Matthew 7:15-20 ESV
A Tree and Its Fruit 15 j “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are k ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them l by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, m every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 n Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them l by their fruits.
Main point summary
Watch out for false prophets because their goal is to devour you and their teaching leads to death rather than life.
j “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing
Moreover , beware of false prophets that come to in sheep's clothing
but inwardly are k ravenous wolves.
[even] though inwardly [they] are ravenous wolves.
You will recognize them l by their fruits.
By means of their fruits you will recognize them.
Are grapes gathered from thornbushes,
Even as grapes are not gathered from thornbushes,
or figs from thistles?
and [even as ] figs [are not gathered] from thistles...
So, m every healthy tree bears good fruit,
So too , every healthy tree bears good fruit,
but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
whereas the diseased tree bears good fruit
A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit,
Neither does a healthy tree bear bad fruit,
nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
nor also can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
n Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down
Accordingly , every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down
and thrown into the fire.
and then thrown into the fire.
Thus you will recognize them l by their fruits.
In this way you will recognize them by their fruits.
Observations 1. Christ never promised His church that there wouldn't arise any false prophets in their midst. Instead, he warns the church to be on the look out for them knowing that they would arise. 2. He also gave the church the means by which they could identify false prophets. It was by observing their fruit. What qualifies here as fruit? Jesus' analogy of grapes and figs not being produced by thornbushes and thistles and of bad trees and good trees implies that false prophets can only produce a certain kind of fruit. 3. It is not immediately or explicitly clear from these verses what "fruit" represents. However, the greater context suggests that fruit here refers to the outcome of their (false prophets) lives and that of their followers. Thus, to determine whether one is a false prophet, we must consider what their teachings produce. It is in this way that the church shall identify them. 4. I believe that there is also an indirect call to grow in discernment by growing in our knowledge and understanding of the truth since these warnings come just after Jesus' correction of the Pharisee's distortion of the Law and the Prophets. If Israel continued to follow the distorted interpretation of the Law and the Prophets given to them by the Pharisees and scribes, it would lead them not to a house built upon the rocks on a narrow way, but a house built upon the sand on the broad road that leads to destruction. They must, therefore, listen to Christ's teaching if they desire to have life and bear good fruit. And so must we also!! An interesting note Shepherds in those days wore garments made out of wool so that they might smell like the sheep. It is interesting then that the deception of false teachers arises from their setting themselves up to be shepherds [that is, teachers] over God's people. However, their intentions is not to do good and provide what the sheep need but to devour them and destroy them just as it was the nature of wolves ( a common predator of sheep in the Orient) to devour sheep. Thus, by posing as the teachers of Israel, the Pharisees and scribes sought not to serve the people of God, but to devour them [See Matt. 23, Luke 20:47]. Hence Jesus' hatred for them.