Matthew 21:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 21:19, NIV: Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, 'May you never bear fruit again!' Immediately the tree withered.

Matthew 21:19, ESV: And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

Matthew 21:19, KJV: And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

Matthew 21:19, NASB: And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves alone; and He *said to it, 'No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.' And at once the fig tree withered.

Matthew 21:19, NLT: and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, 'May you never bear fruit again!' And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Matthew 21:19, CSB: Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, he went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again! " At once the fig tree withered.

What does Matthew 21:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse reads as if Jesus is experiencing some hunger-fueled anger toward a tree. Most likely He was not, and simply took advantage of the moment to perform another "acted parable" for the disciples to illustrate an important point.

Jesus is walking the two miles back into Jerusalem for the day, and He is hungry. Since this is the time of Passover, we know it is too early in the season for full, healthy figs to be available. Mark's version even adds that "it was not the season for figs" (Mark 11:13). However, in this season, there should be edible buds on a fig tree.

This fig tree should have those unripe green figs, at least. Instead, Jesus finds only leaves on the tree. The tree looks healthy from a distance, but has no fruit, and won't produce any later on. Jesus curses the tree, saying to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" The tree immediately withers, though the disciples only notice this on the following day (Mark 11:20–21), where Matthew likely picks up the action.

Commentators have differing views on what this event means. Some say Christ was demonstrating the power of faith, which He talks about in the following verses. Others say the fig tree represents God's coming judgment on Israel for failing to bear fruit in righteousness. Still other Bible teachers see a more limited judgment in the tree for those who are hypocrites, failing to bear fruit though appearing to do so, as was the case with the religious leaders in the previous verses. The implications for Israel are the most likely, especially since such symbolism was used in Old Testament prophecy (Jeremiah 8:13).