What's the Fruit? Matthew 7:15-20


I was in a dialogue with a Lutheran and he asked me to follow a link to a talk given by a Lutheran Pastor. I obliged him and listened to the link. However, the entire basis of the Pastors talk was leveraged on:

Matthew 7:15-20
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

His definition of the fruit is what the person is preaching. This definition does not sit well with me. In my mind it has to be more than that. I have always had more confidence in someones actions than their words. I have had to many people in my life that could talk the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. But actions are works and you could tell by his talk he wasn’t gonna touch that with a ten foot pole. Not to mention his definition brings us right back around to how can we ever know if that person is preaching the true gospel.

I am sure you can see where I am going with this. What I need help with is a good interpretation of this verse and the best way to present it to a non-Catholic.



It is more than that. A snippet from my Navarre Bible commentary:

“A person who truly speaks the things of God sows faith, hope, charity, peace and understanding; whereas a false prophet in the Church of God, in his preaching AND BEHAVIOR, sows division, hatred, resentment, pride and sensuality (cf. Gal 5:16-25-the works of the flesh). However, the main characteristics of a false prophet is that he separates the people of God from the Magisterium of the Church, through which Christ’s teaching is declared to the world. Our Lord, also indicates that these deceivers are destined to eternal perdition.”

(they) “lead my people astray by their lies AND their recklessness”, Jeremiah 23

The best way to present God’s truth to a non-Catholic, if they believe the Bible is His word, is by His word. Sadly many do not believe it that any more.


I can get on board with that. But how do I then get around the objection that I know would come from your second statement. “However, the main characteristics of a false prophet is that he separates the people of God from the Magisterium of the Church, through which Christ’s teaching is declared to the world.” This makes perfect sense to me. Being a business man I could understand this statement to be true, even if I were an agnostic. However, the main objection would be the non-Catholic would say: “The main characteristics of a false prophet is that the “Magisterium of the Church” separates the people of God from the Words of God, which is the Bible, through which Christ’s teaching is declared to the world.”

I know this changes the topic of the thread I started, but it always seems to come down to the Magisterium vs the Bible instead of both. So how can I get around this?


If only preaching was meant in verses 15-20, then a phrase like “he who preaches the Father’s will” would make more sense in verse 21, instead of “he who does the Father’s will” that we find there. Similarly, if only preaching was meant in verses 15-20, then a phrase like “preachers of iniquity” would make more sense in verse 23, instead of “workers of iniquity” that we find there. Context suggests that more than preaching is meant in verses 15-20.

Jude condemned not only the preaching but also the conduct of false teachers in his letter.


With regard to your last two sentences:I don’t know if this will help you or not, but here it is…

Catholics have a three-legged stool: 1. The Magisterium (divinely appointed authority); 2. Sacred Scripture; and Tradition with a capital “T”.

Many other Christian denominations have a one-legged stool, Scripture alone. That doesn’t stand up all by itself.


Leg #1 Magisterium is the divinely appointed authority. Jesus appointed twelve apostles. One committed suicide and was replaced by a vote by the other eleven. These apostles have handed down the faith, appointing bishops since then. Each bishop today comes from a lineage of appointed bishops all the way to the original apostles. That’s the authority.

Leg #2 Oral and Written Traditions

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15

“13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning[e] to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit[f] and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.”

Leg #3 The Scriptures, the Complete Bible, not the one desecrated by Luther


Thanks. I have heard of the 3 legged stool but not with the extra detail. This is the base that makes everything else so much easier to understand. It is so clear and so easy for me to accept. Quite honestly I would love to say to people it is common sense, but that would immediately turn them off. My ability to so easily accept this is what gets me so frustrated when others can’t see it. Hopefully if I keep searching I will someday find a way to explain this, that would let others see it as easily as I do.


MT1926 #1
What I need help with is a good interpretation of this verse [Matthew 7:15-20] and the best way to present it to a non-Catholic.

Jesus founded His own Church on St Peter with the fullness of Truth.
**All four promises to Peter alone: **
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later to the Twelve, also].

**Sole authority: **
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

But it is vital to follow the commands to judge all actions, speech, writing against truth and in this way we can help others by offering truth. Christ and His Church’s Scriptures tell us:
“Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.” (Jn 7:24).

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:15, 16).

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” (Mt 7:19-20).

“Test everything: retain what is good.” (1Thess 5:21).

“The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgement by anyone.” (1 Cor 2:15).

“I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgement on the one who has committed this deed…” (1 Cor 5:3; read 1-13).

“I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying.” (1 Cor 10:15).

“Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn 4:1).

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16).

The correction should be with the intention of helping others to see right from wrong and truth from falsehood, and so to assist in the path to virtue. Only Christ’s own Catholic Church has this fullness of truth.


The answer for you is in your signature:

Matthew 19:26
“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

There are people who have their hearts hardened and their eyes are blinded. In the NT, Saul’s eyes were healed in a way, on his trip to Damascus to persecute the Christian’s there. After his meeting with the Risen Christ, Acts 9:18
“And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized”.

Live out your faith and others will see in you what you can not explain. When they ask, tell them. Only God can open their hearts and eyes. Intercede in prayer for them. :slight_smile:



What Non-Catholic Christian miss, overlook or fail to comprehend is:

The Bible is a Catholic Book. Were it NOT for the Early Catholic-Church Fathers; Apostate Fr. Luther would have had NO bible to delete books from ot alter text in.

It is critically important to understand that when the bible was FULLY Authored long before the bibles “cannon” was set; that the ONLY “Christian Church’s” united under the Apostles & successors was TODAY’S Catholic Church. So until 1054 A.D. & the GREAT Easter Schism the bile was intended ONLY for Catholics.

The “fruits” prophesied HERE is for the MOST-PART the reformation churches; the THOUSANDS of them in existence today:eek:

We “will” and CAN "know them by their FRUITS; which means the obvious and ongoing search for GOD"S True-faith; which has resulted in more and more wrong and competing sets of faith-beliefs.

Nowhere in the entire bible is there even ONE bit of evidence of GOD: Yahweh or Jesus; even One time being OK with, approving of, allowing, permitting, or heaven forbid accepting ANY competing faiths.** NOT one bit of evidence.**

Therefore it is no presumption or assumption to conclude my first point. This teaching was predicting what we have today; thousands of denominations, sects, churches birthed by the reformation; ALL trying to convince God that they know more; or perhaps know better than God Himself and the CC that He founded, guides and protects.

That is WHY we MUST pray for them to be granted Gods right understanding. Amen


To take a different look at this. A fruit tree produces only fruit of its kind. An apple tree produces apples. A banana tree produces bananas. So you recognize what kind of tree it is by the kind of fruit it produces. You can tell a banana tree from an apple tree this way. Now, some trees produce ‘bad’ fruit. For example, certain types of poison berries. A bad fruit will be indigestible and poison to the body. You can tell which tree is good to eat by its fruit.

The bible talks about the good fruits and the bad fruits that can be produced in a person who lives by the Spirit or by the flesh.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22)

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (Gal 5:19-21)

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16)

Lately, in my own life I have been coming to see the value of patience. And, really behind that for me is not feeling rushed. Because when we feel rushed we can not do acts of mercy for others. We do not see them because we are running around trying to get things done. It also adds to our stress levels. So patience is a virtue I am working on and seeing the fruit of patience as more peace and the ability to more readily help others in need. Part of this to actually be more patient with myself. Because the biggest person I tend to be impatient with is me I have been realizing. And, if I am impatient with myself I can’t be patient with what’s happening around me or the people around me. There is a certain peace that I am finding in this virtue that I never quite noticed before.


GREAT POST:thumbsup:



Great Q!:thumbsup:
Think of it this way:

ALL actions have consequences;

THOSE consequences of man;s freewill choices are the FRUIT ]good or bad] sopken of here**

God Bless you,


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