Matthew 21:19 Let no fruit grow on you [the fig tree]

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

Jesus looks for fruit  of a tree and doesn't find it.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

No? No longer from you a fruit should occur within this life.

My Takeaway: 

All productive things have a limited lifespan.

KJV : 

Matthew 21:19 Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.

NIV : 

Matthew 21:19 May you never bear fruit again

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse tries to capture the idea of Jesus's words but Biblical translation obscures much of Jesus really said. There is no command in this verse. The verb translated as "grow," which really means "become" and in the form, the subjunctive mood, about what might happen. It is a statement, "fruit might not occur in this life."  Portraying this as Jesus "cursing" the plant is simply not justified.

This verse comes off as a light-hearted complaint rather than a curse. It might also be taken as Jesus contemplating his own upcoming death and the fruit of his lifetime. The "life" referred to is not necessarily the plant's but his own. This might have been his last chance to taste a fig, certainly from the tree. The tree may have wilted in embarrassment.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Οὐ (partic) "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

μηκέτι [4 verses](adv) "Henceforward" is meketi, which means "no more," "no longer," and "no further."

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."

σοῦ (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thee" is from sou which means "you" and "your." -- The word translated as "thy" is the possessive form of the second person pronoun.

καρπὸς [32 verses](noun sg masc nom) "Fruit" is karpos, which means "fruit," "the fruits of the earth," "seed," "offspring," "returns for profit," and "reward."

γένηται [117 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj) "Grow" is ginomai, which means "to become," "to come into being," of things, "to be produced," of events, "take place," "come to pass," and "happen." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

εἰς (prep)  "For" 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)."

τὸν(article sg masc acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

αἰῶνα [41 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Ever" is aion, which means "life," "lifetime," "age," or "generation."

KJV Analysis: 

Let -- (WF)  This "let" is the helping verb used to translate the Greek form of the third-person command. In English all commands are in the second-person. This form is used as something like our word "must."

no -- (WP) The Greek word translated as "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact.  When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words. Here, it does not precede "fruit" but "henceforth."  This negative isn't really part of the sentence. This is not the negative used in commands. 

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." It is not the object here, but the subject of the sentence.

missing "should"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "should," a  helping verb in English from the form of the Greek verb that indicates a possibility. We would usually say "might" or "should" in English.

grow  - (CW) The verb translated as "grow" doesn't mean "grow" at all. It means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. Usually, when a Greek verb is translated as "let" something happen, it means the verb is a 3rd-person command. This is not a command, but a statement of possibility.

on -- (WW) The Greek preposition translated as "on" means "out of" or "from."

thee -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

henceforward  - The word translated as "henceforth" means "no longer." It expresses an opinion. However, in Greek, the double negative doesn't make a positive, like it does in English so when used with a negative, "anymore" works better. 

for  - The word translated as "for" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure. For a period of time, it means "until" or "within."

missing "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. 

ever. - (WW) "Ever" is a noun that means "life," "lifetime," "age," or "generation."

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "let" does not indicate a 3rd-party command.
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "not" doesn't not negate "fruit."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "should" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "grow" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "on" should be "out of."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "age" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "ever" should be "life" or "age."

NIV Analysis: 

missing "no"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact.  When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words. Here, it does not precede "fruit" but "henceforth."  This negative isn't really part of the sentence. This is not the negative used in commands. 

May  - The word  "may" is a  helping verb in English from the form of the Greek verb that indicates a possibility. We would usually say "might" or "should" in English. However, this word doesn't begin the verse.

missing "from"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "from" means "out of" or "from."

you  - -- (WF) This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb. This is not the subject, but the object of an untranslated preposition.

never - The word translated as "never" means "no longer." It expresses an opinion. However, in Greek, the double negative doesn't make a positive, like it does in English so when used with a negative, "anymore" works better. 

bear - (CW) The verb translated as "bear" doesn't mean "bear" at all. It means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. Usually, when a Greek verb is translated as "let" something happen, it means the verb is a 3rd-person command. This is not a command, but a statement of possibility.

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." It is not the object here, but the subject of the sentence.

missing "within"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "within" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure. For a period of time, it means "until" or "within."

missing "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. 

again  - (WW) "Again" is a noun that means "life," "lifetime," "age," or "generation." It is not the word for "again."

NIV Translation Issues: 

7
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "no" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "from" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "you" is not the subject by an object of a preposition.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "bear" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "within" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "age" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "again" should be "life" or "age.

Front Page Date: 

Jun 4 2021