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A Tree and Its Fruit


15-16. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. The heretics are cunning and deceitful, which is why He says, "Beware." They produce sweet words and feign a decent life, but within lies the hook. "Sheep's clothing" is meekness, which some pretend to employ, in order to flatter and to deceive. But they are recognized by their "fruit," that is, by their deeds and by their life. For though they can dissemble for a time, they are unmasked by those who are heedful.

16-17. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. The hypocrites are called thorns and thistles: they are like thorns in that they prick unexpectedly; they are like thistles in their cunning and deviousness. The corrupt tree is anyone who has been corrupted by a pleasure-loving and dissolute life.

18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit as long as it is diseased. But if it has changed its condition, it can bring forth good fruit. See that He did not say, "it will not be able," but only that as long as it is corrupt it does not bear good fruit.

19-20. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. He addresses the Jews, speaking the same words as did John. Jesus likens man to a tree. For by the introduction of a graft, a fruitless tree can bear fruit; so, too, a sinful and fruitless man when engrafted with Christ can bear fruits of virtue.

21. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Here Jesus shows that He is Lord by saying, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord." Jesus in fact is saying that He is God. He teaches us that we derive no benefit from our faith if it is without works. "He that doeth the will of My Father." He did not mean, did the will of My Father on one occasion" but "that doeth the will of My Father continually until his death." And He did not say, "that doeth My will," lest He scandalize His listeners, but instead, "that doeth the will of My Father." For the will of a father and his son are one and the same, unless the son rebels.

22-23. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity. At the beginning of the preaching many who were unworthy cast out demons that fled at the name of Jesus. For the grace was at work even in the unworthy, just as we may be sanctified by unworthy priests. Judas also worked signs, as did the sons of Sceva. Jesus says, "I never knew you," meaning, "at that time when you were working miracles I did not know you," that is, "I did not love you." Here "know" means "love."

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