In the last message we looked at some background to Matt 3:8-10. We talked about the genealogy of Jesus, Jesus birth, King Herod, Pharisees and Saduccees. We also talked about how John called the Pharisees and Saduccees offsprings of snakes and asked them who warned them to flee from the wrath of God. We now pick up our message from verse 8. In verse 8-10, John tells the Pharisees and Saduccees that they must bear fruits in keeping with their repentance and they must not think that being Abraham’s descendants will help them from God’s wrath. He tells them that any one who does not bear fruits in keeping with his repentance will be judged. Let’s look at this passage.
Matthew 3:8-10 (ESV Strong’s Bible)
8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
This is the most important verse of our passage and I will like us to go a little bit deep into it and have a clear understanding of what John is saying here. Let’s start by looking at each word in the verse and make sure we understand its meaning in context.
The first word is to Bear. The word bear in Greek is the word “Poieo” which means to produce or bring forth a tangible thing or something that is obvious to the senses. In other words, the thing that you produce must be detectable by using one’s sense of seeing, touching, taste, smell or hearing. The word has being used 579 times in the King James Version, 357 as “do”, 113 as “make” and 14 times as “bring forth”. It has a general feeling of doing or making or bringing forth. In the sense, produce. The word therefore means to produce or bring forth something that is real, not fiction or imaginary things.
Studying this word in context also reveals that it is written in an “aorist imperative active”, indicating that John is giving a command. Therefore, John is giving a command to the Pharisees and Saduccees to produce or bring forth that which is real and not fiction or imaginary. But, what must they produce? John says that they must produce fruits. So, John commands them to produce or bring forth fruits that are real and not fiction or imaginary.
So, the second word is fruits. The word in Greek used here for fruits, is the word “Karpos”, which means fruit or produce, both of trees or plants or the earth. As the plants or trees produce fruits, John is using the same to indicate that the Pharisees and the Saduccees must also produce fruits in the same way. The fruits produced by trees or plants are real and not imaginary, likewise, the fruits produced by the Pharisees must be real. John is using the analogy of a plant or tree producing fruits to indicate what the Pharisees and Saduccees must do.
They obviously cannot produce actual fruit like trees and plants, so what is John expecting them to produce? What does this fruits, represent?
1 Cor 3:9 says that we are God’s field or farm and Rom 7:4 says that we must bear fruits for God. Jesus says that in John 15 that God is the vine dresser and he(Jesus), is the true vine and we are the branches that are attached to the vine. Jesus continues to say that the only way the branch can bear fruit, is to be attached to the vine. Jesus continued to say that just like the branches, if we don’t abide in him, we will not be able to produce fruits.
So, in this analogy in John 15, again of a tree, just like in Matthews 3:8, God is the farmer, Jesus is the stem and Christians are the branches that are connected to the stem. Just like any other farmer, God expects fruits and the only way to produce fruits, is for the brach to be attached to the stem. Through the stem, the branches get all the nutrients and support they need to produce fruits.
We are also told by Hebrews 12:11 that God’s discipline produces peaceful fruits of righteousness. In other words, God through discipline, produces in us a condition acceptable to God. In other words, God through discipline, sanctifies us, He makes us holy as he is Holy. Therefore, God through His discipline produces in us a peaceful fruits of holiness. Ephesians 5:8-13 refers to the fruits of light that those living in the light must produce, and it says that the fruits of light is found in all that is good, right and true. It says that we must not take part in unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them. In Romans 7:5, Paul says that while we were unsaved, not Christians, living in the flesh, our sinful desires were at work in us producing fruits for death. Living in the flesh produces works of the flesh and these works of the flesh are listed in Gal 5:19-21
Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV Strong’s Bible)
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These are fruits of the flesh. These are the unfruitful works of darkness that we are told to expose. So, therefore, when we talk about fruits, we talk about works. Bad works are bad fruits of darkness or of the flesh. The opposite of bad fruits or bad works, are fruits or works of light, or of the Holy Spirit, or of those that has the Holy Spirit abiding in them, or of those that live by and are led by the Holy Spirit. These good fruits or good works are listed in Gal 5:22-23
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV Strong’s Bible)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Paul says that in Jesus we have crucified the bad works or fruits of the flesh and now we must keep in step with the good works or fruits of the Holy Spirit.
So, now we know that the fruits that John the Baptist is commanding the Pharisees to produce, are good works. So, John is commanding the Pharisees and the Saduccees to produce good works that are visible and real, in keeping with repentance. So the next words are keeping and repentance.
We will do these next time.