Translations: Chinese 简体中文 繁體中文

The Parable of 
The Barren Fig Tree

Lk 13:6-9 He spoke this parable. "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. He said to the vine dresser, ‘Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?’ He answered, ‘Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it, and fertilize it. If it bears fruit, fine; but if not, after that, you can cut it down.’" (web)

Discussion Questions

Who does the barren fig tree represent? Who the caretaker? And who the owner?
In what way are they barren?
In what way do they "use up the soil."?
What does Jesus do to try and produce fruitfulness from this barren tree?
What does it mean to be cut down?


The context of this is that people were talking about people who died in disasters and in senseless ways. Jesus says in verse 4,5, "Do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." For those who live comfortable lives, it's easy to presume that it's their own fault that people are subject to misfortune. They must somehow be worst sinners. But throughout the Bible, this has proven to not necessarily be the case. The ultimate counter example will be Jesus' own death. The Jews in particular where characteristically judgmental and hypocrites, considering themselves morally superior.

The subject of this parable is producing fruits of repentance. The particular application is directed towards the Jewish nation which, although some had repented and come to faith in Christ, the majority were hardened in heart. Jesus was doing a take on Isaiah's prophecy mentioned below. The more general application is toward those who are being led through nominalism to true faith in Christ.

Jesus found that his efforts in converting the Jews as a whole to faith in himself was largely unfruitful. And ultimately he would be rejected and killed by them. He was the caretaker of the vineyard. His father was the owner. Despite the barrenness, he intercedes for the Jews, much as Moses had done when God was going to destroy them.

The fruitfulness he was looking for was fruits of repentance, as verse 5 indicates. If a person says he believes, but has no outworkings to his faith, such faith is a dead faith, having no salvific value and being good for nothing. Jesus fertilizes people's faith in a number of ways. To the proud, he'll fertilize with humiliation. To the humble he may provide miraculous signs of healing, so as to affirm their faith. But he always uses his word to edify.

Why should it use up the soil?

Unfruitful people are a drain on the church. Of course it may take a number of years discipling and training new converts to become fruitful laborers. But many times, such effort seems wasted. They become mere pew-sitters, having little or no application of faith, perhaps feeling religious and feeling morally superior to others, like the Pharisees were, but lacking in the necessary humility to produce fruit.

Don't test God's patience. God won't endure the stiff-necked for long. "God does all these things to a man-- twice, even three times-- to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him." Job 33:29,30

The Unfuitful Vine of Isaiah 5:1-7

"I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it."

"The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress."


A man had a fig tree planted in his yard
And could find no fruit though he looked very hard
So he said to the man who took care of the tree
"I've been coming here for how many years? Three!
I've found no fruit inspite of the toil.
Why should it even use up the soil?"
"Sir," he replied, "Leave it one more year,
I'll dig around it and fertilize with care.
If then it bears fruit, that will be good!
If not, we'll make it into firewood."

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Aug 14,2020