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Matthew 7:19 – Trees Thrown Into the Fire

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Matthew 7:19 Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. — World English

Certainly, there is nothing here about hell, nor about anyone suffering for all eternity. The idea has to added to and read into what Jesus said.

We should note that Jesus is speaking symbolically, for Jesus is not speaking of a literal tree, nor of literal fruit that grows on a tree, nor is he speaking of literal fire. Jesus is talking about false prophets (Matthew 7:15) and that we recognize these by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16) He speaks of good trees and corrupt trees, and shows that the corrupt tree is cut down and thrown into a fire. Are we to think that God is causing literal trees to suffer for an eternity?

If the tree is a good tree, in harmony with God and his Son, Jesus, it will bring forth good fruit. “Fruit” is used as a symbol of the qualities of character one develops through the holy spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23; Ephesians 5:9) Conversely, a corrupt tree is illustrated by “works of the flesh” — these do not inherit God’s Kingdom: Galatians 5:19-21.

Jesus also uses the symbol of “fire.” Just as the trees are symbolic, so is the the “fire” symbolic. The fire into which a corrupt tree is thrown represents the fire of God’s jealousy for righteousness. They are cast off from God’s favor. Thus we read: “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Yahweh’s wrath, but the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy; for he will make an end, yes, a terrible end, of all those who dwell in the land.” (Zephaniah 1:18) “‘Therefore wait for me,’ says Yahweh, ‘until the day that I rise up to the prey, for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger, for all the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.'” (Zephaniah 3:18) “For you must not bow yourself to another god; for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, he is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14) “With foreign gods they moved him [Yahweh] to jealousy; and with idols they provoked him to anger; they sacrificed to demons, not God.” (Deuteronomy 32:16,17) “Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the nations.” (Ezekiel 36:5) “In my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken.” (Ezekiel 38:19) “And Judah did evil in the sight of Yahweh, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.” (1 Kings 14:22) “When Yahweh heard it, his anger was kindled; and the fire of Yahweh burnt among them.” (Numbers 11:1) “And my anger will be spent, and I will make my fury rest on them, and I will be eased. And they will know that I, Yahweh, have spoken in my zeal, in my fulfilling my fury on them.” — Ezekiel 5:13.

We know that there were many “false prophets” among the Jewish people. In the first century, many of these prophets were foretelling victory against the Romans armies. Of this Peter states: “there also arose false prophets among the people.” (2 Peter 2:1) He further states: “as among you also there will be false teachers, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction.” Thus, among Christians also, there came forth “false teachers”. These, Peter says, bring on themselves, not eternal suffering, but swift destruction.

For those Christians who have the heavenly gift, partakers of the holy spirit, the powers of the age to come, and who then turn away, they cannot be called to repentance, as though to sacrifice Christ over again. (Hebrews 6:4-6) Such ones have appropriated for themselves the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice, and then trodden underfoot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant by which he had been sanctified as nothing (Romans 10:29), and thus for such “there remains no more a sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:26) There is no second ransom given. Such who fall into this category receive, not just destruction, but “eternal destruction”, for they had already been “reckoned” as “alive” in Christ, having the merit of the ransom sacrifice imputed to them, and then have rejected that which had sanctified them.

However, most who are false prophets as Jesus spoke of, do not fall into this category, but they are cast off as far as having the kingdom inheritance, and this is more specifically what Jesus is talking about. Those being called are called for the purpose of receiving the kingdom, to be heirs, and joint-heirs, in that kingdom. Many, however, have claimed to be begotten again in Christ, who have not really been so, and yet who preach all kinds of false doctrines. These are cast off from any inheritance in the Kingdom. It is these that Jesus seems to be speaking of, for he goes on to say:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy by your name, by your name cast out demons, and by your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity [illegally].’ — Matthew 7:21-23, World English.

While these are raised for judgment in the last day (John 12:47,48), they fail to be of the kingdom class who will with Jesus rule in the kingdom and do the judging of the world. — Daniel 7:22;27; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Obadiah 21; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29,30; Romans 8:16-21; 2 Timothy 2:11,12; Revelation 3:21; 5:9,10; 20:4,6; 22:17; Genesis 12:3; 22:16-18; Galatians 3:7-9,16,29; Hebrews 6:13-20; Acts 3:19-25.

See our study:
Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

Having been raised for judgment rather than for life (John 5:28,29), they inquire of Jesus why they do not have a share in the Kingdom, since they had done so many wonderful and powerful works in his name. Jesus tells them to depart from him, because he never recognized them or their works, since their works were without his authority. Thus they are cast off from having any share in the kingdom rulership. Jesus says nothing, however, about their final eventuality. No doubt many of them will “believe in that day” and attain to life everlasting. — 2 Thessalonians 1:10.

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