The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

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Contents

Luke 13:6-9

Synopsis of Parable:

A man planted a fig tree, and came to find fruit, but found none. He told the vinedresser to cut it down, but vinedresser said, "Leave it a year for me to fertilize. If it bears not fruit, then cut it down."

Parable Given in Response to:

That Israel should repent.(Luke 13:5)

Symbolism Chart

Symbol Meaning Verse Found Notes
↓Owner of the Vineyard God the Father Luke 13:6 Also the "certain man" of verse six.
↓Fig Tree Contemporary Israel Luke 13:6
↓Vineyard Earth Luke 13:6
↓Fruit Believers Luke 13:6
↓Vinedresser Jesus Luke 13:7

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

As presented in the King James Version of Luke 13:6-9

Luke 13:6He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 
8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols

The Owner of the Vineyard is God Back to Top ↑

God made the world and everything in it.(Genesis 1:9-31.) On this Earth, he made many nations, and choose ancient Israel as his own.(Deuteronomy 7:7.) By the act of choosing Abraham(Genesis 12:1-3.) and keeping his family safe, God planted Israel on earth, just as a farmer may plant a fig tree in a vineyard.

The Fig Tree is Contemporary Israel Back to Top ↑

Jesus's audience was contemporary Israel here. Israel was a special nation, a chosen nation, and a servant to God.(Isaiah 44:21.) God wanted the nation to bless all the families of the earth,(Genesis 12:3.) and yet when Jesus came, very few were able or willing to do that. There was no fruit to give to the nations.

At the end of the parable, Jesus says, If it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. Luke 13:9 This corresponds with another of Jesus's statements, Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.Matthew 21:43

Some have interpreted the fall of the temple in 70 A.D. as this symbol of "cutting it down." If so, the Jewish leaders never ended up bearing fruit, even after Jesus “dug about and fertilized” them.

The Vineyard is Earth Back to Top ↑

Israel was on earth, as were all other nations. This is the only logical interpretation given all the other symbols.

The Fruit are Believers Back to Top ↑

The fruit are believers, but when Jesus came, there were very few.

There were plenty of Jewish leaders, but when he looked at them, all he found was that they were hypocrites.(Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:23-29; Mark 7:6; Luke 11:44; 12:56.) In his diatribe about the Jewish leaders, Jesus said of them: All their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. Matthew 23:5-7 This goes against what Jesus wants from his believers. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. Luke 6:26 Specifically, these leaders did everything they could to look good, even if they were awful on the inside.(Matthew 23:27-28.)

Jesus said, Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:4, 5 His audience was Jewish, and he said that unexpectant death comes to even those who think they are not sinners. He followed that up with this parable, saying that the leaders of the Jewish church may appear good, but inwardly, they are rotten.

Jesus even said their worshipping was in vain, But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9 cf. Mark 7:7

This is why the owner did not find fruit on his fig tree in the parable.

The Vinedresser is Jesus Back to Top ↑

The vinedresser is Jesus.

Jesus was the one who came to earth to shine. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. John 12:46 This includes to the Jews, but the Jews did not receive him, and Jesus died. I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. Luke 4:43 This includes the Jews as well, but they crucified Jesus.

Both reasons, and nearly every reason Jesus had for doing what he did, was to fertilize (to “dung”) the Jews, so they may bear fruit. There is no other logical interpretation of the vinedresser besides Jesus.

In Conclusion Back to Top ↑

This parable is about a group of people in the past. But that does not mean that there is nothing to learn from it today. Jesus said Ye shall know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16

And our recommendation is this: When you go to a place that purports to be holy, or points to God, or anything else, you pay attention to what they are doing. Are they helping the community, as God wanted Israel to do? Are they segregating themselves away, making it impossible for them to share Jesus's words? Do they enforce an awkward "give us money" moment every time they give a sermon?

Remember, Jesus said, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."Luke 16:15 The Pharisees looked good to other men, but they were messed up internally with God.

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