|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:15-20 Nothing so much prevents men from entering the strait gate, and becoming true followers of Christ, as the carnal, soothing, flattering doctrines of those who oppose the truth. They may be known by the drift and effects of their doctrines. Some part of their temper and conduct is contrary to the mind of Christ. Those opinions come not from God that lead to sin.
Verse 18. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:43 (cf. also infra, Matthew 12:33). A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. This correspondence of external product to internal character is necessary. It cannot (emphatic) be otherwise. It' the heart is good, good results follow; therefore, he implies, if good results are not seen in these "false prophets," it is because of their real character. A bad life cannot but spring from a worthless heart. Of course, our Lord deals only with the general rule. There are apparent anomalies in the world of spirit as of nature. Bring forth... bring forth; ἐνεγκεῖν (Westcott and Herr)... ποιεῖν. A good tree cannot have bad fruit hanging on it; a rotten or worthless tree cannot, with all its efforts, produce good fruit.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,.... A man that is unprincipled with the grace of God, has an experimental acquaintance with the Gospel of Christ, and is guided by the Spirit of God into all truth, as it is in Jesus, cannot knowingly deliver, maintain, and abide by any doctrine that is contrary to the glory of God's grace, and the person of Christ, the work of the Spirit, the fundamental doctrines of the Bible; or what is repugnant to the experiences of God's people, and prejudicial to their souls.
Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. A corrupt preacher, one destitute of the truth of the Gospel, reprobate concerning the faith, who never had any experience of the doctrines of grace, and denies them in the theory of them, cannot, consistent with himself, and his own principles, deliver, or preach good doctrine; or that which tends to produce any good fruit, either in the experience or lives of men. It is true, a corrupt man, that is, an unregenerate man, may preach sound doctrine, it being what he believes, though he has no experience of it: but then this man is not a corrupt tree, that is, a corrupt preacher, though a corrupt man. As our Lord means by "a good tree", not a good man, barely, or one that is made so by the grace of God; but a good minister, one that is furnished by the Spirit of God, and is well instructed in the kingdom of heaven: so by "a corrupt tree" he does not mean a corrupt man, a man that is in a state of nature, habitually and practically evil; but a corrupt preacher, a false prophet or teacher, that has sucked in corrupt principles, and has nothing else in him, and therefore can bring forth no other.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit—Obvious as is the truth here expressed in different forms—that the heart determines and is the only proper interpreter of the actions of our life—no one who knows how the Church of Rome makes a merit of actions, quite apart from the motives that prompt them, and how the same tendency manifests itself from time to time even among Protestant Christians, can think it too obvious to be insisted on by the teachers of divine truth. Here follows a wholesome digression.
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