“Either declare the tree good, and thus its fruit good, or declare the tree corrupt, and thus its fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by its fruit. Bible

“declare.” The Greek is poieō (#4160 ποιέω), which is properly “to do” or “to make,” and many versions read “make.” However, poieō can refer to what is made up in the mind, and thus what is thought, or in this case, as the context shows, what is declared or spoken. Examples of this include John 5:18; 8:53 and 10:33. The key to understanding this verse is realizing that Jesus is referring back to the evil and hypocritical judgment of the Pharisees, who said that when Jesus was delivering people by casting out demons, he was doing it by the prince of demons (Matt. 12:24). Jesus was telling the Pharisees that they could not rightly come to the conclusion that Jesus was evil when the result of his work was good. If they said the tree (i.e., Jesus) was evil, then his fruit would have to be evil too. But if they acknowledged that Jesus’ fruit was good, then they should acknowledge that he was good. The justification for the translation “declare” comes from the context: what the Pharisees were saying (Matt 12:24ff), and Christ’s reference to what is coming out of the mouth and idle words (Matt 12:34-37). Cassirer’s translation of this verse reads: “Suppose a tree is good, then its fruit will be good; suppose a tree has fallen into decay, then its fruit will be worthless.” Jesus taught with great consistency when it came to people and the fruit they produced (Matt. 7:15-20).

Commentary for: Matthew 12:33