|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:33-37 Men's language discovers what country they are of, likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.
Verses 33-37. - You wonder that I make so much of words; words are not trivialities, but are really the legitimate and normal fruit of the heart, and therefore by them each man will be judged.
(1) Take your choice; half-heartedness is not enough (cf. ver. 30); the fruit tells the nature of the tree (ver. 33).
(2) Our Lord addresses the Pharisees directly, showing them their true character. They only speak according to their spiritual condition (ver. 34).
(3) Man can only bring out what is already in his heart (ver. 35).
(4) A solemn close, in which he applies the principle generally; for every idle word an account shall be given, since words are always the source of the verdict upon each man's case (vers. 36, 37). Verses 33-35. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:43-45 (cf. Matthew 7:16-18, notes). Verse 33. - Either make (η} ποιήσατε). Not "suppose" (fac, pone), still less "declare," but "make." The Lord is speaking in a parable. You would not, surely, make a tree in any other way; it would be against nature; how then imagine it can be so in your own persons? Matthew 7:18 and Luke 6:43 state as a fact that the reverse case does not take place in nature. The tree good, and his fruit good (i.e. one if the other); or else make the tree corrupt (Matthew 7:17, note), and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. "By his own fruit" (Luke).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good,.... That is, either assert them both good, or
else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: say they are both evil, for the contrary cannot be affirmed with any consistency and propriety: the matter is easy to be determined,
for the tree is known by his fruit; fruit will discover what a tree is, and accordingly judgment may be made. No man will say a tree is good, and its fruit corrupt; or say, that a tree is corrupt, and its fruit good: these are glaring contradictions, and can never be reconciled. The case Christ here puts, is a very easy and familiar one, and is obvious to common sense: the application of it may be made, either to the foregoing instance of Christ's casting out devils, which the Jews ascribed to the help of Satan; and then the sense is, either say I am a good man, and do good works, or that I am an evil man, and do evil works: to say that I do good works, as the casting out of devils must be allowed to be, and yet am an evil man, and do this under satanical influence, is as great an inconsistency, as to say that a corrupt tree brings forth good fruit; either therefore condemn these miracles as evil actions, done by confederacy with Satan; or if you will allow them to be good ones, as you do, ascribe them to the Spirit of God; for these things may as easily be determined, as the cause by its effect, or as a tree is known by its fruit: or else this may be applied unto the Pharisees, who, though wicked men, pretended to do good works; and though they set up for men of religion and holiness, yet did evil things, as their words and actions testified; particularly the blasphemy just now uttered by them, charging the miracles of Christ as done by the assistance of the devil, which discovered the malignity and rottenness of their hearts: and the meaning of Christ is, that they would either both say, and do, that which is right and good; or relinquish their pretensions to the character of good and religious men: nothing can be concluded from hence in favour of free will, or a power in the creature to make himself good; for the word "make", here signifies to "say, affirm, assert", and the like; see John 5:18. Though it may be fairly inferred from hence, that a man must first be a good man, ever he can perform good works, truly and properly so called; and that these are fruits and evidences of the inward real goodness of a man; which must be understood not of a few single actions, but of the common, constant series and course of life.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
33. Either make the tree good, &c.
Matthew 12:33 Parallel Commentaries
Matthew 12:33 NIV
Matthew 12:33 NLT
Matthew 12:33 ESV
Matthew 12:33 NASB
Matthew 12:33 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible