The Parable of the Fig Tree Matthew 24:32-36 -- By: George E. Meisinger

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 02:2 (Fall 1996)
Article: The Parable of the Fig Tree Matthew 24:32-36
Author: George E. Meisinger

The Parable of the Fig Tree
Matthew 24:32-36

George E. Meisinger

Chafer Theological Seminary

[*Editor's note: George E. Meisinger is dean of Chafer Theological Seminary and teaches in the Old and New Testament departments. He received a Th.M. in Old Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. in Biblical Studies from Western Seminary. He also pastors Grace Church in Huntington Beach, California.]

Jesus used a parable, that speaks of what a fig tree does in springtime, to illustrate what happens before His Second Coming. In Matthew 24:32 Christ says that when the fig tree’s branch becomes tender, putting forth leaves, “You know that summer is near.”

Some have said that the budding of the fig tree speaks of the re-establishment of Israel as a nation (1948), seeing it as a precursor of Christ’s return. Several things work strongly against that interpretation:

  • Nowhere does Matthew 24–25 speak of Israel’s return to Palestine. In fact we do not find Israel’s return anywhere in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, in its flow of future historical events, has moved beyond Israel’s return portraying the Jews already in the land.
  • Furthermore, Luke says in his parallel account “look at the fig tree, and all the trees” (21:29). Not just one tree is in view, but many. Thus Christ refers to trees in general and what they do in the spring, not to a particular fig tree that pictures Israel.
  • In Matthew 24, the budding fig tree, rather than picturing Israel, depicts eleven signs that Jesus reveals in 24:4–24. Nine begin to occur in the first half of the Tribulation and two more appear in the second half.

Thus what we see unfolding is that as new leaves each spring signal the return of summer, so the signs Christ reveals will signal His return.

In Matthew 24:33 Jesus applies the fig tree to his disciples saying “so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors.” His immediate audience did not live to see the fulfillment of all He reveals. That remains for those alive during the Tribulation.

What will this future group of Jewish

believers “see”? To what does “all these things” refer? They denote “all” the signs of the first a...

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