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What did the fig tree say to Jesus?

Personal Questions | VBVM Staff | Aug-03-2012

Q. In Mark 11:13-14, my Bible says Jesus "answered" the fig tree by making it wither and die. What did the fig tree say to Jesus that caused Jesus to answer the tree in the way He did?
 

A. The BIble you are referencing is the King James Version of the Bible, which reads:

Mark 11:13  And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
Mark 11:14  And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. 
 

Unfortunately, the King James Version translates the original Greek of Mark 11:14 incorrectly. In the original Greek, Mark 11:14 opens with the Greek word apokrinomai, which means "to conclude for oneself" or "to respond."  The word apokrinomai can mean "a response to a question," but it can also describe a response to a nonverbal cue like something seen or experienced.

The King James Bible translates apokrinomai in Mark 11:14 to mean Jesus replied to a verbal cue (hence, "Jesus answered"), but Jesus was not replying to a question from the tree. By the context of the passage, we know Jesus was responding to what He saw when He looked at the tree, not to something Jesus heard. Therefore, the correct translation of Mark 11:14 should be "Jesus responded..."

Interestingly, the New King James version corrects this error:

From the NKJV:

Mark 11:13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
Mark 11:14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”  And His disciples heard it.
 

So, the fig tree in Mark 11 never spoke to Jesus, and neither was Jesus answering the tree when He spoke in v.14.  Instead, Jesus saw that the tree had leaves but no fruit, and so He responded to what He saw in v.14.

To learn why Jesus caused the tree to wither, please read this article.


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