Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree;

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

A long section about "the end of the world" or, more precisely, "the culmination of an era."

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

From, however, the fig tree, learn the analogy: When after that branch of its becomes soft and those leaves it might produce, you know that near [is] the harvest.

My Takeaway: 

Every new era starts as a tender shoot.

KJV : 

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

NIV : 

Matthew 24:32 Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.

What is Lost in Translation: 

This verse seems like an abrupt transition after two verses that seem to describe a coming, but those verses and this are all a discussion of "signs" of the culmination of the age, answering the apostles' original question in  Matthew 24:3. Jesus's presence and the sending of his apostles are some of those signs. In the previous verse. those who recognize the signs are brought together by Jesus's messengers. In this verse, they are compared the tender shoot of a new plant growing.

To understand this verse, you have to know how fig trees are propagated from cuttings. The Greek word translated as "branch" and "twigs" is not plural but singular, so it seems to refer to a shoot of a tree, a new tree, rather than its branches. Fig trees are started from cuttings, that is, a spout is cut from a tree and planted. This is why this particular type of tree is used as an example here. The Greek word translated as "summer" is more like out autumn, harvest time. This starting shoot is an analogy for the new age that is starting.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

In ancient times, figs were a symbol for abundance. Here, the gathering of the chosen from the four corners of the earth (Matthew 24:31) indicates the coming of abundance, the summer of harvest.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀπὸ [190 verses]​(prep) "Of" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

δὲ [446 verses](conj) "But" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

τῆς [821 verses] (article sg fem gen) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

συκῆς [8 verses] (noun sg fem gen) "Fig tree" is from syke, which means "fig tree."

μάθετε [5 verses] (verb 2nd pl aor imperat act) "Learn" is manthano, which means "to learn" especially by study or practice, "acquire a habit of," "perceive," "understand," and "notice."

τὴν [821 verses](article sg fem acc) "A" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

παραβολήν: [12 verses](noun sg fem acc) "Parable" is parabole, which means "comparison," "illustration," and "analogy." It is most often translated in the NT as "parable" but occasionally as "comparison."

ὅταν [70 verses](adv) "When" is hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)."

ἤδη [13 verses](adv) "Yet" is ede, which means "already," "by this time," "forthwith," "after," "immediately," and "now." It means proximity in time, but also place.

[821 verses](article sg masc nom) Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

κλάδος [5 verses](noun sg masc nom) "Branch" is klados , which means "branches," "twig," "shoot," and "branch" of a blood vessel.

αὐτῆς [720 verses](adj sg fem gen) "His" is 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."

γένηται [117 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj mid) "Is" is ginomai, which means "to become," "to come into being," "to happen," "to be produced," and "to be." 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.

ἁπαλὸς [2 verses] (adj sg masc nom) "Tender" is hapalos, which means "soft to the touch," "tender," and "delicate."

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "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."

τὰ [821 verses](article pl neut nom/acc) Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

φύλλα [2 verses](noun pl neut nom/acc) "Leaves" is from phyllon, which means "leaf," "foliage," "flower," "petals," and generally, "plant."

ἐκφύῃ, [2 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj act/passive) "Puteth forth" is ekphyo, which means "generate," produce," "bear," "grow," and "engender."

γινώσκετε [62 verses] (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "You know," is ginosko which means "to learn to know," "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive."

ὅτι [332 verses](adv/conj) "That" is from hoti (hoti) which means "that" "because," and "since."

ἐγγὺς [6 verses](adv) "Nigh" is eggys, which means "near," "nigh," "at hand," nearly," "coming near," and "akin."

τὸ [821 verses](article pl neut nom/acc) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

θέρος: [3 verses] (noun sg neut nom/acc) "Summer" is theros, which means "summer," "summerfruits," "harvest," and "crop."

KJV Analysis: 

Now -- (WW)  The word translated as "now" means "but" because it joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

"Now" is a Greek adverb meaning "by this time," "forthwith," "after," "immediately," and "now." It means proximity in time, but also place. It doesn't appear here but after the "when."

learn  - "Learn" is a word that means "to learn especially by experience or study." This is consistent with the different verb used below to translate as "you see."

a -- (WW)The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the" 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.  There is no indefinite article "a" in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

parable -- (UW) "Parable" is translated from a Greek word that means "comparison," "illustration," and "analogy." It is most often translated in the NT as "parable" but occasionally as "comparison." This word is introduced by a definitive article, so "the analogy."

of -- (WW) The word translated as "of" means "from" and "out of" in both location and when referring to a source. This is not a description of the parable, but an independent clause that begins the sentence.

the -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

fig tree; -- The word for "fig tree" means "fig tree." In ancient times, figs were a symbol for abundance.

When The "when" word here can also mean "since." And since it is immediately followed by the word translated as "yet," a word that actually means proximity in time, the sense is "since right after."

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."

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. 

branch  - The word for "branch" means a new shoot of a tree as well as any type of branches, such as branches of learning.

is -- (WW) The word translated as "is" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. This word indicates a transformation. For events, it mean "happen."

yet -- (WW) "Yet" is a Greek adverb meaning "already," "by this time," "forthwith," "after," "immediately," and "now." It means proximity in time, but also place.

tender, The word translated as "tender" also means "soft to the touch," and "delicate." This section of verses generally contrasts the hard, cold, and dark with the soft, warm, and light.

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."

putteth forth -- "Puteth forth" is from a Greek word that means "generate," produce," "bear," "grow," and "engender." Jesus only uses it three times.

missing "the" -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

leaves, The word for "leaves" means "leaf," "foliage," "flower," "petals," and generally, "plant."

ye -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the following verb.

know The Greek verb translated as "know" means "to learn to know," "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive." It is not the ordinary form of knowing, but specifically gaining understanding by learning.

that "That" is translated from a Greek word that means "that" "because," and "since."

missing "the" -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

summer -- (CW) The word for "summer" primarily means "harvest" in Greek. We might think that the new leaves on the fig tree means "spring," but since the reference is to the propagation of a fig tree, it would start growing at harvest time. A little about the propagation of figs: typically, cutting are taken before the winter and growing out of the ground through the winter (to protect from cold) and planted in the spring. Figs are a technically a reed bush, not a tree, growing fruit only from new growth from the previous year.

is -- There is no verb "is" here in the Greek. However, when noun and pronouns appear in the form of a subject without a verb, the verb "to be" is assumed.

nigh: -- The adverb translated as "nigh" means near in time or distance.

KJV Translation Issues: 

10
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "now" should be something more like "however."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" means "the." This is not the adverbial form.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "parable" means "analogy." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "of" means "from" or "out of." It is not the "of" of possession as it looks.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" before "branch" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "is" means "becomes." In many ways, the two words are opposites.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "yet" means "already."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" before "leaves" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" before "summer" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "summer" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

NIV Analysis: 

Now -- (WW)  The word translated as "now" means "but" because it joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

learn  - "Learn" is a word that means "to learn especially by experience or study." This is consistent with the different verb used below to translate as "you see."

this -- The word translated as "this" is the Greek definite article, "the" 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.  There is no indefinite article "a" in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

lesson -- (CW) "Lesson" is translated from a Greek word that means "comparison," "illustration," and "analogy." It is most often translated in the NT as "parable" but occasionally as "comparison." This word is introduced by a definitive article, so "the analogy."

from --  The word translated as "from " means "from" and "out of" in both location and when referring to a source. This is not a description of the parable, but an independent clause that begins the sentence.

the -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

fig tree; -- The word for "fig tree" means "fig tree." In ancient times, figs were a symbol for abundance.

As   - (WW) The "as" word here means "when" and "since." And since it is immediately followed by the word translated as "yet," a word that actually means proximity in time, the sense is "since right after."

soon as -- (WW) "Soon as " is a Greek adverb meaning "already," "by this time," "forthwith," "after," "immediately," and "now." It means proximity in time, but also place.

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."

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. 

twigs  - (WW) The word for "branch" means a new shoot of a tree as well as any type of branches, such as branches of learning. Notice, it is not plural but singular, so its seems to refer to a shoot of a tree, a new tree, rather than its branches. Fig trees are started from cuttings, that is, a spout is cut from a tree and planted. This is why this particular tree is used as an example here.

get --  The word translated as "get" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. This word indicates a transformation. For events, it mean "happen."

tender, The word translated as "tender" also means "soft to the touch," and "delicate." This section of verses generally contrasts the hard, cold, and dark with the soft, warm, and light.

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."

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

leaves,  - (WF) The word for "leaves" means "leaf," "foliage," "flower," "petals," and generally, "plant."

come out-- (WW) "Come out" is from a Greek word that means "generate," produce," "bear," "grow," and "engender." Jesus only uses it three times.

you -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the following verb.

know The Greek verb translated as "know" means "to learn to know," "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive." It is not the ordinary form of knowing, but specifically gaining understanding by learning.

that "That" is translated from a Greek word that means "that" "because," and "since."

missing "the" -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

summer -- (CW) The word for "summer" primarily means "harvest" in Greek. We might think that the new leaves on the fig tree means "spring," but since the reference is to the propagation of a fig tree, it would start growing at harvest time. A little about the propagation of figs: typically, cutting are taken before the winter and growing out of the ground through the winter (to protect from cold) and planted in the spring. Figs are a technically a reed bush, not a tree, growing fruit only from new growth from the previous year.

is -- There is no verb "is" here in the Greek. However, when noun and pronouns appear in the form of a subject without a verb, the verb "to be" is assumed.

near: -- The adverb translated as "near" means near in time or distance.

NIV Translation Issues: 

11
  1. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "now" should be something more like "however."
  2. CW - Confusing Word -- The "lesson" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  3. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "as" means "when."
  4. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "soon as" means "immediately."
  5. MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" before "trigs" is not shown in the English translation.
  6. WN  - Wrong Number- The word "twigs" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  7. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "its" means "the."
  8. WF - Wrong Form -  The "leaves" are an object not a subject of the verb.
  9. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "comes out" means "produce."
  10. MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" before "summer" is not shown in the English translation.
  11. CW - Confusing Word -- The "summer" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

Front Page Date: 

Sep 29 2021