Revelations from the Word

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Unfruitful words and the Kingdom of God

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle [argos] word [rhema] men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:33-37).

The rhema is 'what is said', 'what is expressed', 'the word pronounced', 'discourse'. Its equivalent in Hebrew is dabar. The word is compared to the fruit that a tree produces. As the fruit reveals the nature of the tree, so our words reveal our human nature, that is to say, our heart. This passage follows words spoken against Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-32) with respect to the Kingdom of God. The word dabar, which comes from the mouth of God, does not return to Him without effect, without having borne fruit (Isaiah 55:11). In the same way, every rhema word, which leaves from our mouth, will also bear fruit according to the nature of our heart. The rhema word is creative, for it is a seed, which will certainly produce fruit, as the Word of God was at the creation of the world (Hebrews 1:3). Satan will therefore try to use our rhema word to produce bad fruit (Matthew 12:36).

The Greek word argos is made up of the privative a and the word ergon (work), so it means 'inactive', 'idle', 'easy-going', 'which does not produce', implying an action to be blamed, indeed worthy of rebuke. An example is provided for us by the workers who are in the public square, the agora, waiting to be hired (Matthew 20:3). Jesus said to the Pharisees that they were a 'race of vipers', literally 'engendered by the viper', that is to say, 'issued from the fall of man'. We are all born in sin for our mother conceived us in sin (Psalm 51:7) and for fruit we have sin. The tree issued from the fall can only bear bad fruit, which is why it must be cut down (Matthew 3:10).

As the bad tree must be felled so that a good tree can grow in its place, man must be born again into the Kingdom of God to produce good fruits from it. And so our words reveal in which kingdom we have our heart, that of Satan or that of God. But the rhema words, which are not in accord with our heart, will reveal hypocrisy by their unfruitfulness. On the Day of Judgement our words will tell whether we are justified by Jesus or not, and we will have to give account of every word which did not produce fruit in the Kingdom of God. That is why we should guard our heart more than any other thing, for out of it spring the streams of life (Proverbs 4:23).