You will know them by their fruits

Discussion in 'Exegetical Forum' started by Von, Nov 20, 2018.

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  1. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Matthew 7:15-17
    "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit." (ESV)
    What are the fruits that Jesus is talking about here? Works or Words?
    I've always thought it was works (esp in the light of the verses that follows "...the will of My Father..."). But the pharisees were "good" people - they were considered the epitome of morality by the Jews of that time. And I was further influenced to conclude that it is words by this article that I have read.
  2. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Just for starters, I will respond to your statement that the Pharisees were "good people." I see you put good in quotes and assume you have some reservation about considering them "good" at least in some sense. But were the Pharisees in fact "good" in any sense at all? That is the question I give the short answer below.

    Matthew 15:19 (also in Mark 7:21)
    For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

    I quoted Matthew, but Mark is where my thoughts lye. The occasion was the Pharisees "found fault" (Mk. 7:2) with the disciples who, "eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault." (Mk. 7:2) The first part of Jesus answer is quoted below but first, see this list of the faults Jesus accused them of having.

    • They were, probably above anything else, hypocrites.
    • Their hearts were far from God.
    • Their worship was in vain.
    • They taught the commands of men. (a positive evil-sins of commision)
    • The ignored (laid aside) the commandments of God (sins of omission)
    • Their traditions were superficial and silly. (majored in the minors – or as Jesus says in another place, They were all things "blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." (Matt. 23:24)
    • They displayed boundless creativity in rejecting the commandments of God in favor of their traditions. (Mk 7:9)
    From the balance of Mark 7, Jesus gives one of many possible examples of their rejection of the Word of God through Moses
    • Specifically, they disregarded Moses commands to obey the 5th commandment. Honor your father and mother. (Mk. 7:10-13)
    • They encouraged gifts to the temple (thus to the Pharisees) that prevented them from helping their parents when in need. (think vow of poverty)
    • They made void the Word of God through their traditions. (Mk 7:13)
    • Finally, Jesus adds that they do many things like the example he just gave .them. (Mk 7:13)

    So were they good?

    The balance of Jesus teaching (Mark 7:14-23) shows the heart as the source of many many more evils, that, by implication, the Pharisees were guilty of doing.

    I sure others will answer the balance of your questions.

  3. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with your answer wholeheartedly. I think it was Flavel in Keeping the Heart who made a strong case for the fact that sins of the heart are more grievous in God's sight than overt/external sins.
    But given that these things happen in the heart, they were assumed to be (culturally, at least) to be good people.
    Now, Jesus also said:
    "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice."
    (Matt 23, ESV). Were the pharisees then considered to be false prophets? In other words, if a pastor's actions/life does not square up with Scripture, should we pay any attention to him? Or should his words still be weighed up and measured on their own merit?
  4. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    That why I thought you put "good" in parenthesis.

    I have to work, so I'm out of time to think much about your questions above.
    1. I don't remember them ever claiming to be prophets. I think John the Baptist was the first in a long time. We have Acts 19:13-15 about 7 Jewish exorcists with a comic ending. But no prophets.
    2. But, I think there is a yes and no answer to this depending on perhaps many things. Even though Jesus said "all that they say unto you, do, but don't follow their example," I doubt he meant that absolutely. No living man is faultless, so we make allowance for some faults, but a but a lesbian minister? I don't think so.
    3. I should also add that the wickedest of men planning the most heinous crime in the universe can still speak prophetically.

    John 11:49-52
    49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all.
    50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish."
    51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,
    52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.​
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