We assume "know the tree by the fruit" to mean, for example, if one bears no or bad fruit, he was never saved, to begin with, which is akin to the fox assuming in the Aesop Fables - "the grape must be sour!" - an example of making a subjective, biased conclusion.

The fox and grape: (Aesop Fables)

A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the Fox’s mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them. The bunch hung from a high branch, and the Fox had to jump for it. After several failed attempts, the fox gave up and walked away saying, "the grapes were too sour."

The fruit is the positive ID of the kind of tree. For, the tree cannot determine what to bear, nor can it change by itself according to the circumstances against the laws of nature. But man, created in the Image of God, can and do all the things trees cannot do. We can determine our behavior and flips back and forth at times.

In the context, the storyline of Jesus crosses over from the natural realm of "tree-fruit" to man's spiritual reality. Also, Jesus mentions "cutting down and throwing into the fire" (on the last day). It is a Biblical term for the final consequences of men of "bad fruit," but not of the bad fruit-bearing tree/branches.

  • How the "cutting - line" affect the understanding of the unprofitable servant (parables of Talents & Mina), the five foolish virgins, and the workers of lawlessness (Mt 7:23)?


Lk 6: 43-45

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Mt 7:15-20 (ref. 12:33b)

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, 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 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."

  • 2
    Your header question relates to the personal assurance of believers. The quoted text relates to the general public being able to determine who is, and who is not, a real prophet by the 'fruits' of said prophets. Your header question is not within the context of the text that you quote. (In my opinion.) There are other texts which would support the concept of your header question but (in my view) Matthew 7:20 is not one of them.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 17, 2022 at 10:53
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    You stopped quoting tto soon - you should include V21-23 - 21Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ This is the opposite conclusion!!
    – Dottard
    Mar 17, 2022 at 20:14
  • What you should be asking is, "What is the fruit that Jesus refers to?"
    – Dottard
    Mar 17, 2022 at 20:15
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    @Nigel - Thanks!
    – Sam
    Mar 18, 2022 at 5:52
  • 1
    @JesseSteele I disagree that we should be trying to guess at the motivation of a question. And I think that is a dangerous route on which to proceed : in life and in academic practice. We should go by the words on the page, whatever we may suspect of people's motivation. That is called suspicion : it is not evidence. This question was misapplied, is all. The OP chose the wrong text for the concept. I disagree (wholly and absolutely) with your concept of 'cloaked theology' and I repeat : I think it is a dangerous attitude. No further comment but feel free to initiate chat on the subject.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 23, 2022 at 8:56

2 Answers 2


I note your edits, but see that you state your own answer to your question, whether such 'fruit' is "a criterion for judging one's predestination by God". You say, "No, it is not." It is "a criterion identifying one's spiritual state."

If one is in a fruitless, or bad-fruit-producing state, spiritually, that might only indicate to others that the person is either not yet grafted into Christ, the vine, or they are not abiding in Christ (otherwise they would produce fruit). John chapter 15 is addressed to Christians, with a warning that those who do not abide in Christ "is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned." (vs.s 5-6) A few verses on, Jesus says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (vs. 16). Now, this latter verse does speak of divine predestination!

However, the matter of God's predestination has already been answered by you (and I follow your reasoning there) which only leaves this question for us:

How the "cutting - line" affect the understanding of the unprofitable servant (parables of Talents & Mina), the five foolish virgins, and the workers of lawlessness (Mt 7:23)?

That should have been your main heading (in the form of that question as far as I can understand), so I will try to answer it hermeneutically. You express the 'cutting-line' to be the "fundamental difference, between the tree and men" then ask us to deal with the parables of the unprofitable servant, the five foolish virgins, and the workers of lawlessness.

The unprofitable servant produced no 'fruit' for his returned master, because he had a nasty attitude to his master, resenting him. He could have given a small return on the money if he had bothered to bank it, but he couldn't even rouse himself to do that for his master. He was cast out, for weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The five foolish virgins wanted all the benefits of the wedding feast without doing what they needed to do to prepare to receive the bridegroom. They were willing to jeopardise their fellow virgin friends by sponging off of them, but the wise virgins saw the danger and moved off, and away, into the feast. The foolish ones were disowned and shut out.

The workers of lawlessness (Mt. 7:23) were exposed as such by Christ who knew their bad fruits (of false prophecy and false miracles). But they did not know they had produced bad fruits. They thought they would be commended for good works. Not so.

All three parables speak of how people deceive themselves, thinking they are going to get into the Kingdom of God. They suppose they are producing some 'fruit' that the Master will find acceptable but they cannot see themselves as the Master sees them. When it is too late, they discover their awful state, all because they did not strive to abide in Christ, the Master, the Bridegroom, the King of God's Kingdom. And, of course, they could not abide in Christ because he had not chosen them - John 15:16.


Has not the potter power over the clay... to make one vessel unto and another unto dishonor? Romans 9:21

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to If a man therefore purge himself from dishonor, he shall be a vessel unto honor 2 Timothy 2:20-21

How can a man cleanse his way? By taking heed unto the word of God. Psalm 119:9

"I will raise them upon a prophet and put my words in his mouth... and it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto him shall be destroyed from among the people." Deuteronomy 18:18-19 Acts 3:23

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us... John 1:14

"Love your enemies and do good to them that hate you......." Exodus 23:4-5, Luke 6:27-49 "...In conclusion; do unto others as you would have them do unto you" Matthew 5 - 7:12

"Not everyone that says to me Lord Lord shall enter into heaven, but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven [Deuteronomy 18:18-19 the will of the Father is that we hearken to the Son]" Matthew 7:21 "Why do you call me Lord Lord and do not the things that I say?" Luke 6:46

"Therefore, [because the will of the Father is that we hearken unto Him] everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does not put them into practice, is like a fool that built his house upon the sand..." Matthew 7:21-28 And they were astonished at His doctrine, for he taught as one with authority.

Whoever disobeys the Torah, and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, has not God 2 John 1:9

If any man preaches otherwise, and does not agree to wholesome words, even to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine that is according to godliness, he is proud knowing nothing 1 Timothy 6:3-4

"he that has my commands and keeps them, he it is that loves me" John 14:21-24 Matthew 28:19-20

Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:13

If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let that person be anathema 1 Corinthians 16:22

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