Matthew 3:10 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 3:10, NIV: The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:10, ESV: Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:10, KJV: And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matthew 3:10, NASB: And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:10, NLT: Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:10, CSB: The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn't produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

What does Matthew 3:10 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

As prophesied (Isaiah 40:3), John the Baptist had been declaring his message to Israel in the wilderness: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven in near. Perhaps surprisingly, some of Israel's religious leaders had come to the wilderness to see and hear John for themselves. They were likely shocked at his public response to them.

John called them a brood of vipers and asked who had warned them to run away from God's wrath (Matthew 3:7–9). If they truly repent, John said, they will produce different results by their changed actions. Now he describes just how close God's judgment is. The coming of Messiah's kingdom is accompanied by the arrival of God's wrath against the unfaithful. John describes the axe of God's judgment as being "even now" at the root of the trees. The religious leaders may have recognized John's reference to Scriptures like Isaiah 10:33–34 and Jeremiah 46:22.

John has already told them not to expect to be spared merely because they are descended from Abraham. God will always keep His promises to Israel, but He is not bound to spare every Israelite from His wrath. Those who do not bear good fruit—by leading holy, faithful lives—will be pruned from the tree. They will be cut down and thrown into the fire as dead branches from a tree are removed and used for fuel.