The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree

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Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33

Contents

Synopsis of Parable:

There is a fig tree, and as summer approaches, tender leaves and branches appear on the tree. Just as your see the branches coming, so to do you know the kingdom of God approaches.

Parable Given in Response to:

In all three accounts, Jesus gave this parable in the middle of a some prophecies regarding the destruction of the temple during he siege of Jerusalem and the second coming of the Son of Man.

Symbolism Chart

Symbol Meaning Verse Found
↓Fig Tree Jesus Luke 21:29
↓Shooting Forth Signs of the Coming of the Kingdom Luke 21:30
↓Summer The Kingdom of God Luke 21:30
↓This Generation Jesus's Contemporary Generation Luke 21:32

The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree

As presented in the King James Version of Luke 21:29-33
Click here to read the account in Matthew 24:32-35.
Click here to read the account in Mark 13:28-31.

Luke 21:29And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols

The Fig Tree is Jesus Back to Top ↑

The fig tree is Jesus, and those that shoot forth from Jesus, who echo from his root, are like branches that come from the trunk of the tree. The other symbols affirm this interpretation.

Many people, seeing that this parable is given in the middle of Jesus's prophecies regarding the siege of Jerusalem and his second coming, believe that the fig tree instead represents the Jewish nation.

This is not so. This belief shows that they do not listen to Jesus. Jesus said, 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 We can see that Jesus, who only spoke what God gave him,(John 17:7.) divested himself of Israel.

Furthermore, Jesus also said, For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.Matthew 11:13 We shouldn't be relying on the prophets and the law. Yet, those that say the fig tree is Israel rely on the prophets, who did previously say the fig tree was Israel,(Hosea 9:10.) for this new interpretation. But even then, they ignore the Father when he said, There shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.Jermiah 8:13b

Well, God wanted to give Israel his kingdom, but he ended up deciding not to. Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.Matthew 21:31b

The Shooting Forth are Signs of the Coming of the Kingdom Back to Top ↑

What is it that shoot forth? Well, Mark teaches Matthew in writing, Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves...Mark 13:28a cf. Matthew 24:32a So while Luke is a little ambiguous, we know from the other two renditions that it is the branches that are being put forth.

So, when we see these branches shooting forth, tender and soft, we know that summer is near. So what are these branches?

Well, they're people believing in Jesus. And this happened in Jesus's time. We know that for a fact because Jesus prayed to God, saying, Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.John 17:7-8

Thus, Jesus was saying, "When you see people believe in me, know that the coming of the kingdom of God is nigh." And what happened soon after Jesus finished the speech this parable was in? He was crucified, and brought forth the kingdom of God. The branches were left to grow on their own, just like the disciples.

Summer is the Kingdom of God Back to Top ↑

So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.Luke 21:31

This is a simple interpretation. To reach this, we have to ask ourselves the question, "What symbolic things are coming to pass?" Well, Jesus says, When they now shoot forth....Luke 21:30a "They," the branches, shoot forth, and so summer is now nigh at hand. Likewise, when "these things" come to pass, the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

Do you see how carefully Luke was to to rephrase know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. to ensure that our interpretation of summer was correct? He has Jesus saying, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. This is a near exact replication of what the previous symbol was, first there is "know ye," which copies "know of your own selves," then "that the kingdom of God" which is the symbolic replacement for "that summer," ended with the similar statement "is now nigh at hand." It cannot be reasonably denied that Summer symbolically represents the kingdom of God in the Parable of the Budding Fig Tree.

So, why do so many people not understand this? We posit three reasons.

1. Most people do even think to interpret summer as a symbol.

The idea that parables are to be taken symbolically is obvious. Actually committing to it and assigning each symbol in a parable to an idea is not. It requires a very firm understanding of Jesus's saying divested of those sayings from other people. It requires a firm understanding of the will of God. And it requires a firm belief that when Jesus prayed to God, I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,John 17:14 Jesus meant it. We have God's Word. We do not need anyone else's.

2. Most people do not want to understand that kingdom of God as Jesus explained it.

Taken to the common extreme, we find that people completely ignore Jesus and listen to the bloody talk given from the self proclaimed apostle. They do not want to open their eyes, or listen with their ears. Of these people, Jesus echos Isaiah, saying, And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.Matthew 13:14-15 cf. Isaiah 6:9-10

And God allows this. He even gave us a timeframe of how long this will last. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.Isaiah 6:11-13

People do not want to understand the kingdom of God. God doesn't necessarily want them to. We go over the reasons why in our Logical Argument for God, so check out that article if you're interested.

But when people take other people's words as the words of God, then they result in a confused mess. This is what happened with the Pharisees, as they constantly misunderstood God. Here is one example, For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.Matthew 15:4-6

The Pharisees were confused regarding the important things of God and the things that were introduced by Moses and others,See Matthew 19:8. a similar problem that we have with the self proclaimed apostle Paul and others today. In Jesus's day, he had to deal with the Pharisees and scribes caring about sacrifices so much. He said, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.Matthew 23:23 And of course, we cannot forget Jesus's summation of the issue, saying, But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.Matthew 12:7 cf. Matthew 9:13, 23:23

Today, we still deal with this issue of sacrifice. People say that Jesus was a sacrifice,Ephesians 5:2 but Jesus never said he was himself. But he did say, Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.Matthew 20:28 cf. Mark 10:45 The difference between a sacrifice and a ransom is important. A sacrifice is given to a good figure. A ransom is given to a bad figure. And yet, still today, people insist that Jesus's death was a sacrifice to God. They cannot understand that Jesus's death brought the kingdom of God to Earth.

3. Most people do not want to toss aside their own prior beliefs about this parable.

Most people, seeing that the Parable of the Budding Fig Tree is placed smack dab in the middle of the Olivet and Temple Discourses, want to interpret summer being the second coming of Jesus. For this, they refer to the renditions of this parable in Matthew and MarkWhere it is placed in the Olivet Discourses instead of the version in Luke,Which takes place in front of the Temple, Luke 21:5 which identifies the kingdom of God as summer. Matthew and Mark do not, so people simply do not refer to Luke when they want to use the Parable of the Budding Fig Tree to refer to Jesus's second coming. This is a mistake, and sadly, it could cost them dearly.

Jesus said in the Parable of the Sower, When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.Matthew 13:19 This is exactly what is happening when people refuse to understand the kingdom of God.


Usually, we do not have to go so deeply into why a symbol does not represent other things. But the whole of Christianity has failed here. Either they teach that the kingdom of God is not here, or they say that summer represents some other thing, usually the "millennial reign of Christ" as given in the Revelation of John.

Summer is the kingdom of God, and therefore this parable is about the kingdom of God. That it is in the middle of a speech about the siege of Jerusalem and Jesus's second coming is immaterial. Jesus said in this parable, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.Luke 21:32 Either the kingdom of God is here, or Jesus is a false prophet. And there is no reason to believe the interpretation that renders Jesus a false prophet, when we can instead believe in him and his words at the expense of some other wannabe apostle.

We can see this when Jesus was speaking with a scribe, who said to him, And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.Mark 12:32-34 So it took this man understanding that love was more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices for Jesus to say, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. How then can we turn around and say, "To be in the kingdom of God, which is yet to come, is to believe that Jesus was a sacrifice!" Would we not then be completely deaf to Jesus?

This Generation is Jesus's Contemporary Generation Back to Top ↑

The generation that Jesus referred to is the generation of people that Jesus was speaking to, 2,000 years ago.

And we know this, because the parable was about the kingdom of God. Jesus often said some variation of, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 4:17b cf. Matthew 10:7, Mark 1:15, Luke 10:9, 11

Furthermore, if the kingdom of God was not on Earth right now, then how was it on Earth 2,000 years ago when Jesus said, And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.Matthew 11:12-13 Well, the days of John the Baptist were 2,000 years ago. Even back then, people were trying to take it by force. And if the prophets and law only prophesied until John, what replaced them? Jesus? The very same man and prophet who said, The kingdom of God is nigh at hand, in this very parable?Luke 21:31 Of course.

With such a firm stance from Jesus, we know that if the kingdom of God is not here today, then it was not nigh in Jesus's time and it did not come in the generation that Jesus was talking to. That would make Jesus a liar. And being a liar, he would be a false prophet and not worth of any respect. He even went so far to say, Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.Matthew 16:28 cf. Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27 So, I ask you, is the kingdom of God here today? Or is Jesus a false prophet? Those are the only two options.

In Conclusion Back to Top ↑

The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree is an incredibly simple parable. It's more of a metaphor than a parable. Yet, most people simply do not want to believe in Jesus, and so they misinterpret this parable as much as humanly possible. Even worse, they do not even know that they render Jesus a false prophet in doing so.

We suppose that the placement of this parable within the prophecies of the destruction of the temple and the second coming of Jesus caused most of this confusion. People ask, "why would Jesus talk about the kingdom of God in this section if it isn't about his second coming?" The answer is simple. These verses are a reminder of who the elect are. The verse preceding this parable in Matthew is, And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.Matthew 24:31 See also Mark 13:27, which is similar. The question to ask is, “Who is the elect?” And so Jesus gives this Parable of the Budding Fig Tree to answer that question. The elect are those in the kingdom of God.

Matthew's Account of The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree

As presented in the King James Version of Matthew 24:32-35
Click here to read the account in Mark 13:28-31.
Click here to return back to the account in Luke 21:29-33.

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Mark's Account of The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree

As presented in the King James Version of Mark 13:28-31
Click here to read the account in Matthew 24:32-35.
Click here to return back to the account in Luke 21:29-33.

Mark 13:28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

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