "bad."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

its -- The word translated as "its" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

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."

will -- (WT) There is nothing that can be translated as "will" in the Greek source. The verb is the present tense.

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

bad: - The word translated as "bad" means "rancid," "rotten," and "worn out." Since it also means "mellow" when applied to wine, it means food that is either old or bad. Again, this word has a moral sense and an economic sense. It is used to mean "worn out" and "stale," that is, not retaining any value. It is also used as a metaphor for "unsound" and "bad."

for --The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause."

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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 replanted each year.

is -- This helping verb "is" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

recognized -- "Recognized" is a verb that means "to know," "to recognize," "make known," "to know carnally," and "to learn. It is the passive tense.

by  -  The Greek preposition translated as "by" means "out of" of "from."

its -- (WW) The word translated as "its" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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."

NIV Translation Issues: 

11
  • MW - Missing Word -- The initial word "or" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be something more like "the."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "fruit" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" indicates the future tense, but that is not the tense here.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "be" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be something more like "the."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before the second "fruit" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" indicates the future tense, but that is not the tense here.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "be" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be something more like "the."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "its" should be something more like "the."

Related Verses: 

Unimportant Opinions and Imaginings: 

“I was at your teaching session on the mount at Seven Springs,” another mad said. “Didn’t you say something about judging people by what they produce? Maybe it wasn’t about people or judging, but something.
“Either you make this tree good and the fruit of it good,” the Master offered. “Or you make this tree rotten and the fruit of it rotten.
“So it follows that we should judge your value,” added the man, “by whether or not we judge your healing others as good.”
“Because from this fruit,” the Master agreed, “this tree  is known.”
He indicated himself as he said “this tree,” and the crowd laughed
“And those trees,” suggested the man, indicating the Distinguished.
More in the crowd laughed.

Front Page Date: 

Nov 8 2020