Matthew 3:10

And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
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George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Without the least attention to its origin, or other advantages. Hence you must not rest your hopes of salvation on your birth alone, nor on the baptism alone you receive at my hands. (Bible de Vence)

Glossa Ordinaria

AD 1480
It was necessary that after the teaching which he used to the common people, the Evangelist should give an example of the doctrine he delivered to the more advanced; therefore he says, “Seeing many of the Pharisees”Isid. Hisp. Orig. 8. 4: The Pharisees and Sadducees opposed to one another; Pharisee in the Hebrew signifies, ‘divided; 'because choosing the justification of traditions and observances they were ‘divided 'or ‘separated’ from the people by this righteousness. Sadducee in the Hebrew means ‘just;’ for these laid claim to be what they were not, denied the resurrection of the body, and taught that the soul perished with the body; they only received the Pentateuch, and rejected the Prophets. If they ye would escape this wrath, “Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.”. ord.: It is faith’s first lesson to believe that God is able to do whatever He will. ...

Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
De Cur. Past., iii, prologue: The words of the teachers should be fitted to the quality of the hearers, that in each particular it should agree with itself and yet never depart from the fortress of general edification. Hom. in Ev. 20. 8: Observe, he says not merely “fruits of repentance,” but "fruits meet for repentance.” For he who has never fallen into things unlawful, is of right allowed the use of all thing lawful; but if any hath fallen into sin, he ought so far to put away from him even things lawful, as far as he is conscious of having used unlawful things. It is left then to such man's conscience to seek so much the greater gains of good works by repentance, the greater loss he has brought on himself by sin. The Jews who gloried in their race, would not own themselves sinners because they were Abraham’s seed. “Say not among yourselves we are Abraham’s seed.”. Hom. in Ev., 20. 9: Or, the axe signifies the Redeemer, who as an axe of halt and blade, so consisting of the Divine and...


AD 420
He intimates God’s great power, who, as he made all things out of nothing, can make men out of the hardest stone. “These stones” signify the Gentiles because of their hardness of heart. See Ezekiel, “I will take away from you the heart of stone, and give you the heart of flesh.” Stone is emblematic of hardness, flesh of softness. Or, the preaching of the Gospel is meant, as the Prophet Jeremiah also compares the Word of the Lord to an axe cleaving the rock. ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
As a skilful physician from the colour of the skin infers the sick man's disease, so John understood the evil thoughts of the Pharisees who came to him. They thought perhaps, We go, and confess our sins; he imposes no burden on us, we will be baptized, and get indulgence for sin. Fools! if ye have eaten of impurity, must ye not needs take physic? So after confession and baptism, a man needs much diligence to heal the wound of sin; therefore he says, “Generation of vipers. "It is the nature of the viper as soon as it has bit a man to fly to the water, which, if it cannot find it, straightway dies; so this “progeny of vipers,” after having committed deadly sin, ran to baptism, that, like vipers, they might escape death by means of water. Moreover it is the nature of vipers to burst the insides of their mothers, and so to be born. The Jews then are therefore called “progeny of vipers,” because by continual persecution of the prophets they had corrupted their mother the Synagogue. Also vip...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
But be not afraid; or rather, be afraid, but despair not. For you have yet a hope of change; the sentence is not quite absolute, neither did the axe come to cut (else what hindered it from cutting, close as it was to the root?); but on purpose by this fear to make you a better man, and to prepare you to bring forth fruit. For this cause he added, Therefore every tree, which brings not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Matthew 3:10 Now by the word every, he rejects again the privilege which they had from their noble descent; Why, if you be Abraham's own descendant, says he, if you have thousands of patriarchs to enumerate, you will but undergo a double punishment, abiding unfruitful. By these words he alarmed even publicans, the soldiers' mind was startled by him, not casting them into despair, yet ridding them of all security. For along with the terror, there is also much encouragement in what he says; since by the expression, which brings not forth good fruit,...

Rabanus Maurus

AD 856
Because as a preacher of truth he wished to stir them up, to “bring forth fruit meet for repentance,” he invites them to humility, without which no one can repent. Of stones there were sons raised up to Abraham; forasmuch as the Gentiles by believing in Christ, who is Abraham’s seed, because his sons to whose seed they were united. ...

Remigius of Rheims

AD 533
The manner of Scripture is to give names from the imitation of deeds, according to that of Ezekiel, “Thy father was an Amorite;” so these from following vipers are called “generation of vipers.”. When then he asks, “who will show you to flee from the wrath to come,” - ‘except God’ must be understood. But if we read, “shall shew,” in the future, this is the meaning, ‘What teacher, what preacher, shall be able to give you such counsel, as that ye may escape the wrath of everlasting damnation?’. There is a tradition, that John preached at that place of the Jordan, where the twelve stones taken from the bed of the river had been set up by command of God. He might then be pointing to these, when he said, “Of these stones.” ...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
The axe means the judgement of Christ, and the trees stand for each one of us. Therefore he who has not believed, and thus is rooted only in himself, is now and henceforward being cut down and cast into gehenna. even though descended from Abraham, He did not say, "which hath not brought forth," but "which bringeth not forth," for one must continually be bringing forth fruit. For if you gave alms yesterday but today you are greedy and grasping, you are not pleasing to God. The fire, that is, of gehenna. ...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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