On September 8th at 5.10 pm, I was asked the question, “why does the word become unfruitful?” Here is one related text in which Jesus said:

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (Mt 13: 22).

Akarpos (Strong’s G175) is the word that Jesus used for  unfruitful. Strong’s says that its biblical usage means to be without fruit, barren, not yielding what it ought to yield.  To glean a greater understanding of the word fruitless, I searched further on  karpos (Strong’s/G2590) which is  the root word for akarpos. Karpos means  fruit or deeds produced by an individual that are evidence of an inner condition of the spirit. Here are examples of its usage:

1. Evidence of an inner  change or condition

John the Baptist told the people to bring forth therefore fruits or karpos meet or worthy for repentance. The NIV translates this as “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance  – Mt 3: 8.  Fruits therefore serve as markers or evidence of the condition of the spirit.  Karpos is also used in conjunction with the types of fruit produced by an individual. Fruit can be good (Mt 3: 10),  evil or  corrupt ( Mt 7: 17, 18).   Jesus said that we are known by the kind of fruit we produce.  He taught us that a  good tree will produce good fruit while a corrupt tree or spirit will produce corrupt fruit (Mt 7: 16-20)

2. Evidence of the holiness of God in the believer

The word Fruit (karpos)   is also used to  indicate  the evidence   of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer (Galatians 5: 22, 23, Rom 6: 22). The virtues of righteousness and holiness are indicated by the word

karpos in scripture (Rom 6: 22; Phil 1: 11; Heb 12: 11; James 3: 18).

3. Karpos or fruit was also used by Apostle Paul  to denote good results in  the lives of the believers as a result of his  ministry among them  (Rom 1: 13).

4. Karpos is used for the words that come out of the mouth of the believer

Apostle Paul taught us that we should  “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit/akarpos  of [our] lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb 13: 15).  The ESV translation says that we should “… continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”

We can draw on a reference from Old Testament scriptures  which reveal the power of God’s words. His word is compared to rain and snow that water the earth to cause it to bring forth fruit. God said that His word will not return to Him void (Isa 55: 10, 11). The believer who abides in  Christ will become a word bearing tree, operating in the same power to produce results when he/se speaks the word of the Lord.  The  Lord Jesus confirmed this by saying that we can speak to mountains and cast them into the sea. What is the word bearing ability of believers under our care?

5. The fate of unproductive trees

Jesus taught a parable that corresponds with that of the parable of the sower. In this parable, He spoke of a farmer who for three years tried to gather fruit from a fig tree. Seeing no result, he decided to cut down and burn the tree (Lk 13: 6-9).

6.  Summary on productivity

Any tree that abides or continues in Christ will become fruitful. His plan is that we should bring forth enduring fruit (John 15). God loves fruitfulness in the believer. Based on the usage of the words karpos and  akarpos, I will summarize by saying the following about the believer who was  choked by thorns:

  •  does not produce a life resembling God. That is, he or she does not live a holy life
  • that believer does not disciple others to follow Christ
  • he/she does not speak  forth the word of God with power

Hope that you are challenged to become a fruit bearing tree, even as I have been. Blessings!