ASV - 16 By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
Jesus spoke the words cited in the question (as part of the long passage in the fifth through seventh chapters of Matthew's gospel that is commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount) in connection with warning His listeners to be on guard against false prophets. Jesus described such prophets as presenting an outward impression (most often through deceptive words) of humility and religious devotion (which Jesus likened to them being attired in "sheep's clothing"). However, that surface impression would be misleading, since the real inward motives of those false prophets would be to lead people away from the true worship of God and to bring glory only to themselves, which Jesus said would become obvious by their "fruits" (that is, their actual deeds -- as well as the actual results or effects of those deeds -- rather than just their words). It would be just as impossible for those false prophets to genuinely serve God and others through their deeds as it would be for a thornbush (which was useless from an agricultural standpoint, and instead actually injured people with its thorns) to serve a useful purpose by producing grapes, or for a thistle plant (which only hurt those with whom it came in contact) to become beneficial by growing figs that people could consume.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.