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Matthew 7:15-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #2 False prophets and fruitage

MT7:15 You, be alert for false prophets[1] who come to you dressed as sheep[2] but inside are rapacious wolves.[3] MT7:16 By their fruitage you will know them![4] No one ever gathers grapes from thorns[5] or figs from thistles! MT7:17 Thus, every good tree bears good fruitage,[6] but rotten trees, wicked fruitage. MT7:18 No good tree bears wicked fruitage,[7] nor a rotten tree good fruitage. MT7:19 Every tree not bearing good fruitage is cut down and thrown into the Fire. MT7:20 And, so, from their fruitage you will know them.

False teachers – Bowyer Bible Gospels print 3572 By their works you shall know them Passeri

[1] False prophets: Not only is The Way narrow and cramped but there are deceitful individuals who make the journey even more difficult. The Nazarene describes these as “false prophets.” He uses this designation 4 times in the Gospels (Matthew 7:15; 24:11, 24; Luke 6:26). Peter uses it once (2 Peter 2:1) and John once (1 John 4:1). False prophets disguise themselves, which would indicate some motive (Luke 6:43, 44). Various renderings are: PHI: false religious teachers; GDSP: disguised as sheep; PHI: greedy wolves.

The most often used context in the Nazarene’s teachings where he uses the designation “false prophets” are those who predict ‘the appointed time is near’ (Luke 21:8); or claim, ‘The Christ is here!’ (Mark 13:21) (Or, ‘I am the Anointed.’ Matthew 24:4)

These “false prophets” must also be among those who the Nazarene describes later as ones who say, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not speak before others, exorcise demons, do dynamic works, all in your name?’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

The subject of “false prophets” was one that Moses, a proto-type of Messiah, also took up at Deuteronomy 13:1-10 and 18:20-22, with two identifying characteristics: a) lead others to false gods; and, b) foretell events which do not occur.

[2] Dressed as sheep: Paul echoes this when he says that some false brothers from among the Corinthian elders appear as ‘angels of light’ or ‘messengers of righteousness.’ (2 Corinthians 11:3, 14,15) Jude calls them ‘rocks hidden below water.’ (Jude verse 12) The Nazarene foretold their success when he said, ‘For pseudo-anointed and false prophets will rise and give great signs and portents to mislead, if possible, the Elect.’ (Matthew 24:24)

[3] Rapacious wolves: Paul uses a similar description when he warns a gathering of elders, ‘After my departure, oppressive wolves, not sparing the flock, will rise among you, speaking twisted things.’ (Acts 20:29) Elsewhere he describes such “false brothers” as ‘pseudo-apostles, deceitful workers who appear as angels of light and servants of righteousness.’ (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

[4] By their fruitage you will know them: Signs are certainly not a way to recognize true prophets. False prophets are identifiable by: a) an oppressive nature which places burdens on the flock; b) false prophecies about appointed times which prove untrue; c) claim of Christ’s authority as an elitist priesthood or singular channel; d) claims of “signs” as proof of Christ’s backing.

The Nazarene later uses the word “lawless” which would mean breaking the commandments of Christ. This word “lawless” crops up at Matthew 13:41; 24:12. It ought to be clear that one of the major areas of concern when considering “false prophets” is whether what they have foretold comes true or not.

[5] No one ever gathers grapes from thorns: Various renderings: NEB: can grapes be picked from briars.

[6] Every good tree bears good fruitage: See Luke 6:43. Various renderings: a good tree always yields good fruit; WMS: sickly tree… poor fruit.

[7] No good tree bears wicked fruitage: This infers that a good tree always produces nothing but good fruit. If a tree would produce even one rotten fruit then it would at least call into question its “claims.” Various renderings: TCNT: by the fruit of their lives you will know such men.

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Preceding articles

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:7-9 – Vipers, Repent!

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:10-14 – “What Shall We Do?”

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:15-17 – The Baptisms of the One Coming

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Matthew 7:1-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Neighbor Love Continued 7: Matthew 7:1-5 Judgment and neighbor love

Matthew 7:12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Summary on the Torah’s Fulfillment

Matthew 7:13-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #1 The Narrow Gate and the way to destruction

The sin of partiality

Back from gone #4 Your inner feelings and actions

Object of first woe

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Additional reading

  1. Your position about materialistic desires having conquered the world
  2. Fruits of the spirit will prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful
  3. Looking for True Spirituality 5 Fruitage of the Spirit
  4. Looking for True Spirituality 8 Measuring Up
  5. Pain, sanctification and salvation
  6. Good Morning January 25 We are theologians
  7. Bearing fruit
  8. Several Christians fail to recognise the Chosen ones of God and are not taking on a Christian attitude
  9. James 2:14-23 — Justified Dynamic Faith & works

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Further additional reading

  1. Phillip Medhurst presents Bowyer Bible Gospels print 3572 By their works you shall know them Passeri
  2. Phillip Medhurst presents Bowyer Bible print 3586 A tree is known by its fruits Matthew 7:16-19 Passeri
  3. Fruit of the Holy Spirit
  4. Bearing Fruits
  5. Practically Speaking
  6. Narrow Or Wide Gate?
  7. The Narrow Road Of Discipleship
  8. Build Your House On The Rock
  9. False Prophets 1
  10. False Prophets 2
  11. Strong Roots and a Good Foundation
  12. Signs and directions
  13. Is it Fruit yet?
  14. Log?..What log?
  15. A Plague on All Our Houses: Racism in American Theatre

It is difficult to accept that we each play a part—regardless of how small—in perpetuating racism in our society. We are products of our time, and although our legislation and current President would suggest that we are post-racism, we are actually far from it. Instead, we live in a nation still reeling from the Civil […]

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